((Oh. Well, I find myself in a minor predicament. Uh, what should Iris do? I had made it seem as if the military had sent her to supervise the "Gang", as they're crucial to Tobias' plans. Is there anything wrong with that? And also, what exactly is next? Will there be a war with Caelum?))
I didn't have the strength to reach for Demi's hand, so I let Rani lift me up. I put my arm around Rani and leaned on him as I stood to keep from falling over a second time. I tried to focus on my sister, but even so my vision was blurred.
"I might as well have," I managed to force the words out to reply to Rani. It took quite a bit of effort, but in the long run, I figured it would be better to provide them with the intel I had acquired sooner than later. "I was ambushed as soon as I tried to come here." I took a moment to breathe. In my battered state, talking was as equally difficult said as it was done. "I don't know what his goals are, but if he hunts us down, we may be in serious trouble."
As I strolled through the frozen city, Bloodhound stopped in his tracks and turned. His sensors had picked something up. It was in a different direction than the meeting coordinates, but it could have been the others. I elected to investigate.
"Lead the way, Bloodhound," I ordered.
My dog didn't go far. He ran through an alley and stopped, staring down the street at something. Vise and I followed. The sight that greeted me was a familiar face - and believe me, the face was extremely difficult to forget. It was none other than Alice, unconscious in the arms of a boy who must have been three or four years younger than myself and yet possessed a shockingly imposing physique. I never liked jumping to conclusions, so the most logical choice was to inquire about what, exactly, I was looking at. Even so, the scenario was extremely suspicious, and the fact that Alice was my friend didn't help.
"Might I ask what's going on here?" I asked, very directly and simply. Surely the boy understood just how strange the visual was. Then again, here I was wearing a gas mask with two vicious-looking robotic wolves in a city of ice. He might have a similar question for me, but at the moment, Alice's safety was my top priority.
"Oh! Uh, I found this young lady in-" I stopped myself. This was a man, or at least a human of clearly unhealthy attributes. Probably a serial killer, or a pyro (get it?). Plus, we were in Sinbad. It seemed as if a mask had been removed as my cheerful smile reverted into a cautious, yet apathetic scowl.
"I detected an incredibly dense amount of Taint. It was causing flux throughout the entire city's Vis Fields. This young lady was encapsulated inside. She then proceeded to attempt a suicide, so I knocked her out to prevent her from doing something she'd regret."
I looked him over again. Was he... At the Tournament as well? "Do you know her?" I asked, my own suspicion pushing to the fore as well as I fought down the urge to raise an eyebrow. Querying him further, I elaborated "Scratch that, I'm gonna go with probably. Do you... Want her or something? I didn't really think about what I was gonna do with her."
Garrett wasn't just injured from his crash landing; his wounds were more along the lines of from a duel than a harsh fall. With all of his cuts and scrapes, it was a miracle that he hadn't ended up carved like a pumpkin. Myron, prior to a month ago, was the greatest swordsman I had ever known, yet even he couldn't outmatch Garrett by this much. Who could have possibly done this? If Garrett was afraid, the I had a pretty decent reason to worry. It wasn't my highest concern, since I was still surrounding by the swiftly melting sculptures of Sinbad's former residents. Being attacked from a foreign country and from the inside wasn't quite the best of scenarios for us to be in. Of course, someone decided to poke their head in a bit and screw with everything. The priest's phone (which I was permitted to hold on to for the time being) began to buzz, the caller being an unidentified number. I instinctively set it to speaker mode to make discussion easier.
"Well, I'm glad to see my control over air waves is somewhat decent." A familiar voice said. That arrogant genius, Tobias, carried a very mellow tone considering the state of this country.
I was immediately overwhelmed with guilt. Him calling just reminded me yet again of my lack of thinking ahead. I tried to apologize. "Tobes, I'm so —"
"No time for idle chit chat, we'll catch up later." He urged. I wasn't against the idea at all. "I hope you guys had fun meeting up. I'm sure you're in Sinbad? Yes, the city is likely completely converted to ice. Everyone's dead, the walls are translucent, blah, blah, blah. I've been out in charge of saving this country and I have the ability to choose whoever I deem worthy for this operation. You all are in, regardless of whether you helped me or hurt me back then. Your current orders are to investigate the commotion in the south. From my reports, two enemy warships have arrived and I wouldn't doubt that a Juror is there. If it is Andromeda or one claiming to be Medusa, run. You can't fight them."
Brom made it to Sinbad quickly. He was excited from having fulfilling his promise, he was a little reckless, and went much quicker than he should've. He saw a small congregation in the city, and figured that's where he was supposed to be. He landed nearby, and overheard a conversation on a phone set to speaker. It was Tobias. He told everyone that two warships were in the southern area, and that there was likely a Juror there. Whatever that was. He also warned everyone that if it was Andromeda or Medusa to run.
Brom decided to approach the group while the phone was still on. Tobias could probably vouch for him if the others were suspicious. "Uh, Hi." He said approaching. He didnt move quickly, and waved a hand. "I'm a friend of Tobias, he asked me to come here." Brom decided that that the best way not to get attacked, to tell them he was supposed to be here. He closed half of the gap between him and the group before stopping, waiting for them to reply before he got closer.
((Is everyone together? I know Alice is unconscious, and with two others, but is everyone else there? Just making sure.))
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Puella Magi Madoka Magicka is an awesome, feel-good, cutesy anime. You should watch it!
((No, Ivan, Vlad, and Alice are separated from the other group.))
((Most characters are busy, Obidion. You could stand up from the bench and find them if you wanted.))
Rani's rudimentary healing spell was far from perfect, it was enough to help me recover somewhat. Some of the cuts closed, and I could breathe more easily now, though I still used Rani as a crutch. Thankfully, it was enough for me to sustain speech.
"Even I'm not really sure who attacked me," I replied to Rani. "He was wearing a suit of armor, like a knight. Not very common in this day and age."
Then I heard Tobes' voice from Demi's phone, mentioning two warships and a juror.
"Hey Tobes, it's Garrett," I choked out loud enough for him to hear on speaker. "I just had a run-in with a guy in knight-like armor. He had some kind of crimson scarf, too. I got pretty roughed up. Since he attacked without warning or reason, I don't know who he is or what his intentions are." I coughed, briefly interrupting myself. "But there's no way he would randomly attack a Fallen Angel. There has to be an ulterior motive. That said, he's well-trained. He moves like I do and knows a lot of the same spells, too. He could also have other tricks up his sleeve. If you run into him, watch out."
I blinked, the gesture invisible under my gas mask. He was just going to hand her over? That certainly made things easier, but I wasn't going to let my guard down entirely.
"Sure, I'll take her."
I was rather worried about Alice. If what this boy said was true, then Alice had tried to commit suicide. And if Alice had really tried to commit suicide, we were probably going to have another very long chat. I needed to find out why so that I could dissuade her from trying again. I had spent too much time and effort on helping Alice fit in to this world to let her bail out a month later.
I walked over to the boy and held out my arms so that he could place Alice in them. My dogs, ever vigilant, watched on, ready to spring at a moment's notice.
Shrugging, I slid Alice into his expectant grasp. I doubted he would lash out at this time, so there were no worries. "Oh. My name is Vladimir, but you can just call me Vlad. Or Scelus. Or Anaita, doesn't matter." As the last of my grip slipped from Alice, I felt her heartbeat quickening slightly.
"She'll be awakening soon. I'll be off, then." I doubted this girl would act rationally when the man impeding her "freedom" was nearby. I'd probably check up on them in a few minutes, make sure everybody is still alive. Turning around, I leapt around the corner and cloaked my magical presence. All around me, the flux I created slowed, and finally the vis field came to an eerie stillness.
I woke up screaming. I instinctively tried to rip my assailant's throat out, only to be impeded by a strong, burly arm. "Ivan?"
((Sincerest apologies for double-posting, but I have an OOC question. Ninja, can I get some for info on the nature of this version of WOTD's pantheon? Are they as old as the universe? Spirits? Humans who ascended? What? And please don't say it's a secret. If it is, just PM me. Seriously.))
Vlad, huh? I'd have to remember that name for the future. The boy turned and left. Just as I was about to take Alice to the meeting place, she woke up and tried to attack me. She was startlingly quick for having just awoken, so I barely had time to block the strike. I could support Alice with one hand, so once the attack was blocked I waved off my dogs from attacking before I returned my hand to its original position.
"The one and only," I replied to Alice. Since she was awake, I set her down on her feet and cut right to the chase. "Listen, I've heard some worrying talk about you trying to commit suicide. I'm not okay with that, so care to explain?"
Ah, there it was. The pity, the confusion as to what could've pushed me that far. But there was something more to his tone. He was being... Protective? And that made him at least somewhat redeemed in my eyes. Okay, a lot redeemed. He was Ivan, after all. Even so, I couldn't suppress a cruel laugh. Or the snide tone.
"You don't know much about the Tainted, huh? Alright, prepare for a lesson. The Tainted have souls. Granted, they're incredibly warped with Titaint's Magic, but they're still sentient. When they die, their soul returns to it's origin, Titaint. When that foolish God childishly slaughtered Titaint, he condemned an entire species to oblivion. Especially considering it was Tobias's own father who commanded Titaint to create our kind in the first place."
I looked right into his eyes, blinking back tears. "How do you think it feels? To know that you could've rescued thousands, millions! If not for that wizard, I could've saved my kin from the void. If not for that foolish Storm-God, I wouldn't bear this burden. Knowing that if one day somebody finally succeeds in taking me out, I'll just be alone."
By now, I couldn't hold back, and tears poured down my cheeks. "I read about something recently, called Soul Suicide. It's what occurs when a soul in Hell has been there too long, and they finally just... Unravel at the seams. Then, they're recycled into new souls, while the torrent of madness and despair is packaged away in a neat little bundle. Do you know where it goes? To the Putrid Pits."
I buried myself in his chest, basking in the warmth of his body. "Can you guess what those are? They're where Titaint condenses the negative emotions into pure Taint, which he used to reanimate the corpses of his followers into the first Tainted. Now that he's dead, the Pits will overflow! This could destabilize the entirety of the Afterlife!"
With a disheveled sigh, I wrenched myself from his grasp. "Can you guess how heavy the guilt is? The regret? I could've protected the stability of everybody's future, their sanctity! How can you even imagine what it's like to know that your own incompetence doomed everything!?"
I looked straight into his eyes. "Does it make sense now? I would've preferred eternal solitude over bearing this - thing any longer! It's just too much! I don't care about preserving the future of everybody else, I'm no hero! I'm just some tool created by a dead God who grew a brain. I have no value as an individual, yet I still can wreak such devastation! The world would be better off without me..."
(( That's a question I'll save for a later PM. I wanted to get a post out. ))
I snapped my fingers, closing the special wavelength I had created in order to connect to Demetria. It was merely ironic luck that she was the one who I was able to contact, considering it would just select the nearest signal. Sending them further orders wouldn't be tough, seeing as I can make free calls from pretty much anywhere in the world. Sure, it requires knowing where they are, but that's what aura detection techniques are for. I looked over at Cronwell, who seemed rather impressed with my connections. Perhaps he knew of some of that group, or he wanted more information regarding my contacts. "I don't quite feel like going with you to your headquarters." I decided, out of the blue. Raising a single finger, a second version of myself appeared. Over the last month, I had improved upon several of my signature techniques, including cloning. By imprinting that spell into all of their minds, I could essentially create a single clone that would, on a regular interval, summon another clone then destroy itself, which would relay all of it's information back to me. Very convenient. Without further ado, I slid open the door to the helicopter (which was locked, but a simple metal lock wasn't much against the physical strength of a fallen angel) and leapt out.
Falling sucked, as proved by when I lost my full potential. Flying in style, however, was much more fun. I shot around in the air like a bullet, catching each breeze and using it to bolster my speed. I didn't leave because I was actually bored, no, but rather I had made arrangements via clone to meet with a very important contact. This asset was one who could turn the tide of the war with a flick of her hand. She had insisted on meeting somewhere where magical feats were never expected, so I had chosen the Lady's Chapel, one of the more grand temples for Solaire. The city that surrounded the building was called Yenma, although it had one very strange custom: no magic within it's walls. Soldiers who could manipulate energy were either sent away or forced to use proper weaponry. Yenma was the city where the Caelum soldiers would never look, thus it's appeal when discussing that country's downfall.
I had to land over a mile away, just to ensure nobody from the city could see. Godspeed wasn't an option, so I had to travel by foot at the speed of a regular man. This experience wasn't very pleasing. The city gate was always open during the day, since Solaire was always looking after the citizens. The Light Goddess had no children, so even Fallen Angels were forbidden from entering. The various guards looked at me oddly since I carried no luggage or weapon with which to defend myself. Walking through this city was a nightmare. I had to fully suppress my aura and had to entrust the stability of hundreds of hidden clones around the world to the one I had left with Cronwell. Meeting this contact was worth all of these troubles.
"Oh, you've just got to come see what you're friend has been up to while you were away." A woman said, grabbing my hand and pulling me toward an inn. I played along. Unfortunately, with clones, the only information they couldn't pass along was what they saw. I had no idea what the contact looked like. The agreed verbal indicators. The woman wasn't the contact, but rather just the inn owner's wife who had agreed to help. She brought me inside, then into the third room on the second floor.
"Well, it's nice to see you in person. I've heard about you and your past works." The true asset said, looking out the window. Her hair was tied back and covered by a shawl, but when she let it down, I could see the blueish tint in her snow-white hair. "The Thundering Alchemist. The Oncoming Storm. The God Slayer. You've made quite a reputation, even on my distant shores."
"It's nice to finally see you, too." I replied, with a grin. My contact, who had warned me of another Juror and two warships coming from the south, was this country's best chance at surviving with our magic intact. To fight the Jurors, I'd need to infiltrate the Jury and decide what Justice truly is. "Freezing a whole city was a bit much, don't you think, Andromeda?"
((Um, I believe the Royal line Vlad and Lupe were of was descended from Solaire. We can fix that little pothole easily enough, though. They're either illegitimate, or it's been too long to remember, or it's considered moot since Vlad and Lupe were the last of the line and were considered dead. Just figured I'd point this whole thing out.))
((Garrett is actually Solaire's biological child. That's why he's only the half-brother of Dimitri's kids.))
I was taken aback by the way Alice threw herself into me. Never in a million years did I think I'd have a girl throw herself on me like that. It derailed my train of thought for a moment. Soon enough, though, I had my composure back. I crossed my arms - it was time to try to talk sense into Alice.
"I see where you're coming from," I told Alice, my tone as level as ever, "but you've made two critical errors in judgement. The first is that you think you could have defeated Tobias. Think about it for a moment - he killed a god, and on top of that it's the god that made you. Whatever he used on Titaint would surely have worked on you as well. You would have stood no chance. You'd just have been one more corpse atop the mound."
"The second," I continued, "is your belief that the world would be better off without you. The rest of the Tainted were no better than animals, a horde of bloodthirsty beasts Titaint created to kill humans and nothing else. They had no emotions. You're different. If Titaint had his way, one of us would have died back when we first met. But you, somehow, rose above the pathetic role Titaint placed you in. You have a place in this world as much as anyone else."
The changes in my facial expressions remained hidden under the mask, making me appear calm despite the anger at Alice's self-absorbed attempt at suicide.
"What really disappoints me," I said, my voice beginning to betray my anger, "is the fact that you didn't think. While wallowing in your own self-pity you didn't stop for a second to consider what other people might feel! What I might feel! It's as though it never occurred to you that your suicide might hurt others! You realize that I value your existence, right?! I've spent way too much time and effort on you to disregard you pulling a stunt so asinine as suicide!"
I took a breath. I, myself, had stopped thinking when spitting out that last bit. I had let my emotions take control. Too late now. I stayed silent to let Alice speak.
"... I-" I struggled to form the right words. "I'm sorry. Sorry for being selfish, but you have to understand! I was designed to be a commander of the Tainted, I naturally feel the emotional state of each and every Tainted. Maybe I couldn't've defeated him, but I might've gotten Titaint to transmit his Divine Nexus. I know it was a slim chance, and I know it was unlikely. And maybe I would've died. But at least I'd know I'd died for my people."
My tears started to slow their descent down my cheeks. "And yes, I do realize I would've left you behind. You and anybody else who cares. But honestly? I was so entrenched in my own regret, my memories of you warped substantially. It seemed like you wanted this, I was so delusional! So, I'm sorry it seemed I don't value enough to change my mind. I have now. I wasn't entirely in my right state-of-mind."
Without much else to do, I hugged him again. This time, it was different. I didn't cry, rather I performed a unique type of magic I had discovered over the course of the past month or so. It was called a "Karmic Cleansing", used to essentially wipe one's slate clean. It condensed all the excess emotion into tangible matter, generally expressed as tears.
And so, without much build-up, dozens of pitch-black tears poured down my face, resembling wet make-up to some degree. And then, it was finished. Breathing a sigh of relief, I looked up to Ivan and smiled. "Thank you." The smile continuously got wider, and I couldn't stifle a giggle. Or the somewhat psychotic laughter. It wasn't psychotic, trust me. It was like, happy and stuff.
The call ended abruptly, as one of the members of the group asked Brom's name, and why Tobias had sent him here. He was a hulking figure, and Brom stood little chance, given he didnt have a weapon to replace his staff. He put those thoughts aside as he replied to the man. "My name is Brom, and Tobias told me to come here to help defend against Caelum.
"Given that the south will be host to Caelum's military force soon, i suggest we save any questions for the trip there." Brom didnt want to move closer until he got some sort of approval. One of them was weak, recently attacked, Brom overheard, but the man talking to him could easily take him in hand to hand combat alone, not to mention another had magic power comparable to Zicka's. This reminded Brom. "...And, if it isnt too much to ask, do any of you have a spare magical implement with you? Like a staff or wand?"
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
Puella Magi Madoka Magicka is an awesome, feel-good, cutesy anime. You should watch it!
There was yet another new addition to the group: a mage apparently sent here by Tobias. While I admit I sucked at aura analysis, it wasn't hard to see that this new person utilized less Holy forms of magic. He looked vaguely familiar. It was very possible that he had participated in the Tournament a month ago, but I couldn't remember.
"If Tobes says you're helpful, then that's that." I decided, with a shrug. "My name's Demi. If you don't mind me asking, how strong was Tobias, at least by your best guess?" When I had fallen from Aer, I lost over eighty percent of my former power. Tobias might have been weakened at an equal scale, so he may not be as huge of a threat to the Gods anymore. Either way, he had managed to escape Aer once with his immortality and power intact, so I couldn't be sure. Turning toward Garrett and Rani, I decided to ask the big question that was probably on everyone's mind. "What should we do? Head south and be obedient to Tobes, or go our own way?"
"My main concern about this war," I began, sitting in one of the chairs in the small room, "is Caelum's magic. I know that it is able to work outside of even the strongest of radars, yet it's impossible to mimic. Care to elaborate?" Andromeda was silent for a few seconds, thinking things over. Before she spoke, her phone began to ring, which was rather annoying considering the two of us were in the middle of an important conversation. After a couple Mmhmm's and a few Alright's, she tapped the screen and set it down.
"That won't be necessary." She finally said.
"What?" I questioned, immediately examining my surroundings for errors. Could this meeting be compromised? I understood what was happening when I looked down at my feet. "Oh, I get it. You were never betraying your country. You brought me here using information as bait and figured you could catch me, the strongest player on Eternia's side of this game, before I could do anything." My hint for this was the fact that my shoe had began getting frosted over, but I had nullified that effect. "Sorry, but I'm not up for that kind of thing."
"Nobody asked if you were." Another voice said, the woman who owned that voice likely being Medusa, another Juror. I had only to the end of her sentence to duck, because the room above my waist level was converted to sand. Both of the Element Converters were here, each trying to kill or capture me. With the roof gone, I sprung into the air, keeping myself at a fairly calm hover. Two agility oriented mages, one with sand, the other using ice. They each had the common weakness of fire, so using that would be to my advantage. Andromeda began to freeze over the city, since panicking citizens usually got in the way of these things. Pointing two finger guns at my opponents, an arc of crimson lightning was produced from each. Wherever they struck would explode, but it was stopped by an odd barrier, like a force field. A third juror.
I sighed. "Three on one isn't fair. You should have brought your whole gang." Medusa was getting closer and closer to me, everything in a two meter radius from her turning into that simple, tan powder. The new Juror was Octavian, who I had been told usually stuck around the Emperor. He was slightly taller than myself, although he looked absolutely ripped. His hair was brown, slicked back to get out of his face. The Juror wore a fairly thick plate armor, accompanied by a shield that was even taller than him and just as wide. If the information on him I was given was correct, he could create perfect, impenetrable shields.
"You should be honored." A fourth voice exclaimed. "This many members of the Jury have never been gathered for a single person." Just by looking at him, I could easily figure out who he was. Vulcan, an expert in hand to hand combat. From what Andromeda told me before hand, he could manipulate fire. My plan for exploiting their weaknesses wasn't going to work. He was dressed fairly basically for a fighter: no shirt, loose pants, and several sashes. Why the sashes, I'd never know. On his left hand was a gold ring, which seemed to be glowing with heat.
The fight began in a whole new way. I flew higher and higher to avoid Medusa, but Octavian began creating a pathway in the air made of his force fields. Andromeda, on the other hand, was flying through the air on a crystal platform, although flying wasn't as accurate to the event as a pillar of ice moving the platform. In my countermeasure against Medusa, I summoned a very simple focus, Fourth Power, and fired an assortment of elemental bolts. They increased in power by a huge amount, which was pretty neat for me. A fist sized fireball instantly grew to the size of a truck; a spark of lightning became as thick as Octavian's Armor's plates. The Sand Manipulator was forced back down. However, I was nearly defeated in a blink when Andromeda swooped it and just barely missed grabbing my arm, which would have led to me becoming a sculpture. Vulcan had a pretty similar idea to me: if you keep shooting stuff at it, they can't do much. He simply punched the air to create helicopter sized fireballs, which was incredibly bothersome due to his incredible speed. I stopped hovering and simply landed, breathing heavily.
"I bet you guys think you've done something amazing." I said, between pants. "But I've yet to play my trump card yet. Feast your eyes on the power that will change the world." With my left hand, I covered my eyes, simply for dramatic effect. When I moved it away, I could truly see. The mechanics behind Octavian's abilities were now clear, as were those that created Vulcan's fire. Andromeda' confused me, but I could see Medusa's weakness. "I can see your magic for what it is, now."