Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

It's a castle....and it's floating! :O

Moderator: Floating Castle Mods

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Mon May 27, 2013 9:16 pm

Okay, well, you survived D: That incompetant wizard couldn’t hope to stand against you and your... might. Yeah.. we’ll go with that.

Hector: You receive a rat’s claw. It’s curved and sharp, but not perfect yet. You’re sure it will make an amazing sword/knife/boomerang.

Ben: You recieve a compass so you don’t get lost, even in terrible dungeons of evil rats and stuff.

Tamar: You are now beginning to develop your latent magical abilities. Right now it’s just that one fire spell, but hey... maybe you’ll be able to develop further. :)

All of you: You all gain a level of resistance to some diseases, especially those carried by rats and other vermin. This isn’t perfect, and you can and will be able to die from stupidity still.
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:31 pm

Quest: And Then There Will Be Cake?
Victim: LordXana0 (Salvantas)

[meta]So, It's your birthday.[/meta] The world has gone to hell, and it's kind of hard to celebrate when people are dying. So you decide to go into the underground to let off some steam. Or something.

You wake up in a white room, lit brightly by lanterns too high up for you to reach. A disembodied voice asks you to please perform a series of tests for her, in order to collect data. At the end of the test, you are promised (say it with me), a gigantic, delicious piece of cake.

GM Notes: No, there is no Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. No, this is not the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, either. The tests are very real though, and, though the castle's laboratory sector would like to remind you, completely and totally safe, death is an option.

The lab is airtight, you can't escape through normal means. It seems she was expecting you, whoever she is. The rooms seem to be predesigned, and fully functional. And she seems to be trying to figure out how scouts work *gulp*

This quest ends on June, 19th at 23:59 EST.

As always, Good Luck, Be Safe, and Have Fun! :D
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Lordxana0 on Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:35 pm

For what it is worth Salvantas was not usually an angry man. He was soft spoken and honestly tried his hardest to be in a good mood whenever possible. But the last few weeks had been hard on him and his group, and he needed to get away for awhile, find some small quest or monster to fight. So he entered the Underground. For awhile it was just him alone with this thoughts, walking along, examining the different cave systems. Eventually he found his way to a large structure that was built of smooth marble. It looked a bit like a temple, and it was guarded by two stone wolves. He quickly threw out two knives and when the statues didn't move he picked them up and made his way deeper into the temple.

From the inside it was quite beautiful, lit by constantly burning white flames, and when he looked toward the ceiling he saw paintings of heavenly beings with pure white wings, their bodies consumed by a beautiful flame. This was a Basafama temple to the White Flame, and what it was doing in this dark place he had no clue. But the fact that this place stood bright in the center of this dark realm brought a smile to his face. Even in the darkest abyss a light could shine out. He went down to a knee and lowered his head. "All hail to the lords of the white flame, may my actions cause that which lights the darkness honor" he smiled at the small prayer and began to stand up, but as he did a sudden heaviness came to his mind, and he found himself passed out on the floor not a moment later.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Salvantas awoke with a start and quickly jumped out of the...bed he was in? He looked down with confusion at the bed, wondering how he had gotten there. Few times in his life had he actually awoken in a place he didn't recognize that wasn't filled with blood and dead bodies. He quickly examined his surroundings and found himself to be in a large white room with no doors, windows, or anything of that nature. Only a bed and himself inhabited the room. "Well Blank what mess have you gotten us into this time" Salvantas muttered, waiting for a reply from his other half.

But there was no reply, there was simply silence.

"Okay so Blank isn't in my mind, which shouldn't be a thing that can happen seeing as he is a part of me" Salvantas pushed down his panic and began to walk toward one of the walls, and found that he could get no closer to the wall then he already was, he simply moved further away from the bed and into the whiteness. "Okay the bloody hell is happening here!" he called out, his temper finally breaking forth.

Welcome test subject to the Experiment World, here a variety of different experiments will be done on you until you complete them all, and afterward the reward will be more experiments, lucky lucky you! A voice rang forth from the infinity that Salvantas was trapped in.

"Oh, well fantastic, lets do it then" Salvantas smiled brightly and began to stretch himself out, going through his usual routines.

Um... excuse me? the voice spoke again, this time slightly confused. You are suppose to be angry, or scared, maybe confused or something

"Well I would be, but whatever these 'experiments' are they sound a lot more pleasant then the amount of stuff I have been dealing with lately, so I say lets do it" Salvantas bounced on his heels and prepared himself for whatever trial he would be facing first.

... Right... so then, Falling Test!

The ground beneath Salvantas suddenly opened wide and he began falling into a massive black pit. He let out a surprised call but after a few moments he smiled and began to turn in the air so he was standing straight up. "Wonder when this thing bottoms out?" he watched at the top of the hole got harder to see, and soon he was consumed in darkness, still falling. "So what exactly is this testing?" he called out

It is suppose to be testing how you react to falling far distances... aren't you a little afraid of hitting the ground, you know going splat and looking like a stepped on piece of bread? the voice sounded a little annoyed at how calm he was taking this.

"Well I mean, hitting the ground is already inevitable once you have fallen, kind of seems silly to worry about it until after it happens you know?" He laughed a bit and scratched the back of his head. "Sorry should I try screaming or something like that?"

Next Test the voice called out. As soon as the words were spoken Salvantas found himself on solid ground, all of his previous momentum lost. He was back in the infinite white void once more. Angry bees test! Suddenly from out of nowhere hundreds of bees appeared and began to swarm around Salvantas, each one of them finding a place to land on him, stingers waiting for him to make a movement and piss them off.

However Salvantas stood perfectly still, seemingly relaxed in the presence of the hoard of flying insects. "You know this actually reminds me of some training I did when I was younger, you see my master would make us hold a position, and if we moved even an inch he would beat us with a cane" Salvantas spoke slowly, careful to not anger the bees around his mouth.

There are bees on you, like all on you and they came out of nowhere! Now the voice was beginning to sound really unhappy. Why aren't you freaking out and getting stung!

"Well I mean they are just bees, I would freak out, but I imagine it would hurt like nobody's business, so I think I will just stand still for awhile, if that is okay I mean" Salvantas chuckled a bit. "They kind of tickle"

Okay you know what, that is it, I didn't want to do this but you have forced my hand! Mental Trauma Test! the voice called out. In a flash Salvantas was no longer standing in the white infinity, but his old house. Salvantas looked around in awe and began to walk around, his hand gently brushing against the bookcases and walls. It was a perfect replication in every way.

"Well son, long time no see" Salvantas turned around and for a moment he was dumbstruck by what he found. His father was standing behind him, his captains coat over his light armor and his treasured rapier by his side. His father smirked at Salvantas expression and laughed.

"Close your mouth, I swear it is wide enough to catch flies in" another voice said playfully. Salvantas watched as his mother appeared next to his father, dressed in a white trench coat much like Salvantas own brown one.

Salvantas blinked at them for a second. "Wha..."

His father raised a hand to stop him. "While we were summoned to this place in order to insult you and tell you how you failed us by not saving us when we died, but really I am not going to do that"

His mother smirked. "Yeah that isn't going to be a thing that happens, not today and not ever"

..I'm sorry what? the voice rang out again, a sound of pure confusion coming from it.

"Any chance you can quiet her down?" His father asked, looking toward his wife.

She nodded and raised her hand. "In the name of the White Fire I ask thee to hold thy tongue"

This isn't...gah the voice tried to speak a few more times, but all that came out were different gasps and groans.

His father put his hand on his mothers shoulder. "Thank you dear, that voice was giving me a headache, which is kind of silly seeing as we don't really exist... but that is for another time" his father turned toward Salvantas. "Our time is short, and while I would love to hear what you have been doing since our deaths there are other matters that need to be dealt with"

Salvantas blinked, a look of confusion on his face. "I am... not really sure how to respond to that"

His father smirked and held out an empty hand. After a few seconds a rapier appeared in it, which he tossed to Salvantas. The second Salvantas caught it his father drew his own blade and charged at him. "Defend yourself!"

Salvantas barely had a second to register his fathers attack, but a second was all he needed. He quickly drew the rapier from the sheath and knocked his fathers blade to the left and dodged to the right. His fathers sword was powerful, it was even said to be one of the nine dragon teeth weapons. It could slice through any metal, so blocking it head on would just leave a broken weapon and the defenders guts on the floor. He brought his blade up only to be attacked from the side by his mother, who was wielding two daggers. "What the hell is going on?"

His father joined in with the attack. "There are many trials ahead, and we need to make sure you are ready for them!"

His mother jumped back and dropped one of the daggers, instead pulling out a variety of throwing needles from her coat and throwing them into Salvantas free hand, paralyzing it. "It is a parents duty to make sure their child can face the world without them"

And so they clashed for some time. Salvantas body never seemed to tire, and neither did his parents. After battling so long Salvantas was beginning to find flaws in their movements and attacks, and finally...

Salvantas kicked his father back and tossed his rapier into the air. His mother came out him with her knife only for Salvantas to knock her arm aside and land a powerful blow to her stomach, followed by a headbutt. He grabbed the sword out of the air and stuck it in his mothers shoulder and into the floor, pinning her there. His dad charged back in, blade ready to strike Salvantas in the heart, only for him to move at the last minute and quickly attach his claws and strike his father in the gut with the metal blades. "Checkmate" he said, breathing heavily.

His parents smiled, and the world flashed again, reverting them to how they had been before the fight. They both wrapped him in a hug and smiled. "We love you Salvantas, and even through we are gone we are with you"

Salvantas held them close, a few tears coming from his eyes. "I know you are, I love you guys"

His parents disappeared, and the world flashed again, leaving Salvantas in front of an old wooden door at the end of what looked to be a massive hallway.

What is going on? the voice returned, sounding both annoyed and confused.

"Simple, I have figured out where I am, and this is the exit" Salvantas reached out and opened the door, walking through it and into a large stone room with a single person on it.

"It took you long enough" Salvantas looked at his other half with a great sense of distaste. Blank looked almost exactly like him here, except so much colder, so much more evil.

"Well I didn't exactly figure out what was going on until the last room, but now... well now that I do know I have no idea how to get out of it" Salvantas shrugged and tried his best to not look directly at Blank.

There is no escape, and as soon as I...

"Shut up" Blank said simply and coldly. "You are using a spell designed to enter a persons mind and break their spirits by submitting them to tortures, once their mind is broken you can get them to agree to anything you want with ease." Blank paused a moment. "But you have only looked into Salvantas mind, and his mind is fairly easy to look at, but I wonder... how would you like the view in mine"

Salvantas looked at Blank and nodded, putting his hand on Blank. His other half disappeared, and Salvantas felt the presence once more in his mind.

Wait...What...oh...oh gods...please...no...make it stop! the voice screamed and the room began to shatter, like glass that had been struck with a rock the reality of the place broke apart into a thousand pieces.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Salvantas awoke with a start and found that his body had been laid atop the alter in the church he had been in. He quickly stood up and looked down, and what he saw shocked him.

It was a girl, a young one at that, maybe only sixteen or seventeen at the most. She was thin and had long black hair that ran down her back. Of course, that wasn't the surprising thing about her. That would have been the light red skin, the tail, and the small horns coming out of her head. The girl was curled into a ball, mumbling to herself with tears coming out of her eyes. Salvantas examined her once more and found that her clothing had been torn and battered.

He knelt down next to her and put a hand on her shoulder. "Its over now, it is oka..."

The girl's eyes shot open and she pulled a dagger from her side and attempted to stab him with it. But Salvantas was to fast, and he quickly grabbed the girls wrist and applied enough pressure to make her drop it. "Are we quite done with that now?"

The girl gulped and nodded, fear plain in her bright green eyes.

"Good," Salvantas reached into his coat and the girl covered herself, thinking he was going to pull out some form of weapon. Instead Salvantas pulled a small handkerchief from it and dabbed at her eyes, clearing the tears away. "Now why don't you tell me who and what you are and also what you are doing here"

The girl pulled herself into a sitting position and sighed. "My name is Elisa, and I am a succubus if you must know, I am here because in order to be accepted by the others of my community I have to sacrifice a human soul to an alter of evil. I had a different one but some crazy Vermin wizard 'borrowed' it from me..." she shivered as he remembered him. "He was stupid, but cruel, and I wasn't strong enough to fight him off... so I found this place and then you came in... but I am no good at this, this whole evil thing... all of my sisters are great at it, but me?" tears once again threatened to come from her eyes."No I can't even kill..."

Salvantas listened to the girl and felt a slight bit of empathy for her. "So if you are so opposed to killing why would you attempt to take my soul?"

Elisa wrapped her arms around her legs and looked down at them. "I can't go back until I do this, and I can't live in this place by myself, there are lots of nasty things that would eat a young succubus for a treat... I don't want to die"

Salvantas bit his lip and suddenly an idea came to his head. "Well maybe you don't have too, come with me back to the city"

She looked at him, confusion plain on her face. "Up there? With all of the humans?" she raised an eyebrow. "I am sorry but don't you think that is a bad idea?"

Salvantas laughed. "Probably, but I have never been known for my great decisions, through I like to think people know me for having a good heart" he offered a hand to the girl. "I am part of a guild known as Heroes Unlimited, we protect the people from all that would threaten them. We do our best not to kill and work for the greater good of all that live in this world"

She looked at Salvantas hand and then up at him. "You know... if I hadn't been in your mind I would wonder how much shit you were full of..." she reached up to take his hand and allowed herself to be pulled up. She felt a smile come to her face, something she wasn't quite unnatural to her as of late. "Then it is a contract Salvantas, I will be a part of your guild and you will offer me a place to live and food, I can accept that"

Salvantas nodded. "I can provide both as long as you are willing to fight on the side of good"

Elisa smiled and looked down at herself. "You know... as much as I like my natural look I should probably change into something more human looking" she closed her eyes and focused and her body began to morph and change. After a few moments her entire appearance had changed. She had darkly tanned skin and short black hair, the only thing that remained unchanged were her two bright green eyes. "Elina of Heroes Unlimited, reporting for duty" she gave Salvantas a small salute and grinned jokingly. Her stomach rumbled and she put a hand to it, a small blush coming to her face. "Um..."

Salvantas laughed loudly and felt the last traces of his anger slip away. This had been a good day. "Come on, lets get you up to the city, we can find you a change of clothes and get you a warm meal"

They began to walk out of the church. "So um... two questions if you don't mind" Elina asked nervously.

"Shoot"

"One, how come my powers didn't work completely there?"

Salvantas thought on that for a moment before answering. "Well first off that was a church of the White Flame, and most dark magic is reduced greatly within its walls, second of all I have had years of physical and mental training from hell"

Elisa nodded. "Okay that makes sense... second question then, do you have any cows up in the castle, because cows are yummy" she licked her lips and smiled.

Salvantas laughed. "I think it can be arranged."
Who you going to call? ME!
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:28 pm

Well you survived >:(

You found, and somehow survived, a Succubus. She's your ally now, I hope you're happy.


Reward: Elisa the confused succubus
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:20 am

Quest: Dazed and Confused
Quest Victim: Ben

So, you decided to help Legias out, do some of her dirty work in the city sewers. Luckily this time it wasn't vermin patrol. You are told about a seemingly innocuous room in one of the side corridors. If one were to enter, it seems that they are instantly dazed, and with no control over their functions. Legias has lost men to this enchanting room, and wants Ben to clear it for her.

GM Notes: Okay the spell basically locks you in (yet another) mind maze. This time though, the maze responds to the level of turmoil present in the invadee's mind. Have fun escaping your own unsolvable issues for eternity.
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Qara-Xuan Zenith on Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:19 pm

Ben's head hurt. Again. The tea wasn't doing much, which aided her suspicion that the headache was less a product of sleep deprivation, this time, and more one of having too much on her mind. She needed somewhere to think, where the pile of guild-leader-paperwork on her desk didn't loom over her reproachfully.

Really, she needed to go somewhere else entirely; anywhere she managed to find in her own guild headquarters, people would soon find her, and bring her their problems: petty problems that they could, and would, solve on their own if she weren't around to do it.

She wasn't particularly in the mood to go back to the library so soon after the fake memorial service; even though the service was fake, the place felt too depressing right now to seek refuge there. Too much like a crypt.

The third floor was still quiet, of course. The third floor, with the faces of the families of people who had died before she'd stopped their plague; the third floor, with the echoes on the wind of the ghost who had never gotten her wish. ...Yeah, the third floor didn't feel quite like the place to be at the moment.

Well... she could always visit Lorin. But something told her that was not the kind of distraction she wanted right now. No, she had to be alone. She needed to think.

Ben sighed, tucking a few things into her belt. She'd always known the answer, really. No other choice. There was one place she could go if she wanted to be alone. Anyway, Legias could use the extra manpower down there.

---

Two guards from the church blocked her way. "No passage except for individuals officially cleared by--"

Ben interrupted them, flashing something small in her hand. "And what makes you think I'm not?" she asked sweetly. Well, that was one advantage to working with the mad priest. He hadn't asked for his empty bottle back.

The guards were stupid enough, or the entry porous enough, that they took "entrusted with a vial of holy water" to mean "authorized to be down here" and stepped aside at the sight of the glinting crystal. Ben rolled her eyes, walking in.

This time, she made no effort to keep track of where she was going. She was happy to get good and lost; all the better to have time to herself, finding her way back. Besides, she had water with her this time. It wasn't like she was going to become half-dead from dehydration.

She turned a few corners before she could shake the feeling of the pair of guards watching her, and could consider herself as really being alone.

Well... here she was now. Alone. All this time to sort out her thoughts. She ran her hand absently along the dank walls of the underlit passage as she tried to think which problem she wanted to tackle first. How about the simplest?

She'd start with what she could actually handle. So... Valerian and Torvantine. She shied away from thinking about their medical situations-- that one was too heavy right now-- and concentrated on the other aspect. It certainly explains more than it doesn't. She smiled at the memory of how tenderly Julius had held Anjali's hand, how solicitous for her health.

And why not? They don't have my sodden duty stopping them from finding happiness. She sighed lightly, thinking back to the look on Anjali's face of total trust in the Captain.

She was glad of it.

Ben reached a fork in the passage, and picked one route at random. She kept walking.

...Of course, I don't exactly have my sodding duty right now, either. She almost stopped walking at this revelation-like thought, but forced herself to keep moving on, aimlessly. It was true, really. Her responsibilities to her guild weighed on her, but not half so heavily as anything did at home. She was responsible for their safety, and for keeping track of where people were, distributing tasks to accomplish, upholding the statutes she had written out... but that was it.

That was... it. Nothing else. No bloodlines to preserve, no alliances to build, no watching eyes whose disapproval she could not afford.

Was this her answer, then? Was this the place she'd sought, two years too late? "If there were a place, Ben, a place where we could live together, just be us, no problems... would you go there? If you found such a place, Ben, would you take me there with you?"

She had come back, two years ago, with tears in her eyes and the answer no. Would she have answered differently if she had found this castle, instead of nothing but a warehouse where her luggage was held?

It wasn't a perfect world, she knew; but it could be fixed. It had its advantages, certainly. In some ways it seemed almost made to order. She had no duties here to marry to advantage, no expectations of producing a royal heir. She had no one to please, no judgement she risked but her own. If she had found this place two years ago... she didn't have to lose the one she loved.

Ben sighed as she turned another corner, disgusted with herself. No judgement she risked but her own. But that was enough, really, to risk. Too much. True, she no longer needed to be Alex's heir; he had Julia for that, now. But she had sworn an oath to someone else, and she would not make herself an oathbreaker. She had taken on a responsibility to a new land, and she could not turn her back on them now that she had. All the old arguments were still in place; but now she had enough distance to make ignoring them seem more tempting.

"Would you do it, Ben? Would you go somewhere else for me? With me? And yet... how could she turn her back on that?

She tried to turn her mind to another topic, shuffling through the reams of mental paperwork waiting for her attention.

The Lorekeeper's revelations... did not have the power to amaze her, if only because she did not care for magic that she did not understand. She would be contented in her ignorance, so long as the woman had it in her power to heal Anjali with the time that she had bought.

What else? The third-floor deaths... No. That was too recent. She had no personal attachment to them but for the responsibility she had attributed herself, but that alone made the regret too raw.

What, then? Soren Kavros. Just the thought of the name made her blood boil, as she stalked down another empty passageway. The man was a monster, pure and simple. Her mind returned to the holding pen he had made for abducted guild members, to the marks of torture on her allies' skin. Monsters won't walk free. Not forever. She'd end him, if she could. End him? I'm not judge and jury. Find him, she corrected himself. She would take him to... justice, wherever it would be found.

Of course, he's proved slippery before. His escape brought her mind back to the dire results it had, and the horrible injuries Valerian and Torvantine bore. Find him like that? she asked herself viciously. Drag him before Legias so she can put him in a cell until his friends help him escape?

Ben felt sick to her stomach. I'll stop him. Whatever I have to do to stop him, I'll stop him. Without making myself a monster. ...Lethal force is sometimes necessary. I know this.

New subject... Well, there was the marriage looming over her as soon as she got out of this Castle. If she ever got out of this Castle. And there was that whole war going on right now. Goddamn Soren Kavros and his goddamn fearmongers starting a goddamn war for no goddamn reason in this goddamn city...

Maybe being alone was a bad idea. Did she really want to wallow in her personal thoughts? Ben took another swig from her canteen, just in time before all the light-- what little of it there was-- went out.

Ben stood calmly, blinking rapidly to hasten her night vision. Before it came, though, she heard a voice.

"Would you do it, Ben? Would you find a place where we could be, together? Would you?"

This time, it was not the voice of a memory in her head. It was a voice in her ear, the way she had heard it two years hence, as though the speaker were sitting just beside her on a piano bench.

That's ridiculous.

Ben turned away from the sound, but it followed her, as though she were not really moving. "Ben, you know I love you. I know I'm asking for too much-- it's always too much and I don't have a lot to offer you, just my self-- but would you turn your back on that for me, if there was somewhere we could go? Please, Ben. Would you do it for love?"

Every step Ben took brought her closer to the sound, instead of further. Grey eyes watching her. Burning into her. Grey eyes baring their soul to her. Grey turning steel, a door closed between them.

Is this a second chance? So I won't make the same mistake... again?

Ben opened her mouth to answer. Forced herself to choke on the words. What could she say?

"Ben!" Another voice, from another direction. "Ben, we need you!" She recognized the speaker, vaguely, as a member of her guild. Mat, she remembered, her brain finally matching a name to the voice. She hadn't seen him around lately.

"Ben, you have to help us," Mat called, despair in your voice. "Soren Kavros is-- he's-- I haven't got much longer. Please, Ben," he pleaded. "Please. Before it's too late."

Ben whirled to follow his voice. This time, though, every desperate step she took seemed to bring her further away, his voice fading sadly in the distance.

"Hang in there, Mat," she shouted. "Just keep on... keeping on, all right? I'll-- I'll be there..." As she spoke, she remembered why she hadn't seen Mat in a while.

"They killed him yesterday. Slowly. Sometimes it's better to bend than to break."

What's going on here? she wondered. Second chances? Or just an exercise in futility?

She had her answer soon enough. "Ben... we need your help." This voice she knew right away. "Ben, can you help us get to the library?"

"Of course," she answered, trying to calm herself as she walked toward the pair. Finally, something she could do. She had not failed at this the first time around; she could relive this without regret. That's how it works, right? As though in response to her thoughts, her vision came back, confirming what she thought she faced, confirming that she had, this time, successfully walked in the direction she wanted.

She reached out to take the girl from his arms. Tried to reach out. Her arms were still at her sides. She tried again to reach. There was nothing holding her back, no bonds restraining her, no weights pulling her down. But her arms would not respond to her command.

"It hurts, Jules," Anjali moaned. The injured man stumbled under the girl's weight. Ben needed to... to...

"Lean on me," she said. If she couldn't lift her arms to help, then at least... But he couldn't shift his weight to lean, not without assistance. She stood there, where she wanted to be but unable to lift a finger to aid them. Rooted to the spot. Helpless.

Time normally flows at a rate of one second per second. Ben knew this. Ben also knew that time was playing tricks on her here, shilly-shallying, savouring every agonizing second for at least sixty that passed.

She could not move. She tried, repeatedly. She could not run to find a healer, much less carry them to one herself. She could not will her voice to echo Valerian's increasingly hollow words of comfort; she could not even lift a hand to try to staunch the flow of blood, let alone rip strips of cloth from her clothing to help with that.

She could not move. She could only watch, and listen, as Anjali's voice grew fainter, as the girl lay there, bleeding out in Julius' arms. She could only listen to the girl's ever-muted cries of pain, watch one friend die, slowly; watch her other friend's face as he saw the life leave her, watch his total anguish, watch the fight go out of him. Even if she had the words to say, she could not force her mouth to speak a word of comfort, could not bring her hand to steady him.

She could not move. She could only watch as Julius, too, slowly succumbed to his wounds, watch him crumple to the ground. Lifeless.

"No," she whispered. Louder: "No! This isn't... this isn't how it happened! I took them to the library! Lori turned Anjali to stone, Julius saw a healer. They didn't die, goddammit!" Ben stared at the empty ground where the bodies had been a moment before, the light already fading again, darkness closing in on her. "This isn't real," she whispered. "I know it's not real." But it felt real enough. It felt like she had just helplessly watched her friends die.

"I want to see the tree bloom, Lady," called a child's reproachful voice from another direction. Ben fell to her knees, grateful even that her body responded to that simple command. She did not have the energy to turn.

The next voice, however, made her turn. "Ben... Tell Jennifer I'm sorry. I'm not good enough for her."

"Charlie!" she gasped. This was the Charlie of a year ago, as she had found him. He was her brother; she ran to him without a second thought. But... she couldn't handle this. Not now. Not when she had just watched Julius and Anjali die, not when she knew how this would go. No. NO!

"Charlie..." She choked on the words she tried to say. She knew the words, this time; she knew Charlie better than anyone, knew what to say to help his mind if not his body... but her throat closed over them each time she tried to speak. She screamed silently, willing something else, anything else, to confront her rather than this.

Amazingly, this room, or whatever power guided it, seemed to accede to her wish.

"If it isn't Ben of the Severed Claws," snarled a voice she had heard once before. Once was enough. Ben willed herself to stand to face him, but the same power that had held her rooted to the spot as she tried to help her friends kept her on her knees now.

This time, Soren Kavros was not holding a handful of ill-made knives; this time, he had a sword, and held it like he knew what he was doing.

Ben had a sword at her waist; she reached for it, drawing it from its sheath. Acting of its own accord, her hand tossed the sword away, skittering across the floor in the darkness.

"Yes, I remember saying that I had to kill you," the man mused. "I think it's about time I keep my promise, don't you?"

Ben gritted her teeth. Now would be a good time for something else to-- no. No, she didn't want to trade this ordeal in for one of the previous ones, or something yet to come.

"What's that?" Kavros asked, his voice echoing cruelly. "Too scared to fight? Cat got your tongue?" He laughed, as though fully aware of why Ben could do nothing. "That's all right, darling. I'll do it all for you. Take it nice and slow, shall we? I might as well enjoy this."

Ben forced herself to meet his eyes, looking up fiercely. No, she did not want this scene to change. She chose this. Even kneeling silent, helpless, before the monster she wanted to hunt, as he killed her as painfully as he pleased-- she chose this, rather than watch her friends in pain. Rather than watch her brother die. Give me something I can fight, and I can handle it, she thought. Give me something aimed at me. That's right.

Ben steeled herself as Kavros' sword first bit into her. He was choosing his cuts carefully; not going for something that would kill her right away. Maximum pain, maximum enjoyment. Another slice; another.

She was determined not to satisfy him, if she could do nothing else. The sword cut into her left elbow again; by now, her right arm was a meaty mess.

It's not real, a small voice in her head told her. It feels real, she returned again.

She tried to stifle herself, but gasped in pain as the sword whipped out-- not working methodically, after all, she thought dully, just according to his whims-- and stabbed shallowly into her side, sending shooting pain through her whole back.

She shut her mouth quickly, angry with herself for showing her pain, but not for long; with a smirk, Kavros levered her mouth open with his sword, perforating her lips as it passed, to bloodily shred her tongue.

"Now you don't need to worry about saying anything you don't want to," he told her, falsely reassuring. "Just let Uncle Soren take care of you."

Ben's eyes flashed angrily, more furious with herself for being helpless than she was with him. The sword flashed through the air again, slamming into her kneecaps; with an involuntary cry, she fell to all fours.

She had to do something. This was better than watching her friends die, yes, but not by much; if she didn't do something, anything, she would die. She had to do something. She had to do... No.

Every time she tried to do something, she found herself unable to. Things only got worse. Maybe... maybe it was time to stop fighting.

"Sometimes it's better to bend than to break." The words echoed in her mind again. She wasn't... she wasn't bending, and, right now, in this place, she wasn't pliable enough to take the pressure. If she didn't stop what she was doing, she would break.

Red-hot pain shot through her leg, then her stomach, reminding her that she had limited time to make a decision.

Maybe I should just... let go. Bend. Let the monster have his way. It went against everything she had ever stood for. And yet. And yet. She was the one who had taught Charlie that losing a fight, sometimes, did not make him a lesser person. Perhaps she had just enough time to take that lesson to heart herself. Stop fighting when she could not win. Stop fighting when she could not move.

Ben stopped fighting, and there was, outwardly, no difference. Rooted to the spot and struggling looks much the same as rooted to the spot having given in. Kavros was still killing her by inches, but she closed her eyes, willing her mind to float away from the pain, willing her body to simply endure it until it went away.

It isn't real. And even if it is... there's nothing I can do.

---

When Ben woke up, the last thing she could remember was Kavros' sword, finally, finally, plunging into her heart. Ending it all.

It isn't real. I'm still here. It was true; waking up at all proved to her that she hadn't been killed; hadn't suffered any of the injuries he had inflicted, though her body ached powerfully; her mind still believed that the damage had been real, even if her skin was not nicked.

She had bent, and because she had, she didn't break.

This was the first thing that crossed her mind upon waking up. The second thing, as she sat, hugging her knees, willing herself in futility to forget the visions that had plagued her, was, incongruously, that she was hungry.

So hungry...

She had brought the canteen with her down here, oh yes, but she had neglected to bother with real food. Why on earth would I not bring food? Didn't I realize that dead people need to eat?

Ben began rummaging through her packs frantically. Oh, come on, something, anything! Even a cracker would do, she just needed to eat something... Aha! Jackpot.

There, in the corner, was a half-crumbled fortune cookie. Why did I even have this?

Not bothering to answer her own question, Ben crammed the cookie crumbs into her mouth, only barely remembering to chew and swallow.

She took a deep swig from her canteen to wash the dry cookie down. There was still something in her hand... Oh, yes. Fortune cookie. Well, she might as well read it; it was there, anyway.

She brought the paper up to look at, but there were no words to read. Still, as she held it, she saw someone approach.

The little boy couldn't have been older than three years old, with gold hair several shades lighter than Ben's own, and eyes that were a familiar piercing blue. He was dressed in fine clothes, but his face was dirty, and stained with tears-- as was her own, Ben realized, wiping the back of her hand across her cheeks as though ashamed to let this unknown toddler see she had been crying.

The boy toddled closer, and when he looked up at Ben, his whole face changed. It was as though the sun had come out on a cloudy day; suddenly, his previously downcast face was grinning brightly from ear to ear, positively ebulliant.

He ran toward her, arms out. "Em-ma! Em-ma!"

Ben boggled at the mysterious lad claiming her as his mother; she knew she wasn't, couldn't be... although she couldn't deny the striking resemblances.

Regardless, she scooped him up in her arms when he tugged at her leg, carrying him easily if uncertainly.

What was she supposed to do with him? she wondered, panicked.

Give me something to fight, and I know what to do, she thought wryly. Give me a child, and I'm utterly lost.

"Lionel! Thank God!" There was something confusing about the woman's voice as it hit Ben's ears, thick with relief.

"Is he yours?" Ben asked with a smile. "I'm sorry-- he just ran over to me, and--"

The woman's mouth twisted in an amused smile as she reached over to take her son back. That's just how Alex smiles, Ben thought. What am I missing here?

Ben did a double-take when she looked at the woman, properly looked rather than just seeing the dress, or the smile, or the arms which so expertly held the little boy.

She was a few years older, with more worry lines on her face and her hair tied up, and wearing a dress which looked out-of-place on her, but the woman was, unmistakeably, Ben. She had the same hazel eyes, the same flame-red hair-- with a pair of dagger hilts sticking up like stylish hairpieces from the ties in her hair, Ben was amused to note. That was her in-- what, three years? Five? Seven? Something like that-- her hair, her face... her son.

The scrap of paper fluttered out of Ben's hand, and the woman and child vanished, back, presumably, to their own time. Her future... The vision had comforted her, somehow. She didn't know how she would solve many of the problems which felt very present to her now, but something about that little boy, the excitement and trust in his eyes... somehow, that made it matter less. It wasn't a perfect world, but it had its merits. Whether or not she had chosen right, that little boy was proof that she had chosen well.

The light seemed to return to the room in full force, and now Ben could see, fresh tears in her eyes, that she was not alone. These people, though, were not visions of the past or of the future; they were unfamiliar, and therefore totally solid parts of the present, dressed in Guard uniforms, slowly waking up as she had. It seems they had not had the willpower-- or lack thereof, she thought ruefully-- to put an end to the room's torments as she, eventually, had.

Ben sat quietly, allowing them to come to their senses, and adjust to their surroundings, in their own time, before she pulled out her compass from a pocket, and spoke.

"I think we've all been down here long enough," she announced to the assembled group, who looked as though they couldn't agree more. "Follow me, and I'll follow the compass; we'll be out of here as soon as we can."

---

Everyone seemed too engrossed in their own thoughts to have much inclination for conversation on the way out. Ben wasn't surprised; if their experiences in there had been anything like her own, she knew, it was exertion enough to divert some of their energy from introspection to watching where she went.

Her walk was different this time; she was not aimless, but carefully analysing the compass at every turn, to make sure she was following it out of the Underground; moreover, she was not alone.

Still, she found herself sinking into her thoughts as she walked; she could hardly help it.

"If there were a way, if there were a place to go, would you do it, Ben? Would you go there with me?" She knew, more certainly now than she had even at the time, that the answer was no.

If the person she loved were in danger of life or limb or liberty, she would fight with everything she had, would put her own life on the line to save another. But for love-- no. For the chance to spend their lives together, she would not, could not, lift a finger to fight.

She was overjoyed that her friends had a chance finding love, and she would fight for them to have the chance to keep it. But she would not fight to give herself that chance. Not when she knew the cost at which it came.

A part of her, she supposed, had always known this to be true. Now, though, she was ready to admit it.
Lead by example. Get lost in a swamp.

AS DICTATED TO INSTANTIATION 17-01-18-01.
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Qara-Xuan Zenith
 
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:34 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Pixelmage on Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:58 pm

*Reward edit spot? @_@ I don't even know anymore*

Dungeon Quest: Perfectly safe survey.
There is a city hidden in the underground. It may have supplies you, the anti guild, or a guild could use. The city is surrounded by a shadow. Any one who gets too close begins to develop a headache, followed by paranoia and psychosis. You are asked to map the city and its contents, as well as figure out what makes the place uninhabitable.
Quest Takers: Endless Sea (Alexander Curtiss) and RussetDivinity (Likovya)

Deadline on Monday, August 25th 23:59.
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby RussetDivinity on Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:06 am

Perfectly Safe Survey

The mission was going well until a sea serpent leapt out of the water, trailing a fishing pole and a young man. Likovya paused, one hand on a knife, the other hanging by her side. She had thought she was almost used to the castle by now, but she hadn’t counted on subterranean sea serpents. Damn this, she thought. I can’t imagine what the rest of this place will be like.

She considered drawing a knife and throwing it, but she didn’t particularly want to lose it in the water, and the serpent was moving much more quickly than she was used to targets moving. Still, she didn’t want to just abandon the man. “Um… do you need some help out there?”

“WAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUGH!” screamed the man, his knuckles white from how tightly he was clutching the pole. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUGH!”

“Is that a yes?”

“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-” the man repeated before the serpent dove beneath the water again, his yell cutting off abruptly as his head was submerged.

“Right. Um… don’t drown!” It wasn’t the best advice, especially since he probably couldn’t hear her, but it was all she could think of. Running alongside the water to keep up with the serpent, she pulled out her favorite knife. It had once been her favorite just because it had the best edge, but now it was tipped with a drug that might be able to take down a serpent. All she had to do was wait until it came back up and hope the man could swim.

Four seconds later, the screaming resumed. “-OHMYGODAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH”

The serpent was at least a large enough target that she wouldn’t hit the man. Running while throwing wouldn’t be too difficult either. It was like hunting a rabbit. A large, fast rabbit that could eat her. Before she could second-guess herself, she threw the knife. It spun through the air and stuck into the serpent’s side. Likovya stopped and held her breath.

There was no immediate effect, but the creature did slow. Its movements turned sluggish, and the fishing pole began to slacken. “You can let go now!” she called. “Could you grab my knife, too, before you come over here?”

“MY KNUCKLES ARE STUCK LIKE THIS!” the man yelled. “CUT THE ROPE CUT THE FREAKING ROPE WAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH”

“Will you get my other knife if I do that?” she called. One of her wrist knives had appeared in her hand, but she hesitated to throw it. Given her reputation in the town as a thief and madwoman, she doubted she could hire someone to make her a new one.

“SURE WHATEVER JUST DO IT”

She threw her knife, which severed the rope neatly, and watched as it splashed into the water. “Is that better?” She refrained, somehow, from rubbing at her empty wrist. Having her knives far away from her made her uncomfortable. “You’ll get them now, right?”

With another splash, barely audible over the serpent’s thrashing as it cut through the water, the man hit the water. A moment later, he broke the surface again, immediately proceeding to flail about madly and scream at the top of his lungs before stopping abruptly, frowning down at the bed of the underground lake- perhaps a meter deep at the most- and muttering, “Well, that just happened.” He turned and shot a glare at the serpent, adding, “I blame you for this, you overgrown eel-snake-whatever the hell you are!”

The serpent turned around, golden eyes narrowing within its draconic visage, and let out an angry snort. It promptly received a knife buried to the hilt in its eye for its trouble. The beast thrashed briefly before sinking, emerald blood trailing from its empty socket.

The man chuckled, sparing Likovya a grin before wading over to the massive golden corpse in front of him. “I bet you could grab the knives yourself at this point,” he said, “but a deal’s a deal, I guess. Pity I had to kill my ride for it, but I figure I can just head back the way you got here, so yeah.”

Likovya crossed her arms, partly from annoyance and partly to hide her fidgeting fingers. She’d had no idea the water would be so shallow, otherwise she would have thrown knife after knife that the thing until it slowed down. “Why were you riding that?” she asked. It couldn’t be his pet. The strangest pet she had seen was a wolf, and even that had been nearly tamed.

Emitting an amused grunt as he tugged one of Likovya’s knives out of the serpent’s hide, the man glanced over and said, “Would you believe, eh, recreational purposes? Oh, and by the way, the name’s Alexander Curtiss. I’d prefer being called by my last name, but Alexander works too, I guess.”

“All right, Curtiss.” She hopped down into the water, flinching at the cold that rose above her navel. “I’m Likovya. No family name.” She bent and plucked her other knife from the water. “Do you get stuck on sea serpents often?” Although it couldn’t be much of a sea serpent unless there was a nearby sea.

“Well, not really,” Curtiss said, tossing over Likovya’s other knife and reaching for his own. “I was specifically looking for one of these guys this time around, though. I’ve been wandering around the third floor quite a bit lately- racing the rakes, climbing cliffs, that sort of thing- and I happened to catch a rumor that if you tried to fish with crystal viper bait in this one river inside some random cave, you’d hook a gigantic water snake thing that would carry you to a secret cave inside the underground levels with really cool stuff inside it.” With a grunt, he tugged his blade out of the remains of the apple-sized eye, then continued, “Mind you, I’ve been on some early mapping missions in the underground, killing vampire archmages and running from behemoths and so on, so I figured I might as well see what’s down there and, y’know, map it up. You?”

He talked. A lot. She wondered how many of the people she would encounter would be like this, though Marcus had been rather quiet. “I was sent down here to explore. Apparently there’s something useful that I’m supposed to find.” To tell the truth, she had been so anxious to do something and get out of the city that she hadn’t listened to everything she had been told. It couldn’t have been that important, though; it wasn’t like she was getting ready for a performance. “Unless you want to find the way out on your own, I suppose you could come with me.”

“Hm? Yeah, sure, why not,” Curtiss mumbled, eyes apparently fixated on Likovya’s right ankle. “Er, incidentally, is there supposed to be seaweed currently chewing on your ankle right now? Because apparently that is a thing that is happening.”

“What?” Likovya had barely looked down and seen the weed twisted around her ankle before she sprang away, or tried to. Her foot came free, but she stumbled and splashed into the water. The only lucky thing she could think of was that she was already soaked through. “No one warned me about seaweed.” Most of it hadn’t been able to get a foothold in the rocky river bottom, but those that did began waving in the direction of the pair, and she doubted their movement came from the current. She slashed at some of the closer ones, severing a few fronds. “Get to dry land, quick!”

“Right,” Curtiss said, immediately wading after her, tiptoeing the best he could around seaweed tendrils in his way. “Demon seaweed. This just keeps getting be- oh, wow, I think I saw teeth on that one. Ugh.”

Likovya had never been happier to wear boots. “Let’s get out fast then. You can haul yourself out, right?” A taller frond pressed itself against her thigh, and she didn’t bother trying to cut it away before pushing on. Something rough and abrasive scraped through the leg of her trousers and against her skin.

“Way ahead of you,” Curtiss said as he reached out and grabbed the edge of the stone walkway. With a grunt, he hoisted himself out of the water, kicked off a stray strand of seaweed, and extended his hand to his newfound partner. Likovya took it and scrambled onto the stone bank. When she got a chance to look down, she saw that she was a little scratched but not bleeding.

“Thanks.” She shook off what water she could and tucked away her knives. “What do you say? Coming or leaving?”

“Eh, if this sort of thing ends up being the norm down here, I think I’d rather have someone watching my back,” Curtiss said. “I’ll stick with you, I guess.”

“Right, then.” It would be nice to have an extra pair of eyes, if there were more surprises around here. “The city ought to be down this way. I don’t have a map, but I did hear some rumors and old stories.” They had been very old, almost legends, and she wondered who had passed them down. With an extra little shake of her head to get some water out of her hair, she strode on through the darkness, acting braver than she felt.

The shallow river curved as they approached the city, and their walkway formed a bridge over it. The little light in the cave came from glowing fungus, and Likovya thought the river curved all the way around to form a moat. The city itself was lit up with more of the fungus, and it looked almost like it was filled with steadily glowing white lanterns. It was quiet, and her heart beat a little faster, though she couldn’t say why she felt nervous.

“In we go,” she murmured, and started over the bridge.

Curtiss didn’t follow, instead staring out at the low waves coming from the mouth of the river they had exited. “Hey, Likovya, you seeing this?” he asked. “That one patch of dark stuff over there? The one that’s somehow moving faster than the tide?”

She peered out. “I do. I wonder what it is.” It seemed to be staying in the water, but that could change at any moment. She prepared to draw a knife but didn’t get much closer to the edge of the bridge. If she had a choice, she would rather stay out of the water and away from the seaweed. “Does it look alive at all?”

“Eh, every since we got to the castle, I’ve learned not to take things like ‘alive’ or ‘friendly’ or ‘in existence’ for granted,” Curtiss said. “So yeah, no clue.” Tilting his head slightly towards the water, he leaned forward and squinted. “And now it’s veering towards the walkway. Against the tide. Yeah, something tells me that at the very least its movement is being controlled, so…”

“So you might want to step back.” Against her own advice, Likovya stepped forward and peered down. The thing looked like a black rectangle, and there was no logical way it could move against the current. But then, there wasn’t much logic in this place to begin with.

“Meh. Somehow I doubt it can jump out of the wa-” was as far as Curtiss got before the black rectangle sprang from the water and began scaling the side of the walkway. The grey-clothed scout let out a strangled croak and took a step back, a knife in each hand. “Oh, now this is just ridiculous.”

“That’s -- get up here!” Likovya drew both her wrist knives and eyed the thing carefully. It looked thin, not quite as thin as paper, but she wasn’t sure how well her knives could hurt it. “What is that thing?” She took a few steps up the bridge, never turning her back on the rectangle.

“No clue why you’re asking me,” Curtiss said, “but I can tell you for certain that there’s a second one trying to swallow my left arm right now.” He frowned, as if he was only just realizing what he’d said, then began frenziedly stabbing at the rippling blanket of pure blackness that had engulfed his arm to the elbow.

Likovya doubted she would be able to help much without actually stabbing Curtiss, but her gaze slipped from him to a wave of movement on the water. “I don’t want to alarm you,” she said, “but I think there are more coming.”

“Wonderful,” Curtiss growled, his method of attack having switched from stabbing to slicing. With a sound like tearing fabric, he shoved forward and cut a large gash in the creature’s hide to its mouth and slipped his arm out. Catching it on his un-gnawed hand’s knife, he tossed it over the side of the bridge and broke into a sprint towards the city.

Likovya didn’t want to stay by the river and have one of those things attack her. She crossed the bridge and took a few steps into the city before pausing to wait. She wouldn’t just abandon Curtiss, and she was a little wary about the place. If it was so useful and well-lit, why wasn’t anyone there? “Are you all right?” she asked.

Curtiss waved his hand around a bit, then shrugged. “Eh, kinda tingly,” he said, “but that’s about it, I guess. No teeth for some reason. I’m guessing it swallows people whole or something, so that’s a bit lucky for us- gives us time to cut ourselves free.”

“I’d still rather not deal with it,” she said with a shudder. “Let’s hope it can’t get too far out of the water, otherwise we’ll have to watch our step all the way through.” She didn’t want to consider whether the rectangles would be waiting for them after they left in a pile of shadows. “Might as well go exploring. Have you got anything to map with?” She started feeling around for a piece of paper and something to write with, hoping she hadn’t gotten too soaked.

“Well, that’s half the reason I came down here, after all,” Curtiss replied as he slid his backpack off his shoulders. One unzipping and three seconds of shuffling later, he withdrew a thick binder of paper and several pens of differing colors. “Still dry, of course,” he announced with a grin. “This backpack isn’t just for show.”

“I’m glad of that,” she said, giving up on her search. There was something inside her jacket, but she didn’t trust it to be dry after getting soaked twice. “You are good at mapping, right? Scales and direction and such?” She had been too eager to get out of the city to admit that she wasn’t much of a cartographer, though she had expected it to be easy enough.

“Well, I’m certainly not the best guy for the job around,” Curtiss said, “but I took some lessons from a Phantom Thieves member a while back after she recruited me for her own mapping mission in the underground.” He flipped his binder to an empty page and started sketching a rough picture of the route they’d taken to reach the city. “Not my first career choice, yeah, but I figured I might as well put my appreciation for taking the scenic route to use.” He paused. “...also, I saw some pretty gruesome stuff back in that particular corner of hell, and figured it might be best to make sure I don’t wind up making a wrong turn and finding myself there again, y’know?”

“It will be useful to know which way is out. I’ll walk slow, if you’d like.” The street leading from the bridge went straight ahead before branching in two separate directions. On impulse, Likovya turned right.

The roads were narrow and had no sort of paving, but the ground was solid stone, so not much had been needed aside from smoothing out some rough patches and filling in little holes. The buildings were made of stone as well, and most were still standing. The light seemed to come from the buildings themselves, but when Likovya bent closer to examine one, she saw that there was something glowing on the rock. It didn’t look like any plant she had seen, but it certainly wasn’t a kind of stone and she doubted it was an animal.

“Huh. I wonder what this is.” She scraped at one with the blade of her knife and saw that it continued to glow even when separated from the larger portion. “Have you seen anything like this?”

Curtiss peered over the edge of his binder and frowned. “Like it, yes,” he said. “That specific type of, uh, whatever that is? Eh, no, I don’t think so.” He leaned closer and sniffed at the growth. “Smells nice, though. Can’t quite place what it smells like, but it’s nice.”

Likovya lifted her knife to her nose but hesitated before sniffing. Things didn’t normally glow on their own, at least not in her experience. The only explanation she could come up with was magic, and she wiped the glowing stuff off her blade. It clung to her trouser leg until she brushed it off with her hand, and even then she could see traces of it on her skin. “Whatever it is, I don’t like it. Come on. I’d like to get in and out as soon as possible.”

Curtiss shrugged and walked after Likovya. After a few steps, he stopped, glanced uneasily back at the growth, shrugged again, and continued walking, making sure to maintain a steady pace as he followed his partner.

The streets of the city were like a labyrinth, and Likovya had to pause and think every few turns to keep her bearings. She was very glad Curtiss was keeping up with the map, for the deeper they went, the harder it was for her to keep track of which turns they had made and which direction the entrance was. The buildings continued to glow with the strange not-quite-plant, and when she stopped to look in some windows to see if the supplies were there, she saw rooms filled with light. There were other things, too, that she couldn’t recognize. There were cylinders built into the walls that looked as though they were meant to move, and circles with square teeth, and clock faces that were cracked and broken.

“We should probably head for the center,” Likovya said after a few minutes. She looked up from a broken toy on the ground and saw in what had to be the middle of the city a large spire with swirls of glowing white up its dark surface. “There’s always something useful in the center of abandoned places.” With a little grin and an almost serious tone, she added, “Watch out for monsters, though.”

“You don’t need to tell me that,” Curtiss grumbled, eyes shifting warily. “I’m half surprised that glowing stuff hasn’t randomly gone and exploded on us by now, or some gigantic metal golem stampeded out of one of those houses and tossed us into the demon seaweed, or whatever.”

“Don’t be silly,” Likovya said. “A giant golem couldn’t come out of one of those houses. The doors aren’t large enough.” His missing her joke stung, and she walked a bit faster than earlier for a few streets before slowing. Spiting him like that would only ruin the map, and she wanted to be able to get out of here. Adventure was fine, but there was something to be said for doing it where there was easy access to food. “Do you have any idea which way the center might be?” she asked, pausing at an empty basin that could have been a fountain. It was filled with the glowing stuff, almost choked with it, and when she prodded the mass with her boot, a little water leaked out.

Curtiss didn’t seem to have heard her question, instead continuing to mutter about golems, his partial map completely forgotten. “...or maybe one of those blanket thingies swallowed one, and its mouth is bigger on the inside and it’s just waiting inside one of those doors, waiting for a chance to spit a freaking metal golem at us, yeah, yeah that sounds about right, um…”

Likovya shook her head. “Do you always act like this, or is being with me a special occasion? Come on. You can either keep up or find your way back, but I have a job to do.” She started to storm off but returned and grabbed the paper and pen from his hands. “If you’re not going to work, I will.”

Curtiss glanced up, his expression morphing from haunted to something approaching bored in an instant. “I’m sorry?” he retorted. “I don’t have the slightest idea what yo-” The scout’s comment ended mid-word in a strangled gasp, and his entire body tensed up visibly. “Oh god there’s one right behind me, isn’t there?”

Likovya leaned to the side to look past him. There was nothing but the buildings. “No. They stick to water, remember? Why would you think there’s one behind you?” Maybe next time she would stick to people she already knew as partners. Storm and Drive seemed stable enough to work with, at least more stable than almost everyone else she had found.

“Likovya, I can feel it breathing down my neck,” Curtiss growled. “There’s definitely- wait, why isn’t it attacking yet?” His eyes widened. “Oh god it’s toying with me isn’t it. Wait. Wait. Maybe… if I stand real still…”

“Oh, by anything you ought to swear by,” she said, grabbing his shoulders. He was taller than she but thin enough that she could push him around. “Look! There’s nothing there! Are you going to stop being crazy now?”

“OH GOD IT CAN TURN INVISIBLE” screamed Curtiss, and with a further shout of “YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE” he tore free of Likovya’s grasp and launched himself through the nearest doorway. Large amounts of clattering metal and shattering clay and more screaming bloody murder ensued from within.

She groaned. “You’re not dead, are you?” If he was, she doubted she would drag his body back. Well, she’d at least set up a little memorial and tell people what had happened if they asked. Grumbling about insane partners and how she was supposed to be the strange one, she walked to the building and looked through the doorway. “Curtiss?”

“YOU TOOK YOUR DAMN TIME” Curtiss roared, rolling about on the dust-covered floor as he slashed frantically at the rippling curtain of blackness that was enthusiastically gnawing at his arm. “SERIOUSLY, WHY IS IT ALWAYS THE LEFT ARM? IT’S NOT EVEN MY GOOD ARM!”

She didn’t hesitate before running inside and grabbing the thing. It felt oddly slippery, and its writhing nearly made her lose her grip. “Why did you run in here, anyway?” she asked, sliding out her wrist knife and starting to dig into the blackness. “Didn’t you even think to check before charging into this place?”

Curtiss grunted, the knife in his free hand cutting a deep arm-length gash into the creature’s hide. “Less talking, more- wait, there we go!” he said as he ripped his arm free and rolled away. The blanket of shadow emitted a faint squeal and surged forwards, only to be halted when two more knives and Likovya’s foot pinned it to the floor.

Letting out a deep breath, Curtiss stumbled to his feet, leaning against the nearest wall to steady himself. “Right, I think I know why this place is empty now,” he groaned. “Had a feeling some of those things would be waiting for us here, but I wasn’t…” His voice trailed off, and he slowly began to look around the room. “...wait, wasn’t I just- er, weren’t we just outside a moment ago?”

“Yes. We were.” Now that her partner was out of danger, Likovya’s annoyance returned. “Until you decided to rush in here like an idiot because you thought one was hiding behind you. I tried to show you nothing was there, and you said it had turned invisible.” She wiped her knife against her trouser leg again and tucked it away. “You wouldn’t happen to remember what you were thinking, were you, because I’d really like to know.”

Curtiss stared oddly at her. “I deci- what? That- that doesn’t…” The scout groaned and rubbed his head. “You sure? I mean, my memory’s kinda shot right now, for whatever reason- can’t be the fighting, that actually usually helps me think- but yeah, that doesn’t sound like me. Like, I get worried about ambushes and stuff sometimes, sure, but I don’t usually freak out ahead of time or anything. Generally save that for when there’s actually imminent danger of me getting stabbed or swallowed or whatever else people want to kill me with.” He frowned, then added, “Although now that I think of it, I do remember screaming ‘You’ll never take me alive!’ at some point earlier. Did that happen?”

“Barely a minute ago. You really don’t remember anything else?” She looked at Curtiss’s arm, but there wasn’t any broken skin or sign that anything was terribly wrong. The skin on his hand was red, but no more so than from a rug burn.

After a moment, Curtiss said, “...giant metal golems and mouths being bigger on the inside?”

“And do you remember why you said those things?”

“No, and quite honestly, I’m not really that interested at this point. I just don’t want it to happen again. Travelling in hostile territory with knives and a partner isn’t the best situation to have a psychotic break or whatever the hell that was just now.” Curtiss glanced over his maps, then stepped outside. “On the bright side, going insane seems to be helping my cartography skills. I think I’ll ignore how little sense that makes in favor of being glad that it helps us get this over with quicker.”

“If you’re getting better at cartography, maybe we can go a little faster,” Likovya said as she left the room. It had smelled different from outside in the street, but it hadn’t been an unpleasant smell. There was something earthy about it. “And I’ve got knives of my own. I don’t think you need to worry about me.”

“Says the woman who hasn’t been chomped on by a demon blanket yet,” Curtiss said. “Trust me, those things are worse than you think.” He looked around the broken street, sparing the injured shadowy square only a cursory glance, then added, “You said head for the center, right?”

“I think it might be a good idea. Do you know which way we ought to go?” Her partner seemed normal again, but she watched him carefully, ready for another attack of insanity.

Curtiss gazed up at the glowing spire Likovya had seen earlier. “I’d say we take the direct route,” he said, pointing at the structure, and strode off towards it. Likovya hurried after him, no longer indulging her curiosity about the houses.

The streets were just as winding as before, with numerous branches and dead-ends. They had to backtrack a few times, and Likovya started to feel a little nervous as they circled the spire but drew no closer. Curtiss was in charge of this whole thing, especially since he had the map. He wouldn’t deliberately lead her into a trap… although he had been acting strangely. If anything happened, she could overpower him, take the map, and find her own way out after getting the supplies. After all, she was sure she had more knives than he did, and her favorite would take him down in seconds. But then he could have been making a false map and keeping the true direction in his mind. She frowned at him and fingered the hilt of one of her belt knives. She would have to keep a close eye on this one.

After several minutes of walking, they reached an open circle where the buildings abruptly stopped. The road continued for a while before becoming a low bridge over another moat, and beyond the moat was a tall spire. The white glow stretched up it, and Likovya thought she saw clock faces at the very top. The spire was wide enough at the base that several people would be able to fit inside at once, and the outline of a door was traced in the glow.

“I’m going in,” Likovya said, starting for the bridge. She was about to head across and try the door before remembering that she didn’t have the map and hadn’t bothered to keep track of their latest turns. “Curtiss, come with me.” She wouldn’t have him leave her in this empty city to starve.

“There’s faces in the water.”

“Hmm?” Likovya turned, one hand reaching for a knife in case the bout of insanity Curtiss was obviously experiencing ended up driving him to violence.

The scout was crouching on the edge of the moat, his maps and pens laid on the ground at his side as he stared unblinkingly at the dimly-lit channel. “There’s faces in the water,” he repeated. “I can hear them.” He reached out and dragged a finger through the water, grinning as his eyes followed the ripples he was making.

“Curtiss?” She approached him cautiously. “I don’t hear anything. What are you --” Her gaze slipped to the water, and she saw a cluster of seaweed reaching up to the surface.

He’s in league with them. He’s going to call them out of the water to eat me, and they’ll overrun the city.

No. That’s stupid. They’re seaweed.

They’re talking to him.


“You’re not listening, Likovya,” Curtiss gritted out. “They’re speaking very quietly, you know? You have to get very, very close to hear them, hear them well…” With that, he shucked his backpack and dove into the moat.

“Wait!” Likovya had the presence of mind to put her knife away rather than drop it before plunging her arm into the water. Curtiss was her best chance of getting out of this place, and she wasn’t going to let him escape by swimming away. Seaweed latched onto her arm and scraped at her fingers, but she managed to find him collar and wrench up partially out of the water.

Curtiss’s expression was flat as his head breached the water’s surface. “Damn, I forgot how cold this was,” he said. “Right, stupid question- I just did something incredibly idiotic just now, didn’t I?”

“You really are crazy.” Likovya tried to haul him back onto the shore. Her hand was bleeding a little, but it didn’t look deep, and it wouldn’t interfere with her knife-throwing. “You can’t escape that way, even if those things can talk to you.”

“...talk to me.” Curtiss frowned and looked back at the moat, only for a stray piece of seaweed chewing on his sleeve to catch his eye. With a deft tug he detached it from the soaked fabric and held it up to his eyes, smirking a bit as he watched the fangs on its underbelly wiggle helplessly. “What, you mean these? Yeah, I don’t think they have vocal chords. I mean, maybe if they grind their teeth a little-”

She shook her head. Either his insanity was wearing off or he was playing the fool. Whichever it was, she wanted to get into the spire and out of the city. “Come on. We still have some exploring to do.” This time, she would make sure he stayed close.

The door to the spire was covered with the glowing stuff, and Likovya had to set her shoulder against it to push it open. The earthy smell was strong in her nose as she shoved, and when she stepped away, her entire left side and both her hands shone white. “I’m a torch,” she said, holding up her glowing arm, but the inside was already well-lit, just as the rest of the houses had been. Embarrassed at her foolishness and glancing cautiously at Curtiss in case he decided to mock her, she stepped inside.

The actual area available to stand was a few feet higher than her head, and above that were several strange objects. Giant metal cylinders and wheels with square teeth, along with ropes and chains and a great pendulum that hung still. None of the mechanisms moved, and all were coated with the white stuff. Not even the floor was clear, and she had to brush some aside to see what lay scattered around.

The first thing she found was a box with a broken lock and creaking hinges. When she opened it, she saw needles attached to glass cylinders and stoppered vials. None of the items were touched by time, and the glass seemed as hardy now as if it had been blown last week. She moved on through the rest of the room, opening boxes and flipping through pages. The boxes all held strange objects that she couldn’t recognize, but she supposed they might be useful to someone. The papers were what really interested her. The printing was clear, if in a hand that was difficult for her to read, but she could make out the titles.

To Ease Pain

To Treat Necrosis

To Replenish Blood


“Healing spells,” she whispered, gathering up as many as she could. “Curtiss! I need your backpack!”

Curtiss, whose gaze had been riveted on the halted pendulum, jolted slightly at the mention of his name. Hearing Likovya’s full request brought a scowl to his face, and he took a step backwards, his pack clutched to his chest. “Hell, no!” he said. “This is mine. My backpack! Not yours! You touch this, and I will stab you, stab you in the face!”

“I never said it was mine,” Likovya said. She put down the papers and got to her feet. “I just need to put something in it. Are you going to let me borrow it, or do I have to take it and the map?” Both her wrist knives appeared in her hands. If anyone was getting stabbed in the face, it would be him.

Curtiss’s eyes widened. “That’s it, isn’t it?” he said. “You want the maps! You’re going to take the maps and leave me here to be blanket food!” With his free hand, he drew the meter-long crystal spike hanging at his hip from its sheath, brandishing it like a spear. “Not a chance, you bastard!”

She couldn’t really argue with him; after all, her parents could have been anyone. “You don’t have to be blanket food,” she snarled. “I could just toss you into the moat and let the seaweed get you. That’ll be a lot easier! Besides, it’s not like you’d do anything different. I know what you’ve been thinking. You were going to take the map and leave me to starve.” She grinned eagerly. “Should have made your move before I had a chance to make mine.”

“...seaweed?” Curtiss stared incredulously. “Oh, it’s on now!” Tossing his pack behind him, he aimed the point of the crystal shaft at Likovya and charged forward.

Likovya spun on her toe, narrowly dodging the charge. She could have leapt aside and given herself more room to maneuver, but it was so much fun to feel the air rush by as the shaft missed her. “You’ll have to do better than that,” she said, running the blade of her knife up his arm. “I’ve been playing with knives since I was a little girl.” She wasn’t going to kill him, not at once. First she would make him bleed, and then she would toss him in the moat and watch him try to fight his way free.

Curtiss grunted and retracted his injured limb, retaliating with a wide swing that Likovya easily ducked, followed by a clumsy second attack at stabbing that she didn’t even have to try to dodge. Apparently, the other scout wasn’t too used to wielding melee weapons. “Quit that!” he growled as a knife flew past his neck, cutting a dark red line into the skin just above his collar. “You keep moving! I’m never gonna hit you if you keep doing that!”

“That’s the point!” she said, dancing away before he could retaliate. “You’re not much of a fighter, are you? Never had to go through the wilderness with bandits hiding behind every hill large enough to hide them. If you want to give up now, I might go easy on you.” Easy meaning she would cut his hamstrings before dumping him in the river. It would be a quicker death.

“Unless ‘go easy’ means you’re dropping your knives and letting me stab your face in,” Curtiss retorted, “I’m not interested.” Shifting his grip so that he was holding his crystal like a club, he charged again, only for Likovya to duck and attack his thighs. She missed the hamstring and only cut his trouser leg a little before scrambling to the side to avoid being trampled.

“You’re the clumsiest fighting partner I’ve ever had,” she said, springing to her feet. “I’m not surprised those shadows kept attacking you. They must have known you would be easy prey.” Curtiss still had some momentum, so Likovya spun around him, set her shoulder against his back, and pushed as hard as she could. Curtiss stumbled forward and crashed into the wall, knocking loose a shelf and sending down a tumble of jars and papers. One of the jars landed on him, breaking and releasing a white goo that spilled over his scalp and onto his neck.

Curtiss winced and shuddered as the syrupy liquid ran down his back. “Urgh, dear god that’s cold,” he groaned. “The hell just hit- oh god uuuuuuuuuuugh that’s horrible.” The downed scout clutched both hands to his nose, his weapon forgotten at his side. “Smells like dung and body odor and twenty different types of the worst perfumes ever, all rolled into one.”

He had dropped his weapon. He was defenseless. Now was her chance. Likovya dropped to one knee beside him and put the tip of her knife to his throat, wrinkling her nose at the smell. She wasn’t familiar with perfume, but the first two were definitely there. “I’m giving you a chance, Curtiss,” she said. “Let me have the map and swear to me that there are no tricks, and I’ll let you live.” Unhurt, no, but at least he would live. It was a chance most bandits had jumped for.

Curtiss groaned and leaned back against the wall. “And once again I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.”

“The map! The map that would let me find my way out of here. Is it real? Did you put any sort of tricks on it to get me lost?” He was playing the fool again, and not in an amusing way. If he had amused her, she might let him away with only a few scratches.

“The hell would I do that for?” Curtiss said, rubbing his forehead. “I need it too, y’know. My memory’s never been the best, especially since a couple of rakes decided to try and break my head like an egg the other day.”

There was no reason to disbelieve him. Aside from the fact that he could be lying. She took a step back, lowering her knife just a little. “Why are you being so helpful? Is this another one of your tricks, like befriending the seaweed?” It was an oddly timed trick, though. Right after the jar had landed on his head. Not taking her gaze off him, she crept a little closer to it, just to take a look.

Something cold and sticky impacted struck her in the face, and she stumbled back, screaming. “Poison! You’ve poisoned me! I should have known you would -- oh, this is really foul.” The mixture smelled terrible, and she did her best to wipe it off her face and hands as quickly as she could. “Curtiss, why are you on the ground? I need to put some supplies in your backpack.”

“The backpack?” Curtiss blinked. “Right, right, it’s here somewhere… I think I threw it in back earlier, and at the time I was standing- wait. Damn.” He grunted and scrambled back onto his feet, then raced out the still-open door and to the edge of the moat. Likovya didn’t stand around and wait for longer than it took to make sure her mind really had cleared. She gathered up the boxes and papers and set them by the door.

“If any water got inside, I can carry the pages,” she called. The writing was immune to time, but that didn’t mean the paper would stand up to water.

“I’m not worried about that,” Curtiss said. “The problem here is that evidently the demon seaweed doesn’t discriminate between flesh and fabric.” Eyeing the moat and its contents sourly, he pulled out his crystal spike again. “Looks like I’m going fishing. Again.”

“You’re not going to need a hand, are you?” Her clothes were still damp from her previous adventure with the river, and she didn’t want to get any closer to it than she had to.

“Relax. I said fishing, not swimming.” Curtiss hefted the spike and stabbed into the water. “I like to think of this sort of thing as using a giant, one-pointed fork, except instead of noodles and meat I’m dealing with man-eating plants and a really awesome backpack.”

***

Likovya was extra careful packing the supplies into the backpack, and since the inside was drier than her clothes, she tucked the papers in with the boxes. “Right,” she said once Curtiss had descended from the upper floors, “ready to go?”

“Pretty much,” Curtiss said, jamming his binder and pens into the pack and zipping it shut. “Great view up there, by the way,” he commented as he tugged the straps over his shoulders. “Managed to get the entire city layout way faster than I usually manage for that sort of thing. I considered looking around the tower a bit more at first, maybe find one of their own maps or some random gizmos to pocket or something- I swear, that asshat Seire must be rubbing off on me or something- but then I remembered all the shadow blankets and stuff from before and figured we might as well get going as soon as possible.” He paused, then added, “Oh, by the way, there’s a flock of them heading for the tower, I think. Might want to run.”

“I guess I have to be a hero,” she muttered. “Those boxes and papers you’re carrying are important, or at least useful. I’ll make sure you get out.” She pulled out her wrist knives and stepped outside. “We’ve got a head start. Go!”

“You don’t need to tell me that,” Curtiss said, his legs already in motion.

Likovya was right behind him. Heroics were all well and good, but she had no intention of making a tragic last stand just so some supplies and spells could get to a group of people. “You know which way you’re going, right?”

“Depends on whether or not this next turn is a dead end-” Curtiss rounded a corner, then skidded to a stop just in time to not crash face-first into a crumbling stone wall. “Nope, holding the map upside down. Typical. Double back and make a left!”

Likovya turned without thinking and ran back to the left turn, waiting for Curtiss to pass her before continuing. A black shadow had appeared on the ground, flowing around the spire, but it hadn’t reached the bridge yet. There were many more than she had thought at first, and they were moving quickly.

The two ran. Curtiss made sharp turns that made Likovya worry for the supplies, but she didn’t tell him to slow down. The shadow blankets weren’t keeping to the streets but flowing over the buildings and through windows, and every second she thought she would have to turn and fight, or at the very least start stepping on them. She told herself they would move faster when they reached the edge of the city and could run in a straight line, but the shadows might catch up to them before then.

“How much farther?” she called.

“Shouldn’t be too long,” Curtiss shouted back. “Just a couple more turns left, unless I’m holding this sideways- wait, no, no, we’re good, we’re good! Just around this bend-” The scout’s voice cut off as he passed the corner, and he almost tripped over his own feet as he stumbled to a halt, head turned towards the road he had indicated.

“What is it?” Likovya asked. She had a good reason to be anxious this time; the shadow blankets were getting closer.

Curtiss didn’t even glance at her as he replied, “Er, was there always a giant seaweed monster attacking the bridge and somehow I didn’t notice it before or completely forgot about it or something, or is it just me?”

“No, that’s new.” She looked from the huge, four-armed mass of mobile seaweed to the shadows and back. “If I have to choose, I say we attack the seaweed. Wish me luck.”

Something large and green and foul-smelling whizzed past Likovya’s head, and she turned to see Curtiss barely manage to leap out of the way of the enormous limb of pure seaweed rocketing towards him. He winced at the crack of crumbling stone from the monster’s hand shattering the wall behind him, then turned to Likovya and said, “Yeah. Good luck. Have fun.”

She tucked away her wrist knives and drew two from her belt, the better to fight in a melee with. One was the drugged knife, but she didn’t know how well that would work on plants, so she had a backup in her other hand. “If I manage to clear the bridge, just run. It should be easy enough for you to find your way out. I’ll follow you when I can get away from this thing.” Before he could argue, she launched herself at the seaweed monster.

It was fast, faster than she had expected from a lump of aquatic plant life. Before she had covered half the distance to the bridge, a limb lashed out, striking her midsection. She hacked at it with both knives, shredding the fronds, and dove to the side. The limb recoiled, but another one launched out at her new position just as quickly.

“Fast, but not clever,” she muttered. “Why not? I can take a few bruises.” She hadn’t used her painkillers yet, so if there was any lasting damage, she would be able to handle it. “Catch me if you can.”

From there, her battle became an act the tumblers at the circus would have been proud of, especially given the fact that she wasn’t a tumbler. Likovya dropped and rolled, springing up when she could find her feet again and bouncing along, getting closer to the monster each time. It kept launching limbs at her, knocking into her with enough force to make her stagger, but she shredded as much as she could before they fell back. When she was close enough, she planned to jump forward and stab until it gave in.

The seaweed monster had other plans. Just before she reached the base of the bridge, thinner, more maneuverable limbs tangled around her legs and chest. She kept her arms free and sliced as much as she could, but it drew her closer to the central mass.

Well, why not? I was going to stab there anyway.

“Get ready to run!” she yelled to Curtiss, bringing both her knives up and swinging down as hard as she could. The monster writhed, its grip on her tightening and releasing alternately, and then she was falling into icy water, surrounded by fronds.

She burst up for a second, caught her breath, and was pulled under. A brief underwater flurry of blades, teeth, and fronds later, she had pulled herself up again and swum a few inches toward the edge.

“I’ll be right there!” she called, unable to see if Curtiss was on the bridge or not. She was pulled down again, stabbed some more, and escaped. “Run!”

Something grabbed her by the collar of her jacket, something distinctly warmer and bonier than the usual seaweed, and she abruptly found herself hauled out of the water to meet the eyes of an incredulous Curtiss. “Wait, you’re still here? Take a hint, Likovya, this thing is bad news!”

Before she could get a chance to respond, he dragged her back onto the bridge and sprinted for the other side, her arm firmly clutched in his hand. Behind her, the seaweed monster gurgled ominously, and more cracking sounds rose from the bridge surface as what looked like seaweed missiles impacted the ground around them at high speeds.

Curtiss looked back, grinned when he saw Likovya was still keeping pace, then turned in the other direction and yelled, “Come on, freakshow! You call that aiming? The rock monster was a better shot than you!”

The monster gurgled again, this time sounding more like a wounded animal than an angry predator, and Likovya suddenly realized that the onslaught of seaweed had lessened to almost nothing. After a moment of internal debate, she spared herself a quick look back, and beheld their aggressor being swallowed by what appeared to be an immense, rippling sheet of tar. As she watched, another limb began to sprout from its body to replace the three it had already lost, only for the blanket of darkness to cover that as well, the bulge eroding away as quickly as it had grown.

“I think we can stop now,” Curtiss wheezed, and the two scouts stumbled to a more leisurely pace as they reached the end of the bridge.

Between gasps for air, Likovya asked, “Those were the shadow blankets, right?”

Curtiss took a deep breath before replying, “Yup. They snuck up on me, forced me on the bridge early- nearly lost my head to seaweed tentacles twice, once when I was making a break for it, then when I went back to grab you.”

“Thanks for that, by the way.”

“Heh. You say that like you thought I wasn’t going to help.”

“Well, I told you to run for it!”

“You say that like you think I would’ve listened.”
Jubilation and despair are two sides of the same coin.
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RussetDivinity
 
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:56 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:54 am

Unresolved rewards
~Endless Sea
~RussetDivinity

(I'll sort them out later)

Underground Quest number whatever I'll figure it out later

Quest Victim: Lordxana0

Quest Description: You are lord of all things awesome, the great and powerful Salvantas. Yes, you are so awesome that you've spent the entire time you were in recovery pouting and feeling sorry for yourself. No matter. A friend of yours has gotten a tip, a good one. There seems to be an underground recruiting station for the Anti-Guild. There are people there, refugees from the fighting that have not yet been turned. Rescue them.

Notes: Okay, so not only are you battling your way through the normal dangers of the underground, you are also up against 30 rage-induced mooks, and 3 sergeants. The sergeants are actual warriors, not farmers shoved into a set of armor. They are not friendly and will try to stab you with sharp, pokey things.

You have 24 hours until your time is up, or 02:00 am, September 7th, 2013

Good Luck, Play Safe, and... Have Fun. :twisted:
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eli_gone_crazy
 
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Lordxana0 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:55 pm

Elisa entered into Salvantas private room carrying a meal of roasted chicken and potatoes with a false grin on her face. "Hey I got you some food"

Salvantas rolled on the bed and looked at her, his face completely blank of emotion. He looked at the food and nodded at her. "Thanks" he said blandly.

Elisa's eye twitched and she threw down the food. "Okay that is enough, you have been in bed for two weeks now, you are not allowed to give up on life because you messed up. And do not give me the healing story, you have been done healing for like a week." she grabbed his arm and yanked him up.

"Ow, remember your strength Elisa" Salvantas winced as she pulled him up. "And I have not given up on life"

Elisa rolled her eyes and went over to his closet, yanking it open and tossing out his adventuring gear on his bed. "Oh yeah sure you haven't, turning away Rose when she came over to check on you, not accepting any missions, letting both sides of Heroes Unlimited run without your insane levels of micromanagment, it is bull" she turned to him. "So I accepted a mission from the City Guard. A group of anti-guild soldiers are running a camp in the Underground, and they are in Dark Carnival territory, we are going to go in and save them from their own idiocy" she tapped her foot. "Well what are you waiting for?"

Salvantas blinked and sighed. "Well if I am going to change I imagine it would probably be best for you to step out" he slowly stood up and the blanket slid off him, revealing his bare torso and loose pants.

Elisa blushed and turned around. "Well no crap I was going to step out, I wanted to make sure I didn't need to smack you again you idiot" she stepped out of the room and Salvantas smiled a bit.

Kill them all...

Salvantas held his head as a wave of pain pushed through it. Blank did you hear that?

Hear what? the emotionless demon inside his head asked.

...Nothing I guess. Salvantas got up and threw on his clothing, preparing to enter into the Underground realm.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Carlos had not signed up for this. Now at lot of people normally took this to mean the person saying that didn't know they would be in danger when they signed up for said thing. But Carlos thought he had known what he signed up for. Join in and kick some corrupt guild ass. That was something he signed up for.

What he didn't sign up for was being moved to the Underground, taking people against their will and forcing them to train. And more so then that he hadn't signed up to be attack by evil jesters in the middle of a dark cave. Which was a thing that was happening right now.

The building the Anti-Guild League had put up was suppose to be a safe haven/training center for new recruits. And for awhile everything had been fine. Then one day out of the blue their entire supply of talismans had been stolen and two guards were found dead, and not in the normal way. Their bodies had been found torn apart, as if by a wild animal. The day after that they had been given a load of new 'recruits' who didn't seem very willing to serve the cause. When he had confronted the other officer of their needs he just laughed and said "Doesn't matter much, few days you will all be dead anyway"

Those words had shaken Carlos, and he began to wonder if the Anti-Guild even cared about its people anymore. It seemed like as the days went by the members either grew less caring about others. Honestly if stuff had gone on like this for any longer Carlos would have walked. But they didn't stay the same. Because about five hours ago their small base built in the middle of a massive clearing of black rock had been assaulted by a large multitude of...things.

They seemed human like, but at the same time they weren't. They moved and fought like humans, carrying a multitude of weapons and fighting with some small hint of skill. Yet whatever they were it couldn't be human. If you cut off a limb they didn't react in shock, or react at all. Just the same laugh that they constantly howled out, almost like a battle cry. They would only go down if you got a killer blow, and even then they would try and strike out at you with their finally breaths. He had thirty soldiers and two other acting sergeants when the fight had begun. Now he had maybe ten standing soldiers and one sergeant other then himself. "Regroup!" Carlos called out. "Surround the base and make sure they don't hurt the civilians!" the remaining men nodded and took a defensive line around the base.

The clowns stood still, watching the men as they got ready for their last stand. "You know what I love most about the humans who came here?" a voice called out from the shadows. The voice sounded cruel, blood chilling, and full of amusement.

"Um.... they are fun to play with?" a young girls voice replied. This one sounded full of mirth and the energy that only little kids knew of. At the same time however there was something else. Something sad and old sounding to it.

Two figures stepped into the light of the many torches that the Anti-Guild members had set up. One of them was tall, a bit more then the average person. He wore a lime green cloak, which matched with the rest of his clothing. His face was covered by a mask, one side showing the mask of comedy, the other showing the mask of tragedy. Standing next to this man was a young girl, who looked to be no more then maybe twelve. In her hand she held a claymore which she dragged along the ground as she walked.

"Close, you see my dear they have all of these fun emotions, little meals that really keep me going" the mans voice sounded smooth now, the hint of mania had vanished. "Before they got here all I had to feed on was the occasional goblin sorrow or anger, but humans" the man laughed. "Humans are so much better, anger, love, misery, hope, joy" the man rubbed his stomach. "Honestly it is a bit like a feast after all these years"

"Who are you?!" Carlos yelled toward the man in green. "Why are you doing this?"

The man looked at him and tilted his head to the side. "Yes I suppose proper introductions are in order. I am the High Lord Cloth, King of the Underground, Master of all I observe..."

"And I am Comedy!" the young girl called out with a happy sounding voice.

Cloth stopped and looked at Comedy. He took one step back and kicked her in the back as hard as he could, sending her face first to the ground. He then proceeded to stomp on her again and again. "What...did...I...say...about..INTERRUPTING ME!" he delivered one last brutal kick and seemed to calm down. "Now then, as for why I am here..." he looked down at Comedy. "Get up, you are going to ruin that pretty dress" Comedy nodded and shakily rose to her feet. "You see I feast off emotions, mostly negative ones, but most people don't ever reach true sorrow in their lives, that is something only a special few know how to afflict, so I have decided to come and take away the people you brought here and take them to my Dark Carnival, there they will be put through a multitude of shows until all they are left with is the unending joy of serving me, like these fine people here have" he waved his hand at the troops. "Normally I would take you and your men alive, but you are tainted by the rage magic, and once tainted you can never properly be enjoyed"

Carlos began to shake a bit as he looked toward the man. This was insane, he wanted to run, but he couldn't just leave the people here to become...whatever those clowns were. "Spell...what are you talking about?" he asked.

"Enough talk, more killing" Cloth snapped his fingers. "Kill em dead boys!"

The clowns let out another round of laughter and began to move forward. But before they could get very far a voice rang out from the shadows. "Fire of the Abyss come to my aid, Infernal Protection barrier!" a wall of blood red flames shot up in front of the Anti-Guild soldiers and burned the clowns that it touched. No matter how much they slapped of tried to put it on the clowns continued to burn. "Ha, told you I could do that"

Comedy pulled out her blade and jumped in front of Cloth, quickly swinging her massive sword through the air and smacking found throwing knives out of the air. "I never said you couldn't, I just said that powers like that would drain you"

The fire disappeared and standing in front of the Anti-Guild forces were two new figures. One was a male with dark red hair, dressed in a dark trench coat with an array of throwing knives in his hands. The other was a young women with blue hair, wearing a set of leather armor and holding her hands in front of her and making signs with her hands. "Oh shut up, I know my own limits Salvantas"

Carlos felt a new sort of fear grip his heart. Standing in front of him was the leader of Heroes Unlimited, the white knight for justice Salvantas Londgium. And the girl standing next to him must have been his newest mage, Elisa Everheart, who was nicknamed the Inferno by some of the Anti-Guild members. "Wha..."

Salvantas looked back. "You, get all of the people here to the gate, there is a regiment of guards waiting to see you to the Church to handle any injuries." Carlos was about to speak up, but Salvantas interrupted him. "As far as I know all Anti-Guild members died in this fight, meaning everyone left are just refuges whom the Guard will take care of, and even if they were part of the Anti-Guild group at least they could escape later"

Carlos looked at him for a moment before nodding. "Grab the civilians and lets go!" he called out. The remaining soldiers nodded and went into the base.

"So that's cute, but who says they are getting out alive?" Cloth asked.

"I do" Salvantas said in his most intimidating voice.

"Wait a moment..." Cloth clapped. "Salvantas, your the jerk who stole one of my toys, and that means" he turned his head. "Elisa, you ran away, your parents were awfully worried about you before they died, why you were the last thing they talked about before they died, through I personally think they were cursing you for running away and forcing me the execute them"

Elisa grit her teeth. "Bastard!" she put forth her hand. "Gauntlet Inferno!" she fired out a massive stream of fire at the green robbed man.

"Boring" he lifted his hand and when the fire got near him it seemed to disappear. "You know as well as I do that your magics can't harm me"

Salvantas put his hand on Elisa's shoulder. "I am going to attack the big boss, you take care of the soldiers and keep the young one off of me"

Elisa nodded once before launching a spear of flames at Comedy, which she was forced to quickly dodge away from. Salvantas ran at Cloth, leaping from the ground and launching a kick at his head. Cloth quickly stepped back and entered a fighting stance.

"It is so nice the two of us could finally meet" Cloth dodged every blow Salvantas attempted to land on him. "After all, we are both important men in Elisa's life, it feels only right the two of us should have some talks doesn't it?"

Salvantas pulled out a knife and began to slash and stab at the insane mask wearing man. "Go to hell you insane freak"

Cloth grabbed Salvantas arm and put his open palm on his forehead. At that moment Salvantas felt something in his mine, examining every inch of it with greedy fingers. After a few moments Cloth stepped back and laughed. "Oh boy there is enough in there to keep me talking for a century"

Salvantas backed up a few steps and pulled out another knife, taking up his dual weapon fighting stance. "What did you do?" he demanded.

Cloth clapped his hands. "I just read your mind, and absorbed your entire history into mine, oh also" Cloth snapped and his body began to shift and change under his cloak. When he finished his body type matched Salvantas perfectly. "I also am going to mimic all of the best parts of you for a bit, hope that is cool and all" He ran at Salvantas the the two began to clash.

The two were at once equal and unequal. Whenever Salvantas would switch fighting styles Cloth would switch to the exact counter style to his. Their speed and strength seemed equal, and when it came to tactics they both were able to change on the fly. It was like Salvantas was fighting himself, but one that was more insane then he ever was. "So tell me Salvantas, have you ever had a friend you didn't screw over?"

Those words froze Salvantas for a deadly moment, one in which Cloth almost used to land a death blow on his throat. But he quickly dodged back at the last second. "Shut up" Salvantas growled.

Cloth laughed and pressed the attack. "I mean Rose, your teacher, Anji, Tamar, hell I could count the number of people you haven't failed on one hand, and that is only because I can turn my hand into a fist!" he showed off this claim by slamming his fist into Salvantas stomach and delivering a kick to the same spot, which sent Salvantas back a few feet.

Salvantas panted and looked up, his eyes becoming dangerous looking. "I said shut up!" Salvantas charged at Cloth with a speed that hadn't been there before. He slammed into Cloth before he could dodge and slammed his fist into the mask and sent the green robbed figure tumbling back.

When Cloth stood his hand went to his mask, in which he felt a slight crack begin to form. "How in the..." his eyes moved down to Salvantas fist, which was now covered in a black as midnight flame. "Oh, I see"

Salvantas looked at Cloth, a wide grin splitting his face. "I am going to kill you so dead"

Cloth examined Salvantas for a moment and sighed. "I am still not strong enough for this kind of thing, not yet anyway. Need more sorrow." he snapped his fingers. "Comedy we are going"

Comedy nodded and jumped back from Elisa, examining her dress, which has multiple burn marks on it. Of course she had given as good as she got, and Elisa was covered in slash marks from Comedy's air magics. "Yes my Lord"

Salvantas tilted his head. "Who said you could leave?" he ran at Cloth again, his new speed making him look almost like a blur.

But Cloth was prepared this time, and he quickly side stepped the incoming blow and placed his hand on Salvantas forehead. "Mental Lock" Cloths hand glowed a light yellow for a moment and Salvantas spasmed and fell back a few feet, holding his head. He then moved over to Comedy and gave a last wave to the two warriors. "Till next time!" he called out, disappearing in a flash of green light.

Elisa ran over to Salvantas. "Are you okay?" she asked in a concerned voice.

Salvantas took a few breaths and nodded. "Yeah, I am fine..." he looked down at his hand and at the burn marks that surrounded it. He didn't know what just happened, but whatever it was... it felt wrong. "Anyway lets go."

Elisa nodded. "Right, but before we do" she raised her hand at the Anti-Guild base and started a small fire. "Just in case" she smiled.

Salvantas couldn't help but grin. "Right, lets go"
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
At the entrance to the Underground a large group of refugees were being examined by on site healers before being taken to the Church for more elaborate healing.

Carlos stood away from the rest of the group, thinking about his time with the Anti-Guild group. At first it seemed right, taking down people who were oppressing the common man. But not, after everything he had seen... "I can't do this" he reached under his shirt and pulled out an amulet he had carved himself and had worn to show his loyalty to the group. He clutched it in his hand and threw it deep into the darkness. He was done with this, and he could do his best to try and make it known that whatever they were fighting for... it could be done differently.
Who you going to call? ME!
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Lordxana0
 
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:36 pm
Location: Long Beach

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:51 pm

Quest Time: You have until 10:00 October 11, 2013
Quest Victim(s): Agoraoptera

Torturous Details: You become separated from your little friend as you leave the battle ground. A small voice in a cave distracts you. It calls your name. Like the idiot you are, you decide to follow the creepy voices into the cave. What you find are Psychneuein, creatures of the damned. You need to survive the psychneuein, and find a way to keep their plague from spreading to the war torn castle.


Good luck, play safe and have fun! :twisted:
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eli_gone_crazy
 
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby agoraoptera on Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:10 am

Underground Quest: Psychneuein.

Prompt: You become separated from your little friend as you leave the battle ground. A small voice in a cave distracts you. It calls your name. Like the idiot you are, you decide to follow the creepy voices into the cave. What you find are Psychneuein, creatures of the damned. You need to survive the psychneuein, and find a way to keep their plague from spreading to the war torn castle.

-

Love was a warm, fuzzy feeling that lit one up from within. It was, Eliziya speculated, somewhat like alcohol, dulling the senses and filling one up with a vague glee. Of course, she was not particularly experienced in either, but nevertheless, her wits must have been dulled, or so she justified to herself.

How she’d gotten separated from Tamar (and Hector) and ended up in this.. place was a complete mystery. Dampness suffused the dark atmosphere, dimly lit by eerie phosphorescent lichen growing along cave walls.

“Shit,” she muttered to herself. The Underground. It was probably the last thing she needed. It had been a long day, after all, what with experiencing Asha’s death, regaining her sanity, giving away her first kiss..

E~li~ziya..

Well, that didn’t sound good. Those voices hissing melodically for her, sending spine-quivering chills through her body, were definitely not any figment of her imagination. Besides, Asha had purged her blood of her madness.

“Go away!” she shouted angrily, forgetting for a moment that this was the Underground and that everything was liable to murder her. There was something familiar in the voice though, an oddly hypnotic lilt that- oh. She’d followed the voice down, hadn’t she?

Fire crackled about her arms and she hurled unaimed bolts of flame at the walls in frustration. Saints, what she’d give to be back with Tamar at wherever he and Anji and the rest of the gang were staying at..

Zi~ya..

The harmony of voices was definitely within her head, yet there was a definite impression of distance and space; further down the tunnel, now lit up by her flames, the voices seemed as though they were echoing across the right fork. It was.. There was something enthralling about the voices.. something alluring and vaguely seductive in its own alien way. Eliziya bit her lip as the compulsion nagged at her mind. Now was hardly the time to go chasing voices that were more than likely aiming to brutally murder her, but turning around, she saw only a dead-end. Wherever she’d come from, it was sealed up now. A stone wall blocked her path, weathered and worn as if it’d been standing there a million years.

A cold, high laugh echoed through the tunnel like a shrill draft of bone-biting air, prickling her skin and raising uncomfortable goosebumps.

“It’s like whoever’s messing with me isn’t even going to give me a chance,” she muttered in annoyance, then made up her mind. No more was she going to cower in the corner, whimpering with fear. She had to do this. For the love of the saints, she was Anjali Torvantine's sister. The remnant power from Asha was blazing brightly in her- almost too bright, strangely enough- she was young and filled with the heady overconfidence romance oft brought. “Bring it on, jerks!”

Less than fifteen minutes later, she regretted challenging the Underground. With an aura of flame blazing about her like mythic armour, she ran forward, eager to get out of the place. It stunk, really, quite like the stench of decaying flesh, or perhaps putrid bodily fluids born of gestation.

Eliziya stopped, her gorge rising in revulsion. She stepped out of the tunnel onto a promontory overlooking a subterrane and immediately stepped back, kneeling to the ground as she heaved her lunch out.

“Oh by all the saints..”

Look and see, Elizi!, rhymed the voices with menacing merriment.

It was disgusting, was what it was. It was exactly what it smelled. In the cavern stacked against a central pillar were bodies, so many bodies, hounds and humans, goblins and kobolds, wild wolves and halcyon hawks, by the saints, most of the grotesque corpse-mound was little more than bones, but at the top of the metre-high pile were newly-slain wildlife. When she dared a second peek, she saw that though the bodies of the wildlife were mostly intact, rotting in fullness, their heads were ravaged, filled with holes as though tunnelled from the inside out by malicious maggots. What manner of beast had done this?

Whatever it was, Zi was going to back off and- her leg bumped against solid rock. The tunnel was gone. She squinted at the wall as if by doing so she might pierce an illusion, but the wall was still a wall, even after she traced the tunnel’s non-existent outline with aether-fire. Especially after she traced the outline with aether-fire.

A buzzing sound like a hive of vespids filled the air, then came the explosion of wings as a flock of predatory birds took to the air. Birds, if the bone-bleached organically shifting swarm of frenetic winged movement could be called birds. But no birds were such as this; no ordinary birds had flittering glassy wings that created a deathly drone, no birds had multiple slender legs beneath twitching with a murderous yearning and certainly no birds had great bloody stingers like that, oh by the saints, Eliziya thought she recognised them from one of the darker tomes in Asha’s possession, the Liber Monstrum by the archivist Borzia, this couldn’t be psychneuein, could they? She counted a horrific dozen of them in flight.

If they hadn’t swooped at her, she would probably have stood there, gazing at the swarm in entranced horror as they psychically projected their writhing eggs into her brain- how did that even work?- and turned her into another body on the mound. As they came close, mandibles clacking and wings beating too quick for the eye to see, she dived to the side, scraping herself against the coarse rock, but the trivial wounds were healed almost instantly by the sublime power flowing within her.

Power..

Come to us, come to us!

“Like hell I will!” she snarled, conjuring phosphorent flames and incinerating the monstrous man-sized psychneuein even as they came close enough for her to see the multi-faceted eyes throwing back her panicked reflection. Bodies crisping and charred in mid-air, she screamed in fright as the smoking remains fell against her and Zi lashed out again with another red wall of fire.

The buzzing not only failed to stop, it went on to intensify as larger groups of psychneuein twitched into activity. From the corner of her eyes, Zi saw the heads of several corpses burst as smaller clades emerged in a gruesome spray of foul pus. A chop of her hand sent a spear of fire at a psychneuein swooping overhead, a pass with her other sent an invisible wave that superheated a dozen to explosive temperatures, combusting them. Ordinarily, she’d never be able to wield such power, but the dead mage’s remnant power was immense, a star to her little candle and she hurled blast after blast at the psychneuein swarm, incinerating dozens at a time. The swarm however seemed almost limitless, the cavern ceiling no longer visible under the sheer number of insects.

“By all the saints,” she grunted with exertion, sweat pouring down her temples as one of the beasts scored a bloody cut along her arm before she melted it down. She could feel the pressure of their slimy and incorporeal eggs pressing against her magic; only by virtue of her magical flames did the eggs not enter her mind and spawn a putrid, loathsome nest of magic-drawn insects which would devour her from the inside out. “I need to get out of here, out..” The screeching of the monsters was a cacophony of pure noise that tore through her concentration like a pick-axe hammering at ice, hammering away to get under her skin and into the flesh of her brains- saints, no!

As if picking up on her thoughts, the floor vanished beneath her and she fell yelling wordlessly. Putting her hands and legs to either side of the rabbit-hole, she halted her descent at the cost of two bloody smears along the sides of the vertical tunnel. Zi’s palms were shorn, blistered and bloody, but a moment later the burning agony ceased as the cool healing suffused her. Glancing up, she realised she could barely hear the buzzing of the insect-monsters, as though they were in a distant room and that the gap from which she’d dropped was now gone. It was dark as midnight- no, there was a faint blue glow coming from below.

Turning her gaze down, she saw a pool of disturbingly appealing water at the bottom of the well, luminent with the pale blue of starlight. It was murky, yet clear at the same time, shifting eddies within clearing the indistinct portions and mucking up clean regions at the same time. Whatever it was, Eliziya didn’t want to touch it. On the other hand, her lips were cracking and her tongue was parched, skin arid as Aza’s humour and damn if she wasn’t thirsty.

Swiveling her head up again- was it just her, or was the ceiling a lot lower than before? She’d dropped for several seconds, but now the granite ceiling was just above her eyes. The Underground was forcing her down. Damn it, she wouldn’t give in, she couldn’t!

Unfortunately, her body had other ideas. Her arms were weakening with the exertion of staying in mid-air above the pool of water which was definitely rising, in fact it was gently lapping against the tip of her toes and, oh, to hell with it.

Eliziya fell into the pool and it engulfed her, choked her into an inky blackness.

-

Eliziya Torvantine lay flat on her back, moaning lowly, hands pressed to her head as a dull headache pulsed into existence. Bright lights and spartan surroundings lent the room an austere, clinical glare, but the nauseating throb of vomit-hued colour tainting her vision told her otherwise.

“Be still, friend Torvantine, be still.”

The voice was muffled and familiar: Aza Geila. The healer felt Zi’s head lightly.

“No.. no.. kill me, kill me,” Zi pleaded like a wounded animal, delirium clear in her eyes.

“Hush now, you are safe-”

“No.. no.. you don’t understand, it’s in my head, it’s in here, it’s-” her slurring speech was interrupted as the ache grew to a lancing agony. Fevered tears poured out and she convulsed, gripping the bed sheets and tearing at them futilely. Zi’s petite mouth opened but instead of pleading, what came out was a string of lunatic gibberish, nonsensical jabbering and babbling.

She heaved, beads of sweat lining the contours of her tortured features as though in the thrall of some consumption, lighting her from within and devouring every last shred of energy her body possessed.

The skin of her forehead bulged as if worms writhed beneath, then burst in a grotesque shower of blood and grey matter, eight little bone-white psychneuein speeding straight into the masked healer’s face, pregnant stingers aimed at her wide eyes.

-

Eliziya Torvantine knelt against a cold stone floor, bright lights shining from under her skin, power struggling to break free of its mortal constraint.

“T-Tamar, help, help me, it’s too much, too much. Asha’s energy’s too much, it’s finally grown too much. The pain, I think.. this is it-” she forced out amidst gasps of agony. “My flesh is changing, T, oh saints- argh- it’s going against me-”

Zi’s arms straightened, then bent backwards as her elbows crunched at an unnatural angle. Howling, tumourous bulges began growing and distorting. Her meat and bone bulged with fluid growth, seething with ambition as it sought to turn her inside out. Energised threads of electricity and flame spread across her pallid flesh as she became a bloated bulk of unrecognisable meat and pain whilst contorting limbs grew. The gruesome sound of bones cracking like dry twigs was lost in the atonal harmony of her howling. Her body was a riot of form and function, limbs and organs reshaped by the wet slithering madness of hideous power. No mortal form of flesh and blood could hold such power for long and now she was paying the price.

For a single, horrific moment, the mass that had been a young winsome girl stopped its disgusting pulsations. Then it exploded like an overfilled wineskin with a prismatic spray, colouring the walls crimson.

-

Zi gasped as her head broke free of the water, inhaling desperately. What in all the forsaken realms had she just seen? The first, the first had been if.. if Zi had been.. impregnated by the psychneuein. An infestation would have occurred and nobody would be safe. She wept silently, knowing that the waters that buoyed her had told her the truth, given her a glimpse into the future. No, she balled her hands into fists tightly, not the future, ‘a’ future.

The second had been just as bad, if not worse. What the fuck had that been? She stared at her hands hollowly. Asha’s power was going to kill her, given time. Saints..

The water level was decreasing; the Well of Reflections drained away and the walls fell away, putting her into an empty cave.

“Fuck,” she sobbed into her arm for a few moments, before wiping away the tears. Zi needed to slow down the power's natural accumulation then. Immense bulks of power had a way of attracting motes to it, slowly growing as no doubt her new power would. How could she do that.. ah! In the Muses of a Thousandth Son, by Eyjak Arymnon, there had been a tool, hadn’t there? A rare thing, scarce seen, intended as an aid to reach the lower Enumerations, but it also helped to regulate power flow.. What was it..

She closed her eyes, struggling to concentrate and force out what power she could. She could feel it form, an indistinct mass of.. something. Somehow, the aetheric energy she'd channeled ahead of her, despite without any discreetly formative intent, was.. coagulating. Great globs of energy meshed together and the indistinct mass pulsed, invisible to all not blessed with mage-sight. With each pulse, a rainbow of colours spread in fluid lines outwards and dissipated against the walls.

From within the mass, a feathery wing of utter luminescence extended for a moment, before submerging within again, then a thick, sinuous tentacle undulated and flexed. The deep purple tentacle retracted into the bright mass of light and Eliziya stared entranced by its beauty.

It felt like her power, alright, that much she could ascertain. But its form.. what was it? It was a curious thing of fire and light, a hint of a spoked wheel spinning within, an auroral shadow of an inquisitive crow peeking out. It changed from moment to moment, its transient form an echo of echoes. A single golden eye opened and peered out calmly at Zi, placid in its stare, the only constant feature of the being.

“Hey. Cool. I made a Tutelary.”

The strange thing floated serenely closer to her and she extended a hand, enthralled. A gleaming violet tentacle extended in response and touched her hand lightly. The tentacle vanished and then she reached closer, patting its amorphous core. It throbbed organically, in time with her own heartbeat, the young mage realised.

She began pooling magic about her hand, lighting up little candles about her fingertips and dancing them around her hand. Yes, she was using her own power to do this, but the power.. it was coming from her, then going somewhere, then coming back.. it was rerouting through the thing. Excellent. It was a buffer of sorts, power management being its defining characteristic.

“Hey. Do you talk or something? Can you understand me? No? I guess not.”

The floating Tutelary continued staring at her blankly with its golden eye; Tutelaries, she remembered, had no personality or intellect to speak of, being simply mental constructs.

“Oh well. I ought to name you something. How do you feel about, um, Kiberia? Innovence? Ah, I'm a little caught up with trying to get out of here alive, I don't know. I'll come up with a set name, I promise, for now you can be Numen.”

Numen floated by her side and she envied its serene tranquility. Now, to get out of here and.. and destroy as much of the hive she could. The only reason her body was not being used to feed larvae was the left-overs of Asha’s power. Anyone else would be dead, either torn to gibbets by their razor-sharp mandibles and claws or their brains psychically implanted with eggs. Once implanted, it was near impossible to remove the eggs.

Lighting up the cave, she explored from wall to wall, finding only a single exit. From the exit, the infernal buzzing could be heard. The only way out was back to the hatchery room. Damn.

In all honesty, Eliziya really didn’t want to go back to the hatchery, not even for a moment. After the first vision, well, the hairs on her skin prickled just at the mere thought of exposing herself again. If her focus slipped this time and they got into her head, then the vision.. No, no, she shook the thoughts away.

Whatever will be, will be, drifted the voices. Uncharacteristically cryptic, Zi frowned. Psychneuein weren’t exactly known for their intellect. If anything, that was the only redeeming factor about them; despite the terrifying method in which they reproduced and their hunter-killer lethality, they were ultimately still beasts. Or they should have been.

What was that on the floor? It looked like.. dynamite? Huh. That was a pretty hefty chunk of dynamite too, all nice and red. Hadn’t, what was it, hadn’t all the dynamite been given to the goblins? Oh well, at least she could.. hm. So psychneuein were attracted to magic.. and if she kept using her power to burn them out, they’d keep birthing and there was probably no end to them, considering the Underground..

She was about to take a peek around the curve in the tunnel to scan the hatchery, then thought the better of it.

“Okay, Numen, take this.” She dropped the large bundle of dynamite into a waiting tentacle. “Uh.. Okay listen carefully. I want you to go all the way to the pillar at the center of the cavern and, uh, wait. Yeah.”

As the Tutelary silently drifted, she closed her eyes and pretended to be Numen. She had no clue whatsoever what it felt like to be a Tutelary, but feeling along the connection she had with it, she eventually opened up to its ‘senses’.

The single golden eye from which Zi now gazed blinked. Angry, hissing psychneuein dove through the air at her and she nearly flinched, before she realised they were diving at Numen, not her, and that they were diving through Numen. Numen was incorporeal and invisible, she remembered, so that made some sense. The psychneuein couldn’t harm it, but they could sense the magic that composed the Tutelary and they hungered with an alien malevolence after the mind behind the power.

Taking a deep breath, Zi sent her power forward, and lit the fuse on the dynamite.

“So long, assholes. Not my brain, not today,” she muttered, then the cavern shook with a resounding thunderclap and bits of ancient sandstone pattered over her head painfully. An orange explosion that must have been humongous blew out a fiery dragon’s breath from the cave’s mouth and Zi pulled back; non-magical fire might have burned her. But she needn’t have worried: the cave’s mouth quickly collapsed on itself and sealed whatever remained of the psychneuein nest. She might not have destroyed every single one of them, but the psychneueins wouldn’t be bugging- heh- the Castle for some time.

“Not bad for a day’s work, I think,” she yawned, stretching, then paused. “Numen? Numen! Shit, Numen, come back!”

Several panicked moments later, the unspeaking Tutelary floated through the wall and she grinned.

“Awesome. You’re alive, uh, kind of. I mean.. I don’t know. Anyway! You’re unharmed. That’s the important bit. We’re alive and my brain isn’t infested with eggs and I’m not gonna.. well, I might, but I’m not gonna die yet.”

The people bleed,
And your sister weeps,
That is the lot of a healer,
chittered the voices and Eliziya tensed up. How could they have known that? What did they mean? What had happened in the time since she’d been gone?

You heal but true,
Yet all forsake you,
That is the lot of a healer,
the voices quivered with a deep-set melancholy so intense she felt a tear form. But what..

Then her questions vanished as light shone through the ceiling and she winced at the brightness, shading her eyes. Someone was standing at the ledge of the new hole and she could barely make out anything apart from the outline of his silhouette, but that it in itself was very telling.

“Tamar? Tamar! Saints alive, I’m glad to see you. I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news..”
If you can make it better, don't make it sentient.

agoraoptera wrote: :| Shane just because I'm Asian doesn't mean I get to be Godzilla


Proud co-writer of the Greatest Idea of Our Time: viewtopic.php?f=45&t=1236
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:37 am

You survived :/
(Just once I want to see someone epically fail in these.)

Okay, whoop-de-doo, you survived the unbeatable psychneuein. :| Because of this, you recieve a little beastie you call Numen. It's a mental construct, barely capable of carrying books for you, as well as helping to process your power to be more efficient. I am sure it will love and care for you always.
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Qara-Xuan Zenith on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:16 pm

Underground Quest 16: Baby Geniuses
Quest Description: You ended up in the Underground and as you wander around there, you feel… younger. Fresher. And the ceilings keep getting higher and everything is getting bigger and…
You’ve regressed and are somehow younger than ten years old again. In the Underground.
Quest Goal: Get your age back, please.
Quest Victims: Morionem (Victin) and Fern (Krika)
Quest Deadline is Friday, January 17th at 11:59 a.m. EST.
Lead by example. Get lost in a swamp.

AS DICTATED TO INSTANTIATION 17-01-18-01.
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Krika on Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:10 pm

Underground Quest #16: Baby Geniuses

Darkness closed around as the jaws of a beast. Groping around, he felt dirt, and rock. He passed the hand on his forehead, and there was hot sweat. His head rested in cold, solid rubble. “Ugh… I can feel… Rock and pain… Guess that’s means I’m not dead, sweet.”

Morionem stood up - or rather, raised his torso. His legs were still a little too numb to answer to his commands right away. Taking a deep breath, he tried again, and succeeded. “Dude!” He yelled, as lightning crackled in his hand. A white flash that lasted a second, followed by another and another, until the warrior managed to keep one continuously. A small electrical arc was shaped between his fingers, and its ends fused together to form a misshapen circle. “What’-your-name? Are you alr...” - Morionem stuttered - “alive?”

From a short distance away, a steady glow appeared, as Fern poked his head out of the rubble he was slightly buried in. He raised one hand, holding a small crystal from which the light emanated. “I would like to make it clear that I did not expect to have an inward fluctuation of border energy that would interact with my circle in quite such a manner.” He began to move rubble off of his legs with one hand. “I believe that I am essentially unhurt, and Mandora does not seem to be injured significantly at all.” He waved to another patch of rubble, which was shaking as something tried to emerge, though it did not seem to be strong enough to move it on it’s own. He shone the light in Morionem’s direction, looking at him. “On the other hand, you appear to be bleeding from your head, somewhere. Can you feel any pain on your head?”

“Uh?” He replied surprised, and staring at his hand he noticed it had been stained red. “I didn't even notice. My entire body hurts right now, y’know?” Taking his free hand to his head, he started the healing process with two sources of curative energy - one from his hand, and another from his own head, both with origin deep within his soul. And to deal with the injuries he had mentioned, or at least the pain, Morionem also let a wave of magic fill his whole body. He felt the soothing effect, but spending this amount of arcane energy in many different ways meant it’d take a good while for any of his wounds - including the one he was focusing upon - to heal. Unless he wanted to attempt spending it all in a single burst, but he’d rather not.

“What about you? You alright… Fern?” Morionem smirked, half-visible due to the poor lightning. “I can give you or your creature a hand if you need to.” Walking towards the beast in question, he started lifting some boulders away from it. “By the way did I tell you how cool I find these? How do you even do that?”

Fern pulled the rest of the rock off of him, and did a quick check for obvious injuries before standing up and moving over to help Morionem. “It is a very specialized art, for which a mage requires very precise control over how you output magic. While it is theoretically plausible that you could learn how to do it, you would have to spend a rather significant amount of time relearning how to channel your magic.” As they moved a few more boulders, he reached down and pulled out what appeared to be a plant with stubby legs, and four large waving branch-like fronds extending out from it’s body. “Also, maintaining the Summon is a constant tax on my magic supply - having one summoned constantly drains my magic.” He set Mandora down, where it shook dust off of itself before settling down, leaves waving back and forth slightly as it waited.

As if mimicking the plant, Morionem dusted himself off. “So… Last time it worked. Why do you think everything blew up this time?” While he waited for an answer, he took the opportunity to kneel down and curiously poke Mandora a little.

Fern frowned. “Well, the last time the entrance was presumable older and thus had stabilized, whereas this particular entrance is new, and I suspect the boundary was still fluctuating more than I anticipated, which would have thrown things off. And since this one was bigger, and the ritual was using more energy, especially our two brands of magic possibly not quite mixing properly, when the fluctuating barrier threw things off, the reaction was… well, what it was. Also, I wish to point out that last time it exploded as well, as it was meant to. And this one was meant to explode as well, and seal it up. Which it appears to have done. With us on the wrong side.”

During his explanation, a vague memory of ‘Varying Characteristics of Magic by Being’ darted as a blur through the warrior’s head, and he asked himself how and why did he even remember whatever that was. Guess I’m feeling like nostalgia this week... He told himself remembering from the fiasco of the other day with Tamar’s friend. “Do you mean… That this opening could've been created by the earthquakes?” With that said, he suddenly stopped poking the sentient vegetable, having a shocking realization. “That means… There could be more around the city?”

Fern slowly nodded. “Perhaps? This Underground is to my understanding not precisely underneath the city, but a bit more like another floor than a true underground cave network, so while the magical disruption the earthquake could have possibly opened up more than one entrance like this one,” he gestured around them “it might be more of a fluke? I am uncertain, as I am not well versed on this place’s magical energy, or on the interaction between the floors of the castle, or how the Castle’s restructuring would have affected that.” He paused. “Perhaps we can discuss this while looking for a way out? I would not want to be trapped down here. Loremaster Lori would be upset.”

“Sure.” Morionem stood up in a hunch. The electrical ring on his hand grew in size and changed shape, becoming a sphere of white and azure. The light was now enough to lit the only exit of the chamber, but the orb buzzed as it whirled. “Well, as we only have one option anyways, I think we should stay low before something notices us and we don’t notice them. That could be bad.” And with that, the thundering orb became a collapsed into a ring once again.

Fern nodded, and held up his light, peering down the tunnel. “Well, we should not dawdle around. The last time I was stuck down in tunnels like these…” he shivered. “It was not the most fun experience.”

Morionem stepped forwards, and put his free hand in the hilt of his sword. Pondering for a few seconds as he walked in a slow pace, to be sure Fern start moving alongside him, he came to a conclusion. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to fight and keep up a light source, if it comes down to it. I might try with my lightning but I’m not sure. Do you have any other of these light crystals?”

Fern shook his head as he followed, holding the light up. “I do not have another one, I am afraid. If I were given time, and the proper materials, I could embed a matrix into another crystal, but I do not think we have either at this point.” Behind them, Mandora scrambled along after them on it’s little legs, using it’s fronds as makeshift legs to work it’s way over some taller pieces of debris.

“Alright then.” Morionem was afraid, that’s for sure, but he was also excited for his first venture into the underground. “Off we go!”

~~~~

“I guess this way is a dead end.” Said the warrior, peeking into the abyssal hole in front of them. The tunnel suddenly took a turn downwards, way deeper than they could jump, and in the direction opposite to the one they wanted to go to. The men and the plant-like being walked back to the last bifurcation, making their way through the black granite that surrounded them, which managed to be even darker in the half-light they carried with them.

When they arrived back at the fork in the underground maze, it was easy to tell the way they hadn't been to for its sound of running water. Further into the tunnel, there were patches of gravel close to where water made its way through openings in the wall it had probably carved itself, alongside a fungus which looked grayish green in the magically-forged light sources. It finally led into a tall chamber, filled with large spike-shaped formations all around the floor and ceiling, apparently intertwined in a web of the same grayish fungus from before. Occasionally, a drop of water fell, echoing lowly.

Fern looked around with a grin on his face, before moving over to inspect the fungus more closely. “This is quite the fascinating place, do you not think? I suspect that what is found down here is unique to this area, and would be unlikely to be found in other locations.” He pulled a small jar out of his robes, and carefully forked a sample of the fungus into it, before stuffing it away. “That being said, I think the tunnels are starting to get a bit bigger. Are you noticing the same thing happening?”

“If what could be found here could be found in other locations we’d probably be eaten alive.” Morionem giggled at himself for his joke before continuing. “I think they could be. Any idea of why?” In his mind, he started picturing different kinds of creatures who could dig massive underground mazes.

Fern shook his head. “The tunnels all appear to be natural, and I do not think there are creatures that could mimic natural tunnels quite so accurately.” He paused. “Also, your wound appears to have finished healing, so that something we do not have to worry about.”

Skeptical, Morionem took his hand to his forehead, and confirmed what his fellow companion had said. “Uh… Guess that wound wasn't that bad after all.” He smiled, assuring to himself that was the reason it healed so fast.

“Well, we do not have to worry about you having any issues related to blood loss or head injuries then, I suppose.” Fern grinned, and pointed to the other side of the cave, where the tunnel they were following continued. “To adventure!”

“To adventure!” The other man repeated, and followed Fern into the next tunnel.

~~~~

“Morionem, your backpack appears to be shaking. I can assure you that it wasn't doing that a little while back.”

“Huh?” Once again, the young man was skeptical, but as he took it off his back, he realized it was true. “... What?” Carefully and slowly, he opened the backpack, only to be answered with a dangerous and rabid creature. The creature was a bird, more specifically, a duck, who attempted to bite Morionem, although he was quick on his own to reply, with the energy he had in hand. This literal shock stunned the beast and sent it flapping to the side, while leaving the defender’s only illuminated by Fern’s crystal

This didn't last long, as the spark flickered back to life instants later, under cries of “Catch that quadruple damned duck!” Fern raised his light, trying to illuminate as wide an area as he could with it. Mandora spread it’s fronds in a threatening manner, waving them at the darkness.

With an angered, fear-inducing screech - ‘Quack’ -, the duck sprang at Fern, swinging its claws, asides from showing the blood-red eyes and the sharp teeth on its face. Fern gave a yell of shock, and fell backward, trying to ward off the duck with one hand, and scrabble in his robes with another. Mandora, feeling the sudden surge of surprise and fear, shrank back for a moment, before pushing itself forward to try and whack at the duck with it’s fronds. At the same instant, Morionem finished the creation of an orb of lightning in his hands, but flinches just before throwing it as he could hit his partner instead.

Luckily for both of them, the duck was successfully hit by Mandora, and willingly flapped its wing to the side to avoid losing balance and giving its prey a chance to escape. But before it could bite anyone’s ankles, a buzzing, glowing sphere was thrown in its direction, and while it missed, the resulting roar was enough to scare it. Taking the opportunity, Mandora started attempting to wrap it’s fronds around the duck, attempting to bind it in place. The duck retaliated by slashing at the grasping fronds, managing to scratch one, causing Mandora to pull back in pain. With another malevolent quack, it flapped away from the small group, into the darkness, under incoming attacks by Morionem.

“Oh no, you ain't escaping!” He yelled, springing into action, grabbing his backpack and running towards the duck. Which happened to be the same way they were going to anyhow. Fern followed after, grinning widely, if a bit confusedly.

~~~~

“We’re on an adventure!” Fern cried happily. While he wasn’t sure quite why his friend was so intent on catching the duck, chasing after it was great fun. “Isn't this fun, Mori?”

“Yes!” If anyone could see his face, they would see a grin. Venturing deep underground, chasing after a minor creature with a friend. “This is so cool!” Morionem thought, or said, he wasn’t quite sure himself. He jumped over a rock formation with ease, and threw a bolt of lightning in front of him, which let him see the duck in the far end of the tunnel they were. “There it is! Trapped!”

Fern grinned, and put on a burst of speed. “We’re going to catch you, Mr. Ducky!” He tried to push past Mori, jostling for first place.

Mori did the same as Fern, for the very same reason. “Oh no you won’t!” He said, to either Fern or the duck who still tried to escape even though he was facing a granite wall. They both managed to reach the duck at about the same time, and they collapsed into a pile of limbs and feathers. Mori emerged from the pile, holding the duck. “Aha! I win! That means I get to name and keep it!”

Fern pulled himself up using Mandora, pouting slightly. “Awww, you got lucky!” The frown almost immediately turned into a grin. “Now we have two pets! What’re you going to name it?”

“I was thinking of an appropriate name for a duck. Which one do you prefer between Howard and Donald?”

Fern scrunched up his face, thinking for a moment. “Donald!”

Mori grinned, even more than Fern if that was even possible. “That’s the one I was prefering too! We could even nickname him ‘Don’!“ Staring at the smallish duckling of cream-yellow feather, the boy petted him lightly on the head. “What do you say, Donald? Do you like it?” It replied with a ‘quack’, and he assumed it meant ‘yes’.

Fern bounced up and down a little, clapping excitedly. “He’s happy!” He spun around and hugged Mandora, who hugged him back, both excited because his Summoner was excited, and confused as to why he was able to hug his Summoner around the waist instead of the leg. Fern, being excited, ignored the sense of confusion coming from Mandora. “So what adventure are we going on now? Can we go find another pet? We can have a menagerie of pets!”

“Sure!” He didn’t know what menagerie meant, but he assumed it was something really cool. Mori took the sword from his hilt with difficulty, to his surprise - he could barely hold it with his both hands. “To adventure!” He yelled, and then tried to stand up. Instead, he failed because Donald was sitting on his lap. Fern reached over, and pulled Donald off of Mori, and plopped the duck down on Mandora’s head. “You can hold Don, Manny! That we me and Mori can have more adventures and we don’t have to watch Don because you’re watching him!” The plant obediently wrapped one of it’s tendrils around the duckling, stabilizing it on it’s head.

Now, with everything ready, Mori pointed his heavy sword forwards and repeated: “To adventure!” And he stormed off in front of Fern, away from his light source.

~~~~

The two self-named adventurers piled around a corner, mobile plant and the duckling it was carrying in tow, coming to a choice between three passages. Fern peered dramatically down one path, then another, before pointing at the third. “I hear something that way! Maybe we can find it and get another pet!” And indeed, faint growling noises could be heard down the pathway he was pointing at.

"Let's go!" Replied Mori, who had now given up and put back the sword at its hilt. Even then, he was starting to notice that his weapon, shield and backpack made it hard for him to run as they were heavy. Yet, refusing to be weak, he kept going, now once again with his own light source.

They went through the tunnel, descending a few steps shaped by the eons themselves, before they were distracted by a frantic quacking behind them. Looking behind them, they were just in time to see Donald wiggle free of Mandora’s frond, and begin half-running half-waddling up the stairs, back the way they came.

"Quick! Catch him before he runs away again!” Mandora was fast to reply and caught the duck, holding it tight. It wasn't enough to hurt him in any way, but the frantic quacking continued.

"Here." Said Mori, taking up a seed from a pouch in his backpack and mouth feeding it to the duckling. It started to chew on the seed, then spit it back in Mori's face. "… Gross." He said, putting the seed back in his pocket. After, he pondered for a few seconds, before asking to his friend: "Do you think magic is edible?"

Fern tilted his head to the side. “Well, I wouldn’t want to eat fire magic, that’d hurt! But I bet you could drink water magic! Did you want to try?”

"No, I was just wondering." He answered, with a chuckle, before resuming his descent.

The end of the tunnel resulted in yet another chamber, this one bigger than any other they had been to before. Both the ceiling and the floor were pretty irregular, and there were a few exposed quartz crystals - not that either of them knew what kind of crystals those were. With the corner of his eyes, one saw a shadow moving swiftly through the darkness. "What was that?"

Fern spun around, scanning the room. “Ooo! What was it?” He scanned the room, trying to see it, before movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. “There it is!” he exclaimed, pointing in the direction he had seen it move.

"Don't worry, I'll catch it!" Despite it moving really fast, Mori's hand was still in his pocket, and thus he was able to throw the seed at the shadow. It burst open, grappling the beast in a web of thorny vines.

To their surprise, the vines quickly receded into a single point, and the seed floated back to Mori through the same path it was thrown by, only backwards. Despite being illuminated by both available light sources, the creature still looked… Blurry, as if shrouded in mist. It's head was away from the ceiling by a few centimeters only, and vaguely resembled a centaur: its bottom was feline, albeit the size of a horse, with a limbless torso and a mostly featureless face - save for the eyes - standing where the head usually stands.

Earlier than expected, their assumptions were quickly corrected, as the beast opened its previously hidden mouth, raised its thin arms which ended in deadly claws and growled at the kids, under the fear-filled quacks of another creature.

Fern stared up at it, mouth wide open. "It's a horsie!" He frowned and bit his lip; that wasn't right. That didn't look look like a horse. He searched around in his mind, before coming up with a better name. "It's a big kitty!" He turned to look at Mori. "This is the best pet!"

“It’s the coolest!” Grinning, he stared back at his friend. “I think we can ride it!” The beast stared at them, apparently confused at the reaction, or rather, the absence of one by his prey in front of him. It growled again, which only served to make the two even more excited.

"Let's do it!" Fern agreed, and ran over to the kitty, trying to pull himself up one leg of it while Mori ran for another leg. The kitty stepped backwards to try an escape, but met cold stone instead. This gave room for both of them to grab to its legs, halting any chances it’d have of escaping.

Stepping to one side, the creature tried to get in a position in which it could grab the boys and throw them off, but the best position it could find was still awkward. It grabbed Mori with both hands, who in turn tried to set himself free by shaking his arms and legs. The kitty put Mori on the ground, who started climbing back again on the same moment. Before it could decide whom to worry with right now, Fern was already sitting on its back.

“Yay! You’re an awesome pet, kitty!” He scooted up along the creature’s back to hug it’s torso. “You’re the coolest pet ever!” Grabbing onto a mane-like protrusion sticking out of the back of his torso, and leaned over toward Mori, reaching out his hand. “Come up here Mori, it’s amazing!”

“I’m trying!” Differently from his friend, he wasn’t getting much luck in dealing with the kitty. Since Fern was already riding it, apparently it had decided to prevent anyone else from doing so. Mori struggled with the kitty’s claws, and managed to get past them by crawling beneath its reach. When it bent down, Mori had already started climbing again, and with Fern’s aid - “Stop this! You’re going to pull me down!” - he managed to ride the kitty alongside Fern. “You’re right. This. Is. Awesome!”

Fern kicked at the kitty with his feet. “Come on kitty, let’s go somewhere!”

The kitty replied with a vicious growl, and darted like a blur around the cave, with Mandora and Donald running after them as far as they could, which wasn’t very fast. The two boys atop it whooped and yelled, happily hanging on for dear life as their newest pet tried it’s very hardest to dislodge them.

~~~~

After some time of this frustrating lack of success for the creature, and amusing excitement for the two boys, it had eventually stopped moving around, and collapsed itself on the ground, almost sulking as it lay there. Fern had hopped off, and was digging through the oddly large pockets of his robes and the backpack that had fallen off of Mori’s back at some point. “Do you remember what kitties eat, Mori? Maybe it’s stopped because it’s hungry!”

“I think they eat meat. And birds.” He glanced over Donald, in the distance atop Mandora, who came as fast as it could, wriggling its tiny stubs which it used as legs. “... If that’s the case we should probably get food for it soon.”

“Aww, it’s a nice kitty! It won’t eat us!” He pulled a small pack out of the backpack, and unfolded it to find a few meager dried rations inside. Hurrying back over to Mori and the kitty, he offered the contents to the kitty. “Here you go kitty! Eat up!”

The creature stared at the rations for a long moment, before turning it’s head away, and ignoring the food-holding boy in front of it.

“Maybe this one eats something else?” Mori told Fern, hopefully. Walking to the side of the kitty, who was starting to wander, slowly dragging itself away, Mori tried to scratch the back of its ears, but as they were out of reach he settled into alternating between petting its underbelly and its back.

Fern glared up at the kitty. “Kitty, you need to eat! If you’re going to be our pet, we need to feed you, and you need to eat!” The creature ignored him, and continued to try and walk away, dragging Mori along with it.

Holding onto one of its back leg, Mori did his best to prevent him from going very far. “C’mon kitty-kitty! You need to eat to stay healthy and stuff!”

Fern caught up with them, and grabbed the kitty as well, adding his weight to keeping the creature in one place. “Why won’t you eat, kitty? Don’t you want to come with us and have fun? We wanna keep you and feed you!!”

The creature glanced back, face obscured by the ever shifting mist. Its mouth opened for an instant, as if exhaling a sigh, and its eyes spun in its cavities. The black tail danced, and rubbed itself at the kids, gently.

“Tickles.” Fern nodded at Mori’s statement, and grabbed at the gently waving tail. “Fun kitty!’ Failing to grab it, he latched himself onto the creature’s leg again. “Nice.”

“Kitty-kitty, stay.” Mori’s hugged tight one of the creature’s leg, not letting go. “Stay, stay.“ He said, with a squeaky voice. “Wanna play!” Fern added.

Mandora wandered over from where it had been waiting patiently out of the way with it’s with it’s cargo, which had by now fallen asleep from sheer frightened exhaustion, and responding to it’s Summoner’s rather strong feelings, latched the remaining two of it’s fronds to one of the creature’s legs as well. Fern grinned broadly at it. “Manny play!”

Stopping once again, the beast turned awkwardly, and use both its hands to free itself from Mandora’s grip. Following that, it easily dealt with both toddler’s, gently pushing them away. Mori tried to hug the kitty again, but was met with the same maneuver from a few seconds ago. “Hug, hug!” He said, flailing his tiny arms in the air. Fern reached out as well, grasping at it before being rebuffed and sitting down, face scrunched up with unhappiness and eyes starting to water. “n-no play?”

The kitty sprung forward, and then leapt around until it was standing on a giant stone. From above, it stared down the crying toddlers and the walking vegetable carrying a duck. Opening its mouth again, exhaling a sigh, it turned behind and disappeared from their sights.

~~~~

Fern yawned, and stretched, sitting up from where he had apparently fallen asleep on the floor. Lighting his crystal, he looked around, and found Morionem also asleep, with what appeared to be a duckling nestled on his chest. However long he’d been asleep, it appeared that his Summons for Mandora had expired, which given how drained he felt was probably accurate. Why hadn’t he dismissed it to conserve his magic, anyway? He frowned, trying to recall what had happened, but coming up with nothing definite, he walked over to Morionem, and gently shook his shoulder. “Hello? I think we have gotten a good amount of sleep, and should probably consider continuing to try and discover a way out.”

Taking his hands to his eyes, Morionem rubbed them until he was wide awake. Feeling the cold rock beneath them, and the warm feeling on his chest, which he assumed was warm blood. “Did we… Did we blow up again?”

Fern shook his head. “The surroundings appear to be intact, so I think we fell asleep. Though I do not quite recall the circumstances in which we did so.” He paused. “That being said, you do have a duckling sleeping on you.”

“I… I WHAT!?” Morionem flung himself up, scaring off the duck laying on his chest. “Oh...” He said, taking a breath and a moment to think. The duckling scaredly flapped its wings and slowly floated off the warrior, landing on the ground. “It’s just Donald.” There was yet another moment of silence. “Wait, what?”

Fern contemplated the moment. “Did we pick up Donald yesterday, although we can not truly be sure of the cycle of day and night here? As I said, I am having difficulty remember what we were up to yesterday, past a point. I… remember the explosion, and starting to explore the tunnels, as well as doing some sampling along the way, but after that point, my memory starts to fade away.” He frowned, concentrating. “I...believe we may have chased and fought something? I remember a feline creature, of sorts.”

Concentrating on his own, Morionem tried to get past the fog that were yesterday events. “Looking back it sounds more like a dream for me. I remember riding a giant horsebeast.” Looking down at the bird in his chest, he couldn’t resist but start scratching lightly the back of its head.

Fern grinned a little in spite of himself. “In the process of possibly fighting something, you somehow found yourself riding it? Did you think you were going to be able to tame it and keep it or something of that nature?”

“I think it might’ve just been for the gist of it. Besides...” Morionem smirked at the corner of his mouth. “I think it was your idea. You were the first one to ride it.” He created another source of light on his hand, for the n-th time since he went underground.

Fern rolled his eyes. “I hardly think I would be the type to try and mount an unfriendly creature, especially if it is resisting. Though I do remember…..” he frowned. “Offering it food?” He paused. “Umm. That certainly confuses the sequence of events further.”

“Well…I think we could discuss the rest of what may have happened while we try to find our way out. I’m kind of...” His belly groaned. Morionem awkwardly smiled under the half-lights.

Fern frowned, and dug out a few small pieces of food from his robes, and with an equally awkward smile offered a few of them to Morionem. “In any case, we should probably continue our search for the way out. I don’t think either of us brought supplies for an expedition such as this, and I know that Lori is likely to be annoyed at me for taking so long to do something as simple as collapsing an Underground entrance.” He patted his robes. “Hopefully samples should mollify that.”

Morionem ate half of the rations Fern gave him, and feed the rest to Don. Then, he lifted the bird up cautiously, and rested it on his shoulder. “Okay then. Let’s go!” Morionem stood up, Donald stand in place. “Yarr!” He closed one of his eyes.

Fern facepalmed. “You look ridiculous. Also… You are bleeding again.”

~~~~

Jumping over a lag gap, it landed on the waterside of a small pond, the fall disturbing neither the air nor the water. It walked through ruptures in the eons old stone they called a continent, crawling through passageways too small for it to stand upright. Its movement was swift. In the darkness untouched by heavenly sunlight, undisturbed ever since this cave system was formed, before there were anyone here to realize it even existed. But, even the time it took for nature to sculpt this tunnel, even the time it took for any and all mountains to rise up and tower the clouds themselves, all of that was much younger than it.

It gave a long, distant sigh. “For I am a creature untold of legend, because there were none to tell them. I was created with a single, finite purpose in mind: war. And for my deeds and victories, I was granted two prizes: to outlive my usefulness and a heart, a mind of my own.” Its senses, beyond the five human ones, scanned the darkness with ease. For a predator, hunting was it’s means of feeding and living, and it had to perfect the skill to survive. ”Those prizes are but curses. Punishment for one like me. I’d be happier being granted a soul, or simply being erased on spot. It’d be better to cease existence without knowing its meaning. Without fearing it.”

Behind the wall, it sensed food. It was close enough for it to feed already, but it should approach in a better way, so it could follow the prey in case it moved too far. “Why was I granted the option to keep existing, and then left to starve in emptiness? Why was I given a mind of my own, if I would pity the lives of the same food I need to live? Why am I essentially starving myself so those three could live?”

Finally finding its way to the new prey, it saw a Naga scout, holding a torch. The scout patrolled the Naga territory, to make sure no monster could invade their lair. “I should probably follow this one until it leads me to more food, but desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Suspiciously, the Naga stared into the darkness, thinking she had seen a moving shadow. Eventually she shrugged it off as an optical illusion caused by the dancing flame of her torch. And that was her last mistake.
Krika
>Narra has tiny jerk people in her socks.
>We are affirming our collective jerkhood by committing genocide on them.
Guyshane
>I'm going to read the logs and pray that that sentence makes more sense in context
>No
>No it does not
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Krika
 
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:07 am
Location: Home. I don't want to be.

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:48 pm

Neither Pen, Nor the Sword

“Kevin?” Anji shifted on the bed to face her husband, curling her head onto his shoulder.

“mmm.” Kevin pulled an arm around her on instinct, staring sleepily up at the ceiling.

“I’m… tired.” Anji bit her lip, sighing. “Of leading, I mean.”

“You don’t have to,” he told her softly. “Not here. It’s just a job, love. You’re the best one for it, but others will fill in if you don’t.”

“No one would want the position.” Anji pulled herself up, her hair tickling the man’s neck. “No one… Wants anymore, I guess. We’re fighting, but we do it because we get food at the end of the day, and even then people are working a half-day and calling it done.”

Kevin looked at Anji with concern. “That’s just your end-of-day exhaustion talking, sweet. You should take a vacation, come back to it when you’re less stressed.”

Anji rolled her eyes, and settled back down, nestling next to him. “Maybe you’re right, Kevin. But… I really think something’s wrong.”

“Where are you getting--” With a soft plop, a small human form deposited itself on the bed between them. Anji tensed, immediately pushing away and putting a hand to her hip, while Kevin patted the boy’s head in surprise. “What are you doing here, little man?”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Malakhi explained, wriggling up toward the pillows.

Anji relaxed, and fell gratefully onto the pillow, hand moving up to tousle Kevin’s hair. “At all?”

“I wanted your help.”

Kevin grinned. “All right, Malakhi, how can we help you sleep?”

The little boy curled up in between them, closing his eyes. “Like this.”

Anji looked at Kevin tensely.

Kevin stroked her hand, and pulled the blankets over the three of them. “Sleep well, little man.”

--------

“Come on, Malakhi.” Anji urged, slipping out of bed. “We need to get you to school.”

“But I don’t want to,” the boy complained, clinging to the pillow. “School is boring. Can I just follow you an’ Kevin?”

“No.” Anji said, pulling knives into their sheaths. “We’re just doing boring paperwork things, anyway. Just like school. Except we don’t get recess. You want recess, right?”

“I like boring paperwork things,” Malakhi claimed, smiling mischievously.

“Then you’ll do perfectly fine at school.” Anji pulled her hair up into a ponytail, frowning sourly at her reflection for a moment before giving up and pulling on her boots. “You’ll even get to play with friends, and Kevin and I will pick you up at the end of the day! Doesn’t that sound more fun?”

“And I’ll tell you what,” Kevin said, emerging fully-dressed from the washroom. “Get ready really quickly, and we might have time to take you to school in a spaceship.”

“A spaceship?” Malakhi said excitedly, before sprinting out of the bedroom.

“A spaceship?” Anji echoed.

Kevin winked at her, and nodded. “A spaceship.”

Anji bit her lip, and focused on tying her shoes.

Kevin knelt beside Anji, pulling the shoelaces out of her hands. “Allow me,” he said, mock-gallantly, gazing up into her eyes as he tied them.

Anji half-smiled, leaning down to kiss him gently. “I’m gonna go ahead and get to the guildhouse, okay?”

Kevin nodded, standing. “I’ll meet you after the spaceship, beautiful.”

Anji smiled widely at him, and moved closer as if for a hug, before pulling away and walking out of the room. Kevin heard the outer door close, and Malakhi ran back in, with both shoes untied and his shirt only half-buttoned. “We can go onna spaceship now? Right Mister Kevin?”

The man laughed, bending down again to tie Malakhi’s shoes. “The spaceship will wait while we get a little fixed up, Mal. I’ll do the shoes, you do the buttons.”

Malakhi nodded, and began fixing his shirt, ending with it only a little crooked. “Now we can go on the spaceship?”

Kevin nodded, with a wide grin, and swooped Malakhi up in his arms. “Ready for takeoff?” he asked, as he walked down the stairs of the apartment.

“Yeah!” Malakhi laughed, whooping as they went down the stairs and out into the street.

“All right…” Kevin carried Malakhi down the street, swinging him up and around with quick motions, making the occasional fake spaceship sound effect. He gathered a few laughs from passersby, and a few more odd looks, but he paid no attention to any but his chosen four-year-old one-man audience. The boy laughed and hollered down the street, enjoying the feeling of flying through the air.

----

Anji glanced around the nearly empty house, littered with bits of broken bottle and discarded trash. Whirling on the first member she found, she demanded. “Who made this mess?”

A man looked up from his cup, swaying dangerously. “Wot’s it matter to you, girlie? We’s just havin’ some fun, is all?”

Anji glowered at the man angrily. “Pick this up, Carter. Any damages are comin’ out of your pay.”

The drunk looked up at her, laughing to himself quietly and elbowing his friend, already passed out. “She thinks she’s a godsblessed queen, she does.” Turning back to Anji, he looked her up and down appraisingly. “Ye ain’t much, girl. Ya won’t be takin’ none o’ my pay.”

Anji stared him down, taking a deep breath before quickly relieving both men of their pendants. “Get out.” she ordered, voice filled with disgust. “You are no longer members of Severed Storm.”

The men grumbled, and Anji turned on her heel, striding into her office and slamming the door behind herself.

Kevin walked into Anji’s office a little breathless, holding out a fresh cinnamon bun for her. “I miss any fun?”

Anji shook her head, taking the bun wordlessly. She settled into the corner of the room, devouring the bun.

“Cleaning out the trash?” he asked, jerking his head toward the door and the men he’d passed on his way in.

This garnered a snort from the woman, and she tossed the two pendants to him, before returning to her breakfast.

Kevin toyed with the pendants in his hand. “Lot of thugs in the old Severed Claws because Hector could physically command their respect, or at least obedience,” he said. “They don’t need to be here… but too, you don’t need to handle them all yourself, love. Guild’s big enough that you can deputize.”

Anji offered him the rest of her bun, turning to her desk. “It’s getting worse. That’s the tenth sack I’ve made this week.”

Kevin pushed the pastry back to her. “I’ve had mine. You could appoint lieutenants,” he suggested. “Put Hector in charge of keeping that lot in line, give some of them to Ben, some to Oracon… Or you could rebrand. Make a statement about what Severed Storm stands for, so any who want out can leave themselves. Throw a ball.”

“Uh… Throw a ball?” Anji shrugged, and set the pastry down on her desk.

Kevin nodded enthusiastically. “A dance. A formal-dress party. Show people that you expect your guild to be civilized, and while we’re gathered there you’ve got the opportunity to announce whatever you’d like, for the guild’s ears and those of all the other important people we invite.”

“...Okay…” Anji smiled. “But I don’t know how to plan for a ball, or for anything like that, really.”

Kevin pulled a chair over to Anji’s desk, sitting close beside her. “You are in luck, my love. You happen to be married to a man who is as versed as any could possibly hope to be in how to plan a ball.”

Breakfast ignored, Anji pulled out a piece of paper, smiling softly. “Well, let’s see how it goes, then.”

-------------

Kevin wrote:
  • guests
  • D&T
  • venue
  • invitations
  • catering
  • entertainment
  • room dressing
  • hired help
  • attire
  • minder


Anji sat back, eyeing the list with some speculation. “What’s the cost going to be?”

“Depends on this,” Kevin said, tapping the list with his forefinger. “We could save some on venue if we host it in our guildhall, though we’ll have to make sure we’ve got the space. Invitations, catering, entertainment, room dressing-- all vary widely based on what decisions we make. Shouldn’t be inordinate, though; there aren’t so many dignitaries here to invite.”

“You know what you’re doing.” Anji ran her fingers through her hair nervously. “I trust you can handle it.”

Kevin smirked. “What, you’re not even going to join in the fun of planning your own party? Come on, I know you’ll have strong opinions on whom to invite.”

“Yes, and you… You’ll probably handle it better.” Anji played with the hilt of a knife. “Dunno this stuff, Kev’.”

“I’ll teach you.” Kevin smiled encouragingly, pulling a new blank paper between the two of them. “It’s more fun to work together.”

Anji rubbed her jaw, and nodded, settling back next to him. “What do I need to know?”

“The list is there as our guide,” Kevin said. “So first, we’re going to draw up a list of the people we want at the ball. First the must-have dignitaries, and the guildmembers of Severed Storm, and then anyone else we think should be there. I’ll start-- we need Legias and Adam, and Lori, if we want this to be respected.”

“Respected?” Anji looked at him with confusion. “Not like there’s royalty coming.”

“Other than the hostess.” Kevin laughed. “You want people to take this seriously, right?”

“Well, you do, mainly.” Anji shot back, sticking out her tongue.

Her husband sighed. “You want people to take you seriously. And your authority.”

“Yes.”

“Then we do this right. And we have the important leaders from the city in attendance, because that shows that they take you seriously.”

Anji nodded, sitting back. “You’re the boss.”

Kevin jotted down some names, adding, “The other guildleaders. Salvantas, Seire Valefar… anyone I’m missing? You know the guild scene better than I do, dear.”

“Invite Kurt.”

“If you say so. What do you think of a few generic Loreknight invitations with Lori’s?” he suggested. “I don’t know her people well, but she’s important enough to expect to bring some deputies with.”

Anji grinned widely. “Can you invite Fern?”

“You’re the boss.” Kevin wrote the name down, and asked, “Who’s Fern?”

“He’s a friend of mine.” Anji smiled shyly, and glanced away.

“Maybe I should meet this friend.”

Anji rolled her eyes, and punched him lightly. “You met him already, I think.”

“Short guy? Circumlocutes?”

“Circawhat?”

“Talks funny. Like that.”

“Yeah, he’s nice.” Anji smiled again.

Kevin ruffled Anji’s hair. “Any other nice guys I should be worried about?”

“There’s one. Average, blonde hair, thinks he’s Dragon’s gift to mankind.”

“mmmm. He sounds handsome.”

“Yeah, he would say something like that.” Anji kissed him on the cheek, and turned back to the list. “Hector?”

“Absolutely. And what about that mage, Marcus’ friend?”

“Uh.. Mirae? Sure.” Anji glanced at Kevin, “Make sure you invite Marcus.”

“He’s in the guild, silly.” Kevin pretended to punch her on the arm. “You think I’m going to leave out members just because they get on my nerves?” He scribbled Marcus’ name down on the list of Severed Storm members.

“Well,” Anji glanced outside. “Guess it’s time to go pick up Mal. You stayin’ to plan?”

“I guess I could, at that,” he said. “Sunday night sound good to you?”

“I won’t see you ‘till Sunday?”

“Silly,” Kevin rolled his eyes. “I mean, can I set the party for Sunday? If we’ve got a date and you’re set on holding it in the hall here, I can go ahead with invitations.”

“Sure,” Anji smiled. “I can take care of all the work during the party, so we can save there, all right?”

Kevin made a face. “Leave the fine-tuning to me, love. All you’ve got to do is drag Malakhi along and make your speech.”

Anji bit her lip. “About the speech… Is it necessary?”

Kevin swung Anji playfully into his lap. “I thought that was what this was all about.”

“Y-yeah, but I thought you were making the speech.”

“I can, too,” he answered. “But you’re the guildleader. You’re the one everyone’s supposed to listen to. And you, my love, are the hostess.”

Anji swallowed hard, and nodded, biting her lip. “I’ll go get Mal now, okay? What time you think you’ll be home?”

Kevin grinned. “I bet you dinner I’ll beat you home.”

“You’re on.” Anji smiled, running out of the office.

----

“Come on, Mal.” Anji begged, kneeling by the toddler. “We’re gonna go home, buddy.”

“I can’t go home now,” the boy insisted. “I need to take the dragon back to his house!”

“The dragon.” Anji said, raising her eyebrow in confusion. “What happened to him? You know all dragons need to be in their houses by sunset, right?”

“His house is in our classroom,” Malakhi explained. “Behind our coats. But he wanted to go for a walk so I let him out at lunchtime and I promised I’d take him back home but he’s waiting for me so I can’t leave yet!”

“Ah.” Anji reached into her satchel, producing a small jar. “Well, why don’t we take mister dragon home with us then? I’m sure he’d love to see your room, and everything in the apartment. And then you can bring him back tomorrow morning.”

“But I promised! Can I just run back and put him in his house really quickly? The coats are gone so it will be fast.”

Anji glanced at the empty yard, with a janitor turning the last key and walking down the street. Glancing at first the door, then the boy, Anji asked, “Mind if I follow you? I won’t look, I promise. But I want to make sure mister dragon gets in his house safely.”

“You can come,” Malakhi said, warning, “but don’t get too close. Dragons eat people, you know.”

Anji nodded sagely, and began walking up to the door, glancing around for any monsters. Pulling a set of hooks out of her pocket, she quickly undid the lock, glancing around the street calmly while ushering the boy in. “Hurry now, Mal! I don’t know how long I can keep the monsters distracted.”

“Okay, come on, Dragon,” Malakhi announced, striding stoutly into the school. He made a beeline for the back of his classroom, where he walked along the wall, tapping the coathooks with his hand. “Now this is your house, dragon, so you have to go home now.”

“Mal?” Anji called. “Is mister dragon safe now?”

“I think so,” the boy said. He wandered over to a set of plastic toys, plopping himself down on his stomach.

“Mal. It’s time to go.” Anji strode into the room, hair blazing in the setting sun. “We’re going to be late for dinner.”

“But--”

“Up we go, buddy.” Anji swung him up onto her shoulders, quickly walking out of the building.

Malakhi squirmed and giggled, waving back toward his classroom. “Bye, dragon!”

Anji stepped out of the school, scanning up and down the street before pulling the hooks out and resealing the door. “There. Now mister dragon will be safe.” She looked up at Malakhi, and asked, “Ready to go home?”

The boy nodded, throwing his arms around Anji. “Thank you, miss Anjali.” As an afterthought, he added, “Dragon says thank you, too.”

Anji set him down, stretching for a moment before offering her hand. “Come on, little guy. Time to go make dinner.”

Malakhi hugged her arm with both of his, bounding happily down the street.

Anji swung him up the last steps to the apartment, sighing tiredly and opening the door.

“Welcome home,” Kevin’s voice called from the kitchen.

Anji threw her satchel on the couch, ignoring Malakhi’s playful giggling as he raided the small toy chest in the living room. “Hey. If you’ll give me a moment, I’ll start dinner.”

Kevin snorted, and walked to the doorway with a steaming frying pan in his hand. “No need, beautiful. This is for us. And this,” he added, deftly picking up a gold-edged square card from the table in his off hand and holding it out to Anji, “is for you.”

Anji took it, careful to not dirty the paper. “What’s it?” Smiling, she looked back up, “Oh, so I’m making my own meals now, eh?

Kevin swatted at her with a hand. “Didn’t I say winner makes dinner?” he asked innocently.

Anji rolled her eyes, settling down on the table. “So, what’s the shiny for?”

“I figured you deserved an invitation,” Kevin said, beginning to portion out the cooked beans and cheese. “Even if you are hosting.”

Anji looked at the paper wonderingly, light reflecting the gold paper against her eyes. “It’s pretty. Must ‘ave cost a fortune.”

He rolled his eyes. “Less than you think. Not worth a thief’s time,” Kevin teased.

Anji bit her lip distractedly, smile twitching on her face. “Thanks for dinner.”

“Hey, I owed it to you.” Kevin tweaked her on the nose. “Next time you beat me home, you cook.”

Anji put her head in her hands, taking a deep breath before sitting up and digging into the meal, contributing little to the dinner conversation of how dinosaurs and dragons always fought with each other constantly.

--------

“Any volunteers for a mission?” Anji called, sweeping into the main room from her small office, door slamming behind her. Several members glanced up from their cups, only to turn back to them. A few, large and burly, stood, and strode silently out. Anji rolled her eyes, biting her lip anxiously for a moment before noticing a familiar form, head on his arms and snoring quietly on one of the tables.

Snorting with amusement, she walked up to the man, punching him lightly on the arm. “Marcus? Wake up, you lazy ass.”

The fighter jumped in his seat before turning to glare at Anji, his eye glittering. “For the love of heavens, Anji, what is it?”

“Need some help.” Anji turned to look at the now-empty commons, before sighing with frustration. “Want to?”

Marcus then glared at the empty room. “Well, I suppose you need it. What’s wrong with these guys? I hardly take local jobs anymore since Mirae and I are off exploring so much; why do they avoid them like the plague?”

Anji shrugged tiredly, and began walking out of the building. “I’ve been running ragged trying to keep things runnin’. Nobody wants to deal with… this anymore.” She gestured broadly at the city and surrounding land.

“Idiots,” he said as he walked alongside her. “We live in one of the most dangerous places ever and now the threats are closer than they ever have been before. We need to watch this place or it’ll come back to bite us in the ass.”

“Thank you, Master Speaker,” Anji snapped, making a left. “I’m sure those riveting words will inspire thousands.”

“Well, someone is testy today,” Marcus drawled back. “Besides, I already tried ‘inspiring,’ either I’m not very good at it or it’s just not what people want to hear, but regardless I’m clearly wasting my time trying to be anything but blunt.”

Anji snorted. “There seems to be somethin’ on the outskirts of town, harrasin’ workers at night and scaring kids. Up to us to figure it out an’ stop it.”

“Wow, that is positively mundane. No obvious magic, odd details or mysterious hooded figure performing odd ceremonies in the park.” Marcus rolled his shoulders and took on a nostalgic tone of voice. “Reminds me of when we were all just starting out here.”

“Yeah, no responsibilities.” Anji cracked a smile, quickly sobering.

“Liar,” he replied cheerily. “You started a guild within a week of getting here and brought Zi with you; you’ve always had responsibilities. You just hardly noticed till now.”

“Yeah, well, it can go to Wolf for all I care.”

“One of these days you’ll have to tell me what the Wolf did to piss you off so much.”

“He… Oh, forget it.” Anji turned a final corner, and began inspecting the alleyway. “I don’t see any recent prints.”

“Anji, that’s cobblestone,” Marcus said. “You are in desperate need of some sleep.”

“‘n your mother was a cockatoo.”

Marcus glared angrily. “Anjali, what did I say about bringing up my family while you’re insulting me?” he growled.

“Oh, stow it.” Anji turned back to the dumpster, clambering onto it confidently.

The warrior made further noises of irritation in his throat before forming a coherent question. “So, was anyone able to give you a description of what this thing looked or sounded like?”

“No one had a clear description, but every report said it was large.” Anji turned back to face the man, sliding to the cobblestones easily. “Large enough to knock a man over, and spill his groceries, taking a full half-roast of beef with it.”

“That’s… odd. Sounds more like a human stealing something than any animal. You sure this isn’t a werebeast? We had lots of those in the home country. We even had this story about a mage who reanimated a monster made of…” He trailed off catching her glare. “....Well, it’s really not important.”

“They… There’re beasts like that?” Anji asked, chewing her lip.

“Yeah, not exactly the most common of things, but then again, we’re several miles up in the sky right now,” Marcus replied, shrugging his shoulders.

Anji nodded, and began exploring the crumbling wall, peering into the open spaces for a few moments before moving on. She wandered a bit away from Marcus, before suddenly disappearing into the wall.

Marcus waited for a minute before throwing up his hands in frustration. “You know, Anji,” he called out to the surrounding buildings, “werebeast or not, it’s still a bad idea to separate while we’re looking for this thing.”

Anji tumbled back out of the hole, falling into a roll that ended with her head banging painfully into the cobblestones. Moving quickly, she stood, scrambling up to pull another knife free, blood dripping down her arm. “Marcus!” she screamed, backing away from the wall. “I found it!”

The tawny cat leapt at her from the shadows, pulling the smaller redhead down and pinning her arms.

However, before the cat could truly begin to harm Anji, a box soared in from the side and collided with the creature, knocking it off the small woman. Dusting off his hands, Marcus pulled out his mace before speaking. “See, that is exactly what I was talking about.”

Anji threw a quick knife, fear giving her speed as she backed away from the werecat, allowing Marcus to step in. The big man stepped forward and glared at the creature. “Look here, you. I don’t know if you’re a were or just a stupid animal. If you are a were, then I know you’re aware of your actions. If so, then you should really just surrender and I’m sure we can find you an honest job that doesn’t require you to frighten people in the middle of the night, but fighting us is just a dumb idea. We’ve both taken on much worse than you.”

The were shuddered, snarling at the club angrily. Standing on its hind legs, it began a slow transformation back to the trembling body of a man, curled up in a ball on the street.

Marcus glanced over at Anji in triumph. “See? I told you blunt was a much better option for me.”

Anji grumbled, wiping blood off of her face. “Just give him your jacket. It’s freezing out here.”

“Fine,” Marcus replied, walking over and covering the man with his jacket. “Have you considered just investing in one of the local apothecaries? They might see fit to give you a discount on all that salve you go through.”

“Why bother when I can just get some from you?” Anji said, pulling herself to a standing position. Wobbling, she walked over to the pair. “You got any on you?”

“I always did wonder where that one jar went to. You swiped it off me after Hara stabbed me in the back, didn’t you?” he accused, before producing another jar and beginning to rub the substance on her wounds.

“Of course not.” Anji objected, wrinkling her nose at her torn jacket. “I’m an upstanding citizen. What do you take me for, a thief?”

“You are a thief!” Marcus exclaimed. “If not after Hara, then when did you steal that jar? And don’t tell me it wasn’t you; no one else steals salve when the church will treat anyone for free.”

“Too much paperwork,” Anji complained, before wiping a stream of blood from her nose. Rolling her eyes, she pinched the back of her nose to stop the flow. “It bas that night. Bibn’t fink you’b nobice, what bif the apothecawy you cawwy arounb.”

“That’s why I noticed. If I don’t keep track of what I have, then suddenly I don’t have what I need to make salve and other medicines when I need it,” Marcus pointed out. “Also, the fact that I had to buy a new jar to put the salve in was kind of a giveaway.”

Anji glared at him. “Fink I could cop off somma thab salbe?”

“Have you ever considered just filling a bath with salve so you can just soak whenever you’re hurt? With most people it’d cost too much, but I think you’d get your money’s worth out of it,” he replied blithely, ignoring her question and finishing tending to her wounds.

Anj sighed, and reached in her pocket, producing a small pouch of coins. “C’n I buy ib?”

Marcus snatched the coins and rattled the pouch next to his ear before handing her the rest of the jar. “How did you even function before you met me?”

“Oh geb off ib.” Anji stood, carefully releasing her nose. “Can you take care of him for me? See if there’s a spare bed at the guildhouse.”

Marcus nodded. “Yeah, no problem.” He turned and walked over to the shifter. “All right, buddy, let’s get going.” He pulled the other man to his feet and began guiding him toward the guild hall.

-----

Anji limped into the apartment, sighing heavily as she settled the heavy sword against the wall. Grunting with pain, she slid out of a leather jacket, shredded in several places, and walked slowly towards the bedroom. After showering, she slipped carefully into the kitchen, fingers moving slowly to prepare dinner.

Kevin walked into the apartment, Malakhi talking animatedly about the games he’d played at school. When the boy paused for breath, the man called out a hello to Anji. “What smells so good?”

Anji called back, voice filtering into the room. “Just some soup, nothing big.”

He came over to give her a kiss on the cheek. “Want any help?” Kevin offered.

Anji winced, “It’s almost done, just needs to… do that soupy thing.”

Kevin chuckled. “We can let it do the soupy thing, then, love.”

Anji smiled at him tiredly, and limped into the living room, settling on the couch.

“Long day?” he asked.

Anji nodded, face scrunching in pain as she adjusted more comfortably. “Yours?”

“Only ‘cause I missed you.” Kevin snagged a couple of pillows from the other chair, arranging them around her. “Sorry, love. I shouldn’t have said you should make dinner when you take everything so seriously.”

Anji lay back, closing her eyes. “Do not.”

Kevin put a gentle arm around her. “If I hadn’t said anything, would you have started cooking, or would you have taken a much-deserved rest?”

“Mmm…” Anji relaxed, “Mal needs to eat.”

“And our soup needs to not burn.” Kevin jumped up, going to the kitchen to take the pot off the heat.

Anji followed him, rubbing the back of her neck. “Sorry… Shoulda remembered.”

“That, my love,” Kevin said fondly, “is crazy talk.” He pointed a ladle at her, in the process of spooning the soup into three bowls. “You need to worry less and relax more. That’s what I’m here for.”

Anji looked at him balefully, “Not your job, Kevin.”

The man frowned. “You married me.”

“Yes, you did.” Anji smiled wistfully. “I’m gonna go lay down. ‘k? Call me if you need help with Mal.”

Kevin shoved her bowl into her hands. “Eat in bed, then, love. I won’t have you starving yourself. Especially when you slaved over this meal.”

Anji grimaced, and walked over to the couch, draining half of the bowl before curling up, slipping into a light doze.

-------

“Good morning, beautiful.” Kevin kissed Anji and grinned, remembering his plans. “Ready for a day of glamourous party planning?”

Anji groaned, and pulled the pillow over her head.

“Sorry, sweet. I’d let you sleep, but we need to get Malakhi to school, bright and early.”

“Mmmm...” Anji sighed, pulling herself up carefully. “Needa go to work, don’t I?”

“Oh, you’re not going to work today.” Kevin smiled widely.

Anji looked at him, eyes bleary with sleep. “Wha-? ‘Course I gotta work.”

“Today,” Kevin said firmly, “you are coming with me.”

Anji leaned back on her elbows, one eyebrow raised. “I am, now? And why would I do that?”

Kevin went to the dresser and tossed her an outfit to put on. “Because you, my dear, have a party to plan. I invoke my right as husband to steal you away, and my authority as your deputy to assign your duties for the day to other guild members.” At the look on her face, he clarified, “Ben and Marcus are probably grumbling this very moment about the extra work they have to do.”

Anji smiled up at him softly, before beginning to dress, legs still firmly entwined with the blanket. “So, you’re kidnapping me for the day, huh?”

“My wife catches on fast,” Kevin said approvingly.

“I really don’t have a say in this, do I?” Anji laughed.

“You’re totally helpless.”

Anji stood, walking gingerly over to the man before enveloping him in a hug. “I’m excited, then.”

Kevin tilted his head down to kiss her. “So am I.”

---------

After they saw the little boy safely off to his classroom, Kevin grabbed Anji’s hand, a boyish grin on his face. “Come on!”

Anji smiled back, following him quietly for a few minutes. “Where’re we goin’?”

“Clothing store,” Kevin told her. “Need to get Malakhi proper evening wear.”

“Yeah,” Anji smiled again, turning her head up to meet the sunlight. “Bet he’d be cute all dressed up.”

Kevin nodded distractedly, as he led her the rest of the way to the shop.

The store wasn’t large, but it was full. Dresses hung everywhere in the small space: silken slinky dresses, and huge poofy ballgowns, and every dress in between.

Anji’s eyes widened at all the finery, and she quietly slid her hands into her pockets, feeling small.

“Which one do you like?” Kevin asked.

Anji started, and looked around nervously. “What d’you mean, want? I can’t… I can’t afford any of this, Kevin.”

Kevin raised an eyebrow, putting a hand over her mouth. “Tell me which dress you want, Anjali. I wouldn’t offer you something that we can’t afford.”

Anji nodded, moving silently through the tiny shop.

“You can try out a few,” Kevin suggested, with a smile. He beckoned to the shopkeeper, a young woman with pins in her hair. “My wife would like a room to try on some of your dresses.”

The shopkeeper nodded, giving an appraising look towards the other woman before disappearing into the back of the shop. Anji glanced wonderingly at a dress, quickly looking away from it to turn to Kevin. “What do you think?” she blushed, looking again at the dresses. “I don’t know what to pick, honestly.”

“That’s why you get to try them on,” Kevin said. “I can even go in with you, tell you what I think.” He pulled the dress off the rack, slinging it over an arm.

Anji nodded, biting her lip. “You sure you’re okay with this? I’m sure I can find a dress second-hand or something.”

“Nova,” Kevin said gently, “I brought you here. My wife is not hosting a ball in a second-hand dress; she will be wearing the best. Because she is the best.”

Tears filled Anji’s eyes, and she smiled again. “Thank you.”

“I love you,” Kevin told her softly. “Now let’s go try on some dresses.”

Anji nodded, and held out an arm. “I can help you carry those.”

He shook his head resolutely. “You need your hands free to point out exactly which ones you want to try.”

Anji bit her lip for the thousandth time, and nodded, quietly going through the dresses. She added a few to the pile. “Okay… I think that’s enough.”

Kevin nodded, leading her to the door that the shopkeeper held open for them. “If you aren’t satisfied with these, we can always go and look some more,” he reminded her, hanging the dresses up in the small mirrored room.

Anji nodded, slipping into the room. She emerged a few minutes later, poking her head out to call for her husband. “Hey, do you think I could get your help with the buttons, Kev’?”

“Of course.” He slid smoothly into the room, pulling the door closed behind him. Kevin fastened the buttons and laces that ran up Anji’s back before walking around her to get a look at the dress. “You’re beautiful, love.”

Anji blushed, staring down at the dress. “It’s this beast. I didn’t do anything.”

The blond man shook his head. “No, you were beautiful before you put it on. But you make it beautiful, too.”

Anji looked up at him, small smile on her face. “You really like it?”

“It’s flattering,” Kevin conceded. “Brings out your best.”

“Can I keep it?” Anji looked up at him pensively.

“It’s yours,” he said simply.

Anji beamed as they left the store, the dress wrapped in delicate paper, folded inside the bag that hung from her arm. She looked up at Kevin for a moment, before leaning her head on his arm.

Kevin hugged her around the waist tightly. “Now we probably should get something for Mal to wear,” he said. “Are you up for another shop?”

Anji nodded. “What about you?”

“I’ve got a dress uniform,” he admitted. “No real idea why I brought it, but it is here, so…”

“Oh.” Anji glanced at the shop, and said. “You should get yourself something.”

“What do you recommend?” Kevin asked, grinning. “I am yours to command, Princess Anjali.”

Anji rolled her eyes. “‘m not a princess, you louse.”

“You married a prince.”

“You married a thief.” Anji produced a wallet, smiling impishly.

“I’d insist you give that back, but I think it’s mine.”

“It’s Marcus’, actually.”

“Oh. Okay.” Kevin shrugged, sauntering on to the shop.

Once they had purchased the dress clothes, Anji glanced at the midmorning sun. “So, what else you have planned, your royalness?”

“Well, first, I had better treat my victim to a gourmet lunch before she eats me. Then I was thinking we could do some preliminary set-up in our venue.”

“What’s gourmet?” Anji asked, blushing again.

“Very, very tasty.” Kevin ruffled her hair, turning down a street toward an area more rife with restaurants. “What are you in the mood for?”

Anji shrugged, “This is a nice part of town. Do… You come here often?”

“Silly. I’m with you often. Sometimes I wander to look for new places to take you, get a feel for a map of the city.” Kevin reached for Anji’s hand again. “You’re on holiday, love. That means you get to be treated to food someone else makes, while you sit back and relax.”

Anji glanced hungrily at each of the restaurants. “Do you have a favorite?”

“Never eaten at any of these places,” Kevin told her, shaking his head. “Only sniffed around. Besides, this is your day. What do you want?”

“How about this place?” Anji pointed to the store on their right.

“This place… is a grocery store.” Kevin frowned at her. “I want to give you something nice, Anjali sweet.”

“Sorry.” Anji looked at the bag, filled to bursting. “You’ve already given me so many nice things.”

“Good,” Kevin said amiably. “You deserve nice things. And now you deserve a nice lunch.” He smirked, leaning closer to her ear and dropping his voice. “It’s not like I’m generously giving all this stuff to you, sweetest. We’re married. The money belongs to both of us. I’m just nudging you along because I know you’d never treat yourself.”

Anji blushed again, and looked for a restaurant, finding a small cafe on the corner. “Here?”

Kevin rolled his eyes, and dragged her over to the steakhouse next door to the cafe. “How about here?”

Anji nodded, slipping into the restaurant. They were seated at a table, and Anji asked, “You have places like this at your home?”

“You mean in Orono?” Kevin asked, confused for a moment. “Similar, yes.”

“You eat there lots?”

He shook his head. “Think I went once. Had a pretty girl with me. But I have a prettier one now, whom I love, to boot.”

Anji ducked her head to hide a blush, and slowly met his eyes, her own twinkling. “You fell in love with your hair again, didn’t you?”

“Silly silly beautiful Anjali.” Kevin opened his menu, pushing the other across the table to her. “And afterward we can go over there.” He indicated the patisserie across the street.

“What’s that?”

“Pastry shop. Can’t stint on your dessert.”

Anji rolled her eyes, setting down the menu. “You’re trying to make me into some fat old maid, aren’t you?”

“mmmm. You’ll never be an old maid, darling. You’re my wife.”

Anji snorted, and began sliding her chair closer to her husband’s. Upon arriving, she leaned against his arm, entwining her hand in his.

-------------------

“Move the table to the left, please.” Anji said, motioning to where she wanted it placed. Glancing down, she smiled to herself as she smoothed her dress, enjoying the feel of the fabric. Hearing a crash, she glanced up sharply, rolling her eyes. “No, you louse, you move the table to the left!”

The startled servant hastened to put the furniture in position as indicated. Across the room, Kevin was embroiled in last-minute discussion with the caterer.

“The dessert is entirely the most important part of the buffet! What do you mean, half supplies?”

Anji walked over quietly, and tapped the man on the shoulder.

“Hm? How’s everything, love?”

“Beautiful.” Anji smiled. “Except for this one guy. He’s always yelling? Bit of a grouch really. I don’t know who invited him.”

Kevin frowned. “Who is it? I’ll have a word with him.”

“Oh, you should.” Anji intoned seriously. “He’s about average height, blonde, bit of a stick, really. Dunno why the hostess is in love with him.”

Kevin narrowed his eyes at her. “Excuse me,” he told the caterer gravely, before he kissed Anji squarely on the mouth. “You silly, silly goose,” he told her fondly.

Anji smiled, and turned to the caterer. “Any way you can make a last minute run to the market? We could just have fresh fruits instead of an actual dessert.”

The caterer opened his mouth to argue, and Kevin caught his eye. “Yes, ma’am,” the man sighed, hurrying off.

Anji turned back to Kevin, eyes shining. “You look… Like a prince. It’s a good look for you.”

Kevin smiled. “And you, my Nova, look the dazzling princess.” A servant bustled over and Kevin gave a nod, not tearing his eyes away from Anji; the doors of the guildhall were thrown open to let in the guests.

“Lotta people,” Anji said anxiously.

“That’s good,” Kevin said calmly. “Means they’re listening.”

Anji swallowed hard, biting her lip before remembering the makeup on it. “I’m scared.”

“Here.” Kevin reached out, snagging two glasses of wine from a passing servant’s tray, and handed one to Anji. “One to cool your nerves. It’s going to be fine, love.”

Anji downed the drink in one go, arm trembling as she handed the glass back. “Thank you.”

“I’m here with you,” Kevin said, smiling reassuringly at her.

Anji smiled back, wiping her hands on her dress. “You’re loving this, aren’t you?”

“Any excuse to dance with my wife. Speaking of,” Kevin nodded at the small band, beginning to play their music.

“I don’t know how to dance.” Anji hissed.

“Relax,” Kevin insisted. “I’ll lead.” He put one of her hands at his waist, resting the other on his shoulder, and arranged his hands to match. “Just follow me, sweet.” Kevin grinned mischievously and added, “And after this, everything else will be a breeze for you.”

“Oh, Phoenix and Dragon, I’m going to murder you.” Anji complained, trying to match her feet to her husband’s.

“You’re dancing beautifully,” Kevin told her with a smile. “Murder me once the music ends.”

Anji glowered at him, moving quickly around the floor. A small, frustrated smile grew on her face, and she said, “You’re enjoying making me squirm in this lovely dress and be a girl, aren’t you?”

“I’m enjoying letting you be you in a different context,” Kevin countered. “Don’t pretend you aren’t having fun.”

“Yes, but now you have the added bonus of getting me out of my element for once, and into yours.” Anji stuck out her tongue for a moment, quickly glancing around at the people nervously.

Kevin laughed, steering her through the dance over to a table. “You should eat something, sweet. It isn’t dignified for our guildleader to have her tongue lolling out of her mouth.”

“Well, I’m sure that we could turn this into a regular fight instead.” Anji surveyed the open area seriously. “Could probably use the tables as seats, make a bit of cash.”

Kevin picked up a pastry and stuffed it into her mouth. “Enough of that, you.”

Anji smile impishly, swallowing carefully before speaking, “I’ll be right back, love.”

Kevin gave her a peck on the cheek. “Don’t start any fights, love,” he teased.

Anji rolled her eyes, walking quickly over to the bar. Glancing around, she quickly poured two drinks, adding a hefty dose of a clear, delicious liquor to one. Restraining a smile, she walked back to her husband, and offered him a drink. “You look thirsty.”

Kevin accepted the glass, sniffing absently. “Lemonade? Thank you, sweet.”

Anji sipped her own drink in reply, quiet laughter in her eyes. “Only the best for you, love.”

He downed the drink. “Interesting flavour. Not entirely… lemon-y.”

“Old Askinovian recipe.” Anji looked up at him innocently. “You like it?”

Kevin raised an eyebrow. “Thought we had caterers for that, love.” Absently, he unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. “Little warm in here.”

“We do,” Anji nodded, “But I wanted to make yours. Would you like another?”

Kevin narrowed his eyes. “Since when are you so anxious to feed me lemonade?”

“Since you shoved me into a dress and decided I was a princess.”

He kissed her on the cheek. “You were a princess ever since you married me. Before that, as far as I’m concerned.”

“I could get used to all this pampering.” Anji demurred, kissing him softly. “I bet you wouldn’t mind that at all.”

“Wouldn’t mind it one bit,” Kevin agreed. “I could live with some more of your lemonade, too. A nice non-alcoholic alternative so I don’t die of thirst here.”

“Oh yes, non-alcoholic.” Anji finished her drink, and kissed him again. “Be right back.”

She returned a few minutes later, wide grin on her face. “Here you are.”

“Thanks, sweet.” Kevin raised the glass to her in a mock-toast before drinking. “You should eat a bit more and then get up there. Music’s dying down, they’re waiting for you to talk.”

Anji paled, downing her drink. “Can’t you give it?”

Kevin grinned, patting her on the back. “I’ll talk after you do, loveliest. Just tell them what you called them here for.”

Anji took several deep breaths, and walked into the middle of the room, calling for attention. “Uh, Hi.

“I’m here today as a guildleader, and as a friend. We’ve been through a lot, and sometimes we’ve lost track of what we are. I think that we are all heroes, in our own way. Each of us fighting and contributing to a single goal, which is no longer to have fun and explore a new area.

“There’s something out there, something dangerous. It won’t play fair, or be nice. It doesn’t care about chivalry, and only respects gambles. In that, I place my bet on us. We are all capable of amazing things, if we try hard enough. If we work together. We are able to do whatever we want, because this… This place is ours. We fought for it, bled for it. We want this.

“So you know what? I’m gonna start trying to get more of this place. Make myself a home out of a land that hates me. I, uh, I invite the rest of you to join me.” Anji paused, nervousness flowing back, “Thanks for coming guys, I’ll see you ‘round.”

Kevin finished his lemonade and joined Anji on the dais, leading everyone in a hearty round of applause. “My wife, ladies and gentlemen,” he said proudly, flinging an arm around her.

Anji looked over at him, smile playing on her face. “You feeling okay, Kev’?”

“Jus’ won’erful, my love,” he answered, loud enough for everyone to hear. “And feelin’ inspired by your speech.”

Anji’s eyes widened, and she began pushing him lightly. “I think you had a bit too much, Kev’. Let’s get you some… water or something.”

He waved her away, facing the gathered people. “They say the stakes are rising. Well, I say, let ‘em rise. We’ll kill all the monsters, win every fight, until we find our goal. They say it’s impossible, but I’ve seen the impossible done. This is the Floating Castle, and nothing is out of our reach!

“We will do the impossible, vince the invincible… we will stare directly into the ineffable, and, by God, we will eff it.” Kevin stumbled backward as he waved his hand, and Anji covered her mouth in an equally amused and irritated gesture.

“Come on, you drunk.” Anji led him to an empty table, eyes sparkling merrily. “You’ve had a bit much, I think.”

“I jus’ had one glass,” Kevin protested, following her.
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eli_gone_crazy
 
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:02 pm

Underground Quest 18: One Frog, Two Frog, Green Frog, Blue Frog
Quest Description: You wandered into the Underground to search for a rare ingredient, but you have found yourself in the midst of a plague of frogs. There are frogs all over, from your nose to your toes. There are frogs here and frogs there; frogs are jumping everywhere. You can literally barely move for all the frogs.
Quest Goal: Escape the frogs.
Quest Victim: Vincent (Lordxana0)
Quest Deadline: Thursday, February 6th at 11:59 p.m. EST

Underground Quest 19: Take the Saw
Quest Description: You awake in a dark room with no doors and no windows. The only things in the room (other than yourselves) are a desk and a mirror.
Quest Goal: Get out.
Quest Victims: Julius Valerian (Pixelmage) and Mirae (Tohrinha)
GM Notes: This quest takes place in the past, back when Julius is alive. Beyond that requirement, the timing can be as you like.
Quest Deadline: Saturday, February 8th at 11:59 p.m. EST
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eli_gone_crazy
 
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Lordxana0 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:12 am

Vincent walked past the guards blocking the Underground with a whistle and a wave. “Hey Dave” he said to one of them. His name probably wasn’t Dave but he looked like a Dave. Maybe he would get a name change to Dave so he would have a name that fit his face. There really should be more Dave’s in the world, it was a trustworthy name. He was pretty sure he had fought alongside a Dave during the final days of the war… or maybe he had… Vincent shook his head and did his best to banish that train of thought. He was here on a mission and he couldn’t afford to get distracted.

There was only one shot of him getting into the guild that he still desperately hoped he could change the name too and that was making a potion that would impress the guild enough to let him in. Once he was in he could use the full resources of the guild for his research, and if he was lucky enough they would help him find his sister.

He traveled deeper into the underground and looked around, trying to find glow roots for his potion. They normally grew only in places with large concentrations of magic and darkness. Those two things fit this underground place quite well. But they grew down deep, so it was lucky he had just had enough gingersnap root to produce his night vision potion. No matter how much he wished he could have brought his Alchemy duster there was little point in the heavy leather coat if he didn’t have any potions to actually carry in it.

Instead he had opted for a plain pair of leather pants and a shirt with chainmail under it. “If I were glow root where would I hide?” he asked himself, looking around as turned to the left to find himself in another large opening. There didn’t seem to be much in this cave, no glow root, no mushrooms, but… a frog?

He walked over to the small creature and knelt down to the small creature, touching its head. “And who are you little guy?” he asked with a smile. “And how did you get yourself lost in this place?”

The frog looked up to him and…spoke? “I am the destructive wave, I will end all life in this castle!”

Vincent blinked and stood up, stepping on the small creature and walking away from it. “Well that was certainly…” he paused as he found another frog in front of him. “Oh Goddess what did I do to deserve this?”

“I am doom!” the frog bellowed out, rage plain in its voice.

Vincent stepped on that frog as well. “Doom to the safety of my boots” he began to scrape off the goop on his shoes as he felt something drop on his shoulder. “Please not a frog, please not a frog, please not a frog” he turned his head and saw a frog on his shoulder. “Oh come on I asked nicely!”

“I will kill all!”

Vincent brushed him off and began to look around, seeing that there were now a lot more frogs in the dark chamber then there had been a few minutes ago. “Oh…crap”

“We are doom, we are legion!” the frogs seemed to multiply quickly, dividing off of each other. The frogs seemed to…grow from each other. A head would appear on ones back and suddenly a frog would jump off of another frog. And it was happening fast.

“Okay… multiplying frogs, you have fought things about as strange as this Vincent” he slowly backed to the other tunnel, only to find himself surrounded by more frogs that were blocking his exit. “Don’t suppose you would…” he dodged out of the way as hundreds of tongues shot out at him. He needed to think, if he could just sit down a moment and think then it was possible he could think of a way out of this. If he didn’t stop them then they would keep multiplying and they might actually overflow the entire castle. He reached up to his neck and touched the tattooed scar on it. If he cut the seal then he could summon her, and odds are that just by being summoned she might kill off the frogs. Of course that would mean summoning a force of unspeakable evil to a place of unspeakable evil. Oh and it would also result in his soul being owned by said unspeakable evil for the rest of eternity…or however long a soul could survive the attentions of a creature like her. Damn it freaking frogs! He kicked them and growled out. “There is no way killed by frogs is going on my tombstone!”

“Surrender we are the oncoming wave!” the frogs spoke as one, the pitch of it actually hurting the Alchemists ears. Wait sound, sound could be used as energy, energy was used to fuel spells, spells were used by magicians who used magic to do spells. Vincent grinned and looked at the frogs. “All spells are magic, fueled by energy, and you are spell frogs.” He pulled the short blade off his back and his features grew rather dower. “Meaning if I take out your energy source no more frogs”

“Kill!” the frogs formed a massive wave and tried to collapse themselves on Vincent, but he quickly dodged out of the way and ran past them to the exit from the cave, the one opposite of the one he had escaped from.

“Frogs in formation blocking the exit rather then swarming like the rest, means that something is hidden in the cave. Two plus two equals four” he jumped over a number of frogs, but found himself covered in tongues. He turned back to his horror saw the cave was now filled with frogs, and the number of tongues on him began to increase, slowing him down as the weight of an infinite number of frogs began to hold him back.

“No… frogs…not…death” he slashed the blade back and cut off a great number of the tongues that held him back. “I am dying in a lab accident or after finding my sister, not a second before either or those and in no other way!” he ran deeper into the tunnel and found himself free of the frogs. It seemed they wouldn't come any deeper.

Which either meant something really good or something really bad. He moved along and found himself at a dead end, with a mage sitting on some sort of…frog alter? Goddess bless him he knew mages could pick weird fields of studies but who the hell woke up one day and decided ‘I will be the mage who controls frogs!’ Did his parents know what his field of study was? If they did they had hopefully disowned him as an embarrassment. Oh right and the whole planning to destroy the world thing, that was probably another reason for disownment. “Freeze!” he shouted aiming his blade at the man. “I mean not like literally, I am an alchemist not a mage… through there is a potion for…” he blinked and looked at the man, having expected an interruption at some point in his rambling. “Uh, guy with a sword. Same room as you.” He walked over and poked the man in the stomach.

The mans eyes shot open and he jumped to his feet. “Jumping lizards!”

Vincent raised an eyebrow. “Jumping lizards man, really?”

The mage coughed into his hand and stood tall. He was wearing a sickly green colored robe with the hood down. His face had quite a few warts and looked pretty frog like already. “I am the Frog L…”

“No you are an asshole” Vincent jumped forward and clocked the guy in the face, knocking the mage out with a single punch.

“Honestly why do all bad guys thing that the hero cares about their backstories?” he put the blade back in the sheath at his back and ran a hand through his hair. “Okay so Frog mage… I wonder if stopping the Frogageddon gets me any points?” he held his chin in his hand. “Or Frogsday… maybe Frogacolypise.” He shrugged his shoulders and picked up the man with a sigh. “But what about he glow root…” he blinked and realized his night vision had worn off but he could still see. He looked up and saw the root he had been questing to get. “Ha yeah!” he jumped up and threw his fist into the air. “Item get!” he jumped up on the alter and then grabbed the root, stuffing it into his pocket and picking up the man again, leaving the way he came and seeing that all of the frogs that had previously been in the room and alive had all disappeared.

“Someone elses problem, I already played hero today” he picked up a few of the frog corpses and stuffed his pockets full before continuing on his way back, dragging the mage with one hand and using a bit of glow root to help him see. “I think I will stick with Frogageddon” he said more to himself than anyone else. “Sounds better”

With the frogs, the root, and the remaining ingredients at his house he could make three potions, or maybe just one. The three would be a heck of a lot weaker through... man nothing to be done about it through. For now he just needed to focus on getting foggy here to a jail cell.
Who you going to call? ME!
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Lordxana0
 
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:36 pm
Location: Long Beach

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Pixelmage on Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:10 am

Underground Quest 19: Take the Saw
Timeline note: Takes place somewhere between the fight against the minotaur and before the civil war.

Julius sighed before opening his eyes, the room felt different, colder, than the one he remembered. In fact, he was sure that his bed back at the inn was distinctly warm and cozy, not the stone floor he felt under his body. “I just hope this is a very vivid nightmare…” He echoed, assuming that he was alone in whatever damp pit he happened to be in at the moment.

He heard a rustling somewhere off to his left, someone moving in a cloak. A soft crash, and a quieter “ow”. He wasn’t so alone, after all, but given the lack of hostile war cries, he decided to stay quiet himself.

His eyes adjusted quickly to the dim room, while he waited and observed someone leaving from under a desk, one of the only features of the room. The other being a wall mounted mirror, as tall as he was. “You don’t look like you’re Anji, and I don’t think we’ve met so… I’m Julius. Are you as clueless as I am about how did we end up here?” He started the conversation, repositioning himself to sit against the wall opposite to the mirror, trying to make his guard look as casual as he could.

The other turned slowly, scanning the room before replying. She never entirely turned her back to him. “I suppose,” she said, pulling the hood of her cloak off her head and facing him. “I’m Mirae. Did you just wake up as well?”

“Barely a couple of minutes ago, I’d say. And I’m sure I didn’t fall asleep in here to begin with.” He moved his head to indicate the surroundings, “No visible exits either, though if I were to guess, we are supposed to figure one out.”

“Lovely.” Mirae crossed to the mirror, her cloak whispering on the stone floor. She ran a finger along the edge of its frame. Stopping halfway down, she looked up at Julius. “You seem very sure of yourself. I’d expect most people to be up looking for a way out, not sitting calmly on the side.”

“Perhaps…” He mused for a moment, realizing he really had not made any effort to find the exit. “Well, first thing is, this might as well be a nightmare and if so just waiting would suffice… And if it’s not… Well…” He stood up, checked the hilt of his swords without drawing them. “For one, I didn’t sleep with those on my belt. Next to my bed, yes. But not wearing them. And I’ve been through some weird happenings once before, I’d say that if there’s any enemy to this, it will show itself.” He cracked a smirk, glancing at the walls, “besides, if this is some kind of sick joke, I’d rather not amuse the prankster and wait until he gets tired.”

“And if their idea of fun is to just watch us rot away in here?” Mirae shook her head, frowning.

“That would be terrible taste. They’d be the ones getting laughed at.” He laughed for brief moment, and then turned serious. “Time for time, this is not a nightmare. I’d be awake by now. As for an escape plan, what do you say about smashing through the mirror?”

“I’m already pretty sure it’s not your nightmare. Just as well I don’t have to try and convince you of it, though.” Mirae studied the mirror as she spoke. “It doesn’t look like it’s meant to come off easily. Your plan might be worth a try.” She stepped back to the middle of the room, so that she could keep both him and the wall in view.

Julius moved to face the mirror, he knew she meant using the blade to pry the frame out, but once he actually stood in front of it, what he saw made him change his mind. “Did you look into the mirror while you were here?” He said, glancing sideway to Mirae.

“Not directly,” she said, walking over to stand next to him. “I could see you, part of the desk--” She cut off as she reached the mirror. She stared at it for a moment. Out of nowhere, a lightning bolt hit the mirror’s frame. As the crash was still fading, Mirae darted forward and examined the place it had struck. “Nothing,” she said, stepping back. She sounded annoyed. “Not so much as a burn. Do you see a blank wall?” she asked as she returned to looking into the mirror.

“No… But, I guess you wouldn’t want to go through a wall, then? Because I saw myself actively blocking the way… And I would not try to force my way past myself.” He replied, glancing at the table. “I suppose we should try that, then?”

Mirae nodded. “If it is someone’s game, it’ll all be important.” She shrugged. “Or at least worth a look.” Walking over to the desk, she put her hand on the handle of the front drawer, then hesitated, tugging out a knife from her cloak. Then she pulled open the drawer.

A piece of paper fluttered as its resting place moved and resettled on the drawer’s bottom. Mirae picked it up with her free hand. Scanning the top of the parchment, she moved so that Julius could also read.

INSTRUCTIONS wrote:Hello and welcome, I hope you enjoy your stay, brief as it will be. Certainly you must be wondering why are you here, but let’s go direct to the point… How do you leave? Well, just a simple riddle… You have a number of options, pick the right one, and you’re free, pick wrong, and you die. Probably the latter, of course.
  • Stare deeply into the mirror and repeat “Bloody Mary” three times, slowly and without blinking.
  • Kill your lovely companion and cover the mirror with their blood.
  • Cover the mirror with your own blood and hope you can crawl for help in time!
  • Break the mirror and---------


The bottom of the note was torn, making the last, or perhaps the last few “options” unreadable. Julius sighed, facing the mirror with a crooked eyebrow. “Bloody… Options, I suppose. Still points to the mirror.”

Another bolt of lightning struck the table. Mirae joined Julius at the mirror a moment later, shaking her head. “Also worth trying, but… We could try to go through the mirror anyway. It seems a better choice than most of the instructions they gave us.”

“Indeed, but the first one seems pretty harmless. I wouldn’t mind a staring contest, except for the fact that whoever wrote this wanted one.”

“With a name like that, I’m sure she’s friendly. But it’s a mirror -- it might not be real. Especially if we’re seeing different things.” Mirae crossed her arms, staring into the mirror, then abruptly walked straight into it and vanished.

Julius followed suit, the “mirror” felt more like a thin sheet of water, rippling as he crossed the threshold. He stepped into a bright hallway, with even more mirrors for walls. Mirae was also there, peering into one of the tall frames. Instead of reflecting her and the hall, it showed a dirt pathway, winding its way under the cover of trees to a small hut. Each of the other mirrors, he noticed, had a different scene. One just to his right seemed to open out onto the city square, with its people going about their daily business.

“That was surprisingly simple.” He said, finding a mirror that opened to the currently-empty street in front of the inn. “I suppose we’re both off to where we came from, then? Pleased to meet you, Mirae.” She nodded absently, still walking along the hallway and examining the mirrors. Julius waited to be sure she had found her scene out before leaving the hall and back to his bedroom. Once she was off, he took his frame and headed back inside, only to find a strip of paper laying distinctly where he had been sleeping.

  • ------unleash that which you see inside.
PS.: Don’t worry too much, all of them will end in your blood soaked death anyway. Pick whichever fancies your tastes most!


“Heh.” He snorted. “Son of one… And I didn’t even get a decent fight!” He looked around the room before going back to sleep, talking out loud hoping that whatever dragged him and Mirae to the “bloody” room was still listening and frustrated that they survived. “At least my nightmares tend to be more entertaining.”

Almost as an afterthought, he jolted up, scooped a hand mirror from the the nightstand and stared deeply into it. “I wonder if this still works out here… Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…”
"Yami ni madoishi awarena kage yo
Hito o kizutsuke otoshimete,
Tsumi ni oboreshi gō no tama,
Ippen... shinde miru?"
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Pixelmage
 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Qara-Xuan Zenith on Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:34 pm

Underground Quest 20: Highway to Hell
Quest Description: You wake up in a room deep in the Underground, with no strong recollection of how you got there. Every time you open your eyes, a vivid, lifelike scene plays out in front of you-- different scenes different times-- of horrifying, awful consequences that came as a direct result of a seemingly-innocent action you took in the past. Terrible things happening to good people-- and it's all your fault.
Quest Goal: Set one of these things to rights-- make amends for something-- in order to make the nightmares stop.
Quest Victim: Morionem (Victin)
Quest Deadline: Saturday, April 19 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
GM Notes: The things you see may or may not be true-- but what's important is that they seem real.
Lead by example. Get lost in a swamp.

AS DICTATED TO INSTANTIATION 17-01-18-01.
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Victin on Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:15 pm

Underground Quest 20: Highway to Hell

Morionem’s consciousness crawled back to him, piece by piece. He could feel the harsh cold floor under his body, followed by a gradually increasing discomfort that quickly became too much for him to bear. Trying to stand up and open his eyes, he saw fire. With the shock, the warrior tried to move away from the blazes as fast as possible, but was struck by a series of realizations. The air was filled with smoke and ashes, flames surrounded him as wolves surround their prey and he had just crashed into a bookcase. Also ablaze.

Rushing to set off the embers, he realized none had scorched his clothes. Morionem gave a small sigh of relief, then resumed trying to find a way out. ”This… This place seems familiar. How did I even end up here anyways?” His sword had already found its way to his hand, besides his shield. He was cautious, although moving at a rapid pace. The fire growled like a pack of wild animals, and crawled through all surfaces as if this were a snake’ den. Bookcases, floor and ceiling crumbled apart while deadly heat and ghastly smoke impregnated the atmosphere.

It was then that Morionem saw him, under a burning pile of wood, paper and leather. “F-Father!?” He yelled out, being replied with repeated coughing. “Don’t-Don’t worry, I’ll save you!” The man ran to the bookcase and tried to lift it with all his might, fruitlessly. He tried again and again, to no avail. Under the fiery trap, the old man coughed and squirmed apparently unconscious. Morionem tried a fourth, fifth and more times. Countless, endless times, until tears got to his eyes and his voice became a lugubrious shriek.

When he regained his senses, he again could feel both the harsh stone beneath him and the soreness that invaded his muscles. However, when he opened his eyes this time, there was no fire. There was just a dim, grey light, that of a cloudy afternoon, seeping through a window. The man wandered out of the bedchamber into a corridor, and saw other rooms, all as empty and grey as the first one. Yet the furniture seemed to have been cleaned recently, and there was no dust or cobwebs cluttering any corner or small space.

Morionem decided to go downstairs, and once there, he saw an aged woman sitting on a rocking chair. She stared mindlessly at the unlit fireplace, and a family picture book rested closed on her lap. The environment was punctuated with her slow breathing and the chair’s creaking. He approached her carefully. “Mother? Mom?” The only answer was silence. “You… You ok?” For one second, he almost asked “Where’s my father?”, but he changed his mind for some reason, as if it was unnecessary.

His mother closed her eyes, and stood still. Morionem just stared, an uneasy feeling blooming within. It grew and spread as a forest fire, although when he tried to act he realized the floor was stone again. Taking a deep breath, he groped around the dark until he found a wall to lean on and stand up.

When he opened his eyes, he was in the middle of a street. It took him a few seconds to realize that said street was seemingly new, albeit was littered with destroyed buildings and fresh bodies. Something had crashed through buildings as if they were papercrafted. Horror took hold of his soul, and he ran around looking for whomever was responsible for this atrocity. Each sight of a man, woman or child who had been torn apart, crushed or smashed into a sludge of meat and blood brought vomit to his throat and wrath to his mind.

The warrior followed noises of stone and wood being broken and screams of agony. When he finally came to see the creature, it was a massive humanoid, that towered all of the buildings of the city. Each swing of its arms or legs sent boulders and people flying into the air, effortlessly. Swords and spears barely bruised his thick leather and as did arrows and magic attacks.

Morionem just gazed over the path filled with dead swordsmen and lancers, mages and archers, and many others, between him and the giant. Even if he ran there, what could he do? Many other warriors there were more skilled, intelligent and powerful than him. What good would he do? He’d just become another grave, if there were anyone alive to dig them. Powerless, the man just knelt to the ground, and then watched immobile the horror unfold. He glanced and watched each person who had been killed, either crushed by stones or crashed after a flight. He saw people he didn’t know, and people he did, Anjali, Kevin, Zi, Tamar, Pan and, at last, himself.

The frigid floor felt like a childhood friend by now, embracing Morionem and all of his secrets, fears and life. As did the pain, the numbness and the soreness too. All old friends of Morionem, present with him during the darkest of times. "What's happening? What are these visions? Why am I being haunted by them? Did… Did I die? Is this Hell?"

“Is this Hell?” Morionem yelled to the ancient rocks surrounding him. “IS IT!?” He sprung up and swung his sword a few times, until a metallic sound made he open his eyes by accident and sending himself back to the first hallucination: fire, smoke and ash still raging. The man wandered around again, trying to escape this horrible reality. This time, rather than finding his father, it was Fern.

The loreknight rambled around, covering his face with cloth and desperately trying to escape. He ran by without noticing Morionem, and rapidly disappeared from view. “Fern!” The warrior yelled, running after him. Burning bookcases and caliginous fumes blocked his view, and if Fern could hear him, he wasn’t replying to his yelling. At last, he saw Fern on the other side of the floor, about to go down a stairwell but it came down before he could step on it. Fern turned to the side and quickly vanished again from Morionem’s point of view.

“Damnit! I’ll never find him or a way out if it keeps going like this!” He rushed again to the maze of blazes and bookshelves, with holes and piles of burning wood covering the floor. Morionem turned to the right, to the left, lost and alone, the fire cackling at his hopelessness. Part of him wanted to panic, another wanted to simply attack the flames until they vanished, but both would be of no help to him. After some time, he was once again attacked by the sight of his father, beneath a pile of incandescent wreckage.

Except Fern was there this time, trying to raise the rubble that imprisoned the warrior’s father. He coughed as if he had caught the plague, his robes were damage in multiple places and his eyes were redder than the scarlet flames consuming the Library. ”Wait, the Library!? How did my father end up in the Library? And… Why am I not coughing?”

And suddenly, the ceiling crashed and the whole place fell apart.

Morionem found himself on again at the room with the stone cold floor. He groped around once more, and found his blade, his shield and a rock. Except it wasn’t a rock. ”This… This is warm. It’s… It’s alive!”

“You! Who are you?” He asked once he stood upright. “Did you bring me here? Are you the one giving me these visions?” His reply was cold, harsh silence. ”Answer me!” In a fit of anger, his blade flew and the edge hit solid stone. Morionem opened his eyes, and he was at a small village, surrounded by a forest. The springtime sky was blue and clean, the birds sang and the butterflies danced to their music. However, at the center of the village, stood the contrasting visage of a gallow, with a criminal about to be hanged.

“No, please! Don’t kill me!” The man pleaded as tears came to his eyes. The small crowd watched silent, and the judge present simply questioned the condemned if he had any last words. “Please, don’t kill me!” He looked to the executioner and nodded. The body dropped dead.

“No! You hadn’t to do that! He… He was a simple thief, not a murderer!” A sudden feeling of guilty took hold of Morionem. He had taken the man to justice, but he never thought they’d sentence him to death. In the crowd, he saw a woman with a baby in her arms, and wondered what were the chances that they were spouse and child of his. As a priest of sorts finished a kind of prayer, the crowd dispersed, ignorant to Morionem. The last ones to leave were the woman and the child, and soon Morionem found himself alone in an empty world. Just him, and the hanged man.

Once again he faced the familiar feeling of a solid floor, that embraced him comfortably, despite being coarse and cold. The man tried to stand, but at first could only use one hand to lift himself up. The pain had became a feeling of numbness and lethargy. After a few seconds or minutes, he couldn’t tell, he managed to stand up, but realized he had dropped his sword and shield. He felt about for them in the darkness, but instead found the warm rock again.

“You… What are you? Are you even alive!? Is this some kind of game for you?” Morionem bashed the stone with his bare hands, and then twice more. He kicked it, and punched it one last time, hands hurting after the pointless attack. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! Damnit!” He tried to strike it one more time, but he opened his eyes when he heard it crack.

The man found himself at the entrance of a massive temple. He felt compelled to go inside, and so he did. It was a maze inside, full of corridors and chambers. The walls, ceiling and floor were adorned with engravings and sculptures worn away by time. Skeletons, decades or maybe even centuries old, laid around, where Morionem assumed there should be traps, even if none activated for him. His descent took less time than he’d expect, as if he already knew what way to take.

He finally found himself walking down a long staircase. Hearing noises coming from its end, he ran. It seemed as if a battle was happening there. When Morionem entered the chamber at the end of the corridor, it was a large hall with a high ceiling. Inside, Fern fought a massive entity while his father seemed to prepare a ritual. The entire room shake and cracked, and the monster resisted attacks from Fern's summon.

"Wait… Dad… And Fern? Again? Weren't they in the Library? What's going on?" The guardian advance was slowed down by Fern, but he couldn't hold him any longer. He yelled something, however Morionem couldn't hear it beneath the approaching destroyer.

Light started to emanate from Morionem's father and spread through the whole chamber. Everything vanished, and Morionem was back at square one.

"You… Stop this game of yours!" The warrior crawled around with his eyes closed. "You show me my father and Fern together, first at a burning Library and then in some kind of ancient temple being killed by something. What the hell are you trying to do? Play mind tricks on me?" He finally found it: his sword and his shield.

Morionem arose and started to thrust and slash the air furiously. On occasion he'd hit solid rock and step to the opposite side, trying to cover most of the room. Both stone and metal cracked for a few minutes, until Morionem finally stopped, tired.

He risked opening his eyes and found himself in a black room. Not a dark room - He could see perfectly inside, as odd as that sounds, though the walls, ceiling and floor blended together in a way he couldn’t tell where which stood. In the floor laid some amorphous masses, apparently of flesh and blood - although there was no foul smell -, bubbling and oozing at the same time. The only other person in the room stood with its back turned to Morionem. He wore a black cape and had black hair, both of which blended him with the background.

“You! Who are you!? Are you who’s giving me these visions?” The other man just stood in silent. “Why are you doing this!? ANSWER ME!” Lifting his head, as if gazing at the stars, the other man just laughed. Taken by fury, Morionem jolted to him, sword in hand.

“Ah, Morionem, hasty as usual, aren’t you?” The temperature inside the room fell many degrees, and the warrior froze still. His eyes widened, and he refused to believe what he had just heard.

His own voice. “If I were to tell you how many times your incautiousness and your stupidity have harmed others, would you prefer the list to be in chronological or in alphabetical order?” The other Morionem turned around, and the original couldn’t help but compare himself to him. They were exactly the same, but at the same time so different. He looked radiant, powerful, total opposite from Morionem’s tiredness when outside the hallucinations. His clothes weren’t the same as Morionem, but they were the better ones he had bought and wished he could use all the time. The smirk in his mouth also looked devious. “Oh, c’mon Morionem. Don’t be surprised. You’re just looking at yourself.”

“No… You aren’t me. You can’t be me.”

“Of course I can. And I know where your demons hide. I’m you, after all.” They gazed at each other, one waiting for an action and the other unsure of what to do. “Well, you didn’t answer my question, so I guess I’ll start from the beginning.” He quietly laughed at himself, and resumed speaking. “As a child you were - just as you are now - stupid and weak. You failed all possible exams of the academy-”

“I had to learn magic on my own!”

“Yet you failed all of them, because you were idiotic and had no innate arcane power. The other kids joked and made fun of you, right moron?” He chuckled and started a slow walk around Morionem. “Your parents decided to homeschool you with tutors and all, yet you refused to learn. At your coming of age you finally managed to brandish a sword without hurting yourself and create a few bright sparks, so what did you do?”

“Shut up!” Morionem said, irritated.

Going on, the other Morionem smiled mockingly. “You left home, of course! You were raised by those clichéd stories of heroes and dragons, so you decided to make yourself a legend.”

“I left home to help others. Not to become a hero of legend.”

“Really, Morionem? Is there any difference? Do you think there is any difference?” He had already walked one fourth of a circle around Morionem, so when he turned to the side he noticed the oozing piles seemed bigger. However, the other’s man laugh brought Morionem’s attention back to him. “Even then… You were so feeble that you could only hunt the chicken thieves and similarly low level crooks. For a bounty hunter, you were pretty much a failure.”

“I never did it for the bounties! I just wanted to help people!”

“I can believe that, you barely got enough money to survive on your own,” he laughed, and Morionem clenched his teeth out of irritation. “But have you ever stopped to think about the criminals you caught and took to justice? Did you stop to think how many of them were just trying to feed their old mother or young son? They were stealing chickens, not robbing banks or exploding schools.”

“And now that you are at this castle, that’s when it really becomes clear how you are a miserable and powerless excuse of a man. You needed help to fight a horde of evil ducks one day, and miss an entire civil war by getting lost on a forest. Your best friend is a duck and your other friend is as socially awkward as you, and prefers the company of books rather than people. Really what good have you done to people since you arrived at this castle? Nothing.”

When he finally had walked all the way to the other side of the room, Morionem spoke angrily. “Will you really just tell me all of that?”

“What, you’d prefer me to show you instead? All of your horrible memories, and all of the life-altering consequences of your actions? Weren’t you complaining of me doing that, Morionem?” He pronounced his name like a taunt, and the man took his sword from his scabbard, holding the grip with all of his strength. "So pathetic, aren't you? Wearing that moniker as some sort of badge…" The fake Morionem cackled loudly, and the other sprung to attack him.

The fake defended with ease, and even if Morionem tried another thrust right away, he resumed talking. “Look around. All you’ve done to other people is to damn them.” He parried the attack with his own shield and attacked with a slash from above, which the original defended with his buckler. Uncrossing his arms, he jumped to the right, aiming to find an opening on his enemy’s defense. Instead, Morionem noticed a misshapen blur, and when he turned to look, the piles of flesh had become disfigured versions of the people he saw in the visions. His dad, mom, Fern, Anjali, Kevin, Zi, Tamar, the hanged man, all of them mutilated into undead shadows of themselves. Blood dripped from orifices and wounds they had in their greenish-purple skin, wounds that exposed their putrid innards.

His enemy took the chance to rain a series of blows over Morionem, two of which hit deep and one that delivered a small gash on his flesh. He tried to seep healing energy into the wounds, but felt nearly empty. The fake stepped to the side, however he was simply giving an opening for one of the humanoids to attack. The real Morionem tried but couldn’t attack back, as dead and unreal as the beings could look. He bashed it back with his shield and managed to defend a stab from his other foe.

More undead rushed to attack him, as a growling pack of wolves attack a deer. Their techniques were primal, but yet effective. Morionem felt fatigued and the disfigured humanoids were cornering him. He thrusted his sword and bashed his shield around, but couldn’t hear a single hurtful snarl before he backed down. Worse of all, he lost sight of the other Morionem.

Fern, of all people, crawled beneath a man he didn’t know and bit his leg. Morionem yelped of pain, shook and kicked with his leg to get him off. “Sorry.” He whispered, when the monster let him go. His mother and Anjali clawed him viciously from both sides, and someone pushed them aside to tackle Morionem. He was starting to lose count of how many enemies surrounded him, and who they were. The battle tides washed him to a corner, with walls on one side and a pack of beasts on the other. A single laugh echoed in the whole room, suffocated under other inhuman noises.

Morionem inhaled as time seemed to slow down. ”Could… Could this be it? Is this where I die?” One of the things attempted to climb over the others to jump at him. He glanced between it and his shield, and heard the grinning man mocking him with his endless chuckle. Its face was so swollen and purple he didn’t know who was the man or woman behind that eyeless face. ”Yes. This is where I die.” He put his shield aside.

Taking his chance, the warrior managed to swing his sword and impale the beast in a single strike. It melted and boiled into nonexistence before the impact could smash the man into the wall. ”But only if I choose to. I can’t-No, I am not going to die here.” Morionem swung his sword horizontally and then thrusted forwards, killing three monsters at once. He struck another before it took the opening to attack, and parried another who escaped both attacks.

The faint laughed died, and recognizable faces were dreamed into existence for each being. It looked like a semitransparent mirage, where he could see both their real and their illusory faces. ”They are not the people you know Morionem. They are only shadow puppets of the man behind the curtains.”

He closed his eyes and advanced into the battlefield. Attacks came from all sides, but they were beast-like and their noises were unstoppable. The warrior spun like a raging maelstrom, delivering jabs when the opportunity arose and shielding himself when the necessity came. His sword stung like a bee, and he weaved his way like a butterfly. The noises died, and the claws cessated. He opened his eyes.

Morionem was still in the black room. Both of them. One furiously staring while immobile, the other calm advancing like the menacing storm. “I see you’re not above killing your loved on-” He parried a strike.

“They are not my loved ones.” The warrior stepped to the side and delivered a wound to his enemy’s chest. “You created them to mess with me. All of this was simply you trying to mess with me.” They confronted each other with straight blows and arced swings, however Morionem was sure the tides of the battle had turned.

“I created them? No, Morionem, they are real. They are your fault.”

“Oh, that might be true. I’ll admit that. And I’m going to improve. I’m going to get stronger, smarter,-”

He giggled as response, the halted as a stab flew centimeters of his right arm. “You’ve been saying that to yourself since you were a child, yet you’re still weak. So desillusional... Pathetic!” The enemy thrusted the air as Morionem stepped back, dodging.

“You say that of me, but I’m stronger and smarter than you.” He spun, gracious as a ballet dancer.

Grinning, the foe snarled back. “You!? Hah! With the extra impulse from the spin, Morionem pushed his enemy’s shield to the side. “What makes you think so?” And then used his own to put away the enemy blade.

Finally, with a single diagonal strike, his sword rose through the enemy’s throat and pierced it all the way through the other side. “You left an opening big enough for me to stab your neck.”

The next moment, everything started to melt. Morionem’s sword cracked and bent, the walls closed and turned grey, the little imp shrieked and started to fall apart. The images, sounds and all other senses returned to normal, shocking the man unconscious.

When he came back to his senses, he felt the harsh cold floor under his body. He opened his eyes, yet slightly fearful, but he was indeed in a room with a stone floor. In fact, it was seemingly entirely carved in the rock, nearly in a perfect cubic shape. At the center, sit a damaged gargoyle on a pedestal. It’s head and several other shards rested on the floor. Morionem looked to his blade, and it was not only broken in half but also mashed and bent. Throwing the useless piece of metal away, he gave a step. The man felt less tired than before, even if not all of his vigor had returned to him.

Readying his shield, he walked out of the room, and searched for a way up.
Dolphins are some of the smartest animals, yes, but by human standards… Let's say you should praise the god that forces them to stay handless and underwater.
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Victin
 
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:17 pm
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby eli_gone_crazy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:17 pm

Underground Quest 21: The wall comes tumbling down
Quest Description: You, by some idiocy, have transported you into a magical realm filled with fantasy and monsters. Unfortunately, you are no longer on the castle. You have accidentally trapped yourself in the world of Rise of the Age of Heroes, and you are very very screwed.
Quest Goal: Return to the Floating Castle in one piece
Quest Victim: Lordxana0

You have until April 22, 2014 at 11:59pm

GM Notes:It's your RP, Xan. Pick and choose, just get back.
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eli_gone_crazy
 
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Lordxana0 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:14 pm

“Okay then so you followed what I said about the Grimlock shame right?” he lifted up a blue and black colored flower for her to see. “You only use one petal for this potion or you might end up tasting purple for a week”

Zi nodded noncommittally. "Doesn't sound too bad to me."

“Have you ever tasted something that was purple?” he raised an eyebrow at the young woman and picked a petal off of the flower, putting it into a beaker full of heated water and watching it melt. “Trust me it isn’t good”

"If you say so. I'm not the alchemist here." She sniffed primly.

Vincent sighed under his breath and grabbed a few other materials needed for the potion. “You seem a tad bit out of it today Zi, did something happen while I was locked in my lab?”

"Did someth-" She stared at him incredulously. "Horsedung! Anji, Kevin and Marcus were injured, and badly at that, of course I'm out of sorts! Saints alive, how long have you been in here?"

He held his stomach for a few moments and a loud grumble came from it. “From the sounds of my stomach I would say… a week… week and a half?”

"You pickled idiot," she growled, starting to turn away. "I'm going to get you something to eat, and then you're going to sleep."

“But poooooooootioooons” he continued his work, watching as the liquid changed colors from the mixture of ingredients. “If this works then I might have perfected my old teleportation potion, and if it works we can send people back home from this place”

Zi paused, ears perking up with tense curiosity. "Send people back? How long more before you finish this?"

He mixed two beakers together and they formed a single gold mixture. “Now” he poured a bit of it into a smaller vial and looked at it. “It looks and smells like the old one used too, seems I do remember a few old tricks”

"Good, well, that's done, so go and have a bite, then get some rest. The potion won't run away while you sleep... it won't, right?"

“No, but it only remains fully potent for one hour, meaning that I need to test it now. If I had some Pomaka stone dust I could stabilize it to last longer.” he grabbed a small stone off his desk and tossed it over to the girl. “Hold that”

"Hey, wait, stop, what are you doing?"

“I am testing it, hold that stone and in about thirty minutes I will teleport back to the same room you are in. Unless I die in which case my dead body will teleport back to the same room you are in… anyway experiment starting in 3...2...1” he drank the potion and disappeared into thin air.

"No, no, wait, wait stop you-" Zi watched him vanish like thin mist. "Ah, piss on a stick." She glared at the stone. "Fuck," she added for good measure.
_______________________________________________________________

For a few brief moments Vincent experienced what it was like to be broken down into small particles that could travel at the speed of light, an experience that was both awe inspiring and the single most horrifying thing he had ever done before in his life, despite having done it a hundred times in his homeland before. Teleporting was just so much faster than normal travel after all. But unlike the other times he felt his bodies current form being pulled away from its destination by an outside forced, moved along a different path. But in a few moments it was over and Vincent’s body reformed and landed smack dab on the ground, his face buried in a pile of hot sand.

“Ow ow ow hot hot hot” he jumped up and brushed his face off, knocking down the sand that had gotten stuck in his hair and on his face before sliding a hand through his hair and looking around the desert area. “Well this is not where I expected to be at all, should have brought some sunblock…” he pulled on his alchemists coat a bit. “And a less heavy set of clothing…” he put a hand over his eyes and scanned the horizon, trying to find some bit of life in this dry wasteland. After a few minutes he was able to spot a cloud of smoke rising up in the distance. “Well where there is fire there is life… I hope” he began to trek forward, not quite sure of what awaited him in the distance.

After about ten minutes of travel Vincent could finally see the source of the fire clearly. What had once seemed to be a small city was now on fire, its populous leaving with their belongings in tow. Whatever had happened must have given them enough time to gather at least some belongs before being evicted from their homes by the roaring flames. Vincent began to move forward before pausing, quickly scanning the ground along them as the sand began to shuffle and move around them.

As fast as the eye could see a number of creatures who appeared to be made of pure black energy. They appeared to walk on four blade like appendages that acted as their legs. The body appeared humanoid except for the blades where their should have been arms and legs, except for the head. The head on their bodies appeared to only have one large eye that took off a large amount of the face, and under that eye was a large mouth filled with lots of sharp and deadly looking teeth.
The people began to scream as the creatures advanced on them with the look of wild beasts hunting their prey and murderous intent glowing in their single eye. Vincent knew that he was under equipped to handle a threat of this caliber, especially since he wasn’t exactly informed on these beasts and had left the very few battle potions he had brewed on his desk, but all the same that wouldn’t stop him. He quickly drew his short sword from behind his back and charged forward at the monsters, yelling out a battle cry to distract the monsters from their intended prey and get them to focus solely on him.

His plan appeared to work and the monsters turned away from their prey and began to move at him, apparently detecting that at the moment he was a bigger threat than the refuges they had been assaulting. As soon as they met Vincent slashed one of the creatures in the head, but instead of cutting through his blade seemed to bounce off the hardened body to the creature. In response to his opening assault two of the creatures leapt forward with the obvious intent of slicing him apart with their blade like limbs, but the alchemist quickly dodged out of the way, only to be hit by one that had leapt forward and rammed its head into his body. Vincent landed against the ground hard and coughed violently as he did, putting a hand to his chest in pain. “D..damn it…” he stood up and looked at the creatures, who had now taken to circling him like vultures. The beasts seemed to understand that he wasn’t quite as much of a threat to them as he would like to be, and now they were going to take their time toying with him.

“I can’t die, not yet!” he charged forward with his blade, hoping to strike one of them in the eye but simply being knocked back by the flat part of one of the blades, a sort of dark noise coming from them that could almost be considered laughter. Finally though it appeared that play time was over, and one of the creatures jumped forward in an attempt to end it all.

But before the beast could connect a solid beam of white energy flew through the air and ran it through, causing the dark beast to explode into a cloud of black dust. “Charge, destroy the Jackals and protect the civilians!” as the voice spoke a number of people raised their voices in a battle cry, charging forward at the beasts. The people who had come to Vincent’s aid appeared to be wearing light armor, possibly leather or light chainmail that were all covered in white. They seemed to be riding horses with six legs, with hooves that appeared designed to travel across the sandy terrain at high speeds. Most of the men and women carried heavy weaponry such as maces, axes, halberds, or greatswords. As they attacked Vincent noticed their weapons were having the same hard time that his had, but due to their heavy nature they seemed to still do some damage to the beasts. A single figure road up next to him and got off his odd horse, offering a hand. The figure wore light robes and didn’t seem to carry the armor that his comrades did. “Can you stand?” he offered a hand toward the alchemist.

“Yes… I can” Vincent took the man's hand and stood up, examining him more closely. Even if he appeared so the man didn’t quite seem human. It might have been the old eyes in the young body, or maybe it was the pointed ears that didn’t seem as they belong. All the same he wouldn’t refuse help. “What the hell are those things?”

The man raised an eyebrow in confusion. “You don’t know a Jackal when you see one?”

Vincent shook his head. “Jackal? Those look nothing like Jackals!” the thought of a jackal from his land and the jackals from this place clashed in his mind.

The man smirked and looked toward the creatures as a small ground began to stalk toward them. “Well whatever the case may be we will have to fight, tell me do you have faith?”

Vincent blinked at the question and nodded his head. “In certain things”

“Good” the elfish man reached under his robes and pulled forth a small metal cylinder and tossed it to Vincent before pulling out two of his own. “Than have faith and focus” the man closed his eyes and let out a short breath, focusing on the two objects. In a short moment two beams of white energy seemed to come off of them. “This weapon can carve through the darkness of the Jackals, now than, fight!” he leapt forward with unnatural grace and began to combat the beasts.

Vincent looked down at the object and closed his own eyes, focusing on the things he had faith in. [i]I have faith that when you burn Rinfar root you will make it drip acid, I have faith in the strength of my own two hands, I have faith in my sister[i/] he opened his eyes and looked at the object. The beam it produced was a dull grey rather than the brilliant white produced by the other man. “Hope this works” Vincent joined the fray and slashed one of the creature, carving off one of its limbs and sending it tumbling toward the ground. “It worked” he smirked and joined in with the rest of the fighting.

It took quite awhile, but eventually the remaining forces managed to destroy the Jackals, and it seemed that in the group the elfish man lead there were a few mages who were well on their way to repairing the damage done by the fire. While that was happening the man returned to Vincent. “You are quite brave, charging into a group of Jackals with only a small weapon to aid you”

Vincent gave a shrug of his shoulders, wrapping his own wounds that he had gained from battle up. “I did what anyone would do”

“I see” the man offered his hand. “My name is Pardoner, I would like to know yours as well if you would grant me that boon”

The alchemist smiled and took his hand, giving it a firm shake. “Vincent, just call me Vincent” he looked up toward the sky and laid back on the sand.
Pardoner sat next to him and crossed his arms. “You fight like a man with nothing to lose Vincent, you must learn to value your own life while still fighting for others.”

“I am that obvious huh?” he sighed and shrugged. “Its just who I am”

The elf nodded his head and got up. “I see, well may you find luck on your journey Vincent”

The alchemist stood up and nodded, offering the device he had been given back to the elf who had let him use it.

Pardoner however shook his head. “I can survive with having one less weapon, and I can always craft a new one friend”

Vincent gave a nod and put the weapon into his coat and felt the potion began to wear off. “May fortune find you friend.” and all at once the alchemist disappeared into nothingness.

Pardoner nodded and put a hand over his chest. “And may it guide you as well, Vincent.”

___________________________________________________________________

Vincent appeared in a puff of smoke and looked around the room. His clothing was now in shreds and he looked like he had been put through the ringer. It also appeared to have been about three hours since he had disappeared as it now appeared to be night outside. “I’m back!”

"You bleeding sack of worm-infested dog faeces, VINCENT!" Zi leapt out of her chair, torn between hugging him and punching him. She settled for a quick inspection. "Where in the pits have you been? Your clothes, everything, how bad are you wounded?"

“Well…” as he was about to reply he fell backward onto the floor and raised a hand. “I appear to have broken a few ribs and have a bit of blurry vision in my left eye. As for where I was I believe that….” before he could finish Vincent fell asleep and began to snore gently.

Zi swore again, then began dragging him to a room. Yet another patient for Severed Storm. It just kept getting better and better.

“Mmm yes nurse I would like a sponge bath” it appeared Vincent was in his own little fantasy dream at the moment, but under that his last thoughts had gone out to the world he had entered and the trials they had faced.

"Oh I'll give you a sponge bath alright, just you wait," muttered Zi darkly, glancing at a jar of frogs.

It appeared in the scheme of things they were not too bad off. Well the others weren’t, Vincent was screwed.
Who you going to call? ME!
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby Qara-Xuan Zenith on Mon May 12, 2014 11:42 pm

Underground Quest 22: Cat's Pyjamas
Quest Description: You follow a cat-burglar (I mean, literally a cat. His name is Thomas.), and wind up tracking him into the Underground... whereupon he stops being a cat. Also, he's annoyed about being followed.
Quest Goal: Defend yourself.
Quest Victim: Eliziya (agoraoptera)
Quest Deadline is Tuesday May 13th at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Lead by example. Get lost in a swamp.

AS DICTATED TO INSTANTIATION 17-01-18-01.
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Re: Floating Castle RP - Underground Floors

Postby agoraoptera on Tue May 13, 2014 12:35 pm

Underground Quest 22: Cat's Pyjamas

“... and now I’m acting guild leader and I’ve never done anything like this before, you know? I’ve got to manage Severed Storm until Anji gets well- and she will get well soon- but I never knew what my sister was doing.”

Sitting on the edge of Aximand’s rooftop garden-cum-training-ground, Eliziya kicked her legs idly at empty space. The breeze made the sun tolerable, but her mouth was starting to get awfully dry.

“And now that I’m here I feel like I shouldn’t have taken the time off to come for my lessons, but then it’s already done and there’s no point regretting it, and maybe I should get back, but I haven’t been able to speak like this for a long time and I really don’t want to go back just yet. I messed up, you know? I could have done more. Or I should have found a way to do more. I should have been quicker.”

Aximand sat several paces away, blandly looking out over the city. If not for the slight movement of his breathing, Zi might have thought him a particularly life-like statue. The man had just as much emotion anyway. The fur on her tail stood on end as she stretched and yawned.

“Maybe you ought to go back,” suggested Aximand. “I have other students coming soon.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Zi stood hurriedly, brushing down her tunic. “Sorry. Er. I’ll just be going now. Thanks for listening.”

A tawny feline trotted casually past the assorted weapons and into, presumably, Aximand’s house.

“I didn’t know you had a cat.”

“I don’t.”

Zi blinked. “Maybe I’ll bring it home or something. Keep the others company while they’re recovering.”

She entered her teacher’s home, peering about curiously. She hadn’t seen the inside before, and the spartan emptiness of it felt oddly jarring. A table, a chair, a mug. There wasn’t much at all, and Zi wondered what might have drawn the cat in.

A contented purr sounded from inside the bedroom. Zi bit her lip. Best not to intrude on his privacy. She was about to turn away and ask Aximand to bring the cat out, when it padded out with a jangling purse held in its mouth.

Both stared at each other, frozen by surprise.

“Student!” Aximand called.

The cat acted first. With a single prodigious leap, it jumped out of the window, coin pouch still in mouth. Zi lunged at it, but failed to catch the cat. Glancing out the window, she saw its brown pelt flash away across the houses. Damn, but the beast was quick!

“AximanditstoleyourmoneyI’mgonnagetitbackbye!”

Eliziya threw herself out of the window, and while she regretted nothing, she deeply lamented and mourned her decision. Though she landed on all fours, the fall still winded her. Panting, she stumbled after the cat, determined not to let the miserable feline get away. That wasn’t just Aximand’s money; that was the money she’d paid him, damn it! It was, sort of, her money!

It had a huge head start on her though, and Zi was tired from her session with Aximand. Descending to street level, she pursued the cat relentlessly. It glanced back and, catching sight of her, accelerated into an ominously downward sloping corridor.

It’s the Underground, isn’t it?

If you didn’t want to go in, you shouldn’t have chased the cat in.

Well, it’s too late for that! Zi thought angrily. That kind of information would have been more useful a minute ago!

It was too late. Like every other experience in the Underground, the path behind her was gone, covered by a stone wall. The soft luminescence coming off cave fungi was, unfortunately, becoming all too familiar.

“Shit-wiping purse-stealing cat,” she growled under her breath, and continued forward. The Underground would let her go only when it was done toying with her, that much she knew by now. “Come back, you horrible flea-bitten pipsqueak of a kitten!”

Zi fingered her emeici warily as she proceeded. Now, if the Underground would be so kind as to not fork the tunnels, she’d have no problem at all catching that fiendish cat. The passageway turned sharply to the left, and then she rubbed her eyes. Twice.

The cat was lounging about comfortably on a velvet bean-bag in the middle of what looked like a domestic household transplanted into the Underground. It stared at her like a thieving cat staring at a girl with the ears and tail of a fennec fox: You wot mate?, it seemed to say. It stared a little more, then stood on its hind legs. Its ears seemed to be shrinking, and its body seemed to be growing. Fur receded, features shifted, and Zi found herself facing a man hair the colour of chestnuts.

“Werecat,” Zi breathed.

“Get the hell out of my home,” he proposed, backing up his proposal with a dagger.

“Give me back the money.”

“Buzz off, fox-girl. This is my territory.” He advanced on her, glaring malevolently.

“The money.”

He plucked out the pouch from his belt, and tossed it aside. “Over my dead body,” he told her, and struck.

Training under Aximand was well and good, but the stress of combat had a way of stripping all that she knew away. She blocked on instinct, belatedly realising that the werecat was feinting. Her mistake gained her a cut across her forehead. Thankfully, her diminutive stature let her duck away from the return strike, though her long ears posed a risk. Fire manifested on the point of her emeici and she thrust at his abdomen. He pulled back, snarling as he readied himself for another go.

They circled each other, and that gave Zi some breathing room to think. Judging by his jittery movements, he was as nervous as she, and wasn’t a particularly exceptional fighter either. More than likely, she reasoned, he was more thief than fighter, and while used to the occasional brawl, was probably used to avoiding fights rather than starting them.

Unfortunately for her, he was just good enough to be able to attack when his opponent was distracted. She brought her emeici up, staving the blow away from her throat. He pressed hard on his blade, bringing the dagger dangerously close to her skin. The werecat’s strength was obviously much greater than her own, and Zi’s arms trembled from the exertion of trying to hold off the blade. With no other option, she opened her mouth and spat a gobbet of fire at his face.

He twisted away quicker than she’d have believed possible, and he came back to chop at her vulnerable ears. Ducking wouldn’t save her, so she lunged at him. Moving into his reach, his cut overextended and she stabbed him with one emeici.

The werecat roared in agony, dropped his dagger and disarmed her. Pinning her to the floor, he put his entire body weight down on her. Eliziya could barely breathe, and she had no more strength to break out. Zi watched in fear as he picked up the dagger and lifted it over her head, his green eyes clouded with rage and pain.

“No! Let me go, let me go!” she cried out as he brought the dagger lower. The curved blade passed out of her view as he held it over her ears. “No, please, don’t, I’m sorry, I can heal you, keep the money, help!”

She had to move. She had to get out. Her ears, she had to save her ears, she had to protect them. He was going to cut off her ears, she had to do something, she had to shift away, she needed her human ears back, she had to get her ears away, shift her ears, shift. Something clicked within her blood.

It felt both foreign and fundamentally native; the sensation creeped across her body in every direction with no starting point. Then the pain set in. Her bones turned to liquid fire, immolating her muscles and she screamed. It seemed to punch through the werecat’s haze of anger, giving him pause.

Her bones felt like they were lengthening, pushing against her skin and flesh, and for the first time, Eliziya didn’t want to be taller. But just like the werecat, her body stretched and grew. Even as her arms, spine and legs elongated, she could feel the flexible cartilage of her fennec ears writhing and shrinking back into her skull. Zi groaned, feeling her front incisors curiously round off, becoming blunter while her tail shrank. It felt like someone was pulverising the appendage and forcing it back into her spine.

Bones popped and cracked with agonising volume, as though she was strapped down onto a torture rack and pulled in opposite directions. Her skin crawled as though a thousand beetles were making a hive in her, and she went temporarily deaf upon the lost of her ears. It hardly mattered; the pounding of blood in her temples drowned out all other sounds. Zi felt like she was about to burst.

The pressure released itself as new ears forced themselves out from the sides of her head, and she cried out. Something in the quality of her hearing was diminished: her own voice sounded less distinct. Eliziya opened her eyes; the world was less vibrant, the Underground much darker than before.

She didn’t know how much time had passed, but the werecat was nowhere to be seen. Zi pushed herself up shakily. Her clothes, now a little tight, were drenched in sweat and the sour humidity of the cavern failed to cool her down.

“Here,” the werecat said, emerging from the darkness. She jerked at his sudden arrival, unnerved by her inability to see him coming. He hadn’t been this stealthy before, right?

Zi eyed him warily before accepting the offered cup. Tired and drained, with an inexorable thirst burning in her throat, she could hardly reject the steaming tea. Though it scalded her tongue, she gulped half of it down without a thought.

“You’re a strange were,” said the man, sitting on the beanbag. “Your first time, huh?”

“I’m not a were,” she mumbled. “I’m human.”

“Sure, you are now, but you’re werefox. I never saw a werefox before, or a were who can manage that midway form, yet you’re changing as if it’s your first time. How’s that, then?”

“I… am… now?”

Her hand shot to her head, feeling nothing but hair. With an feeling of half-dread and half-anticipation, she felt the sides of her head. Ears. Real human ears.

“Saints alive,” Zi whispered. She reached behind. No tail. No… tail. “Do you have a mirror?” She demanded, eyes wide and breathing shallow.

“No, but this might work.” He flipped a coin and passed it to her. Its bronze surface was polished to a reflective sheen, and Zi looked at herself inside. She was back to her old self, before that day at Lori’s. She was human. Human.

But I’d wanted to shift. I’d wanted to change. I wanted it. Me.

“Saints,” she repeated, feeling faint. “I’m not… I’m… Fern was right. I’m not human.”

“Easy now,” the man got up, helped her over to the bean-bag. “Easy now, just take a moment. By the Vast, you didn’t know you’re a were?”

“I’m… not… a were,” Zi struggled. “I don’t know what I am.”

“But you have to be. What else could you be, if not a were?”

“Some kind of spirit, Fern said…” Zi bit her lip, then tried to ease herself. “Um… I’m sorry. You are?”

“Thomas.”

“T-Thanks, Thomas. I’m Eliziya. You… You live here?”

“Ever since that mess with the floors getting messed up, yeah. It’s not half bad, when it’s not trying to kill you,” Thomas observed, sipping his own cup. “So, that was your house I robbed?”

“My teacher’s,” she corrected. “Why don’t you get a job?”

The werecat snorted. “You think the courier service pays enough? Scrounging and stealing is the only thing helping me get by. I’m not returning that money.”

“No… Keep it.” Eliziya’s hand kept returning to her ears, thumbing it as if trying to reaffirm that it was there. “I’m not a were. I wasn’t bitten. There was some kind of accident, magic hit me, and when I woke up, I was that way. I thought it was permanent. Never thought it was… Are you okay?” Zi asked, realising that she’d stabbed him. “I’m a healer, I can help.”

“Don’t need your help, thanks. We heal fast,” he waved a dismissive hand at her offer. “Look, kid, I sympathise. When I first turned, well, it wasn’t pretty. Didn’t know who I was, didn’t want to believe it. But that’s the fact of the matter; I’m a were. You are whatever you are. I’ve seen a few other weres in my time, some older, some younger, and I mean from the time of turning. There’s always that questioning, if you’re a skinwalker: what are you, really? I’d like to help, but you’re not a were. Still, you’re some kind of a skinwalker. My suggestion is that you shift between your forms over and over. Don’t rush it, take your time, do what comes naturally. Get used to it. I find it’s easier when you get used to the idea of looking like several things. You are what you are.”

Zi nodded, absorbing his words quietly. Shifting between forms… Now she was human. Human. To think herself as not-human… It felt so wrong.

“I am what I am,” she repeated, holding the mantra to her heart. “I am what I am.”

“You are what you are,” he encouraged. “Put down the cup; why don’t you try and shift now?”

How to shift? She thought back to that moment of panic and fear, the need to shift and escape. But now she had to shift to bring that form- was that her true form? Was there even a true form?- to the fore. To reveal. Zi wanted revelations. She needed to uncover, to bring out, to show the truth. She needed revelations.

She felt the click in her veins, and knew she’d done it. Then she knew nothing at all but the pain as her bones squeezed together, her ears melting away, tail sprouting. Unnatural growth- but in truth all too natural- accelerated across her body; furred ears and bushy tail, sharp incisors and shortened body. Zi howled with each pulse, gasping for air against the pain of her body trying to rearrange itself. It hurt, by all the saints, it hurt so much.

Brushing the tears out of her eyes, Zi got to her feet shakily, tail swishing from side to side in an attempt to stabilise herself. It was easier to see now, and her hearing was considerably sharper.

“That’s the spirit. Just keep at it, and you’ll feel better about yourself.”

“Does it always hurt so much?” Zi asked, voice quivering from exhaustion and frayed nerves.

“Your body isn’t used to changing, so it’ll hurt a bit for now. Doing it more will help.”

“A bit?” Zi asked, lip trembling in outrage. “That wasn’t just a bit. That was… that was torture.”

“It’ll get better.” Thomas’ eyes softened. “Sorry. I’m used to it, there’s no pain for me, but you’re right. The first times were bad. Real bad. I don’t suppose you want to try again.”

“Not… not now.” Zi picked up her weapons, replacing them in their pocket-sheaths up her sleeves. “I think… I should be going.”

“Yeah, get lost, kid. Here, I’ll walk you out.”

“I’m sorry about, uh, stabbing you, Thomas.”

“No hard feelings, as long as I keep the cash. Now let’s get the hell out of my territory.”

“C-Can I come back? If, um, I just want to talk… sort of?”

“Heck no.” Seeing her expression, he added, “Nah, I’m just kidding kid, come back anytime. I haven’t met a skinwalker in ages. Come back anytime you want. If you can find your way in, that is. If I’m home. It’ll be easier for me to find you at your teacher’s house, actually.”

“Just don’t steal more stuff.”

“No promises.”

"Stupid cat."
If you can make it better, don't make it sentient.

agoraoptera wrote: :| Shane just because I'm Asian doesn't mean I get to be Godzilla


Proud co-writer of the Greatest Idea of Our Time: viewtopic.php?f=45&t=1236
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