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Fierach

Mapping the Depths

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As Dan engaged the new threat, Jinsoku returned to join the fray. With his spear in one hand and his newly acquired shield in the other, Jinsoku charged the creature mostly from behind. As it recovered from the previous blow, seemingly unhindered, it erected itself and aimed to slash at Dan with it's wretched claws. Its great swipe left its flank generally exposed, in which Jin aimed to swipe his left arm at the back of the creatures right knee, aiming to slam the rim of the targe into the back of it. By disturbing its footing, he ruined it's great swipe regardless of if it fell or not as a result from the strike. Regardless, the Slayer's Apprentice was prepared to  follow up in one of three ways depending on the outcome of his previous attack; two offensive responses, one defensive.

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REACTION: Ghoul

Although striking at a potentially weak spot, the blow didn't quite elicit the response Jinsoku might have hoped for. If he was expecting soft tissue at the back of the knee, the young Raijin would be sorely mistaken, as it would feel more akin to hitting a steel wall, with the force of the impact rebounding.

It did have the effect of the beast stopping its attack on Dan however, but it whirled about with a claw outstretched to smash into Jin.

James approached from the other flank, taking a mighty leap to bring his sword down on the creature's right shoulder. The two handed slash would have every impression of being able to cleave through an armored vehicle, let alone an undead creature, but the reality was as if the Daemonslayer had just hammered him with a blunt rod, with barely a scratch on the ghoul's skin as it returned fire with a massive backhand. James snarled in frustration, and managed to bring his blade back up to block the blow, the sheer force of which sent the warrior flying a short distance back, landing unceremoniously on his ass. 

There was something strange going on here. These were strikes that would have injured the likes of the Magnus they fought earlier, and yet the ghoul was shrugging them off. The antimagic field of the Daemonslayer's longsword, the Rending Blade failed to make so much even as a dent in conjunction with physical assault.

Edited by Fierach

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e1bdbb64a386c8ee9de853e8cd955ed7.jpgBoiling fury battles against practiced calm. The temptation to display a flurry of attacks nearly too great to ignore. And yet, Selene remains unstirred from her readied position.

Sapphire eyes adhere themselves to one then another of her group mates as they strike at the unflinching ghoul. Each attack brought against it leaves the creature unharmed; which is very unnerving to witness.

Before she is able to stop herself the words tumble hesitantly from her mouth of their own accord, “The living...The living pay the ferryman...The dead have paid in blood...The dreamers of the heart pay eternally…” Suddenly her eyes drift back to the glowing stone, to the ghoul, to the frozen bodies on the ground all around them. SCHHHHLINK! As the sword in her hands is sheathed she allows the edge of its blade to slice through the palm of her hand. Selene chides herself for nearly missing the thoughts that originally plagued her when she examined the bodies...the eternally sleeping people frozen and indebted.

“If they are the eternal sleepers...and the ghoul is death...we have to pay the ferryman…” It becomes a shout as she unravels the rhyme they read etched into the base of the statue, “Stop attacking it!!! THE LIVING PAY THE FERRYMAN. WE MUST PAY THE FERRYMAN! Or we'll be dead and have paid in blood.”

Again her eyes are drawn to the stone, and she moves forward with a state of calm she never knew she had the ability to possess. Determination guides her to walk out in front of the ghoul, not as an adversary, not to attack.

“I want to pay the Ferryman.” Selene is unsure what the price of such a payment is but holds her hands up towards the creature for it to see that she understands. One freshly cut and bloodied the other left unsullied.


 

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Selene was brave, she thought on her feet and approached the ghoul with something other then raw power. It was the smart thing to do.

... but she was wrong. The Ghoul was not Death. For how could Death be the one in debt? Death was the one who collected debts, the debt of life, and returned it to the ashes from whence it came. The Ghoul could not pay its debt of life... for it was forever bound to an unnatural undeath. 

The scent of blood only invigorated the Ghoul. It masked its excitement however, approaching Selene slowly, as though perhaps she had other tricks up her sleeve. Only at the end, she might have realised her folly, as the creature raised up one taloned arm and drove it at her.

She would be the dead. She could make her payment in blood.

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And there was much of it. The great claws would find themselves halted before her, dripping with fresh life. James Eredas managed to superimpose himself between the ghoul and Selene at the last moment, taking the blow that would have ended her life, impaled straight through his right shoulder in three places, as if his armor was not even there. His face was twisted pain, and determination even as he attempted a counter-stroke, stabbing forth at the ghoul's face with the longsword in his other hand, but to no avail.

For the ghoul, one life was as good as the next. With some effort, its next move saw it toss the Daemonslayer off its claw, crumpled in a heap.

At the center of the arena, the Heart of Darkness waited in anticipation.

Edited by Fierach

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No one seemed to be dealing any damage to this thing. Not even Dan with all his amazing coolness could not manage it. Bosses like this were hardly uncommon. Known as 'Gimmick Bosses', these would generally take no, or very little damage, until you did something specific.
All of a sudden, Dan got an idea. An idea that was heartbreaking, but might work. Based on his observations, this boss reacted to any attack thrown at it with a counter attack. And, any attack made before the previous counter attack hits, causes the boss to disregard the first attack and focus on the most recent. 

Dan pointed his finger in the shape of a gun and aimed at the monster.
"Finger Guns. One Finger."
Dan fired a wind blast from his finger at the boss. It probably wouldn't do damage, but would easily be enough to get its attention. Once it looked at him, Dan would be laying seductively on the black stone of smoothness.

"Paint me, like one of your French boys!"

Dan readied himself. He had gauged the monster's speed, and readied himself to go ethereal the moment he attacked. This thing looked powerful, and this would most likely cause it to destroy the stone.
He felt confident this would trigger the 2nd phase of the boss fight. The one where they could damage him.

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REACTION: Ghoul

The gust might have blown the ghoul an inch off course... but it barely reacted otherwise. It was hard to tell if its lack of action was due to the creature's lack of understanding, that the gust was an attack and not some strange atmospheric phenomenon, or due to the undead's proximity from and the relative nonthreat of the move.

One thing was clear though.

No matter how much the wind howled, the mountain could not bow before it. Dan would have to use more then one of his relatively weakest attacks to get the ghoul's attention from this distance.

But even if he did get the ghoul's attention, the stone was invincible as well. As long as its avatar was near, the Heart of Darkness pulsed with power, and awaited in anticipation for more thralls.

Edited by Fierach

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So it's joints weren't even viable weak points. Likewise, Jin was illuminated to the fact that the strike itself didn't even scratch it's outermost layer. There was no doubt in his mind that he was strong enough to crush stone, and yet this was seemingly something else entirely. His charcoal eyes grew wide as the inevitable came, a furious swipe in response to his nagging the beast. From his right lower abdominal region, Jinsoku would slashed, the claws raking him over the left pectoral and towards the corresponding shoulder as he was swatted away. His armor was so easily cut through, though it served enough of it's purpose, keeping that from being a death blow. Sure, blood loss was a threat, though that was easier to fix than not, soon as he gathered enough of his mind to commit to the act.At this very moment though, his vision was blurry and he was dazed from his collision into the ground after the blow received. To be honest, he wasn't even certain of the nature of his landing which included smacking his back and head before tumbling to his torso. The burning of his lungs, the tightness of his chest, he was winded.

With him so easily discarded, it continued by thrashing in the opposite direction against James, in which he was tossed haphazardly away from the beast as well. He could feel the air returning to his lungs. He began to force himself up off of the ground during the temporary, silent reprieve. Seconds felt like eons as he made it up to his feet, his vision about half way returned. His body ached profusely, but the adrenaline denied him the chance to experience it first hand. Seeing Selene approaching the monster, his spear-less hand reach out to her as he mouthed his disapproval. It would seem his spear was lost when he was knocked away, though the targe remained equipped on his left arm. Still bleeding through his ruined breastplate, he was more concerned for her than himself. What did she think she was doing?

Suddenly his mouth swung ajar as he tried to scream so hard that noise failed to escape his throat. He watched as his Master threw himself in front of Selene, taking one for the team in the most literal sense of the word. Blood sprayed, showering Selene beyond the human shield protecting her. His hand fell, and he continued to stare on in disbelief, his vision fully returning to him. As James was cast carelessly to the ground, Jinsoku's mouth snapped shut, in which he grit his teeth and clenched his fists so tight his knuckles were turning white, not that anyone would see. Dan's winds blew, and while they did little to nothing for the monster, they ironically served as the perfect metaphor to usher in what was to come. Gale force winds blowing in a bad batch of storm clouds.

Jinsoku's body seemed to flex in unison, his muscular definition increasing easily by double, veins popping out of much of his body including his neck and forehead. His skin began to turn red, his hair becoming spiky and erect. Those charcoal eyes of his also began to illuminate with brilliant blue arcs of electricity. As the amassing yoki within became too much to hold, the electrical energy began to leak from within him. The heat from within and the sparks occurring randomly all over his form produced the smell of burning blood as his bleeding was nearly instantly staunched. Taking off at the monster, Jinsoku charged headstrong, pushing beyond his natural limits. When he impacted the monster, it wouldn't simply feel like he was trying to collide with him, but literally run straight through him. Latching onto its body, he aimed to impact the monster and force it away from the others, as far as he could possibly manage. In his focused rage, he was willing to serve as a distraction if it meant that something might be able to be done for James. Hopefully he wasn't mistaken for going into a blind rage, and his party members were keen enough to make use of borrowed time should it arrive as planned. 

Spoiler

"THAT'S MY SENPAI!!!"

 

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REACTION: Ghoul

The creature's first attack took one of the men out of commission. Its second attack would see it bring up both claws to try and finish what it had just started, elongated talons stretching out into the air, seeming to grow larger in length. Regardless of any type of defense Selene might be able to muster, it would attack her with full force.

At least, that was the intention, as it sensed Jinsoku amassing his power. With a roar, it turned to face this empowered challenger, sensing it was the greater threat at the moment, and it would seek to bring its claws down upon the apprentice Slayer.

Its strike would come too slow. The Ghoul roared uselessly as Jinsoku slammed into its midsection, and carried it straight across the room, trampling all in its path. It would be carried all the way to a section of cavern wall near the the entrance to the chamber, creating a crater where they struck. 

If Jinsoku pulled away immediately after impact, he would be able to escape the majority of the rock that cascaded down from the thunderous impact. 

Just as with the first mighty blow, the attack struck by Dan through clever manipulation of his aerial magic in conjunction with his hammer, the beast seemed stunned for a short moment. Its claws twitched however, poking out from under the rock, and slowly the rock began shifting as it sought to get out of its would-be grave.

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e1bdbb64a386c8ee9de853e8cd955ed7.jpgWarmth saturated metallic perfume sprays across her. The depth of the realization shocking enough to leave her standing in place. Frozen to the spot for a reason created by a complete stranger. Too late had the thought come, where she remembered the creature climbing down from the stone. It had been as asleep as those dead and frozen faces that now threaten to torment her. She had known the creature was not the true ferryman but had not realized the mistake she had made in engaging it. Naive and costly it had been.

Selene can only imagine what had been going through the knight’s mind as he placed himself at the tip of the blow that had been meant solely for herself. Now two choices lay before her, making the move to save herself and the others or setting it aside to save the man who had spared her from death. Selene begins to understand more despite the growing tension of her unraveling mind. They had somehow unknowingly and unintentionally crossed a border without the appropriate form of payment. The chasm they’d crossed so thoughtlessly was the key beyond the engraved statue where the words had begun and had since trailed after them.

Indebted… The power of the creature is so vast that it cannot be touched. It had somehow taken without paying a toll but what had it taken? Selen knows that’s why it attacked her and the pure evil of the stone… They had also not paid the toll. But what can she do… Rage invigorates her. The creature would pay. In more than one way for its desecration and for James’ life. Again, before she has come up from though, she is kept from being touched by the creature’s unbridled ferocity as Jin hits the monster hard enough to send it flying toward the entrance from which they came. 

Everything about her is red, James blood staining her frame, the fury burning in her eyes, and the flames by which she screams. “YOU’RE MINE!” You will pay, I will make you!!! The sword at her hip is already free and being wielded as she slices it through the air in preparation to attack. Waiting for the creature to rise from its false stone encrusted grave only to lash out immediately against it as it stands. Suddenly she is moving both offensively and defensively striking at the creature and dodging immediately backward. Having chased its flying body down as Jin knocked it across the cavern.

Selene's feet move quickly and carefully, stepping in reverse and directing her back towards the chasm they’d crossed not too long ago.

Right now her main focus lies with the Indebted Ghoul and maneuvering it and herself toward that Chasm, the secondary and tertiary founded more on hope than anything else. Inwardly causing her to pray that Jin and Dan heard her original words before it wounded James and that they understand what she is trying to do; to help her...so that they can then save their team leader. But time is treacherous, the amount of blood adorned by her person and that which seeps from the crumpled heap too far from her reach...terrifies her. I will save you…

The chill of exposed blood upon her cheek is suddenly heated by the trail of a tear that had tumbled free of her lashes. Gathering up the blood it collides with only to carry it down and away from her face. Purity in heart, ferocity, and vengeance.


 

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The crumpled heap shuddered. James breathed in life… and exhaled it as well, more crimson staining the ground from his lips as he rolled weakly onto his back. It was not the worst wound he had ever taken.

But it was damned close.

Had he been wearing weaker, or no armor at all, the claw would have likely gone straight through him. As it was, the front of his Daemonbane armor was torn to shreds anyway, enchanted steel, dragonbone, and ceramic plate having given way before the creature’s rending claws. Blood wept freely from the great jagged holes, and James reached for a small vial he carried in a hip pouch. It was a smaller potion of healing then the ones he carried in his pack, but much more potent, with side effects that ranged from hallucinations to headaches, cold sweats and extreme pain as the body knit itself back together.

He had no choice. That extreme pain he felt told him he was still alive, and it was only if he started going numb that his life was in danger. James had to stave off the approaching shock at all costs. Using the last of his strength in his left hand, he broke the seal, and trickled the potent emergency potion into his lips, swallowing both it and the blood welling back up in his throat, before cutting off with a deep cry of anguish.

The blood flow on the ground slowed as his wounds began closing up, helping retain what vitae was left in the body. The rapid regrowth of tissue and bone wasn’t complete, but it was enough to prevent death.

---

More rock would tumble out of the way as the Ghoul unearthed itself, only to be met by a fierce barrage of attacks from Selene. It head its hands up before it, perhaps surprised by the woman’s savagery, before unveiling its claws to the side and attempting to counter-attack, unfazed by the slashes. There were light marks on the beast’s clawed talons where she had struck, almost as if it had actually been scratched. What had changed?

The agile young knightess anticipated the creature’s attacks. Her deft evasion only served to enrage the creature further however, and it burst out of the rocky terrain completely, chasing after her, intent on rending her to pieces.

Edited by Fierach

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Dan was observing the goings on with combat honed analytical eyes. There also may have been no small amount of pouting. Not only was his attack ignored, but so was his sexy boy taunt! This monster definitely didn't have any higher brain functions. Nothing that was capable of thought could possibly resist a taunt from the son of Hermes, the god with the ability to annoy far exceeding any other.

Its your own damn fault for using such a puny attack.

Dan pondered a moment. The boss was invincible. It was a gimmick boss. It wouldnt attack the stone. 

The idea hit Dan in a flash just like before. Trickster Ingenuity was a hell of a thing.
If we can't damage it, I'll just toss the little bastard in the giant crevice of suck and fail!

What does Artemis' vagina have to do with this?

Eeeeeeewwwww......

It seemed like the huntress....What was her name? Serene?.... Seline! Right right. Selene was already trying to lead it away. Dan decided to lend a hand.
He took the maul, making it light as a feather again, and started spinning. He rose into the air, using his wind powers, and his spinning accelerated further and further until all anyone not skilled enough would be able to see was a solid line. Finally, he caused a wind explosion, set to propel him in the boss' direction.
Using his own discernment, Dan saw that he was aiming directly for the middle of the monster. He knew that it likely wouldn't damage it, given the previous attack's result, but this would go a long way to getting it into the massive hole, if it didn't pitch him straight in to begin with.

Dan sped up and slowed down his approach with minute adjustments to make the timing perfect.

"Batter up!"

Dan and the maul became solid again, just before Dan timed his final revolution to where the maul would slam into the beast's back. He then realized he hadn't warned Selene to duck.

Whoops.

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REACTION: Ghoul

Just as it had sensed Jinsoku's amassing power before, the ghoul now sensed Dan's. A subtle tilt of its head backwards was all the ghoul gave away as it measured the boy demigod's approach. The straightforward charge of Jinsoku caught the hulking creature off guard the first time, and it already well knew of the young boy's tendency to phase through his strikes. Its eyes gleamed with cruel cunning. It would not be taken off guard so easily again.

The ghoul still chased after Selene, but right before Dan would make contact, it made a lunging tumble forward, twisting back with great agility and bringing one large talon swinging up from below. It's aim was to bat Dan and his hammer up over into the air. He might even sail over the canyon the party crossed to get there, though that was doubtful given the son of Hermes's powers, as the ghoul rolled to a stop.

Edited by Fierach

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With a guttural yell, Jinsoku finally burst from the pile of rocks still enraged. Rushing after the ghoul, it was apparent Jin had several bruises, cuts, and scrapes; In which any bleeding was short lived due to the electricity flowing through him. Not like he noticed either way in this moment. Barreling recklessly after the predator, he aimed to take the creature down again more than he thought about protecting his remaining party members. This beast dealt a deathly blow to his Master, and he would be the avenger! The circumstance of James's self sacrifice had nothing to do with Jin's discretion and consideration.

Edited by Twitterpated

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Skipping @-Lilium-

---

The ghoul resumed the chase of Selene, with the rest of the party likely following closely. On she ran, until she could go no further, successfully luring the undead monster to the broken chasm that the group had crossed to get over in the first place. There she stood, turning to face the unrelenting ghoul, maw gaping open, drooling at the prospect of tasting her her warm flesh. Sensing that its prey was at the end of its road now, the ghoul outstretched its arms, flexing its taloned hands, and gave a massive roar, Neither the windmancer, nor the slayer or his apprentice were on its radar now, only Selene, who held firm with her sword at the ready, attempting to draw it in closer still.

---

James followed behind, slower then the rest. one hand still clamped over where his wounds were, the other dragging his sword behind him. He didn't have the strength to spare to keep it at the ready, not yet.

@Twitterpated

@HollowCipher

Edited by Fierach

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