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Ataraxy

U wan sum Snek?

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7256c665166b89edd989d1a0a7fdb543.jpgOn the worst day of Titus' year, minutes before the Xer-orians were to burst through the gates of Lunaris, the world exploded. The man had been through many horrors in his life but to see the entirety of Taen collapse into itself was by far the worst. It wasn't long before the scream of the dying burnt the air with fear and stained the ground with blood. And it wasn't just those from Valucre who screamed. It was the Xers. The animals. The trees. The water. It was as if Taen itself were crying out in pain. 

The Elder Tree trembled under his feet before a large crack filled his ears and the unimaginable happened. An Elder Tree was falling. And with it, hundreds of houses, their food storage and their main base. 

Impossible.

Not even great magic or tools from the mainland had been able to get beyond a few feet of the mile long trunk. The chains strapped to each of his wrists glowed bright, pulling him toward the exit of the tree. The room spun around him in every way as the trunk presumably spiraled downward. The invisible hands grasping onto the chains yanked Titus from the falling Elder Tree and into the air where he hung. Suspended and useless as his city burned. While his people died. 

Trees for as far as Titus could see were up in flames, felled and broken by giant cracks in the earth that continued to spread with a terrifying speed. The sky cracked, bolts of lightning like arrows as the slammed into houses, people, Xers, anything in the open. Below him, Titus could see the ground literally shaking. If he hadn't known better, he may have believed that Gaia herself had taken a hold of Taen and was using it as a snow globe. 

Still hanging limply in the air, Titus felt his eyes widen at the fear the struck him deep within. Beyond his mind, heart or soul. It was fear on a primal, ancient level. A single eyes stared up at him from the cracks below, red and black, filled with millennia of hatred. Rage. Titus could feel the emotions broil the wind and heating the air around him. It must have been worse for those below.

A child's scream tore Titus' focus away from the peering eye, snapping the warrior into action. Without so much as a thought, the tension holding him in the air released. Plunging to the ground, the muscles in his back bulged and opened, giving way to a pair of white wings that stretched in relief. The spell keeping his appearance human faded as his wings spread, removing the humanly clothing he wore and replacing it with angelic cloth. A golden crown circled his head, keeping in complete sync with Titus. The ghost of a staff blinking into existence before just as quickly fading was the only hint of the archangel's past.

His attention now on rescuing the child about to fall into a crack of earth, the archangel shifted his graceful plunge to a full nose dive. His wings tucked in as his body begun to spiral. 

A bolt of lightning lit the sky and arched downward, chasing Titus. 

Edited by Ataraxy

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Things didn't quite go exactly how Asen wanted it to go as he was ready and had prepared for the Xer's assault. With his cunning defense and means of trapping the Xer injured and fresh alike. Then next thing Asen knows deep beneath the earth there was a tremble that was faint to his bare feet. 'Is this a trick of the Xer's?' Asen began to wonder as the Xer's powers were still a bit unknown to him even though he was indeed handling them quite well so far. Not having much time to pay more attention with this strange event, the young man spun around a charging Xer with its primitive spear and proceeds to deliver a nice kick to another Xer's chest area that was behind the one Asen just evaded. The feeling of his foot connecting something hard as following was a crunch of a husk. The kicked Xer was knocked back about a meter into the others before another ping erupted from the ground. This time it was louder and perhaps closer due to the ground shaking. Only problem is that this tremble didn't stop, and it caused everyone including the Xer to stop in their tracks.

 

Asen was aware that this tremor was getting progressively stronger as he could feel the very ground being split apart and shaking violently that forced Asen down on his knee to keep himself balanced. That's when the ground underneath him cracked and Asen began to feel weightless as he began to fall with the dozens of Xer. He didn't trust how deep this crack was going to travel, so two tendrils of darkness slipped out from his sleeve and shoots out to pierce into the two walls of the crack. Where the line of darkness stretched a bit before like a rubber band it bounced up and with good timing that launched Asen out of the crack and quite a few meters up in the air. The tendrils of darkness would let go of its cold grip onto the earth after Asen was out of the hole, but he was still falling. So the mage converted his tendrils to form a platform of darkness underneath his feet that solidifies and practically defies the law of gravity for it remains in the air roughly 7 meters above ground without anything to support the said platform from falling. Then again, the shadows never stick to one form and has never before followed any law except the ones that it places on itself.

 

The young man took a moment to look around and saw nothing but fire scorching the trees for as far and wide as the eye can see. For once the screams in Asen's head have been silenced, but in exchange the screams of the dying from both Valucre folk and Xer alike linger on his ears. Asen wasn't sure what he could do, but if anything he could at least try to make the fire be quenched from its fiery rage. This is done by having multiple wolf like creatures of darkness erupt from the bottom of the platform and thus spread out to a large area as they're literally eating fire. The wolves' jaw has a nasty ability to actually drain magical energies including nature energies by biting at the materialistic form. So anything that's spectral would be unharmed, but if magic is indeed involved with this fire then the wolves will eventually clear out a small space. With the smoke lingering in the air Asen found himself coughing with his lungs hurting to breathe. The fire was burning the oxygen in the air and was replacing it with smoke that is hard on the lungs to process. The small space that Asen has cleared didn't even mattered as the ground collapsed on itself and what Asen sees next was something that makes his magic scream with anticipation while his mind was processing the vast amount of eyes staring up at him. The kind of eyes that seethe with a burning, ancient hatred that Asen is actually all too familiar with. It was truly something to behold, and to think that even the Elder Tree was falling. Whatever was causing this catastrophe has to be very powerful, and most likely ancient too for Asen has never encountered something like this in Genesaris.

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Sebastian's first warning was the scream.

Not a scream from any mortal throat however; or indeed even a scream that was audible in the traditional sense. No, this scream came from the blade hanging from his right hip. Sebastian was used to, "hearing," his blade express itself in various ways, from the occasional chuckle, to a sort of mental pacing that let him know that the weapon was impatient. But the sound it made now was unlike anything that he had heard from it previously. For one thing; the sheer intensity of the sound was so intense that it actually seemed to be affecting those other than himself; as a wandering citizen of the elder tree he was in found out to his surprise, doubling over and clutching his ears in pain. But what truly shocked him was the raw emotion being displayed by the sword. It was like a great swirling mass of anticipation, rage, joy, and somewhere on the fringes an emotion that it had never shown before; fear.

Before Sebastian could even attempt to soothe his blade, there was what sounded like a great clap of thunder; and a huge crack spread through the floor. The next thing he knew, half of the building he was standing in began to sag. The sudden motion threw the young man into the far wall of the room, banging his head against the hard wood. He groaned in pain, and reached for his head on reflex when there was another loud crash, and the room he was in started to fall away. Suddenly, Sebastian and half of the building he was standing in where falling away from the tree. 

For a moment, Sebastian thought he was about to find out if there was a god after all. But he was at least determined to try to survive whatever cataclysm had engulfed Lunaris, and to that end he rolled toward what had been a window of the building, and allowed himself to fall through it. It wasn't a great plan, but he knew that if he had stayed with the falling wreckage that he had no chance of survival. Now as he fell through the air, his mind raced, looking for a way to save himself. He found it in a tangle of vines that was fast approaching his plummeting form. He steered himself as best he could, and hit the vines at considerable speed. It hurt. A lot. By the time he had reached the other side of the tangle he was sure that he had managed to crack, or possibly break all the ribs on his right side. He was bleeding from multiple cuts all over his body, and he was pretty sure the arm he was using to hang onto a vine was dislocated. But at least he wasn't dead, which was more than could be said for many of the citizens of Lunaris

From his perilous position, Sebastian could see the land of Taen tearing itself apart. The earth cracked, sending entire trees falling into great chasms. Lightning streaked from the sky to strike whatever it could reach, whether it be human, Xur, the bolts did not discriminate. Over the sounds of falling ruble and thunder could be heard the terrified screams of uncountable citizens. But one sight drew his attention more than anything else; that of a winged Titus streaking toward a child that had fallen into a crack in the earth. 

Sebastian stared at the scene unfolding in front of him for a moment longer before he shook his head, and refocused on the task at hand. He looked at the trunk of the great tree in front of him, and saw a path in the vines and branches that hung from the tree. He started to make his way down until he found a branch that led him back to the grand stairwell that went up the tree. Once he was on the stairs, he made good time getting to the ground. After taking a moment to rest, he turned to face the tree, and rammed his shoulder into it; painfully relocating it. When the blinding pain began to subside, he started making his way towards where he had seen Titus descending towards the ground.

 

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Fox eyed the pair standing across from him, their cheap suits and even cheaper cologne telling him all he needed to know about his new employer - a portly man standing between the two hired thugs. He had the look of a pig given human form, draped in finery that simply did not suit him. "You come highly praised, Mr. Fox." The little pig man said, rubbing the ring on his right index finger greedily. "I require someone of your, ehm, skillset to handle a probl-" Before the pig could ever hope to continue his train of thought all hell broke loose. Fox reacted almost immediately as the building began to shake horrifically, drawing the muzzle of his slung rifle upward and scanning the shaking room for potential threats. It didn't take long for the building to begin to fail, its wooden walls crashing in on itself as the floor split down the center. Fox charged the nearest window, firing at it as he did before diving through it - what he saw of the outside of Lunaris caused him to pale. It seemed the massive tree the city was built upon was in upheaval, sending it crashing toward the ground below. Fox's sharp eyes assessed the situation as best he could and decided the situation was hopeless, allowing his rifle to fall back to its single point slung position Fox took careful steps toward the edge of the nearest railing. 

It was at that moment that what appeared to be a winged man burst from above, nose diving fast - trailed by a slow traveling flash of light. "Baise-moi." Fox muttered to himself, realizing that the simple covert job he had taken had just turned into a giant shit show. The Xer-orians were a big enough complication, but this was so far out of his pay grade Fox considered just jumping and visiting Emillia in the afterlife. "Pas aujourd'hui." Fox yelled, turning away from the railing and looking for a strong foothold to ride out the rapid descent of the massive tree. 

It was at that moment that Fox spotted the pig man and his two guards scurrying toward an alcove in the massive tree. Bringing the muzzle of his slung rifle upward Fox calmly fired two shots, compensating for the shaking surroundings perfectly. The barrel of the black rifle suddenly lit up in stages, starting from the hand guard and up toward the muzzle strange runes flashed and then held, before receding and then starting once more for the second shot. The projectile that loosed from the strange firearm was not unique, a simple pointed metal slug flying at thousands of feet per second. Both men fell hard, and while it was likely none would notice in the chaos the utter silence of the rifle assured no one would notice it was Fox who had killed them.

Charging the pig faced man he forced him at gun point to lead the way, and soon the pair were hunkered down in a steel reinforced bunker in a natural alcove of the tree, a sort of concealed panic room. "We ride this out and I'll pay you double for the job." The pig man spit over the screams of the dying and the harsh sound of cracking wood. Fox didn't even respond as he removed a large knife from the holster across the back of his waist - he drove the knife slow into the pig faced criminal, keeping eye contact as he did so. Fox wiped the blood off on the mans expensive clothing, pocketing his rings before bracing the body against the door of the panic room and sliding himself to the far right corner. It was going to be a bumpy ride, and damned if he was going to have to take that ride with a pig.

[Fox is a pure human with some magical equipment, so I took some liberties so he would survive the initial tree fall. Hope that is acceptable.]

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She tread one of the many platforms around the crown of the Elder Tree, humming a sad little song.  She was in a bazaar but little was being sold or traded.  Most were worried about the siege and talking in hushed tones concerning the Xer-orians and the possibility that they may break the gate.  Ceol had come to Taen and Lunaris by chance.  She was not necessarily trapped in the city despite the siege.  She could escape easily and at any time but something did keep her there.  She would later call it fate.  The performer had been in the city before the Xer-orians had attacked the walls and had chosen to remain once they started to hit the gate.

She moved over to the edge and leaned upon the railings that faced the gates.  Her arms were folded and resting upon the smooth wood planks.  Her chin rested upon the back of her hands.  Smoke rose from the field but it was so far that she could make out no single figure upon it and amid the forces either defending the gate or arrayed against it.  

It was at just that moment that the great tree quivered.  There was a brief exclamation from the people behind her, alarm in brief screams or panicked calls.  The tremor caused her to wake from her daydream and stand straight.  The ground exploded in the distance.  Great fissures opened up in the earth and stone long before she heard the rumble, felt the intolerable heat hit her cheeks, or smelled the acrid swirling reek.  Plumes of smoke, fire, flung earth, and stone rocketed into the air all across her field of view.  The world was breaking.  Valucre was cracking before her very eyes.  

Ceol cringed back, recoiled from the sight as the tremendous crack of splitting wood filled her ears.  Her flush cheeks paled and fear clawed at her heart.  The people behind her screamed and cried out in horror as the tree started to slowly list to once side,  steadily twisting  even at the start of its long fall.  She clutched the rail, and tightened her pack using her free hand.  She turned back to the people.  "Listen to me!  Listen!"  She screamed over the rumble.  Some did turn to look to her as they clutched at anything they could to keep their balance.  The children clung to their parents as the platform lurched and her own feet threatened to slide from under her.

She raised her head.  Her words started low but quickly bloomed over the rumble and the barrage of lightning and thunder.

"The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It's full of charts and facts, some figures and instructions for dancing

But I,
I love it when you read to me.
And you,
You can read me anything."

Flashes of light crawled and then danced across the air to condense upon their heels in sparkling fashion like sunshine spun with starlight.  The children and their parents, the merchants and their workers, and all the other people that were on the platform and in the bazaar rose slowly from the deck and at their heels ethereal wings flared to life.  The platform cracked and fell away but the people were held, suspended in the air.  Her voice rose over the din as they clutched each other and started to pull together.  Some prayed and others wept out of fear or some delusion that a miracle had been performed.

From higher branches and platforms people fell through the space, screaming as they went and were caught up and lifted again to the group.  During it all her eyes were squeezed tightly shut.  'I dare not look.  Surely the death and destruction will claim my heart.  I will be overcome.  My voice will crack,' she thought, tears streaming down her face but her emerald eyes did open and she gazed out across the smoking ruin.

The howling gale threatened to scatter her woven notes but somehow her voice prevailed and rose to new and even more beautiful heights.     

"♫The book of love has music in it,
In fact that's where music comes from.
Some of it is just transcendental,
Some of it is just really dumb.

But I,
I love it when you sing to me.
And you,
You can sing me anything."

The magic of her song moved them away from tree, narrowly pulling them from ruined buildings and falling branches as the trunk twisted.  They were suspended in the open air and under them was a broken, ruined city.  She reached out to a swarthy looking merchant and took his hand.  He did the same to another woman and the woman took the hand of a elderly man.  Every one of them started to join their hands as the world sundered below them.

Spoiler

Ceol starts to perform Ceol's Aria of Eagles.

Ceol's Aria of Eagles: The Aria of Eagles, when performed with a stringed instrument or her voice can lift heavy objects and cause them to fly.  Its primary purpose is for levitation or flight of those in earshot that she considers allies.  Your feet sprout ethereal wings at the heel.

 

Edited by Caliburnus

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latest?cb=20130121045737The dive wasn't all that hard for Titus to perform. Granted it had been a while since he had shed his human form, but flying was like riding a bicycle: one never really forgot how to do it. Titus disappeared beyond the cracked crevices after the falling boy, his wings wrapped tightly around his torso so as to pierce the air and increase his speed of acceleration. Like a rocket the archangel plunged until he was nearing the child. 

It was only once that he'd reached out and grabbed the child by the wrist, that Titus noticed another giant eye peering at him from the bottomless depth. A spear of fear struck through his body, causing Titus to tighten his grip on the boy, pull him into a bear hug and instantly open his wings. The whip-lash from an instant halt sent the world spinning but Titus fought through the daze to continue upward. 

He needed to get away from the eye. Far away. Whatever that was, it wasn't natural and it was coming. It was coming. What in Gaia's name was it. Titus looked down at where the eye had been only to see nothing but darkness looking back. And then the black depths erupted, revealing a pair of fearsome eyes attached to a serpent like head. The beast was larger than anything Titus had ever seen. From the 5 second look at it that he got before scrambling up the crevice as fast as possible, Titus noticed that each tooth was larger and wider than his entire body. He'd seen dragons and serpent, and all kinds of horrid beasts over the years but what crept from the underground before the archangel was something new. Something he'd never even heard of in legends or myths, much less seen one for himself. 

The mouth of the beast opened as if to eat the world whole and released a piercing roar that rattled the far off mountains. The sound swallowed the fear laced scream of the boy gripping Titus as the Archangel flew with desperation hanging to the every beat of his wings. The moment that he passed the top of the crevice, Titus flung himself to the side and just barely missed being eaten by the giant mouth the continued upward, inhaling the space where he would have been. 

"What in the fuck has been sleeping under Taen," Titus breathed, watching similar heads burst from the ground all around them. But that wasn't even the most frightening part. No, that was given to the fact that the necks continued to extend upward with no sign of halting. It wasn't long before the multitude of necks dwarfed Taen's elder trees.

Titus felt the body in his arms go absolutely still to where the archangel could literally smell the boys fear. Kicking and punching the boy sprang into action, forcing Titus to release him. Still screaming the child ran back toward the city's center, to what was probably the only remaining safe place in the entire jungle quadrant. Or so Titus hoped, hoped against all odds that there would be a safe place. With the monster that rose before him though, the archangel began to seriously doubt that there would ever be a safe place in Taen again. 

So he made a decision. He would fight one head at a time, starting with the one right in front of him. The handful of other creatures would have to come later. 

"One step at a time. One step. At a time," he whispered to himself, a golden spear appearing in his hand from the astral plane.

"Daesdohf madjendof."

The ancient tongue fell smoothly from his lips like second nature and the runes all along the spear shun with the brilliance of a sun, hopefully attracting the beast's attention. A large magic circle spread from beneath his feet to encircle a radius of around 10 feet. A white sphere held steady at the point of his sphere, growing in power with every passing second as it absorbed the mass magic flowing through the air of Taen.

Hopefully it would do at least a bit of damage.

 

Edited by Ataraxy

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These creatures... they reek with a foul hatred as the intense heat seeps into Asen's skin that was causing him to sweat a bit. Still it was uncomfortable least to say as the debris was kicked up by the earth splitting apart like someone drop a golf ball and the ground shattered like glass. As everything was falling apart, something even more powerful was slithering under the depths of the welcoming darkness. To anyone's eye there's nothing out of the ordinary, but Asen can feel the sheer weight of something ancient and something even extraordinary hatred that screams louder in Asen's mind than any of these foreign creatures combined. Honestly it was something that Asen can't even imagine what it could be other than it possesses enough power to be equivalent to a high ranking demon. Could the Nine Hells spit something out of their realm into a different plane of existence? No, Asen doesn't believe except for a very selective few who would know such a thing to exist and they're not demons nor devils. Which would mean that Asen would have to pay a visit in the Shadow Plane once again for about... the 24th time? Asen can't remember as he's traveled back and forth that it feels like he's been in Shadow Plane for a while now.

 

Still this powerful creature surged up the surface as various monsters continue pouring out of the depths of metaphorical hell. There was something flying, but Asen couldn't really tell as his eyes were following the amount of heads that Asen originally thought were multiple creatures. Until part of the main body Asen assumes reveals that those necklines join up in one body. "A hydra type? But this thing is huge and not even a eight headed hydra can be this big. Let alone possess such strength that is beyond physical means..." Asen was interrupted as he felt something rough wrap around his ankle and felt a strong tug pulling away. Asen immediately looked down as he had rooted his feet onto the dark disk that is keeping him afloat as like tar Asen's feet refused to part. It was a hand that belonged to a Xer who somehow leaped so high up and still managed to grab ahold of Asen. Honestly he was impressed it managed to accomplish that, and the Xer was simply terrified of what is going on so Asen can't exactly fault it. So Asen, without a word spoken, reached down to grab the Xer's wrist and hoist the creature up before expanding the disk larger so that the Xer can stand on it now. "I am aware this doesn't make us allies, but I rather not have multiple types of enemies breathing down on my neck." Of course Asen isn't sure if it can understand his language, but if anything he doesn't show signs of hostility towards the Xer.

 

Asen would outstretch his already extended left arm while speaking in the ancient tongue. "Devour, Embodiment of Cerberus." Almost like something of a dark cloak made out of shadows form around Asen's back before a lot of eyes in various colors and even shapes opened up. In the midst is a set of teeth that can be seen as white and slick with saliva. Then like an arrow the strange creature, while possessing no lower body, shoots out to literally tear through the invading creatures coming from the fissure. Like a train of teeth, the snarl was all people can hear aside from the tremendous ancient creature looming high above them as the Embodiment would devour most things as some pieces of a leg, foot, or even part of a head flies past its wake. If anything Asen is attempting to thin out the forces that could be trouble for the local folk. The big guy was already a big problem, and these things would only prove to be a nuisance in Asen's mind. Seeing as how many of these creatures there really are, Asen would follow up as the cloak completely shrouds around Asen's body. "Go forth and cleanse the streets from their filth! You've tasted their blood, and now you have free reigns to devour as many as you please!" Several more of these Embodiment of Cerberus's spring out from Asen's cloak and spread out to cover a much wider area.

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The city of Lunaris; once a bastion of order among the unchecked sprawl of the jungle, was now a vision of hell. From what Sebastian could see, no building had escaped the earthquake (for lack of a better word...) unscathed. The falling debris from the elder trees had done almost as much damage; with entire rows of buildings now crushed under massive fallen branches. As if the debris from the tree itself weren't bad enough, the houses that had fallen from the trees had also landed on top of other buildings; making it impossible to tell were any one structure began or ended. The air was thick with dust, and smoke, and the screams of the dying. 

Sebastian now walked down a ruined street towards where he had seen Titus descending. All around him there was chaos, as the survivors reacted to the destruction in myriad ways. Some had taken the initiative and were trying to rescue others; forming great lines to pass rubble as they dug out other victims. Others had given in to their more base instincts, and were looting whatever could be taken from the ruined homes and shops. Yet others simply walked the streets; dazed, insensate, unable to process the horror around them.

After a bit more walking, the swordsman reached a cross street and was nearly struck by a man running from his left. Turning to see where the man was fleeing from, Sebastian stepped to the side as even more people ran past him; looks of terror on their faces. A few moments later the throng of people began to thin out, until there was only one person left, a little girl desperately screaming and grasping at anyone who passed. Sebastian knew that he needed to get to Titus, and that he could ill afford any distractions. But just the same, he couldn't just leave this child to her fate.

He walked over to the child and knelt down, "What's wrong?'

The girl looked up at him, a frenzied look in her eye, "Monsters! Monsters, came out of the ground and, and,"

Sebastian put a hand on the girls shoulder an locked eyes with her, "Calm down. I'm going to help you. Just tell me what's happening."

The girl took a deep breath and spoke almost to fast to understand, "Mommy was making lunch, and then the ground shook, and monsters came out of the floor, and my mommy told me to run, but I saw the monsters dragging them away, but nobody would help and-"

Sebastian held up a hand to cut her off, "I get it. Can you take me to your house?"

The girl nodded and took off back down the street. Sebastian followed behind her, careful to keep his stride short so as not to overtake the child. As they made there way through the ruined street, they were occasionally passed by another panicked civilians. A few minutes after they had set off, a scream ripped through the air. 

The girl stopped in her tracks at the sound, "Daddy..."

Sebastian looked down the street, but couldn't see far through the dust and smoke. He turned to the child and asked, "Can you make your way back to where you found me?"

When the girl nodded, he spoke again, "Go back there, find a place to hide. If you don't see me or your parents in thirty minutes, get out of the city. Got it?"

The girl nodded again, and took off back the way they had just come. Sebastian made his way towards the source of the scream he had heard only moments ago. Moving quietly, he soon came upon a sort of courtyard. Against all odds, the small fountain in the center was still standing; although right now it seemed to be filled with corpses instead of water. In front of the fountain were a man and a woman cowering from a group of creatures that Sebastian hadn't seen before. Standing at a hair over six feet, the creatures where mostly humanoid in shape. Their skin was red and black, and reminded Sebastian of burn scars. The creatures arms were just a bit longer than a humans, and tipped in wicked looking claws. 

One of the creatures reached down and grabbed the man helpless before him, hoisting him into the air with one arm. It then took its other hand and put a clawed hand on his shoulder. The creature leaned forward so that it's skeletal looking face was nearly touching the mans.

"Scream."

The creatures voice was a rough rasp. The man didn't break the creatures gaze, and notably kept his mouth shut. In response, the creature dug it's claws into his shoulder, gouging the flesh and soaking his plain tunic with blood. The man didn't scream, and the blood that began to leak from his mouth told Sebastian that the man was biting his tongue to keep from doing so. After what seemed like an eternity, the creature dropped the poor bastard; who gasped in pain as the woman beside him pulled him close.

Sebastian had to plan his next moves carefully. There looked to be about six of the creatures in the courtyard, standing in a loose circle around the fountain. The nearest to him was standing at the entrance to the courtyard, with it's back to him as though standing guard. He couldn't be sure if there were more of the creatures hidden away, but he would just have to go ahead anyway.

Sebastian came out of the doorway he had been hiding in and began to move towards the creatures. When he was only twenty feet away he drew his sword from its sheath, the rasp of steel on leather ringing through the air like a cry of ecstasy. The nearest creature turned to look at in his direction just in time for the swordsman to behead the creature. Without slowing, he raised the sword above his head and brought it down in a strike that split the next creature lengthwise in two. Two down.

Now Sebastian stood with two of the creatures on each side. The creatures let out a enraged shriek before charging at him all at once. In one smooth motion, Sebastian took his left hand from the grip of his sword and drew one of his twin daggers from it's sheath and tossed it in an underhanded throw at the first creature on his right. The blade sunk into the creatures right foot, pinning it, and sending the creature sprawling to the ground. The creature behind it couldn't react in time, and fell on top of its friend. That was when Sebastian thrust his blade downward, skewering the beasts, and twisting the blade for good measure. 

But the monsters behind him hadn't stopped, and he knew he had only moments to react. Sebastian spun on his heel and turned 180 degrees to face the beasts charging at him, whipping the blade in a horizontal stroke that cleaved both creatures in half. 

Sebastian waited for a few moments to see if any more of the beasts were coming. When none did, he looked down at his blade. Though the sword was currently coated in black blood, the fluid was quickly disappearing; as though it was evaporating into thin air. Sebastian thrust the blade into the corpse of one of the fallen creatures before moving to help the man and woman he had just saved.

"Can you walk?" he asked, extending a hand to the wounded man.

The civilian grimaced in pain, but took his hand, and Sebastian hoisted the man to his feet. The man still looked unsteady, and the woman stepped in to help keep him up.

"Thank you for your aid," spoke the woman.

Sebastian nodded, "What were they doing?"

"They took prisoners," the wounded man mumbled, "Tortured them, made them scream to attract others. Fell right for it too..."

"You did fine," the woman assured him, "Because of you Sarah got away. I just hope she's okay..."

"Is Sarah a little girl about yea high, with brown hair in a ponytail?" the two nodded and Sebastian continued, "She's fine. She's waiting for you up ahead."

Relief flooded the faces of the two parents, and they looked to be ready to shower him with their thanks when a wall of sound came from the west. Over the tops of the building, Sebastian could see what looked like the heads of snakes rising into the air.

The swordsman looked at the couple and pointed toward the street he had used to get here, "Go, now!"

The two did as ordered and made haste away from the small courtyard. Sebastian retrieved his sword from the corpse that it had been draining the blood from. The steel of the sword had now taken on a barely noticeable crimson hue. Sebastian considered sheathing the sword and cancelling the effect, but one look at the giants in the distance made him think better of it. With a sigh, he started jogging in the direction of the serpents.

Spoiler

Sebastian starts to use Bloody Murder

Bloody Murder:

Bloody murder it the ability of Sebastian's cursed sword. When it, "drinks," the blood of unnatural creatures, it grows sharper and sharper. When it has gathered enough power, other abilities can be used as well.

 

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Tavias Kan’tou did not like humans.

He did not like it when they swarmed into Taen, filling the silence of Ma'ulap with their chattering and polluting the peaceful darkness of the night with the lights of their crude magic spells. He did not like it when they built a city around the Elder Trees - outrageous! If the Nu'no had not agreed, he would have let them

He had to admit, though, that the humans from this "Terrenus" were hardy. They had adapted to Taen quickly, and seemed content to remain on the Western area of Ma'ulap. They even killed off a few Xer-orians now and then, which he had to admit was good. 

Still, he did not like humans. They were children, wandering wide-eyed into a world that they had little knowledge of, stuffing their mouths with precious resources and killing the wildlife recklessly.

But when the ground shook and a nest of serpentine heads broke out of the shattered earth, the Mork'Outh Datu1 ran. He ran across moss and rock, through the darkest undergrowth of the jungle, amber eyes piercing the eternal fog with a sight that nature had designed for this environment. With a leap, Tavias launched himself atop a boulder, clawed feet finding purchase on the slick stone, then onto a gnarled, towering tree. The talons on his fingers dug into the rough bark, and with that split-second touch, he etched a message into nature itself.

Siraguba ay Lunaris, takbodali Ka'tubo isabwat tribo. Handaing protekta'an barangay.2

Muscles contracting under bronzen skin, Tavias pulled himself onto the tree's branches and continued running West, leaping from branch to branch with feline grace. The moist air was cool against his skin, gathering in the living vines braided in his hair. The trees shifted to his movements, sensing his urgency - branches untangled, moving ever-so-slightly out of his way, boughs bent, creaking, and curtains of vines parted. Every contact of his skin against treebark sent waves of replies from the tribes arcing into his mind. Ka'ila. Isusunod. Paraiting3

In time, he was joined in his run by the others. Noting the leaping shadows in his periphery, Tavias counted twenty. It would have to be enough. The rest needed to remain with their tribes, help undo whatever damage there was to the forest and to the earth. Thankfully, the land had a strange habit of knitting itself together.

As they neared Lunaris, Tavias started seeing some of the destruction to the land. Fleet-footed as his kind were, they narrowly avoided falling into the abyssal cracks that had torn into the earth. Tigil.4 The group of Mork'Outh stopped their sprint in unison, breathing lightly.

With a thought, Tavias sent ten of the Ka'tubo to drop down from the canopy. Each landed silently in a crouch, hands held out, and started humming.

Tavias didn't wait to see their work. He knew they would begin sewing the land back, flooding the forest with the magic that permeated Taen's air and sending thick nets of roots weaving through the void. He and the ten other Mork'Outh continued racing towards Lunaris. As soon as they arrived, the remaining ten raced off to salvage the remaining Elder Trees - those who had fallen wouldn't die, though they would need great time to heal. Already, the great trees were starting to slowly rise- roots coiling across cracks and forcing them to close.

Tavias stood in the middle of the carnage, staring in distaste at the rubble of the once-great city. He glanced up at the heads casting monstrous shadows over the destroyed city, a flicker of fear crossing his normally-stoic face. Ah. There was also a winged, golden man with a spear that bled light like the suns. And there were strange monsters. And there was a floating man with a shadow-mouth-arrow.What has Realmtide brought us now?

Spotting a human with a sword jogging towards the serpents, he waved irritably, making his way toward them. "Huy! Anya- Who are your manlal-" he scowled, "Your fighters, here? What is the event? You need to-" frustrated, the Mork'Outh spread his arms wide and pulled them in, mimicking an eagle gathering her young close. He snapped his fingers, eyes lighting up, "Gather! That bird-man, that shadow-man, fighters!"

Spoiler

1 Datu - Mork'Outh term referring to the leader of the tribes.

2 Lunaris is in danger. Send one regrower each tribe quickly. Be ready to shield your homes.

3 Yes. We will do so. On the way.

4 Stop

 

Also yea they can speak thru trees yas.

 

Edited by Csl

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The power shot through the tip of his spear, crashing into the head of the nearest Hydra. Despite Titus' hope, the blast of energy did nothing more than grab the creature's attention. Which was good and bad. Good because it would allow the retreating Lunarians extra time. Bad because now its full attention was on the arch-angel. The Hydra's neck stretched, beady eyes shooting daggers into Titus' primal urges. Every muscle in his body screamed to run. To escape. To save himself before he was killed or, worse, eaten alive by the Hydra. However, there was something quite odd about the fearsome existence. It didn't seem... natural. 

Taen, after all, was a pocket dimension. Who was to say that the pocket dimension did not also connect to other dimensions besides that of Valucre? Looking around the land from his perch in the air, Titus could easily imagine that Taen was a way-point for inter-dimensional travel. Though from what he'd witnessed so far, the only exit that existed led to Valucre. Easy to get in, hard to get out. Unless you were a Xer-Queen it seemed.

Well, until the Founders had blasted an entrance open. 

Tightening his grip around his spear, Titus soared from his position. The air in his wake quaked and fizzled as a hundreds of weapons appeared from the space, all aimed toward the Hydra. With a flick of his wrist Titus commanded the weapons to leap forward. From all around, weapons of varying sizes, rarities and strength stabbed forward into beast's skin. To Titus' chagrin, only a few of them found their mark. Specifically the strongest of them. The skin, not even the scales but the skin underneath, bounced back many of them regardless of the power. It was the weapons, and only the weapons, of mixed metals that found their way into the body.

Interesting.

Related imageTitus lengthened his arm, holding the spear like a javelin and launched it at the Hydra's eyes. Even though the Hydra moved so that the spear's end point would hit its neck, the powerful spear penetrated skin and armor without much resistance. A mix of gold and silver sunk into the creature's neck like a knife in heated butter. In fact, the Hydra's body was almost sucking in the weapon.

The arch-angel grunted with the effort of ripping his spear out of the neck and commanding it to fly back to his hand. With a loud, suction sound the spear reversed its trajectory. A spray of black and red liquid followed the weapon's ejection. 

The momentary satisfaction that flooded Titus at having found a weakness was dashed away by a sinking feeling in his stomach. His instincts took hold of his physical body before his mind had so much as registered the attack in his blind sight. Forcing wind under him, Titus' wings thrust him upward and just nearly dodged the downward spiraling snout of a second hydra head. This one appearing to not have the patient of the rather observant first head. White light shot from the tip of Titus' spear once again, slamming against the top of the second head with the force of a train. However, like the first head, it didn't really appear to do much damage. But it did enough to get the second head obviously pissed at his as well.

So much for one step at a time. 

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Sebastian had been running for about ten minutes when the humanoid creature approached him; speaking first in a language he didn't recognize before switching to the common tongue. The creatures bronze skin, horns, and plant like hair marked it as a Mork'Outh. If the swordsman recalled what he had read correctly; they were a mostly pacifistic species indigenous to Taen. The one talking to him spoke in fractured common; but Sebastian was pretty sure he was getting the general idea.

"The bird man and the shadow man are friends of mine," Sebastian said, "I'm trying to reach them, but the streets are crawling with monstrosities"

Before Sebastian could say anything more, a great shriek ripped through the air. When the swordsman looked up at the Hydra, he saw one of its heads spray a fountain of blood into the air as Titus pressed his attack. As he watched, the archangel dodged another of the creatures heads, and struck back with a blow that only seemed to enrage the beast. 

A moment later there was a sound like a great sheet of metal being rent apart. It took Sebastian a moment to realize that the sound wasn't actually a sound in the traditional sense; but was seemingly coming from inside his mind. It was only then that he noticed the sword in his hand trembling with excitement. At first the warrior couldn't figure out where this sudden outburst was coming from. Then he remembered that Titus had wounded the Hydra badly enough to make it bleed. That had to be what the sword was reacting to.

Sebastian tried his best to mentally calm his blade as he normally would; but the weapon refused to calm itself. The swordsman could see fleeing citizens brought to their knees by the sound; although he couldn't see at the moment if it was affecting the Mork'Outh. Finally, Sebastian placed the palm of his left hand on the blade, and drew a shallow cut along his palm. As his blood flowed down the blade, the sound began to diminish, an a few moments later it was gone. 

Sebastian sighed and got back to his feet. He Looked at the Mork'Outh and spoke.

"If you can get me to my friends; I'll do whatever I can to stop this."

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The Mork'Outh merely glanced up as the winged man shot a beam of light at the hydra. As the man’s sword screamed, he blinked in irritation. Psionic forces were rather weak against his kind - spending millenia fighting the Xer-Orians had built a resistance to their magic in his race.

"The many-heads not only killer Sansinukalon send here." Tavias sighed. He turned to the man with the screaming sword. ”This happen after many cold times. Hundred of cold times, some, thousand,” Despite the screaming villagers, the shattered ground, and the monsters both above and below, the Mork'Outh looked more irritated than frightened, as if the gigantic serpent heads were a daily occurrence. Then again, Taen's nature was erratic. Every few centuries or so, a rift in space-time would break the land, usually bringing a monster of some sort.

They used to be smaller, though.

Tavias was more worried about the citizens. Tavias eyed the wounded scattered across the area, clinging to the broken remnants of their once-great city. The Mork’Outh mages who had arrived with him were already moving around, healing those who were too injured to walk.

As hardy the humans had seemed, they clearly weren’t prepared for this.

Then again, neither were the Mork’Outh. His people had been at the mercy of the Xer-Orians for some time now, spread thin as the foreign threat continued to gain ground. He couldn’t spare any more Ka’tubo - the rest had to repair what damages there were at the village.

Oh, and what damage there was.

The Elder trees will have to sleep for now, Tavias thought, wincing at the sight of their thick, twisted trunks sprawled on the ground. The pulsing of life within was weak, but these had endured through greater dangers. There was always loss when the Realmtide was high.

Tavias glanced around, eyeing the monsters with the red and black scars. For the first time, there was a hint of weariness in his eyes. ”Too many.”

The Mork’Outh put his hand against the nearest tree root, humming softly under his breath. Immediately, the Ka’tubo in the area stood to attention, stepping away from the Elder Trees they were restoring. Each glanced at Tavias, and nodded. They rushed off, swiftfooted and sure of step on the fallen branches of the jungle, grabbing every citizen they could find.

Tavias returned his attention to his task - to kill the new creature Realmtide had washed onto their world. He wasn’t worried about his people protecting themselves - as every generation of monsters learned, the Mork’Outh were very, very skilled in harnessing the magical forces of both worldrift and wilderness that were abundant in Taen.

”You climb, yes?” Tavias asked. He stepped back from the fallen Elder tree, keeping both hands in contact with its bark. The roots pulsed with an undercurrent of blue light, as if they were the veins of a corpse whose heart had started beating again.

The tree began to lift its branches from the ground. With slow, graceful movements, the Mork’Outh ran his hands up the trunk, seeming to lift it up. The Elder Tree’s trunk twisted, new roots sprouting and anchoring itself to the ground as it reached for the heavens - and towards the heads of the hydra and the archangel soaring above.

With a catlike leap, Tavias had landed on a branch of the still-growing tree. Around him, other Elder trees were beginning to rise, new growths knitting together the cracks wrought by the earthquake.

”Dali na!”1 the Mork’Outh yelled.

Spoiler

Translations:

1. Come on!

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The uneasiness crept into her roots, and vines. Hung in the air, dark and oppressing, like when the sun was blotted out by a cloud. The earth trembled, the wind swept, and for one terrible moment the whole land was still. Then, the mother tree fell crying in pain, a pain so great the whole forest cried with her.

Scarlet's brothers and sisters hid within themselves, cowed by a force so great and terrifying it could uproot such an ancient tree in a moment. Scarlet struggled against the bonds of her own fear. She wanted to run, to hide. The swamp had granted her the gift of movement, she would not waste it on cowardice. 

Roots, branches, and leaves creaked, and groaned as they were moulded to a pale imitation of the human form. The morpher rarely walked amongst them, and her disguise was decidedly inhuman. Her skin cradled in thin roots and branches, her hair twig and vine. There was little time for more finesse, as she urged herself towards the unthinkable creature.

--------

It looked like a giant had run a sword through the ground. Debris, blood, and bodies littered the ground, creatures of all persuasions ran amuck. Scarlet sat far from the action, safe among the canopy of the trees. Though the morpher had eyes for only one thing, the giant beast that had emerged from the yawning chasm. The scaled creature struck at seemingly nothing, wait, no. It struck at a winged man, insignificant compared to the hydras gigantic size. Yet, he deftly dodged each attack, and scored hits in quick retaliation. He flitted from one place to the next, near quicker than she could see. Scarlet internally cheered for him. 

She had marched here without plan, but to destroy whatever dared threaten the forest. She had no formed metal, nor skill with any. The archangel always danced around the same head, then the hydra swung another one over. Both snapping after him. With so many heads surely he couldn't dodge all of them at the same time, if he could just focus on one head at a time...

The morpher knew her plan now, she had sent out her roots to reach far away water before, it really was the same idea, except much much more creative and dangerous. She planted herself among the trees, and sent her roots out. They slowly snaked their way through the ground, far, far too slow at this distance.

A single tree didn't have much strength, but a forest did. The forest really was just one organism, millions of trees interconnected, sharing resources among eachother. Scarlet reached for that strength, the strength she needs to save the mother tree, the strength that guided her here. 

The roots pushed through the earth at an accelerated pace, and burst through the chasm. The gnarled wood seeked upwards, curling around the massive body of the hydra. The hydra would flail and the bonds would snap, spraying splinters everywhere, but they grew back even faster. Slowly the morpher began binding the hydra in place, rooting the body to the ground.

It was still painfully slow, not a single head had been restrained, but it was a beginning. 

 

Edited by Sussurous

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VarinaSprite_zpswxqu0ofy.png

The girl with the cursed arm sat in the mother tree, hundreds, maybe even thousands of feet above the ground--it was way too high for her to really guesstimate at this point. It was a bit scary to have her knees out over that kind of a fall, feet dangling down, scrawny butt just one scoot away from taking that plunge. Varina doubted that even she would survive the impact. Just thinking about it made her stomach churn and her heart race. It was scary as hell, but that was why she'd climbed up here to begin with. Adrenaline was one of her vices, and this was a way of pumping it out that she had yet to experience. Besides, even if she somehow slipped or something, there were dozens or even hundreds of other branches and vines that she could probably grab onto. The land itself was only visible in tiny windows through the great tree's mass of foliage. Her pet cat, Tomato, laid on the branch next to her, purring happily, either unaware of the height they were at, or more likely, simply uncaring.

Varina petted him gently with her good hand, using the gnarled, clawed left one to adhere to the branch on her other side. All was right with the world, for about two minutes. Then the ground exploded and a giant snake monster came out.

"What the f--"

The next thing she knew, she was tumbling through the abyss as the tree began to fall, whacking her head on a knobbly outgrowth here, slamming and bouncing off of a branch there. She twisted and snatched at the air desperately, her claws raking through the wood several times, but they were too sharp for her own good; they simply sheared off great strips of wood instead of stopping her fall. Then she was out of the mass of brown and green, facing down at the surface of Taen far below, with her limbs spread-eagle and the wind whipping her hair and clothes all around her. Welp, this was it, she figured. A few more seconds before she went splat. As horrifying as it was, it was also strangely peaceful, the feeling of just being surrounded by total emptiness. The rush of air through her ears drowned out all other sounds.

Below, she saw a man with golden hair and angelic swings sweep into her view, maybe a few hundred feet below her current elevation. Varina thought he might be a literal angel come to whisk her off into heaven, but then a ball of magic energy fired out of his spear at the nearest giant-monster-snake-head. Whatever he was, he was very much a flesh-and-blood entity, and he was probably her last hope to live. So she screamed, closed her eyes and wailed at the top of her lungs, letting out a howl that shook the air around her with an inhuman depth and reverberation, instinctively bringing latent magic out of her curse through the sheer exhilaration and terror of this moment. Maybe he would see her, and save her. If he didn't, well, she wouldn't have time to regret it anyways.

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Turbulent was perhaps the closest word to describe the air around Titus. Each movement of the massive Hydra heads created an individualized gust of wind that battered against his wings, threatening to send him in a dangerous direction and knocking many of his attacks off course. He'd flown in storms before, but not even those winds could match the artificial air currents being brandished by the Hydra without it even realizing its doing so.

Or maybe it did know.

Titus clenched his teeth together, tightening his grip on the spear as two of the Hydra's heads bobbed before him like a predator watches its prey. Unfortunately for them, he was nothing's prey. Muscles bunched into an aggressive manner, Titus prepared to launch himself toward the creature, intending to do as much harm as he could. However what came next through his intentions out the window. A blood curdling scream lashed out like a whip from above, becoming louder and louder with every fraction of a second that passed. Risking his life by glancing upward, Titus found the source of the noise. A young woman was spiraling downward, dive bombing toward his general location like an arrow.  

Shit. If he tried to save her, they'd both be eaten by the Hydra but he also couldn't very well just leave her there falling to her death. Acting swiftly, the archangel adjusted his trajectory to a diagonal angle and toward the falling woman. The force of gushing wind and deep growl from just below his feet warned of the danger that chased them. He fought against every instinct in his body that screamed at him to change direction and dodge, pushing forward to save the human woman. His wings beat faster and faster until his arm wrapped around her waist, and his shoulder slammed into her abdomen. Not quite the gentleman like save that one would except from an angle species, but gently saving her was not on his mind as much as not getting them both eaten alive. 

"Hold on!" Titus shouted, hoping she would hear him over the rush of wind that surrounded them like a hurricane. Tucking in his wings, Titus once against narrowly avoided being eaten thanks to the instant controlled glide that occurred with the absence of his wings. Crashing downward at a 45 degree angle, Titus increased the space between himself and the Hydra heads that screeched with irritation at once against being outmaneuvered. Or, rather, so he thought. Instead a giant tail swung upward from the ground in an arching motion. The archangel rotated his body so that the girl wouldn't take the brunt of the force. The scale whip crashed against Titus' back, blasting him from the air toward the ground. The dirt erupted with their landing, rocks and other pieces of terra cascaded around them. 

"You..alive?" he asked to the girl, groaning with the pain of the impact. They had maybe seconds before the heads decided they didn't want to cautiously wait for the pair to find their footing. Though thanks to the Morpher's vines, they perhaps had a few seconds more than Titus would have initially assumed.

Edited by Ataraxy

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