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EpicRome23

LotE: All Roads Lead to Glia

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The sun had set, and the curtain of night had been drawn over the land. Torie had landed the airship (safely, mind you) at the edge of the stretch of desert which Madon had marked as the location where Arbalest and the shard of the Dragon Emblem were supposed to be buried. The Exarch had taken second watch, trading off with the weary Wymp. He spent a while staring into the fire, occasionally glancing around for any sign of threats approaching the airship. But he spotted nothing. Behind him, however, coming from the airship, a hostile figure quietly approached... Willow, the scorpion woman assassin, had stowed away on the airship, biding her time and waiting for the perfect opportunity to slay the Exarch. Silenced pistols in (four) hands, she approached, wondering if she might not make it slow, go for asphyxiation instead of a swift death at the end of the bullets. She could, she had checked and everyone else was firmly asleep, to her knowledge. She crept forward, coming for her unknowing victim, exultant in the perfect assassination she was about to execute.

... An axe flashed in the darkness. The scorpion-tailed woman did not let out so much as a scream as her head was separated from her body. Madon was startled as Jill stepped into the firelight, kicking the head of Scorpion-Tits in front of her as she walked, the head of the axe she carried covered in blood. He didn't know whether it was the firelight or the traits of the scorpion woman that made it look so... off. Jill sat down next to the Exarch, planting the head of her axe in the sand and tossing the head of the scorpion woman into fire, causing it to flare up merrily.

"... Exarch. We both survived the battle. I'm here to honor our deal. And it seems you owe me now, seeing as I just saved your life."

"And so you have. But why would you save me, Jill?"

The captain of Byrn turned to looked toward the fire, hiding her expression.

"You should not die to skullduggery. If you are to die, it will be by my hands, and I will take your head from your shoulders to present to Vlad when you have passed."

She sat silent for a few moments, before sighing.

"My steadfast dedication to that conviction, somehow, fades more and more the longer I am around you. I don't understand it. Ask what you will about me, Madon, and I will answer."

Madon looked over Jill for a moment, his eye settling on her leather glove before he spoke.

"The design on that glove... do you have a connection to Zenith?"

Jill nodded.

"I do, indeed. Once, Madon, I was a noble lady of Zenith. I was young and naive, then. House Fizzart was a family not well-liked, magical talent was not as prevalent among us as it was among the other houses of Zenith. We had enough to get by, however, and we made up for the deficit with ingenuity and martial prowess. But still, our only friend was House Pleuvoir."

"Olivia's house?"

"Yes. I'm not sure how much you may recall of back then. But Olivia was my dearest friend of the time. And on that fateful day where her house was slaughtered, leaving her the only survivor... at that ball Glia hosted and the elite of Isore and Zenith attended, I met you for the first time, Madon."

Madon rubbed his chin for a moment, before the realization hit him.

"Ah, I recall. The red-haired girl who nobody would dance with. I danced with you in spite of all the stares. And I complimented you to make you smile, before Olivia dragged me off elsewhere."

Jill smiled and nodded.

"So you do recall. I'll never forget what you said to me that day. How I stole the radiance of the stars, and I was avoided by the rest out of overwhelming jealousy. I was sure you were somewhat full of shit. Still, I could not help but grin ear to ear. And Olivia shot a jealous glare at me as she pulled you away, you know."

Madon chuckled quietly.

"Honestly, I'm not all that surprised. Olivia might have claimed me as her betrothed back then, had she more time and had tragedy not struck her house."

Jill laughed for a moment, before responding.

"Betrothed? Hah, she might have already been planning the wedding at that point. Would have been very like her, too. But as we both know... that was never meant to be. After House Pleuvoir was slaughtered, my own house had no more friends to speak of. Everywhere we went, we were met with hostile gazes, affronted whispers and thinly-veiled scorn. Your act of kindness at the ball led to the other houses trying to shame me in public. Though Isore's involvement was never confirmed, many in Zenith suspected their hand. And rightfully so. Though the fall of House Pleuvoir was beneficial to them, they had to pretend to mourn their loss for the benefit of the general populace. Eventually, my father had had quite enough. In the dead of night, he took my mother and I, escorted by our most loyal guards, out of Zenith. Our property went up with flames soon after our departure, with the most prolific of our harassers inside, laying claim to the possessions we had left behind. House Fizzart, I hope, left a mark that Zenith would not forget."

"And as for where you went... it had to be Byrn."

"Right on the money. My father had some connections to them. He knew they'd respect all of our talents, instead of looking down their noses at our relative lack of magic. And they did. So... that's how we got to where we are now. The noble lady of Zenith, become the fierce wyvern captain of Byrn. I... should have much reason to hate you, Madon. The actions of your father, that ended up tearing me from my old life, and into this one. And you now, one of the prolific leaders of those who would oppose Byrn..."

Madon turned and looked into Jill's eyes, causing her to give a slight start of surprise.

"The very same enemy who you are sitting next to. Who you could, if you wished, silently dispatch without his allies knowing until the next morning."

The Exarch grinned slightly.

"You could have me at your mercy now, yet you approach me with pleasant conversation, and reminiscence of the past. I... can tell that you seem conflicted, Jill. You are right, you have valid reason to hate me. Bringing my head to your leader would likely bring you much prestige. But is that what you truly desire? I can't tell you what to do. I can't tell you to how to feel. But what I can tell you... is that only you can decide what's best for you. And also? I meant every word that I said you to back then, and I mean every one of them now."

He stood up, extending a hand toward Jill.

"We could dance over the sands in the pale light of the moon, where we will only be seen by the stars above. And they will watch jealously, for they know they cannot compare to you."

Jill couldn't muster up a response whatsoever for a bit. Madon's words had taken her off guard. Finally, she spoke, with hesitation.

"If your allies see me with you here..."

Madon shook his head.

"The next watch does not come for a while yet. And my sense of time is well-honed. If they do see, anyways? What do I care, they could never prove it. And the others would never believe them."

After a few moments, Jill smiled, and took Madon's hand.

 

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Mason stirred and woke. He was still sitting with Amber in their little hideaway that Mason had made, arms over each other's shoulders. He had been accustomed to sleeping sitting up like he was, but didn't think Amber would have been as well. Power of love? No... no... it's too soon... was it? Mason shrugged it off and gently nudged Amber. "Amber... wake up."
"I didn't know... you felt the same..."
"Huh? What? Feel the same about what?"
Amber's eyes immediately shot open and her face went red. "Nothing! It was a dream!"
Mason let out a light chuckle. "Nah, don't worry about it. I know I've said some weird things in my dreams before. We should probably make our way off the ship before people start getting ideas about us.
"Yeah... you're right. How long have we been down here?"
"Who knows. I could use some fresh air though." He stood up and helped Amber up. "Oh... and Amber? Thank you for understanding and being so supportive. I'm so used to death... but what I went through is hard to live with."
"I understand Mason. Everyone needs someone to help them through things... to be alone... I can't imagine..."
"Yeah... come on. Let's go."
Mason lead them up out of the hold and off the ship... and the first thing they saw was the decapitated body.
"Well... that's gruesome." Mason said in a completely flat tone.
Amber expressed some horror. "How are you not grossed out?"
"I've seen heads popped like grapes with bullets I've fired. This is nothing."
"I... suppose that makes sense. In the... morbid sense."

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Tolok woke up from his slumber. He was dizzy and had to blink a few times, slowly, to regain his vision and get up without falling flat on his face, as he did back when he had to fight the Byrn. Well, when he was the reason they died of laughter.

He was not in the mood to stay in one place, for he was a true lover for stars. But not all kinds of stars, since one would tie to his ancestry, a story that would be told from child to child and kept as legacy, a memory, maybe a legend which has to be taken with a grain of salt when listened to. It was not just that, but the night sky in a desert would seem to look more like a painting, than reality. That's why he stood up and climbed a few stairs. Of course, his lucky ass managed to step on some wood beams which would creak at the slightest touch. "For fuck's sake." He muttered, as he was ascending towards the deck. 

And there he was, his curiosity peaking when he would look at the sky. In order to find that one star, he had to take out his compass and look up north-northwest and then find a dot that would shine stronger than any, which was in the center of a constellation, resembling a cross. Tough work for him, but manageable. He did as he would know, wandering slowly at the port and looked up, but he became incressingly more startled, since he couldn't find it. Perhaps, it was a mistake... But it couldn't be...

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Owend was outside to greet Mason and Amber, having been on the night's last watch. She saw what they were looking at and walked over to them.

"I think that might be the body of that assassin that tried to kill Madon back in The Valley? But it's somewhat hard to tell without the head. Crackers, that one gave me quite a shock at daybreak, I tell you! The light of day finally comes, and the first thing I see is a headless corpse lying nearby where I was keeping watch! I jumped, and if you heard a scream around that time, I admit that was me."

As Owend spoke, Madon and Wymp made their way out of the airship. Upon seeing the body, they both paused and did a double-take. Wymp was the first to speak up of the two.

"... what the fuck?"

Madon continued to stare for a few more moments. He strode over and flipped over the corpse with his foot. He looked for a couple more seconds, then looked up, frowning, at Owend and Wymp.

"... I suppose that's one less threat to my life that I have to worry about. Still, I have to wonder who did this. None of you caught sight of either her corpse or whoever killed her during your watches?"

Wymp and Owend, at least, shook their head. The Exarch continued.

"Well... I don't see why you would lie to me about that. A strange happening, but I suppose it will have to remain a mystery unknown to us, at least for now. Owend, Wymp, take the body and place it by that dune over there. The shifting sands will bury her soon enough."

Madon's retainers nodded, and went to work. As they departed, Madon looked toward Mason and Amber.

"If you have ideas to improve our mobility here in the desert, I'm all ears. Since we're expecting conflict, we can only move with the slowest of us. The faster we all move, the less chance we have of getting caught up in a hostile encounter during our search. I would speculate that the objects of our search are housed in structures of some sort, so we'll at least be spared the effort of having to comb through every inch of sand in order to find them."

Edited by EpicRome23

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"Well, this really shouldn't be a problem... and if you're having trouble with desert sands you really should be training more on sandy terrain. But really, am I going to point out the only elephant in the clearing here about 'improved mobility'?"

"Could use an elephant, would catch Byrn off-guard at the least. ... I know that's metaphorical. So anyways, I'll bite. Point it out, I'm not quite catching your drift here." Madon replied.

"Your armor."
"Mason's right, your armor would really slow you down. You should ditch it for the time being if you really want to speed things along."

"..." Madon sighed deeply. "There was a time when I would have dismissed such a thing as foolish. It's not a suggestion I like. But it's one that I can't deny the sense of."

"Ditch the heavier stuff. Even back at my world our men could run in the desert with full pack and body armor. It's not like you need to wear a miniature tank all the time."

"You'd be surprised how well it works out. But I suppose you're right. I'll be back in a moment."

As Madon left, Mason and Amber looked at each other. "That went surprisingly well. I figured he'd argue more."
Mason shrugged. "Sometimes you can teach old dogs new tricks."
"I HEARD THAT!" Madon yelled, causing Amber to chuckle.


"I cannot help but feel... strangely naked." Madon said as he returned in much lighter armor.

"How long have you worn that armor without taking it off anyways?" Mason asked.
"Since my flight from Isore."
"That long? How did you go-"
Mason quickly turned Amber around and began to push her away. "Ok time to go."
 

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Tolok gave up on searching, since it would prove to be a waste of time, since he could hear more and more people interacting with eachother. It was pretty obvious that being a star searcher for his own, selfish purposes won't help anyone.He was able to listen to Wymp's reaction towards a corpse which was severed, apparently. Something like this was pretty strange, considering none of them knew who saved the crew from their doom, but what could he do except shrugging it off and getting his stuff? With that, he went back in the airship to get his equipment and came back to the group of three, listening to their conversation. He smiled a bit when Madon agreed on the suggestion and came back in a lighter armor. But what if he could bring something to the table, as well? He stepped forward to Madon and took a deep breath.

"I know I may not be the best to come with suggestions, but I may have one, which could help us traverse the sands. You see, I have the ability to solidify fire, turning it into a harmless platform, which people can walk on, not just me. Let me show you somewhere outside the airship." With that said, he quickly jumped off the ship and made ten steps, turning left. He channeled a bit of his energy into his hands, creating what could be seen as a ledge, which was floating magically in the air, twenty centimeters above the dunes. It was, just like he said: solid, harmless fire, which you could interact physically with. With a smile, he stepped on it, stretched out his arms and turned to the Exarch.
"Well, that's the whole deal. If people want to walk on it, so we could traverse the sands faster, I would be more than happy to help. But there's a problem..." He straightened his voice, as if something was stuck in his throat. "Only three people can walk on it, excluding myself. I might as well traverse the sands and do this, I don't have a problem." He jumped off the ledge and made his way back on the ship. "What do you think, Exarch?"

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"One moment, Tolok."

Madon turned and looked toward Owend as she returned from moving the assassin's corpse.

"Owend. Designate a couple of Grey Knights to stay here and guard the airship, while we search. With the golem, that should be sufficient defense for anybody who might stumble across it."

Owend nodded and walked over to the Grey Knights. The Exarch returned his attention to Tolok.

"Take Wymp and Orsola with you. Amber and Mason have told me they'll be fine traversing the sands. Eve hasn't said anything, but I presume she'll be fine as well. The Grey Knights, obviously, will have no problem. And myself... forgive me, but after spending all my life locked on conflict with the mage nation of Zenith, at least before Byrn's invasion... I still have an innate distrust of magic, even though I believe your intentions to be good. I switched to lighter armor for a reason, I will trudge through the sands on my own two feet."

With everything seemingly settled, Madon strode forward and looked around the group.

"Alright. If you're all prepared, let us begin our search!"


Some distance into the sands, the group reached a hollow in the midst of the desert, one that was filled with stone pillars and other remnants of obviously ancient buildings. Madon scanned the area, feeling a bit of elation at finding some kind of lead. His smile faded into a frown as he spotted figures meticulously combing through the stones. Black armor. And above them... wyvern riders.

"... Of course, Byrn got here first. I suppose going a day without fighting is too much to ask."

As Madon continued to scan the area, he spotted another group approaching the Byrn troops. Their leader stepped forth and bellowed, loud enough for even Madon's group to hear.

"Interlopers! I am Sand, the Bandit King! I am the desert, and I will brook no intrusion! Make your peace with God... for I am about to send you to him."

Sand turned toward the men behind him.

"Get them, boys!"

The bandits raised their weapons, screaming a battle cry before charging the Byrn troops. Madon chuckled for a moment.

"Looks they're going to fight each other. A convenient distraction. Alright, let's split up and search for Arbalest and the Dragon Emblem shard. Go in twos and threes, it's best if you don't get caught up in the battle alone if you can avoid it. Split into groups as you please."

He stepped away, and approached Tolok's fiery platform.

"Wymp. Orsola. With me."

The Exarch's (supposed) daughter, and his retainer, nodded and followed after Madon. He walked toward a cluster of crumbling walls, a good distance away from the skirmish. Owend, meanwhile, landed Nodite next to Tolok and looked toward him.

"Hey, Tolok! Want to check out that pillar over there? I have a good feeling about it!"

Owend pointed toward the pillar in question, one that was intact... and also dangerously close to the skirmish between the Byrn troops and the bandits.

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Mason, Amber, and Eve had broke off together, since none of them had any issues traversing the sands on foot. Mason said it was his training, Amber her magic. But Eve... she didn't reveal her secret... if she even had one to begin with. While Owend and Tolok supposedly made their way to the skirmish, and Madon and his companions towards some ruins, Mason and co. made their way into the open desert away from the skirmish, based off a theory from Eve: if it's something important, why don't you hide it in plain sight where nobody would look for it?

"Remind me again on how exactly we're going to find this shard in the sand?"
"Supposedly... in deserts... things just barely poke out... and that's how... you can find things..."
"Yeah, I've heard these rumors too. It's like the desert is filled with treasure... though I don't know why it would be in the first place."
"Sand would erode so much... I don't know why either. Unless you kept it well protected... or if Madon is right and this sand really is different... though I haven't noticed anything yet."

The three continued their comb for some time without coming across anything... until...
"Umm... Amber... Mason?"
"What is it Eve? Find anything?"
"What's that?"
Mason turned to look at Eve and then in the direction of where she was pointing. It looked like... a sand dune... with a tube poking out of it.
"I've never seen anything like that before..."
Mason cautiously approached it and looked it over. "I think... no... it can't be... Amber?"
"Yes Mason?"
"Do you have any magic that can clear away this sand dune?"
"Well... I can call upon the winds... but why?"
"Just blow it away... trust me on this."
With a puzzled look, Amber approached the dune and pulled out her rapier. With some flourishing, sharp winds gusted past her and the sand was quickly blown away... revealing...
"How the hell did this get here?"

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It was Tolok's time to shine, being the asshole (or the clown) he is to the enemies. Seeing the bandits fighting the Byrn made it look like they were just some spectators, who could eat scorpions on a stick and rest on a sand chair... If they had those. He looked at the pretty pillar Owend pointed to and looked back at her, who landed next to him. He nodded with a grin and jumped on Nodite.

"Well, I have a good feeling about it, as well, when I look at it. Except the fact that it's risky... Scrap that, I love risking. Let's go!" He glanced back at the pillar and then at the bandits. "They will probably see us if they have a bad habit of looking up. Want me to extend my shield?" With that said, he took his shield in both hands and waited for her to say the special word, while making sure none of the pesky fighters would start nocking arrows to aim at them. "What's the plan? Get in there, one protects and one finds? If so, the shield offer is still standing." He chuckled, his pride being a bit obvious. Tolok might be a good person, but you never get the pride out of a clown with fire magic.

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"Huh? Oh, yeah, extend the shield. If those clambakes manage to catch sight of us, I'd rather not got creamed without a chance to escape!"

With, Owend took Nodite circling around the pillar, scanning the ground below. A wyvern rider caught sight of her and charged out of the skirmish in an attempt to skewer Nodite and throw her and Tolok onto the ground below, but was repelled by Tolok's shield. A bit later, Owend caught sight of an opening beneath the pillar. She brought Nodite around and descended behind the side of the pillar furthest away from the skirmish, bringing the duo out of view.

"Alright. Tolok, cover the entrance with your shield, I'm going in. Wish me luck."

With that, Owend took Blinkstrike in hand and descended the sand-covered stairs.


Over at the edge of the skirmish, Jill saw movement amongst the ruins some distance from the battlefield. She focused on it, trying to make out who was there. She smiled to herself as she made out the Exarch, even in the lighter armor he was wearing now. A sandstorm kicked up and obscured him and his companions from view moments later. Innes looked over at her, pausing the volley of arrows he was firing at the bandits from atop his wyvern.

"What are you looking at, Jill? Ghosts in the ruins?"

Jill laughed for a moment.

"Either that or a mirage, Innes."

With that, she dived back into the heat of battle.

-----

Madon, Orsola, and Wymp found stairs of their own in the midst of the ruins. Looking around for a moment, Madon led the way with Arcane Piercer in hand. At the bottom of the stairs, an oddly clean and pristine altar stood in front of the trio. Atop it... a crossbow. Orsola gasped involuntarily as she felt the power within the weapon, causing Madon and Wymp to look toward her. Orsola met their gazes.

"That crossbow is powerful. If that is not the legendary Arbalest, I do not know what it is."

That was enough for Madon and Wymp. The two of them stepped forward to retrieve the crossbow... only to step back in surprise as a spectral figure rose from the altar and blocked their path.

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"Mason, you know what that is? What is it?"
"That... is a weapon of my world... a M7 artillery gun... codename Priest."
"Priest? That doesn't... why?"
Mason walked around and patted the side by the machine gun. "It's called that because of this 'pulpit', as the British called it." He climbed up the side and looked in the compartment. "It's still got about half it's ammo too." He climbed inside. "I have no idea what this is doing here... or how it could've even gotten here to begin with."
"Maybe it got here the same way you did?"
"If that's the case, where's the crew?"
"Crew?"
"Yeah, crew, it took multiple people to operate this thing. It's not a simple weapon like my guns. Here, climb on up, I'll show you."
Mason helped Amber and Eve up into the fighting compartment. "This... seems interesting... how does it work?"
"Interested in becoming an artillery woman Eve? Well... we got the driver's seat right there, where he can drive this thing."
"Drive?"
"You're telling me this thing can move on it's own?"
"Oh right, you don't have engines here, that's right. Yeah, this thing has the capability to move on it's own. Driven from that seat right there. There's also the machine gun in the 'pulpit', for anti-infantry defense. As for the main artillery gun..."
Mason spent the next fifteen minutes explaining how it all worked, how to load it and aim it and all that, before climbing into the driver's seat.
"Now then... let's see if this still works." After a few seconds, the engine came to life. "Holy... it still works... then why was it abandoned?"
"Whatever the reason... it had to have been abandoned for awhile for it to be covered by a dune of sand."
"Right... well, where should we take it?"
"Umm... why don't we start driving back to the others?"
"First into the open desert, and now head back? Why Eve?"
"Well... it would probably... be best... while we still knew the way back."
"She makes a good point Mason. I don't think any of us are prepared for a long stay in the desert."
"Valid point. Let's go then, sit back and relax." He coaxed the treaded vehicle forward, making sure everything was still working properly before opening up the throttle.

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With the landing back on the dunes and the quick relocation to the entrance, he wished Owend a good luck and extended his shield, blocking off the entrance completely. He sighed as bit, as he was staying inside, bored.

"You know..." He muttered, "I hope none of these Byrn scummies will come in with a battering ram or something. I may have a huge shield, god dammit, but I am a mere human! Actually, add wind magic or however the hell it's called. I don't want a hurricane to come in and smash my skull open with a shield. Blergh, i bring too much bad luck just by speaking. These guys will say I have a bard's tongue if I keep uttering nonsense which comes up as true." He rolled his eyes and yawned, keeping his hands up, along with the shield, to keep entrance sealed off.

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Madon, Wymp, and Orsola all stared at the specter with weapons in hand. Madon squinted, making out the features of someone he had seen mentioned in the writing talking of Arbalest and the shard. Balthazar, one of the Seven Heroes, and wielder of Arbalest. The specter spoke after a few tense moments.

"✞︎︎⬧︎︎⧫︎□︎❒︎⬧︎✏︎ ⬥︎︎⍓︎ ︎□︎⧫︎︎ ⧫︎︎□︎◆︎ ︎⬧︎⧫︎◆︎❒︎︎ ❍︎⍓︎ ⬧︎●︎◆︎❍︎︎❒︎✍︎"

("VISITORS! WHY DOTH THOU DISTURB MY SLUMBER?")

Madon spoke with his head bowed.

"Balthazar! I am Madon Galen Ingeram, Seventh Exarch of Isore. I humbly request to take up Arbalest in order to combat the menace of Byrn, whose troops are enhanced by the blood of dragons, or at least an enchantment that channels those aspects."

Balthazar floated silently for a few moments, before nodding.

"✡︎□︎◆︎ ❍︎︎⍓︎ ⧫︎︎?︎❒︎︎●︎︎⬧︎⧫︎?︎⬧︎ ●︎□︎■︎︎⬧︎ ⍓︎□︎◆︎ ⬧︎⬥︎︎❒︎ ⧫︎□︎ ◆︎⬧︎︎⧫︎ ︎□︎❒︎ ︎□︎□︎??︎◆︎⧫︎ ⍓︎□︎◆︎ ︎❖︎︎■︎□︎⧫︎︎❒︎ ◻︎◆︎❒︎◻︎□︎⬧︎︎❒︎?︎ ⬧︎︎■︎⬧︎?︎ ?︎︎⧫︎ ︎⬧︎ ︎⧫︎✍︎"

("YOU MAY TAKE ARBALEST, AS LONG AS YOU SWEAR TO USE IT FOR GOOD. BUT YOU HAVE ANOTHER PURPOSE HERE, I SENSE. WHAT IS IT?")

Wymp stepped forward boldly.

"Lord Balthazar! We swear to use Arbalest for good. As for our other purpose, we ask your guidance in locating the shard of the Dragon Emblem buried here in these sands."

At the mention of the Dragon Emblem, the building around them started to shake.

"❄︎︎ ⬧︎︎❒︎︎ □︎︎ ⧫︎︎❒︎︎□︎■︎ ︎❍︎︎●︎︎❍︎✍︎✏︎ ⍓︎□︎◆︎ ⬧︎︎? ⧫︎□︎ ❒︎?︎◆︎■︎︎⧫︎︎ ⧫︎︎◆︎❒︎⬧︎︎❍︎✍︎✏︎ ⧫︎︎❒︎︎□︎■︎ ❍︎︎⬧︎⧫︎︎❒︎ ❒︎︎□︎❒︎■︎✏︎ ︎ ⧫︎︎❒︎●︎ ︎❒︎□︎❍︎ ︎❒︎︎■︎⧫︎ ⧫︎︎❍︎︎ ◻︎◆︎⬧︎︎ ⍓︎□︎◆︎ ︎□︎⬥︎■︎ ⧫︎︎⬧︎ ◻︎︎⧫︎︎✍︎✏︎"

(THE SHARD OF THE DRAGON EMBLEM?! YOU SEEK TO RE-UNITE THE CURSED GEM?! THE DRAGON MASTER REBORN! DID THE GIRL FROM A DIFFERENT TIME PUSH YOU DOWN THIS PATH?!)

Orsola gave Balthazar an indignant gaze.

"No! I didn't do anything! And besides, it's Byrn that seeks to unite that thing. We are trying to keep at least one piece out of their hands!"

The shaking ceased for a moment.

"?︎︎●︎︎ ⬧︎︎■︎⬧︎︎ ■︎□︎ ︎⧫︎?︎ ■︎□︎⧫︎ ︎●︎●︎ □︎︎ ⍓︎□︎◆︎ ︎❒︎❒︎⍓︎ ⧫︎︎⬧︎ ⬧︎︎❍︎︎□︎■︎❖︎︎⧫︎︎□︎■︎ ⧫︎□︎ ︎❒︎⧫︎?︎■︎■︎□︎⧫︎ ●︎︎⧫︎ ⍓︎□︎◆︎ ●︎︎❖︎︎ ⧫︎︎⬧︎ ⧫︎□︎❍︎︎■︎︎❒︎︎■︎︎●︎︎❍︎︎⧫︎⍓︎ ⧫︎□︎ ︎❒︎︎⬧︎❍︎︎✏︎"

("WHILE I SENSE NO DECEIT FROM YOU, NOT ALL YOU TRAVEL WITH CARRY THIS SAME CONVICTION TO HEART. I CANNOT LET YOU LEAVE THIS TOMB AND BRING CALAMITY TO ERASMIA!")

The tomb began to shake again, more violently. Madon thrust Arcane Piercer into Balthazar, the golden lance's anti-magic properties causing a big hole in the specter to dissipate, though it quickly began to reform. The Exarch grabbed Arbalest with his free hand, and tossed it to Wymp before shouting.

"Let's get out of here before we're buried!"

Orsola and Wymp nodded, and along with Madon, rushed toward the stairs with all the speed they could muster.

Somehow, they managed to avoid the debris and ascend the stairs to safety. The building housing the altar collapsed behind them. The noise might attract the attention of Byrn and/or the bandits, but for the moment, the trio smiled and breathed sighs of relief. Their elation was cut short as they saw the specter of Balthazar float up from the collapsed building to come onto the surface.


Tolok and Owend had gone unnoticed by the clashing bandits and Byrn troops, except for the one wyvern rider who been thwarted by Tolok's shield. Therefore, Tolok's watch was uneventful, until he heard Owend shout from below...

"Crackers!"

The sound of rushing footsteps could be heard, and Owend stopped next to Tolok, a messily-scrawled letter in hand. She seemed angry.

"Crackers, crackers! We're a bunch of spongebrains, we've been had, Tolok! We need to return to the others, immediately!"

She didn't elaborate until the two of them were back on Nodite's back.

"The shard of the Dragon Emblem has already been found, Tolok! That meathead 'Bandit King' fellow has it, if I read this bloody terrible handwriting right! We're all going to have to charge straight into the skirmish if we want it to stay out of Byrn's hands!"

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As Mason drove the SPG back, he talked with Amber and Eve a little more about his homeworld, or rather, the kind of weapons used. Like the M7 Priest. Discussing how it worked, what it was used for, and the massive difference in technology levels compared to what was in their world. Until...
"Hold up..."
"What is it Mason?"
"Looks like trouble up ahead, take a look."
Amber and Eve both stood up and looked out in front as Mason brought the Priest to a stop. "It's Madon... and Wymp... and Orsola..."
"Yeah but they rushed..." He quickly hopped out of the driver's seat as he saw the specter rise up. "We got hostiles! Load the cannon!"
Amber and Eve fumbled with what to do, with Mason helping them along the way. Once the cannon was loaded, he began adjusting the aim. "This is going to be one hell of a shot... time to put my name on the line." Once he had laid it on target, and after a very brief one sentence prayer, he pulled the trigger. The cannon recoiled, releasing a shell that careened through the air, whistling just inches over Mason and his friends... and landed right at the feet of the specter, detonating the high explosive round. The misty apparition had vanished.
Mason stood straight, a little in shock. "To be honest... I had no idea that would work... supposedly HE is super effective against... whatever that was."

 

Spoiler

For the record, this is a Priest... minus the MG on the pulpit

 

 

Edited by NuclearCommando

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"Oy, Owend!" He channeled more energy into his shield and the sword after they left the pillar. He took a look at the paper she held and blinked a few times and made a grimace, "What in the fuck, I write better than him!" He straightened his voice, "Anyways, should we group up or..." Tolok was caught off guard by the loud bang, something which was even louder than the few "boom bricks" that were used back when they ambushed the caravan. "What in the fucking fuck is that?!" He pointed at the box of steel, who would deliver death on large scales. They were high in the sky, and could see the three people inside, Tolok's face showing one, extremely shocked expression.  "Are those... Deadeye, Amber and Eve? What are they doing in that green box with that... Stick in front? Why does it have stars? Ugh...We don't have time for these kinds of questions. We should meet Madon's group and... Deadeye's toy..."

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