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dread it, run from it, destiny arrives all the same

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The horde of the living dead would be halted at Landonia. That was Nathan’s promise to himself and to the people of this country. The Watchers airship landed just outside the city walls and found its defenders were already preparing for war, but the perfectionist streak in him was adamant this would not be enough. 

Seeing as how they had arrived before the hordes, the Watchers saw fit to ready themselves in their own way. 

Arthur stretched out his limbs and cracked his knuckles, then took turns sharpening his spear. There was no trace of fear on his face as he did so, only grim determination.

Max was kneeling on the top of the wall, praying, his swords glowing with holy fire, as if in anticipation. No doubt he would relish the chance to use them again.

Gale was chanting in the Fairy language whilst pacing back and forth, his grip on his sword uneasy. Every so often he would pause and take a drink from his canteen. Seeing as how his power was over water, it made sense he would want to be well hydrated.

Elias sat cross legged at Nathan’s side, his eyes shut in deep meditation. His usually cheery smile was absent; replaced instead by a mask of careful blankness. 

Nathan himself stood silently, watching the horizon for any sign of foes, but saw fit to give a short speech. He raised his arms, making sure he had his brothers attention before he spoke.

”Defenders of Landonia, Watchers, my brothers of the sword. To lead you has been my honor. You all have my heartfelt gratitude for your aid today. No doubt the enemy will have no such thanks. No, they are trembling in fear of our strength.’

’Let no man or demon forget how menacing we are. We are the mightiest heroes on Valucre! Separate we are strong, but united we are undefeatable! Together, we will break this army here. Together, we will not fail!’

He drew his sword. 

“So I say let them come! Let them come! Watchers are you with me!?”

The other four drew their weapons in salute. 

“We are with you, Nathan!” They cried.

Nodding in satisfaction, Nathan turned back to the horizon. In his head, he knew that despite his bravado, there was a chance this would be their final day. This might well be the end of the Watchers. 

Then it will be the noblest ending in history. He thought. 

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Apocalypse...

Nikki_Stratton.png?dl=1 When Nikki Stratton arrived in Nu Martyr a coupe days ago, she wasn't sure what all the tension and paranoia was about. She was not from around here, only having arrived from distant Terrenus on a simple exchange mission on behalf of her benefactor, Marigold Ravenspire. He needed to purchase some piece of technology belonging to some obscure scientist named MacGuffin, but being busy with other matters, he dispatched her to make the transaction in his stead. The problem was finding the man once she arrived in Nu Matyr, as his exact address was apparently not known. The people on this city were on edge as it was, but this guy seemed an extra level of paranoid, as he had effectively been making her run through a puzzle game just to find him. She'd been through several towns, following his hints, while reassuring him via communication devices that she was not "being followed"... "or tracked"... "or spied on"... "or possessed by spirits from the void".

Finally she had found his actual location, learning it just in time to see the storm brewing overhead. She had eventually learned why everyone in the city was freaking out, but she hoped to get what she came for and leave before then. Unfortunately, the brewing storm in the skies told her otherwise. She needed to find the inventor, pay him, then split town before she got caught up in all of this. It wasn't that Nikki was not sympathetic to the people here, but her personal situation was starting to get desperate enough that she just couldn't afford to lose this chance.

Ever since she found Marigold in his remote lab, she'd finally been made aware of the fact that her life was no longer entirely her own. A mad deity known as Laughingstock had invaded her mind, and bit-by-bit he was slowly sapping away at her sanity. Between the bizarre dreams, the visions of the Mania dimension, and the way her mutated eye reacted to people or certain objects, she knew it was only a matter of time before she lost it completely. But if the assault on her mind was not concerning enough, it was the what was happening to her body that pushed her sense of urgency into overdrive. Her right eye and the skin around it had been mutated years ago by a magic accident, but while it was rather horrible to look at it, it had proven seemingly stable and easily covered up using a simple eyepatch. But after Laughingstock infiltrated her mind, the eye seemed occasionally seemed to take on a mind of its own. What was worse was that it was no expanding. The skin around her eye was tough and leathery compared to normal human skin, and that texture eventually begun to spread down the side of her face. Her cheek, then her neck, her shoulder and breast, then finally all the way to her right hand. That hand then began to grow claws instead of finger nails, the entire limb looking bit-by-bit less like a human and more like a creature. The same then happened to her leg, the foot slowly taking on a less and less human shape. 

Covering this up was increasingly difficult. Her right boot had to be a little larger than her left, to accommodate the claws, while her right hand she covered in a black glove. Her face was not so easy to hide, but she tried to cover it with a headscarf as much as possible, for whatever good it did her. She needed to get this device to Marigold pronto, so he could continue his research into the matter. He was her only hope now, because she knew she wasn't strong enough to resist Laughingstock's corruption on her own. if the scientist couldn't find a way to free her...

She'd rather not think of that right now. Right now, she needed to find MacGuffin and get his damn invention. And she was close, since the last clue led her here, to Apocalypse. Approaching the address she had deduced, she knocked at the door and waited for an answer, but received none. She knocked again, but still there was no response.

"Doctor MacGuffin?"

She knocked again, harder this time. Still nothing. Trying the knob, she found the door unlocked, much to her surprise. The room inside was dark, lit only by what little natural light filtered through the dirty windows. It looked like this was the inventor's workshop, given all the machinery strewn-about, but overall it seemed pretty empty. Particularly stark was the large workbench in the center, completely devoid of any tools, nuts, bolts or items of any sort, save for a single piece of paper. Naturally, she assumed that to mean he was still forcing her to solve riddles. Good Gaia, was she ever going to find him before the whole place was torn apart by the impending war?

Snatching up the piece of paper, she held it into the dim light so she could make out the hastily written message:

Spoiler

Miss Stratton,

Please accept my apologies, but the arrival of the Cult here in Renovatio came with poor timing indeed. I dare not remain in the city while those monsters are roaming free, nor can I risk them acquiring my research. Fortunately, I have had an escape plan in place for years, so you needn't worry about my safety. Of course, I will be keeping the device I promised Dr. Marigold, but rest assured our agreement will be honored if he can manage to track me down again once I've resettled. For now, however; I'm afraid we must put our business on hold. I highly recommend you leave the city at once as well. These cultist are no mere fanatics! Give the good doctor my regards.

Sincerely,

James S. MacGuffin

P.S. By the way, nice job solving all my puzzles! I see why Marigold keeps you around!

"Jack-ass." Nikki groaned.

If he didn't have her running from one end of the suburbs to the other, they both could have safely left town days ago! She'd have a few choice words for that buffoon if she ever caught up with him. But he was likely long gone, and with all his work to boot. This meant she no longer had any reason to be in the city.

*RUUUUMBLE*

The distant sound of battle in the neighboring towns reached her ears, bringing into sharp relief the danger she was in. The problem was that she left her bike back in a secure garage in Nu Martyr proper, which was a positive thing in the sense that it was safe from damage or theft, for the moment, but not in the sense that it was really far away. She would basically have to walk, or run, all the way back to get it. 

*BOOM*

The battle was getting closer, causing a few of MacGuffin's leftover instruments to rattle. Dust was falling from the rafters of the rickety workshop, indicating it was probably not safe to linger here any longer. Nikki quickly exited, finding herself back on the street. But unlike when she went inside, the pedestrians were no longer loading possessions out of their homes or gawking at the smoke and flame in the distance. No, now they were running like hell, which meant only one thing.

"Damn it, they're here already!" Nikki spat, pulling her magitech rifle from her shoulder and priming it, "Hope you're ready for this, old friend."

@vielle @Metty

Edited by Tyler

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