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[ OZ ] — into the darkness, we will descend

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How one arrives at the end of days seems rather inconsequential—

when staring death and chaos in the face with bloodshot eyes and rampant fear,
coursing through garden hose veins and daring the feeble form to stroke out in awe of the raw pressure of malignancy,
oozing from the depths of an unknown hell.

You stare into the abyss.

The breath caught in your chest. Choked in your throat and trapped in confusion.
In? Out? Out? Out. Gasp.

Eyes seem to be locked and frozen upon the heated gate that ensnares the soul.
You cannot look away. It's drawing you in and panic begins to set in. Your mind is blank.

Feel the worry ebb. Your muscles tense, but they're unable to move. You can't control them.
You try to turn. You try to run. You try to scream. You are drawn.

You want to know what else is happening. You want to know more.
You see bodies -- ghastly apparitions passing all around you, through you.

Some look like you.
A fear that snaps you back into reality.

Did you forget to breath? Out. In?
The blur of insanity seems all around you.
A gasp. A cough. 

You faint?
You. Are. Dead.


"AHhh!" The whelp screamed, hurling himself to one side and sliding across the ground on a palm and foot. They were in the forest still, just to the west of the Skar, when the young man had bolted to his feet and cried out in terror. Panic had set into his breathing and his eyes were wide, peering through the rusted, gold huen mask that encased his emotions, but the dripping sweat from his chin that pooled on the ground a foot and some change belong him, spoke a different tale. The world around them fell silent once more, as nature continued to run its course as it always had.

- Well, well... I'm glad I didn't pick something pathetically weak. What emotional turmoil you have within you, Feyd. Another nightmare...? -

His muscles tensed at the voice within his own head. It was unnatural, but all-too familiar now, as it had been for nearly the past week. Something he'd never forget or understand, but where weakness once was -- now dormant power had been brooding. Wild. Free. Tenacious.
Feyd coughed and exhaled, gasping for oxygen that had been frozen in his chest for nearly a half minute before collapsing to his hands and knees and focusing on his breathing. With deep amethyst rings swollen in the bottom of his irises, Feyd's dark gaze lifted to his companion. They'd been on the road for some time together now, but not more than a year. Survival relied on partnership; this was something they'd come to learn at a young age, but both came from different walks of life prior to finding one another.

Having been found by the parasite -- now they were inseparable.


. persona . feyd
. affiliation . oz
. post count . 1


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Balanced on the balls of his feet, Quatre leaned forward and let all the weight of his lithe frame rest on the branch. A week ago, he might have feared tumbling to his demise...but as great deal changed in so little an amount of time. 


-Not far. Not far at all.- 


Quatre knew as sure as he breathed that should he come tumbling from his perch and break every bone in his body, the parasite rooted firmly at the base of his spine would patch him up. Good as new. It irked him, truth be told, that such control was out of his hands. 


-Don’t get testy, Quatre. Self preservation is an admirable quality.- 


“Yeah...” The ivory haired youth, muttered under his breath. A sudden stirring from below stirred the youth to action, prompting Quatre to drop from the tree and land with an unceremonious thud a few feet from his newly awakened comrade. Rising to his full height, Quatre offered Feyd a knowing look. “Nightmare, huh? I don’t even try to sleep anymore.”


-Technically, you don’t have to.- 


That his internal passenger was an insufferable know it all, helped Quatre not at all. A quiet rage smoldered deep behind the youths icy blue eyes. “The tomb...thing...is only about a mile away. You still wanna check it out? Might be more of those monsters we could take out along the way?”


-We’re 4,942 ft from the structure. That’s not quite a mile.- 


Quatre closed his eyes and sighed, long and heavy. 


“Could be fun?” 


Though the pursuit of fun led them to their current predicament, it was an adolescent failing Quatre just couldn’t seem to shake. While he and Feyd did have differing ideals about many topics, the decision to investigate the Tomb that magically appeared near Alterion’s Skar was not one they’d bickered over. 



. persona . quatre
. affiliation . oz
. post count . 1



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"...he did say about a mile..." Feyd mumbled frustratedly, rolling his eyes. They could be clearly seen like marbles spiraling the mask eyelets with perfect precision. They'd been trapped with whatever the hell these things were for over a week now, and the nuisance and conversational piece was still coming together. The past week and some change had been the same thing that Quatre had been doing just before landing near Feyd -- practicing mobility.

Feyd stood slowly, dusting himself off with the awkward feeling that his limbs were his and in the same instance, they weren't at all. The motions felt a bit irregular and he questioned it rather boldly, "Rakaas. What's wrong with you? You feel ... sluggish."

- This is because of you and whatever that ... vision ... was. -

"Vision? I thought you said it was a nightmare. I didn't feel like i was sleeping..."

- You weren't. We are still becoming one, and therefore -- you're synapse are still awakening. Whatever your brain is trying to figure out, let it be. It will come with time. -

"... what do you mean, 'figuring out'?"

- Your psyche is trying to access parts of me ... is the best ... or only way I can put it. You're reaching for power that you have not yet obtained or have any sort of ability to control. That -- vision... that you saw, that may be something to come... or an illusion. Either way, Mastery of Us ... is a feat only few have ever achieved. And it took years. Not days. Stop prying, before you get yourself hurt. -

"...whatever." Feyd shrugged and rolled a shoulder, nodding to Quatre again. "I don't know what he's going on about -- these two are annoying." And then Feyd reached up and slapped himself across the face. His mask stayed securely in place and his head almost avoided the feeling of what was to come, but still he laughed and shook his head, "Yeah - yeah... let's go visit this tomb... what's in it for you two anyways? Why are you taking us there?"


The day was young. The warmth of light dying to break through the canopy of green overhead and yet the hissing sound of an airship could be heard somewhere in the vicinity, yet unseen at their current vantage.


. persona . feyd
. affiliation . oz
. post count . 2

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Quatre arched a silver brow and peered into the foliage past his shoulder. “Vision? Zirimis, you told me they were nightmares and not to worry about them.” The youth’s cold tone made it clear he was reaching the end of his patience with his inner passenger. 


-I didn’t see the point in troubling you.-


“But Rakaas—“


-People parent in different ways. Some people believe in time outs, some don’t.- 


“Well, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t lie to me...or mislead me.” 


-This is a two way street, Quatre. If I neglected to tell you something it’s because I believe it’s what is best for you. Just as Rakaas felt telling Feyd is what was best for him.- 


Quatre couldn’t argue with that. Since the time of their partnership, Zirimis’s only stated goal was the protection and betterment of his host. Still, Quatre couldn’t help but concur with Feyd’s annoyance. 


“They really are.”


At Feyd’s second question, Quatre didn’t have time to voice his own concern at their destination before Zirimis responded. 


-It’s all connected to what Rakaas mentioned- The zenith’s soothing baritone voice explained. -The best way to obtain synchronization between Us and the two of you is for you to utilize our power again and again and again. What you must work at and concentrate on now will soon become instinctual. Once using our abilities are second nature to you, we can operate independently and in conjunction with you. That tomb is from another realm and will certainly be filled with something dangerous...the only way some birds learn to fly is for their mother to hurl them from the nest.- 


Eyes widening ever so slightly, Quatre folded his arms and rocked back onto his heels. “So you’re the parent who believes in time outs, I take it?” 


-I’m the parent who believes in hurling my child off a cliff so that they may find their inner strength in the journey upwards.-


Dropping his arms at to his side, Quatre turned to Feyd and gave a helpless shrug. “Wanna trade?” 


Before he realized it, Quatre was airborne, his legs pumping to stabilize his landing from the massive leap he’d just performed. “Guess you’re getting impatient.” He said, after pushing off another sturdy branch towards the tomb. 


-We both were, Rakaas is just too polite to say anything.- 


Rolling his eyes, Quatre turned his head to call out to Feyd. “I was serious about trading!”


. persona . quatre
. affiliation . oz
. post count . 2



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There was a certain calm about the young man as he listened to the conversation and drew in specific phrases and comments. Things he wanted to ask Quatre about, but realized in the moment -- now and who knew how much longer -- that he wouldn't be able to. They would never have another private conversation. Each was their own pair, in the moment and nothing was slated to change that. By the phrasing that Zirimis used, the youth could only feel that this relationship was going to be an extensive, and exhausting adventure.

- What are you pondering? - Rakaas questioned as Feyd turned into the direction of the tomb with a youthful, yet athletic agility. Springing from the ground, Feyd raced along the trunk of the tree before catapulting himself through the air with an acrobats finesse before bounding -- tree, after tree, after tree. 'Nothing, really.'

- I can feel the tensing of your mind. Churning, even. -

'Close connection to just us.' Feyd's mind whispered and the whisper alone was the command.

* What is the purpose of this? * Rakaas questioned.

' Zirimis said, independently and in conjunction ... care to explain? '

* Ah... that. Perhaps, he ... misspoke. *

' ... I can feel the tensing of your mind, Rakaas. The last time you tried to tell me a lie, that was the same feeling. The idea is not to strength our bond ... it's to strengthen our bodies, to be an optimal host. Hm? ' Feyd's breathless actions drew him closer to the mark, like a plum hued streak. Whatever these parasites were, the general enhancement was a nice feature. He felt far more confidence in himself with the parasite than without. He used to be so quiet... so withdrawn from society and people. So untrusting and crass.

* ... inevitably, we will operate as one. With or without you. How is that for an explanation? You are better to us, stronger. As you are to yourself. What we offer, is the abilities to surpass mortality and the pathetic life of human existence. Rise beyond. They are petty. Weak. Feeble, little savages. Consider yourself the next step in evolution... *

"I don't think trading is an option, Quatre." Feyd snickered, taking a deep-seated bound before landing through a series of leaves and canopies to land on a branch. His hand placed between his knees to keep balance and crouched to his heels, Feyd stared into a crag that was a part of the original Skar, but still a ways off. Circling the area was a large airship, scanning the area anomalies. 

"What are we expecting, Zirimis?" Feyd's mind questioned. The communication of the four was a weird burden to conceptualize; sentient parasites, telepathically communicating to their hosts and possessing open channels to all parties involved... Feyd wondered who else was listening in and might be hearing their mental chatter...

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Coming to a halt with the tree line, Quatre peered beyond the foliage and into the Skar. Nestled beneath a large outcropping of stone was the tomb. Monolithic gates were held open by unseen forces and a bright eldritch flame burn deeper within, filling the air with the scent of sulfur and rotting corpses. A lone skeletal figure stood at the door, its limbs dangling limply at its side. 


-Quite the ordeal!- Zirimis chirped in response to Feyd, a bit too excitedly for Quatre’s comfort. -The neural network I’ve attempted to map out from Quatre’s position is showing me nothing beyond the entrance...which leads me to believe the tombs innards are not entirely within this realm.-


Quatre gazed down at the unarmed figure standing at the gate. “It doesn’t look like the...er...guard(?) is trying to prevent anyone from entering. Doesn’t even have a weapon.”


-Shall we approach? I prefer the direct method.-


Glancing over to Feyd, Quatre shrugged. “No point in dawdling.” 


Landing from his perch, Quatre slid halfway down a slope of charred earth  only to draw up short as the skeleton waved merrily at him. “Hello weary travelers! Are you here to play the game? Great treasures await those who are willing to test the might of the Tomb of Nevirgaul.”


-“Yes!”- Quatre heard himself say. Before he could bristle with indignation Zirimis’ chiding voice echoed within his skull. -We we’re going in, treasures or no.- 


“Excellent!” The Skeletal greeter replied. “I am Gainz the immortal, master of ceremonies to the Tomb Of Nevirgaul. Below is are 13 floors, each more dangerous than the last. One of my comrades guards each floor and they seek to devour your precious mortal souls. Upon the final floor waits the Shadowthrone, the ruler of our Tomb. He will grant eternal glory and prizes to any who can challenge his might. As participants you have two choices: you may progress through each floor naturally and try your hand against all 12 floor guardians before facing Shadowthrone, or you may play a game of chance and advance based on the provided number that is generated after striking my immortal form. So you risk going through every floor if you roll poorly each time, but if you’re lucky, you may only have to challenge two floor guardians! Do you have any questions?”


persona - quatre

affiliation - oz

post count - 3

Edited by paradigm

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Feyd's landing allowed a perfect show for the spectacle of the skeleton and the boy with a parasite, brought to you by a reality-check. He stared for a moment and squinted, then leaned his head in as though the depth of his vision was acutely off or something had smudged is sight, only for Rakaas to chime in curiously, but with a seriousness.

- No... you're not seeing things. This alternate reality may be more dangerous than we anticipated, simply by not taking it seriously enough because of this ... thing ... -

Feyd scratched at his neck lightly before standing with a shrug, "We don't really have much of a choice -- now do we?"

"Let's get this started..."

. persona . feyd
 . affiliation . oz
. post count . 4


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“You do not!” The skeletal figure replied, his voice full of cheer. “Let the games begin! You may either enter the tomb upon the first floor or...” 


Moving his hands passed its rib cage, Gainz reaches beneath his bottom ribs and clasped his hands together. An orb of violet energy flickered to life in response, shimmering for the briefest of moments before reforming into a small cube, hovering between Gainz’s upper body and lower body. 


“You May strike me and let the number displayed guide your way.”


Quatre stepped forward, his lithe form dwarfed by the massive skeleton. “It seems like the smart play,” the youth sled pushing his sleeves up to his elbows. “Worst case scenario we go through each floor anyway, best case we get to skip a few.” 


-I concur.- Zirimis replied. -If the initial trials prove to offer no challenge, we can always search the rest of the floors.- 


“Not where I was going with it, but okay.”


Digging the heels of his shoes into the ground, Quatre widened his stance and turned his form towards Gainz. “We’ll take the second option!” Muscles clenched and the youth lashed out a hand, the zenith forcing adrenal glands to spike him to peak strength. The youth’s fist collided with the Skeleton’s ribs, prompting Gainz to stutter step back in response. The cube at the gatekeeper’s center spun and rolled, tumbling in place before it came to a halt. Six markings slowly appeared on the die’s surface. 


“An excellent strike!” Gainz chimed, raising his arms. A large stone crypt formed out of the earth behind him. “Because we are true sportsman, the inhabitants of the tomb of Nevirgaul reward your successful trial with these gifts! Claim your prizes then step through the portal and enter the 6th floor!” 


Dusting his hands off, Quatre slid his sleeves back down and turned to Feyd.


“Wanna claim your prize, I’ll cover you.”


-The box does not appear to possess anything living, but we are dealing with otherworldly entities.-


.Persona. Quatre 

.affiliation. Oz

.post. 4

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"You'll cover ... me?" Feyd stared long and hard at the box and the ragtime skeleton with a curious and nervous gaze. He'd been looking around the area, watching phantoms come and go as though this place was the uneven clash of two dimensions, caught in a wink of time, but for how long...?

The young man sighed, and bit the bullet since his companion did the crazy part of punching a skeleton the the power ball. He sighed again. What a weird life this has turned out to be -- not at all what he'd expected or sought just two weeks ago. But then again, two weeks ago they were seeking ends meet and barely surviving. Now they took as they wanted, and so far -- none could stop them.

Placing his hands on the box, Feyd shot a glance to Quatre and snorted, "If I die -- I'm coming back to haunt you."

And with that, he opened the chest and a brilliant, unending light shone from the well of its depths. He hesitated for a long moment and the skeleton prodded, "Reach in. Take your fate."

- What is your fate, Feyd? - 

It was the words of Rakaas echoing in his head that gripped him as he reached in with both hands. The light flashed red and drew the boy in roughly. He yelped. Face and hips against the open chest, Feyd gasped for something -- perhaps air would quench whatever pain or fear had gripped him in such a death hold, but he fought it. He felt the searing of his skin and cried out for only a moment, before snarling. It made him angry.

"Oh my. This never happens. Usually. Well ... Often, I mean. Mimics are tricky." Gainz quipped.

Feyd rammed a knee into the treasure box, pushing himself away and gripping at whatever had a hold of him. In a test of might, he prevailed out of rage and jerks his arms free, tipping the treasure chest onto it's scrambling face before it turned into nothing more than a box once more. In return, Feyd's jerked back arms revealed only ebony tendrils that snapped from either appendage as long, molten sable and plum whips that had welded themselves to his forearms and etched black serpents across his forearms. With two clenched fists, they retracted into his palms and he collapsed to his knees, staring at his hands that burned and ached.

"P...please. Turn it off." Eyes welled with tears and teeth gritting and suddenly, he exhaled. And inhaled deeply, catching all the stuck breath that was in his lungs, as Rakaas turned off his pain receptors.

- Well then ... you earned that, I suppose. We will need to be careful that this does not get infected... -

Feyd looked to Quatre and spat, "Heh... your turn. Good luck with that."


. persona . feyd
 . affiliation . oz
. post count . 5

Edited by Syncopy

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Quatre stared eyes widened by the shock of Feyd’s form grappling with the mimic. By the time the youth thought to take action, Feyd was freed and Gainz spoke absentmindedly of the treacherous box monster. 


-You should work on your response time- Zirimis quipped, matter of factly.


“Shut up...” Quatre snapped at the parasite, under his breath. A pang of guilt slammed into the silver haired youth’s gut, prompting downcast eyes to glance between his wounded friend and the inert chest. Something akin to fear clawed at his heart and resulted in his first step forward faltering. 


-You already know how to use your fear,- Zirimis intoned. -Channel that energy and move forward.-


It was a slow walk to the chest and culminated in a half hearted kick that rocked the chest backwards and forwards where it cane to a halt. Opening the lid, Quatre peered into the darkness, his eyes drawn to a soft pulsing blue light. Reaching in, Quatre grabbed at it and tugged his arm away. The box remained motionless. Clutched in Quatre’s grip, a large shard of ice gave off tendrils of steam in response to the youth’s warmth. Before he realized it the cold chill of ice on his palm traveled to his fingers and arm until it was all he could bear. Prying his fingers loose proved a fruitless effort as the shard was frozen to his palm. 


Staring down impassively Ainz nodded his head. “Probably best to rip it off quick...like a band aid.”


-He’s not wrong- Zirimis chimed matter, matter of factly. In a brief moment of hesitation, Quatre found his body moving on its own as his left hand lashed out and struck the ice shard free, tearing a large patch of skin  free with it. Lips peeled back and teeth clenched just in time for Quatre to suck a lungful of air in a wincing grimace. Peering down at the exposed flesh, Quatre’s gaze traversed to the discarded shard where a long slender blade rested, its blade as translucent as glass. 


“Ice Brand is a very interesting weapon,” Ainz said gesturing towards the blade. “Technically it can assume the form of any weapon its master desires and has a strong affinity for Ice, Water and Darkness. So long as you bear the brand it may only be wielded by you.”


Bending down Quatre claimed the blade. “It’s practically weightless...” he said, hefting it with his left hand. “And it’s not cold anymore either.” 


Quatre headed past Gainz and towards the entryway. “You ready for this?” He asked turning to Feyd. 


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