The Fall of The Realm (Kreska & Valentyne)

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    • Two armies fought, raging across a vast battlefield; the one was composed of mortals, the other a great host of angelic beings. Sabaoth was led by an archangel, a tall winged figure carrying a blazing sword. He was majestic and powerful, striding through the battle cutting down waves of humans with every swing. His skin was like porcelain, fine and without blemish. His wings spread out over fifteen feet on either side of him, strong enough to carry him in flight for indefinite periods of time. He was a Solar, a being of ultimate light. Leading the mortal army, in contrast, was a girl. She looked young--perhaps no older than twenty. She had long black hair, framing a face of white skin that was unnaturally pale, a sick color in opposition to the Solar's perfection. Her frame was slim and small, and she stood barely over five feet. Her outfit was simple, consisting of a loose v-neck shirt of fine material, trousers of a similar quality, and a velvet belt. She wore no armor. Her most striking trait were her eyes--the irises were an iridescent white color, tinged with pink. The girl carried no weapons. However, the mass of humanity and angels parted around her as she casually walked through, seemingly without thought. A space formed around her and the Solar, their only close company the fallen bodies of men and angels. The two glared at each other for a split second. No words were spoken. The archangel towered over her, standing over nine feet tall. Then he struck, swinging his massive flaming sword down toward her.

      The air around the human general seemed to darken, light fleeing from it instead of illuminating under the glow of the blade. Her eyes seemed to flicker with luminescense. She raised a hand. An intense, pure white fire, outlined in darkness, erupted in an aura around her. As it passed into it, the angel's sword disintegrated, falling into white dust, the effect tracing all the way up to the hilt. The Solar's eyes grew wide. His foe swept her arm toward him. He flapped his wings and jumped out of the way as the blast of dark-light sailed toward him. The girl held her arms out to either side of her. The same unholy light coalesced into beautiful wings on her back, darkening the space around her. She followed him into the air, her hands shrouded in dark-light. He yelled a word in the language of angels. Thunder sounded, and lightning fell from the sky toward her, a bolt of crackling energy. The air seemed to distort around the girl, the bolt bending and curving around her to discharge harmlessly into the ground. She pointed her hand at the resolute yet outmatched Solar. White fire burned around her.

      Then everything went black.

      Valentine's wings faded. With no light around her, her power winked out. She fell, drifting surreally through the void ever-downward. For a brief moment the celestial-born girl wondered if she would fall forever.

      Then her feet gently touched solid ground. Light flared around her. She found herself standing on an invisible platform, drifting amidst a sea of blue light. Seemingly random objects drifted with her in the air--clockwork gears, swords, strange objects of metal she did not recognize. The blue stretched on endlessly. The air seemed to shimmer. A man appeared next to her, and ahead of her, a woman. A girl, really. She looked even younger than Valentine. Her facial features were similar, but her eyes were gray, and her black hair was much longer and hopelessly tangled. She was dressed in a flowing gothic dress.

      The girl smiled warmly. "Greetings. I apologize for plucking you so abruptly from your own worlds, but I assure you, time stands still. When you return, everything will be exactly as you left it." She put a strange emphasis on the word when, as if she actually meant to say if you return. "But a universe is in peril. People in one set of worlds are vanishing, depopulating them. This would be no concern of yours, but you are a part of this universe, in a way. You are inextricably linked to certain characters throughout them, and these characters face doom. Should they perish, so will you. You must travel to each of these worlds and find these avatars of yourself, and save them. When the task is complete, you will be taken back to your own worlds. Should you wish, I can erase your memory of these events. When you enter each world, you will be granted knowledge--knowledge of its physical laws, of its technology. This will equip you for your task. Two characters from this universe will be allowed to aid you in this."

      "Who?" Valentine asked.
      The woman was silent for a moment, her face perplexed. Then she smiled. "As for you, dear celestial, him."
      A man appeared next to her. He had startling albino eyes and a messy head of short dark brown hair. His expression was perplexed. He wore a white coat, tattered and stained. "What in--?" The scientist exclaimed.

    #1 Valentyne, Mar 19, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2016
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  1. What was I doing again?

    Narrus racked his mind. What /had/ he been doing? This was going to bother him. Had there been a computer? There was sometimes a computer... but the more he tried to focus on whether there had been a computer, the less he recalled why he would need a computer in the first place or why whatever a computer was was even relevant here in the first place. His hand was predictably buried in his short brown hair, itching as if it would help him remember better. His eyes faded from brown to hazel to green to amber as he adjusted the collar of his shirt: his clothing was grey everywhere save a brownish pair of shoes and a bright green undershirt peeking out from the collar of the shirt over it, which had short sleeves as well.

    "Well," Narrus started before clearing his throat and turning away, holding up a finger as if to say "gimme a moment". "Well, if we're to be... disconnecting ourselves from these worlds, then, uh..." He looked down, thinking, as the sleeves of his shirts shortened spontaneously. A set of black sleeves and fingerless gloves appeared on his arms, and his pants tightened just slightly to provide a more utilitarian feel. He felt himself caught up in vanity for a moment as he closed his eyes, a staff of light wood materialising in his left hand. The gem at its tip shined an impossible color, somewhere between the green of his undershirt and the amber of his eyes. Opening his eyes, Narrus shifted back to self-consciousness, clearing his throat and brushing nonexistent dust off of a bare shoulder with his off-hand before tugging the yellow scarf that had come to exist around his neck at some time. "Right," he murmured. "Scarves were a thing." A rambunctious copy of himself with a red scarf and a more serious, downcast one with a blue scarf— he recalled employing the idea at some point. Employ? Employees? How much did I pay them? Wait; that means that I have money. When did I get a... His thoughts wandered.

    ... With a red scarf.
    Narrus turned to his right side with a pivot to see the person in a red scarf standing beside him. Specifically, a girl in a red scarf. More specifically, a girl in a red scarf of noticeably shorter stature than him, with an ambiguously-light-yellowish skin tone, muddy brown eyes open wide in confusion, and hair of a color that could only be described as minty held back into two tails. Her rounded jaw hung open for a moment until her mouth contorted itself into a perplexed frown, brow furrowing and eyes continuing to dart back and forth between the young man she'd appeared next to, the woman and man in the distance in one direction, and the lone woman in another direction. Finally she looked to herself, seeming relieved that she was still in one piece. A warmly-glowing amulet with an ovular amber gem inset showed itself for a moment as she tugged on her scarf in almost the exact same way that Narrus a moment before had. The rest of her outfit consisted of a grey vest with only one of the buttons at the bottom undone, a pair of gloves that covered most of the length of her arms and were just as red as her scarf, a brown pair of shorts that were held snugly to her frame by suspenders, and boots that reached up to her thighs, red stockings sticking out of the tightened straps. She was maybe one or two time periods removed from the rest of the people present if her outfit, paradoxical in the fact that it was intricate yet playful, was any indication.

    "Karitama," Narrus murmured as he met the girl's eyes... Yes; he knew this character. But did she know him? "So, wait. Kari...da's going to be aiding me in saving these avatars?"
    Karida, meanwhile, eyed Narrus with scarcely-veiled— actually, her curiosity wasn't veiled whatsoever. He knew that she was touchy about the use of her given name in its full form, so this person knew her somehow.
    "Wait," Narrus continued. "I mean, why Karida in particular? Do you realise who you're calling on to..." He shook his head, dissatisfied with his wording, looking down to adjust his scarf once again. "Shouldn't it be Hypercomplex-era Tilde or something? Like, someone who's got more experience with, you know—"
    Narrus was interrupted by Karida's hand slapping his face. "Now hold it right there, buddy," she said pointedly, raising her voice as Narrus comically held his reddened right cheek for a moment. She turned to face the enigmatic woman, Val, and the man in white. "I don't really know what's going on here," she yelled at them, lighting up in conviction. "But I heard everything, and I like to think I've got a thing for saving peoples' worlds!" She planted one hand on a hip while the other held a finger straight up in the air in a sassy pose. "I'm Karida Engelsch, liberator of Cerano! And saving your, um..." She looked to Narrus, who was muffling a fierce giggling despite trying his best to keep a straight face.
    "Avatars," he helpfully replied before turning away to avoid another slapping.
    "Yeah, avatars!" she continued, sounding as though she was trying to pierce space-time with the sheer force of her loudness and sass as she clapped a hand on Narrus's shoulder. "Mister Dude and I are here for a reason, and saving those avatars is gonna be a snap!"
    "Narrus," Narrus replied with a chuckled as he recovered from the fit of laughter, returning Karida's hand on his shoulder with a hand on her own shoulder as he extended his staff outward in an equally dynamic pose. He had decided a few minutes ago that he would go by Narrus here— although the ID in the wallet in his right pocket might have told a different story, he didn't concern himself with that. After all, what was a story to him, a writer in his own mind, but a thing that was to evolve and be perfected upon? With Karida's rambunctious character complementing his own well enough, his awkwardness melted away for the time being as he asked the question of their host.
    "When do we start?"
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  2. The man who had appeared next to Valentine looked her over carefully, his expression intense and critical, scanning her top to bottom. She inched away from him uncomfortable. His own eyes narrowed when he looked at hers. "No gray, but unusual. Unusual." He muttered to himself. "You don't look sick. Normal eye color, healthy frame, if a bit small." He turned and surveyed the other people in the room. "Strange company." He observed. "...Strange place, too. Interesting. Is it possible the terialic effects could create demiplanes? Interdimensional travel was never a possibility we explored. Parallel universes, perhaps. Or illusion! I have documented that ability. Perhaps this is all a sham." He reached out and took hold of a gear as it floated by, turning it over in his hands and looking at it carefully. "Hm. Perhaps not. Solid." Then he paused. "What was I doing? Bother. What is this talk of realms and avatars?" Valentine realized that he hadn't heard that part of the conversation, but seemed to know it anyway. He looked again to Val, skepticism plain on his face. "And I am to help? Why should I?" He stated indignantly. "I have research! Experiments to perform! Nations to save. Or was it destroy? Perhaps it was both." He looked perplexed.
    "I'm not sure you have much choice." Val told him flatly, an edge in her eyes. The irises shone brightly as white fire, tinged in black, ignited around her hand with a low hiss.
    The scientist's eyes grew wide. "So you are a terialic! No sign of eye color distortion--or perhaps, abnormal distortion? Gray is all that has been documented, but other colors are possible. You seem healthy. High resistance, likely powerful abilities. Seem to be pyrokinetic in nature, but I feel no heat. Cold flame? Interesting! What strain?" He reached into his tattered labcoat, drawing several small instruments of glass and plastic from it. "I must have a sample of your blood." His voice brooked no argument.
    "I don't think so." Valentine told him, her tone confrontational. Her stance was tense, ready for a fight. The air grew even darker, and the dark-flame in her hand grew larger, crawling up her arm.
    "Hm. Very well." He paused. "I am Richard Felthos. It seems we will be working together. I would have your name." He stowed his laboratory equipment back in his coat. Val noted that it didn't seem to make a bulge in his pockets, as if it had vanished.
    "Valentine." She told him letting the flame die down. "But the Harlathians call me the Seraph."
    "Angelic imagery. Quaint."
    The Seraph glared daggers at him.

    The girl smiled at the antics of Karida, Narrus (as he had apparently chosen to call himself), Richard, and Valentine. She had seen many many different versions of these people come and go before, but it was always nice to see one more. To answer Narrus's question, she said. "You leave right now."

    The air rippled. The gears and blades and the other objects drifting about vanished. The girl who had brought them there disappeared. The blue light grew darker and darker. Soon, nothing could be seen. Then the darkness seemed to melt away, like paint sliding down a wall. When the mismatched group could see clearly, it could be discerned they were in the hallway of some sort of stone building. The stones were yellow in color, and sand leaked through the cracks in places. The floor was covered with red rugs, but a darker shade of crimson stained them. The clash of steel and fire could be heard nearby. Looking around, Val saw soldiers fighting someone. They wore red and yellow armor and carried swords and spears. They had cornered someone against the wall, a tough man with a stout figure, wielding a heavy sword. He had startlingly blue hair and was bleeding in several places. Beyond him, a large double door led into another part of the palace. "I guess we help the guy who isn't a mook." Valentine said, her hand erupting into dark-fire.
  3. Narrus was already in action, feeling strangely compelled to help the cornered man. An avatar? he wondered idly. ... Actually, I should figure out exactly what I can /do/ first. He concentrated for a moment before recalling: illusions were his forte. Or at least, they were now. "Get the one on the right," he said to Karida, who nodded before placing a hand on her chest and murmuring an incantation. In a moment's time, she finished preparing her attack with a sweeping hand motion and a cry of "Ha-AH!" The soldiers turned around just in time for the one on the very right to be burned by a small blaze erupting into him, stumbling back and screaming as he pawed at his collar. Narrus, meanwhile, now appeared as a heavily-armored general just in time for the soldier in front of him to be scared silly. He swung a bloodied halberd— actually just his staff— to bash the man's head in. "There's a certain measure of power stored in this weapon, I think," he explained, feeling like a character straight out of some animation who was explaining how things worked to a sedated bunch of viewers but taking care not to call the staff a staff so to keep the illusion going for the other guards who remained. "Guess it charges over time or something," he muttered as he hoisted the halberd-staff above his head to bring it around and face another soldier, sending the man stumbling back with just a tap in the chest. The staff's power seemed to extend to shape-shifting, because it certainly was a halberd that he was wielding— its heft confirmed that. Everything else that Narrus could do, though, was certainly only illusory.

    Narrus took a quick glance at Karida to see how she was holding up after casting what was presumably a magic spell. Her amulet could be seen glowing under her scarf. A source of power? But she also seemed fatigued by the magic given that she was panting, and her manic expression betrayed at least a slight psychological effect. Whether or not the amulet enabled her to summon the flames or only increased her power to do so would have to be found out later.

    The cornered man, meanwhile, had joined the offensive. Though his sword seemed to be an uncannily poor match against the spear of the soldier nearest to him, he managed to duck under the spear and shove the soldier back before performing a dramatic jump to hit the soldier directly... critically, one might even say. "Hail, strangers," he grunted afterwards. "I'm Salif, mercenary-adjutant to the Gradoan forces. How did it happen that anyone's able to reïnforce us at Jehanna Palace?"
    "Jehanna," Narrus murmured. So they were here, a land of scorched sand in the middle of a dark continent. He glanced at Val: surely she was also putting the pieces together and remembering everything she'd ever known about where they had ended up. "It's difficult to explain," he continued, turning back to Salif. The hand-wave would be insufficient explanation pretty much anywhere, but somehow he felt that it would be perfectly adequate for the time and place being. "We need to finish this battle, and quickly. Where's Vance?"
    "Vance?" Karida echoed, sounding hopeful. "That's— someone. Like, the name sounds insanely familiar, but..." She felt like she could've known a Vance once.
    "The prince of Grado," Salif helpfully told her. "And the leader of the anti-Jehanna forces." He surveyed the party of four after the guards had all been dealt with. "He's somewhere in these corridors... I was separated from the main fighting force. If you four hadn't showed up..." He didn't need to finish the sentence, having clearly been outmatched before.
    "Then what are we waiting for?" Karida asked, her amulet's glow dying down. "Let's find him and do what we have to do." It occurred to her, and Narrus as well, that they weren't sure how exactly they would save this dimension... or separate it, or whatever it was they had to do. They could start by defeating the Jehannans, but then what?
    They would just have to wait and see.
    #4 Kreska, Mar 20, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  4. Valentine watched as Karida and Narrus swiftly rescued Salif, her hand encased in dark-light, now manifesting as a paradoxically dark incandescence that appeared bright but did not hurt the eyes or illuminate the area. She quickly realized she would not have to use it, but kept it (literally) on hand anyway. Richard observed the battle, watching carefully as Karida displayed her pyrokinetic abilities to burn a soldier. He too had been granted general knowledge of the world, aware that such things existed here. Magic. Something the scientist could never fathom in principle, but in practice weren't harder to understand than terialic abilities. Valentine was also aware of this, amazed at how a supernatural power not angelic in origin could exist. Regardless, she pressed on toward the door, stepping over the dead bodies of the Jehannans. "I'd say our first stop is to end the battle, then. If all of the Jehannan forces are as weak as they were, we'll have no problem." Richard nodded. "Indeed. They are cannon fodder."

    Val turned to Salif. "Where's the bulk of the fighting?" It was obviously nearby, since the sounds of battle could still be heard clearly, but she wanted exacts.
    "Probably around the palace gates." He said. "You're seriously going to just drive off the Jehannan army?" His expression was incredulous.
    "Right. If it's just a human army, I'll have no problem." Her expression was firm and intense, and the dark-light in her hand glowed darker. The room dimmed almost imperceptibly. "Show us the way."
    Salif nodded. "The quickest way would be through these doors. They lead to the royal housing, and there's a balcony that overlooks the courtyard outside the gates. It would be difficult to climb down, though. But if we go the other way around we'll have to fight through the soldiers in the hallways. The problem is, this door is barred."

    "That won't be a problem." Richard put in. He stepped ahead of everyone else and stared at the door. The air rippled in front of him, distorting like heat waves. A sound like a strong wind was heard. With a mighty "crack," the door practically disintegrated, an incredible force blasting it inward. The tiny splinters scattered about the beautiful carpets decorating the floor of the royal chambers. "Seems we're all talented..." Val murmured. She strode purposefully into the room, looking around. Incredibly ornate swords hung on the wall, as well as mosaics, paintings, banners, and the other trappings of royalty. She quickly made her way to the balcony, a half-circle platform that overlooked the battle. The palace gates were open, and soldiers were scattered all around the exterior walls. The Gradoans seemed to be concentrated inside the gates. Presumably they had broken through, but Jehannan reinforcements had attacked them from behind. Valentine looked down at the walls that separated them. They were just sandstone--nothing very sturdy. Concentrating, she bent her will against them. The air distorted visibly around the fighting armies, who began to fearfully move away from the shimmering walls. Then the Seraph flexed her hand, and the walls collapsed. The distortions tore them apart, contorting them into abstract shapes and toppling them, tossing the bent stones away in every direction. The two fighting forces largely separated, backing away from each other and the ruined wall. Panting from the exertion, Valentine held up her dark-lit hand. The noonday light darkened, a shroud suddenly covering the sky. The glow around her grew stronger and stronger in a black and white nimbus. Then she pointed a finger down at the Jehannan forces. Light returned slowly to the air as an eeriely silent beam of dark-light blasted from her hand in a seemingly endless stream. It grew as it flew toward the ground, becoming a roughly ten-foot around cylinder of death. Concentrating, Val guided it across the front ranks, disintegrating soldiers into powder wherever it touched. The terrified army backed off, but the beam followed them, sweeping across their forces and ruining them. In less than thirty seconds, the majority of the Jehannan reinforcements had been converted into fine white dust, and the few remaining began to retreat.
  5. Narrus clapped a soft clap for a few seconds as the twister of darkness tore through the crowded battlefield, the halberd floating by his side after he let it go. He grabbed it, willing it to turn back to its default form of a staff, and gripped it in front of him, willing the large area in front of the Jehannan gate to turn into a deep bog of simmering lava— or at least an extremely convincing illusion of such, down to the orange glow that it cast on the scenery nearby. That would serve to discourage any enemy forces from entering for some time. "So, where to next?" he asked after surveying the finished job.

    Karida, in the meanwhile, had been leaning on the balcony's railing gazing at the spectacle. She could scarcely believe her eyes: it must have been some powerful magic that these people commanded, yet their minds and bodies both seemed barely affected. She felt humbled being in the company of these wizards, especially that she had been chosen by some process to assist one of them. Could she become that powerful one day? What were they even using as catalysts? Neither of them seemed to have an obvious amulet on their person, but...
    "Don't lean like that." Karida was pulled out of her thoughts by Narrus tugging her back by the back of her vest. "You don't know the integrity of that railing. It might crumble."
    "I already tested it," she grumbled, walking a few steps back into the room to lean against the wall. Her eyes fell on the man called Salif for a moment. Poor guy. There's some kind of war going on in this world of his and we're just dusting it up like it's nothing, she thought.
    "Sir Salif?" she asked, unsure of what kind of honorific she should use. "Mister Salif" just didn't sound right, and he had a sword and armor, so she decided that "sir" would have to be good enough.
    "I'm a mercenary, not a knight," he answered helpfully. "What is it?"
    "If you don't mind me asking, where are you from?" Karida asked the question hopefully.
    "Northern Isles. Renais."
    "... I see," Karida answered. She wasn't quite sure what she had been hoping to find from asking that question.
    "And may I ask who you are in return, miss?" Salif asked, his voice dead-toned as he impatiently waited to get moving again.
    "Oh, where are my manners?" Karida looked down in saccharine embarrassment: she had seen this coming. "My name's Karida." She took a lively bow as she introduced herself, anticipating his reäction.
    "... Well met, Miss Karida." Salif said nothing more. Crestfallen, Karida nodded and turned to Narrus and Val as if she was waiting to be given orders. She had been hoping for some sign of familiarity with her name, some clue about what kind of welcome she could expect from the inhabitants of this place. Was the tugging feeling that she had known a Vance before a false lead? This mercenary would know Vance, wouldn't he?
    Maybe it was the wrong Vance she was thinking of.
    #6 Kreska, Mar 20, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  6. Valentine was even paler than usual. Her eyes shone like iridescent stars, slowly cooling down back to normal. Her skin was cool and clammy, and she was shaking visibly. Her fingers were slightly clenched. She took several deep breaths, leaning on the railing. It's been so long since I used that much. I wish I could tear apart Sabaoth like that. Humans are a lot frailer than angels. Richard watched her carefully. She was showing all the signs of using terialic abilities--sickness, exhaustion, trembling. But he still wondered about her eyes. They were not even tinged with gray, yet her abilities were strong enough to decimate entire armies, so the terialis must be well advanced in her body. They were still abnormally colored, however. Perhaps it was a new strain? A unique one, with unique physical effects. He would have to watch her closely. "Yes, I expected this. Very powerful displays of terialic abilities are exhausting, no matter how high your natural resistance." Val gave him a weird look. She wondered just what this terialis thing he kept going on about was. He seemed crazy. "Whatever helps you sleep at night." She took another deep breath, pushing herself off the railing. "Right. I'm fine. Let's keep going. This place is too big to just wander about looking, so we'll ask the Gradoans. There's got to be a few still inside." Val hoped there were a few still alive inside.

    They went back through the corridor they had appeared in, taking the stairs downward. They spied several dead bodies on the way--Gradoan and Jehannan--but no one to give them direction. For several minutes they found none among the living. They were about to pass through another corridor of death when they heard a cough, sounding from one of the bodies. Instinctively, Val gathered dark-light, but extinguished it when she looked down at the pitiful man at her feet. He was thin and wiry, dressed in a basic leather breastplate over tattered brown clothes. His brown hair was ragged and unkempt, and his eyes were glassy. He had several wounds across his torso, all bleeding profusely, and his ankle looked broken. A bow, snapped in half, lay at his side. The Seraph knelt, tilting his head toward her. He was still alive. "Stay with me." She said steadily, hoping he'd be able to help. He coughed again, spitting blood out of his mouth.
    "I dunno who ye are, but..."
    "We're friends. We're looking for Vance."
    "Vance?" He looked past her, up at the mercenary. His eyes widened. "Salif! Ye've got t' help 'em!" He hacked out more blood.
    "Get to tha...throne room... Neb, he...An' that funny fellow, Rene..."
  7. "Shim," Salif murmured as he looked upon the wounded archer.
    "Don't speak any more," Karida advised. "You'll just lose more blood..." She didn't mention how obviously the man was scraping against death's door. "Do we have any healers?" she asked fearfully, glancing at each of her comrades in sequence. Narrus and his staff, Valentine and her dark-light, Richard and his door-busting, and Salif and his sword... If Shim was to have a savior, they weren't here.
    "You're a staff-user," Salif said to Narrus after a realisation. "Heal him. He'll prove useful."
    "I—" Narrus began. Staffs were mostly just for healing in this world, weren't they...? "It isn't a staff of healing," he stammered.
    "A warp staff?" Salif asked, his tone ascending hopefully. "If I describe one of my comrades to you, do you think you can warp him to her?" A shake of Narrus's head dashed the mercenary's hopes. "Vulneraries?" Salif asked.
    "Vulner-what?" Karida wondered.
    "First aid!" Salif exclaimed. "Medicine!" He stamped a boot on the ground in frustration. It seemed that the Gradoan forces relied on healers in lieu of first aid— which meant that by cutting off individual members of the group, the Jehannans could end each life easily. Kneeling and tearing a ragged garment from a nearby fallen soldier, he pressed it over the archer's bleeding torso in vain. "Stay alive," Salif ordered him hollowly. "I'll find Ariana and send her this way." Salif stood and looked to the group. "We've got a throne room to get to," he said tonelessly before giving Shim a nod.
    So they proceeded.
    #8 Kreska, Mar 21, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  8. Shim stared at Salif as the light left his eyes. He slumped. Valentine stood up, a weary look in her eyes. It wasn't exactly sad, but it was...old. She had seen death beyond her years, and she was tired of it. Her pearly irises conveyed this to her companions. It seemed that even a woman with angelic powers, capable of disintegrating armies in one fell swoop, could still feel the pang of loss. "I'm sorry." She said to the mercenary, but the words felt empty. Platitudes would not help a man who had just lost a friend. And who was Valentine to give them? She was just a stranger, a woman who had appeared quite literally out of thin air and single-handedly ravaged an invading army, but was then unable to save a single man's life. To Salif, it must have seemed a cruel joke. Fate is fond of handing those out. The Seraph thought. But we're here to stop this Vance from suffering the same fate.

    While they had little direction, a combination of Salif's better-than-nothing experience in the palace, common sense, and luck led them to the throne room. The hall leading up to it was grand, the walls hung with larger-than-life weapons and the floors covered in ornate carpets. Beautifully carved pillars held up the high ceiling. The imagery was stained by the carnage, more than a dozen Jehannan soldiers lay amidst the room. Some had multiple arrows protruding from their torsos, necks, and heads, while others were missing limbs, or had their skulls caved in. The wounds were brutal.
    The double doors at the end of the wall were huge and elaborate. They stood some ten feet high, made of sturdy wood but plated in gold. Red banners were draped about them, and the royal symbols of Jehanna were engraved into the precious metal. One of them was slightly ajar.

    The throne room held a similar picture to the entrance hallway. Bodies with similar injures were strewn about the red-carpeted area, weapons laying about haphazardly. The throne itself, a mighty high-backed stone chair, was cracked and actually pushed over, laying on its side. Unveiled where it would normally stand was a stairway leading down into darkness. Valentine was about to take a closer look when she heard a sound she hadn't expected: sobbing. She turned to its source, cursing her lack of attentiveness. She saw two men sitting in the corner of the room. One of them was a huge brute of a man, with an unshaven face and rough features, wearing a yellow tunic. A discarded axe lay next to him. His eyes were closed and a wide bandage was wrapped around his abdomen, blood staining it. Next to him huddled a much smaller man in a much fancier red outfit. His hair was best likened to Karida's--minty--and he wore a cracked monocle. A bow was strung across his back. His arms were wrapped around his legs, and his sobs echoed through the chamber. Val approached him, first checking on the man laying against the wall next to him. She took his pulse. "He's stable." She said for the benefit of Salif. Then she turned to the archer, cautiously laying a hand on his shoulder. He instantly looked up, shrinking from her touch, farther into the corner. "Y-y-you're not a rooster! Please, you have to help me! The roosters, t-t-they're everywhere..." He stared blankly at the dead bodies laying about the room. "We killed them...killed so many of them. But they kept coming! So many roosters! Then...him!"
    "Who?" Valentine asked gently.
    "The reaper! He was like a black cloud--death itself! I-I tried to shoot him, but my arrows...they just passed right through him! He touched me! Goddess, he touched me! It was like fire! Needles in my mind!" The man began to sob again, hugging his legs. Val flashed a look back at her companions.
  9. "What's happened here...?" Karida was acutely aware that asking another question here was not helpful at all. "Roosters?" She looked to Salif. "Does that mean anything?"
    "No," the mercenary replied plainly before addressing the archer and axeman. "Rene; Neb. We have some... powerful sages on our side now," he said with an uneasy glance towards Valentine and Karida, who amazingly required no tome or staff whatsoever to cast magic. "We've already stopped any more Jehannan troops from coming into the castle. All you two need to do is hold out a little longer... Have you seen Vance come by here, by the way?" Of course or of course not, he thought, frustrated. His two comrades had obviously been holed up in the room for quite some time to the point where it wouldn't matter whether or not they had seen the Gradoan lord coming through. "Reaper... A dark mage?" he wondered idly.
    "Dark mage?" Karida replied before she could stop herself. Though she had wanted to wave off Val's spell from earlier as an especially impressive fire spell, there was no denying that there was dark and light magic in this world. "Is... Is dark magic the strongest?" she asked with fearful curiosity. "Like, what are you gonna do, throw a shadow at someone?" What made so much sense to everyone else here didn't make one shred of sense to her.
    "All we can do is keep moving," Narrus said after concluding an awkward pace around the room. It wasn't /all/ they could do, he knew, but it was the most obvious option. "We're gonna finish this, quickly," he said resolutely to the camped fighters, looking a bit odd with his illusion-armor still manifested but only his staff to match it. "Here," he muttered as he extended his staff and concentrated. A moment of nothing happening passed, and then the archer and axeman appeared to be covered by a huge heap of stone fallen from the wall. They'll appreciate the cover, he hoped. "That'll let you hide until you're fighting-fit again."
  10. "...Vance?" Rene seemed to briefly snap back to reality. "He...He and Oriana went down there..." He shakily pointed a finger toward the passage beside the toppled throne. "But don't go down there! D-death is there! He followed them down!" His face was the picture of sincere terror. He was truly trying to protect them.
    "I think we can handle this 'death.'" Richard told the archer, his face full of skepticism. It was obvious that he thought the man was simply insane and hallucinating. "Let's go."
    The tunnel was dark and rugged. It looked like it hadn't been used in a long time. The sandstone was cracked and weathered, even more so than it was outside, and dust covered the floor, three pairs of tracks intercrossing each other through it. It was about ten feet wide. Light from the torches in the previous room shone down the entrance, illuminating little of interest, but the tunnel seemed to go on for quite a while. An extinguished torch hung on the wall. Richard took it down and stared intently at it. A spark flared, and the torch caught flame. The scientist took the lead, marching down the tunnel and shining the light ahead.
    The stone seemed to slowly get older and more worn the farther on they went. It twisted and turned in random directions many times. How far they traveled was impossible to determine, but they had gone quite a ways when the passage finally opened up into a large chamber. The walls were high and arched, and the sandstone gave way to marble. Elaborate pillars held up the ceiling. Valentine briefly wondered at how much marble it must have taken to build this room, much less the man hours required to carve it out. Despite the beauty of the white stone, the room was dirty and old. Dust covered the floors, the pillars were cracked and looked dangerously unstable, and the walls were worn. Across the room, a dais raised a broken white altar above the floor. Between it and the entrance, a young adult and an old man were locked in combat.

    The younger looked like he was barely an adult--eighteen or nineteen at most. He wore elaborate but torn and bloodied purple and robes, one of the pauldrons ripped almost completely off. His face was boyish but weathered with strife beyond his years. His hair was dirty black. He carried a black and purple tome in one hand and a long, curved sword in another. It looked like it was made of...bone?
    The older man was dressed in white robes that matched his hair, and the book he carried was blue and white. His face was wrinkled and expressed part anger, part fear.
    The dark mage yelled an incantation, the pages of his book turning rapidly as magic was drawn from them. A purple-tinged black spear coalesced in the air in front of him, a lance of dark energy. As the final word was spoken, it launched itself toward the other mage. The wizard was already chanting his own spell, and as he released it, a blast of cold wind peppered with shards of ice spun through the air toward the boy. It collided with the dark lance and disintegrated, tossing the dark magick off course just enough that it only grazed his shoulder instead of impaling him. Neither of them noticed the group enter.

    Or the shadowy figure approaching the dark mage. It looked uncannily like Rene's description--a man that seemed to be composed of wisps of cloud rather than flesh. It was pure black, a stark contrast to the elaborate marble, and seemed to be cloaked in a garment that was indistuingishable from its body. It was faceless, but it carried a cloudy blade that seemed to be broken off into a jagged end near the tip. It raised it to strike its unwary prey.
  11. With an exclamation of "Leave this guy to me", Karida was already engaging the first wizard. Fire takes precedence over ice, she recalled triumphantly as she whispered a broken incantation and put her hands together. She felt like fire herself for a fraction of a second as her body temperature skyrocketed and her heart pounded. Finally her amulet glowed fiercely and she gestured at the sorcerer and let out a cry, a veritable wall of white-hot flame appearing in front of the man to descend onto him.

    ... But fire and ice are pretty much the same thing in this world, she recalled. Nature, light, darkness: what a strange trinity of magic it was that meant her attack had only been a powerful one and not an ultra-powerful one.
    She noticed the shadowy being and chuckled nervously. Nature was somehow weak against darkness in this world, so she proceeded to... face down the thing valiantly as she sweated, still coming down from the high of casting a powerful spell.
    "Watch out!" Narrus yelled unhelpfully before summoning an illusion of a bright beacon of light that headed roughly in the shadow's direction, though not straight at it lest the illusion be broken. Hopefully that would do something as he shook Karida by a shoulder to snap her out of whatever courageous reverie she had fallen into.
  12. The white wizard, lacking the time to cast his own spell in defense, dove to the side. The sheet of flame missed the bulk of his body, but it collided with his legs, grazing his shoulder. He screamed in agony as the fire blackened his skin and burned through his robes, incinerating them up to his knees and lighting random fires about them above that. Falling to the ground, he began desperately speaking an incantation, but stopped abruptly as a blast of force tossed his head back against the stone floor with a sharp crack. Richard left the man to burn as he turned his attention to the shade, which had dissolved into smoke and reformed across the room to avoid the "light" Narrus had seemingly sent toward it. It stared them down with a blank face devoid of features, including eyes. But Valentine had seen weirder creatures; she didn't doubt it could sense them somehow. The air around them grew dark as the Seraph held out her hands, palms forward. The light flowed toward her arms, collecting into the darkly-incandescent energy she wielded. It coalesced into a swirling beam and tore across the room toward the shade, seeming to darken the area further and grow larger as it flew. The shadow flitted to the side and avoided it, but Valentine just swept her hands in that direction, and the beam followed. As it struck the far wall, the marble began to slowly disintegrate into white dust where the dark-light touched it. The blast collided with the shade, which let out an unearthly, hollow, echoing wail as its incorporeal form began to violently fall apart, tufts of darkness sheared off and disintegrated. What was left dissolved into smoke, which flew past the beam and reformed beside Valentine. She was forced to drop the attack and bend her will toward defense as the being raised its shadowy blade. The air around her distorted like heat waves, and the figure seemed to ripple, its arm and sword twisting around her to harmlessly swipe the air. It continued its attack, and the Seraph had to keep her defense up to avoid being hit.
  13. Narrus felt somewhat useless in the face of the shadow. Nevertheless, he summoned another illusion of brilliant light, mostly around Valentine and himself, as his staff changed its form to that of a poleaxe and he swung it at the thing experimentally, prepared to jump back in the likely case that it did nothing. Karida retreated behind the fighters, meanwhile, preparing and casting a wind spell that summoned a mighty gust that blew from her comrades outward, hopefully making it harder for the shade to reach them.
  14. The shade flinched away from the illusionary light and dissolved into mist, which drifted across the room toward a wall. However, this time Valentine was ready. The illusion around her winked out as everything within ten feet of her became pitch black. Just as the shadow reformed, a glob of dark-fire sailed from the darkness and slammed into it. Its black essence seemed to catch fire, burning as it flailed about silently, what remained of its body after the last attack disintegrating into nothingness. Light slowly returned to the area around Val as the energy discharged. She had a hand on her chest and was panting. "Not sure it's dead or just gone, so keep a look out." She turned to Vance, who was staring at her with an incredulous expression.
    "Pick your jaw up." She told him.
    "Who are you?" He stammered.
    "A friend, I guess." Then she looked up at the ceiling and shouted. "Are we done here?" Immediately, the air began to be suffused with blue light. The dark mage stumbled back, staring at it.
    "I believe that's our ride." Richard noted drily.
    And with a flash, Narrus, Karida, Valentine, and the scientist vanished back through the dimensions, to find themselves in a rather different world.
  15. Promenade, a sign read.

    No, wait, Narrus thought, I'm facing the wrong way. He wasn't sure why he knew that, but the place the group needed to go to was the massive, sky-scraping building right in front of them— behind him until he'd turned around.
    The party had found their selves in a decidedly different environment as soon as the blue light had relented, that was for sure. Some midair balcony-level of a huge city that seemed to stretch on forever into a landscape of brown and grey— but it was more a stench of futility that hung in the air than the fresh air of a civilisation's progress. It was the dust of a dead world whose inhabitants stubbornly clung to life: the smog of ruins built upon more ruins for the greater good of mankind. Narrus looked down at his self to get his bearings in the new environs— he was now wearing some kind of grey formal jacket, which was notably devoid of color. Karida was in a dress of similar fashion, looking self-conscious either because the garment was a bit more breezy than her usual getup or because her magical amulet was plain to see clasped around her neck. Narrus's staff was likewise intact and unchanged. Must be some subconscious use of my power to make us blend in, he thought to himself as he let the staff shape-shift into an innocuous briefcase for now and wondered if Valentine and Richard had received new attire as well.

    "Restoration Movement, and the... Tempest," Karida uneasily read aloud a poster on the wall. Tonight at 20:00, broadcast live from the Center of Commerce, the poster continued in large-to-small font. Life for the Planet? ... Justice for Mankind? ... Or... Both?: The People's Debate in Superpolis, featuring Vitaly Zharkov and Guy Winterburn: exclusive event! Your Channel Four™ providing pre- and post-debate coverage... The farther one read, the more the poster became less informative and more like an advertisement. Gosh, those names, Narrus mentally cringed. They hurt to read. There was a good chance that this place was going to be more painful in general than the previous one in more ways than one, though.

    Pushing open a large door made mostly of glass, Narrus soon saw why he and Karida were wearing no colors but grey. One host of guests in what looked like some sort of formal party wore red and tan, the other crowd blue and white— the "red versus blue" comparison begged to be made. The only exceptions, of course, were the guests who were undecided, who wore various blacks, whites, and greys. These must have been the one per cent of the city, the moguls who decided how things would be. And they're the ones that the "debate" is meant to sway to one side or the other, I guess... "Uh, excuse me!" Narrus called to someone who was breaking from the crowd— a young dark-skinned man in blue. "My friends and I are a little late." He held up his staff-turned-briefcase a moment. "Myself, I barely, ah, made it out of work early. Do you know what time it is?"
    "No cause to worry, sir," the man replied with a chuckle. "It's 7:15. Still plenty of time 'til the debate." He made his way towards the group, only to be jostled by a man in red who offered a mocking "Excuse me" before disappearing back into the crowds. The man in blue refused to break his stride, however, and stumbled over to close the distance. "So how did you and your friends come to be invited?" he asked, eliciting a blank look from Narrus, as well as Karida who was already hiding in the back of the group— it was plain to see that she was not so sure about this strange world full of needle-like buildings, color-coded civilians, and the uneasy haze that blanketed it all. "Well, never mind that," the man continued. "Would any of you like a drink? If you'll lend me your ears just a moment, I'd like to tell you about some of the latest financial opportunities that are opened up by investing in the Tempest."
    Even the people here sounded like advertisements.
  16. Val blinked and looked down at her clothing when she realized that Narrus and Karida's outfit had changed. Her loose-fitting attire had been replaced by a tight, buttoned, heavy black trenchcoat with a high collar. Her hair had been neatly tied up in a severe ponytail. She took a step forward and immediately fell flat on her face. Cursing in a flowery language as she stood up, she looked down and realized she was wearing high heeled boots. The Seraph sighed poignantly.
    Richard also checked his outfit, finding that it was not so much changed as it was...repaired. He still wore a white lab coat, but now it was spotless, and all the ragged holes and signs of wear and tear were gone. A name badge was clipped to his breast, proclaiming him to be Dr. Felthos, and two ballpoint pens protruded from his front pocket. His short hair was slicked back and apparently dyed, as all his gray hairs were gone. He chuckled. Apparently, whatever force decided their clothing had disapproved of his ragged visage. He looked much more at home in this world of spires and modernization. "Almost as hectic as my own home." He noted drily, with a rare twinkle in his eyes.
    Val huffed. "Right then. This is...a change of scenery. Any clue what we need to do?" She said to Narrus. "You seem to know your way around here best."
    #17 Valentyne, May 2, 2015
    Last edited: May 3, 2015
  17. "Sure thing," Narrus stammered in response to the man. "How about you, uh, go get us a seat?"
    "Of course." The man in blue was off.
    "All I've got at the moment is a hunch," Narrus said to Val uneasily. "There's a debate soon, and I think it's our job to do something that'll ensure victory for the boys in blue here." He glanced at the dark-skinned man. "I'm thinking that guy's the avatar, since he seems like the only person in this room who's actually doing anything." He nodded to them and pursued the man towards a bar of some sort.
    "What've you got on tap?" Narrus asked the barkeep, nervous as usual.
    "Everything," sounded a jocular answer.
    "We have all forty-three brews of the Khalantland, from near and far."
    "... Oh, I see. I'll just have, uh... whatever's local." Narrus prevented himself from going starry-eyed as the barkeep glared daggers in response to his non-specific, indecisive answer. This bar quite literally served all of the drinks that existed in this entire world. Unfortunately, however, there was no time for drinking, Narrus's order being purely ceremonial in nature. Probably. "Never mind that," Narrus said as he turned to the young man already trying to talk to him again. "Never was a huge drinker anyway." He offered a hand. "Name's Narrus Caron. May I ask yours, sir?"
    The man chuckled after raising an eyebrow at the hand, giving a nod in greeting instead. "Perrin Artemski. I'm Dr. Guy's son."
    "Ah, right! How could I forget?" Narrus replied with an awkward chuckle. Perrin was likely going to be one of the biggest stars of the show here if he was the son of that Guy Winterburn fellow. "So tell me about the Temp—"
    "I— I'm terribly sorry, Narrus," Perrin stammered after checking a device on his wrist. "Speaking of the devil, I just got called to the preparation room... Sergei!" He called for one of his comrades in the distance. "This man here's thinking about investing. Can you pick up for me?" The other blue-clad man, apparently named Sergei, nodded and approached to begin rattling off a speech about the Tempest's financial boons to Narrus as Perrin drifted away into the crowd.
    "I, uh... I've gotta go," Narrus said, feeling way too much of an urge to follow Perrin for the man to be anything other than an influential factor in how this world turned out. He nodded, seemingly toward Sergei but actually to his friends, and (quite literally) disappeared into the crowd.

    It turned out that invisibility wasn't all it was cracked up to be as Narrus had trouble nudging through the masses of people when he couldn't even see where his own arms were nudging. He eventually reäppeared as himself, but this time clad in blue, with blue hair and eyes to top it off so he wouldn't be recognised as the same person. I'm blue / da ba dee da ba da / da ba dee... He just barely arrived at the elevator in tie to dash through the closing door.
    "Right on time," he muttered as a weapon powered by some sort of energy shot through the elevator's floor, as if he knew that this would happen. "Hit the wall. I'll cloak," he said, grabbing Perrin's shoulder to turn them both invisible as a red-clad man emerged from the new hole in the floor. "Tell me, why—" he began before cutting himself off when he saw no occupants in the elevator. "... What?! How?" he grunted, furiously perplexed, before disappearing back into the floor from whence he came.

    An intercom sounded: "Attention. The broadcast debate will occur in exactly thirty minutes. Please grace us with your presence when the time comes."
    "Well, what are we gonna do until then...?" Karida murmured idly. Now that the guy who could make anything look like anything had left the other members of his party to their own devices in a place where it was obvious that he was the one who could get most things done, Karida wondered what it was that they could actually /do/ here. Make sure this blue guy stays out of trouble, I guess, she wondered, glancing at Sergei.
    "Hey there, sweet thing!" A cat-call sounded from Karida's five o' clock, and by the time she had turned there was a young man in red already running a hand along her shoulder. She winced, wishing for her gloves, her scarf, anything thicker than this flimsy dress. "You seem a little bored," the man in red continued. "How 'bout we leave these deadbeats in the dust and I show you a little 'restoration' on the dance floor?"
    "Dance... floor?" Karida echoed, horrified. She stayed frozen for a moment until the hand tried to tighten its grip, whereupon in a moment of quick thinking she locked her other arm with Valentine's in a nervous vice-grip. "We're, uh, together," she stammered. "Sorry, big guy."
    A cacophony of jeers and whistles of various pitches sounded from a table of red-shirts some ways away. It seemed that the man here was either approaching Karida because of a boast or a dare... and it also seemed that these factions were cartoonishly polarised.
    "Mind if I borrow her?" the red-shirt whispered to Valentine none too subtly. To Karida's continued horror, he was continuing his advances despite Karida indicating that she was already taken. "Guests at the parties are usually old people with tons of money, so it's rare we see a few posies like you strutting around, you know?"
    "Sorry about my buddy," another red-clad man interrupted, approaching from the opposite side. "Just 4000 leaf and he'll disappear for the rest of this little event," he said with a smirk. On top of the creepy flirt, now one of them seemingly wanted money.

    "I think you gentlemen had best mind your own busine—" Sergei began to intervene, but was interrupted by a push from one of the men in red, which surprisingly knocked him over even though it didn't seem too forceful.
    "You damn Reds!" shouted another Tempest member as he stepped in front of Sergei to protect his comrade. "You're gonna learn to..." He didn't finish his sentence, electing instead to go in for a punch.
    "Wait!" Karida cried, panicking and casting a wind spell to push the punch off course. She'd felt a terrible sense of dread seeing Sergei knocked over, and she feared that she and her companions would have to stop the blues and the reds from trading blows whatever the cost. She tried to think of a good way to keep the peace as she leaned on Valentine, feeling a bit winded from the spontaneous breeze she'd caused.
  18. "Well he isn't very helpful." Valentine said drily as Narrus abandoned them to go after Perrin. She jumped at the broadcast. Although her mind was swimming with the information about this world the dimensional magic had planted in her mind, she hadn't been expecting it. She leaned back against the bar and surveyed the room. So many people, clumped up into this space. It made her nervous. Most of the time she saw this many people at once, they were killing each other. Hopefully that wouldn't start happening here too. She gritted her teeth as the Restoration grunt appeared to harass Karida. She was about to tell him to back off when the other girl linked arms with her, and the words caught in her throat. Instead, she sighed. She was actually sighing at the mage's act, but it was easy enough to pass it off as exasperation with the flirtatious idiot. Val resisted the urge to punch him in the face when he spoke to her. Get too careless and she could break his neck. She instead responded. "Back off, asshat." Then the other red-shirt trying to grill them for cash appeared. She turned to him and said nothing, instead giving him a glare that would have withered angels. When Sergei stepped in, she once again had to fight the temptation to start smacking reds. Instead she moved in front of Karida, noticing the girl casting a spell. She forcefully shoved off the grunt with her shoulder, turning her glare to him. She concentrated, making no motion, but the air around her shimmered like heat waves, almost imperceptibly distorting. As another Tempest member struck a Restoration supporter, his fist veered off at the last second, swinging at air. It was clear the Seraph was exercising her abilities to keep anyone else from getting hurt.

    However, it might not have been necessary.
    At that moment Richard, who had stepped away to speak to several Restoration members, returned to the growing fight. "Now now, boys! There's no need for all this nonsense." As he spoke, he gestured with his hands. Invisible walls of force neatly slit the area around him, subtly separating the opposing parties. He stepped right through one, its shape bending to his form, and leaned down to pick up Sergei. "You alright, old boy?" Not waiting for an answer, he spun back to the red-shirts. "We can be civil, gentlemen, can't we?" He fixed his collar with a self-important manner, folding it down formally. "I'm not fond of pointless violence like this, and it's certainly not winning my support." He conspicuously adjusted his name badge. "You boys have heard of me, yes? Ah, I can see by the looks on your faces you haven't. Out of the loop are we? Well, no matter." He spoke in a rapid-fire manner that left no room for anyone else to interject. "Doctor Richard Felthos, Aurologist. And I may or may not know how to perfect your little harvesters, if I could be suaded to support you." He radiated an imposing, well, aura and his tone was confident and brusque.
  19. The red-shirts were quite visibly stunned, their faces aghast as they had no clue what to say.

    Then, bolts of lightning began to erupt throughout the building.

    Karida, stunned, looked around and held out her hands as if to say "wasn't me" before instinctively covering her eyes. Do they have magic here, too?! "Wait!" she called out as Sergei could be seen running away. She gave chase, using wind magic to propel herself up the flight of stairs that he was making his way up. "Get out of here, miss!" the other Tempest member called after her. "It's not safe!" Karida ignored him and continued after Sergei.

    "I'll be number one once this is all through," Sergei murmured to himself, sprinting onto the balcony. He grinned as his rope of energy latched onto a passing helicopter—
    "No!" he growled as he felt Karida grab him from behind. "What are you... doing?! That was my chance to..."
    Gunfire sounded, the railing and floor of the balcony gaining a swath of burn marks.
    "I... You..." Sergei gasped and murmured in relief after scrambling away from the windows with Karida in tow. "... Snipers. Why didn't I think of that?"
    "I guess it's kinda universal that we all overlook crucial things when we're too busy trying to do our best," Karida said. "Or something."
    "You... I don't know who you are, miss," Sergei whispered. "But........ You've saved me." The man brimmed with gratitude, his eyes shining. Wait, that's not just his eyes... It was the blue light again— this man couldn't have possibly been what was preventing this world from drifting towards oblivion, could he?
    "Good luck," Karida stammered as she felt herself fade into the blue light. "And, um, maybe invest in head protection?" For some reason, it came to mind as the propeller of the now-distant helicopter appeared to detonate and two of its passengers toppled off.

    Karida coughed as a plume of dust flew into her face. The party seemed to be in a different place— but no, it was the same place as before... but this time it was a ruin. The sign reading Promenade was visible, crooked and knocked over, and everything was covered with a fine layer of dirt. The haze of unease that had hung in the former grey metropolis now covered the ground in a brown wasteland. "W— Wait a second!" Karida cried out, surveying the surroundings in distress. "I thought the blue light meant we solved the problem!" Karida shivered— it was a fair bit colder now, meaning that some time had passed or something extreme had happened to this world.
    "I guess it just means we're going to a different place," Narrus remarked, now with the group again somehow. "Or a different time..." Then he understood.
    ... That guy's an avatar.

    There was a pivotal-looking figure in the distance, a boy on his knees before three others: what appeared to be a man in black and a man and woman in blue. They were all clad in some sort of futuristic armor, making it difficult to discern gender. The central figure of the three clutched a small radio dramatically, listening to it as the boy lunged up in vain and tried to grab it, his armor seeming as though it was meant to discharge some sort of attack but instead producing only a fizzling spark.
    "Arda!" A staticky, high-pitched voice sounded from the radio. "Where are you, Arda?! Please, say something..." A pause. "Just hold out one more minute! I'm on my way now!"
    "Don't bother, love," the man said mockingly into the communicator, stroking his silky black hair. "You'll only find a corpse." He then held a finger to it and it seemed to explode in an electrical crackle, and he laughed as he sprinkled the remains onto the helpless young man.
    "Poor little thing," sounded the other man who was still on his feet... who actually appeared to be the man who had come to Sergei's aid in the argument in the building (which was now mere rubble) earlier. "Your babysitter isn't going to make it in time. What will you do now?"
    "Why?!" the boy screamed, grunting through tears and trying to rise to his feet. "Why... can't I..." His armor let out another tired crackle. He was felled again with only a light tap on the shoulder by the woman, who was brown-haired.
    "We've told you several times already, sweetum," she said calmly. "Restoration only leads to more empires. More dictators, more war."
    "I must say, though," the blond man cut in, "this energy gathered by Vitaly's remnant has had its uses."
    "We rebuild the world on our own terms," the dark-haired leader finished. "And the Khalant will finally have justice."
    "You think... you can just speak for the entire world?!?!" The boy gasped in hate, trying to collect himself.
    "Oh, darling, we don't think. We know." The man in black, wrist glowing, pointed at the boy, and—

    "Karida! Wind!" Narrus shouted just before the party blinked into invisibility.
    "Right!" Karida's reply sounded, she whispered an incantation, and promptly stumbled straight into Richard as she could not see where she was going. A gust, perhaps one would even say a tempest, blew that would make the cyclones of Narrus's home-world blush in jealousy. The boy was tossed aside like a leaf as he blinked out of sight as well. The eyes of the sinister-looking trio widened almost simultaneously.
    "He's..." The man in black hoarsely yelled in surprise, his face going pale. "He's got cloaking...!!!" He grunted upon feeling the gust and jumped to the right, his wrist firing a shot of aura energy in vain while the opposite wrist spawned a broad blade. A propelling mechanism of some sort kicked in as his armor burst with exhaust flames on his shoulders and feet, propelling him several meters in a quarter circle. The other man performed a similar maneuver but dodged to the left, while the woman propelled herself backwards, now holding a rifle of some sort and winking out of view behind a more intact building.
    "Val!" Narrus jumped to his feet as quick as he could, his staff forming into a blast shield. "Do the thing!" Futuristic or no, he doubted that these goons were any match for Val's godly fire-stuff, but the adversaries were both quick and coördinated. Narrus carefully made his way over to where the boy had landed, both of them flashing into existence for just a moment so he could pinpoint their locations and move to shield him.
    #20 Kreska, May 6, 2015
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
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