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EpicRome23

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    Reading, writing, purging heretics, video games (Strategy and/or RPG all the way, especially Fire Emblem.) large flying and fire-breathing lizards, history, necromancy, obtaining unlimited power, and conquering the world. That's all the important stuff. What do you mean, 'one of these is not like the others?'
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  1. @AthenasFire Welp, this is on me for leaving things until quite near the last minute not completely on purpose, but it was certainly possible that I could have gotten to this earlier if you somehow manage to catch my post and then reply before things hit read only, then great! if not, and in any case, we can see about getting this thread moved over and set up to finish on PGRP soon.
  2. "Hey you!" ... The good intentions and the pain... Lay drowned now in the pouring rain. ... It's not raining. It's not... anything. Was this death? "You can't pass here. It's not your time." There was a faint light far ahead in Cerik's vision. A voice, as if speaking from far away, entered his ear. "Sir Knight. I am Alexios. General of Aligoria, and High Commander of the Shadow Guard. I am here on the behest of Princess Sibyla. Allow me to take the Dead-Eye Monocle, and bear it into the cave just up the peak in your stead. I swear on my honor, I will collect the power dormant there with the Monocle, and then return it to you, empowered." The knight gave a weak nod of assent and a muffled yes- in reality, at least. Wherever he found his mind in, it had been much a stronger response there. ------ In reality, General Alexios had nodded in his turn and then spoken to Maria. "Forgive my sudden appearance, my good lady. Even now, the Princess moves to engage Imryll Duskbane-" A loud pop sounded as a wave of power breifly washed past them. Above them, a sphere of white fire and a sphere of black fire collided, a figure within each hard to make out but visible. "-and it is up to you which you will support. You can, of course, choose to try and slip away while they are so engaged. But if you choose that path, I must warn you of this." He pointed to the west. Over the ocean, there was what seemed to be a wall of solid darkness slowly but inevitably approaching- tearing up the land before it and sucking it into the void, where it fully disappeared from view. "You will have to escape from that. And I cannot guarantee you will find sanctuary on your own. Aid the Shadow Princess, and I swear to you that we will lead you straight to sanctuary after the First Sage of Light is dealt with. Whatever you choose... your actions will make it clear. Either way, I will be making good on my word to the Knight." He knelt down for a moment, gently removing the monocle from beneath Cerik's helm. Then, with a couple worried glances at the encroaching wall of darkness and the battle above, he began to climb the surprisingly gentle slope of this part of the mountain to the cave visible beneath the peak. ------ "You have to live for what your future holds." "My... future?" Cerik looked around. Images of a time past came into view around him. Marcygate. The order of knights, his king, his first love Luanda. Each broke away into pieces that moved away from him and faded as he moved to touch them, as if they were mirrors he had just shattered with a great blow. The guardian of the underwater ruins where he found the monocle. Salida. The deserter. The cultist leader- the cultist leader did not fade. Instead, he smiled. Then, he opened his mouth and Maria's voice came forth. "Plus that cultist leader would be disappointed! Don't let some cheap shot be your end!" A cheap shot... Cerik looked down at himself for the first time in what felt like forever. Through him and his armor, his very own sword Farcutter, crackling with electricity. The memories of what had just happened returned to him. Reaching for Salida's hand- sudden pain and betrayal. Mad ranting the last thing he heard before consciousness had faded from him. ... The surroundings before him shifted. Two paths unfolded before him. One toward that faint, distant light. And the other, deeper into a darkness that seemed all too blissful. At the fork of these paths stood his best friend of old. The one whose death had set him on the path of an adventurer. He spoke with a neutral expression. "Which will you choose, Cerik? Will you get back up and continue the fight? Continue to stand against evil in all it's forms? Or will you allow this to be your retirement? Let the embrace of death overtake you, reunite with me and all the rest that you have lost in your years?" A decision of great weight and import. Perhaps the greatest decision the knight would ever make. Reduced to a simple fork in the road. At another time, he might have laughed at the strangeness of it. But he didn't, and contemplated the choice before him. Maria's voice echoed all around one last time, loud and vibrant now. "You're a knight, aren't you?" ... A knight. ... You are a knight, Cerik Windshade. ... You have found your goddess. You are on the verge of an even greater power to combat the powers of evil. Would you truly let it all end here? ... "... No. My friend, there is not really a choice here, in the end. I am a knight. And a knight never gives up the fight until peace is clearly won." His old best friend smiled widely, stepping forward and clasping his shoulder. "I suspect that's what you'd choose in the end. Godspeed, Cerik. And one day? When the time comes for you to take the other fork... I'll be waiting for you with our favorite drink readied." Cerik grinned and returned his friend's gesture. "Better double that, my friend, I have no doubts that my thirst will be grand at the time. I can't say I look forward to that day right now, but I can promise I'll have a smile when we once again unite." With that, Cerik strode forth on the path toward the faint light. ------ In reality, Cerik sat up with a groan. Farcutter laid beside him, bloodied but no longer thrust through his lower torso. Amura floated nearby, Maria stood a short distance away. And above him, two beings of great power clashed. White fire and black fire. White fire... the First Sage of Light. He wasn't sure where he had picked up the title, or why he felt a revulsion upon hearing it. But he knew what he had to do. He clutched Farcutter in his right hand, and turned toward Maria slowly and with a wince. "A knight such as me... one would expect I would choose to support the Light without hesitation, no? But Light is not inherently good in every single instance. I have a feeling, Maria, that this light above us is not good, not just." In his left hand, he drew forth and tightly clutched the Storm's Eye. The air around them perceptibly began to shift as Cerik exerted his will over the weather around them. "If this Shadow Princess gives me an opening, we can end this in one blow. Coordinate your magic with me, and a swift victory will be assured. All I need is a couple minutes." He looked across the ledge, where two figures in white armor that almost seemed to glow approached with weapons in hand. White wings spread wide behind them. "... and it seems I'll need you to buy me those minutes. Our troubles should be over after this, I hope."
  3. Not sure who all is still checking here but there's an epilogue to this great thread/thread series for me, and a goodbye to Yh'mi as we know it, I suppose! I had a lot of fun in Yh'mi, and lots of wonderful memories made here, as well as writers met! and paladins slayed, I would have gotten to them all eventually if it weren't for jaist's absence! But of course, this isn't completely the end. I'll see those of y'all who have moved there/intend to move there once the curtain falls on PGRP. And I'll probably port Aligoria over as well, so in time old connections will be reforged, and new ones made. Until then...
  4. -Epilogue (Shadows Amidst Impermeable Darkness)- Gormaric and Eri: It took the ebon knight little time to find Shadowfang through the connection he held with the dark blade, once he was free of his prison of mind and body. How the sword had maintained a will of its own in even the illusory realm, he was far too tired and drained to question. His armor was refastened to the best of his ability, and he once again adorned that thick blue cape that he had been gifted in the wake of Remissio's demise. Perhaps the memories of that renegade paladin were a liability in this land, and had already proven to be capable of forming a tangible danger. But... they meant something. The key to answers, the meaning of the actions of that strange creature among the Spires. Or at the very least, a clue. This, and more, the so-called Bane of Yh'mi pondered as he made his way out of the caves. His stolid wyvern Eri was not far behind him, bearing some equipment that had been too much for the adventurers to carry but that they couldn't bear to leave behind. Not an excessive amount, of course, and the elephant Surus could bear a good load more by sheer virtue of size and strength, even weakened- but enough to contribute, certainly. There was nothing that had been taken from her, anyways, aside from the strength and stamina that had been drained from all present there. She would endeavor to recover that strength as soon as possible. The blackest depths, the hottest depths, amidst the very center of an all-cleansing light... wherever her master desired to go, Eri would bear Gormaric there, and protect him with all her strength with tooth, claw, and wing. It was for this purpose that the Shadow King had given her form. A singular driving purpose. The bad end of freedom was too many choices to ever find one fulfilling path. Affairs were soon back in order at the Aligorian contingent's camp. However, assuredly an oddity in the eyes of the Order of the White Hand, the forces of the Kingdom all withdrew to their camp not too long after the Furthest Point had been claimed. This seemed to have been in response to a missive that had arrived from a messenger bearing the colors of the Shadow King. Something was coming, Neque had shared. Something big and potentially world shattering. All personnel returned to the Aligorian camp, and kept close to the golem Anywhere, through which Neque would act to preserve his people if all was it bad as it seemed it might be. The ebon knight and his wyvern hoped it was a false alarm, and operations in the darkness of Yh'mi could resume as they were. But if everything were truly about to be turned upside down, then it was best to follow the command of their king and hope they would be seen safely through it all. And here he had thought that the greatest threat was within Yh'mi itself. What a cruel irony it would be if an external force overtook both them and the tainted land, then, wouldn't it? ---------------------------- Frederick: The commander of the Subversors was alone. Amelia and Gilliam had been found lifeless in the caves, back to back. Most likely awoken by their "deaths" and subsequently overwhelmed by their enemies in reality, before the others had awakened to finish the battle. Then, Bors and Oswin... two hauntingly empty eggs stood where they likely would have been, and no trace of them within the caverns. So, that power in the illusory realm had to have been real, since their sacrifice had been. Frederick did not feel it coursing through him now- but somewhere deep inside, a trace of it could be briefly felt. It existed. He would reclaim it one day, in the memory of his men. And then he would bring it fully to bear, ripping and tearing the twisted land that had claimed their lives. Uru-inlaid armor and shield. Their familiar weight returned. The equipment of his subordinates... painstakingly stacked into a pile, their weapons set atop it as a memorial. Frederick was the last to leave the caverns, for he had spent a while sitting before the pile, staring in silence. Meditating, saying his goodbyes, some other third thing? Whatever the case, he made his peace before he made his departure from those damned caverns. Alone in his tent with a bottle of whiskey. At the least, Frederick's tent flap was open to the center of the camp, where Gormaric and Anywhere stood while the Aligorian forces either stood and watched in anticipation or rushed around to complete pressing tasks. Maybe his power would re-awaken in whatever was to come. He smiled at the thought. ---------------------------------- Ilene: She had expended great power in helping to deal the finishing blow to the queen. It was all she could do to don her light armor and mask-helm, and retrieve her beloved curved blade. Then, she hitched a ride with the archer crew atop Surus, as her feet could hardly carry her. She slept like a log, to chuckles of amusement from the archer crew. Ilene was not present at the Aligorian camp. Indeed, merely a day after the Aligorians had returned from the Furthest Point, a note was found in her tent: She had set off on her own, bound for the Shadow King's side. Gormaric had been visibly confused upon hearing of this, but then ultimately shrugged and sent a well-wish her way on the wind. Hopefully the Shadow Guard commander could outspeed Neque's prophesied calamity to reach his side. She had earned that much through her actions. ------------------------------------------ Surus and Crew: The elephant could no longer fly. This revelation had been accompanied by a large thump that had echoed throughout the cavern, and some sad trumpeting. Captain Jeorge and his crew had managed to calm Surus down and get him on his way nonetheless. The elephant helped to carry companions and equipment alike as the expeditionary force to the Point made their exodus from the caverns. The elephant had returned to the camp with only the archer Norne atop his back. When questioned, she stated that the rest of the crew had followed the enigmatic 3-13, after he had tried to split off into his own to make an unexplained trek deeper into Yh'mi. They had sent her back with Surus to make sure their choice was known, as well as keeping her and the elephant from succumbing to any dark fate they could possibly meet. But... something told Norne that bunch would be alright, no matter what was to come. Surus lightly trumpeted in agreement, as if reading her thoughts.
  5. Ohhh, I was trying to say that we could move this thread to the new site if we didn't manage to finish this off before the "grace period" before Val gets archived comes to an end so I was asking if you would be wanting to finish it off here, and then move over if we don't manage to beat the deadline (and in any case I'd love to do more writing with you on the new site once I make my move over there!)
  6. So... we have a few weeks/near a month to finish this. At this point it doesn't matter if it gets canonized or not lmao (since the Lagrimosa setting as a whole is not carrying forward, just bits and pieces at discretion), I just want to finish this as my last hurrah on Valucre (except maybe a solo thread regarding Aligoria). 10 more posts from me, 11 more from you. If we don't quite reach before Val hits the archive, we can certainly play out what remains to be done on the new site, if you're down. I'm already working in the end of Valucre to this thread because it seems fitting and fun lol
  7. "You dare take my trust for granted?!" These words were heard clearly by Salida as, at the height of her exultation of her treacherous victory, a sword of fire struck deep into her torso. The fire spread around her torso as the spike of obsidian was driven deeper by a second blade of fire. She reacted with... a demented laugh? The intense pain she assuredly felt was mixed into her tone, but still, she laughed. Soon enough she spoke. "The artifact... ahahaha, no, not the artifact! I saw the future! The very fabric of reality... ugugahhga... UNRAVELED!" As the burning merchant spoke, the cultist leader stood up and began to walk forward. Maria might normally have attacked him as well- but it was quickly obvious that he was not approaching her, but instead Salida herself. His burnt-away robe revealed the strange crystal embedded in his chest- glowing an angry red now. He met Maria's gaze for a moment, and he motioned for her to keep Salida's attention. Whatever he was planning, perhaps it could only benefit her. Salida swiftly continued, oblivious to the approaching man. "The threads of the loci, severed! Cerik's artifacts... I needed them. Not to prevent what was to come... ahahahahah... no, no single person could possibly! Nor even the cooperation of all of the peoples! But with them, I could save my master... and her chose-" The cultist leader surged forward, putting Salida into a headlock. Weakened by fire and probably insanity, she wasn't able to struggle free despite a brief attempt to. "Damn your master! Damn you for not letting me die and then using me as your puppet! Damn you for treacherously striking down the knight who rightfully defeated us all! I know not visions of insanity lead you down this path, you damned merchant... but I will ensure that you go no further!" His crystal glowed brightly- an obvious gathering of energy, even to those untrained in the magical arts. He met Maria's gaze with a rueful smile. "Your fire burned away the strings that controlled me. I thank you for that. I'm sorry I wasn't able to act just a bit earlier- I might have been able to prevent her treacherous blow. But ah well, I'll do what I can now. Her mad ranting is a cover for the deadly spell she's readying... it will fire off upon her death even if your fire takes her down first. I'll destroy her before it's ready, but just two things first. First, tell Cerik... it was a good fight in the desert. And if he dies here, I will be extremely disappointed. And second... beware the First Sage of Light. Beware Imryll Duskbane." With that, just moments afterward, the stored energy burst forth from the crystal. A violent burst of light came forth and consumed both the cultist leader and Salida. When it faded, both of them were gone without a trace. Salida spoke telepathically to Maria as the silence settled. "I have done all I can for him. It is all up to his will now, whether he clings to life or lets himself slip into the embrace of death. Also... two presences approach. A presence of Light from the west, powerful. And a presence of Shadow from the east, of equal magnitude. Prepare as you can, if we are lucky they may pass this mountain by."
  8. Wymp let out an annoyed sigh, and tossed a handful of sand from the pouch into the eyes of an incoming enemy. The grisly result of the attack caused even the battle-hardened and pious Cardinal to blanch. He murmured a quick prayer at what he had been forced to do here and then looked around. He saw men starting to surrounding Owend, and rushed to her side. Owend, for her part, laughed for a moment before taking a drink from her cocktail and then sweeping her arm imperiously. The cocktail sloshed around as bubbles formed around then men- and then a cavalcade of water with fruit within it poured down upon the men. They did not get back up. The battle raged in a similar fashion for a bit longer until the waves of enemies finally subsided. Wymp and Owend stood back to back for a moment longer as they scanned the area for any more threats, then collapsed with grateful sighs onto the sand below. They laid there for a time, until Wymp broke the tranquil silence that had settled. "Owend. Was going to mention this earlier, but then this whole thing broke out. Your choice of swimsuit seems, hmm, somewhat more provocative than I would have expected from you. Are you trying to catch the attention of someone in particular?" Owend giggled before responding. "Oh? If I caught your attention like that, then perhaps my intent was on you?" Wymp chuckled and shook his head. "Come off of it, we've been through too much together. We both know that's not true... Is it the Exarch, then?" "... Wymp, I do not have a death wish. Olivia, Jill, and I'm sure there's more women out there perfectly willing to skewer me or blast me to smithereens if I had designs on the Exarch's heart. That aside, I have no such aims. He is, or rather was, my liege. And I cannot forget what he has done for me in my time in Isore, and cannot help but like the way he has ruled. But he is a man far removed from the likes of you and me. I cannot in good conscience try and take a heart that I innately just do understand." "Ah. A very fair response. It is my lot to try and understand that heart's driving force as best I can, so that I can guide Madon down the path of what is good and right. But I agree that there is something there that is just above us, that escapes the understanding of those in our station. ... So, if not Madon, then who? Do you have, ah, a certain preference for the fai-" Owend turned toward Wymp with a dagger-filled glare. "No! Just because I am Severa's successor, Wymp, does not mean that I share her proclivities... Ugh, forgive me. I was just the target of several nasty rumors of that nature back before I had left Glia, so it's a bit of a sore spot." "Okay, okay. I did not mean to offend. I'm just indulging my curiosity, and learning what I can about you since the times where you and I have been able to talk alone have been few and far between. So that thoroughly eliminates Olivia, Amber, and the de- Eve." Owend raised an inquisitive eyebrow as Wymp continued. "Mason is always off on his own and not even here, that leaves him right out. So by process of elimination, that leaves... Tolok?" Wymp gauged Owend's reaction. Bingo. "Ah. I see. If that is your aim, then, I shall see to it that your aim is more easily fulfilled. I owe you that much." He paused and glanced at Owend's drink for a moment. "Has that thing gone down at all this whole time?" Owend shook her head with a grin. Wymp stared for a bit longer, and then let out an annoyed sigh and laid back down on the sand. Madon and Jill tore through the enemies arrayed before them like a hot knife through better. The synergy of the pair was something to behold- Madon took incoming blows with ease and slashed away anybody who dared within reach, while Jill blasted away enemies who rightfully stayed out of Madon's reach with her strange weapon's power. One might have wondered if the duo had inadvertently chosen to fend off the very vanguard of the assault, for the tide of enemies before them seemed unceasing. Eventually, they found themselves surrounded fully as they stood to back to back. Scanning around, they caught sight of two figures surveying the beach from a high rock outcrop. One hooded and with a massive bow, the other in dark robes with a turban atop his head was about all they could make out. Madon broke into a devious grin as he remembered where he had seen the later before. "Village wasn't enough for you, you rat bastard? Trying to kidnap festival goers for your schemes? I'm not having any of that. Jill!" He looked over his shoulder at her, as she also turned and met his gaze. "Stay close to me. We'll crush these bastards in front of us and then bash those guys atop the rock. If we can at least force them to flee, any remaining forces should be easy to rout." Jill nodded thrice, and blasted the front ranks of the enemies surrounding them as her and Madon began their forward charge towards the apparent enemy commanders. "... No, we never did finish. A shame, that." There was an obvious amusement in the Ebon Knight's tone as he continued. "A disguise as flimsy as throwing swimming trunks over my armor seems to have worked wonders in obfuscating my identity. Whether that speaks to your greater perception than the rest of them, or the lack of perception is them, is speculation best not said in front of those in question." Eve then spoke of more pressing matters, to which the Ebon Knight nodded. He spoke up as he began to move toward the enemies before them. "Hah. Then we shall sweep them way wit-" Mages. Eve stopped from him stepping into a blast directed at him. He inclined his head in agreement with her opining that mages weren't fun opponents. "As Byrn works with the mages of Zenith, I can agree with that. Damn Glians must be bored stiff facing them down." With that, the Knight readied his weapons, one jump rope in each hand. Then, before he could begin his charge, Eve picked him up and effortlessly tossed him like a javelin at the nearest mage. I love this twisted, twisted woman. He crashed into the mage, the sheer weight of the armored knight crushing the mage into the sand with a sickening crunch. Pulling himself up, the Knight looked down to determine that the mage was, indeed, not getting back up. He turned and scanned the area, his gaze focusing on a mage who was seeking to blast Eve from behind. The jump rope in his right hand glowed with a red aura of power as he leapt forward and swept the odd weapon forward. It wrapped around the poor mage's neck. One pull snapped it with ease and the mage collapsed. The Knight exuded an aura of glee and sheer unshakeable confidence... perhaps even some bloodlust. The mages might have been soiling himself as he closed in on them, for he was bound and determined to clear this area as swiftly as possible. And barring any surprise, his efforts along with those of Eve would very soon see that to fruition. Innes rubbed his cheek angrily as Amber ran past him, slapping him with her tuna after she gone off and berated him. He shouted after her with an annoyed expression and tone. "Pervert? What kind of scandalous rumors are being spread about me?! I understand how you would know my name, but where you might have heard that I would dare say such crass comments about things being stuck into "happy places"..." He shook his head. "Yes, I may have done some ribbing towards a certain person, in privacy and confidence, that could be interpreted as something of that nature. That does not explain where the hell you heard about that. Or why you're in such a fuss about-" Innes realized that Amber was probably out of earshot by now, or at least almost. He sighed, then raised two fingers to his lips and let out a whistle. Jill's wyvern, Arvez, flew from the direction of Onstade proper to land beside Innes. He stared at Innes quizzically, and perhaps with a bit of hostility. The archer rolled his eyes at the creature. "Ehh, come off of it. Your master isn't here anyways, and she likes me too much to not lend me her wyvern in a time of need. Come on, Arvez, we've got a stupid bitch to show up." Innes climbed onto Arvez' back, and the wyvern took into the air. A shadow passed over Amber as the pair flew above her, then Innes pulled Arvez down as he hit an enemy with a diving slash- a deadly one, his banner on a stick somehow having similar power as an axe made of real metal.
  9. Perfectly fine! My internet has been out basically since the day after I posted, and just got back up and running today.
  10. Well. That got real spicy, I was definitely not expecting two tens in a row. Cerik got lucky with the d100 and this isn't a death for him- the deserter, on the other hand, had his goose cooked.
  11. Cerik was the first to move to break the standoff with the deserter. He was momentarily distracted by Maria's fire that cut off the merchant Salida from her bag- an opportunity that the knight pounced on without a moment's hesitation. A powerful blow from his sword Farcutter sent the deserter's acquired warhammer sailing into the sky and then down the cliff face, out of sight and far out of reach. With no more weapons to bring to bear, the deserter looked around desperately as Cerik advanced forward, striding forth as he was the very incarnation of death itself. And to the deserter... He was just about to be. Cerik plunged Farcutter into the ground and then strode forward and drove a guantleted fist into the deserter's torso. Then, in one smooth and expert motion, he pivoted around the deserter while drawing Windpiercer from his back. Then, gales swirled violently around the lances' head as he thrust it forward and began a charge toward the cliff's edge. Cerik shouted over the winds as he drove the hapless deserter forward. "You may have been saved from your rightful execution previously. But this time... you will not escape justice!" And with that, he reached the edge of the cliff and directed the gale-force winds in one violent burst... one that forcefully ejected the deserter from the head of the lance and sent him flying down and away from the top of the cliff. It would not be a pretty sight on impact, that was for sure. And the knight turned away and faced toward the merchant as the deserter fell with a drawn-out scream. Salida, for her part, was in desperate straits. She wouldn't be able to grab what she had planned to. The cult leader was a babbling wreck on the ground, and the deserter was currently learning why humans weren't able to fly without external aid. And that pyromancer companion of the knight was keeping a watch on her, and would react to anything she tried overtly. Only one thing for it, then... She carefully met the approaching knight with her own stride forward, after turning toward Maria and showing her that she had nothing in hand that she was trying anything with. The two's paths soon met, and Salida turned her gaze up toward the knight that towered above her. Tears streamed down her face as she bowed her head and spoke. "My dear Cerik, I'm so sorry! I was overtaken by something that controlled my thoughts and stoked dark desires... How could I seek your doom after all our time together?" Maria would sense Amura floating next to her. The spirit had a concerned aura around her, and her words to Maria were very quiet. "Hmm. Her words seem fully genuine to me. Yet, I cannot shake the feeling that something isn't right here..." Meanwhile, Salida continued. "... Some dark sorcerer had to have put a curse onto me, or a demon took possession of me. Perhaps even that cult leader worked black magic in order to save his life and indoctrinate me into his schemes. There has been little harm to you or your companion, Cerik. Would you let me go if I swore to never get involved in such dastardly schemes again? I will take my own life before being compelled to such a bleak course action again." The knight considered the merchant's words. Then, his guarded stance softened. His posture relaxed. One could sense a smile concealed behind that helm of his. "If you speak true, Salida, and so solemnly swear... then I suppose the only just course is to allow you to go. I will watch for further tricks as a matter of course, but let us seal the agreement here and now." Cerik extended his hand forward. Salida extended her own forward... and Amura felt the power of a spell emanate forth from it. "NO!" But it was too late for Amura to intervene as a lightning bolt shot down from the lightly clouded sky to strike the momentarily abandoned Farcutter. The sword rose from the ground as if held by an invisible warrior, the blade crackling with electricity. It then plunged forward into Cerik's lower back, piercing the knight's thick armor and sending electricity surging throughout his body. Salida's grin turned outright demonic as she leered down at Cerik for a moment. "Your fatal mistake was letting your heart override your mind's warnings. Or perhaps it was more base desires...? Regardless, may your last moments be those of regret as I claim my prizes." Salida strode forward to the knight, who had fallen and was convulsing on the ground. Amura swiftly floated over to him and spoke to Maria as she did so. "I will ensure that Cerik survives this. You must stop her, Maria, as my power will be fully occupied with him. Go swiftly."
  12. Truth is... the game was rigged from the start.

    1. Die Shize

      Die Shize

      Luck is for losers, baby. Someone pulled strings.

  13. Wymp stared at Eve incredulously as she appeared from what seemed like nowhere. He knew for a fact that she had previously departed in the wake of Orsola and Olivia, to investigate that pillar far down the beach- there was no way she could have gotten back here so fast. And given her strange behavior now and previously... he had no choice but to assume that she was possessed by a demon. That could become a serious issue in the future, and he would need to find the opportunity to perform an exorcism. But for the moment, there were more pressing concerns. The pious soldier missed the familiar weight of the vaunted Arbalest on his back as he made his way into the shack full of strange "weapons". Well, and his armor as well, but that went without saying for all of the Isorians there. For so many of them, their armor had become as a second skin. Well, hopefully they would never be caught unprepared like they were now again. Looking around the shack, a red velvet pouch tied with a black string happened to catch his eye. He untied the string and felt inside, pulling out a handful of... sand? "What do I need with a pouch of sand? There's literally a beach full of it just outside!" Shaking his head, he tossed the handful of sand over his shoulder and began to look for another weapon- only to stop as he heard several popping explosions behind him, culminating in one large and powerful explosion that propelled him out the shack and laid him out flat on the ground. Turning his head, he saw a couple of weapons had been blasted out of the shack and flew into the sky, to land God knows where. Huh. Had that been... a swordfish? As he looked at the pouch of sand that had landed behind with an appraising eye, somebody grabbed him and forcefully yanked him outright. He grabbed the pouch and stared indignantly at whomever had pulled him up. It was Owend, who had obviously been drinking again. She had a cocktail in hand... was that simply her drink, or had that been her weapon she had chosen from the shack? Before Wymp could ask, Owend gave him a wild grin and pulled him down the beach to split off and protect a section of the festival that wasn't already under attack. The Ebon Knight had a moment of surprise at Eve's sudden arrival- he hadn't seen her since their little battle in the sands outside The Valley. The moment swiftly passed however, as he heard the news of the scout and of the impending attack. Who could have orchestrated such an assault on this festival? Had that bastard Nergal caught wind of his presence here, and decided to remove him as a potential threat while he was at his most vulnerable? But... no, it wasn't possible. He had simply thrown swim trunks over his armor, and nobody at the festival seemed to have been able to recognize him whatsoever. Perhaps he could take best advantage of that phenomenon, then. Everybody moved to the shack to gear up. That wimpy fellow set off an explosion that sent a couple of the weapons flying into the wild blue yonder, and then was dragged off by that drunken girl he and his subordinates had rescued. The drunken man also split off with a woman he did not recognize. Had she always been with the Exarch's group? Whatever the case, he entered the shack himself, and examined the offerings to be had. Out of everything... something about the jump ropes, of all things, called out to him. He picked up the both of them, one in each hand, and then made his way back out. The only ones who remained in the area were Innes, Amber, and Eve. He already had enough of Innes on a regular basis, and Amber wouldn't be a bad choice by any means. But... hah, he couldn't help but listen to that part of him that said to go with Eve. So it was that he approached her, an obvious amusement in his tone as he spoke to her. "You and I... let us fend off this incursion together. Then, perhaps after..." He didn't finish his sentence as he turned away and began striding toward a group of bandits that were charging toward lounging sunbathers. And then there were two. Innes rested his chosen weapon, what looked to be a piece of driftwood with a blue banner attached to it, on his shoulder and watched the departing Ebon Knight and Eve with a chuckle. He mused more to himself than anything for a moment. "Figured those two would end up together. Too bad nobody but that weird girl with the staff would get the joke." He stretched languidly, and then turned and looked toward Amber with a smirk. "Looks like it's just you and me left, huh? ... You can call me Wanker. And you were that mage that decimated Jill and her troop outside Cortia, weren't you? She was steaming mad about it for days, couldn't put in a word edgewise without getting slapped. I bring this up because if you can still muster even a fraction of that power, then we're in business. Let's go crush these bastards, shall we?" "What the hell was that about, Jill?" "Look, Madon. I needed to get you away from everybody else so that we could talk. And, umm, I asked you to call me that because we're going by codenames while we're here in Glian territory." "What kind of codename is 'Bitch'?!" Jill couldn't hold back her laughter, and Madon was soon pulled into it as well. The fiery wyvern rider of Byrn and the Exarch stood there laughing while the festival carried on around them and the waves lapped incessantly at the shore. The squeaking of a mouse joined the cacophony until it soon subsided. Jill and Madon looked at each other in silence for a few moments, before Jill finally replied. "Innes came up with them. Well, except for his own as 'Wanker', I gave him that one. I'm not quite sure what purpose they actually serve, given that we're hardly in any effective sort of disguise, but I digress. Madon... what are your plans after this?" "After this festival? I will resume the march of my force to our eventual destination. Even your most mediocre spy could probably figure out where that is, but I will still not be such a fool to let loose such intel even if you approach me so amicably." "No, I mean... after the war? When all is said and done, and we can turn our thoughts not to our next battle, but the restoration of our homes and nations." This question gave Madon obvious pause. What were his plans? He had been driven thus far by simple goals in mind: Defeat Byrn. Restore Isore. Resume his duties as Exarch of the Walled City as if the war were but a minor interruption. Broad, sweeping strokes. He had never considered the specifics, had he? He mulled it over for a bit longer. "... Would it surprise you to know that I haven't thought out that far? Sure, I've thought of the grand and broad ideals, like restoring Isore and setting my nation back in order. But I haven't considered the lesser, more specific things. Like who among the Guard will... replace Severus." He paused for a moment, and Jill's expression grew slightly intrigued. There was evidence that Severus might not be dead, Madon knew. But he couldn't check the veracity of it unless he found the time to go to the besieged Cortia himself. He shook his head slightly and then resumed. "Promotions and positions would have to be considered. And even before the war ends, I will likely have to give great consideration to the matter of an heir, in the event that I were to meet my untimely demise in this conflict." As he said these words, Jill seemed to move closer. There was... something about her, the Exarch thought. Had she always had such a charm to her? Or had it simply been concealed by the blood and sweat of the battlefield? Jill spoke and shook him out of his reverie. "An heir would mean that you would need to take a wife, then. Have you ever considered what lucky woman you would take as your bride? And would you seek a union of pure political maneuvering... or of actual love?" Madon's stoic expression rippled with consternation for a brief moment. Such thoughts had been far from his mind for the most part, due to how occupied it was with all those thoughts related to the war. But even so... there were two that the Exarch knew had come to mind in the depths of night, as he finally drifted into the the best sleep he could manage to muster. And one of them... "... It has been a matter that has not been completely been absent from my mind, Jill. Love, or pure political ploys, I would take whichever benefited Isore more in following my logical mind's desire. Yet in my heart? A relationship not built on a solid foundation of love can only end in tragedy, I feel. So yes, while I have given it some thought? I don't think now is the proper time to commit to anything. When I have ascertained better the situation in Dodon, and secured a stronger foothold for myself and my nation, then perhaps I can speak of commitment. Was that... all you wanted from me, Jill?" Jill smiled shyly for a moment, almost physically touching Madon as she leaned in closer to him. "Those were my main questions to you, Exarch. And your answers are definitely satisfactory. But there is indeed, hmm, something else..." She locked gazes with the Exarch, something lurking beneath her expression. "I'm a simple woman, Madon. I want your lance in my va- vanity chest. The golden lance of the Exarchs, Arcane Piercer. It's just... so cool, and would make for such an excellent display piece." Madon chuckled for a few seconds. "Is that so? Far better than our previous meetings where you wanted my head on a platter, I suppose. I could certainly arrange something after the war is over. Even if I wanted to at this time, I couldn't even give it to you, because I don't know where that damned legate hid it and the rest of our weapons, and nor have I seen her anywhere since the very start of the festival." Jill grinned deviously as she touched Madon's shoulder. "Perhaps we could go together then, track her down? Get your lance back, and I could, mmm, admire i- Madon, watch out!" Jill gathered her strength and pushed the Exarch away from her, moving him out of the path of an incoming arrow. It seemed to have been tipped by a seashell, judging by the fragments surrounding the rock the arrow had impacted. Madon and Jill turned to look at their assailants: one with a weird bow and arrow, and one wielding a floatie as if it were a deadly weapon. Madon frowned and raised his fists as he looked at the approaching duo. "People attacking the festival? And we are sorely unarmed, to boot. Damn, is this really how our story e-" He was cut off by two objects falling out of the sky and landing in front of them. There was... a swordfish?! And a buoyboard? Madon and Jill glanced at each other, then shrugged before each grabbing one of the items before them. Madon grabbed the swordfish and shifted into a swordfighting stance, while Jill clasped the buoyboard and... ducked behind Madon? The Exarch turned toward her with raised eyebrows. "Jill, what exactly are you doing?" "I'm using you to protect me, you idiot!" "Why the hell would I need to protect you? You have at least twice proven capable of matching my strength physically, and even without armor I would suspect that to remain true." "You moron! Just... just shut up and keep these men from harming my delicate body, okay?" Madon let out a deep sigh and shook his head, before turning back to their assailants- who had patiently waited for them to finish speaking to each other. The archer drew back an arrow and aimed as the floatie-weilder charged at the Exarch. The latter clash was decided when Madon's swordfish popped the floatie, and the sword-like part of the petrified ichthyoid pierced the throat of the man. He collapsed to the ground choking and spluttering, before disappearing in a flash of light. At the same time, Jill pointed the buoyboard toward the archer and moved it up through the air. A wave of apparent seawater moved across the beach, striking the archer full-force and collapsing into a swirling whirlpool. The water dissipated in a splash, but only after it had drowned the archer where he stood. He too disappeared, and the odd duo at this far end of the festival turned toward each other. Then, with resolute nods, they turned away once more and began making their way to where they see people approaching the beach.
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