Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Demonic Face
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Demonic Face And Now You're Gay

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Oh, That's a B̸̗̳̺̬̬̻̮͖͎̄ͥ̎ͣ̑ͯ̂a̗̽ͅs̛͔̫̠͍̫̫͋͌̊̔ͯͭ̓̕͠e̶̢ͥ͂̆̎ͥͩ̐͂̑҉͚̱̼͕͔b̳̭͍ͧͤ̔ͮ̊̽̔̆͞ȧ̮̲̙̱̖͋͢͞ļ̖̝̘̓̏͌l̮̭͇͕̗̫̗̽̈́ͤ̈́̐̓̊!̊ͥͩ̎̈́ͬ̈́̋̈͏̖͈͇̻


@DrowsyPangolin@Epsir


It all happened in an instant. Out of nowhere, the car had been sent flying, leaving Saber only a brief window for reaction after being taken surprised by such a sudden attack. Quickly sacrificing his cup of coffee, he placed an arm in front of his Master in order to protect him from the brunt of the impact, but even then it would do little to cushion the landing. Still, Saber needed to insure that his Master's life was safe; it would not be glorious to be the first pair to die in this war, now would it?

As soon as the last impact was made, Saber looked out the windows in order to find just who or what had attacked them. Surely it wasn't the enemy Servant they were trailing. Even if they had some sort of method to detect their presence, he still would have a larger window to react in the event his opponent decided to turn and attack. Either this was an ambush, or...

No. This isn't right. As Saber's eyes met with the monstrous thing that seemed to have made the attack, a primal fear stirred within him. While it wasn't enough to leave the warrior shaken, it still startled him as if his basic instincts told him to escape. Saber was quick to reach for the guitar case in the back seat. Quickly opening the case, Saber, in one smooth motion, armed himself with the blade contained within the case: a wide blade with faintly glowing glyphs engraved on the flat end as if threatening to overpower the strong seals that contained its power, the sword itself could best be described as one fit for a hero.

"Brace yourself, Master!" Saber called out to Rocco as he produced four runestones in his other, empty hand. Throwing those stones towards his Master as he reloaded his weapon, the engraved symbols on each of them began to glow before a shimmering rectangular field had began to manifest surrounding Rocco. It was a barrier strong enough to protect against even the strongest of attacks, and one that only a great Noble Phantasm could pierce.

After confirming that Rocco was confined safely within rune barrier, Saber turned towards the monster once again, baring his teeth with a fierce look on his face. Clenching his blade tightly within his hands, the crimson-eyed youth quickly made his attack in the blink of an eye. With a dozen seemingly wild slashes in all directions, Saber began to cut through the car, both as a means of creating an escape for his Master while also hopefully cutting through their assailant.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Reflection
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Reflection Slightly Stressed but Flawless

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Franz Burine Plaza --> Subway System

@King Cosmos@Epsir@Sosuke@DrowsyPangolin
Caster stood on the edge of the building, gazing down into the lobby. His eyes focused briefly on each part of the scenario. First, there was a palace right there in plain view. That told him Rider's identity. It wasn't hard to figure out she was Russian Nobility, but which one would be a matter of order of elimination. Berserker's identity, that was simple enough. After all, his noble phantasm certainly stood out, and so did his sheer regenerative ability. That was two servants with their identities out in plain view. Next he identified Berserker's arm. It laid on the ground, occasionally twitching. He knew he needed to get that limb.

The attacks from above didn't cease, as it was clear he had become some kind of target for Berserker. The magical flare of a command seal made that more obvious. The winds that whipped up around him were a steady defense, at least at first. Notably one or two more of those swords and shields came closer than the last, as he noticed the narrowing range of the attack. Directed now at the rooftop. His remaining archers had already left the rooftop, clearly trying to get out of range as Manco focused on his next plan. To do that... He needed the Sixth level. An advanced form of consciousness. The ability to plan and focus on not only what was in front of him, but to set in motion the events to protect the future. He said the words... "Ikaro" Once more. Winds exploded, directed right at the swords being fired down upon him. Swords were sent flying backwards, colliding and scattering them once more. A moment's peace as Berserker's second attack was already coming his way. That club. The Sixth level noticed this too.

He leapt, diagonally of course. The force of that club slammed past him, tearing through the wall of wind he called a defense. Thankfully, both his movement and the wind were enough to force the club just slightly off course. But the force of it's passing was more than enough to knock Caster about. The force knocking him as an arrow pierced the air where he had stood less than a millisecond earlier. The force sent him flying. Crashing with no grace to the plaza below. A gash of an arrow slicing into his flesh, bleeding. He landed in the snow, leaving a scarlet splattering as he stood. It wasn't fatal. He had the means to heal it. Thankfully though, he was no longer in Berserker's focus. Those swords and shields probably now slamming down onto the remains of where he had stood.

Where he had stood... There was now only death. If Berserker's focused attack had pulverized the roof, the power of Archer's arrow had torn through the structure, and destroyed countless lives in the process. The entire top half had ceased to exist. How many lives died in that moment? Caster ignored it, but the Sixth Level, the computing power of a king was crunching the numbers. No doubt it had at that moment been in the middle of being evacuated. Human life... Lost. Now, his heart was bleeding. Metaphorically of course. But it was full of anger. An anger at a man who treated life as unwanted. Numbers.

"Archer... You die for that." He said, turning his attention to his remaining soldier. "We're leaving." He explained, picking up Berserker's arm and throwing it over his shoulder. The massive crystal palace hide him and most of the others from Archer's gaze, the benefit of buildings. A hand pressed against the floor, and the stone cracked under his will. Torn to shreds and breaching into the subway system that lay below the plaza. He briefly noted that whatever of his familiars remained were being shot at. A mental note caused them to remain there. He could make more later, but keeping them there kept the illusion that he had remained.

"Assassin, if you would kindly stop shooting my familiars, you might find that the subway system is currently under no such pressure." He shouted out, directing this to the lone gunwoman.
_____________________________________________________________________________
@King Cosmos@Epsir
Leaping down through the hole he had made, he got to work. Throwing Berserker's arm to the floor, he raised out his hand. Tapac-yauri, the golden staff, appeared in his hand. He had to act fast, and while he would have preferred to take more time, he had to work quickly. He raised that golden staff up, and then stabbed it downward. The base of the staff was almost like a spear, sinking into the flesh. It didn't matter if it was a weak thrust, it only mattered that it was a divine weapon, wielded by a divinity. Much like Odin and Gungnir.
"I take on the role of Odin. Harald Wartooth, I am the divine being who comes at the end of your life's story. I strike your flesh with divine punishment, and declare that you have earned your worthy death." Manco said, reciting a divine curse upon a man who had died at a god's hands. His magical energy surged, and the curse was released. Naturally, there are always means to counter a curse. Berserker though might not possess such means. With this curse though, he pointed Berserker's compass of life, towards death. Like how the wheel of life turns, or something of that language. It could be described best as a saw, grinding away at the nature of Berserker's healing. His unwounded nature. He was now wounded, by a god. "I hope your master suffers for what they did to you."
With the curse cast, the shadow of the arm began to vanish. Burning away into nothing, and leaving the discarded limb. The shadow of the arm raced back to the Berserker, eager to rejoin its spiritual host and to carry the taint of its curse home with it.

Behind him, his lone bodyguard watched, protecting his master. Assassin would probably arrive at this point, since she was unlikely to be a fool. "Assassin, I have no interest in chasing after you, so pick a direction and I shall go the opposite. But, if you are invested in your plans to kill Otto von Habsburg, I propose an alliance."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Epsir
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Epsir

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Franz Burine Plaza



The night sky was torn in half. A streak of azure crashed down from the heavens, its body entering her sight for only fractions of a second before it disappeared into the rooftop. In its wake the brilliant course it tore through the sky was burnt into her sight. Assassin's lone eye blinked, and in that time she already threw herself to the ground, already felt what inevitably came next.

How could you?

Sound returned. A roar, something primal, concocted from lungs of concrete and steel battered empty by the force of the Archer's attack. The building's structure wailed as the force of the arrow's impact burst its walls outward, bent its skeleton into a comic, useless shape... Gutted away its substance. The rooms inside, any soul that had not evacuated in the scarce moments since the shooting started. Brimming light blotted out their death, the catastrophic release of magical energy at once majestic and horrifying, an explosion of supernatural make.

Even against the deck Assassin felt herself pushed along the ground, almost upended by the meager wind resistance of her torso, almost crushed by the intense pressure that gripped the air in the wake of the blast. Were she human her lungs would have burst, her sinusoids would have imploded. Standing outside of the blast radius was a false safety, and a certain, agonizing death once the pressure passed. The whipping winds subsided, giving way to the deep groan of the hollowed building, the mournful cry of a home denied its meaning. All around the plaza the glass facade of the city cracked, plate windows falling from their high-rise holdings as the shockwave ripped them from their frames or shattered them in place. The eerie, shrill hum of resonating crystal filled the air, punctuated with the echoing splash of each pane across the ground far below. The engines of the helicopter overhead wheezed, the sudden disturbance in the air warping its blades in flight, choking the flow of air over the rotors. The difficulties of working around a bomb blast, exaggerated by the wanton destruction a Servant could wreak without exercising restraint. Its sleek body lurched downwards in the air, blinking lights following the doomed airframe as the pilot nosed away from the scene, pitching with the remaining lift in the ruined blades away from the buildings below. A park, a river, an intersection? There was no telling what end they met. Just the sudden scrape and bang in the distance as their heroism went unrewarded.

Smoke poured upwards into the sky. Steel beams glowed with residual heat. Distant fires lit the skyline. The Assassin stood, bits of rubble falling from her scraped back. Ahead of them the structure wobbled, its complete failure mere moments away. Picking himself up from the snow, the blue haired figure of a man. No. A Servant. Her stomach turned. The lips behind the ragged scarf turned to bare bloodstained fangs, the scowl of her heart still hidden to the world. He stood, a mere spattering of red seemingly all the man had to show for his troubles. And the people he'd chosen to stand upon? The Caster seemed content to escape in good shape, having done nothing for the people beneath him.

"We're leaving." The man pilfered the slowly dissolving remains of a Servant's wound, speaking to his lackey before he casually blew a hole into city's underbelly. Assassin was already walking forward. No concern for incoming fire, no mind to turn towards the Archer that once more earned her ire. Callous. They were all callous. Her weapon dropped to the ground, the accumulating snow crunched beneath her boots. Every cell of her remaining body urged her to scream, to fit and rebel against the unfairness she witnessed. A fire that burned in the gut, a light that war taught her to hold in caged fingers, lest that little light shine too brightly. The first surprise of the evening came when the Caster spoke to her directly. Correctly surmised her class, even. Impressive without a Master watching, though by virtue of elimination... They almost had the whole gang together. If only.

MBTA Subway System
La Petite Guerre



Silence accompanied the Caster into the subway, hopping down the slope of shattered brick he had created into the station below the plaza. Unsurprisingly, the nexus was empty. Bags, carried dinners, ringing cellphones... People had left their belongings in a hurry, fleeing from the nightmares overhead. The trains were gone, a fact she was thankful to register for all the lives they must have spirited to safety the next stop over. Her snow caked combat boots clacked onto the refreshingly intact flooring. The yellowed lighting of the metro eradicated shadow, and without smoke or gunfire to obscure them the truth of the Assassin stood. A lithe, formless girl, face obscured, eye patched, wrapped in charcoal colors. Clothing borrowed from modern times and bandages to cover the rest, all stained in blood from the night's scuffle. Assassin approached as the Caster conducted his profane ritual, solo eye snapping to the sight of his golden staff. No sooner than the feeling of welling magic entered the air, it was met by the shallow pulse across spiritual senses that was the minor activation of her Noble Phantasm. A shotgun materialized in the Assassin's hands, crossed across their waist. A body reminiscent of a cowboy's lever gun with its exposed hammer, a wooden pump below a stylish vented barrel shroud. From it hung a bayonet more appropriate to call a sword. The Assassin gave their voice to another Servant for the first time, humming a bar as pleasant memories flooded back to the wraith. A weapon that had once undid the dignity of tyrants, made grovelers and cravens of unstoppable men of iron. Her fist clenched, the slide slammed back. A smoking shell fell to the ground, freed from a war that never ended. Her gaze flickered to the last remaining henchman, daring the reanimated familiar to so much as step as she strode past him.

"Odin weeps, a coward prostitutes his name."

Intent fell on Caster. A dazzling, verdant spiral of searing hatred, the wraith's eye, locked with him. The pump came forward, sliding a shell into battery, locking the weapon with a metallic clunk. That wide eyed stare was all there was to see of Assassin's expression, a howling chasm of rage and resentment that burned atop... Pale skin, a calm brow, all the suggestions of a face at peace. Nothing changed as the Caster spoke up to her, his words failing to register in the seething depths that answered. She learned much more in those few seconds than she had hoped to. This man was the source of the watchful eyes she spent so much time putting out around the city, a knower of many things who sought to know more without right. Those same watchful eyes had no less witnessed the skirmish at Habsburg's estate.

She moved her hand off the trigger, reaching to her thigh and, with a click from the retention arm of her holster, drawing her pistol. A flick of the wrist and it sailed through the air, clacking on the ground at Caster's feet. PROPRIETE DE L'ETAT stared up at him, stamped on the lower front edge of the slide. The safety had been flicked off, the hammer was down on a loaded chamber. The worn down "Sig Pro" emblazoned grip of an SP2022 awaited.

"I don't care what you're interested in, Familiar." A rough voice answered from behind the scarf, smoky and direct, a voice that could have been elegant in some faraway time. "If you knew aught of my plans, my investiture, you'd have kept running. Know this: I hate you. I hate your War. I will crush the Grail beneath my boot and when I have killed the last of you back to your guardian duties I shall follow. Ghost of Avarice, undignified by a mere wish, you know not what alliance means." She nodded curtly to the pistol on the ground. "Suicide is a short death. Fleeing from your hand in this atrocity shall kill you for ages."

A tension snapped in the air, the spiritual path connecting Servant and Master disappeared from the Assassin's signature. Their own core flared, the energies surrounding her flattening as the Servant prepared to act. "My path is towards the Archer. Someone must put down Habsburg's rabid dog ere he sully the word Hero any further. My courtesy to you is this: If you are going to run, do not stop." Her last words left her in a snarl, the Assassin's silence returning to their motionless form.



Absent Foundation/Clear


Police Cordon/Franz Burine Plaza
Incumbent
Chorus Keepaway



The Head of Habsburg's path was not so clear, ahead of him laid the blinking sirens and glinting steel wall of Boston's law enforcement. Patrol cars and tactical vans littered the streets, uniformed officers standing in a blend of pointing dutifully into the chaos or wondering at the fresh snowfall come to them in the middle of summer. Men in vests and helmets thrown over casual wear, some in more formal military style fatigues, moved behind the cordon. They carried the elderly and infirm, muscled along those who could walk and run. In a city no matter the time of day there were many lives to evacuate in a given district, and pulling them from high rises in the midst of explosions and stray gunfire was a harrowing task that no department in the world could truly call themselves ready for.

Stalwart protectors of the law... maybe? But certainly easy fodder for Magecraft. The controllable situation he longed for, as hilarious as it was to call this controllable, was right in front of them.

Except one little aberration. A young man, on the shorter side, sat casually on the hood of one of the patrol cars. He cradled his head in his hands, watching the flashing lights down the road and gasping aloud as Archer's attack struck home. Even this far away from the scene, the gust of wind sent trash fluttering up from the city streets. People screamed and officers barked at them to get back as glass began to fall down the road, some glistening chips going so far as to land a stone's throw from the barricade. Anxious glances were traded all around, the men with guns no longer so sure what to do as they watched a gutted building sway in the breeze, seconds from collapse.

"Easy does it guys." He spoke up, pushing up the beanie insulating his head from the cold. Lazy, avaricious eyes circled back on the officers, the bystanders, locking people in place as a mesmerizing glare passed over them. The air temperature dropped sharply, the ripples of Magecraft no secret to anyone nearby and sensitive. The boy's brightly colored eyes stopped and widened as they locked on the face of Otto von Habsburg. No attempt to pass the spell onto the newcomer came, and as he blinked, expecting the man to say something, the people around them continued about their business as if they couldn't even see the two Magi.

A shock of pink hair crept from beneath his hat, the only color to dash his monochrome attire.

"Mister Habsburg, dear fellow, isn't it funny how a party got thrown after all?" A toxic smile, but nice white teeth! "Poor even for a jest, I know. You remember me, I'm sure. 'Reason you're having this war,' 'guy saving your asses,' ringing bells, no?" He stopped, leaning forward with his hands on his knees, seemingly rapt with tension as he sought the signs of the other man thinking it through. Suddenly he was throwing his hands up, that margarine smooth delivery giving Otto: "Mister Crowley!"

"I was really hoping you'd show up you know," He patted the spot next to him on the hood, smiling under raised eyebrows. "When it got back to me that you'd consummated your Seals I knew, I just knew, we'd have at least one straight laced Mage to keep... This from happening." He threw his arm out to the vague darkness from which groaning steel and roaring cannon emerged. "I'll be frank with you I'm quite irate. My first duty as a host is to make sure you all are spared the wrath of the big wide world around us, but this kind of behavior makes it hard to ward away the powers that be. I'm sure you know the severity of what I speak of, but enough about me! Let's. Place. You. You taking over here? Most people can't make me say this, but I know my betters, and when it comes to crowd control, well, it goes unspoken for Habsburg..."

He snapped his fingers. All around them, like marionettes on snipped strings, the innocent sagged in place. Routines broken, goals forgotten, officers groggily reached towards their foreheads as their senses slowly began to clear. "What?" One voice mumbled, slowly joined by another, and...

A Baseball Park



The front window shattered outwards in a hail of bullets, fragments splashing across the monster's face to the same rhythm of jacketed slugs burying themselves in its body. The shadowy amorphous texture of its face rippled, cratered by impact after impact until a shot burst the swell of its closed eye. Red seeped from the mangled hole, the lid flapping open to reveal a shattered mass of gelatinous white cubes, sparking crimson between them as fluid of the same color began to spill. Its reserved hum came to a sudden stop, its body locked and motionless as Rocco emptied his first magazine and swapped to a second. The ruins of an eye flicked slightly side to side, watching the hands manipulating the Kalashnikov with what remained of its sight.

Red flared across its face, the mirror of skin turning white once more as it repeated its scream. Silence to those that could hear it, the feeling of being punched in the ears to those who lived, the utter pressure of the great beast's lamentation exceeding the physical constraints of auditory observation. Not an abstract effect, just painfully loud. The blob's body boiled beneath its face, limbs extended from its mass and peeling into the shapes of hands as it reached desperately for Rocco. A limb grasped the smoking barrel of his gun, flesh sizzling in the heat, another struck out right for the flesh of the back of his hand, fingers clawed in sheer need for contact.

Runelight tore through its body as the barrier extended, the stones from Saber landing just in time, forming a defense against an attack already in progress. The cube of protection severed the limbs extended to the Master already, leaving its acrid smelling digits rolling along the interior of the car and twitching manically once they were separated from its control. Rather than roar again the beast seemed more determined than ever, its palms slapping meaninglessly against the boundary line established by the runestones. With a gentle ring of magical energy announcing a denial of entrance every time another fist slammed against it, rapidly adding up to over a dozen in the moments before Saber turned his weapon back on the threat.

The metal body of the car posed little resistance to the poised strikes of the Saber Class. Like an orange split up for lunch, the petals of their vehicle fell away from its center with every attack Saber laid in a new direction. Most of that effort, unfortunately, went to waste splitting the air. Rocco's ride was getting totaled, though. Each strike directed into the roof, where the hand prints had pressed in menacingly through the material, revealed more and more of the sorry sight their visitor was. Saber's keen blade met with the screech of elastic flesh severing, blackened meat sheared open to reveal flowing veins of the same wondrous red that now decorated its pockmarked 'face.' The hands reaching into the car fell away, cut clean by the flurry of blows and squiggling just as vigorously as those denied by the runic barrier. It was forced to retreat, the ponderous weight holding up the sides of the car it previously rested against then withdrawn, and letting the pieces of the car clamor to the asphalt. Almost as the walls falling away a scene revealed to be fiction, the stillness of reality greeted Team Saber. Not just the bystanders down the road, but the entirety of life on the street surrounding them seemed locked in place, staring enviously at the crouched form of Rocco Moretti. The Servant and Master they had followed, however, stood suspiciously absent.

The only movement came from their recently revealed adversary. A body like a slug, a corpulent mass of midnight colored something suspended into a vaguely organized shape by some kind of internal pressure, a pressure that caused its laborious form to pitch and heave with distensions that erupted into more covetous limbs. Arms, hands, the faculties of acquisition covered the creature, turning its vaguely identifiable shape into an absolute mess of limply swaying limbs. Several ruptures had been torn into it where the Saber struck, crystalline droplets cascading out into neat piles on the road surface, glittering ruby shapes rolling when they were round and sticking when they were square. It held its 'face' in several palms, forced to retreat a few meters from the party as they bought their escape before its previous programming reasserted itself. The slug contorted, and from behind it swept with the long tube of its body, propelled by the hands dangling from it. A mass the same size as the car they'd just left, only wrought in unknowably heavy alien meat, swung in at Team Saber, animated with the ease and speed of a frantic creature lashing out for dear life.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Sightles
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Sightles

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Otto von Habsburg


Caster had fled. Otto gleamed that much from his Shared Perception. As the lights from the police cars, and the cacophony of shouting, neared closer to Otto, he severed the link he shared with his Servant. He would need to focus on his duties now, as a Master. I'm about to arrive on the scene, Archer. Keep an eye out for Caster, for now. This day had put a sizeable amount of stress on Otto, but he must press on. The destruction of the building wasn't favorable, but it was an attempt Otto was glad to make. The likelihood of hitting the target in the exasperated situation the enemy Servant had found himself in made the attempt too much to turn aside. Unfortunate the attack proved unfruitful.

Otto's sprint slowed down to a careful gait, as he pushed through a small crowd of civilians, heading towards the police cordon. It wouldn't take much. Mesmerization and no more, and he'd be in. In high stress situations like this, where emotions filled the area like a noxious fume, it made his particular Magecraft all the more powerful. It would only take but a proverbial small shove on the edge of the cliff for his powers to work to full effect.

As Otto neared the cordon, it struck him. Temperature change, a small shift in the wind, and the growing look of indifference on the faces of those closer to the cordon. A small grimace crossed the noble's face, as he slowly began to walk towards the cordon, now acutely aware of the presence of another Mage. One that also dabbled in an art similar to Otto's.

It was easy enough to spot the cause, for Otto. A man of questionable fashion lounging on top a makeshift throne, bleeding with an air of sliminess that seemed to jump forward before the man could even speak. Strangely enough, Otto did not spot the telltale signs of Command Seals upon the Mage's hand, making the situation all the more perplexing.

Stepping forward, from the crowd and towards the cordon filled with it's engaged officers, Otto revealed himself. The pink-haired man reacted instantly, his face abright with only what Otto could surmise as an expression of joy. Otto had to restrain himself from stopping his hand from twitching towards his belt, ready to produce any type of jewel he'd need. Instead, he'd listen, at least for now.

Stone-faced, and unmoving, as the worm in front of him spoke, Otto listened carefully to the man's words. He had wondered privately when showman would be revealing himself to his audience. The note before the onset of the war only served to speak more to man's character in front of him. However, if the man in front of him was mad, then Otto was twice so.

Silence was the only response Otto offered back to his gracious host, standing still and quiet for a moment after the snap and release of the thralls. Wordlessly, Otto pulled his silvered cigarette case from his jacket, producing a long tubular and expensive looking wrap of tobacco. In a flash, the cigarette was lit. The Mage sampled the acrid material, dragging from the cigarette for only what could be assumed to be an entirety compared to the panic and noises that pervaded the plaza.

Exhaling, the smoke that left the Mage's lips were something different. They seemed to dance through the air, against the beckoning of the wind and nature, carrying itself low before it was so spread out that it vanished from sight. Now, with a short nod, Otto turned from his host and stepped towards one of the still groggy guards. There were many here, but he would be the start. What Otto was about to do would drain him the most out of any other event in the day, and would effectively remove him from further actions, but as insane as Crowley came across, ht was sane enough to realize this event needed to end.

Archer, we are disbanding this embarrassment. Find a better position and drive any rat you still see out back to it's hole. There's too many eyes on all of this, now. Otto could only hope that whatever force his Servant decided necessary wouldn't be enough to drive what little energy he'd have left after this. Otto could only lament his lack of his Crown Jewels to himself, as he gripped the officer's wrist in front of him, slightly surprising the groggy guard. No more collateral damage. Find a way to attack without making this situation any worse. Otto found time to add in, as he moved his smoke-scented lips to the ear of the guard.

Only a moment passed, and the guard's form stood at attention, his eyes alert and staring straight ahead. With another word, the guard stepped away from the Head of Habsburg, and towards a gathering throng of his fellow-officers, still attempting to gather their senses. Without a mark of concern on his face, Otto stepped back towards his impromptu companion, Crowley, as an exchange of awkward handshakes and small words passed between the officers behind him.

Otto approached the vehicle, stopping only short of Crowley and the cruiser. Exhaling another cloud of coiling smoke into the air, that seemed to defy law. The man who sat on the hood of the cruiser lived and breathed heretic to Otto, and even now he could feel the wave of disdain wash over him, making the feeling all the more visible as the tall German aristocrat towered slightly over the sitting man. "Fortunate for the affected that you got here so quickly." Otto replied, through drags of the cigarette that rested gently between his lips.

Around the cordon, the police now found themselves moving with a sense of purpose different from before. The errant handshake could still be seen between still-recovering officers and the ones whom seemed to move with robotic-like precision. As the process went on, and the officers seemed to be going about several unclear objectives, Otto's consistent stiff posture seemed to sag, if only slightly.

Otto gripped at his belt with one hand, plucking the half-ashed cigarette from his lips with his other hand, "Your letter to the Association, the one I received, was quite interesting, Herr Crowley." Otto started flicking the cigarette from his mouth. Before the moment passed, another was already in his mouth and lit. "'A great upheaval' is a good phrase to describe tonight." Another cloud of smoke entered the air, visibly hovering for a moment before spreading thin across the air.

Otto could only barely conceal his unrest at the situation. It was hidden enough, but he'd be drained before too long. It was worth it, though. Ending this spectacle was the most important thing, for Otto could hardly imagine the blow back that would occur. The largest threat to the masquerade of the magus to perhaps ever happen.

Hidden 4 mos ago Post by King Cosmos
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King Cosmos

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The marble floor shattered under Berserker’s feet as he threw his battered body forward, heedless of the damage he had already taken or of the guns that awaited him. His only thought, as it always was, was of destruction.

With great strides the Viking closed in on the Russian Empress, his lopsided body and the heavy weight of his weapon making his movements clumsier than before but no less daunting. His eyes practically glowed in the darkness, their mad glint catching the light from Rider’s shimmering crown, and his breath steamed in the cold winter air that had descended on the battlefield.

Unseen in the dim confines of the palace’s hall, a shadow slipped through the shattered remains of the entranceway and rapidly made its way towards Berserker with unerring precision. The shadow streaked towards the Servant until it merged with his own shadow, melding with it and turning it a shade darker as it continued to creep towards his body. There was no obvious, immediate effect as the shadow returned to Berserker’s body, bringing with it the divine curse that Caster had imbued it with. The mad Servant didn’t break stride or slow his movements as a chill ran up his spine, nor did he shudder or break out in goose bumps at the change it brought about in him. He continued to charge at Rider regardless.

An observant soul might notice a slight change to his pallor, a slightly unhealthy greyish tinge that overtook him, or notice that the cuts and bruises that still covered his body seemed to have stopped healing. The true effects of the curse wouldn’t be seen until the next time Berserker took damage, only then would the damage done by Caster become apparent.

@DrowsyPangolin@LukasVolkov
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Franz Burine Plaza



The prey her myriad eyes brought her upon turned, the city's flickering lights glinting on the black faceplate of a biker's helmet. Katherine raised her arms, not caring for the girl's reply while she raced to make good on her threat. Untold years as an Enforcer prepared one for the many vagaries of hunting a Magus. The helmet and bodysuit were mundane, but tools here nonetheless, veils for one who sought to hide their identity. It was difficult to ascertain the magecraft and aims of her opponent without the ability to read lips, measure breathing, or peer into their eyes. She would have to remove those impediments. The fanfare that accompanied the beginning of a Magus duel was absent, no spoken hymn or activation of the girl's crest, just a rush towards her waist-

The bleeding lumps upon Katherine's arms burst over, tendrils of Magewraith vine spilling forward as the overwhelming prana stored in her system sought escape. Hardy lengths of thorned vines sprang into wild coils, bullets searing into her lovelies before falling, unfulfilled, to the ground. Behind the bloodstained and now bullet-marked vines the Enforcer's face twisted into a satisfied smirk. A gun? Modern tools were shunned by the esteemed Magi she'd spent decades butchering in Europe. To see them was not uncommon, shoved into the hands of zombie-like thralls or wielded by the unmagi who were involved in the world of magic's secret struggles. For a Master to wield one... Well, they were certainly either an amateur or a heretic. What a thrill, fighting in a backwater like America. It was good to be home. There was no sense in salivating over the opportunity to torture either a weakling or an aberrant, not when the opportunity was right there.

The six smoldering holes in her Magewraiths oozed with a sweet, purple smoke. Burnt slightly by the impacts, the true, aromatic nature of the plant revealed itself. No plant flourished in the witch's garden without reason, and her trophy darlings were toxic every which way they could be. Noxious at first, maddening at last, the aroma of a Magewraith's blood crystallized the witch's aims: A toxin of excitement that incapacitated by incensing those it afflicted. Pain, excitement, fear, blurring and intensifying until the mind itself frayed. Only a hint of that capacity showed itself for a few bullet holes, a fell scent upon the wind... for now.

No sooner than her vines had batted away the opening salvo the Enforcer flung herself forward, body carried with supernatural vigor from all the plundered magical energy crashing through her circuits. She burnt off mana with every motion, pushing the superhuman capabilities of a Magus killer even further as she closed the distance. The dagger borrowed from Berserker glinted in her left hand, lowered, pointed, but not yet in use as her right swung out. A fist with the power to crack concrete was the least of Naoko's worries, the swarm of hungry tendrils hanging off of the witch's limb all swinging like barbed whips towards the best meal they'd get in a while.
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“Figured it wouldn’t be so easy.”

As gods in mortal shells sundered civilization with the aftershocks of their divine weaponry, Naoko holstered her handgun, the lead having done nothing more than get her opponent wet…with blood. Definitely just blood. Demonic vines that burst out of one’s flesh was definitely not a pleasing aesthetic to witness, and the grotesque nature of her opponent was only amplified by the sheer amount of power that seemed to be crammed into her form. It was like a damaged propane tank, highly pressurized fuel forced through a single nozzle to burn bright and blue, even though there was a chance of a flat-out explosion at any moment. If she had it her way, Naoko would be booking it until after Berserker’s Master burned out. If she had it her way, she’d still be eating pizza and watching her Netflix backlog. If she had it her way, Rider wouldn’t be stuck in her castle, up against a Berserker in close combat.

But life was life, and if she couldn’t even deal with someone so clearly, irritatingly, cartoonishly evil? Well, what even was the point of walking out of the apartment to begin with?

She affirmed her path, set her eyes upon her opponent, and breathed out.

The world around the two mages slowed. Falling debris accelerated towards the ground at quarter-speed. The blades of the chopper up above spun languidly enough that they could be seen rotating. Smoke and fire bloomed in slow-motion, while fragments of cement spun away from the impact of Katherine’s lunge, the aberrant mage’s facial muscles shifting like a wax sculpture near a flame. She had never perceived the world around her in such clarity before, and she had never felt her emotions melt away so easily, frost on a summer day.

This wasn’t exceptional speed, nor exceptional perception. It was simply the bare minimum one needed to become worthy of an empress’s approval.

And from there, Naoko struck.

Taking one step forward, she swept out with her cane, a flurry of blows that carried exactly the right amount of force to redirect the right amount of tendrils in a way that achieved maximum disruption. A domino effect of tangled greenery occurred, bloodthirsty thorns cannibalizing plantflesh and leaving only a single barbed mass for the costumed hero to dodge instead. She leaned hard to the right, sparing a second to dab on her thorny nemesis, before twisting her entire body and launching a whip-like low kick to Katherine’s knee, hoping to smash it right off.

How much of this was skill and how much of this was a blessing?

Who knows? Who cares?
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Rocco Moretti

A Baseball Field

Teeth clenched around a cigarette filter, digging into the paper as the unnerving cry of the alien monstrosity assaulted Rocco’s eardrums. His hand tossed away a spent magazine, grasping for another to continue suppressing fire. Too slow. An unknowable smell inflamed his nostrils as slick, misshapen fingers boiled away, constricting themselves numbly around the smoking barrel of his weapon. Another twisted limb emerged from the amorphous mass, malformed talons reaching out, grasping, greedy.

The flash of runelight saved him. Saber’s barrier halted the creature’s advance on the spot, tearing slimy limbs from bubbling body. Rocco shook ruined, wriggling digits from the barrel of his weapon as the abomination swung out with its writhing arms, hungry hands slapping harmlessly against the shield. Rocco slammed another magazine into his rifle, the charging handle coming back with a satisfying metallic click. The Magus nodded appreciatively to his Servant.

Saber’s blade struck out with animal savagery, rending flesh and steel, cutting away the ruined body of the vehicle and separating twitching hands from their limbs. As the prison of the Town Car was cast aside, however, Rocco became aware of the halted reality that surrounded them. Figures froze in place, staring blankly in an infinite moment. Something was very wrong.

Steely eyes hid a primal terror as Rocco surveyed the convulsing mass before them. Fingers tightly gripped polymer. Another burst of gunfire barked in rebellion against the otherworldly silence. “Saber, get ready to drop the barrier. I’m gonna to give you some space. Kill this… whatever the fuck it is.”

The Magus closed his eyes and focused. His father had always accused him of focusing on the wrong elements of Magecraft. The old man had been critical of his pragmatism, only picking up the bits and pieces of magical learning that seemed beneficial. He’d never been much of a scholar, but in those early days his father had taught him some things of note. For once, he’d do the old man proud.

Runelight faded. The creature drew back before them.

“Raffica.”

Magical energy surged through the ex-hitman’s body like ice-cold water slipping through his veins. An explosive gust of wind surged from beneath Rocco’s feet, sending him sailing backward as the monster lurched forward.

“Piuma.”

Rocco floated harmlessly to the ground several yards away, his body drifting easily through the air. As his boots met with the pavement, he let out another volley of lead from his Kalashnikov before making a beeline for a nearby alley. The weight-reducing effect of his previous magecraft still held, and each footfall propelled him several feet forward. He looked back as he reached the alleyway, watching as the hero stared down the monster.




Rider

The Winter Palace


Marble crumbled under savage footfalls as Berserker flung himself across the dimly lit foyer. Damaged as he was, his determination would not be quelled. For the smallest moment, the Empress felt a tinge of respect for the mad warrior’s refusal to retreat. Whether drenched in madness or not, such a will was something worth admiring… and worth testing to its fullest extent. Gleaming gold eyes watched as the floor cracked beneath the approaching viking.

One.

Borrowed tactics informed the Empress’ plan. It would have to be at the perfect moment. The slightest hesitation would doom her, a impatience and haste would do the same. Rider clutched the broadsword, holding it aloft before her. The blackened steel of the cannon glowed red in the darkened room, magical energy pushing them to their limits. Electricity crackled over the shuddering barrels, arcing across the smooth marble of the floor.

Two.

The diamonds on Catherine’s crown cast an aureole of crystalline light around her face. Embers awoke into a flourish of golden flame across the Rider’s tattered uniform, replacing it with a flowing dress of silk dyed royal purple. Jewels gleamed like snowflakes across its surface. Despite her battered state and utter exhaustion, the Empress stood steadfast as the charging madman drew nearer and nearer. A proud smile fell upon the queen’s face, lips curling in monarchic arrogance, even in the face of sudden death.

Three.

“Огонь!” Like a storm cloud split asunder all four of the guns roared to life. The oversaturation of magical energy send deep cracks branching through their bores. The heat collapsed their forms. The barrels burst under the sheer overcharged force of the blast, propelling their payload with the desperation of a final breath tempered into a defiant shout. An avalanche of appropriated steel flooded the air. A grapeshot of Noble Phantasms exploded from the bores of the guns. Swords, daggers, spears, and arrows sailed through the air, their steel glowing white-hot. The very weapons that Berserker had rained down on the crowd had now been turned against him, his gifts returned in a thundering delivery.

The flashes of the exploding guns illuminated the image of the Russian queen, framing her against a backdrop of flame. In that singular moment of blinding light, lips shaped unhearable words, and Rider’s golden irises met the gaze of the charging Berserker.
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Berserker was nothing if not determined, driven by a single-minded purpose as he charged towards Rider and her line of cannons without fear or caution. The red glow of the magically charged artillery and the shining light of Rider crown were reflected in the mad warriors glowing eyes.

The cannons fired simultaneously once Berserker was close enough that dodging would be impossible, their gunpowder bark deafening in its intensity and its payload of ownerless Noble Phantasms deadly in its lethality. The makeshift grapeshot of sword, spears, arrows and daggers tore through the air at high speed and pierced Berserker’s hide. With the inhuman reactions of a legendary warrior and the fleeting self-preservation instincts of a deranged mind he brought the indestructible club his held in front of his body to block as many of the weapons as possible, but this didn’t stop the hail of projectiles from ripping through his body and inflicting a devastating amount of damage.

Berserker dropped to his knees in front of Rider, his club stabbed towards the ground to support his upper body the only thing preventing him from falling any further. Spears and swords protruded from his stomach, chest and left shoulder, while his right side was mostly clear of injury having been protected by the Noble Phantasm in his remaining hand. His head was also almost untouched, his burning gaze still locked on the Russian empress’s own and his jaw clenched in fury.

Blood pooled on the ground around the Servant. Blood from injuries that should have started healing by now. Blood from injuries that shouldn’t have been visible in the first place due to the nature of his skill, born from the fact that Harald was called ‘The Unwounded’ in life. It was now becoming evident that something had changed within Berserker, the effects of the shadow that had merged with the Servant and the curse it had carried with it making themselves evident by suppressing the skills that made Berserker so formidable, so unstoppable earlier.

A single, golden spear pierced Berserker chest on the left side under his ribs. The weapon had struck his heart and rent it in two. His Battle Continuation would allow him to move for a while longer still, but with his healing suppressed the injury would surely be fatal unless something could be done.

Nonetheless, until his end came there was still some life in Berserker yet. Using his club to pull himself up and forward the warrior climbed back to one knee before letting go of the weapon and lunging for Rider with his one remaining hand. The mad Viking would attempt to grab the enemy Servant by the throat with his powerful grip and squeeze the life out of them as his dying act.

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Franz Burine Plaza



Reverberations echoed up Katherine's spare limbs, the enemy mage's cane tapping along lethal thorns, bopping vines left and right as they coiled in its direction, always an instant behind its fluid movements. And like that they were tangled, misdirected, flailing around each other in one direction as her prey escaped in the other, throwing some gesture to keep her balance before wheeling into a kick. This was some sort of highly physically capable Magus, or a beneficiary of a Caster class. There wasn't time to analyze the source, and she was kidding herself is she thought she could keep the pace set by the flow of their actions. Katherine had never once subscribed to the idea of subtlety in a duel. With her arm still cast aside she resolved to step forward, chasing the twist of her opponent, accepting whatever a kick could mean to so much raw power in motion. Her mind raced as her fist clenched around the dagger still held tightly at her side. She raised Berserker's tribute up to chest height, fang bared outward as she went in for the kill.

But something was horribly amiss. The flow of mana had shifted, no, halted. Her own continued to pulse through her, driving her legs as she threw herself at the incoming attack. It was Berserker's, ceased. Of course he couldn't exactly report his own status in words, but the sudden gut wrenching shift of a spirit diminishing managed to pierce through her own battle frenzy and register for the threat it was. How? How was Berserker faltering in close combat? A technicality she hadn't known about, a shift in battlefield conditions that no one could have prepared for. Her weapon could only go forward. She could only go forward. Their war would only go forward from here.

Naoko's boot smashed into her knee, the joint crumpling, the feeling of the energy burning away at the Enforcer's body jumping between them like static electricity. Flesh wound. Alchemy. Whatever it took to fix. Falling forwards didn't mean anything to Katherine, she was already going there, reaching out viciously for the swift Magus in her sights. Her left hand raised over her head, her two Command Seals blazing as the sign of her force. The frail, aged dagger spiked with rays of blue light, ether poured into its constructed form at a rate it was never intended to survive. In her maddened hands the ability to wield the Phantasm became irrelevant, it became her primed hand grenade, a Broken Phantasm ready to detonate. The woman who would live forever would make a gamble on her own durability. She shrieked a command, to her faraway Berserker, too distant to hear but perhaps not too far gone to feel it.

"Kill. Kill!" Only the first word on her mind came out, but the order's purpose was clear. She knew not what obstructed Berserker, but by her Second Command Seal she declared: Overcome, and kill. Her own body obeyed well enough. tossed vines unfurling, drawing back in to reorient as her dagger fell in a swift arc for that helmet covered face.

Police Cordon/Franz Burine Plaza



Crowley's continued smile only tugged a little bit wider as Otto quickly complied, rising to the occasion and... going for a smoke. Of course nothing was ever so simple with a magician, and by the time he thought it was probably best to clamp down on his nose, a gesture he did not resort to, the smoke from Habsburg's spell dissipated into the atmosphere. A binding agent, merely some kind of inhalant? Where the previous puppeteer had cut his strings and left the dolls running slack around the cordon, something else entirely picked them up, Otto's words into the nearest man's ear. He only watched over Otto's shoulder as the mage approached him, taken aback by the sight of so many uniformed officers doing their uncanny valley meet and greet, handshakes and all, out in the open. "Creepy, but see, you didn't just kill everyone which is a major step up from what we've been doing here for the past hour or so."

"You liked that bit? I didn't plan on getting spiked by whichever one of you will end up thinking 'hey, it'd be fun to kill that guy and ruin everything,' so I was going to sit this one out but getting us all killed by the American government was not part of the idea of the upheaval. This- This is why the Magi couldn't make this work in over a hundred years, you know. These people just gravitate to bloodshed." Crowley raved, hands swinging in animated gestures towards the spread of swirling dust and broken glass obscuring the street towards the plaza, where the light show continued and other sirens could be heard wailing across the cordoned area. Only as distant gunshots crackled off, echoing from the remaining windows in the area, did he arrest himself. The host slid down from the cruiser, his diminutive frame still forcing him to look up at Otto for the time.

"Nice of you to take over cleaning up here. Really all there is to it is to make sure no one ever gets the order go in. A blockade looks fidgety, or somebody starts checking who's ready on the radio, gotta stop those sorts of things early. Nothing will stop the reprisals if we just let more people wander into the grinder." His eyes wandered past Otto, searching for a Servant he could not see but duly suspected the presence of. Well, hopefully nothing could come of that with a Master preoccupied with the social wellbeing, not anymore. "Really I suppose there's nothing we can do save starve this out and hope to contain it."

In the distance an unseen shade complied with his Master's orders, the nimble Archer spirit disintegrating into light to seek a more advantageous overwatch of the combat zone. The first target had collapsed, fled, and with it the hostilities seemed to cease. There only remained the question of the building, or Masters in the surroundings, though picking the latter out between floating debris was the more time consuming task. No, simply bombarding away the pesky Servants audacious enough to throw their house into the street would satisfy the command. In due time...
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Naoko felt it too, the vacuum of power left after Rider unleashed her onslaught, the certainty that her Servant had done something right. The exhaustion didn’t matter. The fatigue didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, except for this instance in time.

She pressed on.

She did not slow down.

As the knee crumbled beneath the force of her kick, the enemy master pressed on regardless, a berserker in her own right. Already, flesh and bone were knitting back together, a mess of cancerous cells that almost seemed to cling onto Naoko’s boot. Raised high and burning as bright as a star was the overcharged Noble Phantasm the vine-witch thought to destroy her with, the corporeal form of the weapon already bursting at the seams. Bursting with scarlet and bound by reckless rage were her commandments to her Servant, pushing the mad warrior to further extremes. And the vines had unfurled again, thorny whips poised to tear through leather and flay off the skin beneath.

But Naoko was already moving, shifting her weight onto the foot already pressed against Katherine’s knee. Maintaining the momentum of her kick, she spun, rotating her body past the Enforcer’s as the dagger struck air. She span through the air, her left foot surging up and catching the vines in spaces between the thorns, a round-about trajectory that mashed them altogether before she kicked off the knee, delivering a spinning kick to the back of the vine-witch’s skull while simultaneously pulverizing the plants against it.

If that bitch wanted to go forward, she could.

Right off the edge.

Naoko flew the opposite direction, tumbling safely before hopping back onto her feet.

“Sophie, need me to get you out?”

Already, the sigil upon the back of her hand glowed. To hold up against a Berserker empowered by a command spell was impressive. To do so with two? Unreasonable.

But Empresses and Mages alike were unreasonable.
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Rider

The Winter Palace


Rider held her breath as the projectiles tore through the air toward the charging viking. Several of the weapons sparked harmlessly against the unstoppable force of Berserker’s club, but even a force of nature such as he could not overcome the sheer volume of the attack. Blades found flesh, and the indomitable warrior dropped to the ground, still glaring at the Empress.

Catherine let out a shaky breath. At this range it was clear just how pale and exhausted she looked. Despite the glittering exterior of imperial confidence, she had clearly been pushed to her limits. The arm Berserker’s club had shattered earlier still hung limply at her side. Her remaining arm weakly gripped the hilt of her borrowed broadsword, its rusted blade shivering slightly as she held it aloft. As she stared at her fallen opponent, she noticed the change in her opponent. The mad warrior had seemed unstoppable earlier, a crystallization of unbridled rage and destruction… but something had weakened him. The Empress’ golden eyes surveyed the fallen titan before her. Whatever had sapped his strength, it had almost certainly saved her.

The glittering gems of Catherine’s crown began to dim and rapidly fade away. Her eyes flickered from a brilliant gold to a cool silver, peering into the furious coals that still burned in Berserker’s visage. She dared not move for fear of dropping on the spot. The last assault had drained her more than she’d predicted, and she could feel her sense becoming dulled by the second. She slowly lowered the shaking blade, drawing in a ragged breath.

“Farewell, Heathen King.”

The Empress’ gaze slowly drifted from her fallen opponent, looking back toward the crowd that had nervously watched the commotion behind her. Turning her head, she gave them a weak smile. Even in her exhausted state, there was something reassuring in her smile, a warmth that inspired the heart and soothed even the fiercest of anxieties. She watched as the worried faces began to form into nervous smiles and looks of amazement.

Unfortunately, these smiles were not to last.

The eyes of the crowd shot open in a unified expression of abject terror. Rider turned in time to see the risen Berserker dashing forward, but not in time to avoid his outstretched hand.

“KORONA VECH-”

The true name of her crown died in her throat, a faint flicker of energy all she was able to draw in before her opponent cut her off. Savage fingers clenched around her throat. Her lungs burned, starving for air as her feet raised from the palace floor. Desperation ran through every vein like molten iron. Her feet kicked at empty air in futile protest. The pitted blade of the broadsword hacked wildly at the madman’s rigid arm as hot blood began to pool in her throat. Her silver eyes fought desperately against the smothering darkness that was rapidly clouding them.

Numbness arced through her limbs like lightning. Her head buzzed wildly, and the ringing in her ears only grew more excruciating by the moment. Fingers tightened around her throat like an iron vice. Her vision blurred. Again, she raked the broadsword out at Berserker’s flesh.

The hilt slipped from her hand. Borrowed steel clattered to the ground. Weak fingers clawed at the hand that gripped her throat. The voice that echoed in her head was only vaguely familiar in her shuddering mind.

“Master… help…”
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The broadsword dropped out of Rider’s hand and clattered to the ground, the lines it had cut into Berserker’s arm dripping blood that stood out in stark contrast against his ashen skin. The Empress of Russia clawed at his grip with limp fingers that were unable to pry his hand away from her throat, her eyes beginning to cloud over and grow dim as the part of Berserker’s mind that held anything other than primal rage recognised the weakening struggles as signs that the opponent was beginning to fade away.

The mad Servant was not content to just wait for the inevitable however. He turned his body so that he held Rider out to his side rather than in front of him, shifting his weight as the muscles in his arm tensed in preparation. He raised his arm, lifting Rider above his head by his one handed grip around her throat and brought her down on his other side, slamming her bodily into the ground with as much strength as his dying body could muster. He lifted her up again and brought her down on his other side, swinging her over his head like a rag-doll and whipping her into the ground.

Letting out a roar of inarticulate and directionless rage Berserker raised the defeated Servant a third time, veins and muscles popping out against his skin as blood gushed from his open wounds with more intensity. He slammed Rider into the ground a final time and held her down against the shatter floor of her palace.

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