The Elder Invasion: CHAPTER 4 - Insanity


Original poster

Few in Iwaku can tell you what Insanity is, and many you meet will flat-out deny its existence. But the truth remains... if you travel far enough south, you will find the Mirror - a great border of mist and phantom light at the edge of the Badlands.

And should you peer through the Mirror, you will see a realm beyond. A place of twisted forests and bloody wastelands. A place of sanity-eroding castles and ancient ruins. A geometric nightmare of unending roads and smoke-belching bakeries.

You will see Insanity.

Some scholars believe that Insanity is all that remains of the Old Iwaku destroyed in the War. Others say it is the resting place of the Sword of Iwaku, a cursed artifact that warps the land around it. Still more say that the great villain Paorou-Sama cast fragments of his own dying mind into the Mirror Realm, to haunt us till the end of time.

Insanity is an ever-shifting realm of monsters and ghosts. Few can survive there for long...

And those who say that Paorou-Sama lives on and rules his Bakers from the dark stronghold of Nerf Castle are surely liars and fools....

[Power Hierarchy: R, D, S, C]
Re: Insanity


The man slumped against the wall of the tower, sliding down and pressing his body flat. A fierce wind curled around the jagged stonework of the the half-collapsed tower, followed shortly after by flocks of shadows and murderous ravens.

He stayed as still as possible, his outline blurred by a dark cloak a size too large for him. In one hand he clutched a TF pistol, while the other hand rested on the hilt of a lightsaber. Slung across his back was a sniper rifle, a harrowing kill-tally inscribed on the stock.

He braced himself against a second wave of dirt-laden wind, pulling aviator goggles over his eyes. The tower swayed, old stone groaning with ancient agonies - a sound that was soon taken up by the distant howls of wolves and harbingers in the twisted woodlands.

Placing down the TF gun on the bloodstained floor, the man reached inside his robes and pulled out a PDA. He scrolled through the message box, clogged with notes and memos from its previous owner. Opening a new message, he began typing, his fingers trembling in the barren cold of night.

This is, I fear, the last report of Doctor Ridian.
My other notes are lost, and all I have left to
show for my expedition are what I carry now:
Razilin's cloak, Woodrat's goggles, the weapons
of Ozgood, Lycan and Jonas, and Dreamer's
PDA on which I write these very words to you
now. Whatever grace has allowed me to
survive these last nine years, I ask that the
remainder be bestowed on this transmission,
so it may find you, my dearest friends.

He is alive.

You never wanted to believe me, and it is
perhaps the greatest irony that I now no
longer want to believe myself. The theory
that consumed me and drove me into these
nightmare lands is now the abiding horror of
my final days.

The enemy still remains, and he will kill me
soon. It is only a matter of time now.

I will not let his agents take me. I have one
Phoenix Grenade left - taken from the body of
BloodDancerAce. Another irony perhaps, that
I should plunder the grave of an old knight to
serve the cause of the present order.

For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I
didn't listen and that I came out here alone.
But I beg you not to do as I have done, and
to listen to my warning.

There is an abomination in this land, a monster
with a dozen faces, scattered and broken.
We thought we had killed him, almost two
decades ago. But the years have only served
to swell his shadow over all Iwaku.

Paorou-Sama is alive.

[SUMMARY: A lone Knight of Iwaku takes shelter in a ruined tower. He has been in Insanity for 9 years, investigating the resting places of fallen Iwaku heroes. Knowing he will soon be hunted down, he transmits a message to the Knights warning them that Paorou-Sama is not as dead as they think he is.]
Re: Insanity

As he ceased his button pressing, lightning flashed across the dreary sky. In that moment, Doctor Ridian saw the outline of a mountan form beneath the gray clouds above. one would assume that the sky was clearing, since the mountain became clearer and clearer.

But this mountain... was growing.

it was then he saw the multiple bolts of lightning, continuously striking the mountain. They resembled a pair of lightning wings. Awe-inspiring, crackling wings of golden light. it was then he heard the horrifying roar, like the mix of a woman screaming and the rumble of a large automobile.

"It can't be." The doctor muttered.

Smoke bellowed from it's tail, and he could now see the fires of its legs, which rested on spinning, burning wheels. at once, the lights on it's face blared to light - revealing a amalgam of metal and crimson scale. Like a mechanical mockery of a dragon, yet still retaining its flesh, it was truly a nightmare to behold.

On its head, he saw the flash of a crimson cape, and the piercing gaze of a raven-haired man.

"The Crimson God!" Ridian exclaimed, scrambling to his feet. The man ducked as he felt the buffeting winds build up; and crawling on all fours, entered the tower.

He quickly held on to the railings of a staircase, as he felt the tower and the ground rumble. He could see the lights, one golden and the other crimson, dancing through the cracks in the walls. He could hear the shrieking wail, and the abominable sound of the engine coalescing into a single monstrous sound. He could smell brimstone, and gasoline fill the air. He could taste rust and the choking taste of dust in the air as smoke seeped into the tower.

Then the ground stopped rumbling, and he could only hear the buffeting wind outside. It was nothing more than deceptive, short-lived relief.

The ceiling broke open and blocks of stone fell on to Ridian, who clung feebly on his railing. A small, yet sizeable rock smashed his shoulder, causing him to stumble on the floor, staining Razilin's cloak and Ozgood's rifle with flecks of blood.

He was still alive, however; and he could see the form of a man in crimson garb, bathed in golden light. The man descended through the hellish hole in the ceiling, which seemed to be spitting fire and blood.

"Y-you...!" He cried, coughing blood. Ridian took aim with his TF gun.

A futile effort, as the man in crimson cape kicked it of of his hands. The pistol flew off, discharging an energy bolt that turned stone into silvery metal. It then skidded harmlessly on the stone floor.

"Garbage like you... shouldn't be playing with other people's trash."

A smirk appeared on his assailant's face. Ridian squinted, trying to see through the shadows that covered most of the caped man's face. It was then that the man lifted his face up, allowing the light from above to illuminate his features.

Dull red eyes, brown skin, black curly hair, a wide forehead with a single scar, and a smirk on his lips.

"Paorou-sama!" Ridian exclaimed, fear etching his facial features.

Yet behind his back, he began to grasp hold of an oval tool. Slowly, he pulled the pin with one finger.

"That's an impressive collection you've got here. For fate to have allowed you to gain possession of these artifacts... what disgusting negligence." Paorou remarked, pulling Ozgood's rifle away from Ridian's sling.

The man in red forcefully tore its sling apart and kicked Ridian away to do so. It was then that he tossed aside the sniper rifle and walked up to Ridian's fractured body to claim the cape next. As Paorou approached, he saw the live explosive in Ridian's hand, as he gasped for air through bloody clenched teeth.

"That's Ace's-"

Ridian held up the grenade in a final defiant gesture, and dropped it on the ground. Upon impact, the tower's interior was instantly engulfed in a pillar of flame. The Crimson God reeled back as it saw a phoenix fly from the hole in the tower, screaming into Insanity's sky.

In that instant, the clouds cleared, revealing Paorou's Eye. The swirling mass of golden light circled the burning orb that was his 'will', like a glowing oil. Its unnatural oval shape gave the contour of a human-like eye with eyelids. It's visage colored the clouds and the sky crimson - giving Insanity an eternal sunset.

It was then that an annoyed, growling yell was heard from the depths of the burnt out tower. In the middle of blackened walls and ashen remains, a single tattered crimson cape flapped amidst the violent current of hot air. Its bearer fared worse - he was almost skeletal, his flesh blackened and torn away by intense heat.

His charred face turned to glare at the remains of his quarry. Ridian was nothing more than an ashen skeleton, which crumbled into dust. His artifacts were now burnt and
broken beyond repair.

"RrrrgrgrhrhrhrhtgGHHGGGHH!" Paorou angrily growled, aware that his vocal chords were severely burnt by the flames.

In that instant, the violent tempest of dust and burnt tatters ceased motion. The torrent of ash reversed, with Paorou as its focus. Dust, ash, and metal began to attach itself onto him, patching up his skin like a cake-like powder. his silhouette became less skeletal, and fuller, back to his older self.

However, this amalgam of black dust and charcoal was suddenly shed, like a false skin. Paorou stood in the middle of everything, good as new, as if nothing had happened to him at all. His crimson cape fluttered amidst the dead, gray-black room, and his face only expressed disgust. he was looking at the broken sniper rifle, the tatters of the black cloak, and the burnt TF gun in the distance.

"It seems we have lost the artifacts." He said to no one in particular. "However, I have used their essence to repair this body. That is better than nothing all."

Paorou looked up at the orange sky and paused for a moment. Then, with a smirk he remarked, "Very well. In case any more knights arrive, my priority will change: any artifact they possess will be kept and cataloged."

With this, he dramatically swept his cape and disappeared into the hole in the ceiling. At this moment, the Crimson God took flight, screaming and belching smoke into the horizon.

Summary: Insanity is not a fun place.

Ridian is attacked by a dragon called the crimson God, and is attacked by what seems to be Paorou. He seems to want ridian's various artifacts, but Ridian defiantly detonates the Phoenix Grenade, killing himself in the process. Paorou regenerates using the essence of his artifacts, but is disgusted that they have been lost. He says a cryptic message to no one in particular and leaves upon the Crimson God.
Re: Insanity


Silhouetted against the gothic night, the Spiders rose, giants of ancient stone flexing their legs and slurping with delight. The castles became overrun, the vampire lords retreating to their coffins as the insects crawled over their domains. And nearby, the forests trembled with the howls of anguished werewolves, watching as their precious home was trampled.


Tens... dozens... hundreds. The Stone Spiders emerged from the forests and deserts, filing onto the Endless Highway and heading south. The world shook with the scuttling sound of their feet on the roadway. A chattering omen of apocalypse.

A few minutes passed, and the Spiders curled into their sphere forms, rolling and bouncing down the highway at ever increasing speeds.


Some of the Bread Cultists had assembled on the foothills, watching stoically as the sound of slurping and thundering footsteps built on the horizon. And in the next moment they were scattered, as crimson lazer-beams tore across the wasteland and struck the bakeries. Explosions blossomed across the settlements, whole factories going up in flames, the stench of burnt bread filling the air.

Some of the Cultists formed up, preparing for battle, but the Spiders moved too fast. Their lines were trampled and crushed, and as they fell back some of the spiders lowered their bodies, legs inverting to form a crown-like shape. Webs began to be spun, amber light solidifying into crystal pods. Each leg then picked up a pod and deployed it around the spider.

The capsules shattered, revealing breaches in the fabric of reality, and through the holes came the Invaders...

Noob barbarians, spam-gunners, trolls, flamers - all manner of warbands carrying the flags of their worlds. The invaders tore into the cultist lines, shrieking with chaotic delight.


Moving at top speeds of 200mph, three spheres tore across the sky and crashed through the trees and ruins around Nerf Castle. Decelerating, they deployed into their spider forms, unleashing their 20ft wide lazer beams at the castle. Turrets and parapets were vapourised, and the whole of Nerf shook under the vibrations of the great slurping noise that the Spiders made.

The Invasion had begun.

[SUMMARY: The lands of Insanity come under full-scale attack as the Stone Spiders appear here in far greater numbers than anywhere else.]
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

The Home Colony, Throne Room

The Home Colony, originally named 'Teknika' during the earlier eras of human expansion, was where the Empire, and perhaps the entire nation, takes its name. Having had numerous modifications over the centuries and millennia of Imperial leadership, the inhabitants of this massive structure strive to maintain it in high orbit over Saturn, upon whose surface massive megalopoli and the quadrant headquarters of the Empire for the main arm of their territory lay.

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring part of the main fort at the Home Colony is the Emperor's Office, known to many outside the Sol System as the Throne Room. Here, the Empire's greatest leader, and the supreme commander of the Teknikan military, the Emperor, goes about his official duties - regardless of whether or not he is on life support.

It just so happens that the current Emperor, Martin Feinschmacker, is one such person, encapsulated in a pill-shaped device, with numerous cables attached to it - which sits atop the tribune located at the center of the hall, where there normally would be a seat and a desk.

The hall, resembling the interior of a Roman basilica*, was 15 meters in width, 38 meters in length, and 10 meters in height. The tribune was composed of two pitched cylindrical structures, protruding from the ceiling and the floor, which kept a vertical clearance of 3.70 meters from each other, near the lateral center. Automated defenses and countermeasures were concealed throughout the hall, always kept active in the event that any intruder would enter and assault the great military leader.

A man in uniform was dragged into the hall by two figures outfitted in full combat gear. Violently scraped against the floor, unable to speak or even twitch a muscle in revolt, he was then dropped a considerable distance in front of the throne, where he could look up at the Emperor with awe. The ceiling lamps of the tribune then shimmered with life.

"I know you have reasons to complain about the manner in which my retinue has escorted you here, but this situation requires immediate action. Especially yours, Captain."

The man who was dropped on the floor was still under the effects of what could be considered paralysis. The Emperor proclaimed to his two guards, "Soldiers, I think you need to give him the taser again."

One of the armor-clad individuals lowers himself towards the lying man, with a small device in hand. He then prods the lying man with the device, causing the man's body to leap repeatedly in place like a fish out of the water. This occurs for roughly a minute until the formerly paralyzed man finally begins to stand erect on his two feet.

"Aye, sir." Captain Nic then looked upward towards the Emperor's capsule, having recovered from a near-motionless state.

The Emperor continued, "There has been... an attack by forces of unknown origin, which, somehow, have arrived here from the realm of Iwaku, in spite of the fact that Expedition Outpost over there hasn't reported a massed attack of these unidentifieds." A wide holographic screen forms in the right-hand side of the tribune, displaying the image of a spherical object that appeared to be made out of stone, next to a humanoid figure, indicating the sizes of both the stone sphere and the human person.

"These objects have been reported moving at speeds of about 200mph, slower than any of our current generation bombers dashing at attack speed. For entities that appear to be made entirely out of stone, presumably granite, they are inhumanly tough, and can take anything short of a warship broadside. We have here a sample of their 'living stone'...." A large dispenser rises up from the floor in front of the tribune. It opens a small hatch, revealing a piece of ordinary-looking stone, which Nic readily takes and examines with near-disinterest.

"Above all, however, is their capability to... 'summon' reinforcements. While our engagements with these entities has been over long-to-astronomical range so far, advance surface probes have spotted arachnid variants of these living stone beings that open rifts to other dimensions, from which otherworldly creatures and beings enter and, generally, raise hell. We do not know exactly what these stone entities invite, but it can't be good for our ground troops." Numerous holographic screens unfold, revealing blurry images of humanoids both large and small mobbing the Imperial surface probes, and photographs of the aforementioned stone arachnids.

"You should be thankful for our current ceasefire with the Alliance, Captain - we can devote resources to this pest that needs to die. Since you were the one that brought us there, you will be the one to contain this... disease. I will send another set of fleets to the sector; this must be done quickly. Only the universe knows when those queers at the Alliance will decide to strike again." Nic raises an eyebrow.

"This time, Captain, you'll be serving aboard the flagship of the 121st Interdiction Fleet, the Battlecruiser Yellowjacket. You will-"

Nic interrupts, "Permission to speak, sir."

The capsule atop the tribune vibrates, forming a stream of bubbles from within, after which the Emperor gives a sigh. "Permission granted."

"Shall we continue development of the Fortitude Project? Given the circumstances, we have an opportunity to put together a new model and test it in..."

Nic is interrupted mid-sentence. "You mean that super robot? No! I will not allow you to test it there! Whatever we're studying there in Iwaku is beneficial to the continued development of your dream machine! Be prudent, Captain - we have enough time build it beyond expectation. The Sector Corps will provide you with your replacement unit; do not disappoint us all with a grandiose bang. Make a rendezvous at Expedition Outpost before you begin any operations. Have I made myself clear?"

Nic bowed has head in reply. "Acknowledged, sir."

The lights of the tribune blinked, and the Emperor's life support capsule vibrated in delight. "Good, good! Now be on your way. I have guests waiting."


50000 ft. above Castle Nerf

The clouds, bathed in crimson light, swirled violently. Lightning bolts crackled across the sky; lightning strikes were becoming increasingly frequent. An Imperial gunship flew in formation with several squads of high-speed bombers, none of which were flinching to the adverse environment of Insanity. The winds blew across the sky with crushing strength, and were it not for the standard-issue shielding systems built into most Imperial craft, the Teknikans would not have entered the atmosphere at all.

"We're not going to go any lower than 10,000 feet on this one. Coordinate your bombing runs with the 121st fleetships as they secure the airspace over our next landing point. I'm sorry, we could have used relativistic kill vehicles on these mofos, but that eye thing over there has been causing all kinds of interference..." The gunship pilot then points his finger towards a mass of golden light that resembled an eye. "It's bad enough that we had to charge through a bunch of those stone globes a while ago, but forget about that crap. We're here to give them a premature eviction notice."

The clouds cleared, and the winds began to calm down, albeit in an abrupt manner. The bomber craft pulled themselves down, noses towards the ground. Their bays unfolded, sporting an array of pill-shaped bombs, each the size of a refrigerator. Various radio chatter was exchanged between craft, indicating the signal to attack. The bombers pulled up towards the sky almost as quickly as they could unload their lethal cargo.

As the bombers' payload plummeted towards the earth, they were soon followed by lances of burning energy.


[SUMMARY: The Teknikans make another foray into Iwaku, having encountered Elders in space previously.

Nic ain't bringing a Fortitude Mk.II this time.]

*The Roman Basilica was the predecessor to the cathedrals we all oh so know and love. Yes, they were huge.
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

*More creepy background music*

Piro, Tain, Sakura, Okami, Jackshade, and Seiji appeared together in Fear Garden. Gigantic plants loomed over them as the dark clouds blocked out any sunlight. The air was sickly and everything just felt wrong about the place. Suddenly, Natalie appeared before them, her stronger personality in complete control, and twisting Natalie's countenance into a malicious grin. Her indigo eyes would soon be red with the sight of blood if these people were not able to defeat her.

"Welcome to my little garden, huhuhu," Natalie giggled in a strange manner as a few large plants nearby suddenly lunged at the group, the tops of them resembling a piranha plant from Mario, with their jaws wide open and ready to consume members the group.

[Summary: Natalie welcomes Sakura, Tain, Okami, Seiji, Jackshade, and Piro to Fear Garden by commanding a few of her plants to attack]
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Home. Soulless was going home again. He had lost his way and in so now tried to find it back where he started once more. If he came to Insanity once again, would he find the thing he once lost? He didn't really know, but here he was, staring at the mirror that would take him to his ever-shifting home once more. Gentle silver eyes scanned around the wastelands of his home, where little growth had happened since he last left. Scuffling at the dried dirt underneath his shoes, he hesitated going in. What had happened during his time away? Probably nothing and yet everything. That was just how Insanity was and always will be. With a gentle smile on his features he closed his eyes and wandered into the Insanity he knew so well and yet didn't know at all. When he opened his eyes he saw... plants. So many of them, so large. Were these of Paorou's work?

No, they didn't seem to be. Paorou was not the kind to just leave plants to trap people unless he had suddenly changed for the worse in his solitude. He looked around curiously, finding that other than the batch of plants little has changed and he hoped that it would be alright that he could stay here a while. But first, he would find out the meaning behind these plants. As he wandered closer, he saw that these plants were attacking a group, with a woman she didn't know of seeming to do the attacking. Had so much changed since he had last arrived here? Somehow he refused to believe that, and instead chose to believe that something was very very wrong.

"Hello?" He spoke at the woman curiously, one hand at his knife. Listening to the growling at the back of his head to be careful and cautious, Soulless took two steps towards Fear Garden before stopping, his silver eyes not of guarding but one of confusion. He was wondering why people were being trapped here. It wasn't right for them to be trapped... Insanity was never meant to cage people, she was doing something that was wrong. It was a perversion of Insanity, or at least that is how the boy saw it as. Nervous, he mentally sought reassurance with whatever might happen, receiving only words of warning to be careful as a result of his seeking.

(Soulless says ohai and greets Natalie in the Fear Garden)
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

The plants teased the group that were trapped in Fear Garden, being told by Natalie not to eat them yet. Her eyes stared intensely on them, cruelly laughing on the inside while trying to stop herself at the same time. This wasn't what she wanted, yet it was entirely what she wanted. Why can't I stop myself, dammit?!? Natalie thought, the first cracks of exhuastion beginning to appear in her mind as the plants began to act accordingly and move more sluggishly.

Natalie slowly turned as a male of some sort called out to her.

"Hello?" Soulless greeted Natalie, confusion in his voice.

Natalie attempted to collect herself as Soulless took a couple of steps towards her domain before stopping. He seemed to be perplexed about the situation before him. Natalie was beginning to become agitated; she was used to more people around her speaking. Can't we just stop this? Natalie's weaker voice rang softly in the troubled girl's mind. No, we can't go back, Natalie, we can't go back, Natalie's stronger personality answered, making Natalie's ears ring. Wh-what's wrong with me? a now awakened voice in between the two asked. Natalie, now confused and unsure of what to do, covered her ears in her hands as she closed her eyes. Soulless was most likely baffled as to why Natalie was beginning to break down in front of him.

However, this was expected from the beginning, for she only had so much time before she would collapse. The clock's ticking, Natalie's stronger personality warned the other two voices. I . . . Natalie closed her eyes tighter as a painful sensation swept through her.

" . . . want it to stop!" Natalie screamed suddenly, frightening Soulless as a nearby plant turned its attention to Soulless, and lunged forward with jaws wide open to protect its master from the perceived threat.

[Summary: Cracks begin to show in Natalie as the clock is ticking until she falls unconscious from using her power. Screaming out due to her mental distress, a plant lunges forward to attack Soulless, assuming that he is the cause of its controller's screaming.]
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Soulless blinked once. This woman seemed to be in some distress. The expression on her face, once of joy, fell to panic and anxiety. Something inside of her was wrong, it was obvious to the similar child. To him, it was as obvious as an open sore, swollen and rotting, oozing pus and blood. He backed up a few steps, giving her plenty of room to recover, even though he knew it would do nothing to help her calm down. His large silver eyes stared at her actions and her internal struggle so obvious to him it might as well have been written down and narrated. But why was this so blatant to him? The way her eyes seemed to hold internal confusion, flickering back and forth between two emotions... it was like... it was like...

It's like us, isn't it. Saneless echoed inside of him, sitting in the darkness of their mind and watching the world with a patience that denied his actions whenever he made any. Hugging one knee to himself, he watched this woman and he had a high suspicion that he knew what was going on. She's just like us, I think. Maybe she's just mixed up right now, maybe she- The thoughts were stopped as she let out a scream that expressed the agony and confusion on the inside and revealed it to the world. TO YOUR LEFT, MOVE! A similar echo in his mind answered her cry and he ducked and jumped to the side, his sleeve caught in the jaws of a plant, ripped to ribbons. He tugged his sleeve out of the plant's mouth, slightly soggy with spit and torn to shreds with teeth. He glanced at it once, allowing his more violent counterpart to measure and figure out the details of what would happen should he be harmed.

Wouldn't be fatal at least. Thus the answer rang out and then Saneless stood and walked deeper into their mind, a place where communication was not with words but of thoughts, ideas, emotions as quickly as the nerve cells of their brain. Soulless was left to feel as alone as the neurotypical did, even though he knew that he could never be truly alone. Bending his legs a little, he hopped backwards a few more steps, where the plants were not so thickly protective around her. "We mean no harm!" He spoke to her, his sentence ending with a gentle whimper to accentuate his emotions. However, he didn't really know if the message would reach her. She seemed to be in much mental pain... perhaps this plea of peace would only fall on ears deafened by agony.

(Saneless hypothesizes the source of Natalie's apparent confusion while Soulless tries to make peace.)
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Soulless seemed to be backing away before the plant attacked. It managed to tear into the boy's sleeve, but not do much else to him as he pulled out the soggy pieces of fabric. Natalie clutched her ears tighter as Soulless backed away from where the majority of the plants were. The boy was now to the point where most of her plants would not be able to get him. Amongst the slowly fading ringing came his voice.

"We mean no harm!" Natalie could hear a whimper of some sort after he spoke.

See, he means no harm! Natalie's weaker personality spoke out-of-line, the ringing starting up again. They all say that! Natalie's stronger personality objected, a louder ringing making Natalie fall to her knees. Why won't you two stop?!? the new voice screamed within herself, bringing much-needed relief to Natalie's mind. The mental assault had managed to lower itself to a dull roar as Natalie slowly forced herself up. Stab the man, dammit! Natalie's stronger personality commanded the other two as Natalie drew her dagger.

"L-lies!" Natalie stuttered as she rushed forth at the man with her dagger in her hand, a cold sweat now beginning to appear on her face.

[Summary: Natalie deals with her mental assault, gives in to her stronger personality's lack of trust, and subsequently rushes at Soulless with her dagger.]
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Soulless watched this stranger and it made him somewhat sad to watch her suffer. It reminded him of his time in the Nerf castle, alone with only Saneless to keep with company.He watched her struggle with her inner demons, whatever they may be. His words only hurt her more, it seems, as then the confusion only rose to a breaking point. He didn't want to fight her, he only wanted to know what was going on. With that in mind he only spread his arms as she rushed at him, against the thoughts flickering through his mind that were not his- Saneless was always the kind to kill first, ask questions later.

The dagger plunged into his belly easily, the force of her rush causing him to fall over and in turn have her land on top of him, dagger still clutched in her sweat hands. He looked up at her, no pain in his eyes, just pity at her predicament. Happily he smiled at her, hoping she had let out whatever was pent up inside. This injury would give him some trouble... his blood seeped out of the wound and reddened his shirt. He only smiled at her weakly, his blood openly lifted off his shirt and gently tugged out the dagger from his flesh to allow the regeneration process to take place.

Leftover blood now began to circle around the both of their fallen bodies, Soulless merely smiling peacefully. "We won't hurt you. Calm down, breathe." He spoke, taking a deep breath himself to avoid the slowly rising panic he felt inside at the thought of that dagger and the building rage Saneless contained at the mere thought that this woman dared injure someone who meant no harm. To the more violent of the two, she was a thing to be killed, spat on, and then left to be eaten by whatever animals came upon the carcass.

(Soulless allows himself to be stabbed and tries to calm Natalie down one more time)
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Natalie's time was beginning to run out, and she could feel it as she weakly ran at the boy. However, he let her plunge her dagger into him, as if he were some sort of dummy. Natalie looked at the boy with shock as she finally re-gained control of her body after falling down on top of him. soulless smiled, hoping that the girl would stop. Okay, I'll let him off, things are getting a bit hazy, anyway, Natalie's stronger personality was beginning to weaken as Natalie would near unconsciousness in a matter of a few minutes.

Natalie's dagger was softly tugged out by the blood that seeped out of the wound. Now that a few minutes had passed, the ringing had stopped, only for her dominant personality to quickly crumble. Can't you see he's hurt?!? the more sympathetic voice called out.

"We won't hurt you. Calm down, breathe."

Oh shu-No, you! Natalie's eyes kept on switching between a soft and angry look until eventually her facial expression was more soft and was much more likeable than her stronger personality. Natalie, the other two now in control worked together to pull Soulless and herself up. Natalie looked at Soulless as another few moments had gone by. She knew that she didn't have much time left before she fell unconscious, so she spoke while she could.

"W-we're s-sorry," Natalie stuttered, her speech problems being put on display as she went into a small bout of unintelligeable muttering afterwards about how her dominant personality is very violent, and how the actual her only gets to speak when nearing unconsciousness. "W-well, I-i g-g-guess that my time's . . . ," Natalie gasped as her eyes opened wide and her body went limp. Her eyes closed as a pulse of purple energy flowed through her, making her fall unconscious.

[Summary: Natalie's stronger personality gives way and her weaker self finally speaks, apologizing to Soulless before falling unconscious due to the effects of Fear Garden.]

Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Soulless held her to himself, not knowing what to do with this woman. As his other half had suspected, she was... just like them, but not. He clutched her tightly, wondering what to do, where to go, what he should do now. With a gentle croo coming from his lips in acceptance, he gave a grunt of effort as he hauled her onto his shoulders. You sure you can do this? Saneless asked now, stepping out from the shadows once the danger was over and sitting in the darkness once more, watching patiently. It wasn't certain that they could carry a person... their body was not made for strength and they both knew this obvious truth. However, Soulless still tried, stumbling once, twice. Blood laced over his wound, regenerating it fairly quickly. In a few minutes he was out of fear garden and he had begun walking to nerf tower.

However, his legs failed him and so he kneeled down, setting her down on the dirt away from Fear Garden, then he turned to the plants and the people they trapped. With his blood he rushed in , slicing and dicing at the plants in a manner that strongly mimicked how he brought down so many men long ago. When he was done he smiled to those trapped, pointing to the nearby mirror before turning his attention away and looked down, only now noticing the many cuts and gashes on his arms and legs which happened while he was battling. These weren't fatal, he'd be alright. Smiling to himself, he limped to the fallen woman and waited quietly for her to awaken. Be careful, when she awakens you might be in for something nasty. The voice in the back of his mind spoke gruffly, always suspicious. Soulless knew this, and so he kept his blood floating around him.

He wondered, if he called for Paorou, would he know what to do? The man in red who had disappeared from the world for so long without a trace... "Paorou?" He spoke quietly before looking down again at this woman, confused. Surely when she awoke he would take her somewhere, perhaps a large city or something where she may rest and recover while he wandered off in search of his future.
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Asmodeus was silent since leaving the ISAF. Drake had prudently chosen not to engage in conversation, having no means to fly if the angel so deemed to brush him off. Hands clasped around his neck, Drake glanced toward the earth but was greeted only by white streaked obscurity. Each wingbeat threatened to throw the wererat off balance and each dip and climb taxed the strength in Drake's arms. Still he said nothing, noting only with idle amazement how well the angel flew. The supposed king of confluence powers and yet his wings were of a manageable height and width...not nearly the size needed to make such ascents.

Dropping suddenly, the angel leveled out above a pitted landscape of red sand and gorges. Drake did not recognize the area, assuming it was one of the few deserts within the realm of Iwaku. As Asmodeus alighted on the dust, a tired Drake slipped from his neck and slumped on the arid ground beside him. He shook his arms, but the aches and pains proved too stalwart an opponent. Glancing up to the angel, Drake struggled to his feet and gazed around. The ruins of buildings either half finished or half destroyed stood curiously from various spots in the landscape. Not one to let confusion stagnate, the monk walked alongside Asmodeus and frowned.

"Where are we?"

"The Everwhere and the Nowhere," he was quick to say, "The new and old Iwaku, the city on the hill, and a fleeting memory in the mind."

"That's nonsense," Drake protested irately, his mind on the screaming soldiers and civilians in Dystopia, "Sheer ins-" He stopped.

Asmodeus said nothing.

Between them a mutual unease grew.

"Insanity..." Drake murmured, almost dreamily, "You brought us to Insanity."

The wererat had never set foot in the realm of Insanity, but he'd heard the tales. The mad king Paorou ruled this realm with complete tyranny. How could one oppose a God? In this stretch of land, confluence was no more then a pipe dream and whatever the Crimson lord wanted...became. The rocks bled and the sky between stars and earth sang backwards lullabies on the wind. His head did not twitch, but his eyes bent at the corners of their sockets as if trying to escape. Drake scanned the area for sign of aggression, or the Mad King himself.


Drake looked to Asmodeus for an explanation but the angel was placid. Azure orbs rooted in the horizon, the former Lord of Towers stood like a challenging conqueror on Paorou's own turf. The confidence was admirable, but beneath his training part of Asmodeus likely quaked in knowing his uselessness here. It was no wonder there was never any formal assault against this place...what would be the point? An ever shifting landscape of Crimson and danger could not possibly yield more then what was lost to take it. The world of iwaku had chosen to ignore it entirely, unsure how to deal with it or if it needed to be dealt with at all.

"We wait for Paorou," Drake said at last, his voice cold, "While innocent people die at the hands of the scorpion."

"Perhaps the ISAF will grow to accept their mortality," Asmodeus answered casually, his eyes unfocused "Or get their asses in gear and prove an asset for once."

Drake had no answer for him. Strange times were these that a ruler who had bequeathed land to a fledgling nation less then twenty years ago would so callously dismiss their lives. Once he had been the same, viewing the lives of men in the multitudes rather then singularly. Soldiers were simply that, and fated to die the moment they drew a weapon.

It was the inevitability of war.

Two warlords passed stood beside each other on what might have been Paorou's back and quietly looked into the miasma of sunlight ahead of them. Asmodeus must have assumed Paorou would know him the moment he touched the land and Drake was not foolish enough to wander Insanity without an inkling of where or what he was doing. The ISAF should be finished with the parts and what remained was finding both a binding and Myrnodyn...the only scientist capable of discerning truth from Nylock's babbling.

"Asmodeus," Drake asked after a few moments, his eyes unmoving from their previous position "Why did you do it?"

"Do what?"
The reply was as flat as the question.

"Why did you pick up your sword for the first time?" Drake turned to him and frowned solemnly, "What made you want to conquer Iwaku?"

Summary: Drake and Asmo are waiting for Paorou...Drake asks questions.
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

There were mushroom clouds to the north, grey plumes lashed with red as the ISAF brought their nuclear ordinance to bear. From here the fall of Dystopia was like thunder on the horizon, like the futile roars of a beast caught in a trap. It was insanity - more there than here - the mad duel between irredeemable warriors and the incarnate force of apathy.

The ISAF would persist in violent detail... and the Scorpion would dismiss each word and cry. A chaos of means and ends. Madness...

It would become Iwaku... in time... as time before...

"Perhaps..." Asmodeus answered, his voice hollow as it echoed from the lunatic landscape, "... the same thing that made us all."

They passed beneath a tree of tears, where hanging chains held the scraps of memories - diary pages, photographs and lovers' trinkets. "And what is that?" Drake asked.

"Angels are messengers. They do not have the luxury of free will." Asmodeus led the way up the next hill, which seemed to offer no challenge to their ascents, their steps just as light and swift as before. "On the Silent Hill I served, re-singing the stories of old. I thought by choosing to fall into Iwaku I was somehow... abandoning my post in the heavens."

He stopped on the crest and the air of Insanity brought out his eyes in more brilliant blue, crystalline with tears. "But how can that be, when my will is not my own?" He turned to look at Drake. "Tell me, Stranger, what is a man to do when he puts a loaded gun in his mouth and the gun refuses to fire? I have been here too long... the Cycle has consumed me. And now, in my conquests and my rage... in my slaughters and speeches... I am but a humble servant of a greater plan to which I am... eternally... ignorant."

"Well, I guess that makes two of us."

At the sound of the voice, Asmodeus and Drake turned to regard the valley beyond. A figure unfolded silently from the terrain, drawing behind him a blade from which silver text and glyphs dropped like dust.


"Mon frere."

"Do I need to tell you..."

" more lives could have been saved? How our children in the Forest might have prospered had I been there? It would be as fruitless as me telling you not to worry so much about the forward momentum. After all, there are much... sweeter momentums in this life."

"We lost too many in Shifter Town. I don't recognise the heroes anymore."

"That's always been your problem. All the moreso now, for what I have to come to tell you."

"So there is a purpose to this visitation?"

"No no, just a happy coincidence. Like all our meetings."

Drake remained silent throughout the exchange between the robed man and the angel, whose words seemed to resonate with the weight of something more profound.

Asmodeus set off down the slope towards the man, "I always suffer violent changes after meeting you. My Empire surrendered... my sanity restored... my head cut off by a god..."

Beneath the shadow of his sugegasa hat, Coffeecakesadist smiled, "And you love me for it, don't you?"

Their swords hung idly in their hands, the text dripping from Coffee's and weaving into the celestial shine of Asmodeus's. And though Drake knew little of Asmodeus that had not been reported or read, he could, nonetheless, tell that there was something more than antagonism here. Asmodeus and Coffeecakesadist were equals, perhaps as his master, JackShade had been. Here before him was the glimpse of a brotherhood that existed beyond and above the ordinary.

A cause unspoken... a principle undefined yet utterly powerful.

"Is there are a way out of this?" Asmodeus asked, the memories of Shifter Town, Iwaku City and Dystopia sharp in his tears.

"Always," Coffee answered. "And one which I'm sure you'll appreciate." He suddenly noticed Drake, leaning past the angel to doff his hat. "Good to see you getting more screen-time, Master Drake."

"WHAT answer?" Asmodeus brought Coffee's attention back on topic.

The mentor sheathed his sword and folded his arms inside his robes. "He's here, Asmodeus."

The angel frowned. "Who?"

"The star of the show - the one we've all been waiting for, apparently. The Cycle has skipped - a fluctuation in the meta. A heterodiagetic convergence on seven mythic plains..."

"One day I will summarize you!" Asmodeus barked, stepped closer to Coffee.

"Very well..." spoke the mentor, the hat concealing all but his smile. "Straight to the apex of the scene then. The Hero of Iwaku will show himself. Tonight."

Drake could not be sure.... but for a moment he thought he heard Asmodeus gasp...

[SUMMARY: Asmodeus explains to Drake that he is now enslaved to the Cycle. Then CoffeeCakeSadist appears with a mysterious prophecy. The True Hero of Iwaku will appear before the end of this day!]
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Mottled dust choked the landscape and brought sharp pain against Drake's cheeks. Coffee's words were followed by all that denoted wind...without the wind. The tree of hanging memories spasmed in the grip of unseen force and the long hair of Asmodeus slithered behind him without cause. Animal instincts grated against his intelligence, one howling to flee or fight and the other attempting to understand. Two beings stood near to him that had shaped the course of Iwaku history. Although Drake had little knowledge on the sage, the man resonated an energy that could not be ignored. Long ago, Drake might have scoffed at such prophecies. Every realm he had conquered spoke of legends and heroes. Some fought upon the front lines and some were merely symbols with bones long gone to rot. Either way, the common link between all heroes was their inflated sense of self. To think the fate of a city, a nation, or the population relied on the strength of a single creature was laughable at best. Shifting his gaze from either man though, Drake could feel the weight of belief. The Cycle was a convention he was not accustomed to. Most worlds held little stability in their narrative strength, easily overpowered by the outside influences Drake used to reduce kingdoms to dust. Iwaku, however, proved stubborn to change and always maintained at least a semblance of balance. No inner strife had rent the pattern, and no outer intrusion had destroyed it. For the Hero of Iwaku to arrive before the evening drew to a close was somehow more weighted then any declaration Drake had heard before.

Jack had spoken of the Hero once, his eyes glittering (angrily? With interest) as he turned a stubborn screw.

"We all have roles here Drake, everyone plays ball by the Cycle's rules."

"So the Cycle groups us by our actions,"
Drake responded, turning the page of a dusty book "And we are powerless to stop it?"

"Well...there are those like Porg,"
Jack mused, his expression slate "But the Cycle protects its own from what I know, and those not part of it are powerless within it."

"Much like an angel, free only in illusion and yet chained to a greater fate."

"We are all chained by fate," Jack muttered, a hint of bitterness creeping into his words "I will always be the radical, the fallen hero, the lesser of Asmodeus."

Drake did not respond to him then, glancing over the pages of the tome and frowning. His travels with Jack had always pivoted around the lad's excessive need to prove himself. It did not matter the station or occasion, but the curious angel had always fought to remain in the good respects of others. Perhaps...Perhaps this was why.

"I once gave my soul to defeat him," he continued, muscles straining as he pushed against the stubborn screw "And I failed all the same. The Cycle won't allow me to hurt him or defeat him."

Drake continued to be silent, allowing Jack to speak his mind.

"Am I not important enough? Am I not respected enough in this mythos? The Cycle has chosen its heroes and yet I always fall short...fall forgotten. WHY?"
The screw snapped, the broken piece flung up and away from the frustrated angel. Jack growled and smashed the tool against the workshop floor, falling back against his black wings in abject defeat. "I want to make a difference here, but how can I when no one takes me seriously?"

Placing the book aside, Drake folded his clawed hands and sat back in the chair. Jack had far to go in terms of development, and these next words would not be understood till later.

"You will never be a hero Jack," Drake convicted almost sadly, "You try to elevate yourself over others using your past glory as a crutch. This is a new Iwaku, no one remembers the Admin war anymore and frankly they don't want to. Reminding them of past follies won't win their hearts."

Swinging his head toward Drake, Jack's eyes were wounded, though his face did not twitch.

"You love Asmodeus,"
Drake continued, wary of the color rising to Jack's face and the muscles pulsing in his jaw, "But that broken creature will never recognize you as an equal so long as you wallow without his favor. I am sorry my friend, but you will remain his shadow so long as you transfix yourself to his feet."

Moving slowly, Jack stood over Drake menacingly. The shadow he cast was impressive, but Drake was level. There was no give in the wererat's posture or pull toward flinching. Between the two, an observer might not understand who was the dominant companion. After several moments of silence, Jack turned and walked away from the wererat, his disdain only evident in the terse breaths hissing from his nose.

Drake watched him leave and shook his head. The boy had much to learn.

But Jack was gone, dead or banished in the face of the Admin war and the scattered rumors of his return were not enough to coax a quest. If Jack wished to return to his home, he would. He had wings after all. But Drake had other matters to ponder on besides the missing angel. Asmodeus and Coffee held on the same breath. No words had been spoken since Coffee's last prediction and the air hung thick with expectation.

"Who is it?" Asmodeus asked despite himself,

"You'll have to wait and see."
came the enigmatic answer

Asmodeus stepped closer to Coffee, a faint smile growing on his face. It was not triumphant nor particularly joyful. "Then my role is clear," He nodded, wings flexing behind him "As I suppose it always has been."

Coffee shrugged, his eyes hidden by the dip of his hat. The sword spat symbols to twist and die upon the earth.

Curiously Drake wondered if they were the shed words of the Cycle. The narratives that didn't make the cut.

"Did you ever think it different?"
the sage asked with a jocular grin. As Asmodeus's smile, this one held no mirth.

"Once," Asmodeus admitted faintly his wet eyes on his hands, "But it is neither here nor now."

"Everyone has a choice," Drake said softly, interrupting the focus between the two "I've never known a fate that cannot be changed." Coffee turned his joyless smile to the wererat and shrugged, a wordless reply. Asmodeus said nothing, catching the crimson light of Insanity within a teardrop that ran across his palm.

"No man is bound to fate that does not choose to be," the wererat continued, turning to his wrist and the cold metallic watch that wrapped around it "Asmodeus, you most of all should realize that...did you not teach Jack the same?"

"Jack was a mistake," The angel whispered, but his heart wasn't in it "He wasn't prepared to take up my one is."

"Perhaps you have never trusted someone long enough to,
" Drake countered sharply, finger brushing all but carelessly against the keypad on the device, "The world is not built of towers or your narratives, but by the lives within them. This is no story, this is life!"

Coffee laughed harshly, quieting quickly with an amused smile.

"How little you know, Stranger,"
Asmodeus murmured with a wispy smile, shaking his head "How little you know."

Waking to being eaten is an experience better felt then described. Starting from his unconsciousness with a cry, Jack kicked at the heads of the carnivorous plants chomping at his body. Around him lay the unconscious forms of others, few he recognized by name but all familiar from the RRD. Now wasn't the time to unravel what had happened, instead Jack flew into a frenzy of bent limbs and vigor. Pushing the creatures from him, Jack swung to his feet and drew both blades at his side. Familiar weight gave confidence to his steps and swing by swing he cleaved at the crawling vines. His first target was Seiji and Tain. Swinging one foot under the captain's arm he pushed the man behind him and over the remnants of the plants he'd already destroyed. Seiji was already proving difficult to digest by the carnivorous flora and it was the work of a few swipes and a kick to send him back at Tain. Around him the remaining heads of the Fear Garden twisted and snapped in silent fury. New buds pushed through the crimson soil to snip hungrily at the rescued victims. Abandoning the prospect of clearing the garden, Jack twisted his gaze through the field for an outcropping or anything else he might move the bodies toward.

Soulless greeted him, odd eyes meeting his own for a moment before the angel sharply indicated those behind him.

"Take them OUT of this damned place and be quick!" He recognized the boy to some extent...Soulless was a once ward of Paorou which would have him in the middle of Insanity. Gritting teeth, Jack braved the snapping heads to pull Piro and Okami from the ruckus, tossing them behind him toward the others.

Straightening, the angel backed from the garden with nervous eyes. His wounds did not so much bleed as run, as though he were wet clay in a strong river.

If not for the scent of flowers on her, Jack might not have noticed her at all. The gentle fragrance was alien enough in the environment to give the angel pause, his eyes searching. She was small, and almost dragged into the earth by the monsters. Sakura, relation of Razilin and one of the old guard was moments away from being devoured as fertilizer. Hurling himself into the fray, Jack swung blade after blade at the tangle of jealous vines. In the resulting chaos he was torn nearly limb from limb, hacking madly as he waded through himself to get to her. Ripping the girl from the vines he crawled toward Soulless, teeth grit in exertion and eyes distant with pain.

After nearly an uninterrupted period of combat and energy, Jack was tapped out. Blinking groggily he pulled his feet from the last of the Fear Garden and wearily fell exhausted to the red dirt.

Summary: Conversation amongst them all....Jack wakes and saves the others from the Fear Garden...he asks for help from Soulless before passing out.
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Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Soulless watched Jack curiously. He ran for people who could no longer feel, seemingly eternally in a dreamland and having left their bodies behind. Why? He didn't understand, was it not better to leave them be than to awaken in this place? He knew of Jack, yes, the shadow of that Asmodeus character. Perhaps once upon a time he might've believed that Asmodeus was a character that was evil, for anything against Paorou, against Insanity, was pure evil at the time. Now, things were different. He might've killed Jack many years ago, but now he had no need to. This idea seemed to startle the boy into not helping Jack. Why wasn't he killing the man? Was he not a follower of Paorou? Was Paorou not enemies to Asmodeus? Should he not then destroy any follower of that angel? He let out a soft whine, interrupted by Jack's pleading.

It was a demand to leave, to go out and rescue these people, along with the girl. These were faces he knew and yet did not know, time having changed them as it has him. When it was all over he got up and looked around at those around him. He couldn't carry all of these people. Except.... He rolled up one sleeve, revealing a pale arm with only one very faint scar- something he kept to remind him. He wandered to the unconscious Jack, unsheathing his dagger. With some effort he rolled the man over and tipped the man's neck back. He frowned softly and pressed two fingers against his neck. Yes, he's alive. Those plants can't keep down the past. Nothing can. The familiar voice of Saneless whispered, and Soulless withdrew his hand from Jack and, for a moment, brandished his dagger. Except the past can silence another past... If you choose it. Soulless whined. He sought guidance from his other half, not riddled confusion! To this received a hearty laugh and silence. He looked at Jack, then the bodies. For a moment he trembled, and suddenly Saneless whispered. DO IT! DO IT NOW!

Blood was spilled to the ground, as crimson as the soil. Jack's soft breathing was all that was hard for a moment, and Soulless exhaled. He seemed to loosen his grip on the dagger, then suddenly gripped harder and began to wildly jerk the dagger around, ripping into flesh and causing a great wound, one upon a very important artery. One that would be eventually fatal if a normal person suffered such a wound. However, thankfully, Soulless was not such a person. He sighed and finally pulled the dagger out, the blood coming off of his dagger and the ground as he sheathed his self-malicious weapon. Well there was only one thing to do. He let out a low humming noise before closing his eyes and his blood reached out towards all the unconscious bodies, slipping under and around them. Then, they were carefully lifted with the gentleness that denied how they were used in the past. He sighed at the effort, for people were heavy creatures, filled with blood and flesh and bone, all heavy. He shivered a moment, and gathered the people in a blood-made basket, bodies curled up against one another like a pile of sleeping dogs. Like a family.

This thought seemed to twinge at him almost painfully. Had he ever had a family? In all his memories, did he have a mother? A father? He shook his head. Yeah, let's get moving. Get these people to a place where they can leave without remembering any of this. Soulless nodded and looked at his bleeding arm, then the little sled of blood he had behind him with the people inside, still together like family. He wondered if any of them would remember anything. Well, it didn't mean anything now. With a gentle sigh of confusion and reluctant acceptance, he began to wander to try and find signs of life, his blood making sure none of the people inside would come to any harm, both holding them and looming over them like an overprotective mother willing to both torture and brutally kill any unwanted presence.

Then he heard voices. Three. He began to walk towards the voices, but stopped suddenly. These three weren't from Insanity. In fact... one shouldn't be here. He let out a snarl, both of fear and repulse. Those wings... those wings! They were impossible to ignore. It was Asmodeus and two others. An attack on Insanity perhaps? Why? Though they only came in three, albeit he wasn't fooled. In this world a singe person could be an army, just as an army could move and work like a single person. He let out a small snort of suspicion. He should run and try to seek Paorou. However, he had another charge. Glancing behind him at the bodies of the victims of Fear Garden, including the one who had created it. Getting them help was first priority and so he began to walk bravely to them, ready for anything. "Hello!" He spoke, interrupting their conversation with a simple word.

[Soulless uses his blood to carry everyone, although he runs into Asmodeus, Coffee, and Drake and begins to walk towards them to seek help.]
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Inundation, that's what pervaded Natalie's dream. The night sky shined brightly with stars, cruel bystanders that were too far to understand her as she ran through the night. Why am I running? Why can't I stop? Natalie asked herself as panted, the now much younger looking girl tripping on a tree root that had been surfaced, much to her disknowledge in the darkness. Why am I scared? Natalie asked herself as she held herself after getting up, her dirty off-white dress unable to protect her from the icy air. Don't you remember?! We're running from her! Natalie's stronger personality answered her as the young Natalie began running through the darkness once more. Run, Natalie, run far away from there, the two voices joined together as Natalie quickened her pace, her panting growing louder.

And then, from the woods, it came. Its fur glistened silver in the moonlight pouring into the clearing. Its eyes were as crimson as blood, ferocious teeth. Natalie's younger self stared at the creature who stood on all fours, its tail stiff and its stance aggressive. Natalie, back away, her weaker self advised. No, fight, dammit! The ringing started just as it was to start up much later in her life. The creature leaped at Natalie as her younger self screamed, causing a ringing sound to reverberate in the current Natalie's ears.

Stop, the current Natalie weakly commanded herself to no avail as the ringing continued. Ugh, Natalie thought as her eyelids began to flutter open. What's this? Natalie asked, finding herself curled up with those that she had brought to Fear Garden. What have I done? Natalie asked herself as she looked at the people. This is wro-NO IT'S NOT, NATALIE, Natalie's stronger personality began to force herself back into control. Go away, you're making the ringing worse! the weak personality and the new voice screamed in her mind. Natalie was now conscious, but unable to do anything; she was in too much pain as she clutched her ears.

Summary: Natalie has an informative flash-back about the first night she was in Anirune Forest and how she was viciously attacked by a strange, lupine creature before coming to, only to be unable to move due to the ringing in her ears.
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

There was some kind of incoherent gurgling as something in Soulless' mass of blood and bodies shifted. A little head of brown sat up, blinking bright golden eyes in front of her in confusion. Sakura could feel a horrible throbbing in the back of her head, and her whole body ached as if she'd fallen and crashed through tree branches. She tried to remember where she was and what had happened, but her memory was drawing a blank. She took a small breath and reached up to push her bangs out of her eyes. Looking around, she recognized the bodies near her. Pirogeth, the kind man who had offered to help her earlier. And Jack... Sakura froze, her eyes widening as her memory rushed back at her. One event after the other passed in chronological order in her mind, even faint remnants of Natalie's Fear Garden. The girl shuddered, wrapping her arms around herself, reliving the crushing, helpless feeling of Natalie's vines pulling her deeper and deeper into the ground. Sakura had only been semi-conscious, unable to fight or resist, but the feeling had not escaped her. She tried to calm herself, taking another look around.

They were cradled inside something. Sakura peered at it closely and realized it was blood. She bit her lip and frowned, This is... She looked above her, the blood was a sort of protective force, surrounding them from harm. She wondered if the user knew that she was awake. Leaning forward, she moved so that she wouldn't disturb the others and glanced ahead. "It's Soulless!" she gasped. Even from this distance, Sakura could easily see that he was injured. And so were the the bodies that lay beside her. She was worried now. Healing all of them would take a toll on her energy, but she had to try, but would they be okay? Could she really help them like this?

Frowning, she patted her cheeks with the palms of her hands a couple of times, her eyes shut. It made her feel like she was bringing the energy back into herself Come on, this is no time to worry! I have to help! Everyone is always taking care of me. If I can do something small, even that would be good! She pulled her thoughts together and a small smile crept across her face hopefully. She could heal everyone a little, right? A little bit should be enough for them to heal naturally, right? As long as no one was in critical condition. Sakura felt happy thoughts seeping through her initial fear and smiled. Okay! Time to play hero, Sakura! Turning back to the bodies beside her, Sakura closed her eyes and clasped her hands together, using her Luminous Heart to slightly heal Jack, Okami, Natalie, and Piro. Natalie, too, Sakura thought, focusing on spreading her healing energy over the girl. She knew that Natalie had tried to hurt them, but there was something that told her that she shouldn't put that against her. An injured person was an injured person, that didn't make them any different in her eyes.

Moving on to Jack, Sakura could feel the stinging feeling of tears in her eyes. He seemed like he was hurt the most; it made her want to cry, but she had to be strong. Everyone fights to save everyone else. It makes sense if people get hurt. Healing them is just as important as feeling bad about it... She opened her eyes and started to crawl out of Soulless' cradle of blood, climbing carefully over the edge so she could tumble over onto the ground.

"Hey, Soulless, wait," Sakura scrambled after him just as he as reached the others. She didn't get a chance to be surprised to see Asmodeus and his companions, but quickly closed her eyes and cast her healing on Soulless' wound as well. It was a little deeper than the injuries the others had, but Sakura was determined to help him. She concentrated on it and then opened her eyes, smiling happily. She always felt cheerful when she felt she had done something useful. A wave of exhaustion passed over her almost instantly after she was done, but she shuffled her feet, took a deep breath, and turned to see who Soulless had been talking to.

Her mouth opened in surprise, "Asmodeus-sama?"

[Sakura wakes up in Soulless' cradle of blood and cheers up determined to heal the others. Then she scrambles out over to Soulless to heal his wound as well, surprised to see Asmodeus & co there]
Re: Insanity - CHAPTER 4

Natalie pretended to remain unconscious as the brown-haired girl awoke. There was a painful ringing her ears from arguing with her self, and it was beginning to become a bit much. As she neared the verge of screaming, something calming seemed to come over her. The bruises acquired from falling earlier healed as the ringing in her ears stopped, her two main personalities temporarily at peace with one another. Is this a sign? the third voice desperately wondered. Is it not the faintest shimmer in the distance? Natalie pictured herself trapped in a tunnel, the voices finally able to speak without her ears ringing in pain.

Natalie wasn't sure what to do; she wasn't used to people doing nice things for her at all. It's all so foreign to us, the third voice spoke. See, not everyone's out to kill us! the weaker voice enthusiastically exclaimed. Yeah, yeah, she healed us once; like any of these other people will be nice to us; I say it's time to grab our boot straps and high-tale it out of this place, Natalie's more dominant personality reasoned. But first . . . , The other two voices got the dominant personality to give in as Natalie slowly followed after Sakura, climbing over the blood-made cradle and tumbling after her.

Natalie saw some rather strange characters assembled before her. An angel that seemed to be supposed to be dead or gone in some form of the word, a person travelling with him, and a shady figure who seemed to carry weight with him. Natalie was now scared to do what her two selves had wanted to do. Especially when the little girl's mouth opened in surprise upon seeing the angel. Natalie thusly made some sort of attempt to fade into the background, seeing as her speech problems would only get in the way of Sakura and Asmo.

(Summary: Natalie sees a faint light at the end of the tunnel and crawls out to try and thank Sakura, only to try and fade into the background, feeling that she'd be in the way of the conversation that is presumably to start)