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Meraxa

The Stronghold of Storms

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"THAT WAS FUN!" the older sister sheepishly squealed once the dust all settled in and the ship was no longer in motion. The 'supposed' crash was well-received the strange woman much to the younger sister's amusement.

Shishi could not help but sigh at her older sibling. Still, she was more than glad that a few other people survived their recent predicament. Now she and her sister are trailing after the group, on the ground, going farther and farther away from their only trip home.

The magic here is thick and cloying, heavy enough for even Shishi to perceive it with her eyesight alone. Wiping some of the blood off the small cut on her forehead, Shishi wondered aloud. "Any ideas, sister? Turning off such a massive floating fortress?"

The older woman shrugged. "Breaking it would be the simplest answer but I doubt anyone would want to destroy such a good facility. Now shutting it down would be the harder option."

Shishi mulled on those words. "Let's hope it won't come to that."

Chuckling the older sister took the lead to stand a beside Roen. "We can always hope."

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Raccoon had actually fainted during the crash. His body laid face-first on the wooden floor. And, without warning, bolted awake.

"GARGHLOOKOUT-!" 

He sat there, momentarily wide-eyed, his adrenaline continuing from where it left off. The surging panic, the beat of his quickening heart pulse—had already died. There was no turbulence, nor was there any storm. The ship wasn't even moving at all. Raccoon had been absolutely dumbfounded, flashes of white light still burned into his eyes. What just happened? A few minutes ago, he was wrestling with gravity. But now. . .  no. . .  is he-? Raccoon grabbed his body; his waist, his chest, his face, his beautiful face-!

He's alive! But what about. . .? He squinted, swiveling his head around—left, right, up, down—scanning for a familiar glint that had almost immediately caught his eye. He blindly scrambled to his knees, snatching his glasses off the floor. He breathed into the lenses and wiped them squeaky clean, placing it on his face and blinking into a world where he could actually see. Raccoon pushed himself up, his legs rickety like a newborn baby deer, still caught in the middle of a rocking ship bullied by a storm. He scanned for his crew mates next, all of whom, he was not able to find. 

I see, Raccoon thought to himself, in quite a literal and metaphorical sense. 

He placed his hands together, preparing a prayer so that their souls may be peacefully guided to the afterlife.

Bless their hearts and souls, O Divine One, so that they may find peace after death. They are good people—though I've known only three of them for about . . . what, a day? My judgement is not very clear, at the moment, but, er, never mind, they're right there. 

"Hey! Hey guys!" 

Raccoon ran up to his formerly deceased companions and slipped. He forgot that he had a slight weakness in his legs, but eventually, he got right back up.

The last of their companions caught up to them, with a deep crimson scrape on his right cheek. it jutted a splinter, trickling with thin lines of blood. He deeply questioned the citadel that towered before him, but it was too late for that. Raccoon joined the party right behind the sisters from earlier. He hadn't actually gotten a chance to give off a better first impression awhile ago (most probably because of the storm) so he quietly accepted the death of his ego. 

One of their companions—he hadn't actually gotten his name—began talking about how turning off the fortress was coherently a horrible idea. You can turn a fortress on?

A few moments passed. Raccoon decided to do the one thing he usually did.

"Welp." He sat down, his legs in a criss-cross position. "Don't mind me."

He began to 'totally space out, dude'.

Closing his eyes, Raccoon tapped into his sixth sense; ebony tattoos inked across his body illuminated deeply with blinding light, accompanied by the faintest sound of song. Most of what his companions said were muted out in the middle of his transcendent state, attracting spirits to linger on his physical and ethereal body. For about a minute, Raccoon had said nothing, until his eyes opened, briefly white and glowing, before gently fading into a pair of pupils. The light vanished as he bolted up, his free hand digging into his pocket. He placed his hand on the pilot's shoulder—unnaturally friendly. Tiny spirits crept up on some of the party.

"Cool, cool." Raccoon mumbled, listening to a little spirit on his shoulder. "There's something at the bottom of the citadel," he said, pulling out an extra pipe; less ornamental and more wooden. He ignited it. "I don't know what it is, but it feels like something really big."

Raccoon puffed a lazy cloud that drifted faintly familiar shapes, as if faces had appeared on the clouds he smoked. "Also, there's a potted plant somewhere. It's being really taken care of, i think."

His eyes studied the stairs. Then he studied the faces of the people here with him; Argi, Ravenbush and her sister, the pilot, and a bleeding man. 

A what-

"WOAH—!" He didn't do well with blood. But then again, he didn't notice he was also bleeding. "That doesn't—uh, ughh," he sucked in some air, "that looks bad. You want some, uh, ointment on that?"

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OOC: Utmost apologies for the delay on my part. If you guys -

@Roen @Vilhardt @Thotification @SweetCyanide are okay to continue I'd appreciate it, but would understand why one may be put off

 

'Machine'. There was a word that was utterly unfamiliar to Argi, and so made him quite curious as to what it must have referred to. It was being used to ascribe the fortress in some fashion, so was it a martial term? Magic, perhaps? Then again, if it were either of those things, Argi knew the words in Terran, or whatever they called the language, and it didn't sound like them. It was also, he realised, not the best time to thinking too hard on words he did not know, when there were other things he did not know to be concerned about.

Like how the heck did the door like that.

It had only happened mere moments ago, but before he have pulled out Peldun to deal with the situation, Argi had beheld the doors swing open by way of some unknown force. Though the wind outside was quite heavy, it could not have been what forced them open - otherwise they would fail their apparent purpose in every instance. Had it been one of the others present? If so, then what they did was an art unseen, at least by Argi's eye.

 

As for the fortress itself, apparently such things were not entirely unheard of among the lowlands. The man that seemed-to-be-Jim affirmed the likelihood of a magical involvement, but again that word 'machine' was used, suggesting a distinction between the two. It was difficult not to be distracted by that fact, especially when what otherwise lay around him was... perhaps so overwhelming as to encourage his mind to not even consider it. So many stairs, so many ways to go, his eyes would sometimes glance towards one, his head turn towards another, and then in the end, settle on none at all.

"There's something at the bottom of the citadel," said Raccoon from behind, drawing Argi's gaze that way. His face scrunched up in considering the suggestion, before he sighed, and set off for the nearest set of stairs that were going down. There really was nothing else for it, was there?

 

...Well, there was always falling through the floor instead, apparently.

 

Argi, and anyone that would have elected to follow, quite literally fell victim to a pair of doors that masqueraded as the floor, swinging open when sufficient weight was placed upon them. Argi, square in the middle of the wide opening, had nothing within reach to grasp, leaving him subject to gravity's whims. For those that might try to escape this trap, the walls of the pit into which they fell were smooth and bare, without even seam to plug a sturdy sword into, like in some tales - other solutions would be necessary. For anyone who hadn't gone forward so hastily, whether they wished to assist or not, they would find themselves having to contend with a series of arrows fired from on high towards them. They came one at a time, fired from a single source, but fired in rapid, seasoned succession. If instead of evasion, one opted to block or deflect the attack, the adventurers would find things quickly complicating, if they tried to do so with magic. For any construct of the arcane that came into contact with these arrows would lose most of their sense of coherency, unravelling as the shaft of dark-blue turned orange upon contact.

 

The archer that fired those arrows, clad in archetypal hooded cape - archetypal of the continent's largest military, even - rested at the top of one set of stairs, in the forward-right corner. Whatever their reason, after their initial volley, they retreated up the stairs. Pursuit would lead to a realisation that the stairs extended above the entrance hall into a criss-crossing stairwell, each leading into entrances that immediately exited unto another, like some confusing painting. Here, the archer would be perched several layers up, looking down upon any guests in all possible senses of the phrase.

"I'm afraid there's no leaving." His voice echoed downward, quite bluntly. "Besides, I need target practise before we get to the real show."

 

Meanwhile, for anyone that had made the descent into the unknown with Argi, they would find themselves in a... rather welcoming setting, actually. Rather than some dark and damp hole, it was a well lit room, furnished with all the trappings of the well-to-do. Shelves lined the walls of the wide chamber, and upon those shelves, books and trinkets from all corners of the continent. Reading one such book was a woman, seemingly only a few years older than Argi himself, but dressed utterly unlike him. This was a woman not only familiar with civilisation, but class, set in a black and burgundy dress with an intricate floral motif. She would regard any visitors after reaching the end of the apparent chapter she was reading, laying a bookmark within the pages before clapping the tome shut.
"...I did wonder if anyone would come to us, before we reached Ignatz." The woman mused as she swivelled in her seat, putting her hands together. A single, deep blue eye would study the scene - the other was veiled by the sheer length of the fringe.

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Josh tapped his foot, looking towards the top of the spire for a moment as the twins babbled amongst themselves, feeling as if he had forgotten about something important. The old man Jim rattled on, reminiscing about 'Blarf' or something like that; whatever that was. The word magic caught the knuckleheads attention though, causing him to nod in agreement as the coot confirmed the pilots thoughts. Jim started hollering about getting off of the fortress, and the white haired one snapped back to reality. He cleared his throat, preparing to ask Argi a bit more about that strange box but was quickly reminded about that thing he had almost forgotten.

 Something had touched his shoulder, taking him by surprise. It was... Badger.. Or was it Possum? His ears were still ringing a bit from the crash, and he didn't really care about that much anyway; after having lost his coat. The hair on Josh's neck stood as Raccoon's hand settled, while twitching at the eye and flaring his nostrils in realization. The smell... That awful, putrid stench caused the soldier to lurch forward slightly.

 Back into his own world he went, ignoring the spirits aloft. Ignoring what Raccoon had said. Ignoring the others, and recoiling in disgust when he could no longer fight it. It was on Raccoons hands, the puke, and it smelled like... Well it smelled like puke, lingering on the shoulder of the pilot's black turtleneck. Revolting truly, sending the man into a frenzy which caused him to ventilate pure anxiety while he thrashed about, stripping the sweater off and throwing it at the ground; leaving his gun holster slung across his bare chest. The mage turned to face the group from the center of the room, putting his foot down hard in preparation to set things straight.

 "Alright!!! Now look here Chipmunk!! This is NOT!!!..."

 The floor gave way.

"COOOOOOoooool......"

 Josh was the first down, banging off of the walls before sluggishly coming around in a tasteful environment. The woman of class caught his eye, causing him to sit up when he noticed her. He smiled fiendishly, flexing a bit and dusting his chest off before something else came crashing down on top of him, knocking him out for a moment.

Edited by Vilhardt

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Following Argi was quite the eventful decision. Neither sister expected the surprise but only the older sister welcomed it with open arms. As the fake floor doors swung open and the were plummeted downwards, Shishi could not help but get worried. In fact, it greatly stressed her that she did not notice her body reacting accordingly to the predicament. Wings of light shout out of her back thus slowing her descent while her older sister merely floated in mid-air. To make matters worse, the older sister pulled out a stick of cigar and began smoking while the two gently reached the ground. 

Theatrics aside, Shishi was surprised to find another person living inside the floating structure. She found it weird that this woman seems to be in tune with the latest trends and clearly not the outdated native she had expected. Shishi turned to her sister for assurance only to find the other woman staring daggers at other person. 

Inhaling a lungful of smoke, the older sister regarded this woman. "The fringes don't suit you."

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While the older sister sidled up to him, Roen turned his head and leveled the weight of his scrutiny on Raccoon. Arguably one of the more interesting members of the party, loud voice and antics notwithstanding, the man was doing something peculiar. He was sitting down and, for lack of a better word, glowing. It didn’t take much to hazard a guess that the man was performing an esoteric action, though to what remained largely unclear. It was the sheer candor of it, though. To ask for no minding before sitting down and glowing was, in of itself, something of a comedy. Roen might have laughed, were he not so concerned with the whyfores of Raccoon’s ministrations. Viewed through the lens of the Art, Raccoon was alight with psy-flame, and attracted denizens from beyond the veil. 

As a matter of precaution, Roen retreated deep within himself beneath the camouflage of the mundane. He was incognito, after all. His name was Jim. It wasn’t enough to appear human, he also had to feel like one, too. Laying a hand across the steel pommel of his sheathed sword, Roen watched with all due interest while Raccoon went about his task, and didn’t flinch, not a bit, when the man opened his eyes, glowing at first, and bolted upright. It had, to Roen’s perspective, been a right of sending that Raccoon had performed. It seemed, for all intents and purposes, that he had been communicating with the Beyond for insight. 

Fascinating, Roen thought, with not a little envy. That was talent, right proper. 

What was not fascinating was the lighting of a pipe and the comment concerning ointment, and even less so the feeling of the floor dropping out beneath them all. So preoccupied with Raccoon’s rite and conversation, Roen had lost focus on their immediate surroundings, and so was caught entirely off guard by their sudden descent. Without meaning to and on impulse alone, the fiend in disguised reached out, and with hands as hard and as rough as bark with labor-callouses, grabbed the elder sister beside him in a vice-like grip. Fortunately, Raccoon was not the only meta-human in their company. The elder sister, who Roen grabbed as a lifeline, was floating. What was more surprising was that Roen didn’t feel it happen. He didn't even feel it now. 

It felt, to his preternatural senses, completely natural that she floated, as if it were the action of a natural law and not the breaking of one. Gravity pulled at him, though. Voraciously, hungrily, it pulled at him, but he didn’t plummet as others had. Holding onto dearest life, Roen spared the elder sister one quick, furtive glance to make sure she would still float, and then swiveled his attention down, where the plummet was. He watched Agri and Josh fall, the latter striking walls violently as he did so, before being struck and knocked out. Argri, on the other hand, Roen didn’t quite see. Still, it was enough evidence to suggest the length of the drop, and once Roen had a measure of it, he waited until the elder sister floated down close enough for him to let go of her and fall safely. 

Landing hard and falling painfully to a knee, Roen rocked slightly where he knelt, shivered with the pain of bruising that would soon bloom, and huffed his way to his foot and full albeit modest stature. Without missing a beat, the pretend sellsword reached out, grabbed sheath and hilt both, and drew the old, battered weapon from his hip with a steely hiss of metal whispering against leather. He took the lead, but not before employing some esoteric ability himself: a sending. Casting thought and will behind him, Roen whispered words into the minds of Shishi, her elder sister, Argi and Raccoon. Get the mage up. Be alert. Acting the part - he had been hired as security - Roen juxtaposed himself between the party and the woman of class before them. He gave her a once over after briefly rolling his shoulder and pressing his cheek and eye against it, wiping blood from his sight. 

“We didn’t come to you,” Roen told the woman with the blue eye. He held his sword neutrally, its tip hovering near the ground at his feet. “We crashed.” Glancing briefly at their surroundings, alert for shifts in the environment, the man frowned severely. “Your floor broke beneath us, sorry about that. We’re just looking for a way off of this rock, so if you don’t mind..,” he trailed off, leaving the rest implicit. They didn’t want trouble, here. They just wanted to leave. It was a lie, of course. He was content to get the rest of the party off of the citadel, but as for him -- well, he had other ideas. 
 

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