Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Hillan
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Kuhn and Chester sat on the deck, Kuhn on a few crates, Chester still on the railing, his feet dangling down, as he had the bottle between his teeth. "Attacking the Palace? What for? You got anyting of value in dat place? Old world gold?" Kuhn asked, rubbing his cheek. "Or old booze? I could really do with a few bottles of Whiskey..."

"Or Rum.. Or Grog! Ohh, I could really do with some grog, huh." Chester trailed off, Kuhn shook his head as he chuckled. "All right, so they launched a minor attack on the Palace. What for? They planning a heist? A siege? Kidnap a princess or someting like dat?"
"Mr.Metalpants over here looks like he'd be just about ready to save some princess from an evil dragon." Chester chimed in.

Once the question how to kick their asses came up, Chester whistled, then promptly made a kicking motion with his foot. "It's as simple as that, my good sirs."
"And, I for one, have a score to settle with Cerulean. We're pretty sure they're gonna be at the Castle, right?"

"Palace, but, yes, Cap'n." Kuhn corrected him. "The fort? Great. Then why don't we just rally together the soldiers, and go wait for them at the Ports? Give 'em a Proper greeting when they come around."
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Letting Chester's odd use of terminology roll over him, Johannes considered his proposition aloud. "If we wait at the Palace...they'll be running amok elsewhere on the island, unchecked... But they shouldn't know that we understand their plans, so as long as we don't make it obvious we're lying in wait..."

Clenching his fist in determination, he said, "I think our path is clear. Let's make our way to the Palace!"

Finishing up his food, Macario said, "Those mooks are going to keep messing with our stuff though, since they're after something of ours."

Johannes stood, taking charge, "It shall be no serious matter. Set sail for the Palace!"

Lina frowned, wondering to herself quietly, "Who's in charge around here?"

---

Despite a bit of quarreling on the chain of command, the Breeze left the docks of Stagio, heading far out to sea before starting to curl around in the darkness, eventually coming to the royal docks on the Antler Kingdom's palace, turrets decorated with carefully grown trees, streamed with colored ribbons in celebration. As word spread to the Heads of the fled Grog Warriors, Johannes' authority allowed the 'shipping vessel' to enter without further query.

Gangplank lowered, Johannes turned to the others, beginning, "I'll send a message to my forces to have the lieutenants on the field gather here, and we'll discuss strategy with them."

Not sure who he was referring too, Lina said, "Er, I'm no good at that kinda stuff though."

As they started to move into the sheltered docks, mulling with prim looking dockworkers and guard, Johannes said, "I only need one of you to relay plans back and forth, though if you have an idea of how you can help in the meantime, I have control of my men to offer at your discretion."
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Hillan
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Once they had arrived in the Palace, Chester departed from the ship, heading deep into the palace all on his own. Kuhn shouted after him once he departed, wanting to find out where he was heading. "I need to grab something to drink!" Chester responded, and Kuhn shrugged. Johannes offered up the position of being a communicator between the forces, and Kuhn quickly put his hand into the air. "I 'ave more then a wee bit of history with da companies, so I'm sure da roll of dispasch would fit dis shooter just fine. Once the Cap'n comes back, we'll be fine to work out a proper startegy for dealing with the companies an' their attack." He spoke, dragging his hand down to his holster, drawing his gun - flipping the revolver in his hand, sitting on the railing of the boat. Digging into his pocket in his coat, he got out a kit of cleaning tools to clean the weapon.

Meanwhile, Chester was rummaging through the Palace Kitchen, looking for booze, upsetting the personnel.

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Meanwhile at the Palette Company Field Headquarters.

Goldenrod sat with papers in front of him, singing one after the other. The cut to the Don. Authorizing bribes of Marines and Four Seasons personel alike. He was busy doing the housekeeping that was neccesary to keep his company afloat. The door swung open, and in stepped the pale girl with the pastel colored hair. "You working, daddy?" Whitney asked as Goldenrod nodded. "He is. Go away, Daddy's busy."
"But dad! I need you to write me a check!"

"You already got your allowance, sweetie." Goldenrod mumble, flipping through papers. " But I spent that money on my new apartment, and a gift for -he who shall not be named-! The shoplady wouldn't let me return it after he left, it's all her fault!" Whitney cried out, as tears begun welling in her eyes. Goldenrod looked at her and scoffed. "Don't cry, Princess. Fine, daddy will write you a check. And, I promise I will make that turncoat pay for what he did to you."

"Oh thank you! You're the best!" She said as she leaned over the back of his chair and hugged him, kissing him on the cheek, taking the check as she stood back up. A knock on the door as a elderly man in a yellow suit stepped in.

"Goldenrod, sir? Sorry to interrupt you during family time."

[Mr. Guldheim, Head Of Quartz Legal Division]
Whitney smiled "Oh, don't worry about it Guldie! Me and Daddy were just having a chat, I'm gonna head out and get papa a really nice present as thanks!" He girl said with a smile. Guldheim nodded in approval. "Very nice, miss."

"Yes, what is it, Guldheim?" Goldenrod asked, pushing the thin rimmed glasses up onto his nose, as he licked the end of his pencil to keep the ink wet. "It seems that the pirate you've been on the lookout for - the man who reeks of spirit, who beat the thug out of Isaac, and the one who got Kuhn to join him has been spotted on the Island."

Goldenrod's eyes widened and a vein showed in his face. "When?"

"A little less than an hour ago, sir." Guldheim informed him. "So Cerulean failed, eh? Interesting. Deploy your men at once to deal with him, Guldheim."

"We shall make him wish he had never been born, sir." Guldheim said with sadistic glee as he turned his heel and left Goldenrod.
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In the late dusk of the Great Horn Archipelago, the bridges between the four islands were abuzz with those taking to the other islands for more festivities. On the largest of the bridges (or underneath it, rather), an out of the way tavern and restaurant attracted only the locals, or those well in the now, the darker area past the staircase at the side of the bridge feeling foreboding to the unfamiliar. An orange haired lad with a yellow vest casually strolled inside, a nod from the tavern keeper directing him to his desired room. Opening the door without as much as a knock, Saffron stepped inside, seeing his peers sitting at a table laden with various meats, breads, and cards.

Chadwick’s face shone bright as we swept hair out of his face as Saffron arrived. “Saf, brah! You made it bro! Ready to go do some biss’?” Marv was rubbing his eyes, a headache coming on as his dark eyes saw out through his fringes. “Hi.” He let out, focusing back on the cards. Chadwick was holding his cards nonchalantly, Marv could peer and see he had a pair of kings. “I fold.” He said as Chad looked over at him “Aw, what’s the matter Marvey? Not really up to play against the Chadmeister?!” His tanktop draped over his torso as tight as it could be, the “Reddical Dreadical” font going from one side of his chest to the other. He grabbed another bite of his sandwich. “Saff, sit down bro, you wanna join next game? Ya’ boy’s on quite a streak!”

A frown of irritation forming on his face, Saffron took his seat, stating, “I was hoping we could focus on the ‘biss’.”

Placing her cards down for a moment and scooping up another bite of food, Kobicha said, “Well, it was supposed to just be a time killer, but some of us don’t like to lose.”

“You mean you don’t like to lose,” Saffron noted. Kobicha didn’t deny it, as she refused to fold. ”All right, Chadman’s going all in. What’cha got Kobi?” Chadwick said with his trademarked grin on his face. River was flipped, the Two of clubs and four of hearts was added by a three of hearts.

Marv groaned. “He’s gonna win again, isn’t he?” He asked groaning as Chad’s face was as if stuck in a smile.

“Just a two pair, looks like,” Kobicha said, showing her two of hearts and three of spades. Growing even more disinterested, Saffron plated up a bit of food, eating politely. Chad’s smile faded for a second. “... That’s not very Redical of you.” He said, showing his one pair of kings and Marv let out a one syllable laugh. “HA!” The blue clad ninja laughed, leaning back in his chair. Chad looked at Marv and gave him his worst stare. “Fine, you win Kobibabe.” Chad told her with a less genuine smile this time.

Giving a brief, coy smile, Kobicha put her cards down before taking another bite of food, before Saffron swallowed, asking, “Are we ready to get to real matters now?”

Kobicha started, “Chad can play some solitaire while we get things done. Now, some of my men have been watching the troop movements of the Antler Kingdom, but they haven’t been very effective. They’re just patrolling sites with other valuables: banks, nobleman estates, etcetra.”

“So useless, then. My scouts are keeping watch on the Antler Nobles. The King and Queen are safe within the palace for now, but in case of an attack, they have an escape plan - where their bodyguards will leave them to a tunnel, which leads to a nigh impenetrable bunker. “ Marv mentioned.

“My guys have been brewing ruckus down at the docks, harbor and marketplace. The people are just raring to get down with the reddical way.” Chad added, while he was shuffling the deck and went to play a round of solitaire.

“And the Quartz Company is get arms into the hands of our collected forces. There has been a brief wrench in our plans with that man, Chester, still being alive, but he hasn’t been deemed as a major threat. Goldenrod is handling him. That leaves our matters on dealing with Johannes and coming up with a way to capture the King and Queen before they get to their bunker so that we can demand surrender. Otherwise it all hinges on Cerulean to break it open, and his power is much better suited elsewhere.”

“Like breaking necks.” Chadwick said with a chuckle, piling the cards on top of each other. Marv smirked. “So, what are your individual assignments during all of this?” He asked, knowing full well that while the heads of the companies might be working together on this, their tasks would be in the nature of turning the situation to the advantage of their own company.

Kobicha began, “I”m not too suited for combat, so I’ll be manning mortars and the like supplied by the Quartz Company, keeping the enemy disoriented and scattering, along with sending out some general information. I could use an extra squad of information runners though: we don’t have enough crows to go around, and they’re too smart to like fighting anyway.” Looking over to Chad, she asked, “The Crimson Company has got more men than they can handle, right? Send some fast ones over my way.”

Chad smiled “Oh men? That’s no problem. We got fresh pledges by spades. Most of them are fast, bloodthirsty lil buggers, too! This here Antler kingdom’s got plenty of people who’s ready for a nice little barfight.”

“.. The entire capital city being the bar in this metaphor of yours?” Marv added and Chad nodded. “You know it Bro! What about you, Marvbert?”

Marv grimaced. “I’m to plant explosives and blow the gates. Then it’s deeper behind enemy lines, wrapping the King and Queen up quite nicely for the boss.”

Kobicha looked over to Saffron, wondering, “And you?”

Saffron admitted, “With the Quartz Company’s efforts dedicated to keeping reinforcements from returning to the palace, along with scattered support, there’s no room for me to command any troops personally. Which leaves me the option of either targeting a notable wildcard such as Johannes or Chester, or aiding in the kidnapping of the King and Queen, which would hopefully end the battle as shortly as possible.”

“If you’ll avoid being in my way, you can put your sword to the King’s throat if you’d like.” Marv told Saffron.

Saffron gave a slight smile. “I’m not one to disappoint.”

---

The day after, and the festival was in full swing. It was still a day or so from completion, but the weekend was traditionally the busiest period. The castle’s grounds were clear, short of the occasional troop patrol, but the city outside was positively bustling. A parade was set to come to its end in front of the palace this evening, but those in the know knew that it was not going to come to pass. Clad in the armor of a Balder knight Saffron made his way through several palace corridors, surprised at how bustling they were with soldiers. Was their intel wrong?

Putting it aside, intending to focus on the mission, Saffron went about the throne room. The King and Queen weren’t here, but that wasn’t the first step. Trying to avoid looking suspicion, he kept his eyes peeled for his contact, but nowhere did he see that familiar face.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Hillan
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The Knight Impersonator felt a pat on his shoulder, as he turned around, he found a small child standing in front of him. "Sir Knight.. Could you spare a coin?" The child begged with her massive eyes with tears welling "I have nothing to eat, you see, and my baby brother.. He's sick." To not blow his cover, the knight gave the kid four pieces of gold. A few minutes passed, the knight still looking around for his contact, when a tap on his armored shoulder let out a slight clank.

Behind him stood a man draped in a black robe and a cordial hat. One of the high priests of the kingdom. His face looked old, his skin was wrinkly and his lips were parched, right above the lips was a mustache. His eyes had a ember burning in them, one that felt quite clashing with his otherwise old age. His black hair was graying and likewise was his mustache. He wore the ordinary priest robes under the black burlap coat, draped around him like a cape - as it was for all priests of the Antler Kingdom. "Blessings of the Antler god upon ye, kind knight." The Priest spoke with a smirk. The Knight looked a little shocked, but settled down once the priest lifted his coat a little, revealing the Tanto in his belt.

"Nice work with the kid there. Not bad for a Quartzie." Marv spoke hushed, using the shepards cane that was part of his attire to walk towards the throne room, where the other priests and knights were. Today was a day of ritual for the newborn children of the past season in the Kingdom, which meant that a lot of people would be coming in and out of this room - and a lot of people would be meeting the king and Queen. They were due to arrive any moment.

*** Meanwhile, in the square.

A man pushed the stall over, the fruits and vegetables spilling into the streets. "Ya' think you can hold out on the bloody King of Antler with that puny lil taxes?! I've seen you had customers here every single day, you're holding out on me, Richards!" The would be taxcollecter shouted, as he grabbed the shopkeeper, Richards by the collar.

"N-no, I swear! Most people are just window shopping!" The Tax collector slammed his hand through the stall, breaking it further. "Next time that's gone' be your blooming skull, ya' got that?!" The taxman spat in Richards face as he was quaking. He fell to his knees once the taxman let go of him and people all around looked on in horror.

The Taxman walked away laughing, looking for his next prey. But he didn't get far before he was sent flying onto his back in front of Richards, whom looked up to see the ginger haired man - a red leather jacket over his black Tanktop with the oh so familiar text on it. He worse a bandana over the lower half of his face and put his boot to the throat of the taxman. "Your king think he can teach his people however well he damn pleases? That's incredibly non-rad of him." Chadwick said as the Taxman tried to fight off the young man, but his potbelly and smokers lungs proved him to match for the younger, stronger man. "We're here to tell the king to bugger off." Chadwick said as a hundred or so people - all wearing the same Red bandana appeared behind him, coming out of the alleyways, holding torches, tools and pitchforks.

"We're gonna take the city back from that swine of a king. Now now, little piggy. Run on back to your master!" Chadwick said as the Taxman got back up onto his feet and began running. Chadwick walked over to Richards whom was crying over his spilled fruit, he handed him his hand and a red bandana in it. "Will you join us in our revolution, bruhther?" Chadwick asked Richards whom took his hand and the bandana.


Soon, riots errupted in the Marketplace - in the docks and in the harbor, the City Guards occupied with dealing with those, leaving the timed Explosives at the weakest parts of the wall unchecked.

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A ways away from the palace, a number of colorful cannons were wheeled into a small park, a road away from a view of the palace. There were a few about, some watching in avid interest, curious about the fireworks display, some inwardly questioning whether or not the fireworks would be visible in the daytime...

---

Saffron's nostrils flared as he took Marv's backhanded compliment on the chin, not exactly in the position to argue it. Ignoring his words, he simply joined Marv in the throne room, mulling about patiently as they waited for the two fold arrival with all the children about.

It was some time, when a smattering of applause was heard from within a nearby hall. Attention was shift, and without doubt, the King and Queen, both fairly young and spritely themselves, entered the throne room. Saffron's eyes widened, however, as he saw another with them among the bodyguards: a familiar girl with red hair and dark skin, exchanging words with the queen, the two of them smiling. The girl had been around right before he aimed to steal the Four Color Wine...and now she was in consort with the Queen? This threw a wrench in things: if she were to recognize him...

Unable to get a signal to Marv, he took his position, walking around, eyes peeled as if he were pretending to scout out the crowd while he positioned himself a bit closer to the thrones.

---

As the riots continued to break out, word moved to towards the palace, but never quite reached it, flashes of red stopping them in their tracks. As the ruckus was ongoing, few noticed a sea of red building, some with their weapons less concealed than others. And overlooking it all, managing those intending to take word back to the palace, Leader Vermillion stood atop a clock tower embedded into a plaza a good 20 meters off the ground. Every so often, his hand seemed to glow as he talked into his hand, the solider he designated quickly being taken out. As the riots began to get louder, he turned back to the palace, watching and waiting.
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“Long live the king!” came a pleasant roar from the crowd, a beer wielding man with a baby in his other arm flushed in the face as he cheered. As his wife fearfully took the baby, the king gave another smile, waving to the crowd.

Lina mused with a smile, “You two seem popular.”

The queen gave a bit of a trepidatious look. Lina didn’t know what to make of it, but the queen did respond, “I can only hope our peace continues.” Reaching the thrones, she took a seat, keeping some distance from the unplanned bodyguard.

The High Priest made his move towards the King and Queen, his wrinkly face having a somber look as he slowly made his way over to the royal couple. “As do I, your highness.” The priest said, bowing before them. “It’s time for the Fawning ritual to commence.” The priest said, as he turned towards the crowd of people. “Approach the King and Queen in an orderly fashion, with your newborn children in hand and our beloved King and Queen will put the seasonal crown onto your children, ringing in the new year and the Antler Kingdom’s newest citizens!” The priest said, with great gesture and theatrics, somewhat jarring compared to how he could barely walk across the throne room.

Four guards pulled up two carts to the King and the Queen, each cart had small wreaths, made out of tufts of fur from the islands native deer population, weaved around the bark base of the wreath, pieces of wood sticking out, resembling small horns. The King, Bucky, and his wife, Sika picked up one each, and nodded for the citizens to bring forward their babies, one at a time. Each baby had a little name-card on their chest, for the king and queen to say when they put the wreath on their heads.

“Hereby, I pronounce you, young.. Kolt, a citizen of The Antler Kingdom, and I, your king, is your humble protector.”

“Hereby, I pronounce you, lil.. Bam..B.. A Citizen of The Antler Kingdom, and I, your queen, is your humble guardian.”

It went on for a while, as the Priest shoo’d people away as they had gotten their wreaths, keeping a close eye on the guard closest to the king and queen, watching his every move. The embers in his eyes seemingly growing more violent as time went by.

Lina couldn’t help but smile as the kids came by, though in between arrivals she was keeping a close eye on the surroundings, but there were no suspicious characters yet. Though partway through the proceedings, a guard made his way past the line, the king looking a bit off put as he leaned in, whispering a message. The king’s expression turned to one of frustration, Lina raising a brow, before he waved the guard off with a harsh whisper.

As the guard went off, the king moved on to the next child, before a faint rumble shook the castle, followed by another, more intense one.

That was the signal, and the priest suddenly moved like a spry young man, dashing from where he was stood, moving fast as lightning, he ran onto the opposite wall, closest to the throne room, running vertically up onto the roof, doing a backflip and drawing his Tanto from his belt as he flipped four times, landing kneeling with his hand to the ground, in between the King and Queen. As he landed, his former disguise of the priest’s robes fell to the ground. “I love the smell of regicide in the morning.” Marv said, his navy blue tunic flashing as his tanto come swinging towards the King’s head. But it was Marv’s head that moved first, as an errant palm from Lina struck him across the face. “Ow, you bitch!” Marv shouted, holding his nose.

Lina blinked, a bit puzzled. Her hand had only moved reflexively when Marv lunged in towards the king and queen, but until then, the purpose of his movement was completely lost on her. As it finally started to set in though, she reached for her blade, crying, “What the hell are you...ah, you!”

“It is I! Master of disguise, lord of the blade, captain of decapitation, the Azure Lieutenant, Ninja Marv!, and I will be your doom, King Bucky and Queen Sika!” He said, gesturing towards the king and queen, before his hand retreated back to his bleeding nose. He turned around, hunching down, putting two wads of cloth into his nose to stop the bleeding. Turning around again with gusto. “It is I! The Kingslayer, Half-Demon Man, Marv Macaron!”

“You’re the idiot that got beat by Chester than the others,” Lina said plainly, a blank, unenthused expression on her face.

“Why you, little pest! The pirate Chester and his fellow ruffians simply got lucky! They will never land a blow on me again, thanks to my incredible ninja speed!” Marv shouted, as to illustrate his point, he dashed across the room, up the walls and did a series of complex acrobatics before landing back in the same spot he had stood before, letting out a couple of quick breaths of exhaustion.

Marv’s antics left those present baffled: guard, royalty, and common folk alike. All were equal in the wake of Marv’s utter silliness. Finally starting to regain his cognitive functions, King Bucky started to sweat, muttering, “Kingslayer?”

Lunging forward, Lina tackled the physically drained Marv, the ninja tripping over his own feet, turning mid air to faceplant. Brandishing her sword, she told them, “Run!”

“Why, you little pest!” Marv cursed as he was picking himself off the ground. The king and queen got to their feet as the guards started to circle in, Lina angling herself to stand in between Marv and the royalty. However, as Marv stood, she noticed something else out of the corner or her eye. Among the guards moving in closer, most of them wore he insignia of the Antler Kingdom, but there was one among them who wore garb of the Balder Kingdom. One of Johannes’ men, supposedly, yet Lina was the one trusted with the royalty, while Johannes and his men were poised in the front of the palace. Only now did Lina realize something was so off, and her sword flashed, stabbing his shoulder, glancing against the armor and stopping his charge, which had been angled towards the king and queen.

“Who are you?” Lina said, eyes recognizing Saff, if only vaguely. As there eyes met, his narrowed, before he brushed aside her blade and charged the king and queen again. However, the guards had finally mobilized, Saffron and Marv each having several at their side, weapons ready.

Reaching his hand up and letting the armor part of his disguise hit the ground, revealing the cloth underneath, he introduced himself, “Saffron. Quartz Company lieutenant.”

As Marv regained his footing, more shells echoed from outside, as did distant screaming. Lna grit her teeth, growling, “You think you can beat us?”

Saffron scoffed, “We have every advantage.” And yet, even as he said that, Lina’s presence had been in question since he’d seen her.

Calming down, Lina smiled, “You think you do.”

---

Bombshells echoing throughout the grounds, Johannes looked towards the explosions, uselessly impacting the castle walls. His men were organized around the gates, locals awestruck by the attack, some starting to run, loitered by the gates. The Balder knights hopped into motion as Johannes barked, ordering, “Get the civilians-”

His words were cut off, as those closest drew knives, throwing off heavy clothes to reveal shades of blue, charging at Johannes and Johannes alone. He met their blades with his armor, before his arm tore through the air, knocking them back. He’d been cut a few times, but as his men started to mobilize, he noted the civilians were split between those moving forward and those away. And from the stalls set up closest to the gates, the civilians who were staying, rearranging their outfits, were joined by men in Azure suits.

Drawing his shield and halberd, Johannes insisted, “Hide your pretentions, men. Don’t let yourselves forget for even a moment…”

“...this is war.”

---

The technicolored cannons stood in rows, aimed at the sky at first, people gathering around the green clad jesters as they danced around, to not cause suspicion. Almost a hundred men were gathered around the canons, all wearing green carnival outfits of some kind, some more festive than others. They looked toward the big clocktower, where they saw the big hand strike the even hour, and then they lit the fuse to their firework cannons. Where people expected fireworks and joy, it turned into horror as they realized the nature of the trick.

“It’s an attack! They’re attacking the castle! Guards! Call the Guards!” One of the guest cried as the mortars continued firing and the green clad carnies turned on the public, scaring them away. “Secure the mortars!” One of them shouted, [Officer Tequila S. Lime of the Verdant company, 6,000 Bounty.] As his forces grouped around the mortars, securing them. They were kicking and hitting civilians who tried to interfere, setting up a secure perimeter around the mortars as they continued to fire on the castle, Tequila was holding a stopwatch in his hand, timing each time he threw a coin into the sky. Everytime the coin came up heads, he gave the signal to fire.

As the cannons fired, one of the guys carrying the ammunation fell down, collapsed. Next time it came up heads, the cannons fired, and another guy collapsed. Third time, same procedure. Tequila began picking it up and went over to one of the fallen guys, kicking him lightly in the ribs - no response, the guy was out. “What the hell is going on here?!” Lime shouted, as in the distance, a faint humming of strings could be heard.

In the doorway to one of the alleys, stood the man draped in his coat, hand on his hat as the wind blew the cigarette smoke into a shape. The humming of strings continued. In his hand was a rifle, a faint trail of smoke from the barrel. His one eye covered by his leathery eyepatch, the other as blue as a sapphire. The doors of the buildings closest to him was slamming in the wind as he walked towards the group of gunmen. As he was walking, bullets continued hailing onto the men by the cannons from several different directions - this was an assault they weren’t expecting. Lime took cover and ordered people to rout the shooters. Soon, the four rifles being shot had been identified in different windows of different houses, perfectly positioned to have clear view of the park.

The man in the alley walked closer, as he did, the string sound grew louder. Lime whistled. “We got a live one here, boys!” He shouted, as five other men joined Tequila. Each of them were distinct in their combination of green and earthy colors, each matching Lime’s leather-look. A couple of them draped in ponchos and hats similar to the mystery man’s. [Ababaco, Verdant Company Tribe member. 4,000,000 bounty], [Biday, Verdant Company Tribe Member, 2,800,000 bounty], [Chelan, Verdant Company Tribe Member, 5,000,470 bounty] [Onoeto, Verdant Tribe member, 3,123,000 bounty] [Navajo, Verdant Tribe Member, 5,666,000 Bounty] and finally [Tequila Seminole Lime, Verdant Tribe Member and Verdany Company Officer, 6,000,000 Bounty.]

The string sound grew louder as the six were looking around, the man was crossing the street toward them, the six on one side, the one on the other. Lime was told by his soldiers that they had found the rifles - they were automated to fire eight rounds, there was no one but the man in front of them. “You are pretty brave to be here all alone. Six to one, like this.” The mystery man smiled, as he flicked his cigarette away. “Now, who might dis be?” He asked from under his hat, as Lime smiled and cockily gestured to his posé. “We’re the Six Shooter Tribe, proud members of the Verdant Company.” They all said, hands on their holstered revolvers. Kuhn smiled. “Well, looks like we’ve got a bit of a standoff on our hands, don’t we, boys?”

“You’re outgunned, six to one. I wouldn’t take those odds.” Again, the lone gunman smirked. “Dat is where you and I differ. I’m not afraid of a wager.” The strings finally grew louder, the sound echoing all around them and like someone tuning an instrument - a single riff of the steel stringed guitar sounded. “Draw!” Kuhn and Lime both shouted as they unholstered their revolvers, the six firing once, the one firing six. Once the gunpowder had settled, only one was left standing. Kuhn blew the smoke off his revolver, as the six laid before him, walking over their bodies, he flipped a coin in his hand, looking back at a lil kid in the alley he came from with his guitar in his hands. “Thanks, Kid.” Kuhn told him, moving to stop the remaining soldiers with the canons.

A piece of reinforced steel was retrieved from underneath Kuhn’s coat, in it were five bullets, one had pierced the edge of his coat. “Lucky me.” He scoffed.

Slow-Claps were heard from the roof above, as a female figure sat ontop the edge of the roof. Her long legs crossed, wearing a green, leaf patterned dress and a circlet with a feather on her head. [Chief Apache Elaina Dart, Bounty 24,000,000]

“You stacked the deck quite nicely there, my my.” She told him, coyly.

---

With the knights in front of the gates, the bubbling riot never quite found its way towards the front, but rather around the side. And as cannonballs hit, wandering eyes started to come across a rather unguarded link in the wall around the palace, broken in an accident or vandalization not a day ago. The tide started to swell, moving towards the wall, those in red leading the charge, breaking through, right behind the line of Balder soldiers guarding the gates. Cheers of victory rang out, and were swiftly silenced, the first responders being sent flying into the palace, crashing with as much force as any cannonball.

The sudden shift brought a halt to that early crowd, which began to stumble on itself in confusion. Those next up in line to cross the threshold were blocked by a rather large man in a tank top and jeans, letting out a yawn as he faced down an entire rioting crowd.

Macario mumbled, “Passed out for a second there…”

Puzzlement coming to an end, a few more Crimson Company men charged, but Macario’s fingers rolled before his fist flashed. “Gen.” Power from the punch piercing through, dropping several men before the last one flew back into the crowd, Macario yelled, “What did I say!?”

A confused civilian stammered, “G-gen?”

“...Before that.”

“Nothing!”

Macario blinked before shaking his head, a cocksure smile cropping on his face as he insisted, “Not one of you is getting past me, so take your riot and shove off.”

---

On Stagio Island, a rabble of men had convenied on a single location, in the port where the riots were taking place, amidst the red bandanas, a streak of yellow could be seen. They were all wearing expensive looking dress shirts, hats, nice coats and overall looked to be of a higher sort than the thugs that ran amok on the Island. They had found a man sitting in a bar, drinking. His short blond hair filled with salt water, dirt and dried blood. His chest was bare, showing off his freshly gained scar over the chest. On the sign outside of the bar the sign had once said “No shirt, no service.” But once the gentleman in question had arrived, the sign had been split into fragmented pieces.

The gaggle of Quartz soldiers had surrounded the bar, as one of them, the man in the nicest suit of the bunch, got out a metal cylindrical acoustic device to enhance his voice. “Come out of the bar with your hands up. You’re surrounded. By order of the Quartz company, you are under arrest!”

Out walked the half-naked man, the sun hurting his eyes as he walked out of the now demolished bar. His hands in front of his face. “What the hell is going on here?” He asked, as the soldiers readied their guns, trained at him. “Be careful, boys. Even Boss Cerulean couldn’t finish this guy off, so we’ll have to do it for him.”

“Cerulean?” Chester asked, a bottle in his hand that he took a swig out of. “Steady..” the leader of the group said, but one man in yellow was nervous - he had seen what the pirate infront of him had done to more than a few of his fellow Company members a few weeks earlier and he lost his cool. Firing his gun prematurely, it came flying at Chester, glancing his forearm and striking the bottle perfectly, glass splintering all over the pirate’s face.

“PIIIISSS!!” Chester cried out, holding his face, trying to pick out the pieces of glass from his skin ,each pieces causing a little bit of blood to gush out. The Quartz company soldiers looked in disbelief at the pirate twisting and turning in pain. “WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE IN MY EYES?!” He screamed. Picking out a couple of shards from his eyes, he opened his left one, looking at the soldier who had fired, pointing his bloodied hand at him. You. One finger at him as the guy’s face turned pale. Picking another piece of glass from his skin, he cursed again, before lunging at the group. The man who had shot him was trying to run away, as his fellow Quartz members drew their blades to attack the Pirate.

A few moments later, Chester was picking more pieces of glass out of his face, his boot on the man who shot him’s jaw as he laid on the ground, crying for mercy. Chester looked at him with cold, empty eyes. “You… You owe me a drink.” he warned him, and the soldier, sobbing panicked threw a wad of cash towards Chester, whom caught the wad, smiled and turned back towards the demolished bar, whistling inbetween picking glass from his face.

He left the wad of cash on the counter. “Your biggest bottle of booze.” He told the owner, as the owner came out, scared to death “Y-You already got that.”..

“Well.. Your second biggest bottle of booze, then. Jeez.”

The barkeep delivered the bottle and Chester sat down to have his drink, only for more trouble to be brewing as eleven men made their way through the broken band of Quartz soldiers outside. “What a dastardly mess.” Said Guldheim as he walked towards the Pirate, a stack of papers in his hand Chester would soon dread more than anything so far in his life.

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"When our allies swarm in..." Saffron said, but his words died as the King and Queen were rushed away, flanked by a pair of guards, whistles blowing. Not just from the throne room, but beyond as the palace went up in arms at the incursion.

Lina charged at Saff while Marv met blades with the guards. Blades sparking, moving down, hilts bumping each other, Lina moved in, grunting, "Yeah, you'll need them."

Saff shot a foot out behind Lina's, one arm looping between their swords and Lina's body. Shifting his stance, he gave her a shove, Lina's foot backing up into Saff's as she tried to counterbalance, failing and dropping onto the ground, sun dress fluttering as she tumbled. Lina braced herself, lying on her back and holding her sword at the ready, prepared for an onslaught, but rather than press the advantage, Saff's expression was flustered, face flushed as he turned away.

Returning to her feet, Lina said, "I'm not going to go easy on you because you're a gentleman."

Eye twitching, Saff leaned into his blow, stabbing his sword at her, but Lina was already on the move, following after the King and Queen while his blade poked only dead air. The first after her was not Saff, however, but Marv, who'd slipped past the guards, several of which he'd down, sprinting towards Lina with his unreal speed.

"You'll pay for embarssing me, you little pest! I'll end you in an instant!" Tanto brandished he moved in as Lina turned to face him, kicking out and smashing him right in the face, before continuing her run as he fell back.

"H-how did you keep up with my speed!?"

Lina grunted, exasperated, "You don't move faster than sound, so learn to shut the hell up!" Saffron snorted, before the two pursued. She'd had the upper hand thus far, but having crossed blades with both of them, she could tell that if they got serious, she'd be in a pickle...

---

"Sir! The King and Queen are under attack!"

Pulled back from the battle, the trained Balder Knights meeting the Azure Company evenly, despite being outnumbered, Johannes clenched his fist, before turning back to the palace. "They cannot die, not on my watch! I'll handle it personally."

Ceding command to his next in line, Johannes slipped through the gates, streaking across the empty courtyard, only such because of Macario, still hard at work fending off the Crimson Company. He also noted the shelling had stopped, mentally thanking Kuhn. He might have considered Chester, but he wandered off when he realized that Johannes hadn't literally meant that his men were at Chester's disposal. Some sort of unfortunate wording, or bizarre interpretation had left Chester moping off somewhere. His comrades insisted he would be fine, yet Johannes hasn't seen hide or hair of him since. At least his comrades were reliable.

---

Like a bullet, Saffron flew again, Lina jumping to the side as he tore into the wall. The halls had become tighter, and now Saffron seemed to be using that to his advantage, hopping off the walls and jumping right at her, blade poised like an arrow. The first time she'd found out the hard way, shoulder torn and blood pumping out of it as she ran. Marv was gone for some reason, but she wasn't about to complain.

Panting, she called ahead to the King and Queen, now only protected by a lone guard, "Are we close!?"

"One more tur-ghrk!" The guard tried to explain, before Saffron darted out again, running him through.

"I missed," Saffron muttered, clicking his tongue as he drew his blade out. Bearing in on him, Lina eyes flashed red as she struck out with a flurry of strikes. Saffron was gashed twice on the chest before he tried to back off, eyes widening with surprise at Lina's ferocity. Despite her anger though, the openings in her stance shrunk rather than grew. Saffron was put on guard, being pushed back as she hemmed him in. Eyes darting towards the fleeing royalty, he hopped back, crouching against the wall before shooting off after them, once again missing, shattering the stone and pelting the two with debris.

"Lina!" Queen Sika cried out in horror.

Saffron hit the ground, legs shaky from the rapid uses of his speed, just as Lina's eyes returned to their natural deep green. Catching her breath, Lina shut her eyes tightly, shuddering for a moment, before she picked up her pace, skipping past Saffron as she rejoined the royal pair, taking the final turn, down the last stretch to the safe area.

Saffron caught his breath, starting to fear that woman. That anger was so unlike anything Saffron had felt, yet is was such a bright flame. Wishing things had been different, he returned to his feet, giving chase.

As he made the turn, he saw that two guards from the end had passed the two royals and Lina, blocking him. Pumping his pained legs, he met the guards, cutting one down instantly, before ducking down on his knee, dodging the incoming axe head before returning the favor. Clear of interruptions, he grunted as he stood back up, hobbling after them as he started to recover his breath, before buckling his legs for another jump, just as the bunker door was opening. Once it was at its peak, the king and queen entering, Saffron jumped, launching forward and speeding down the hall. Lina tried to close the door behind her, but he launched past her, slipping through just as it closed. Slamming into a pile of beri bills, scattering them about as he slid out of sight, Saffron took a breath, muttering, "The vault, huh? Of course..."

"Y-you can take as much as you can carry!" the king pleaded desperately, Lina scowling at the proposition.

Saffron chortled, "You speak the Quartz Company's language." Standing up, he took a series of breaths, before throwing off the remainder of his guard disguise, revealing a yellow vest and white dress shirt. "Shame I'm more literate than you: you couldn't afford to sway me." Glancing around the vault, the only other wealth inside besides the cube of bills he'd smashed into being a few dozen of gold bullion and bags of coins.

Back leaning against the vault door, blood still running from her shoulder, legs shaking, Lina sputtered, "You guys learned the hard way that money doesn't solve all problems last time."

Recovering from his fatigue faster than Lina, Saffron scoffed, "If I was there it'd have been different."

"Yeah, I'd have pushed two of you through a window~" Lina jeered, sticking out her tongue.

Saffron's nostrils flared as he grasped his hand over his heart. "Dammit, why'd she have to be so cute?"

A dead silence crossed the vault, Saffron raising an eyebrow, before his mind finally recognized the echoing of his own words on the walls. If it were possible, he'd have liked to find a hole to crawl into so he could die.

"I'm not going to go easier on you."

"Sh-shut up!"
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Hillan
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Chester sat in the demolished bar, nursing his bottle, a smile on his lips, blood running down his forehead from the shards of glass still stuck in his skin. The streets were still littered with the broken henchmen of the Quartz company, some of whom were able to stand again, while others were still knocked out cold. Those that could stand began dragging their mates out of the streets, as they saw Guldheim approaching in his suit - second only to Goldenrods, in quality. His Quintet of suited men behind him, each with different features. Among them were one Sea Crab Fishman. The Crabman worse swimming trunks and leather smart shoes, a blazer and necktie without a shirt under, showing off his many scars.

Others of the five carried small firearms, or a knife, each had a certain rugged look to them, which made them standout from the elderly, rather short Guldheim, yet judging by the response from the goons that laid scattered on the floor, Guldheim was as feared as Boss Cerulean.

"CHESTER ARNOLD!" Guldheim announced, as he pointed at the pirate in the bar. "COME OUT AND FACE ME AS A MAN!" He demanded, as Chester continued to drink, nonchalantly. The barkeep pointed towards Guldheim and stammered out "Y-You should probably check that out, Mr.Pirate."

"That's commander Mr.Pirate to you, pal." Chester told him, grabbing a handful of peanuts from the mostly ruined counter, crunching them into his mouth their shells and all. He got up, turning around to walk out to face Guldheim, stretching his left shoulder as he did.

"Did you guys not see me wreck that army? Y'all wanna scrap?" Chester asked as Guldheim shook his hand. "Our battle will not be with fists, you degenerate." He said, coldly. "Then, what the hell are you here for?" the pirate responded, taking another swig, as Guldheim approached him, reaching into his coat.

"You have been served." He said, pulling out a seemingly small scroll. "Wait, what?" Chester asked. as he began reading the scroll. "Civil Lawsuit assault charges on Billiam Gill Goldenrod, hereby known as 'Goldenrod', the charge is in regards to one Degenerate Scumbag Pirate, Chester D. Arnold Hereby known as 'Chester'."

Chester began. "Well, this doesn't seem so bad." He began, as Guldheim cleared his throat, stomping his foot into the ground, and the scroll began unraveling itself, spilling onto the street and the scroll began rolling down the street, as far as the eye could see."

"Well, that can't be good."

"Head Goldenrod's suing you for everything you've got - and everything you'll ever make. Do you have an attorney?"

Chester began reading, after a lot of cursing and confused grunts. "People can sue me if I hit them?!" he expressed, sitting down, pulling one piece of glass from his skin - blood pouring out of it, as he used it for a monocle to read the smaller print.
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Boots tramping through the battleground, Balder silver rebuking Azure masses, a hulking figure passed through the battlefield undettered. His gait and confidence gave the impression that he was on a midday stroll, even through swords a guns clattered and fired around him.

Boss Cerulean was only impeded just as he reached the gate, one of the knights driving a sword into his face, which glanced aside, repelled. Cerulean raised a hand, palm pressing into his armor, which scraped as it was torn asunder, blood spilling from the flesh that had come with it as Cerulean had scooped into his body as if it were sand. As the solider fell, those around him stopped, morale faltering.

"Let him by!" roared a pompadour sporting knight, gold cape signifying his position as second in command. As Cerulean shot him an eye, he elaborated, "Johannes will handle him!"

Moving past the fighting and tearing through the gate, he scoffed, "He'll try." The line broken, the Azure Company tried to press on, but were held at bay, though they were being pressed more and more...

---

Saffron, clearly exhaused from his speed technique, made no move against Lina, who'd held her sword, but clearly favored one side, blood running down her other, the royalty looking on, locked in silence.

"I'll recover before you, you know," Saff muttered, still catching his breath. Lina's eyes narrowed, before her feet shuffled after him, sword flashing. Saffron kept it at bay handily, shifting his feet only slightly. Growing frustrated, Lina's attacks increased in intensity, making Saffron smirk slightly.

One strong blow later, Lina's arms were deflected, Saff shifting his feet, eyes darting to the king or queen. Unable to get herself in his way, Lina shouted, "Duck!" Saffron darted off just as the king and queen fell away, Bucky grabbing Sika and dropping them to the ground. Saffron's sword slashed into his arm, spraying the floor in blood as the boy sailed past, shoulder slamming into the opposite wall.

Saffron clicked his tongue, "Shouldn't have gone for both." As Lina readied herself to go after him, Saffron shifted to a sitting position, scoffing, "Why help them?"

Lina charged, "You went after us!" Rage bubbling, her blade clashed with his, Saffron being pressed against the wall, his legs still wobbly. "You Companies attacked my Captain and held my home under your thumbs!"

"That's the way of the world!" Saffron argued, pushing away from the wall, angling his blade in a way that cut Lina's face.

"That's your world!" Lina said, conceding ground, forced back. "You brought us into it."

"And what matters most in this world? Azure says power, Verdan luck, Crimson majority, and Quartz influence. If you lack in those, then you're not going to last!" Lina was pushed back, heels bumping against some of the stacked bills, making her fall. Shifting her body, she rolled across it, landing on the other side as several stacks of bills plopped down next to her. Sensing that they were in danger, the royal pair moved away, but the two fighters had stopped, exhausted from the fighting.

Raising her sword again, after a few moments Lina swung it across the bills, but Saff stepped back out of range. Lina said, "If you brought us in to your world, then we'll just have to beat you at your own game."

Saffron scoffed. "With what power? With what influence?" Raising a hand, he said, "Why not just join me instead? Give up on your friends and I'll show you what it takes to run our world."

"My father is too old for his duty, and the other Heads...Cerulean thinks in terms of power, Vermilion in majority, but that's just a means to an end. Power enforces influence. Majority is the result of influence. Quartz is poised to dominate in ideals alone!" Lina was quiet, head slightly lowered. "Thinking about it? You can't beat me."

Stepping around the pile of bills, Lina said, "Maybe we can work something out..."

Saffron shrugged, "The king and queen don't have to die: they'd potentially be of use alive."

Still on guard, Lina cautiously approached, but Saffron made no move, sword lowered. As she got closer, he raised his hand, reaching to hers. Lina's eyes lingered on it, before she raised her own, coming closer to his.

Saffron's sword founder her chest, the stab making her gasp out.

"Pity, the girl I came to fancy wouldn't have taken my hand so easily."

Lina's eyes were wide as she glanced down as the sword in her chest, before looking back up at Saffron. They narrowed, "You sure didn't stab that hard."

Saffron gasped as Lina slipped half a step back, sword coming out without a drop of blood, before she streaked forward, cutting by Saffron with a spurt of blood. Clutching his torn front, Saffron sputtered, already wobbly legs finally collapsing in full.

From behind him, Lina loosened her dress a bit, letting a few stacks of bills fall out. Picking up one that had a hole pierced into it from Saffron's sword, she mused, "Guess money isn't as unhelpful as I thought~"

---

Just outside the cell door, a dark clad ninja waited, hands going over the mechanisms keeping the door locked tight. He chortled, "My plan was a success. Now that they're trapped like rats, once the run out of air they'll have to come out!" Marv would never acknowledge that his detour had made him fall behind and now he was out of options.

Ninja skills detecting a presence, the hairs on the back of his neck perked up just as a metal clad hand grabbed him by the scruff of his neck. "Aha! I have you now!" Marv cried before his head was smashed relentlessly against the safe door.

"N-ninja Hart – A-anti Feshbash no Jutshu," he sputtered through gurgles of blood and missing teeth, before passing out.

Standing over his fallen body, armor scraped, blood coming from a few spots, Johannes still had the strength to stand resolute, and it refused to waver, even some minutes later when the unscathed Boss Cerulean came down, all by his lonesome.

"You have a lot of strength for someone fighting in a country that's not yours."

Grabbing his halberd in both hands, Johannes offered, "Then perhaps I can show you what it means to have honor."
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Chester was reading the very long article that lawyers had presented him with. Most of the words he didn’t even know.

“Due to admissible evidence, the Quartz Company Lawyers have affirmed that Mr. Arnold is fit to reprimand any and all damages caused to Boss Goldenrod property with monetary compensation.” Chester read out loud, mispronouncing Admissible as “Admishable”, and struggling with comprehending the meaning of it all. He had been sitting there for a little over an hour at this point, but it felt more like it had been almost a year.

The Lawyers looked stoic upon him. While Chester winched his eyebrows, looking up at them, them back down to the paper, then back up to them and the sweat started beading on them. He raised his hand. “I really don’t understand what you want from me.”

“We want you to sign and acknowledge that you’ve been served and we shall then await payment in full, if you cannot pay, you will be handed over to the proper authorities and work off your debt to the Quartz Company. In short, Mr. Pirate, you will work for us.”

“Uh-huh. That can’t be good.” Chester mentioned, putting the piece of glass closer to his face and looking closer at the paper. “What’s this in the fine print? I can’t quite make it out.” Chester questioned, and Guldheim peered over him. “That’s what will happen if you do not comply. Your sentence and your debt will double.”

“Wait. You mean, if I don’t pay, I have to pay you twice as much?”

“Correct.”

“That’s a scam.” Chester blatantly responded, continuing reading, a bottle by his side that he took a swig from from time to time. He finally approached the ending of the scroll, the rest of it was in a big heap behind him at this point. “Hereby, I, Chester B. Scumbag Arnold that I understand and agree with the terms of this contract, in the interest of not pursuing future legal retaliation from the Quartz company.” He read out loud, as he saw where he was supposed to sign. “But, that’s a lie. I don’t understand.” He cried. Then he heard a canon go off in the distance. The siege of the castle was still underway and he looked at the lawyers and his look changed.

“Y’know what’s funny? I kind of just realized something.” Guldheim raised his eyebrow. “What’s that, Chester?” The cold lawyer queried and Chester scoffed. “I’m a pirate. I don’t give a shit about the law. And I have a war to win. My soldiers need me.” The Pirate said as he climbed to his feet and Guldheim was about to pop a blood vessel in his face. Chester ripped the contract into pieces and began walking away, towards the battle field as the lawyers all jumped past Guldheim, coming at him with their weapons in hand.

“These are the mighty Law Warriors for the Quartz Company, you cannot escape the law, Piratescum!” Guldheim shouted as the 4 warriors lunged at Chester, whom could feel them approaching through the air, sidestepping one of their blades, ducking as the second one fired his two pistols, flipping his now empy bottle and flicking at the third guy - armed with nunchucks, and the fishman he fell backwards onto his hands, kicking his feet up, kicking the fishman mid air, into a nearby building. He rolled backwards up onto his feet and knocked the first two lawyers together, knocking them out while the glass bottle exploded in the last guy’s face, making him crawl on the ground with glass in his face. Chester plucked the last of the glass shards out of his face, as he walked towards Guldheim whom was now both terrified and insanely pissed off. “H-How dare you! The might of the law will crush you, y-you vagabond! You weasle! You.. Wellpap!”

“.. Wellpap?” Chester questioned and Guldheim let out a roar in frustration, lunging at Chester with his pocket knife, Chester easily outmaneuvered him and smashed his knuckles into Guldheim’s face, forcing him to the ground, the sand dusting all around them as the lawyer was knocked out.

He would have to get to the palace. Everyone was waiting on him.
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Bodies with various red clothing practically being scattered to the winds, the one reddest of all may very well have been Macario. The Crimson Company forces were too numerous to arm the entire force with guns, so most went to the Verdant Company's much smaller artillery squad. However, while the armed fighter was still largely in melee ranger where he excelled, to fight dozens upon dozens, hundreds upon hundreds, it was to be expected he'd take his licks here or there.

Holding his palm open, fingers tight together, Macario shouted, "Kun!" Slashing his arm across a trio of mooks, they fell back, blood flashing as if they'd been cut. Despite his own blood being shed, Macario seemed to have no intent on slowing down.

A fair amount of time having passed since the invasion started, the med beyond the chokepoint had started to get restless, but the wall was too tall to scale without preparation, and the only other opening was chock full of Azure Company forces. Those nearest to the opening would quickly become frightened upon seeing Macario's carnage, where those behind grew restless, wondering why it was taking so long, their bodies unable to do anything despite their adrenaline in the heat of battle.

"That the hell is going on! Why has no one moved yet?" a voice came, booming from right in between Macario and a goon he charged. Punch knocking him a few meters away, the men he'd been fighting seemed anxious, looking around before someone yelled to pass a message along. Suggestions of an 'obstacle' echoed throughout the enemy forces, Macario quickly dismissing it.

Then, a minute later, the forces split like a book, the stopped charge giving Macario a moment of reprieve. As he caught his breath, he watched the slow approach of another, taller man, a black and white scarf around his neck in a red suit, hair and beard both black and bushy. Man standing a few feet above Macario, Leader Vermilion scoffed, "Where's everyone else?"

Pulling back his fist, Macario said, "Off doing their own things with the rest of your Companies. Now..." Thrusting his fist forwards, "Xun!" Force shaking the air, Vermilion was struck, flying backwards. Spittle flying out of his mouth as he fell back, he skidded to a stop, glare shooting from under his black banded hat, he brushed off his chest, scoffing, "'Scuse me if I'm surprised we've been held up for so long by one guy. Ya see I'm more of a proponent for majority rules myself." Left hand glowing white, right hand reaching a pair of fingers into the edges of his mouth, Vermilion let otu a shrill whistle, which seemed to reverberate throughout his forces. Stances going firm, faces growing serious, his men lined up, equal amounts of men on left and right moving around Macario.

"You think your guys didn't try that already?" Macario laughed. Legs buckling, he leaped to one of the groups. They brought their arms up on the defensive, but a rapid flurry of "Dui" brought them down. Shifting his position, a "Xun" knocked two men from the other group down as Macario took a step forward. With each step he shot off another punch, successfully stopping both groups, but he seemed rather fatigued by the end of it.

Taking advantage, Vermilion slipped in, knives in between each of the fingers of his right hand. Flicking one knife, Macario deflected it, letting it land on the ground with a mild 'thp'. Then he heard another 'thp', this one from just under his ear. Flinching, his arm flexed, trying to block a knife that wasn't there, as one that was dug into his leg. "Wha-?" he gasped, wincing in pain as Vermilion bore down on him, knife aiming for his eyes. Glaring, Macario's free hand snapped out, jabbing him in the stomach and stopping his charge, before his other curled over, smashing him in the face and sending him hurtling back into some of his own men. The others seemed prepared, jumping right out and aiming their swords at Macario. He took his nicks and blasted them back too as Vermilion shakily returning to his feet.

"The hell was that?" Macario and Vermilion echoed.

"Stupid ghost knives, I'm sick of ghosts!" Macario grumbled.

"You take swords like a block of marble what the hell are you made of?"

Macario winced, "It still hurts asshole."

Flicking his wrist, more knives appearing, Vermilion stated, "Well I'm still planning on cutting you apart. There's power in unity so for my interests, your body parts are best kept separated from each other."

Clenching his fist tightly as he pulled it back, Macario's eyes closed as he focused intently. "Yeah to be honest I could use a breather. "Zhen: Flaming Wind," he murmured, before letting his fist fly. Vermilion tried to leap over, but was struck, chest erupting into flames. Yelping, he was pushed back further, the flames spreading even more. Men panicking, Macario grinned, wondering, "Why don't I do that more often?" Glancing at his arm, he couldn't help but notice it was covered in flame, as were several spots on the ground around him. Dropping down to a roll, he punched his arm into the earth, yelling in pain alongside the Crimson Company, the two sides aiming to extinguish themselves. Finishing first, Macario lay down on the ground, arm red with burns, muttering, "That just made me more tired!"

Mind going as the recovering Crimson Company began to mobilize, Macario considered, I guess his power has something to do with sound? He made me hear things, he was communicating with his men...does it really matter then?

Taking a breath, knowing his body wouldn't be able to hold out in full, he took a mighty stride as he got closer, Vermilion heading himself at the front of his forces. "Now!"

His men hollered a battle cry, Macario's face turning into a glare. "While he's weak!" Vermilion said, just as another cry came from behind him as if it were echoing. Macario didn't seem to care though, despite the threat of forces ambushing him from the rear. Rather then turn and fight, he simply began to scream. A low yell quickly building to a fierce battle cry, one that shook the hearts of the Crimson Company. Vermilion grimaced, eyes wide, hand whipping forward, tossing their knives at Macario. A raise arm took the blades, but his volume only increased, matching the pain he received. Trying to step back, but blocked by his men, Vermilion tried to bark orders, but Macario was getting closer and closer, his yelling drowning out anything he could have said. His men began to fall into disarray, intimidated by the seemingly unshakable man. Those in melee range thrust out blades, but it was fruitless.

"ZHEN: LAKESIDE MOUNTAIN," Macario roared, arms blurring as he unleashed a flurry of blows. Each blow landed on some mook or another, piercing power blowing through and striking even more beyond. Vermilion just barely managed to stay out of reach, using his taller figure to scramble through his men as Macario chased him, lines breaking. Only some of the punches connected however, some stopping short without even impacting, let alone releasing their shockwave of piercing power. But despite the flaws of the technique, against such a weak force, even the failed punches still had psychological effect, as did the mass of men trying to escape, their panic instilling more fear, even as punches failed more often as the attack continued.

Macario laughed, "WHAT'S THE MATTER? YOU'RE UNIFIED AREN'T YOU? ALL OF YOU ARE AFRAID!" Line completely shattered, even has his punches stopped connecting, the effects had reverberated throughout, men shooting every which way, some even daring to slip through the hole in the wall to finally reach the palace grounds at last.

Arms finally slowing to a stop, Macario collapsed to his knees, catching his breath. "Damn, guess I can't hold off an army forever..." Despite Macario falling, with the first men who jumped him getting blasted away, no more dared encroach. It was more than a dozen minutes before Vermilion caught himself, using his Echo Echo Fruit powers to reorganize his men, readying for another charge by the time the enemy captain had made his way through to the palace.

Rallying his men, Vermilion started for the wall, but Macario laughed from his position. "Round 2 then?" Vermilion broke out into a sweat, hesitant.
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Kuhn, The Deadeye of Dust City and Elaina Dart, Chief Veridian. Had been staring at each other for what felt like an eternity. Not moving, just gazing into the other marksman’s eyes. Knowing full well that today might be the day that either of them dies. It would all come down to which one of them could draw their weapon first. Kuhn had his revolver in it’s holster, Elaina her crossbow on her hip. Firing mechanic on a crossbow was faster than the gun, but the bullet travels faster than the arrow.

“I know you’re skilled, gunner. But that’s not all it’s gonna take to defeat me and my company. Fate’s on my side. My bow channels destiny.”

“Mon ami, beautiful lady. You’re da bottle-girl, aren’t ya?” Kuhn asked, flicking his hat upwards, looking at her and winking in her direction, a confident smile on his face. Thinking back to his time in Dust City. His home, as it were.

***

Kuhn and Eli, his peer and fellow student, taught by Master Guille in the way of the gun. They were practicing their marksmanship, a duel, as it were. Kuhn’s hair was shorter, he was only 15 at the time, Eli was taller, had olive skin and dark hair and was dressed in a similar western-style as Kuhn, same age as Kuhn. They each had two revolvers in their hands, pointed at the other. Master Guille was cleaning his spectacles, before hooking them to his ears, seeing through them, raising his hand indicating that the boys should get ready. He pulled down his hand with force, telling the two children to begin their duel.

Kuhn fired first, his bullets tearing through the air, Eli dodged to the side, the bullets only striking the cloth of his poncho, making new holes in them, he responded in kind. Three bullets swirling past Kuhn as the man dodged by bending backwards, putting the revolver in his left hand in his three bottom fingers, using his thumb and index to balance himself as he pushed off the ground with his one hand, backflipping. As he flipped, the swung his right hand gun in the direction of Eli, aiming with precision and grace, a bullet tore, striking Eli’s revolver directly in the pipe, blocking the gun from firing again and destroying the pipe.

“Sonovabitch!” Eli shouted, tossing his broken gun into the sand, using his now free hand to fan the hammer. Kuhn dodged downwards, rolling to the side, Eli pirouetted to dodge the bullets Kuhn shot at him. Kuhn fired the remaining bullets in his chambers while Eli did the same, fanning the hammer to match the dual-pistols Kuhn had in his possession, both of them possessed such dexterity that the bullets would collide in mid air, and the bullet would ricochet off Kuhn’s bullet, and hit the second one. While they were firing, they kept walking towards the other, no fear in their gaze as they shot each bullet out of the air, dirtying the ground with casings and broken bullets.Until they finally stood face to face, Eli threw a bunch, Kuhn dodged to the side. He tried to whip him with his pistol, but Eli ducked, swiping Kuhn’s leg. Opening the chamber in his gun effortlessly, he put in two bullets into the chamber, turning towards Kuhn to stick the gun in his face, he was met by Kuhn having done the same, The one-eyed gunner panting as he laid in the dirt. He fired missing Eli barely, grazing his cheek, leaving a wound.

Guile called the duel a win for Kuhn.
“That’s 3 wins for Kuhn and 8 for Eli. You’re catching up, Kuhn. Remember to mind your footwork. Good job striking the chamber of the gun. But don’t get cocky, kids. There’s far better gunners out there than you.” The old man said, his long-gun sitting on his hip, the cigar in his mouth and the hat Kuhn would one-day inherent adorned his grizzled face as a smile cracked through his face.

“Now, let’s get some food.” He commanded and the boys agreed. Eli helping Kuhn up, as Kuhn was quick to bring the med-kit to stitch up Eli’s wound.

***

“You want to play more games with me, my beautiful?” Kuhn asked and Elaina blushed for a second

“Your skill with a gun is without question, Kuhn. I’ve heard from Goldenrod that you’re something of an artisan when it comes to powder and steel. The bottle trick was really neat. But, I’m here to challenge you to a game of fate.”

“Oh, a gamble?” Kuhn asked, his interest piqued.

“Yes, quite.” Elaina said, her face curling into a smile.

“You ever heard of Shinran Roulette?” The Chief asked as her eyes lit up.

“Can’t say dat I have, cheri.” Kuhn shook his head.

“What’s dat about?” He continued. And Elaina chuckled and pulled out a small case, a few inches tall and half a foot wide.

“Inside here are two firearms, six shooters with six bullets to be loaded into the gun.” She began, picking up one of the firearms, putting one bullet in, and spinning the barrel. Putting the case onto the ground and kicking it over to Kuhn.
“There is no skill involved in this. You aim the gun at your own head and you fire. There’s a 1-in-six chance you’ll blow your own head off. Fate decides if you live or die. Are you willing to put your life in the hands of destiny?”

Kuhn scruffed his scruffy cheek and investigated the gun. It was a six-shooter. Well made, expensive gun. Of course, it had nothing on his own long-gun, but it was still a fine firearm. Kuhn put a bullet in as he stared Elaina down, spinning the chamber as he locked the gun.

“Are you sure you want to do this? I thought you were all about dat nature life. Do you even know how to use a gun my lovely?” He asked and Elaina nodded.

“It’s not my first rodeo, Cowboy.” She said, putting the gun softly to her temple, pulling the trigger. Kuhn flinched a little as she did, but the gun clicked. No bullet was fired.
Kuhn put the gun to his own temple and pulled the trigger, calmly. Nothing. He reloaded his gun with two bullets and fired the trigger again. He kicked the case to Elaina who then loaded the gun with two bullets, and fired them at herself.

They did this dance back and forth, adding bullets in the chamber. Three, Four. They didn’t speak, tensions were running high. They both knew the risks, they had calculated the odds of the gun firing a bullet. Sure, they had incredible dexterity and were both intentionally spinning the chamber so that the odds were in their favor, but just like a dice-roll, you couldn’t make up for luck with skill. There would come a point where fate would outmatch their skill.

With five bullets in the chamber, Kuhn’s hand was trembling a little, Elaina stared focused at him. He swallowed hard as he pulled the trigger. The gun clicked. The firing chamber was empty. No bullet.

Kuhn put down to gun to his waist and kicked the case over to her, didn’t speak a word.

“You’re luckier than most, Deadeye. But you will not beat me. Destiny favors me.” Elaina tryed to puff herself up, but the cold look from Kuhn showed that the gunner saw straight through her. He knew how scared she was. But he didn’t offer her a way out.

She loaded the fifth bullet into the chamber and put the gun to her head, firing. It clicked.

She sighed with relief.

“I win.” She said, as Kuhn would have to load the shooter with six bullets next. And Kuhn shook his head.

“This duel will not end in a draw, my love. Give me the case.” He said and Elaina flinched. Was this guy serious?!

She reluctantly kicked the case to him and he caught it with his foot, casually.
“You’ll die.” She said and Kuhn smiled.
“Maybe. But I wouldn’t be much of a gunner if I did.” Quoting words his friend Eli told him before he died.

He put the final bullet into the chamber and took a deep breath.

“You decide, Fate. You DECIDE!” He exclaimed. Putting all of his chips on this all-in. He was committed to believing in the way of the gun. That his patron saints and goddess of gunfire wouldn’t fail him.

He pulled the trigger.

The gun jammed. He dropped the gun to the ground. Kicking the case with 1 bullet remaining back to Elaina.

“Your turn.” He demanded and she was shaking all the way from her feet to her head.

“H-How did you! You cheated!” She cried and Kuhn shook his head.

“Just lucky. Fate deemed me worthy. Are you?” He questioned her, harshly.

He loaded the gun and with a shaky hand put it towards her head. As she put pressure on the trigger, she fell down. Fainted from the pressure.

Kuhn walked over to her as she slowly opener her eyes again.

“I guess Fate’s on my side. Don’t get in my way, my love. Or I will draw my gun. And that never jams.” He promised her, heading towards the castle. He had a country to defend.
Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Hillan
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Back slamming against the vault door, Johannes bounced shakily, barely staying on his feet. Free hand brushing his hair to the side, a face running with blood glared down at Cerulean, the Boss still unmarred, his stance relaxed and at ease.

Gritting his teeth, Johannes charged, hopping into the air, halberd swinging from behind him, arcing through the arc as it came down upon Cerulean, stopping dead, pinned with the tilting of his head against his shoulder. Wrestling it free, Johannes flipped his grip, swinging it from the other side at the freshly exposed flesh, but even though Cerulean didn’t move, it bounced harmlessly off with a scrape of metal, the skin glowing with a metallic sheen.

Johannes growled, “It was a Devil Fruit then…”

Lifting his wrist, Cerulean’s hand curled, the fingers becoming bladed. “Caught on fast enough.” Sliding one leg away, Cerulean bent his legs before lunging forward, shooting his palm out. Johannes took a step back, blocking it with the shaft of his halberd. Cerulean grabbed hold, keeping it steady as his other arm swooped in, fingers all pointed together. The hand twisted into a drill before continually twisting, spinning with a dull screeching towards Johannes’ armor. He tried to lift his halberd to block, but it was still stuck. The drill hand tore through his breastplate like it were plaster, Johannes’ body shuddering from the rough movement of the drill, its sound muddled by the flow of blood. Lifting his arm, the drilling stopped as Johannes lost the strength to hold his weapon, the halberd clattering to the ground. Holding Cerulean aloft, his hand gripping his armor, Cerulean tossed him aside, the knight clattering to the ground.

Rolling his neck over his shoulder, Cerulean raised both of his hands, twisting them into drills. “If I’d known you were that much of a push over I’d have taken you out myself yesterday, just like Chester…” With a horrid wail, the door screeched as the drills came into contact, beginning to peel away at the metal, sparks flying. Within, the king and queen kept close to each other, the still tired Lina grimacing as she brought her blade to bear.

Suddenly the drilling stopped, Cerulean gasping out in shock. Turning to look, he saw Johannes behind him, the point of the halberd dug into his skin, even through the metal it reflexively became, though not deep. “That hurt,” Cerulean growed, elbowing Johannes away, the weakened man stumbling to the ground. As he tried to crawl to safety, Cerulean stepped down on his leg, pinning him. The knight grunting in pain, Cerulean pointed out a thumb, leaning down to put its bladed edge against Johannes’ throat. “The strength to never give up isn’t really strength if you can never win. Not that you’d have been any better off giving up, but maybe you’d have lived.” Pushing the thumb to one side of his through and digging in, blood running, he finished, “Maybe.”

Marv looked up from his place in the flooring where the knight had left him before, regaining consciousness he saw Cerulean dealing with the pesky knight and a smile was on his face, till he felt the pressure of a boot on the back of his head, forcing his face down back onto the stone floor where he had lied before, knocking him out again. Chester leapt towards Cerulean and threw a fist out, towards the Boss’ face, knocking him off Johannes before he could slit his throat. His fist colliding with his let out a metallic echo, like striking a sword with a stick. “Want to try to kill me again, asshole?!” Chester shouted, his wounds had begun healing from his last encounter with Cerulean, but the X-mark on his chest still widely visible through his mostly torn shirt.

As Johannes collapsed to the ground, Cerulean glared, holding his expression for a few moments. Face still glaring, he looked around, before muttering, “Am I not doing it?”

Chester turned to Johannes and nodded. “Yeah, damn straight. You lie down there and rest knightboy. It’s time for the big dogs to tussle.” And then Chester turned to Cerulean. “You’re not doing anything. I’m beating you down, once and for all. And this time, nobody’s gonna drug me and drag me onto a boat.”

Cerulean reached into his pocket, pulling out a hand mirror and examining his own glare. Face finally relaxing, he growled, “No, I was doing my terrifying glare, but you weren’t terrified.” Tossing the mirror aside and raising his hands, which became bladed, he said, “Which must mean I beat you so bad you forgot about it.”

“You’re just not that scary.” Chester responded, putting his fists up and rushing Cerulean, trying to get in close to the man, making up for his lack of reach that way. “And hitting a guy who’s not looking isn’t very sporting.” He said, throwing a punch. Cerulean raised a hand, aiming to catch it, but it slipped by his paw, smacking against steel skin. Casually, Cerulean took his other arm and gripped Chester’s at the elbow, blades digging in. Chester shot a look at Cerulean, cursing under his breath as he swung again, his fist colliding with Cerulean’s gut, sending vibrations through his hand Cerulean’s metal body let out a ringing sound, as if striking a bell. Chester got in closer and delivered a shoulder tackle, rubbing Cerulean’s footing and making him let go of Chester’s other arm, which was now bleeding from the bladed fingers that cut like talons.

Regaining his stance, Cerulean simply brushed himself off, unharmed. Shaking his head, he grumbled, “Look at you, you’re a disgusting mess. Do you even bathe? You’re just weak. You got lucky so far but nothing you try to do matters, because I’m stronger.”

Chester looked at Cerulean, while ripping the last shreds of his shirt off, bandaging his arm with it, biting down on the cloth while he tied a knot to secure the makeshift bandage. “You’re talking a lot of shit for someone who’s entire organization’s been dismantled by a booze lover and his group of misfits.” Chester responded with a cold tone. Putting his guard back up. “You think you being able to deflect swords are gonna save you from me? Sooner or later. You’re gonna get tired, and I’m gonna pummel you into metal dust.”

Cerulean snorted. “That’s rich coming from a puddle of blood.” Height raising just a smidgen, round blades on his feet propped him up, crossed across his feet like a screw drill. Without moving his legs, they spun up, drawing lines in the stone as he scraped his way towards Chester, both arms crossed over his chest, forearms growing stiff blades. Chester was holding back laughter as he saw the boss come scraping towards him. “It’s like an idiot on iceskate- Oh boy” He cut himself off, rolling out of the way as Cerulean picked up speed and came at him. While Cerulean was charging, he kicked at his back from the side. Cerulean grunted as he screeched off course, digging one hand into the rock to slow him as he knocked into one of the walls. Eyes falling to Johannes, on the ground several feet behind Chester, Cerulean shot him a knowing grin before the blades on his feet spun again, aiming for Chester with Johannes just beyond. Chester looked at Cerulean and rolled his eyes “You’re really this dumb? You think I’m not just gonna dodge again” Chester asked, getting ready to jump out of the way, only to catch Johannes in his peripheral vision. ”Shit.” Chester uttered as Cerulean came charging at him. He took a moment and focused, as Cerulean was only a couple feet in front of him, he smashed his hand down onto the ground, releasing vibrations into the ground that cracked the stone flooring, making the terrain far rougher for Cerulean. Chester dove backwards onto his back to try and get more distance from Cerulean, who’s eyes went wide as he dove into the cracked ground. Rather than skate across the relatively smooth surface, the blades tearing and breaking the ground even more as they went across it, until they couldn’t. Cerulean flailed as he stumbled, falling face first onto the cracked pavement.

Chester leapt back up onto his feet from his back, standing on top of Cerulean and having a smirk on his face. “Look who’s eating gravel. If it ain’t Mr. High and Mighty.” He taunted, He raised his fist towards the downed Cerulean, it vibrating till it almost blurred, as he hesitated for a second. “Get up. You tripped like an idiot. I didn’t strike you down.” Chester demanded, refraining from taking his free shot on the Chief.

Face darkening, Cerulean got to his knees, blades sprouting from his knuckles. Shooting up, he went into an uppercut, snarling, “Weakness! Everything you are is weak!” The attack caught Chester by the chest and the chin, scratching him up as he skidded backwards, without falling. He winced in pain from the wounding attack, but he still kept his jaw clenched. He turned to Cerulean to face him. “That really your best shot?” The pirate taunted, keeping his fist by his side, vibrating it.

“Winning the battle is everything! I’ll always give my best shot even while you run away.” Clenching both his fists, he spat, “All I fight are cowards, and you’re no exception.” Slowly walking forward, his arms stayed at his sides, face locked into a glare. Chester’s look of determination, clenched jaw and wide gaze didn’t falter, as he walked towards Cerulean, as well, staring him down as the two got closer, when they were standing in arms reach of another, Chester’s arm shot up in an uppercut aiming to rattle Cerulean’s head with his devil fruit. His step slowed, but once again he was unhurt, his own fist jabbing into Chester’s side, knuckles still bladed. Chester winched at the pain, Palmstriking Cerulean with both his hands, the force forcing him to slide across the tunnel, away from Chester, the blades clawing up Chester’s side as he did. Chester heard a weak voice from behind him, followed by the clacking of metal.

Seeing Johannes, his gauntlets on the ground in between the two, the man looked up at Chester, grunting, “You’re...well, inept as a leader, but you’ve somehow gathered respectable comrades behind you. And I hate to admit it but you’re strong. You may not have my heart behind you…” Johannes stopped to catch his breath, blood still staining the floor. “...But I will give you a hand,” he finished, nodding at the gauntlets. Chester was hunched over him, looking at the gauntlets, nodding. “You softened him up.” The pirate flashed a smile at Johannes, as the dark shadow of Cerulean creeped up behind him, the metal man aiming a strike at the pirate. Chester turned around, whipping the Boss with the metal gauntlet in the face, before putting them on while his opponent recovered.

“You think a pair of gloves is going to help you?” Cerulean growled, before digging his claws into the ground, pushing forward and raising them, the ground splintering as the cuts traveled through the ground at Chester.

Chester saw the cuts coming for him and jammed his gloved hand into the ground, releasing vibrational shockwave that counteracted the attack, protecting both him and Johannes behind him from harm. Chester properly strapped the gloves to his arms, as he started walking towards Cerulean. “No, I don’t need the help. But they’ll make the knight over there feel like he’s part of this win.” Chester responded cockily, throwing a downward punch, like a hammer at Cerulean’s shoulder. He snorted, “You-” but his words were cut short, the fist hitting against his iron shoulder, denting it more easily, Cerulean’s leg buckling from the blow. Chester went for the uppercut from below, striking him and knocking Cerulean into the air before he fell onto his back on the floor.

Grasping his chin, Cerulean stood again, scoffing, “Is this a joke? A little bit of metal between you and me and suddenly it actually hurts.” Sprouting circular coils on his chest and arms, they began to spin, threatening to shred anything that came into contact. Spreading his arms, he lurched over, aiming to pull Chester into a bear hug. Chester lept backwards as Cerulean dove onto him, his smaller frame allowed him to narrowly escape the chipper attack, aiming a punch for Cerulean’s unguarded area - the face. Metal against metal rang out and Chester was struck by the edges of two of the blades, one on the shoulder and one on the collar while fist planted itself in Cerulean’s jaw. Stunned, Cerulean backed up, staggering away as he shook his head, grunting, “When was the last time I got hit like that?”

“A second ago” Chester taunted, dashing in and hitting Cerulean in the face again, decking him to the ground. Chester spoke in his best Knightly impression, “The thing you don’t understand, Cerulean. Is that it’s not about the metal on a warrior’s arm that matters. It’s the metal in the warrior’s heart that wins a fight. And you? You’re soft.” He continued, delivering a kick to Cerulean’s ribs. Chester pointed behind him, to Johannes. “That guy over there? He has more heart than the both of us. He’s a better warrior than you, than me. He’s stronger than both of us. And I don’t think you can handle that.” Spinning his arm around into a windmill punch, striking Cerulean again to illustrate his point. The bigger man, punched in the stomach, slumped down to his knees, breathing heavily.

Looking down at his two hands, he glanced up at Chester’s gauntlets, muttering, “I’m this weak?” Shoulders slumping in defeat, his eyes trailed across the ground, spotting something. Mouth curling into a snarl, he growled, “I’ll never be weak no matter what it takes.” Hopping up, he snatched Johannes’ halberd off the ground, holding it in one hand as he aimed it towards Chester, lunging at him point first. Chester raised an eyebrow as Cerulean came charging at him. He was already too fast for Chester to just deflect the attack, he simply had to move out of the way. He rolled to the side as Cerulean came charging, shouting after him “You missed, idiot!” As Cerulean passed, his foot came up at Chester, cutting into his stomach and knocking him back a bit. Bouncing to a stop, he pulled the halberd back and swung in down, angling it at the fallen Johannes. “Come closer, arms behind your back so I can hit you. Do anything funny and, well…” Cerulean nodded at the fallen knight, before insisting, “I have all the power here.”

Chester looked at Cerulean, then at the fallen knight, then back at Cerulean and gritted his teeth. “Coward.” He insisted, spitting on the ground in front of him. He walked towards Cerulean, with determination. “You know I never did like that guy, right? If you wanted to hold me hostage, you should’ve threatened the little girl whom I assume is in the vault, protecting the king and queen. Her, I actually like. Kill the knight, if you want. I’ll just do to you what you do to him.” Chester promised, making a fist out of his hand. As Cerulean was about to strike Johannes, Chester put up his hand. “Wait, stop. I lied. Hit me.” He offered, standing down on one knee, hands behind his back.

Grinning Cerulean took a few steps to Chester, dropping the weapon on the ground out of reach of either of them. Cracking his knuckles, he slugged Chester square across the face, the fist not even metal, enjoying the feeling of flesh smashing into flesh for the first time in a long time. Continuing to use Chester as a punching bag, he struck, waited for Chester to recover, before striking again. When he was too slow Cerulean grabbed him by the hair, pulling him into the next punch.

Chester’s mouth was full of blood as he opened it to speak. “That all you got, weakling?” He taunted again, spitting a tooth at Cerulean. Snarling, Cerulean redoubled his efforts, staining his knuckles red, blood dripping to the floor, until Chester finally collapsed. Turning away Cerulean went for the door.

Chester crawled onto his knuckles, pushing himself off the floor. “Is… Is that all you got?” He taunted, putting his leg to the ground, standing on his one knee. “Can’t muster the strength to kill me? Figures you were too weak to do that.”

Cerulean cackled, hands curling into drills once again. “At this point I don’t think I need to.” Kicking the halberd over by the door, glancing over at Johannes on the ground, Cerulean said, “I’m already the strongest.” Jabbing the hands into where they were drilling before, he continued his dig.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Chester shouted between painful winches. He was spitting blood as the dark red liquid poured down his face, his lip and eyebrow were both busted, he had a black eye and his cheeks were swollen. The wound on his side had dripped blood all the way down his shorts. “The fight’s here. I’m not done with you yet.” He said under his breath, trying to crawl onto his feet.

Laughing over the screeching of metal on the vault door, Cerulean said, “You’re done when I say you’re done.” Gritting his teeth, he let out a shout, one more wrenching noise being heard as he shoved his hands through the lock. The door shuddering, Cerulean grabbed it and pulled it open. “And I say: you’re all done.”

The king and queen audibly gasped, huddling in the back of the vault. Dried blood on her shoulder, Lina took a breath, holding up her blade. “Oh? What’s this, you look like you’re from Melonberry.”

Lina’s eyes looked passed him, falling onto Chester. Eyes flashing red, she snarled, blade striking against Cerulean, each strike seeming to sound 5 times. The neck, the eyes, the heart: Lina’s strikes were decisive yet each bounced harmlessly, Lina continuing to growl in anger. Snorting, Cerulean reached out a hand, grabbing Lina by the collar of her dress and lifting her off the ground. Choking, her anger began to fade, shifting to terror. Cerulean remarked, “Ah, that’s right, the upstart, Reno. You must be the sister.” Flicking his other thumb, it formed a curved blade, which found its way to her throat. “Melonberry isn’t a problem any more but you’re in my way.” Lina’s sword jabbed at him to no avail, her eyes looking back at Chester, helpless.
As her eyes swept over Chester, he wasn’t there anymore. She would see him springing into the air with the halberd in his hand, leaping at Cerulean and plunging the metal end into his back, pushing the end once it had dug itself sufficiently deep into his back, his body too weary from their fight to create thick enough metal to protect him. When Chester pushed the handle, Cerulean wa flung, spinning around, only to get jabbed in the face by the Pirate, whom was dripping blood all over the place. Staggering, Cerulean dropped Lina, stamping his boot to regain footing before raising both of his arms, slapping his hands together, a small flurry of cuts ripping through the air at Chester.

He pulled his arm back and released his attack, the vibrations tearing through the air and destroying Cerulean’s cuts, before the blast hit Cerulean in the face, knocking the wind out of him. Chester kneed him in the face, jabbed him again and punched him in the stomach, before finally uppercutting him to the floor, in the middle of the vault, Johannes glove on the right hand cracked under the pressure of Chester’s fist and Cerulean’s jaw.

As Cerulean hit the ground, Chester put his knee in his stomach, sitting on him and mauling his torso, each hit cracking the ground as the vibrations traveled through both of their bodies into the ground under them. He was grunting as he took off the gauntlet from his hand, and grabbed it with both and strarted plunging it into the now unconscious Cerulean, each hit more blood poured from his side, till eventually, Chester ran out of energy and fell to the side, leaving a several feet deep indention where Cerulean laid.

“Piece of shit. You, servant. Give me a beer.” He mumbled, pointing at the king before fainting.
Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Pacifista
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Chester crashing to the ground, Lina remained on her rear, catching her breath. Blood still stained her from her fight with Saff, and once again she'd exerted herself.

"I-is it over?" the king asked. Saff and Cerulean still lay defeated on the ground, as did Chester in his victory. From further ahead, Johannes still seemed conscious, though bloody. He panted, "I hear no mortars, or the sounds of soldiers storming the place, meaning your comrades still hold their ground, for now. I would hope the soldiers of the country are beginning to mount a counterattack, but if we can strike at their morale..." Johannes began to stand, but his leg caved out from under him. He nearly fell, and would have had Lina not caught him with her shoulder.

Looking to the king and queen, she said, "Keep my idiot safe, we might be able to end this ourselves." In tow with Johannes, the two moved.

---

Every breath he caught a valuable one, Macario continued to push back the attackers. Some had already gotten through, and he was getting more tired with every bout, but even Vermilion had taken a few licks by this point., his intimidation leading to cautious, slow burning strategies. In attrition, Vermilion would win out easily. Similarly too cautious to try and end things decisively, Macario laughed, "I'm trusting those idiots after all..."

Throwing a Xun just to keep the men rattled, Macario grinned, but before things could continue, a voice rang out, silver shining from the balcony of the castle.

"Cerulean is defeated!" Johannes cried. "Melonberry's hero won't stop there as long as you Four Color Companies continue your fight, so lay down your arms or his comrades and I will fight you to your last!" The man stood firm, clearly wounded but confident, he words shaking the hearts of those still stopped. The Azure company mooks were unmatched in the owner of their individual troops in the Blue, but Johannes' Balder Knights still head their ground despite being outnumbered. The Verdant Company had its leader defeated, and their mortars had been taken out on the first go round, its remaining men having already retreated as luck was not on their side. The Quartz Company had not been in the thick of things regardless and had no more stakes beyond logistics, which mattered little as everything fell apart. Vermilion gawked at the announcement, his men tittering in anxiety, some even making a retreat. "No way Cerelu-"

The clamoring of footsteps approaching, Macario snarled, Vermilion's guard well dropped. He was only able to let out one "Glack" while Macario went with "Li!" Fist catching flame, Macario's fist slammed into him, the man himself catching fire and bowling into his troops, the heat quickly spreading. Some went went to quench the outbreak, while many simply had no more direction with Vermilion's defeat, scattering like moths. Patting his fist out in the dirt, Macario let out a laugh, flopping to the ground. "What a damn mess..."

---

Stepping back, Johannes continued to catch his breath.

"'Melonberry's hero?'" Johannes repeated. Lina admitted, "He's going to be infamous one day, so I figure the king and queen wouldn't want to be linked to 'Chester D. Arnold'. He saved my town though, so the Companies would know him for that."

Looking back over the battleground, which was beginning to quiet, Johannes hoped, "Let's pray we don't need him again."

---

"No conformation on Cerulean yet but Vermilion was beaten!"

"What!?" Goldenrod spat, flopping back in his wheelchair. Teeth gnashing, he slammed his fist against his armrest. "And no word from Saff yet?" The messenger shook his head.

Goldenrod seethed. Kobicha and Chadwick had the misfortune of running into Kuhn, who'd technically beaten Viridian without taking any damage. Part of Goldenrod wanted to swarm him with the entire army, but he was hardly alone: forces from other islands were mobilizing as it was. If they were inside the castle they'd be defensible but as of now they were in the open, and he was the only executive left standing.

"Send some men to retrieve Saff, secretly. We're leaving, let the other armies keep making noise to keep attention off of us in the retreat."

The Quartz goon nodded. "Yes sir!" Another taking Goldenrod by the wheelchair, he began to roll off, the man hissing, "Just a bunch of pirates."
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Kuhn made his way to the castle after the big announcement, the battle was over and the war was won. He got up from the nest he had made on in the building across the street from the Quartz base of operations, sighing as he let Goldenrod wheel out of his sight, the cross hair excitingly tracking the crippled Boss's face till he was out of view.

"Not today, you son of the devil." He cursed, softly, unloading the bullet from the gun, catching it in mid-air as it was flung out of the chamber.
He dismantled his rifle, placing it back into the bag and slinging the bag across his shoulders and onto his back. He had to go check on "The Hero Of Melonberry." as it were.

There was no way he could foresee that going to his Captain's head. No way at all.

He arrived at the vault while the guards were arresting Saff, they were cleaning up Chester and taking Cerulean into custody. Chester was awake, although just barely. They were bandaging him up. Kuhn let out a soft whistle to indicate how impressed he was with the destruction caused in here.

"You really let all out, didn't you, Cap'n?" The gunner asked, Cerulean was in shackles, still unconscious being dragged away. Kuhn nodded a greeting towards the Leader of the Azure Company. He eyed Saff and how the guards who were handling him were being extra careful - too careful. He immediately understood they were imposters, or bribed. They weren't taking Saff to the dungeon. They were taking him right back to Goldenrod.

Kuhn could've said something, but he let it go. He'd handle Goldenrod another day. Kuhn saw Lina and smiled.
"Did you handle Saff, little lady?" He asked, surprised.

Chester sat against the wall, rubbing his eyes, wearily.
"Kuhn, hi." He spoke between deep, pained breaths.
"C-Come closer." He spoke softly, Kuhn felt concern wash over him, was Chesters wounds that severe? Was he seriously hurt?

The gunner kneeled down next to his captain.

"What is it, Cap'n?" He asked, genuinely and Chester took a deep breath.
"Get.. Me a drink. Please." He begged, painfully. And Kuhn scoffed. He whistled at one of the medics to grab the strongest alcohol they had, one of the soldiers found a bottle of wine in the vault and looked to his king for permission, but before the king could do anything, kuhn snatched the bottle and cracked it open, handling it to Chester, whom downed it immediately and sprung up onto his feet.

Reinvigorated, he smiled, widely. The medics who minutes before had been bandaging, tending to his life-threatening wounds looked on in horror. Kuhn smiled.
"He does this all the time." The gunner said softly.

Chester looked around, at the thrashed vault and castle before turning to Kuhn, Lina and Macario.

"Let's freaking PARTY!" He exclaimed, chugging the bottle.

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"Nah, you do you," Macario groaned, still bearing his wounds from the battle. Following the announcement, he'd headed back to the palace, knowing the rough location of the safe the king had been supposed to hide in, and sure enough there everyone was. Slumping down against a wall, he said, "I heal like a normal person: with food, sleep, and a bath, so I'll take that."

"...Does 'medical treatment' mean anything to you two?" Lina grimaced, still nursing her shoulder.

The king muttered, "This whole city needs treatment after this, how can you-"

Johannes held up a hand to the king, a faint smile on his face. "The man may be an idiot, but the easiest way to keep the calm would be to resume festivities as best as possible. The castle may have been damaged but the island is whole." The king frowned, but relented, the announcement going out, local journalists working to grab as much information as they could, quick to send out word to the archipelago as a whole, and the Blue as a whole. The Balder Knights saved the kingdom, along with the so called "Hero of Melonberry".

Oh, and the current leader of the Azure Company. The fact was thankfully not public, but the realization had Lina screaming, those present turning her way, before she blurted out, "Chester's a member of the Azure Company, and since he beat Cerulean he's Boss now! Boss Chester!?"

The king gawked, "Excuse me?"The queen gave Lina a tentative glance, to which she could only offer. "It's a long story, I'll explain..." Glancing back at her wound, she requested, "After I get patched up."
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Chester had heard the murmurs of Johannes and the King, but he hadn't paid much attention, walking away, without saying a word. The brawler found himself a few boxes of unopened beer in the vault, next to crates of crushed scotch and he got a sour look on his face and muttered "Shoulda hit Cerulean harder for that..." He chugged one bottle, and then started working on the next one, when his ears grew bigger, hearing Lina talk about him, and his defeat of Cerulean.

Boss Chester His eyes shot out of his skull, stars in them at the prospect. Finally, an army for himself to rule over! The minions recognizing his greatness and his true power. Now he could conquer the world! Bend the military to it's knees with but a thought! With loyal soldiers by his side, nobody could stand his way! He pose grandiously as he shouted, arms to either side of him, flexing as he took a deep breath, yelling so loud it shook the castle itself.

"BOSS CHESTER, BABY!"

"As my first decree as boss of Azura Company, Let's get this damn festival starteeeed!!" He exclaimed, patting Lina and the king on the back, ushering them to enter the courtyard. Walking through the castle, he found Kuhn coming towards him, reloading his shotgun from firing it at some of the remaining fighting forces.

"You shot any blue guys?" Chester asked, and Kuhn nodded.

"Only the ones who tried to fight."

"Don't shoot my guys, Gunner!" Chester barked and him and Kuhn looked puzzled

"... Your guys, Cap'n?", quickly being filled in by the others on the situation and he swiftly placed his palm on his face, cursing under his breath.

"Figures Chester'd end up getting deeper into this mess." He plainly said, weary of the adventures on the island. He just wanted to get back to the Breeze and get to move on from here. He needed some relaxation.

And the island as a whole agreed, the festivities erupting and soon soldiers from all of the companies chatted, drank and danced with the soldiers of the kingdom.
Chester had told them all that over a drink, any difference can be overcome. Any conflict can be solved. Perhaps showing a glimpse at the source of his strength.

Or perhaps it was just the thoughts of a man who's had one grog too many, or hundreds.

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"BOSS CHESTER, BABY!"

"Oh no," Lina whispered, terror palpable and still mounting.

Luckily, it was not much cause of concern (yet), Chester's goodwill sparing many from being rounded up. Cerulean was the one major exception, his authority a potential threat to the emerging peace, Saff hard to excuse due to his attack on the king. Within the company his defeat sent ripples to his lieutenants across the Blue, the shock and anger quickly morphing into determination, sails unfurling compasses set to the Great Horn Archipelago.

---

The coming week was one of rest and recovery. With the coming and going of the Four Color Festival, and the security offered by Johannes, the conflict with the Companies faded quietly, both sides going back to their business with their losses taken, some more than others.

The mission of the Balder Knights completed, the man had taken his leave with no small fanfare. The 'Hero of Melonberry' was something of a mystery, one not easily associated with the loud drunk, Chester, who'd been making himself infamous in ways the Hero was famous. Surely, no one in their right minds would even entertain the possibility of them being one in the same. With Johannes' parting, he merely left a message for Chester, faring him and his crew well.

Tidying up the Breeze, Lina slipped off her navy blue hat, fanning herself with it, before taking a look at the horizon, seeing a number of vessels in the distance. Squinting her eyes, the sails of blue seemed ominous. Alone on the ship, to her knowledge, she swallowed, keeping a low profile, hoping it was nothing major.
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