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hardest choices; strongest wills [artifact]

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A sobbing man clutching an unconscious woman, a box holding one of the most powerful objects in the universe tossed to the side.

“They’re so sweet, aren’t they?” the old woman said, staring into the crystal pommel on the end of her walking stick.

Her daughter gave her an odd look. “Who, Mother?”

“Ah,” the woman seemed to realize where she was. “Nothing. Don’t mind your old mum, Lazuri. My age must be getting to me,” she chuckled.

Lazuri gave her mother a curious look. She returned her attention to the clipboard in her hands. “Well, we’ve got your Cornerstone.” Her gaze shifted back to the old woman. “Shouldn’t you be more—well, excited? You sent two of our best to get them and approved the use of thirty-four  incabloc sapphires. Celestine Felsic’s going to be out of commission for a few weeks—months, if she refuses healing. We’ve lost Rhyol Aphanite. Anatase Mafic’s also requested at least a week of absence. Insisted on it, actually.” Lazuri raised an eyebrow at the long list she had just announced. “I certainly hope this Cornerstone’s worth all the trouble it has cost us, Mother.”

The Matriarch of House C’zirqonia gave her daughter a small smile. “It certainly is, my dear.”

In the shadows, a boy with startling silver eyes watched, listening carefully.

Edited by Csl

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Celestine took a deep breath for what seemed like the first time in weeks, and she settled more comfortably into the hoverchair as she stared out into the sunset, framed by the rippling waves of the ocean far across the horizon.

After obtaining such a powerful relic, it was decided ONYX had earned their long-overdue vacation, and just as Anatase had planned prior, the two had packed up and headed for Union Capital after they were deemed fit to leave their sickbeds.

Despite Anatase’s successful jump into the eye of the storm and back, Celestine’s body had been the one to take the full brunt of the violent force of nature. Even with all the technological advancements in medicine at their disposal, the doctors had advised her that it would take a few months for her to recover to full strength and subsequently return to the field. For now, she was benched—only herself and not Anatase, Celestine noted with no small measure of jealousy, even as grateful as she was to be allowed to rest for a while.

Anatase came strolling up, two wraps of yet another foreign food in his hands. He had refused to don anything remotely resembling their monochrome field uniforms, opting for a shirt with a garish flower pattern, brown shorts, bright pink sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed orange hat.

She grinned, the hand not bundled up in bandages reaching out to snatch the food from her partner’s grasp. “Thanks; I was just getting hungry.”

“These are called shawarma, apparently,” Anatase said, settling on chair beside her. “Can you imagine that? What a ridiculous name. Sha-war-mah.”

Celestine snorted. “Well, it sounds exotic, but it fits—whatever this is.”

They sat in companionable silence for a while, gazing out at the warm colors of the sky. “Lusite is asking after you,” Celestine murmured, taking another bite of the shawarma before continuing further. “I told her to call you, get in touch with you directly, but—well.” Her faint smile withered away into a somber line. “She isn’t in a very good state of mind.”

ONYX had been the lucky ones; Rhyol had been lost to the magestorm, when the shields had eventually collapsed, but in the process, she had saved Lusite’s life. Anatase’s plan had worked, but the engineers had miscalculated just how much supplies they needed to carry the plan to its full completion.

It was a burden they would carry to the end of their days.

The silence was interrupted by the sound of a communication pearl’s ping. Anatase sighed. “Duty calls.” He looked at his shawarma, seeming to consider stuffing the whole thing in his mouth, then handed it to Celestine.

He stood, wiping his hands on his shirt. “I’ll see you around, Felsic.”

Celestine glanced at him for a brief second, then shifted her gaze back to the bright horizon beyond. She cleared her throat before she spoke her mind on the matter. “You better not die out in the field when they put you back in, Mafic.” Not without me, the words went unspoken, but audible all the same. “No one else can watch your back as good as me,” Celestine smirked.

Anatase tipped his hat, the solemn gesture juxtaposed by his wide grin. “I’d never think of it.”

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Full summary:

C'zirqonian artifact-hunters Anatase Mafic and Celestine Felsic (also known as ONYX) are tasked to search for and obtain the Genesarian Cornerstones. The pair visit a newly-opened C'zirqonian mine on Mount Fulgar, where a pair of miners have discovered an ancient spaceship buried underground. They explore its interior, discovering a weapons room, and use a diaschismic portal to transport the weapons to C'zirqonia's base. Later, they translate the door signs inside the spaceship, discovering the text to be ancient Genesarii.

ONYX locates the control room, enters, and uses a microexalta crystal to power the main console. They extract as much information as they can about the Cornerstones, learning the method of obtaining the Reality Stone. Anatase also procures a small box that appears designed to contain Cornerstones, voicing his theory that the spaceship was created by the help of one of them. The spaceship’s defense system then activates, a self-destruct countdown beginning. ONYX fends off the turret fire, but the ship’s artificial intelligence reveals itself to them, trapping them in the room. Quickly, Anatase locates the sphere the intelligence is contained it, grabs it, and the pair race out of the airship as the self-destruct countdown resumes.

ONYX rents an airship to seek a stormwatcher in Stormwatch, are turned off by the seeming lunacy of its citizens, then decide to go to Union City instead, using C’zirqonia’s diaschismic portal nexus. After inquiring with a C’zirqonian cosmetics merchant in Union Capital, they locate a professional stormwatcher and ask for information on magestorms. The stormwatcher, Parvian, enlightens them about the arcane nature of magestorms and support their theory that the Reality Stone may be found at its center. She then tells them about the current magestorm, which is in its magic-weakening weeping nature, whose eye would be passing over the Bloodstone Marsh.

Anatase and Celestine return to the Apeirogon to prepare for their mission. The next day, they transport themselves to Mezthaluen. A few days after a short misadventure wherein Anatase’s bag gets stolen (and retrieved), ONYX meets up with two other C’zirqonian artifact-hunters (Lusite Pyrite and Rhyol Aphanite), who have brought incabloc sapphires (imbued with time dilation properties) and discuss their plan. When the magestorm has drawn near enough, the four take a ship across the Great Lake and into the center of the Bloodstone marsh. Here, they set up a protective arcrystological shield around a hillock to serve as an outpost, preventing the brunt of the magestorm from affecting them. 

When the eye of the storm draws near, Anatase and Celestine step out of the shield, activating the time dilation of the incabloc sapphires integrated in their combat suits and moving at super speed, avoiding the storm’s strong winds and debris. At first, they make good progress toward the storm’s eye; however, the sapphire’s on Celestine’s suit fails. Anatase manages to reach the eye of the storm, and grab the Reality Stone. After the storm moves past, Celestine is revealed to be injured but alive. She helps Anatase store the Cornerstone in the box container he discovered in the spaceship, then calls the C'zirqonian base. It is later revealed the shield failed in the magestorm, killing Rhyol Aphanite.

The Reality Stone goes into the possession of the head of House C’zirqonia. Anatase and Celestine, who is still recovering from her injuries, take a vacation in Union City; shortly after, Anatase is called to work again on another mission.


Minor summary:

C'zirqonian artifact-hunters Anatase Mafic and Celestine Felsic are tasked to pursue and obtain the Genesarian Cornerstones. Their search takes them across the vast Midlands of Genesaris, exploring cities for the advice of a Stormwatcher and chasing down a magestorm into the Bloodstone Marsh. In the midst of a daring plan to enter the eye of the storm, Anatase acquires the Reality Stone for House C’zirqonia.




Edited by Csl

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