Hidden 2 mos ago Post by kapuchu
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kapuchu The Loremaster

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The click-clack of loose stones hitting the ground accompanied Lily's final landing. She had spent the last two-or-so hours alternating between jumping and sliding down rocky earth, thanking the World-Drakes that her tails were actually useful for more than just decorations, and actually helped her keep her balance. All the while she carried Mouse, somewhere in the back of her mind being equally thankful that he was a small dog, and so easily carried. She gently put him down, giving him a few, quick scratches behind the ear before rising to her full height, surveying the area.

Around her was mostly rock and dirt, the odd clumb of asphalt and metal pipes. Truly the ground and bedrock had been blown to smithereens, leaving only pieces left of whatever constructions had been above, and below, ground prior to the explosion. Mouse took particular interest in a piece of red rock that might have once been part of an impressive artefact from one of the now-destroyed buildings. Or it might have just been a red brick. In the distance, behind and above her, she could heard the sound of metal against stone, which told her that Brucie was not far behind, even despite the obvious difference in their levels of mobility. A glance confirmed what she heard, the shark clumsily making his way down by going from handhold to handhold, forcing his metal claws into whatever narrow crevices he could find, whenever there was a lack of better places to grab hold.

While she rested and waited for her companion to catch up to her, she began looking for routes to take. Ahead of her was the massive city constructed of metal, stone and light. It was unlike anything she had ever seen before. From the sprawling cityscape of the Academy, to the yet wild and untouched areas of the alps, Lily had seen nothing like this in her own homeworld. Just looking at it gave her the feeling that this was something entirely alien. In a way, it was obvious as everything in this world was alien by mere definition, but more that this was neither human nor mythic of origin. It was more, and yet not. I have a bad feeling about this. And yet, she couldn't afford to let herself be unnerved by something she got a strange vibe off of. She was a Kitsune, one of the best illusionists among the Mythics. She had walked through nightmares and come out unscathed. She shouldn't be scared, not when she herself had the ability to conjure up things that would make even the Titans turn tail and run. She let herself close her eyes for a few moments, and breathed in, bringing her hands to her chest. Then, opening her eyes, she breathed out and stretched her arms out in front of her: Palms crossed and facing forward.

With her composure reasserted she fixed her eyes on the area between her and the as-of-yet distant city, already planning the route that was both the most direct and safest. There were the remains of the stone columns the giant bird had demolished, those she would have to clumb over or between. She had been able to see gaps in the colums, through which some of the light from the city had penetrated, which meant that there should, at least, be enough space to squeeze through. Slender as she was, it should be possible, though the tails could prove an issue. Brucie, however, was another problem entirely. He might have to climb over, rather than between, the "roots" of two of the destroyed columns. With luck, the debris of said columns would have falle in such a way that it allowed Brucie to scale it with ease. She looked over her shoulder at where Brucie was now sliding down the slope, struggling with his balance. She briefly eyed his metallic claws, deciding that he would have little trouble climbing if it came to that. He had made it down here, after all, which was arguably a far more challenging endeavour.

She turned back to the expanse before her, and finally decided which route to take. There's enough ambient light to see by down here.
For me, at least. And with an opponent being nearby down here, I have to be careful. Avoiding the fungi will leave me with the best chances for getting the first strike. Although...
She grimaced. The announcement from a while ago said that the drones will now point us towards our next opponent. So even keeping to the shadows won't guarantee going unseen. But there probably aren't any contestants with better senses than me, so I should at least be able to get the jump on them regardless. I'll spot them first, even with the drones being a dead giveaway. She would avoid the water to the best of her ability, knowing well the dangers that came with wet tails. Even if the chances of getting soaked were small, it was not a risk she was willing to take. After that, it was as simple as just going forward, while keeping eyes and ears out for any strangers.

Speaking of eyes.

Moving one of her tails in front of her, she took the pair of child-like toy glasses from it. She had received them as a prize from her previous fight and had yet to test them out. For the most part they looked just like any other set of goofy eyewear, with some sort of button in the middle of the front, between the eyes. It was not too far a stretch to assume that the button might have something to do with whatever effect the glasses had. She pushed it and held the glasses as far away from her body as possible, the glasses facing outwards in case of spontaneous death rays. Never know with this world, she thought when, after several moments of waiting, nothing had happened. When it became evident that there was no immediate threat to them, she carefully put them on, fully aware of how utterly ridiculous they made her look. Nothing seemed to happen at first. Everything looked much the same, yet still a little bit different. She still saw rock all over the place, as well as errant pieces of bent and broken metal. It was only when she looked down at Mouse that the ability of said glasses made itself evident.

She still saw the dog that he was, but she saw so much more at the same time. His skin and flesh had become transparent, his bones exposed to her eyes. She could still see the flesh, however, as if it was an imperfect x-ray. It was like a slightly dirty piece of glass she saw it through. Still somewhat hesitant, she clicked the button on the front of the glasses, and found her vision return to normal. As it turned out, the button was like a switch. On and off.

"Huh," she said taking off the glasses, "interesting." She let one of her tails take it again, keeping it safe while she moved about. At this point, Brucie had finally made his way down to her, and looked surprisingly tired for someone who didn't really have to move his own limbs to get about.

"Rock climbing. Couldn't it have been running?" He asked, glancing about.

"No, it couldn't have been. Take a piece of bread to eat if you need to regain some strength, but for now we're off." She called to Mouse and told him to stay near, then turned to face the distant city. "We have about a kilometre and a half before we meet that city there. I don't know what we'll come across, or if it will be dangerous or not. We'll stick to the dark, avoiding the water and fungi, and stay low. I've been able to get the jump on every opponent so far. I want to keep it that way." She let out a low whistle and started forward, Mouse at her side. Behind her, Brucie followed.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Knight Sylvestre

Location: Oldtown


With the resonant [i]clangs]/i] of metal against metal as his guide, Cyril strode toward the workshop of the man who Doctor Bill had assured could replace what the knight's morose passenger had lost. The sound led him to an inn of antiquated construction, the second of its two floors half against as long as the first and supported by reinforced logs. It was beneath this protuberance that the vanguard and the martial artist found the smith. With a countenance almost as dour as Cyril and Junipers', he had been working out the shape of a bit of steel that might, Cyril judged, become the elaborate crossguard of a winged spear. At first it seemed as though the metalworker might be too intent on his labor to notice the newcomers, but after using a pair of tongs to return his current project to the furnace, he rounded on them and crossed his arms. He wore curious garb, including a jacket of teal cloth with a zipper, a hood, and shimmering wave designs all across its surface. His guarded eyes betrayed a hint of curiosity as he surveyed the strange pair before him. “What do you want?”

His standoffishness took Cyril aback for a moment, but he reined himself in swiftly. “We were told that you can make magical equipment—specifically, replacement limbs. My...uh, friend here needs new legs. Can you do it?”

Feeling awkward, he turned to the side so that the smith could see for himself his former opponent's lack of lower legs. All the while, Juniper's face remained as stony as a gorgon's collection.

The man shook his head. “I've got some miracles and some metal, but nothing that complicated is coming out of this shop without souls.”

“We have some.”

“Oh, really?” Eyebrows up, the smith allowed his eyes to linger on the phylactery around Cyril's neck. “...Monster souls? I don't do people.”

Cyril hesitated, but only for a split second. He hadn't really thought about the morality of turning a person's soul into a piece of equipment, but there was no alternative if he was going to make up for the wrong he'd done to Juniper. “Yes.”

Still frowning, their new acquaintance took the phylactery when offered. “If you say so. I'll be able to tell when I try to transpose them.”

Panic seized Cyril's heart, but instead of doing anything without thinking, he froze up. He and Juniper could only watch, wide-eyed, as the smith took two jarlike objects, put them on top of a table, and inserted the phylactery into the top of one after the other. Two motes of energy -one crimson and one pale blue- eked through the rubber heart's needle, leaving the phylactery with only the bright and dark green lights remaining. “Huh, works with the soul shells.” Next, the smith sauntered over to a plain, clearly unfinished suit of armor sitting on another table and removed the greaves. “You're crazy lucky that I happened to make a suit of armor one of my works. I was gonna try to enchant it with air to get across the chasm, but it looks like that's gonna have to wait.”

With practiced hands he introduced the two filled soul shells to the greaves, one for each, and before the competitors' eyes the colored energy from each one surged from the shells to wash over the armor. The glow grew stronger and stronger only to die down just before it became blinding. Fascinated, Cyril stared at the results of the transposition: a knee-high greave of silver with circuit lines of pale blue, and a second, far more fantastical, of burgundy with spiky black ornamentation and inlaid rubies.

A few words were exchanged, and Juniper was laid on the ground. One by one each grave was put on, the stubs of her legs plugging in like shafts into spearheads, and when the martial artist moved she found them responsive. It was with no small amount of shock that she held onto Cyril's offered arm and stood, shakily, to her feet. “Its...” she murmured, breathless. “Like they're still there. I can feel my feet! And something else...some kind of energy.”

The smith nodded, a pleased smile on his face. “Yep, that'll be the magic. I expect each one has some sort of power based on the monster the soul came from. Souls plus weapons equals a lot of crazy stuff. There was a guy named Rodin who could conjure up all sorts of ridiculous weapons from a demon soul and a handle shell alone. My personal inspiration...” He held out his hand. “I'm Hyobanshi Souta, by the way. Now that business's over, we can afford to act like normal people, right?”

“Cyril Boniface,” the vanguard replied, taking the hand. He wrangled a smile out of his tired features, but what he thought was, My first opponent's soul was person. Why didn't this guy notice?

His former enemy, still getting used to the bizarre feeling in her lower legs, took a moment to realize and shake as well. “Juniper.” She gave the vanguard a look as he clapped a celebratory hand on her shoulder, which he immediately withdrew before shifting his attention and speaking.

“So, Hyobanshi...”

The smith held up his hand, interjecting. “'Souta' is my first name.”

“Ah, forgive me,” Cyril said, a little confused. “Souta, is there any chance you could repair my armor as well?” Something else clicked in his mind. “Er, also...what do I owe you?”

Souta shrugged. “Sure, but it'll take time, unless you're willing to part with anymore souls. As for payment, I don't know if money's any use around here, and I got all the food I need in the frozen section of the store across the plaza. I guess I'm looking for answers as to why we're here in this place, or if there's any way to go back to my world.”

After a moment of thought, Cyril had pieced together a reply, but he could barely open his mouth before a new and unfamiliar voice assailed him from behind. “Hey!”

He and Juniper whirled around to face the source, the latter a little unsteady. About two hundred feet away, there stood a cynical, sunken-looking man with a graying beard alongside an ordinary-looking woman with auburn hair. Their normalcy set off alarm bells in Cyril's mind.

The man called out again, his voice cool as ice. “The Crucible is over. Hand over your phylacteries and nobody gets hurt.”

Without a second's delay, both Juniper and Cyril answered as one. “No.”

The corners of the old man's mouth twisted upward into a dark smile. “I thought you might say that.” He raised his voice. “Journey!”

For a moment, there was nothing. Then, out of nowhere, a weight came crashing down on the competitors from above. “Guhh!” As he was crushed, the vanguard craned his neck to look upward, but he saw nothing. Whatever was bearing down upon him with such brutal force was invisible to him, and when he tried to push upward on it with his hands, they went straight through where it should have been. Beside him, Juniper had also been struck. The next moment it relented, but Cyril, gritting his teeth through the pain, dove to the side. His unwilling ally did the same, and the next instant, the force came down again in the same spot, crunching the stone beneath it.

Scrambling to his feet, Cyril hastily looked back to try and see what attacked him, but only saw an imprint in the ground of a giant, bizarrely-shaped foot. Juniper, meanwhile, had raised her arm to project a magic javelin at the man. He flinched, but the woman beside him called out, “Humbling River!” and around her a torrent of water erupted from nothing. It swirled around the two in a protective vortex, and the Javelin was tossed aside like a toothpick.

“What in God's name...?”

Cyril forced himself to run, narrowly avoiding another impact. Juniper ran the other way, her face sharing the same bafflement. Meanwhile, Souta had elected to leap over the counter. “I'll back you up!” The wave designs on his hoodie lit up in aquamarine, and from a spurt of rushing water he summoned a black warhammer. He charged down the center, straight for the two intruders, while the others ran around the side.

The Lady in White

Location: Governance Hub – Echoed Tower
@Lazo


Ten minutes passed by, but at that period's end, no drone appeared to Pithy in order to guide her to her next opponent. Not even a spark stirred the mangled carcass of the flying machine the Lady in White had, hours ago, trashed on the doorstep to Nero's tower. Evidently, the Crucible's announcer was out of drones.

In the intervening hours between his confrontation with the icy sorceress and now, when shadows were growing longer and the sun drooping toward the horizon, Nero had slipped away and not returned. Between the two of them, Dew and Pithy kept up a good guard, but after an entire afternoon of numbingly boring inactivity their stakeout had grown less keen and, in combination with Nero's tracking of Pithy, permitted him to hightail it through the front door and down the block. His announcement, left behind as an automated message to precede the switching-over of his drone system to guidance mode, suggested that he did not intend to return either.

The Fungal Knight

Location: the Big Top
@Banana


The speed of Bonesword's jump out of the holding tank dislodged the egg timer -which he'd looted from Saria's corpse earlier that day- from his arsenal and sent it flying to clatter against the wall, but by the time he might have noticed the skeleton had already landed and issued his ultimatum to the clown.

For his part, the freaky creature did appear comically surprised that Bonesword managed to escape, but his ridiculous features did not convey undue distress. While the skeleton stood before him, the clown reached into a polka-dotted pocket and pulled out something bright red and rubbery. In fact, he continued to pull it out—he drew it like a sword, revealing it to be much longer than could have possibly fit into the pocket. After a moment, the head of the clown's giant squeaky mallet popped out, and he grasped the handle in both hands for a brutal overhead swing.

Inari

Location: what lies beneath
@Kapuchu


Ten minutes passed, uneventful and even peaceful in the soft dark and wide-open space of the yawning cavern, before one of Oren's drones descended through the hole to keep Lily and Brucie company. Once locked in around the two competitors, it reoriented itself so that its back faced toward the forest of stone and fungi that carpeted the cave's floor. Its position confirmed that the pair need not alter their planned path; their opponent awaited them somewhere in that luminescent tangle. As though the Crucible's circumstances couldn't get more bizarre, the fox and the shark now found themselves having to contend with this practically alien landscape.

The pair's trek hadn't extended past the first oversized mushroom, though, before they found something interesting. One landmark stood out in the otherwise bare and stony road toward the strange garden: the decimated subway train in which Captain Teller and the demon Smiley had allegedly entered this place. Before getting there Lily could guess by the drone's orientation that her next opponent was there no longer. A search of the wreckage would turn up nothing, save a black, sticky trail leading away from the mangle of steel and broken glass in the direction of the mushroom forest.

In the course of following the trail, other tidbits turned up. Intermittently lying in the goop, the pair could discover teeth, scraps of skin, pieces of fabric, and even a bit of the soldier's gear. Scraps of Teller's highly advanced armor dotted the landscape, some clearly tossed around rather than just dropped. If Lily and her semiaquatic ally reached the edge of the garden, however, they could stumble on something decisive: one mushroom's cap sported a messy black handprint, hinting that it had served for a moment as support for a weary or desperate hand.

The Cereal Killer and The Book Keeper

Location: Historical District
@Propro@BCTheEntity


Though the courageous Captain made for quite the spectacle as he posed, ready for battle, it wasn't until a few minutes later that a whirring noise announced the return of Oren's drone. It took up a cinematic angle, looking down toward the trio, before sidling seventy a hundred and twenty degrees to the right. There, in the direction that Crue would remember indicating Oldtown Plaza, it came to a steady hover. Between Runch's makeshift crew and there new destination lay a sizable tract of flooded terrain, including areas in which Crue and Erina had faced off against an unknown, tentacled threat.

When the trio approached the water, its resident vampire began to become aware of something entirely different. In the distance, and in multiple directions, he could spot a split-second disturbance akin to static in a television. They occurred too far away to make out anything definitive, but before long the disturbances started happening closer. Each one occupied a singular spot in the air, roughly the shape of a person, for so brief a fraction of a second that it was easy to believe he simply imagined it. When several happened in quick succession less than fifty feet away, however, Motley couldn't ignore the vague, shadowy figure of a person each static blip left behind. At that point, the spiritually-inclined non-user Erina also began to get a hint of what was going on.

The entities didn't move, instead standing wherever they appeared, but their silhouettes made it clear that they were looking at Motley, Erina, and Runch. Those that appeared in the water did not disrupt its surface whatsoever, instead existing in the same space as the liquid as though the entities were incorporeal. More continued to appear, dozens and dozens, until they populated the entire area. Their spectral forms remained indistinct, but they began to move once enough were around, walking with a slow stride toward the trio. They came to a stop at an uncomfortably close distance, just far enough to make sure that they weren't touched.

All of this Motley could witness clear as day, and Erina could get a good grasp of, yet Runch could see or feel a single thing. As the three moved, the shadow people skirted out of the way to let them pass without any obstruction. So too was the pirate oblivious to the strange objects flying up from across the floodwaters until they hit the pavement and exploded perilously close by, so near as to send shards of cement and clods of dirt flying in every direction. After the ringing died down, two voices rang out from a good distance away, completing eachother's sentences.

“Bartholomew K. Runch and Motley Crue!”

“Under the authority of the Inquisitional College, we deem you threats to the safety of this world!”

“And do sentence you to death!”

Across the water, two people could now be seen by everyone present, having just emerged from the interior of an old-fashioned inn's second floor to stand on the balcony. At first glance, Davian and Aralynn Thule looked almost identical, but to Motley's eyes alone something intriguingly distinct surrounded them. Davian's body gave off a fiery shine, like the ignited jets of a gas stove, but in an odd gray-black hue. His sister bore the same corona, but in yellow. Most tellingly, a few of the shadow figures stood around the pair like a president's bodyguards, staring in silence at the competitors.

To Runch nothing about Aralynn changed, but Motley could watch the top of her outstretched arm open up like a panel in a machine and a missile launcher pop out to fire off another rocket toward his comrades. Her arm then closed up, nothing wrong with it at all; next, the front of her shoulders became panels and opened up to reveal twin missile pods that fired three miniature payloads each.

All seven rockets sped toward their targets, the first far faster than the other half-dozen, and all of them invisible and silent for the brave Cereal Killer.

Sunspot

Location: the Park
@FloodTalon


For Jin, his accompanying drone's new subroutine meant even more walking. It pointed him across the lake toward the destroyed amphitheater, though thankfully the ruin was not straight across the way, but at about a forty-degree angle from his current position near the waterfall.

A few minutes later, the assassin was well on his way down the slope from the waterfall cliff toward the plain on which the amphitheater sat. The sky was just beginning to take on shades of peach and orange. Around him, the green trees of summer stood in silent reverence for the amazing view this vantage point afforded them. From here, Jin could see across the entire Grassy Expanse, and into the Residential District. Further still were the myriad roofs of the Historical District, split between squat buildings from antiquity and various places of worship from all cultures. Beyond them both he could glimpse the skyscrapers of Downtown, though the giant black bird that he'd seen soar that direction was nowhere to be found.

The sight of a tree taking on the oranges, yellows, and reds of fall in less than ten seconds brought his attention back to his immediate surroundings. As he watched, the leaves changed color en masse, then start to shake as though gripped by a sudden and particular wind. A moment later every single leaf plummeted from the branches, falling across their progenitor's roots like a colorful carpet. In the tree's crown sat a man, six and a half feet tall and highly fashionable but sporting no nose.

“Jin Sunrise...you're fast and you can take a lot of punishment. You're also an unrepentant asshole, so full of yourself it's a wonder you don't burst, just because you've been lucky enough to not run into anyone who can put you in your place.”

The leaves began to rise, swirling as they did in a cyclone around the tree. A sharp eye could see that their veins were pulsing with bright orange fluid, which also ran along their razor-sharp edges. In the middle of the storm, the man got to his feet.

“I've reviewed every second of footage I can find,” he continued. “The others are moving in groups of two, but I am confident that the only help I need to take out the trash is my Weird Autumn. You've had a good run, Jin, but this party's over.”

Fifty thousand leaves shot forward, swirling into a seeking tornado of a thousand venomous blades that bore down on Jin like a natural disaster.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Bonesword - Funny Business

The skeleton backpedaled as Charlie grew to block the hit, roaring as he took the bulk of the blow. The mighty beast shook it off as it saw something twinkle within the bottle. The Egg Timer. Charlie leapt up into the air, finding his way back into the bottle, grabbing the timer, and launching back out. He had his head poking out while Bonesword engaged with the hammer clown, who he temporarily dubbed Hammer.

The skeleton ran over to a nearby table and looked at what was on it while he held his Shroomblade in a defensive stance. He noted the few gags that he thought would be a bit more... sinister given what these clowns could do. It was then that he saw a balloon used for making animals with, and he instantly saw it as something far more than that. He saw it as another weapon to add to his arsenal, but he felt a bit paranoid to grab it as he was. It didn't seem to fit someone like him... at least... not yet.

Looking at the watch on his wrist, the skeleton slammed it as he transformed back into BoBonesword. Charlie saw the transformation and assumed that the clown was still his master, and as such, he was still perfectly willing to fight alongside him.

"I hope you enjoy carrot cake..." BoBonesword began his taunt, grabbing ahold of the balloon beside him as he raised it up like a sword, feeling the weight of it as very similar. "... because it's time for a party!"

"HoNk."
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floodtalon Slick

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Jin yawned as he rolled his shoulders and stretched out his arms while following the funny little drone. Everything was nice around here sure, but he could really give less of a fuck about nature right now. He was surrounded by nature a few hours ago, it had been burning down around him. The sooner he got back to sweet civilization the better.

It was in sight too, he didn't have much further to go until he was back in the city. First thing he was gonna do was go hunt for frozen pizzas. Damn pizza sounded good right about now. He was so entrenched in his thoughts that he almost didn't notice the fact that a tree just went through all 4 seasons in the same amount of time it took his stomach to grumble. Almost. A tall dude lay waiting in the tree, first thing Jin noticed was that the guy was missing a nose.

“Jin Sunrise...you're fast and you can take a lot of punishment. You're also an blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah lucky blah blah.” Jin was tuning this guy out, mainly staring at his face as he tried to figure out what the fuck was wrong with him. He interrupted right as he jumped down to start talking. "Dude what's wrong with your face? How the fuck do you breath, do you just constatnly breath through your mouth?" He started laughing at the end of the sentence, his words broken up by spurts of laughter. "Jeez man, I've heard the expression 'a face only a mother could love' but holy shit! You really do have that kinda face!"

The man got to his feet, the leaves that had fallen slowly rising as they whipped into a storm. His laughing slowed down as he caught his breath, whipping out his beam katana and activating it with a flourish. "I suppose you want to kill me. Bad choice on your part really, I just got-" The man interrupted as he bragged about his power, Weird Autumn. Jin started laughing again as he pointed at the man with his blade. "Holy shit, not only am I about to kill a freak but I'm gonna kill a retarded freak! Weird fucking Autumn? Are you trying to make me laugh myself to death?" Then the leaves shot forward like a tornado.

"Alright let's get this over with." Jin sobered up and looked at the leaves closely, each one appeared to be quite sharp and somewhat orange. Poison most likely, don't wanna get scratched by that. Jin immediately sprinted away from the tornado and to the left, taking cover behind a tree as he pulled out one of Sophia's bolt pistols. 61 shots, plenty to beat this freak of nature. He peeked out from behind cover to fire at the man, 1 shot at the tornado to see how it reacted to explosions and 1 at the freak to see how he would defend himself.
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BCTheEntity You are correct. But also, no.

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The Last Thing You’d Expect

Motley Crue was fairly certain that that wasn’t how probability worked. Even so, if something like that did inexplicably work in the Kaptain’s favour, who was he to complain? Besides which, there were more important matters to consider - the Old Basilica, in what he could only assume was the section of the city he’d travelled to earlier, was apparently the location of the Wishing Machine itself. Fascinating. And it happened that a wall of cereal, even diamond-hard, was no match for Heavy Fuel’s corrosive nature, as proven earlier. If the machine needed using, then… or, say, destroying...

Nonetheless, he had his reasons to protest when he was promptly ordered by Runch to snoop around and get more information on the tournament’s hosts, something that directly contradicted their earlier agreement to stick together for one another’s protection. It was a smart idea, one that had flashed into his mind at practically the same instant as Runch’s, but...

'Runch,' Motley explained as the pirate turned, 'did I not just join your- uh… “crew” on the grounds that leaving you to potentially die would be uncouth of me? Whilst leaving to learn more about the competition would be a good idea...'

'No, he has a point,' Erina responded, head cocking to one side. 'If he’s tough enough to survive you, I’m pretty sure there’s basically nobody Runch can’t outlast.'

'I also wasn’t trying to kill him. Somebody who has no compunctions about gathering allies might be more proactive about it, and loathe as I am to say it, they might also be stronger than I am.' Motley’s ear caught the sound of an approaching drone, and he watched as Oren’s machine filmed them from above, before unsubtly angling itself in the direction of… now, hadn’t he come from there earlier? He’d certainly fought Erina in what he knew as Oldtown, but aside from starting near the unusually helpful smithy, he’d never gotten the name of the area he was in. Nonetheless, that was where he- where Runch was headed. He had other things-

...no he didn’t. That first blip of static could have been imagined, but the following blips certainly couldn’t. And what they left behind was no hallucination.

'You know what, it’s no longer negotiable. I think it’s best I stay with you for now, Runch,' Motley muttered, tacitly bringing Heavy Fuel out of his body to pool around his feet. At the same time, Erina rubbed her eyes, as if unsure what she was seeing, before glancing between her two allies with an increasingly concerned frown. More tellingly, Runch himself apparently couldn’t see them at all, whether or not he got the basic gist of what was happening... a Stand, then?

'...yyyeah, Motley should stay with you, Captain. Just- just for a little while, right? Because of, uh… there’s tentacles with mouths running around, like disembodied tentacles? Those are. A thing.' As always, Erina’s blatant lying was rather obvious, but the fact of the matter was, discerning what she was actually lying about would be… probably a hindrance, actually. No, that wasn’t appropriate this time.

'Suffice to say, we may shortly be under attack.'

In an almost anti-climactic turn of events, the shadowy figures left behind by those static blips - which by now surrounded the trio for what seemed to be dozens of meters, many of which had moved to surround them - did precisely nothing for at least a minute, aside from ensuring they were always out of arm’s reach. Motley highly suspected they’d do the same thing if attacked by Heavy Fuel... and alas, whilst it wasn’t despairingly slow, it also wasn’t the fastest of Stands.

Speak of the devil, of course - no sooner had he had that thought than a pair of what seemed to be missiles flew toward and exploded near Runch’s group, showering them all with fortunately-harmless shrapnel. And after that, the perpetrators revealed themselves - two staff members, judging by their introductions and attitudes, and oh, wasn’t that aura around them most interesting, not to mention the shadowy bodyguards of theirs? For some reason, he doubted he’d need to keep them alive.

'Get behind me, both of you,' Motley uttered, frankly less concerned than he ought to be. 'And Runch, if you wouldn’t mind looking these two up in your booklet whilst I handle them?' Enemy Stands were one thing, but combined with his vampiric power, he had more than enough of an arsenal to outmatch them, especially since both of them appeared to be long-range in nature, ensuring they wouldn’t have an especially notable amount of strength. The shadowy one’s ability was another matter, but nonetheless, all Motley had to do was get up close, and the fight was as good as over.

But first, he had to get up close, and Miss Rocket Launcher was proving to be an obstacle to that. He allowed Heavy Fuel to spill out as far as possible, crackling with the power of his breathing as it attempted to spear the members of the crowd surrounding them whilst keeping Erina and Runch in small, unaffected circles inside its mass; at the same time, he aimed a finger toward the fastest of the missiles, and with but a moment of compression, he fired off a fingernail tied to his body with a rope of blood vessels, and itself engulfed in the black, oily mass of Heavy Fuel’s form, the Stand’s mass expanding out in a widening cloud from the blood vessels themselves. With any luck, that fingernail would spear right through the missile and detonate it almost instantly, or at worst the enemy’s attack would likely be destroyed as it attempted to pass through Heavy Fuel’s form - a fingernail was easily regrown, after all, and was certainly a more acceptable loss than any part of his center of mass.

After that, he’d need to handle the slower rockets - not to mention the faster missile if his initial plan somehow failed. His remaining fingernails blew out of their beds, trailing veins and arteries back to his hands, and he threw his hands over his head, the makeshift harpoons whipping around himself and his teammates to form a much wider field that Heavy Fuel could spew out of - and ultimately, a much wider “crumple zone” for the rockets to blow themselves up within, not to mention forcing away the shadowy Stand’s bodies even further than they might already have been. They didn’t seem to make any sound or emit any smell, which would be the senses he’d rely on when he couldn’t see through his own Stand, but perhaps he was wrong on that front...

@Lugubrious@ProPro
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Runch remained silent as Motley and Erina debated the merits of the vampire striking out on his own. The whole thing was somewhat embarrassing, so he awkwardly scratched the back of his head with squinted eyes and an uncomfortable smile. He was used to being talked over back on his own ship, so full of big personalities. The main difference there was legitimate loyalty. He knew he could always count on them to dial it back when he needed to step up and give the orders. In this situation, those were more suggestions than anything else.

"Omnomnom, well you'll do what you want, at the end of the day. Whatever makes you most comfortable, omnomnom!" Having absolutely no desire to relive that conversation again, Runch focused entirely on following the path that Oren's drone had set out for them to follow. The constant water blockages were certainly annoying, but he thought of all the detours as more of a fun game of exploration than an obstacle inhibiting his path. That said, it wasn't long at all before his two companions began to behave strangely...

Motley laid down the law that he wasn't leaving, while Erina began spouting out some poorly articulated babbling that a child could see through. The captain wasn't a genius, but he was somewhat intelligent and decent enough at reading signs. There was something both of these two noticed that he hadn't. Both of his companions could see supernatural events that remained invisible to his own eyes. That meant that-KABOOM! Something nearby suddenly exploded without warning! The shrapnel missed, but Runch couldn't help inhaling a bit of the dust that had been kicked up. "Ack! Cough cough! What in blazin' blueberries was that?!" he cried out, but it was an unnecessary query. Two individuals dressed in the clothing of the College made themselves known. With a single announcement, his heart sank. Threat? Sentenced to death?! Well ok yes he was a criminal by strict definition, but only in his own world!

Keeping a jolly face, Runch chose to roll off the severity of the situation with humor by asking the first question that came to his mind. "Does this mean that I'm disqualified then?" Motley Crue decided to take point in this fight, and Runch couldn't disagree with that tactic. While Runch was the only one that could not see the threat, Motley was the far superior fighter over Erina. The best thing he could do right now was go on the defensive and bide some time.

"Bori bori dome!" cried the pirate, spinning around in a twirl, both hands outstretched. Streams of cereal poured out around himself and the exorcist to form a protective dome around them. It didn't leave a ton of elbow room, but then again it didn't need to. It just needed to resist attack, and as it was an inch thick and hard as iron, it should definitely be capable of that much. Wasting no more time, K. Runch plucked the journal from his shirt pocket and opened up two new pages. He needed to see what these college stooges were capable of...
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Knight Sylvestre

Location: Oldtown


If the three attackers bearing down on the College personnel whatsoever, they did not show it. Behind the torrent of water, Howell and Raleigh appeared utterly confident, not even flinching as Souta swung his warhammer at nothing. From the weapon, ghostly green skeletons burst forth to fly, chattering, into the typhoon, but they were dashed to pieces in an instant. Before he could do anything else the invisible weight fell upon him from above, and the smith was forced to his knees. By that time Juniper reached the water from her side, and having evidently grown accustomed to her new legs in a time nothing short of remarkable, she flung herself toward the two intruders. A blast of water slapped her from the side before she even got close, slinging her back only to land on her feet. She stepped into the surging water just as Cyril arrived opposite her, and they entered the outermost section at the same time. For a split second their footing held, and it seemed as though they might be able to ford the maelstrom, but neither could even process that they were making progress before the flow's strength increased and sent both tumbling to their feet. The impact with the ground drove the breath from Cyril's lungs, but that sudden jolt of pain paled in comparison to the crushing sensation that followed. The unknown force pressed against him with cruel power, threatening to squash him between it and the cobblestone. He could only give a ragged gasp as he felt the bones injured during his fight with Juniper threatening to give again.

He hoped that whatever his enemy was hurting him with would go after one of his temporary allies next, but this desperate plea went unheard; understanding his critical condition, the force struck him again. Meanwhile, Souta and Juniper had pulled themselves up, and the former shouted something to the latter. Though too far away for it to possibly hit, Juniper aimed a kick with her more technological leg, and a compartment opened just above the foot to produce a glowing blue bomb. Like a professional athlete she sent the bomb flying, and the cascade at it up. The brilliant blue light became a blur, spinning around the typhoon, until it exploded a split second later. While the blast itself did not blow through the watery barrier, the noise and shockwave startled the College employees inside, shifting their focus from the fallen knight to the martial artist. Her new technique complete, Juniper spun away in time to avoid a crush. The next moment, a second bomb went the way of the first, keeping her enemies' eyes on her.

Souta suddenly loomed over Cyril, and the smith reached down to help the vanguard up. “Nothing's getting through!” he yelled through the noise. “Whatever that woman's doing with the water is crazy strong, but I don't think either really know what they're doing! They're high on their own power! We just need to figure out a weakness in the magic!” His warhammer dissipated in a rush of water from his hoodie, and a strange-looking shotgun appeared in its place. He fired off what looking like a spike made of blue fire into the maelstrom, but it was tossed away like a flicked matchstick. Through the torrent Cyril could see the devious-looking man turn his attention to the two of them, and on reflex he raised his shield above his head.

CLANG!

The vanguard could barely keep standing, his knees shaking and alight with muscle pain, as the invisible force descended upon him again. Having knelt, Souta shot another fire spike, this one aimed lower. Predictably, it was blown back, but this time by the current. With an inward grown Cyril slumped sideways in a weak attempt at a dodge, his Sheen carrying him out of the way. Souta sprinted the other way, and down again came the crush. Its attack exploded the spike, which detonated in a burst of blue fire. However, the flame spread as though something were blocking it, and as it raced sideways it curled up around the outline of its obstacle. For an instant, the azure blaze highlighted the shape of a giant foot, bizarre and alien, but a foot nonetheless.

This did not escape anyone's notice. “Whatever it is reacted with Deluge's spirit fire!” Souta observed, his remark lost upon Cyril, whose skin crawled as he imagined some kind of enormous, intangible, spectral entity attacking him. Demons he could fight, but ghosts were the domain of warlocks and necromancers. Great. There was a chance he and the others could put their heads together and figure out an exploitable flaw, but under an assault like this?

Juniper, in the middle of another bomb kick, took a hit from the entity for the first time. Without much in the way of defense, but a lot in the way of injury, she crumpled under the blow. “Gaaah!” Both of the College personnel were looking her way, leaving an opportunity. Smart or not, it was a decision that Cyril had to make in a fraction of a second.

“Go, go, go!”

He barreled forward, fast as his weary legs to carry him. Souta ran ahead, his hammer materializing in his off hand. Both men entered the current, and to their surprise the stayed standing. Without any time to be surprised, however, they moved forward. It was tough going, but Cyril felt elated that he was somehow doing it. “Brace yourself!” he bellowed, knowing another crush was imminent. Instead of ducking down, Souta lifted his weapons up as a makeshift shield, and together with Cyril did his best to block the attack. Around them, the raging water weakened, and Cyril took another step. One more and he would be able to thrust his glaive into the man's midsection.

“Keep it up!” Juniper's voice came from behind as she got to her feet, and she moved toward the trio's enemies. The moment she did, the current returned to its full power, carrying both Cyril and Souta off their feet. Caught in the typhoon, they flew back out of range, their progress lost. Juniper's face was one of anger. “What!? How did you mess that...!?” A wall of water cut her off, washing her away as well. When Cyril looked back at his foes, he found the maelstrom even angrier than before. From behind him and to his right, Juniper shrieked in pain beneath the weight of another attack from the entity.

He staggered to his feet, using his polearm as a third leg. “It's...because of us,” he gasped. “The water's responding to something about us. Emotion...?” That didn't make sense. They'd all been confused, fearful, aggressive, and so forth this whole time. The flow had been weakest right after he and the smith had worked together to survive the entity's attack, but only so long as Juniper was down. He couldn't figure out the connection for the life of him, which would soon be a very literal problem at this rate.

From the middle of the swirling shell of water, the two College people had regained their confidence. The brief moment they'd been close to danger came completely by surprise, but with Souta, Juniper, and Cyril worn down and at a loss for a solution, that moment seemed far off. “Finish them!” The man called, but not to his colleague. The vanguard couldn't react before a pressure closed in on him from all directions. His arms and legs were pinned against him, and he was lifted into the air. No amount of wriggling would set him free. If whatever he'd seen before was a foot, this could only be the entity's hand. About the ins and outs of his invisible assailant, however, Cyril wasn't really thinking. The only thing he knew was that he was trapped—trapped by something he didn't understand, and going to die.

The Fungal Knight

Location: the Big Top
@Banana


Contrary to what its colorful, inflatable exterior might imply, the blow-up hammer wielded by the clown struck like a miniature freight train. Its concussive force would have fractured every bone in the basilisk's body had it any bones to break. If the clown had been fast enough to strike at Bonesword during his brief flight to a nearby table, it could have spelled the end for the skeleton's trusty Shroomblade as well. As it was, the jeering jester trudged after him, hammer in hand.

More than used to bright and sudden lights, the flash surrounding Bonesword gave the clown no pause, but the sight of what his adversary became shocked the clown for one fleeting moment. After the initial jolt wore off, however, the funny man's freakish features grew into a snide smile. He understood very well that the being of bone before him had become a bozo like he, and moreover, he knew just where hit own species hurt. Holding his hammer in both hand like a pike, the clown charged forward with his considerable mass. The head of his weapon zoomed toward Bobonesword's big red nose.

The Cereal Killer and The Book Keeper

Location: Historical District
@Propro@BCTheEntity


The siblings Davian and Aralynn watched their opponents from across the water with crossed arms and calm faces. Of the two, Aralynn felt greater elation, though better concealed, at having power enough to threaten these competitors, who'd proven their monstrous strengths in their fights against one another. From the moment she'd started watching Oren's recordings she had felt jealous indeed of all the myriad abilities the strangers from afar seemed to have. Now that she commanded a supernatural talent of her own, however, she felt positively delighted. In particular she enjoyed the theatricality of this encounter—she had, after all, prevented her initial few missiles from hitting their marks so as to not end the fight too quickly. These people needed to know the faces of those who would put them down, and save the world from the calamity of a terrible wish. This fight wouldn't be over with a few missiles, but she had plenty to spare.

Around Motley, the shadow figures continued to evade him, even turning into blurs to get out of the way of his own stand's attacks. He fired off his repartee, a bloody fingernail laced with Heavy Fuel's miasma, in the direction of the biggest missile seeking him out. When the two projectiles made contact, the missile itself passed through Motley's organic matter, but the corrosion of Heavy Fuel set in without delay. For a moment the missile blackened before exploding midair. Out of the smoke cloud it left behind, the smaller missiles appeared, still on course. Aralynn watched as Motley extruded the remainder of his fingernails to make into a revolting lasso, which he spun above the heads of his allies to make a shield. Narrowing her eyes, the twin raised her hand, and the smaller missiles angled upward. They continued to rise as long as she kept her hand aloft, and the moment she dropped it, they turned in midair to fly back toward their original target. Now they were coming from above in spread formation. At this point, Aralynn ignored them, and instead raised her elbows to either side of her head to open up four compartments, one in each upper and lower arm. A quartet of medium-size missiles sailed forth, far faster and more direct than the smaller ones.

When he opened up his journal, Runch found two additional pages filled out.

Davian Thule
Student of language
Intelligent, caring, and resourceful

Stand Name: Boys of Summer
Humanoid in form, Boys of Summer is a collective stand best described as innumerable, nondescript shadow people.  They are vaguely visible to non-users through technological displays like security cameras and television monitors.  To other Stand users, they are more solid, but still lack identifying features
Stand Power: Silent Protectorate
Boys of Summer appear en masse around the user independently, and can blink into existence around anyone whom the user’s emotion focuses around for a short period.  They surround the target as best they can, standing very close by but moving in quick, short bursts so that the target doesn’t touch them.  They stand silently, watching everything in the vicinity, and moving along with the target whenever the target relocates.  They make an effort to avoid touching the target, up to the point of adopting supernatural speed. More appear, walking in from the distance to join the crowd, whenever the target vocalizes any sort of request for help.  Boys of Summer can ‘activate’ whenever something bad happens in their vicinity, and a single one can spend its existence to avert that happening. Most notable, they serve as meatshields against Stand attacks, completely negating one attack at a time. A Far Distance Autopilot-type stand, Boys of Summer operates via its own guiding intelligence, and is empathetic in nature

Aralyyn Thule
Student of Archaeology
Intelligent, ambitious, and forceful

Stand Name; Heatseeker
Heatseeker has no body of its own
Stand Power: Missile Generation
Heatseeker responds to the will of its user to convert parts of the user's body into mechanical compartments that can open to reveal missile launchers inside. Having a body part converted into a compartment has no adverse affects on the user whatsoever, and after the compartment closes, the area is completely normal once again. It can also effect clothes. The missile launchers can take virtually any shape, from individual launchers to entire missile arrays, but the missiles themselves have several constant attributes. The larger a missile is, the greater its destructive power, durability, and speed; the more missiles there are in a single compartment, the smaller they will be. All missiles can be set to seek a certain target dictated by the user. Targets can include both specific things, like a person in the user's vision, or something more abstract, like a lost object. Automatic seeking worsens the farther a missile gets from the user, and larger missiles have worse seeking irregardless compared to smaller missiles. However, the user can temporarily override the seeking of small enough missiles as long as she can see them, spurring them in a specific direction


Sunspot

Location: the Park
@FloodTalon


Jin's comments evoked a dark smile from Pieter. “As insufferable as you are doomed. Enjoy your last laugh.” His whirlwind of leaves homed in on its target, but the assassin made good on his reputation and sped behind cover. The movement of his hands toward his waist before he disappeared clued Pieter in to what he was up to. From the footage he reviewed, he knew where 'Sunspot' kept his guns. At a more leisurely pace, Pieter crouched down and slid back, taking refuge in the thick branches of his tree's crown. Sure enough, two gunshots rang out through the still air. One hit the wood a few feet from his position, and the other punched through the leaf tornado. That shot split apart the leaves it hit, but the tiny gap the bullet made was closed immediately by the countless leaves that remained.

By then, the twister smacked into the tree. It hit with very little force, barely enough to strip some bark from the trunk of Jin's cover, and dissipated. The leaves themselves, however, were not done. They embedded themselves into the tree, digging in as though the wood was eating them. Above the assassin, his tree's leaves began to change color. They took on the same colors of fall as those commanded by Pieter, then -all at once- shot downward from their branches. Like a rain of blades they fell toward Jin, flying edge-first at him in a steady barrage.
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Jin nodded to himself as the man simply ducked a bit, letting his shot hit a branch rather than make any crazy dodges. Either he was lazy or he had a reason to stay in the tree, maybe he had to stay in contact with the tree to control its leaves. The tornado didn't take any noticeable damage from the bolt either, the shot shredding one or two leaves but not enough to make a noticeable difference. Flamethrower might come in handy if the tornado gets too close. Speaking of the tornado, it hit his cover quicker than he expected. Jin was already moving to the left just in case it tore through the bark, which was a good move on his part. The leaves of his former cover turned orange, clearly under the effects of Weird Autmun, and fell like a rain of razors upon where he was just moments ago.

"What you got up your sleeve now Voldemort?" Jin called out as he rushed to the tree the Stand user stood upon, firing off 3 shots at the noseless man to keep him in cover. The tree had no more leaves, so he didn't have to worry about Weird Autumn coming at him from the front. He kept vigilant though, there was the chance that he didn't need to be in direct contact with a tree to use it's leaves.
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BoBonesword - Solo Performance

Charlie tossed the Egg Timer to his master, who caught it nicely. Charlie didn't have any bones to break, and despite what many thought, he wouldn't simply die from a hammer strike. The best way to kill a plant monster is by cutting it. That being said, there was a significant portion of the snake that was compressed, which looked extremely painful and bound to bust if hit again. Charlie didn't want to get involved unless he had to, seeing what kind of power the clown wielded.

Looks like a solo performance!

BoBonesword backpedaled, dodging the oncomng strike barely and following up by grabbing hold of the giant hammer barely, clinging to it as he swung around the room. It was there that, with his balloon sword in his mouth and his free hand clutching onto the Timer, that BoBonesword saw it fitting to try something. Something stupid.

He turned the timer on, setting it to some random amount of time, pointing the dial straight up. Gravity began to shift as BoBonesword understood what it did. The timer changed the pull of gravity for the user! Pretty neat, but kind of especially here. The shift of gravity pulled not only BoBonesword up, but the clown as well (unless, he let go of his hammer). Hopefully this would do something to even out the playing field.
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From within the protective dome Runch could hear multiple explosions going off outside. They rivaled, or even outmatched what he could produce with his Hellberry recipe. At least as much as he'd ever tried to create. His bombs could be made much larger, but without a reliable method to shoot them out, it'd be suicidal. Bah, got to focus on reading. Same last name, so they're related. Stands? Were these two from the same world as Motley Crue? That didn't sound right. But then were stands something that anybody from any universe could manifest? That also didn't seem right. Better to figure that out later.The journal didn't detail any abilities beyond the stands, so these College representatives didn't seem to be trained in any form of fighting. They had to be inexperienced. So why send two totally inexperienced non-combatants to kill two very powerful men judged purely for their destructive capabilities?

Because that's all they have, Runch thought to himself in the voice of his navigator Hachirou. No, that definitely wasn't right. They still had plenty of artifacts left over they hadn't given away to tournament participants. Surely some of their number had to be proficient in using them for combat! It had to be something else, so what was it? Two complete non-fighters showed up, no backup, no College artifacts, when he knew they had to have the resources to do better.... Gah! He was so close to being on to something, but another explosion rocked his senses. "Right," the cap'n began, pocketing the journal once he was certain Erina had read everything over his shoulder. "Time to get involved! Omnomnomnom!"

With a powerful jab of his blade, K. Runch scooped out a hole from the protective dome and called out to Motley, "Mr. Crue! I do not know how much you've surmised yet, but the lass creates missiles from her body! The larger, the more destructive and the faster it goes! Smaller ones can have their guidance overwritten by her will! Focus entirely on her, and I will take the lad! His shadow people are entirely defensive in nature and specialize in neutralizing stand attacks and bad events! Under no circumstances is anybody allowed to ask for help, or the army gets bigger!" By the time he'd finished calling out his instructions, Bartholomew K. Runch had dug himself out of his protective barrier and was ready to join the fray. He turned his head toward Erina and, with a smile, told her, "Do whatever you can, but leave the heavy lifting to us! Omnomnomnom!"

With that, the pirate rushed forward toward the twins as quick as his legs could carry him, "Bori bori jet-raft!" he called out, generating a large flat piece of buoyant cereal on the water. Soon as he landed on it, the raft began moving forward at about 20 mph, propelled by the constant fast stream of cereal pushing out from the back of the captain's feet into the water itself. The wind on his face as he once more traveled across the water, the way he was meant to be, it invigorated him. He didn't ask for the pirate life, but now he had found he'd give it up for nothing. Yes, now he was in his element, and these kids, he'd have to set them straight on a few things. Taking out his pistol as he neared, Runch took aim for the ground between the twins and fired. "Pistol Shot: Honeytrap Ammunition!" As long as the cereal-bullet hit reasonably near where he aimed, it should explode into goopy, sticky honey that restricts and traps movement. It didn't have the same splash as a Hellberry shot, nor the destructive capability, but the Cereal Killer was anything but.
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kapuchu The Loremaster

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Lily and Brucie kept to the darkness as she had decreed, moving slowly and with as little sound as they could muster. For Lily, soundless movement was easy. She had already been good at it as a child, but the enhanced body she received upon becoming one of the Shifters had only hightened her potential. It was a challenge for Brucie, however. Though he knew not to charge ahead and make a cacophony where there didn't need to be any, he was still as much metal as he was flesh, and the sheer weight of the contraption that was his limbs caused more noise than Lily was content with. Because of this, not a minute had passed in their trek before Lily demanded that he wait while she get something to lessen the sound he made with each step.

"Stay here, Mouse," she had crept ahead and gone to the first oversized mushroom they came across, much to her own chagrin, using her illusory powers to mask her own presence. She couldn't render herself invisible while moving, but she could at least make herself blend in better with her surroundings. A few colour changes could go a long way. Once there she had broken off several large pieces of the fungi, wrapped them in her jacket, and moved back to Brucie.

"Put these on your feet," she told him as she met back up with him, dumping out two of the largest pieces on the ground. They should, if all went well, mask most of the sound he made when he moved. There was just one problem...

"With what?" He asked. "Ain't got no string or rope. So unless you got some magic string 'tween your tails," he let the statement hang in the air, and Lily found herself needing to sacrifice.

She sighed and started undoing her skirt, letting it fall to the ground and leaving her only in her t-shirt and leggings. She bowed down to pick up both it and her jacket. "Lift your feet, I'll tie them to you." Brucie did as told, lifting first his left foot, allowing her to attach a piece of fungi to the underside, tied to his metallic limb with her skirt. She then went on to tie the fungi to his right foot, taking the feather from the inner pocket first and putting it down the front of her shirt. No pockets left, she thought and finally tied the knot around Brucie's right foot.

"All done?" He asked, looking down at her from above.

"All done," came the reply. She stood up and dusted herself off before asking, "how does it feel? Can you walk normally?"

Brucie looked down and tried to take a few steps. The sound he made was markedly lessened, but the fungi had, as was to be expected, been squashed in the process. Luckily for the both of them, there still remained enough trapped in her garments-turned-knots to reduce the noise. "Feels a bit weird," he said after he walked back to her, "but I'll make do. Sorry 'bout the clothes though."

"I'll live," she said and turned away from him. She, in particular, turned her attention to something she had just briefly caught sight of when she was gathering the mushroom. It was the wreckage of what looked to be a train. Oren had previously mentioned that her next opponent had crashed down here in a train while still fighting. Whoever she was going to go up against next would most likely be in there. "It won't be lack of clothing that kills me down here," she muttered and headed off, trying her best to ignore the drone hovering near them, pointing forward and to their left. She would have been tempted to shoot it down if not for Oren's last message, that it would be the last drone they got, and it would guide them towards their next opponent. As it was she was forced to let it stay, lest she get rid of a major advantage.




They had taken a roundabout path to the train wreckage, avoiding the fungi to stay in the shadows where there was the least possibility of being spotted. Even if her coming adversary knew in which direction was was, he would not be able to garner any more information if he could not see her.

They had, however, arrived with no commotion. The drone now pointed almost directly to her left when she stood faced with the ancient city. They turned up little in their search there. Of their meager findings a disgusting trail of black slime was the most prominent, and aside from that only bits of broken plastic, wood and metal.

Following the trail with her eyes, however, Lily noticed that it lead directly into a tightly packed forest of mushrooms. A concoction of volatile irritation bubbled in her core, but she forced it down, telling Brucie to stay a ways behind, as she and Mouse moved forward. She had no intentions of entering the death trap that this forest was. It had far too many places from where an opponent could get the jump on her, and she had not survived this long just to stupidly die in an ambush.

They followed the trail only so long as it was out in the open and she knew there was no chance of any ambush. She relied on her superior eyesight to peer farther into the forest, straining to spot even small bits of the black ooze between the stalks and caps. She knew little of who she was going to fight, but based on what objects had been strewn about on the part of the track before the mushrooms began, one was humanid, and the other was not. The slime could either be blood or the very body of some creature. Other options included it being the drool of a much larger creature, or the slowly decomposing remains of said humanoid, however the lack of any evidence to suggest a large beast left her to believe that both were around her and Brucie's size.

She glanced behind her and saw Brucie still following, but keeping his distance as told. She waved him a bit closer, waiting for him to approach before she told him in a low voice. "Most likely humanoid-sized target. Don't know much more than that. I can see the edge of the fungi ahead. Approach slowly."

Brucie nodded and followed, as did Mouse. They made it to within a couple dozen metres before Lily held up a hand, signalling for her companions to stop.

"What is it?" The shark asked, peering over her shoulder at the luminescent fungi.

"A handprint," she whispered, "on one of the caps. Right side, near the ground." She glanced around, ears twitching this way and that, straining for any sign of strangers. So far, nothing. A quick look at the drone showed it still pointing towards the forest.

She again looked around, this time for cover rather than intruders. Off to their left was a boulder, larger than most in this area, but hopefully didn't stand out too much. It was likely from the explosion that caused the hole, and since the train had come almost all the way here it wasn't much of a stretch. Or maybe that bird? Lily jerked her head towards it and headed over to it, huddling behind it with Brucie and Mouse.

She would not go into so obvious a death trap as that fungal forest. Her opponent had a drone as well. They could come to her.
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Roughdragon1

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Malveil: Main Street

As the massive crow formation disappeared from his view, a part of Malveil wished he could test out the effectiveness of his chess pieces. It had been a while since he’d had a good brawl, and he was itching for a fight. But then again, he was sure that Saria would give him the fight he wanted, and the Red Blade as well. The woman had said that Saria was last seen around the southwest shore.

If anything, I should get moving, Malveil thought.

His pawns formed up in front of him, and he moved along, traversing the sprawling streets and decaying stone structures. Ahead of him, around the corner of an alleyway, he heard what could only be the screams and howls of the damned, and they were getting closer by the second.

He knew not how many of the enemy were there, but he could prepare for the worst. Summoning his Knight, Rook, and Bishop, he set them to their positions. His Knight set up far in front of him, ready to charge. The Rook clambered up atop a pile of rubble, and his Bishop stood next to him, mace ready to crush the skulls of any who dared come. And he hoped they did.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Lazo
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Lazo Lazy

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Hidden from sight, at the very back of the room, Mountain Dew sat waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

He had taken a bunch of office chairs from the building he had holed himself up in and had arrayed them all around him. He was currently sitting atop one of them, resting his feet atop another. Dorito bags rested on the few chairs next to him. A few were already empty.

His sniper rifle was in his lap, and he would occasionally peek into the scope to peer into the window of the tower up ahead. Moving with his injured arm had been painful at first, but in the few hours since the battle, the pain had diminished considerably.

That said, every time he saw Nero sitting at his desk, looking into the screens. Occasionally, he could pick him out speaking into a microphone.

Pithy had given him a sphere of ice, instructing him to break it if he thought Nero had left his post and had then proceeded to leave him there. He had simply chucked it into his hammerspace. Last he had checked, the thing had still not began to melt, but with how things were going, by the time Nero decided to up and move, the crystal ball would probably be gone.

“This is so fucking monotonous I sometimes think I’ll look into the sights and find the ass flipping me off. Hell, that ice queen might as well be standing next to him doing the same thing. She would too, if she knew what it meant. What a bitch.”

No romance option for this one, like way back when Bioware had yet to fall to Electronic Arts evil schemes, that was for sure. The woman was more liable to freeze something off if approached the wrong way than anything else. He had held some hope when he was forced into her party, but he was only a few hours into the route and he already had a feeling he knew how this character would turn out.

“Doesn’t help that I actually have to put an effort into voicing my thoughts when the bitch is around. Manages to cheat in a tourney match and hexes me afterwards. Good thing it goes away when she’s not around. Let it out, man. Let it out before she comes back and you can’t tell her about how stupid those pointy ears look on her.”

He shifted and dug a hand into another bag of nacho cheese goodness and brought it to his mouth, relishing the flavor. This world needed more of that. A surefire way to tell that a world was superior was by the amount of tortilla chips in the universe, which surely marked his own universe as the best of all. Why, he wasn’t sure why he insisted on staying. It certainly wasn’t the sudden pain in his chest that accompanied the thought, as though something had gripped his heart and threatened to crush it like some curse in a weeabo show, no siree. Anyone who said that should be smacked with a hammer, yes siree.

Mountain grunted and looked into the scope again. Seeing no changes, he put down the sniper again, and brought the one thing that made this stakeout bearable. He breathed deep, feeling smoke fill his lungs, and then exhaled, letting out a sweet-smelling cloud. With a lop-sided smile, he looked at the rolled-up paper in his hand. Seeing as he expected he’d be there for a few hours, he had made sure to make it last.

“Been saving these for the right time, and what time is righter than this time to blaze it, ice queen be damned. Bitch told me to keep a look out for Nero, but she sure as hell didn’t mention I needed to be sober while I did it. Heh. Gottim.”

Leaning back in a relaxed position, he closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the syrupy buzz that had slowly begun to fill his head.



Jo could not say for how long she had been lying next to the freezing girl. Minutes, hours or days, the white landscape remained the same, the sourceless lighting that permeated the fog neither receding nor giving clues as to the time of day.

Neither had the state of the girl changed, the cold feeling of her bare skin as permanent a fixture to the scene as the light regardless of the badger’s attempts to warm her with her fur or the strange fire. The thought that nothing would happen if she waited had occurred to her, but she was not certain when it had become a certainty. Certainly long before she finally decided to leave the girl to her resting place.

The little badger stood, looking out at the white nothingness. There had to be something else out there. A town, or a settlement, with people that could help her find her way and take care of the girl she had found. It wasn’t possible for the two of them to be the only living beings in these freezing wastes, she told herself, but she could not help but feel a niggling doubt that.

Once the badger began walking again, it did not take long before a glance back revealed nothing but cloudy white, the girl and fire swallowed by the mist. She hesitated for a moment, wondering if she was not doing the wrong thing by leaving the girl. Already her trail in the snow was disappearing behind her. Would she be able to find her again if she strayed too far?

The answer came back to her quickly and easily. The mysterious pyre still tugged at her gut, as though calling out to her when her thoughts turned towards it. Finding that fire would not be an issue, she realized, and so she continued.

For minutes, hours and days.

Once again, the white robbed her of her feeling of time. She tried counting her steps, but her short legs sunk into the snow, making it so that her gait was rough and uneven.

Instead she took to counting her breaths. One in, one out, focusing her mind on that so she would not have to think of the cold on her limbs or the exhaustion that had begun to assail her at a certain point in her journey.

No hunger or thirst, however, which made sense if she had died and turned into some kind of ghost, but then why did she feel so tired?

“Ah.”

Jo let out a small gasp. Something ahead had drawn her attention, and the little badger approached, the irregularity in her surroundings drawing clearer and clearer as she moved closer.

It was a grown person, lying on the snow face down. They must have collapsed recently, for the white particles had only just began accumulating over it. Most of the body was covered by dark hair and torn, vibrant blue mantle. The clothing filled her with familiarity.

Approaching the body, Jo turned it over.

At this point, she was not surprised to see the face of the one who had killed her, but the fact still confused her. Much as she remembered, a strange mask of ice covered half the woman’s face, and a single eye blue eye stared blankly up to the sky. It was undoubtedly the woman she had faced, though it seemed as though she had continued battling after she had defeated Jo. Her clothing was ragged, and there was a red splotch coating one of her pantlegs that had not been present when Jo had encountered her. She had no weapons on her. Pressing a paw against her neck revealed no pulse.

Dead.

Jo scowled, shaking her head. First the child and now this corpse? Why did she keep seeing her face? What had this woman done to her? Had killing her not been enough?

After a silent moment of brooding over the issue, the badger shook her head again and reached towards the woman’s neck, unclasping the cloak. Once she had pulled it out from under the corpse and wrapped it around herself, a relieved sigh escaped her lips. It was warm. She was not sure how, but it was warm.

There was no problem with her taking it, was there? After all, the woman had taken her gun after she had killed… her…

Jo frowned. It had been after, had it not? She could not recall the small necklace being pried from her neck before she electrocuted herself, so where had that thought come from?

She turned towards the body again, intending to give it a more thorough examination, but there was nothing there anymore. Suddenly wary, Jo glanced around, but saw only white around her. The wind was the only thing that moved.

Cursing under her breath, Jo moved away, deciding to continue her trek in the snow even as she threw occasional glances behind her, to where a corpse had once rested.




Minutes after the message left by the announcer had finished, Pithy heard the tell-tale sound of a firearm thundering in the distance.

She brought her hand to the device hanging from her neck on instinct. That was not a sound she wanted to hear.

“What are you doing, Dew?” she whispered to herself. Killing Nero had not been part of the plan. She had explicitly told him to keep watch for any movement and to alert her if the announcer left his post. Furthermore, she had explicitly given him a method to do as much that would not raise the alarm of everyone in the general area. What could have happened for him to fire his weapon?

A moment later, there was a prickling sensation at the back of her mind. The discomfort quickly lessened, replaced instead by a tug in the direction of the place she had left her ally. Pithy immediately set off, moving as quickly as she dared in the growing darkness. She found her eyes darting towards the darkness of allies and street corners, expecting something to jump out at her, drawn in by the announcement that had blared from her phylactery.

Already she had had an encounter with some of the local fauna when she had come across a small group of what she could only assume were a novice’s attempt at making chimeras. Creatures with bodies of mangy, street mutts and the enlarged heads of crows had jumped at her as she moved through the streets. They had died readily enough to her magic, and she had not seen any since then, but much like the bat creatures in the Justice Hub, she kept expecting to see the monsters when she rounded the corners of the increasingly dark city.

The feeling was not helped by the thought that had long since gripped her mind. There was something wrong.

Having reason to believe that Nero would not make a move until nighttime began to approach, Pithy had taken the chance to both plan and to replace some of the articles of clothing that had been enlarged beyond practicality after the mage had ‘mended’ them. Raiding a building singled out by Dew as a ‘clothing store’ had netted her a veritable mountain of apparel, and she had quickly found suitable replacements for her leggings and boots. Her dueling gloves, however, had been designed specifically for her, and as such had been discarded entirely.

Once she was no longer forced to wander in clothes meant for a person several times her own size, she returned to the vicinity of the tower. The first thing she had done had been to instruct Dew to go to a place where he could see into the announcer’s room, to alert her if the man left, and to continue tracking him after that. Since Nero could track her position, it made little sense for him to remain with her until he had been separated from the machines inside the tower.

For that same reason, she herself had to be the bait. Pithy had no doubt that Nero would know she was waiting for him, and would be looking for chances to slip by undetected. In that case, the best she could do was give him such a chance at her own discretion.

She had chosen a place where she could keep watch of the tower’s doors. Then, after she deemed enough time had gone past, she had moved away from her perch, taking a route that ensured she had no visibility of the announcer’s escape route, and found herself another place from which to keep watch. If Nero attempted to leave, he would have to do it while she was moving. When no signal came from her appointed lookout, she had simply repeated her ploy.

The chimeras had appeared on the second trip along with a nagging feeling that something was off. Grudgingly, she had chosen to trust the man she had defeated would follow her instructions, but when she had heard his weapon, her apprehension had come back at full force.

Finally, as she rounded a corner to follow the tugging feeling in her mind, she saw Mountain Dew emerge from a building. He turned at her approach, and she felt a pit form in her stomach at the way his expression twisted into a grimace when he saw her.

Pithy stopped a few paces away, suddenly losing her desire to come closer. “What happened?”

Dew brought a hand up, rubbing his neck in an awkward fashion. He stepped back, seeming to chew on the words before he spoke. “Alright, Pithy, don’t be mad.”

She felt her jaw set. How could one not grow irritated by that response? We lost Nero. The thought came unbidden, but there was no stopping it. There were few reasons why those words would come out of his mouth.

“About what, Dew?” and when he saw the way his eyes trailed away from her, as if trying to think, she added “Don’t you dare lie. Where’s Nero?”

“I don’t know.” He admitted, for a moment looking baffled by how easily the words had come out.

Pithy brought a fist to her forehead as Dew confirmed her fears. She closed her eye and took in a deep breath, trying to hold in her frustration, before uttering a single, accusatory word. “How?”

The silence that answered her was the last thing she wanted to hear.

Pithy opened her good, coolly regarding the man. “I do not wish to be cross with you, but you are making it difficult. Let’s start with something simpler, then. It was you I heard fire earlier, correct?”

“Yes. Seen any other snipers recently?” he answered, losing some of his previous sheepishness.

“Why?”

The man’s expression twisted. “A bit ago I noticed Nero was not sitting at his desk. Couldn’t see him anywhere, so I shot inside the room to see if I could spook him out of hiding.”

Pithy gave him a baffled look. “Why would you do that? I explicitly told you to call me if something like that happened.”

Dew’s brows furrowed. “I did. Smashed your little toy like you told me to.”

“That does not explain why you did that after you took a shot at the tower, nor why you aren’t up there tracking him.”

“That’s because I’m not sure when he left.”

The admission put a momentary halt to Pithy’s thoughts. How can he not know? He must have a general idea of when Nero left simply by knowing the last time he saw him. Unless… It was then that it dawned on her. She stepped closer. “Did you fall asleep?”

Mountain Dew drew back slightly, looking away from her. Was he ashamed? He well damn ought to be. Taking another step closer to him, she caught a whiff of a strangely sweet smell. It was not the only thing she noticed.

Suddenly, she grabbed his face in her hands, pulling him closer. Her thumbs roughly pulled at the skin on his cheeks.

“Your hands are cold!” he protested.

“Why are your eyes so red?” Now that she was this close, the stench was almost overbearing. At once, she realized what it was. Her eyes widened, her anger overshadowed only by her awe at this man’s stupidity. “Are you drugged? Did you drug yourself?

The man tried to pull away, but Pithy’s nails pressed on his skin, making him wince. “Jeez, I know you’re the medieval fantasy lady but talking to you like this is a pain in the ass. It’s high, baked or stoned, thank you very much. Okay, maybe it didn’t mix too well with the painkillers.”

Pithy loosened her grip on Dew’s face, dumbstruck. Her fingers slowly traced down, and for a moment, Pithy found herself entertaining the notion of wrapping her hands around the fool’s neck and throttling him. Instead, her hands continued to move down, until they held a tight grip on his shirt.

“He eluded us. Because of you…” She had lost the one lead that they had into the designs of those who sought to meddle with the Crucible. Despite her making it clear just how important this matter was to her. She could have understood it had the man been distracted or outsmarted by the mage in the tower, but to willingly impair his faculties and fall asleep while she needed him to keep a careful eye out fell outside what she was willing to believe. And yet she had no choice but to do so. Her voice sounded hoarse to her ears as she spoke. “I put my trust in you. I thought you could handle this one task. Damn you, Dew, if Nero really intends to do something while the tournament is still underway your slip might cost me my life.”

“Pfft. Don’t feed me that crap.” The man rolled his eyes. “Nero might’ve bought your convenient sob story back in the tower, but I bet you just told him that so he’d do what you said.”

Pithy felt her blood go cold, strength leaving her grip on the man’s clothes. She did not stop him when he pulled away. “Oh?” she said softly, feigning disinterest even as she felt a horrendous headache come over her. “And what might my wish be, Dew, since you know me so well?”

“Unlimited power or something like that wouldn’t surprise me one bit,” he answered, irritably. “You got the villain shtick going for you even if you try to play it off. You even have what might as well be a demonic red hand sticking right out of your face. Cure gone wrong my ass, I bet that came from an insane experiment.”

The answer was so dreadfully predictable, she had not truly expected it to come from the man’s mouth. But why not? Many a sorcerer lived for their art, seeking to refine it until all its mysteries laid bare before them. Why, a conjurer that reached such mastery over their own element would be nothing short of a god, and what was unlimited power but the power to do whatever one wished? The idea stole a laugh from her, bitter and filled with loathing.

“I see, I see. So that is how you see the one who bested you. Why not?” she agreed with a dark glint in her eye. “I have never given you reason to think differently.” Indeed, the idea was attractive. So attractive, in fact, that in a moment of passion she could have grasped at that power even if it had no ability to save her. After all, if she could use such a thing, everything would become fair. Death was the ultimate equalizer for all things.

If only things had been fair to start with. She could not understand why things had begun as they had. She was so frustrated that she could not understand it.

“I don’t understand” she found herself saying it out loud, and then she was unable to stop. “It is something I have seen all my life, and yet I still can’t make sense of it. I have given so much… I have broken traditions and laws, been cut off from my roots and put my life on the line so many times only to earn myself the right that so many take for granted, to have at least a chance at living as one of one’s own kind would. Yet every time I share this burden, I am met with disbelief, pity, and even disdain, but never action, never aid.” She did not know when she had done it, but she was face to face with the man again. Her hands were balled in his clothing, trembling, and she had pushed him against the wall. She felt something warm and wet under her good eye, and she could not bear to think of what it might be—that feeling her schemes and chances crumbling in such an absurd way could have awakened such helplessness inside her.

“Every time, it is people like you,” she told him in a hoary whisper, accentuating the last syllable as though speaking a curse. “It is always people like you who act as if the right they were freely given at birth was something I am supposed to earn. Well, I am trying. Some do not even get the chance, so what kind of scum would I be if I didn’t? I have been trying for decades without rest, because every time I let my guard down and allow routine to set in, every time I allow myself to catch a glimpse of the life I am fighting for, years go by in the blink of an eye and I realize yet again that I cannot keep up with the speed your kind goes through life. No, I am tired beyond words of trying to keep up, but I must. The alternative is death.” She gritted her teeth. “Once upon a time, I might well have done as you said, if only so that I might have gained the ability to wipe everyone like you off the face of existence. Stars know I gave it my best attempt in another life.”

“So?” Dew met her gaze. “What changed since then?”

“I finally realized that you are not worth the effort.” This she spouted with all her venom, putting behind the words the weight of a century-old grudge in the making. “And as for why I won’t kill you specifically…” She pushed herself away, letting Dew steady himself. Pithy herself turned away, taking the chance to rub her sleeve against her cheek, to replace the armor that had, for a moment, cracked. “You are my only ally. Even if it is against your will. Even if you despise me for it. I will have you fulfill that duty until I have achieved my goal, or died trying.

“Now follow.” With that, she began to walk.

“Wait!” he called out. “What are you doing?”

“We head for the tower. If there are any leads to be found, that is where we’ll find them.”
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious We promise never-before-seen results!

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Knight Sylvestre

Location: Oldtown


Cyril's capture galvanized the remaining fighters into action. Whether or not they knew or liked him, they knew that as soon as they started getting picked off, this arduous struggle would be over. As the darkness began to close in on the pinned vanguard, Souta became surrounded by a fiery glow, and before the eyes of those still able to see a powerful blaze consumed him from nowhere. Juniper stood agape, wondering if her last standing ally had been somehow immolated by this unknown force, until a surge of water followed the flames to give off a burst of steam. When the breeze carried it away, the smith looked nothing like himself. A strange stone armor, haphazard in its forming enough to make him resemble a demon, now covered Souta.

With the ample weight and protection the power of his unique, unknown power, the enigmatic metalworker stepped forward into the cascade once more. Yet, as easily as before, he was carried off his feet and thrown back. The voice echoing from the jagged, asymmetrical helmet afterward managed to convey its immense disappointment and frustration despite the strange headwear's distortion. “Are you kidding me? This water can't be physical. Nothing like that should be able to move me when I'm in Trigger. Must operate on different rules...” The invisible foot of Howell's vengeful entity crashed upon him again as he stood, but this time he practically shrugged it off. All that defense would not save Cyril, however, who appeared to have blacked out.

Juniper clenched her fists, mind racing. Hotheaded as though she might appear, she had been paying attention. These two appeared to be using some sort of magic that completely disregarded conventions, but she got the nagging feeling that the trick for the vortex specifically was actually quite simple. There wasn't time enough to puzzle it out, but as much as she wanted to, she couldn't let Cyril be crushed to death. The pettiness of revenge aside, he did have her soul, after all. Concerning the problem at hand, she could rattle off a few things about it. First: the torrent was not insurmountable, for somehow some progress had been made. It had only been when she got back into the fight that Souta and Cyril suffered a reset of their progress. Second: the torrent cared not about the weight of objects introduced to it, nor the effort with which they strove to conquer it. Third: when the flow didn't repel an assailant, it was only when two of her trio were fording it together. Maybe it has a set amount of force it can bring to bear at once, and when confronted by several enemies, it has to split the force into multiple, weaker ones. There were holes in her theory, but it was better than nothing, and time was -of course- of the essence.

“Souta! Let's jump in at the same time!”

Even without his face visible to show his feelings, Souta appeared desperate enough to try anything. “'Kay!”

“Now!”

One of Juniper's new metal legs went down into the water, and though the push was there, it felt terribly weak. What. It's that simple!? She took another step, then another. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Souta doing the same, and as their confidence waxed, their speed picked up.

In the eye of the storm, Raleigh and Howell shifted from one-hundred-percent self-sure to surprised and fearful in a second flat. Their foes were employing some sort of strategy that seemed to be working; no countermeasure had come up during the afternoon of testing. “How could you have figured out a weakness when we couldn't find a single one!?” The sunken man demanded. Still floating overhead in the grip of Howell's entity, Cyril was suddenly cast down to tumble along the ground. At one, two forces descended upon the assailants, but the moment they hit the water, they were repelled. Souta's stony facade and Juniper's outstretched hand breached the eye of the tempest at that moment, and in a splash of ethereal water the cascade dissipated.

Raleigh's scream was cut off by Souta's fist which, alongside bloodying her nose and teeth, knocked her out instantly. In a flash, Juniper delivered a snap kick to Howell's jaw, flooring him. He hit the cobblestones first, and Raleigh's limp body fell on top of him, but his eyes remained open. Pressure closed in on Juniper from all sides, and before she knew what was going on, the invisible hand yanked her toward the sky. All became a blur as she shot upward at impossible speeds. Blue became black in a matter of seconds, and she could focus on only one thing: a star in the far-flung reaches of space, just a twinkling speck to someone on Earth. When it started getting visibly larger, she began to brace herself, and the next second slammed into something blinding and yellow.

When her head stopped spinning, Juniper opened her eyes. She was laying on a hard, flat, brilliant surface that expanded infinitely in every direction. Dumbfounded, she could only look around. The incredibly brightness of the ground met the pitch-black void of space at the horizons, and as she scanned the sky, she could see a single star glowing brighter than the rest. In silence she considered what might have happened, pondering the ludicrousness of the idea of being snatched and taken to a star untold googols of miles away, until she became aware of two shapes on the ground nearby that looked just a touch darker than the rest. Their outlines gave the impression that they were feet, and as Juniper stared, something began to move. Only detectable by the shimmer it gave off its ghostly body as it moved, it was gargantuan, on par with the titans of myth, yet strangely emaciated. Though humanoid, its head could only be described as some sort of grotesque, immense flower, and from its back there extended a huge, curved protrusion that resembled a crescent moon. It raised its hand to crush her, but before the shimmering mass could descend, everything dissolved into a blur once again. Juniper's last fleeting look of the thing was as she zoomed by it, in the direction of the bright star. Still shocked, she glanced over her shoulder, but all that remained of the bizarre plain upon which she lay for but an instant was a sparkling dot in the unnamable distance.

In a few seconds the blur faded away once again. The martial artist could see the cloudy sky of late afternoon, and feel the cobblestones at her back. An outstretched hand appeared, the last chunks of sorcerous stone turning to dust, and she reached out to take it. Nearby, Cyril was making a laborious effort to stand up himself, and while he worked at it Juniper glanced at the bodies of the College employees. The woman still breathed, albeit through a destroyed mouth and nose, but the man sported a skull that had evidently met the wrong end of Souta's hammer while Juniper had been...'away'. “He cast some sort of illusion...a hallucination. It must have been.” Juniper told him.

Tired and confused, the smith shrugged before turning to walk in the direction of a restaurant. “C'mon,” he told both Cyril and Juniper, “We could use a few drinks after whatever the hell that was.”

The Fungal Knight

Location: the Big Top
@Banana


BoBonesword's revelation -that the egg timer affected the gravity of the user- proved exactly correct as he began to fall upward. The hammer that he clutched, however, remained decidedly in the purview of its wielder, affixed instead to conventional gravity. Thus, when the skeleton-turned-clown's grip failed, he found himself on the ceiling of the Big Top's capture chamber in a matter of seconds. A handful of meters below, sporting a quizzical expression, the ogreish clown stared up at him. No clear avenue of attack remained for the freak now that his enemy lay out of his reach. A few moments passed before an idea popped into the carnie's head, and with the hammer in hand he shuffled to one of the wacky-colored doors. Its motion sensor activated as he drew near to let him pass, and the clown made a beeline for the nearest wall-mounted weapons catch. Several goofy-looking ray guns and one flamboyant bazooka hung there, but given his build the clown could not be said to be making good time.

Inari

Location: What Lies Beneath
@Kapuchu


Lily's caution earned her another half-hour of waiting a short way off from the mushroom garden, but in time she did become aware of the low whine of a second drone, eking from between the between the dimly luminescent stalks. It grew steadily louder as it came closer, but no other noise could be picked up even in the oppressive silence of this massive cavern.

The kitsune's foe did, however, appear.

He walked out from a bundle of spindly mushrooms, his steps slow and halting. Unmasked by a helmet, Teller's features were plain to see, and his glazed, languid countenance told of a decided lack of wellness. Black goop coated his futuristic armor, especially thick around his hands and forearms, where it besmirched the rifle he held in his grasp. In front of him floated the drone, but he did not glance at it when it reangled itself to face in Lily's direction. Instead, he reached out and grabbed it, his fingers working quickly to shut it down and attach it to his belt, before he turned his dull eyes from side to side. Their gaze looked over the scenery beyond the pseudo-forest's age.

“I knooow where you aaare...”

Of all things, his voice sounded wet. Before he turned to face Lily, somehow fixating in her direction despite the lack of guidance, a few more strange things could be glimpsed. From his lower back sprouted a gooey black tail, its tip a spade, and his shoulderblades gave rise to winglike extensions that lacked membranes.

“Your souuul...I need it. Give it, sooo tasty. Won't ask nicelyyy...I must feeeeeed.”

The soldier's face began to bubble and boil, the sky turning to jelly. His mouth grew to take up his whole face, the teeth yellow-green pillars that gnashed together again and again before opening wide. Two additional arms sprouted from his ribs and reached into his maw to retrieve a pair of curved swords from within his gullet. When the mouth closed, it shrank back to its normal size, Teller's liquidated human features reappearing. Black slime flowed from his lips to cover the top of his head, where it altered into a horned military helmet with a microphone. Music, energetic but distorted in parts into a hideous-sounding remix, began to echo through the underground.

“Coming for you, tasty!” came the garbled ultimatum, through the noise.

Sunspot

Location: the Park
@FloodTalon


While the tree Pieter inhabited harbored no more leaves on its boughs, the remnants of Weird Autumn swirled like a stormcloud of oranges and browns above and around their controller; after all, in a world where a single mature oak could have two hundred thousand leaves, a single twister made no difference to the whole. Jin's dash toward Pieter proved to be a shortsighted maneuver as a portion of the original tree's magicked leaves swooped down on him from the front, and those of his former cover closed in from behind him. The two waves hastened to crash together with the assassin in the middle.

Malveil

Location: Main Street
@RoughDragon1


Blood-curdling shriek after uncanny shriek sounded out from the alley as Malveil grew closer, intensifying until the very moment he rounded the building's corner to peer down it at the abhorrent things within. When he turned his gaze upon the horrible noises' source, however, only trash looked back at him.

The next second, blasts of blackness appeared above him, in every direction. Murky dust expanded into a nebulous cloud that blocked out the sun, and from the sudden dark descended a squadron of shapes blacker still. Misshapen, abominable, and with no two quite alike, the nightmarish things cackled at the surrounded fool that had fallen for their ambush. Wasting little time, the ghouls mounted their bloodthirsty assault, the first lashing out with its twisted limbs to gouge Malveil's flesh from his body.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Gardevoiran Previously a Banana

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BoBonesword - Snake Charming

Eos, this was getting tedious.

BoBonesword turned the dial on the timer once more, allowing him to return to the ground. Already on it's way out of the bottle, Charlie was slithering fast behind Hammer, trying to catch up to him and prevent him from making the situation worse. BoBonesword hopped onto Charlie's tail as the basilisk left behind the clown, but then, the sword-wielding clown had a split-second idea.

Those ideas tended to be the best, too.

The clown was encompassed in a green glow as he returned to being normal Bonesword, and he immediately drew his sword. He had another plan in mind, and he could do it so long as he was willing to keep dodging.

"Charlie! Leave him! We gotta find an exit!" Bonesword commanded his pet as he began to work his powers for defensive purposes. Charlie gave a reassuring snarl as he turned down another hallway, searching for the way out of the Big Top. The skin of the basilisk began to cover itself in a tough bark as Bonesword armored his steed. Compared to what the two had been through before in the Nexus, this was a normal day for them. The main difference was that killing yourself wasn't a valid option here.
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ProPro Omnomnom hohohoo!

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The Murder

Location: Main Street

@Lugubrious@RoughDragon1

Samuel Raven wandered the streets of the city for a small while. There was great activity here, but nothing was happening. Anywhere the magician went, the streets were empty. No locals, and nobody else participating in this "competition" he had learned of from the kitsune. He was no closer to finding out how he had been spirited away to this land away from his lair, away from his connection to the Primordial Dream. He was not one to admit defeat so quickly, however. Perseverance would be key.

Then he turned one lucky corner and, for the first time since the kitsune and her freaky land shark muscle, found someone. That someone even appeared to be normal, relatively speaking. His clothing certainly had an antiquated appearance, as though he had walked straight out of the middle ages. Yet Samuel knew he was not normal. As his eyes laid upon the man, Sam could feel a tingling sensation rippling throughout his entire body. A mage. The man before him was a user of magics. Samuel didn't even have to wait long to find out what kind of magic this man utilized, for not a moment later three new people appeared to join him. These three, which Samuel identified as familiars bound entirely to the mage's will, took up new positions to act as scouts and bodyguards. The extra eyes meant that Sam would have a more difficult time avoiding detection, but that wasn't too much of a hassle. He sat back, sticking to the shadows, hiding amidst whatever was available.

Shriek after shriek, something was attracting the mage's attention. He drew nearer to an alley, the source of the blood curdling sounds, and so Sam followed, just out of sight. What was the source of that horrific noise? He had to admit, he was curious. Did the mage know what he was doing? Sam sat back and observed as a number of strange black creatures that he'd never before laid eyes on ambushed the mage. This was getting quite interesting. Would the summons be enough? Sam figured that he would step in if things got too dicey, but for now... He had to observe and gather information.
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floodtalon Slick

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Jin smiled, while most would think him shortsighted for rushing into a storm of deadly leaves, he was two steps ahead of the game. He stuffed the bolt pistol in his jacket and stopped on a dime, rolling to the left as the two waves of leaves crashed against one another. A few stray leaves cut through his jacket as he rolled to his feet, but none of them touched his skin miraculously. He pulled another gun out of his jacket pocket, pointing it directly at the storm of leaves which encircled the tree. The telltale click of a pilot light signaled that things were about to get hot. A stream of flames erupted from the barrel of the flamethrower for about 3 seconds, lighting anything in it's path on fire.

"Unless you want to be kindle for a bonfire, I suggest you move." Jin hopped backwards as he said this, creating distance between himself and the tree as he quickly switched out the flamethrower for a bolt pistol once again.
Hidden 30 days ago Post by BCTheEntity
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BCTheEntity You are correct. But also, no.

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Really?

Really, that was her plan? Try and distract him with two conflicting sets of missiles? At least that taught him a bit about her Stand - the rockets it fired could alter their path in flight - and whether or not she knew aught about his own ability was up to question.

Even still, it was barely worth justifying any extra effort; the slight sting of some blood vessels and a fingernail being destroyed by an explosion, not to mention Heavy Fuel burning up a little before he demanifested it just enough to cut off the burning section of Stand, was almost more pressing, but even then, both blood vessels and fingernails were already beginning to recuperate as they drew back to him. Her rockets were no threat to him - though Runch and Erina were another matter entirely, lacking in defensive options against Stand attacks as they were.

One hand moved up to follow the path of the initial sextuplet of missiles, continuing to generate the gaseous field of his Stand to detonate them as they drew closer; the other, repeating his earlier maneuver, had him firing off four of his fingernails as harpoons, the blood vessels trailing between them and his fingers proper, trailing Heavy Fuel itself with them, to target the newer group of four which headed in his direction - and if those missiles twirled out of the way, why, wasn’t it convenient for him that he had nearly perfect control over his body, could twitch his fingers especially hard and turn those harpoons into a sort of twisting cat-o-nine-tails, sending his Nega-Ripple into the missiles the moment it made contact with them? And he felt that was somewhat unlikely to fail, though he’d certainly try to react appropriately if any missiles made it past his defenses.

He had the sneaking suspicion that these two had only recently acquired their Stand abilities. One was failing to attack at all, and the other’s attacks were, whilst stronger than he may have first assumed, not exactly difficult to predict. He reminded himself that at any moment, they could both display some new property he wasn’t aware of, but nonetheless remained confident that he could succeed… if he could close the gap.

It was about now that Runch, digging out of his defensive cereal dome, confirmed his suspicions: they had no other tricks up their sleeve for now, though the girl’s missiles scaled between guidance and strength depending on their size, whilst the man’s own abilities prevented Motley from causing him any harm. But, if Runch had it right, the girl was exempt from that… if he was wrong, of course, it could mean there was literally nothing Motley could do to either of them, but that didn’t mean stopping them from harming Runch or Erina was off the table either. Besides, he’d seen into that booklet of his. It was pretty reliable.

'I never intended to ask for help from either of you,' the vampire clarified dryly. 'Of our trio, I am by far the most well-equipped to engage this duo.' Of course, almost before he’d finished speaking, Runch had gone and rushed off ahead, creating a boat of cereal for himself to ride in. Rolling his eyes, and considering that being left behind by a fighter with better ranged attacks than himself would be beyond untenable, Motley began to run in the appropriate direction, Heavy Fuel layering itself under his feet, keeping him suspended above the water as he charged across it.

But as for range… really, what was inhibiting his ranged capabilities? He could already fire his fingernails out by super-pressurising the blood behind them. Would it be so different if he did the same thing with, say… the fluid in his eyes, or the acid in his stomach? Yes, he could visualise that already… and by simply focusing, he could feel that pressure building up within his eyeballs accordingly. He wondered how he might produce a suitable blast from his stomach, though… had the Cereal Killer said something about the man’s Stand negating Stand attacks? Well, he hardly needed his Stand to empower his eye beams, judging by how strong his harpoons could be already.

Erina, meanwhile, had already assumed Bend’s guise, and at the words of the Cereal Killer simply nodded and drew her sword. Stalking off in a different direction to Motley and Runch’s direct charge, behind a row of buildings, she made a show of glancing round at the shadowy figures as they stood in place. Was their attention focused on Motley entirely, or could they still see Erina as she moved off? Not that it mattered - she’d make her way to the two who had threatened her, had threatened both Motley and Runch, and she’d kill them before they remembered she was there to begin with. It was really that simple… though it might take a bit of time to get in position, given that she didn’t quite have Runch and Motley’s speed to work with.

@ProPro@Lugubrious
Hidden 27 days ago Post by Roughdragon1
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Malveil


Main Street


“Oh, you are abhorrent.”

Malveil barely flinched as the shadowy abomination was shoulder-checked by one of his pawns, and had one of its supporting limbs hacked off by another’s axe. Black ash spewed from the wound instead of blood, and almost as fast as it was hacked off, the limb instantly reformed, like the pawns were chopping through mud.

The shadow monster wrapped a limb around one of the pawns, and crushed his head, helmet and all. Another pawn hacked away its limb again, but once more it regrew like nothing Malveil had ever seen. Another one of his pawns fell as the beast stuck its arm straight through his breastplate.

There must be some way to kill these things.

As the brawl continued, Malveil tried to examine the strange specimen, to discern any weak points in its form. He had to act quick, or the other two would join in. Speaking of the other two, his Knight ran one down, keeping it distracted for the time being. His Rook opened fire on the other, and it was then Malveil noted something interesting. The bullet struck the creature dead center, where it seemed a small body hung suspended by the shadowy limbs. It bled.

So that’s where they’re weakest, yeah?

Malveil ordered his pawns to focus on attacking the soft center, and try they did. However, the thing got the better of them, tripping the three remaining soldiers and crushing them with its limbs one by one. It then tried to attack Malveil, but was stopped dead in its tracks with a mace to the face. The Bishop stood between him and the shadow monster, intent on smiting the unworthy, unclean beast.

The Knight was having the most trouble. Despite his titan of a horse, a horse was a horse. The shadow monster simply twisted its limbs into a thick mess of wire, tripping up the stallion and tossing the Knight into a heap. He got up, and had no choice but to defend himself against the monster with his spear and shield. The Rook had finished off his own opponent first, and joined the Knight in attacking the second one, providing supporting fire to distract the beast so that the Knight could go in for the kill.

But now Malveil had to focus on the fight in front of him. His Bishop did not attack; instead it kept the beast at bay, using his mace and armor to ward off any incoming strikes. It was all Malveil could order him to do, lest he be killed like the other pawns. Of course, they always came back after a fight, but that didn’t matter if Malveil were to die in said fight. The Bishop was in a rough spot, defending against a multi-limbed thing with only a mace. He was the most skilled out of the three in direct combat, but sometimes that just wasn’t enough. He was fighting a losing battle. That is, until Malveil stabbed the beast in the back, and dragged his ornate dagger through the abhorrent thing, spilling whatever guts it may have had.

His Knight and Rook had finished the other beast, and it lay on the pavement, bleeding shadow. It was over, at least for now. He still had a mission to fulfil. It would take him thirty minutes to replace his pawns with new ones. The same went with his Rook, Knight, and Bishop. They were only pieces, of course. They were to be disposed of and used to further his own goal.

But now wasn’t the time to ponder the morality of disposable soldiers. It was time to move, and move he did towards the southwest.
Hidden 26 days ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious We promise never-before-seen results!

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The Fungal Knight

Location: the Big Top
@Banana


Having reached his goal, the clown wiggled his fingers in gleeful anticipation before plucking a ray gun of comical proportions from the weapons cache. With that ludicrous firearm in hand, he turned to take aim at Bonesword, only to find him nowhere to be found. All that remained were a few leaves on the ground, and the sound of another automatic door closing. After a moment, the clown gave a disappointed gurgle. Where could the intruder have gone? He began his slow trudge in pursuit, taking a guess as to the direction in which he started his search.

The skeletal swordfighter sought an exit, but far more readily than an avenue out of the Big Top, he found other clowns. A huge variety of the creepy creatures infested the ship, all busy with one task or another, the appearance of the devices that they operated making every duty look ridiculous and trivial. Though quite occupied by their various pursuits, they took no time at all to take notice of Bonesword as he zoomed by, and many drew weapons from their oversized pockets or from beneath their hats in their attempts to catch him. More than a few blasts of popcorn and acid-filled pies smacked into the walls near him or his quick-moving mount, but aside from the stray kernel he managed to elude them all. Still, with every twist and turn through the bizarre funhouse more clowns were alerted to his presence, making the chase more and more dangerous. Most important was the perception and subsequent avoidance of dead ends; if forced to double back by one, he would essentially be throwing himself upon the mercy of the pursuing clowns' response times, and sooner or later they wouldn't allow the basilisk to sail over their heads.

Fortune favored Bonesword, however, and a short while into his wild chase he stumbled upon a circular room at the Big Top's center. Here, where a large colorful machine that might have been an engine span and made wacky noises, stretches of the floor were made from fabric rather than plastic or metal. Not impervious to cutting, those lengths of tarp could easily permit a desperate swordsman and his trusty seed a swift if perilous exit, provided they could escape the posse of clowns that gained on them even now.

Sunspot

Location: the Park
@FloodTalon


Two rushing walls of leaves collided, expansive enough to trap and eliminate practically any threat, yet once again Jin proved his alacrity more than a cocksure boast. Having escaped the leaf cascade with only a few scratches and no visible injections of the leaves' fluid, he took aim with a pistol that Pieter -ever observant and keen of recollection- recognized the moment he saw it. “Took long enough,” he muttered, then spread his hands apart. A fourth of the leaves, specifically those closest to the stand user's opponent, broke off from the main reservoir and surged forward. They flattened out as they flew, becoming a wall that caught Jin's stream of flame and continued to advance even as it burned to ash; Pieter's hope was that they might burn back the one who burned them, though even if that ploy didn't succeed, he'd exhausted one of his foe's options while protecting his resource.

When the smoke cleared, a cloud of leaves still circled around Pieter's tree. He dared not expose himself, but the noseless man could not keep silent. “Save your breath for when I get serious, kiddo!” Above, small portions of the reservoir began to break off and shoot toward Jin. The leaves packed themselves tightly together, crushing themselves into dense, razor-sharp blades that spun through the air like boomerangs. A few dozen of these flying blades zipped Jin's way, some looping around to attack from several angles at once.

The Cereal Killer and Book Keeper

Location: Flooded Historical District
@Propro @BCTheEntity


Aralynn tracked the pirate as he made his move, fabricating a raft of cereal in a mad rush straight toward the siblings' position. “Foolhardy at best,” the woman criticized, raising a hand his way like a wizard casting a spell. To Motley, her fingers and palm opened up to reveal secret, miniature missile silos, which without further ado rocketed their contents forward. The sticky projectile of Captain K. Runch never got near; it appeared to burst apart in midair. A second later the remainder of the missiles exploded at his feet, the palm-missile in particular large enough to render his raft asunder with its explosion and send the devil fruit-eater into the drink.

By that time, her earlier salvo had been dealt with by Motley's cunning defensive maneuvers. No illusions persisted in the twins' mind about the fighting ability of their vampiric adversary, who'd demonstrated in the tournament so far a terrifying capacity for using every resource at his disposal to take his enemies down. Every part of him could be made into a weapon, in ways ordinary humans just couldn't conceive of. All the same, Aralynn and Davian assailed him with certainty that they could find away. If their new power couldn't deal with this threat, after all, what was the point? While she kept her attention fixed on Motley, who appeared to be buoyed above the water by his own pitch-black stand, her brother examined Erina before she disappeared. Doubtless she'd notice that during her jaunt, not only did the Boys of Summer react to her movement, but some would move to follow her. With this many elements in his stand, he knew he couldn't possibly use any one of them as a conduit to see in the manner that the Barnabys could. “The spiritualist is attempting to flank us,” he informed his sister.

She gave a nod in reply. “That leaves only Crue for now. Stay focused; I'm sure he's about to attack.” Her next plan of action she did not state aloud, for while she knew not their extent, she knew Motley's senses to be superhuman. She doubled over, and from her back ten large missiles burst forth. They sailed straight up, their turning radius nothing to admire. After that, Aralynn knelt, and at the same time released both a large missile from each palm and a huge one from her knee, comparable to the size of her leg. The three shot Motley's way, even as the earlier ten converged on their target—not the vampire, but the top of a nearby church steeple. The first six hit at once all around the edges, neatly blasting the entire top of the tower off, and the remaining four hit one after another to guide its fall, so that it might plummet toward Motley like a boot toward a roach.

Malveil

Location: Main Street
@Roughdragon1


Following the brief but intense struggle with the shadowy ambushers, and none the worse for wear, Malveil made tracks through the city. He left the great pit, and the sight of the colossal crow, behind as his path took him through streets. Here and there, pockets of walking corpses gurgled and gasped as they meandered around, but even in groups they posed no threat to a real combatant. Once in a while, from dark alleyways and closed manholes, the harrowed shrieks of other monsters like the ones Malveil dispatched could be heard. They did not appear to be able to spring their traps and materialize in fighting form unless one went out of his way to investigate the sources of the noise, but they did not appear to be the only threat. As the buildings grew shorter and dingier, the street trash thicker, and the public utilities like phone booths older and less operable, the possible avenues of attack rose. Out of the corner of his eye, Malveil could glimpse discrete movement among murals and displays of graffiti, but a direct look would reveal nothing out of the ordinary.

Some time later, the row of tenements to the left opened up into a bridge across a brown river. On the other side a misty, tiered neighborhood occupied the almost conical island, its only light a bar by the name of Slow Dancers' that stood dead ahead. On the right of the bridge on Malveil's side, a sign read 'Welcome to the Village' next to a map display, complete with a 'you-are-here'. Using the map, he could tell that the quickest route to the ocean on the City of Echoes' left side would be to follow the river on the Village's opposite side, where a street that traced its bank could take him straight there.

In the opposite direction, on a defunct fire station's brick wall facing the bridge, was an especially eye-catching piece of street art: the intricately spraypainted image of a shaggy, bipedal creature with antlers and huge fangs. Its milky white eyes bore no pupils, yet they seemed to stare outward Malveil's way.
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