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  1. Straight out of the gates, Michael could tell Amelia was keen on dismantling him for her own survival’s sake. Was it not the unfortunate game into which they were forever opted? If they had some time to stop and talk strategy, it would dawn on him he might even get to learn a thing or two. Instead though, here, where blows traded faster than thoughts, one would likely die at the hands of the other without any lasting secret recipes imparted. Here, maybe not exactly now but soon, Amelia Badiou would understand why Michael Commager called himself an ‘out-in-the-field’ guy. In his nightmares that manifested as these realms’ battles, Michael had been swallowed up, utterly crushed by foreign materials attracted to him for multiple reasons, put through literal renditions of hell. These nights jerking awake, these waking days filled with pain, had wrought of Michael more than anything Amelia had yet to see. Such was, sometimes, the cost of preparation. The beginnings of highlighted water moving toward him from Amelia had elicited all the memory he needed to find a couple effective strategies. All things considered, maybe it was curious to her that he’d come from the south when the other points of his triangle were (mostly) in the opposite direction. It was unlikely that Miss Badiou had traced the light lines to their exact origins, but almost impossible for her to know he had come to the Fountain directly from the Liberty Bell. How far ahead is someone allowed to know they’re about to fight to the death in these things, anyway? Whatever the case Michael was now prepared for such a fight, one likely including losses for the sake of victories. He mentally crossed his fingers for something like a sore throwing arm instead of anything extra gruesome. Timed by the rising Tori’s visual assistance from above, Michael using explaudere kept almost all 20lbs water from touching him after absorbing the impact through his magic's cushion; and it had slowed him very little, as well as pushing him in the right direction, at that. What’s more, using explaudere had proven very effective! The water seemed ready to stay away from him at his soonest priming. His understanding of elemental magic showed him an open channel for pushing it away, futhermore. There was nothing left for him to do but— snap! A bright stripe of sound ripped through the surprisingly quiet night thus far as Badiou’s water hammer destroyed Michael’s third crystal today. Commager didn’t even flinch, didn’t even look back in his reescelating gait. Such was, sometimes, the cost of preparation. Were he paying extra attention it would be impressive to Michael that, instead of just pinging the darn thing across all of Phillie like an errant cueball, Miss Badiou’s water hammer was able to crush the sunbeam crystal as if there were an equally hard object on the other side. There was very little explosive energy to the crystal itself besides the pressure of it being blown apart. Mundane shards and dust that were grey without the light’s imbuement shot in every direction. In the solid object’s stead, though, expanded its soul. Without a crystal to encase it, the energies that were trapped inside now spread through the water prism. These energies? Anti-magic. Enchanted water would fall from any illumination dispersing away from the singular point where that smashed crystal was until a 20ft radius around it is nullified for the next 15 seconds. Without the crystal itself but its residual energy, the two remaining crystals would continue to pulse on in a still-self-sustaining machine for the next 15 seconds. Thanks to Michael’s understanding, the water’s continuous pursuit, and Badiou’s remarks, Tori wheeled in a continuous arc up into the sky and away from the professor in a high loop that would eventually lead back to her master. What would life be without endless adventure, attached to one so regimented as Amelia Badiou? What would it be without a man like Michael there to make little of himself for fun and attempt to teach an A.I. something like humor? All in all, though, it wasn’t really an option anyway. Maybe she was just programmed to be attached. Nonetheless, discomfort flitted across the crystal’s inner cleavage as she reached her zenith and began heading back toward Michael. Forty feet would be the closest cry Amelia came to Tori, and only barely, no response rendered for her quip. In fact, instead of words there razed a diagonal-slashing beam of red light aimed from Amelia’s right shoulder to her left hip. Its incendiary properties would leave her with a deep and badly burned gash. There would be no response from Michael either as, finally, he hit the northeasternmost line of his city sculpture. He didn’t plunge into it headlong like a marathon runner spreading his arms, though, he skidded on his heels to stop just on the inside of the conical projection. Now, standing about three feet past the line, it was as if Commager himself were the third pyre of light. Discovering that he could readily manipulate the water around him by using one of couple tools at his disposal, Michael was ready even without seeing Amelia. A coat of white light became his outline, humor his demeanor and positive his nature. Still, however affected he was by Amelia’s jab at Tori, Michael didn’t speak. Her tongue, he found, was the most dangerous thing about her so far.
  2. I'm beginning to play with things, and thanks for your exhaustive work turning a crude drawing into a true mapping out! I daresay this will be the best-visualized fight I've ever had. Before I post, I'm hoping to clear something up. I see you mention in your description of part a4: (a4) then she moves here while michael runs in the opposite direction. she addresses tori from forty feet away. by no means is her arrival simultaneous with michael's arrival at the edge of the isosceles triangle, since her rate of movement will prove contingent upon whether the crystal explodes on impact. i therefore expressed her destination without a specific timeline. you will also note that michael cannot see this, since the eleven-foot-high sculpture blocks line of sight. Then at the very end of your post you say: "You know," she said, "you'd have more fun with me than you do with him." She raised her arm, holding her main-gauche parallel to the ground, its tip pointing across the fountain toward the man, hilt-guard angled toward the gem in the sky. "I wouldn't ask you to try to clean up my messes." Now my question: Is Amelia still pointing her main-gauche at Michael despite her view of him being obstructed?
  3. Sorry, that's not right. After rereading, something like Option 2 sounds a lot better than I thought. I don't like the concept of playing multiple characters so I got spiky for a second, but I am absolutely fine with splitting the strength of actions the more there are.
  4. You are definitely playing with the math of the system! It's a fun challenge I saw and accepted. 1) I am not playing two characters. Tori is an artificial intelligence embedded in a crystal that was part of Michael's brain. Moving around and then some is just part of that crystal's ability. You saying Tori is like a separate character from Michael, or the magic I'm prepping for that matter, is like me saying Badiou's hydromancy magic is a second character or third. I refer you here, and can provide links to the thread where it was implanted if you require farther justification that Tori is, in fact, an object that belongs to Michael and not another character. 2) As already stated pretty clearly, Tori wasn't actually trying to lift the crystal. Her (I use the term 'her' endearingly, I hoped you would understand) attempt was a flare of arcane energy intended to draw the water-magnetized-to-arcana away from Michael. I respectfully reject your assumption of a quickdraw every time I use Tori and your assumption that any of Michael's weapons are extra players. Both of your options are null. Moving forward, let us please dismiss the notion that the things our characters produce are somehow other characters.
  5. "Ah," sneered the Colonel, smashing his fist into his palm with the light of justice ignited in his eye. "Nothing like some good ol' slave trade bashing." There was something in him both judicious and fair, but at the same time savage and untamed. The whites of his eyes, his pearl teeth gritted with anger already. So near were there bodies still traded unwillingly for wealth, so similar to the fate of a boy he knew so well, it made him sick with sorrow. "Yes, that's exactly what we'll do. We'll walk in there like buyers." "I was hoping you might have a few ideas about that? A portal or something maybe?" "I've got something even better," said Commager, unpacking a set of Fauxton receivers. "We'll zap them over to the nearest Fauxton station. It's still in great shape and definitely free of danger, I was just there this morning." "Now I must warn you, my appearance will be disguised when we meet tomorrow," he concluded their meeting by giving Emile the exact coordinates of their meeting the next day and headed off back toward the receiver, where he was sit guard it for the night.
  6. Ash watched with sharp eyes as the pages leafed up into the air before him. Even after the months spent training above, magic— particularly hers— still fascinated him. The first thing that dawned on him was that she’d taken his idea of stealing a soul for the spear to heart, which warmed his in a certain way. The second was that she was going farther with it, that her pragmatism had extended his isolated idea into a full plan for success. It equal parts frightened and excited him. “The Phoenix, huh?” Ash put a quizzical finger against pursed lips, straining against his code not to kill somebody who he could only assume wasn’t a bad person (considering the bad people were coming for her, in his eyes). He was, however, determined to produce a plan as if he meant it. “Maybe an abduction, so we can try to take her out and see what this Phoenix thing is all about on our own time. You said something about a replacement That could come in handy there."
  7. And read I have! First off, I'd love to thank the wonderful user jaistlyn for providing us a visual tool to see the scene and work it out together. I do want to stress (1 that I'm not an artist, also) that since you're a super informative person, I want most of the battle to take place in words not through this visual. This is just soe have things right in a general sense. Here's the link, you can make edits or add effects to it however you like, or tell me what must be changed to properly reflect our battlefield. https://amenities65480.invisionapp.com/freehand/Neverending-Challenge-eEd59qvuo Reading the wording of your applied character sheet section, I'm going to contest here that he did not change his plans, spell-cancel, or improvise any tactics. Your wording for "improvisatory tactics" does not include battle-ready action to a real-time fight. Even though, as you say, it's not that important, I don't want to mislead you into thinking I'm playing Michael for a fool. Not for a couple more posts at least! I thank your bringing attention to this, and spending time on any metrics of Tori lifting the gem, but that was a mere diversionary tactic. Firstly, I think you're under the impression that Tori runs on Michael's power? But she is instead a self-sustaining object serving as his personal artificial intelligence (not to be corny, but picture Master Chief's Cortana). She moves independently of his strength, but according to his will. Second, which should be an assumption, I accept Tori not being able to lift the crystal for the effect of magnetizing water away from Michael.
  8. He hadn't seen her in years, but Phoebe was as professional as always. Despite the uncontrollable hate felt by most vampires for Cain, camera flashes, lenses, and prying media did well to avoid the duo sitting there. Any normal person, even a well-trained psion, would have been utterly crushed under the pressure of deterring all media eyes; but the First was as coldblooded as the dead in her homing out and manipulation of media minds. “This is a mockery of democracy and justice and you know it!” A stab, a burst of glass filament, and an uproar later, Phoebe and Cain were out the back door watching the seven flit around a corner. Cain had led the way, kicking the door open to break out into the open air as if he were claustrophobic inside. Visible in the distance were the black bars of a VIP parking lot gate. A couple floodlights filled the place with light from above. Before they could do anything, the gates slid open smoothly and two vehicles squealed out before they were even open all the way. "Let them go," he said, walking toward the gate with a laugh. "We'll call a cab!" It was clear in his laugh that an immense amount of pressure had just been released from his chest. His hurry was evidently to get out of the room surrounded by enemy eyes. Together Cain and Phoebe found themselves in the back of a taxi. "Take your next left," he said before turning toward her. It wasn't uncommon here for humanoid figures to travel the roads during the day, but at night Phoebe and Cain appeared a daring couple out in defiance of the dangers of a vampire-dominant society. Even the driver's serpentine eyes in the rearview mirror bespoke lecherous hunger. "Where you kids headed," asked the plump, gnarled, warted figure with pointed ears. "I think your mom's house," said Cain. "Take the next right."
  9. As mentioned, my time for overall site activity is limited for the next 4-5 days so this can take some time for me to get to. You will understand, there is a lot to read!
  10. I have entered my work week, but I'll stay as in touch as possible!
  11. Edits made! I appreciate the math you did. I will say this: The way your post originally looked— since you gave me so much freedom to dictate Badiou's attack on Mike, which I'm not used to— led me to believe you were only using the water for Badiou's sword at present. This could just be me being unobservant, but perhaps in the future put more mention of the field-effect also being intended for the enemy. You could also, I guess, have just sprung the attack on me in your next post, although I'm totally comfortable with editing it into my post. Since you graciously put the realization of an attack in my hands, though, I did have him react a little differently.
  12. Yes to backpedaling, but no to having not noticed the field-effect. Tori, who I've referenced in my post, is a Warmind AI capable of parsing visual arcane information as effectively as Badiou. Almost done with edits!
  13. I appreciate your forthcomingness so far! Sorry, I don’t mean to say ‘dictate’ as in you taking anything away from me. Admittedly, I was misled by the fact that you only stated in the active part of your post that water was drawn to Amelia. I’m not used to people giving me so much freedom to dictate the effects of their movements! Let me make an edit to reflect our discussion so far.
  14. @beak I have adjusted the wording from “tons” to gallons, and Michael’s wonder at the lady’s semi-incredible arm strength remains! I leave the math to you on that part, because at this point you’re also trying to dictate the strength of the magnetism on Michael as he maintains his distance from Badiou. If you would like to, in your next post, include how many gallons of water extricate themselves from the fountain to follow Michael’s crystals (which are the things manifesting said background arcane processes), I will in my next post react accordingly. However, you are right in stating that the crystal in question is a main source of arcane energy, as those lines connecting to other crystals are also a gathering of arcane energy much greater (and closer to Badiou) than Michael and his lower frequency of energy. Like I said I’ll leave however much water gets diverted to Michael to your calculation and then deal with it after you send it. As a side note: At this point the crystal is generating energy apart from Michael in its formation with 2 other crystals, so whatever arcane energy it generates is coming from those crystals and not at all from Michael.
  15. I'd like for this thread to serve as our discussion thread so that someone can join in the future if a necessary third-party judge is needed @beak
  16. As Amelia masked her inferiority with patronization, like she must have countless times before the students of her bygone university, Michael’s smile resolved into a curt grin that just barely betrayed his assumptions about her. One thing he knew was that, to him in their first meeting, her very posture cocked with an arrogance he didn’t quite understand yet. Through her reasons, which he didn't understand yet, he knew both of them were prepared for the truth in this scene, he saw over the rim of his gleaming palm as she touched her weapon to the water’s plane. "Three in one day," said Amelia. "You're a crafty one, aren't you?" “That’s the only way to be in a world like this,” said Commager bluntly with the dying humor still in his voice as he canted his hand, the crystal falling into the waters simultaneously with Badiou’s main-gauche. Before she could quip any farther on her ideas, he stopped listening to her words. It was clear that, now, their hands would speak for them as much as he desired. “Looks like it’s a fight then! Good luck.” His words were symbolic of his feelings for these realms. There was only one time during which his blissful narrative on Valucre was interrupted, and that time was when he was brought to bear, to kill and die in strange places at the hands of increasingly strange people. Michael’s truth was that his and Miss Badiou’s fates, their truths, had been sealed the moment she hymned at the fountain and he donned his N95 mask. It was why he was crafty; it was why she’d drawn her sword before even asking; it was why one of them would taste defeat on this very exceptional eve. It was why he’d thrown the bottle like errant trash into a world that was, as he saw it, just another creature swathed in the detritus of a nightmare. "Don't get so hung up on ideas," she said. "Philosophy is the art of being. You're born. Eventually, you die. Everything in-between? Philosophy." In her ongoing monologue without his priming, even with a few gallons of water gathering at the hilt of her sword, he saw that his grinning countenance must seem a ghost of someone she didn’t like. As the waters around his lone gem drained away to form the momentous object that was Miss Badiou’s blade, the perching Michael marveled sheerly how she could hold the damn thing. Along with all the philosophical thunder gathering in that head, he wondered how she could even walk toward him around the edge of the sifting pools. “Seems like you’re the one who’s hung up,” he responded, yet unaware what secrets she kept, dancing away from the approaching swordswoman as water coalesced in, presumably, a large spire at her wielding hand. As she walked to her right, she would see him backstepping to her left to stay at as fixed a distance across the fountain from her as possible. His eyes were sharp with their own judgment now, Tori analyzing the make and model of her blade’s magic. 'We're being homed in on!' Tori colored the water affected by Amelia's code for Michael as it congealed through toward him from across the fountain. All at once the AI projected into his head the factors: water magnetizing to the mysterious woman's sword, water magnetizing to the gem, water magnetizing to him. While there wasn’t much arcane energy emanating from him, besides the accessories running in the background of his mind at any given time, there was a well of arcane light filling the fountain. This would be the first fixation of the affected water, a much larger beacon of magic than the largely arcane-inactive Wielder. While with Tori, and a certain level of battle experience, it was immediately apparent to him that the water was tracking sources of magic and not just Badiou's hilt, it had never once in battle occurred to him to shut off all of his magic. What a simple lesson not to learn until now. Michael leaped off the rim of the water's edge, his feet touching the ground as the water slopped like gelatin over the fountain's edge. He turned his back on Badiou to move from the water faster and steadily widening but still continuing his arc around the fountain. A red crystal manifested from the back of his head and flew straight upward into the starry sky, taking with it most of the arcane processes inside Michael's head. In her skyward departure, Tori executed a flare of energy that appeared to be an attempt to lift the water-encrusted gem straight upward out of the fountain. This led to a further decrease in the water magnetizing to Michael and a diversion of most of that water towards Tori. Growing farther from the fountain and parting with all of his active arcane forces, Michael continued running around the fountain. Two lines of light traveled out from the crystal at isosceles angles, one headed northwest, the other slightly more northeast. Both the lines and the crystal (rapidly becoming a large bulb of water) remained between them (Badiou at a curving down southeast and Michael curving up northeast) as Michael backed away and she advanced. Despite any refraction preventing emanations from the crystal itself, two lines still traveled inward from the northern poles attached to the lines. Neither player was yet within the triangle but Michael was nearing it. Now there were ten feet between him and the northeastward-pointing veil of the isosceles lines. *splat!* Michael had turned tail and started running as soon as Tori showed him the rapidly encroaching liquid and its nature. He'd dismissed Tori, along with almost all his arcana, in an attempt to stop the water. Now, though, with almost all the water intended for him headed sky high with Tori, he was hit in the back by about 20 lbs of water. Knowing the impact was coming soon, he stumbled but didn't fall when it hit him, enacting the second-to-last failsafe that came to mind while making it to the triangle. With no other water nearby, rapidfire bursts of explaudere began emanating from his body and holding the little water that had reached him at bay about four inches from his skin as he picked up his 5-foot sprint to the line of light as it began pulsing with an energy that now pierced into the bulb of water from the outside. More than a refraction of light, it was a specific light energy that cut through magic. Coming from somewhere stories in the sky miles away, the lines traced themselves over buildings (and where the spouting animals of the fountain sat, in the case of the northwestern-facing line) in order to maintain a linear path between the distant points.
  17. Just like that, Greg was escorted with a group of those infected by the gas north. During that time, the fog of the gas overtook him and convulsions of fear drove him away from those trying to help him who, with understanding, corralled him back into the group of others similarly affected by the gas. Soon, the boy who definitely did not fit in but had cloaked himself pretty well for the time being, began feeling comfortable with the crowd; he was just another of the affected who were being taken away from the largest plumes of fog in Arcturon. As they traveled to one of the farthest north points of the city and things were calm, Greg noticed more and more mention of the word ‘wildlight’ around him, before an officer pushed through the crowd toward him. ‘Hey, you, can we have a word with you?’ they said to the innocent-seeming agent. That was when he broke out the back of the group and began sprinting. Shouts of ‘Hey, get back here! Follow him!’ echoed down the last alley between him and a swampy harbor. In the haze of the gas’s effect, he plummeted off of Arcturon into the swamps north of it. For almost two weeks he found himself lost in the woods traveling what he thought was east, eating berries and small mammals to stay alive. It was in the midday of the thirteenth day that he heard a menacing buzzing sound coming not from the material plane, but the psionic plane. This would be the first time Gregory was forced to use Cain’s abilities. A line like worker ants, except the size of incredibly fit humans, proceeded through the forest. They traversed trees and great ravines, walking vertically sometimes, nothing serving an obstacle too great. Some crawled. Some stood on four legs with pincers and insectoid exoskeletons like armor. These were the first Xer’Orians Gregory had ever encountered. One of them, noticeably smaller but clearly in control of the group, sat on the backs of several of the largest creatures. Without speaking in any dialect he could hear, they seemed to move as one great being. One thought created an entire gesture from it. Following the enclave of alien beasts at a distance Greg observed them from afar for the next several days. When he could discern their different groups but didn’t understand much more, he went to attack one of the Soldier Xers with a knife from his nature-sullied pack. He’d almost died, but after removing the creature’s limb and accessing its blood, Greg was able to possess it. More than that, Cain’s Dialectical analysis of the blood unveiled the entire Xer’Orian hivemind to him. After three more days, findings were such that he could assume the blood, and therefore the psionic identity of any Xer’orians. After another week, Gregory the Soldier Xer’Orian was able to attack the princess. So it was that he took his first hive. It was dysfunctional at first, absolutely lunatic to him how some of them would wander errantly to their own deaths without his specific attention. Gregory was no Cain, and so instead of taking over his first group of subjects gradually as the all-father had, Gregory inherited his hive all at once. Wearing an increasingly ornate robe that mimicked the evolving patterns of their molting bodies, Gregory would spend months perfecting this hive, erecting a hierarchy of Consorts beneath him who pined with insect hormonality to mate with him. It was a terrifying position, but one he sought reward from.
  18. Whatever smoldering forests he had sat within were now reduced to piles of burnt woodchips scattered over the badlands. Eyes like mirrors reflected the dullness Cain saw in these Gardens, his stones coming to a halt so that he was facing the final remaining mech on the broken plain. Light of joy filled his eyes when they settled on Barbatos and this mysterious pilot, who were indeed unexpected diamonds in this sepia-hued rough. Still a black energy filled Cain’s open palms where he sat in his meditative posture, his eyelids draped half closed, mind teetering on the precipice between interest in Barbatos and suspicion in him. That was when the Scarlet Devil raised its mace and plummeted it down seemingly directly on top of Cain. Ozymandias didn’t even move as the unknown’s weapon crashed into the earth like a catastrophic meteor, a domelike carapace of black rising from the earth around the fixture of stones on which Cain sat to protect him from the debris torn up from the blast. The voice came even as sand and smoke still settled in the aftermath. "Okay, ginger head. What are you really doing here? Besides, why should I believe you? For all I can know you could be lying. Anything to just save your skin....because, your behemoth right over there. Tried to kill me...kill us." He might be one, but Cain hated gingers. Even still, the description no longer irked him. Now, as Cain came into the approaching Morgan’s view, the pilot would see there was no black energy remaining in Cain’s hands. The mage extended his legs and eased off of the stone to meet Morgan halfway. There was a moment of suspense where each wondered if the other would be there ally after seeing one another for the first time. And then Cain cracked a grin. “I came to kill a disobedient beast of mine because I thought nobody would be out here, in this shit wasteland. I wanted to use the monster for something else.” The mage gestured to a rumbling that ensued from the desert floors behind them. Writhing like a snake, mammoth claws of earth rose from beneath Ramesses’ disassembling the former Tian Titan. “Finding you was lucky! So what do you have to say, would you join me in molding the world into a better place… A place that is more profitable for you?”
  19. “I’m an islander like you boys, if a little far from Biazo. No, this gal is from Orisia.” “Oh wow, I’ve never been there before!” said Matte before drinking his entire glass of water, asking for another to sandwich the wine in his stomach. Matte Daemon was not, in fact, a native islander. Nothing, ever, would eliminate his inner Michael Commager’s first memories. He was seven, sunken and scraping face first against destitution, almost definitely destined to die. There were no programs in a falling city to take in a boy like him, and few homes willing to take in a stray long enough to clean it up once and give it a meal before pinning a participation badge on their lapel and never helping another one again, if he was even lucky enough to be that stray. Things were different back then, though. A boy had become a man, and now an even differenter man sat before Tyra! He had become more than just a man, but one of many hats and faces at that. As their food arrived, Matte and Tyra both snapped out of very different reveries to received the meals all three of them would enjoy. "By Her Will.. Is this what you eat all of the time?!" “Only sometimes,” laughed Matte, patting his young-looking belly. “Don’t wanna get fat!” “...I’m something of an explorer myself. That’s what brought me to Chesterfield this very morning.” Matte quirked back to Tyra readily. Talk of his own ventures interested him little, for what he was willing to say about them was a short conversation. ‘We’re just headed back to Aspyn actually,’ is something he probably would have said, but Tyra’s conclusion invited him to continue concentrating on her journey. There was no rush back to Aspyn, and in fact the culmination of someone else’s search could be what he was looking for too. “An explorer huh?” he said, looking intently at but not having touched his food yet as both of them dug in. He grabbed one napkin and unfolded it, placing it in his lap. He took one deep breath, brushing a couple hairs off of his shirt and taking just large enough a sip of wine to douse his tongue with its lush fermentation. “What are you looking for in Chesterfield?” Deep inhale. Deep exhale. While listening for the woman whose name he didn’t even know yet, Matte began devouring his burger in a truly carnal display of satisfaction. His first massive bite was a matter of savouring taste and texture, chewing with indomitable force against the great mass in his maw. His second bite was just as massive, but now he churned the meat and onions and sauces together, swallowing and biting again over and over at a truly impressive rate for a little-looking guy like him.
  20. He was able to pick up the intricacies of a virus plaguing this world, but almost literally nothing else in these lands besides a livably similar atmosphere with Valucre. Michael’s cheeks were flush with humor, but beneath the smile in his eyes there was indigo understanding born out of his own realm. He could rehearse cordialities, walk around the extraterrestrial city and sight-see; but that was not what he came for. This chat was not the reason that he and she stood opposite this fountain from one another; and there Michael saw its true meaning resolve as Amelia stood in her mounting conviction. Tori saw it, too. ‘She’s building some kind of energy,’ hummed the earring-like bead in a private psionic link with him. "It can be both," said Amelia as she rose. “I know,” he said as she chuckled back at him. "Do you read philosophy?" “I don’t,” he said like a gentleman, tucking some errant hair behind his ear. His masked voice permeated the distance between them, emanating off of the shimmering water between them like a surfing echo. “More of an out in the field kind of guy.” Finishing rubbing the substance into his hands, Michael hopped easily up onto the dry cement side of the fountain and discarded the bottle. “Would you believe it, I can barely read!” the traveller laughed, this time at himself. “I’m better at learning by word of mouth.” As wholly as the world is an amalgam of maths and sciences, it is any means of learning those two effectively that bears true to certain degrees of success. Some affinity and a dash of luck had acquired Michael some understanding of both without the same conventional applicatory skills as others but a handful of majorly evolutionary experiences had on a wish here and a dare there. Michael, Oracle in the Gaian clergy come so far from a formerly pernicious life, held out his hand and produce within it a crystal. It was a gleaming countenance in his palm that radiated rich, golden light unrivaled by streetlights and spotlights mounted around the architecturally genius fountain. “This is the third one I’ve made today,” he said flippantly, diverting the conversation to something he felt better about and dropping the sunbeam crystal into the fountain.
  21. Having seen his dream, his prayer, Michael drew encouragement and strength to press forward from Marigold’s faith. A willing faith shows itself in many ways and is rewarded in kind. Michael, too, harbored in him an unquenchable desire to do good. Reckless, wild, lunatic as the chasm between their strengths could be, Michael would hurtle toward any foe of the greater good. Pragmatic as he may be, once Michael laid eyes upon one who was truly and willingly bereft of the light of Gaia, his equal and opposite reaction was imminent. When that meant heaving one up out of the darkness, exposing their truths and cleansing them one by one, that was what he did. When it meant fishing one out of the abyss and gutting it for the sake of the world, that, too, was what he did. The Peacekeeper Oracle’s conviction and constitution were such that, as Marigold reported Ravina’s findings, he had processed his reminiscent anger at never having crushed Dredge before he fled into the ocean and was already flipping through his mental rolodex of known LoD associates (of which Kru’Gorah was part). “I managed to survive a Mad God...but I don't know if such gadget wizardry is enough against such a foe!" Even in uncertainty, Michael placed his hand on Marigold’s shoulder, looking forward at the work being done. The hand was firm on his shoulder, an affirmation that Marigold wouldn't have to go through those dark moments alone anymore. Michael emitted an electric aura of unifying positivity, confidence that they could do whatever they strove to do together. Again, as if he were riding the waves of this confidence into the cove of the issue, he put his arm around Marigold's shoulders and pointed toward Hyde. “We’ll start at Hyde. Together, you and me and whoever else you think is suitable. We’ll go look for this Thraice guy, see if we can’t catch us a djinn.” And like that, they were off to Hyde. "If he's supposed to be in Hyde, why d'you think his signal is coming from Hell's Gate?" Even as Michael asked, the red gem illuminated intuitively as it spread out through its Imperium network in search of any outside magical influences.
  22. He’d sat on the steeple of the Museum of Art, sat for a time to mend something called “the Liberty Bell.” He’d walked beside Eastern State Penitentiary and heard the cries of ghosts. Now, traipsing the innards of Phillie, he heard a loan voice speaking, apparently, to the pandemic that is delirium itself. This evening— one of many lost in another alien jungle of threats— Michael traveled prepared. He wore an N95 mask and carried a travel sized bottle of clear liquid. Venturing toward the voice, he became aware of somebody else out against quarantine. One person. Was this the fate he was looking for, or another pair of prowling jaws? Surely he had found something whole on Valucre, so why would be anything but the latter? "When betrayal only remains betrayal if we never try again." Prepared for the evening, potentially defying some type of stay-at-home order, the clergymen from another realm appeared around a corner somewhere in the peripheral of Miss Badiou’s view as the final words of her, or somebody’s philosophical whimsy mewled down her fingers and over the fountain’s waters. His lips quirked with a chuckle from across the fountain. “Those are some interesting thoughts you have there. Kinda sad though,” he remarked, popping the tube open with his thumb and applying a single dab to his palm, then placing it under his arm to rub his hands together. “Are you into reading philosophy, or are you a teacher or something?”
  23. “I've met a person or two who only pretends to be nice and might sprinkle a few maggots into your coffee to teach you about taking drinks from strangers. I will check my tea, but he seems very nice." “Oh my,” a slender hand rose to the outline of her mannequinesque lips like a dark cloud at the remark. Sails were unfurling around them, cranks and pulleys creaking and swinging into motion. Prose showed all the consummate bearings of a sailor who knew the length of this pole and that the swinging velocity of that rope, masts swinging within a foot or two of her head without her flinching as she considered Emilio's unfortunately experienced suspicion. “I will have to check my tea as well," she raised her thundercloud finger in resolution as the ship went into its first smooth swell of motion. She could feel that, on top of wind, there was another type of engine below deck churning them forward. "He does seem like the type of fellow who’s either quite honest or a real sneak.” Then, gesturing at the one who’d ingested curry but still addressing Emilio, she went on as they made their way toward Thomas and the departing captain. “I don’t know if this one will be much for tea, but I could really use a spot. Thomas! Have you ever been fishing before?”
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