Hidden 3 mos ago Post by TGM
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TGM A Clichéd Tsundere™

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Location: The Laughing Worg Tavern, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



“Sieg. Jimmy. James. Oh my god.” Sif stammered as she found her brother storming off before getting into a fight with Graves, or at the very least trying to.

It was all a bad dream–a dream that Sif had seen a hundred times before, a dream that existed long before she entered the dreamscape and dragged her brother back into her life. Much like when she was younger, she just couldn’t stop it.

Her brother was arrogant, stubborn, and bullish, and nothing really changed about that when he entered Pariah Online and made the persona that was Siegfried. In fact, it made him even worse than he had been back in her parent’s three bedroom house on the west end of Kansas City. She never knew what the arguments were about, but she remembered the yelling and the sound of broken glass. Whenever he got like this it was like a memory sinkhole that she couldn’t control and she hated it. Worst of all, when he got like this there was no stopping it.

“Let it run its course.” The words ran through her head like a cancer. “Focus on your studies.”

Seele’s eyes connected with hers and she felt utterly helpless.

She had magic, but nothing really that could stop what was happening. She was a full-fledged support. Sure, she had some offensive spells but nothing that could work. Her brain went full speed through her spellbook in her head, frantically trying to figure something out. She mumbled as she did so, until Seele tried her own tactic as Jimmy shrugged before continuing outside. Worst part of it all is the comment he said to further goad Graves into following him.

“Might be the last time you see her. Should probably think about that.”
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Supermaxx
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Supermaxx dumbass

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Location: Laughing Worg Tavern -- City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria


That ravenous thing in Graves’ chest thrummed with anticipation at the coming feeding. It could taste the blood in the air before it’d even been spilled, drawing Graves toward Sieg like a mad dog pulling at its leash. The man was moments from bounding across the tavern and tearing into Siegfried’s back when he felt something pull him back. Something strong, determined. He was surprised when he saw Seele ‘round his arm.

Though her words were whispered they carried the weight of her intent in them. She all but pleaded for him to not go through with this. Sig shouldn’t be the focus of his anger. Graves shouldn’t rise to his taunts. Be the better person. It was all shit he’d heard before and gotten far too used to ignoring. But something about the look in her eye- the way she threatened to hold him down herself- gave him pause.

‘Maybe she’s-‘

That line of thought came to a violently abrupt halt when he heard the last of Sig’s taunts from across the room.

“Might be the last time you see her. Should probably think about that.”

Simmering anger turned to a boil. It filled his chest, his throat and his face with heat. Blood pounded in his ears, thundering like a drum. If Seele said anything else he didn’t hear it. His vision was darkening. Control slipping away. That little voice in the depths of his guts screamed in exhilaration, demanding its tithe of blood. And Graves was glad to indulge it.

The knife left it’s sheathe on his hip in a quick, fluid motion. He ran it along the length of his arm- careful to avoid Seele’s fingers- cutting away his sleeve and tearing a deep groove in his flesh until it was drenched in crimson. It flowed along his body, writhing like some living thing, until it came to rest around his fist like a bloody gauntlet. The pain only enticed him further.

Graves barely registered that he was doing anything as he lifted his arm to toss Seele away. His mind was consumed by the desire to tear Siegfried apart for- for what?- for everything. For everything he’d said. Everything he’d done. Everything he hadn’t.

Knife in one hand and red iron wrapped ‘round the other, he charged out the door and into the street.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Mcmolly
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Location:The City of Thorinn, Aetheria


There was no need to throw her off, Seele yanked her hand away the moment Graves drew his knife, stumbling back into the table with a yelp. For a moment she worried he might try to stab Siegfried in the back, but then she realized it was much worse than that. Blood pooled unnaturally in his hand, rushing and shaping with purpose until he’d made himself a hemorrhagic glove of pain. Suddenly, stabbing became the least of their worries.

Graves wasn’t just a brutal fighter, he was a warrior. He’d fought beasts and players alike and he did not have a reputation for losing. Granted, Seele wasn’t familiar with Siegfried’s own track record, and while he certainly seemed like the capable sort, that hardly mattered. Either Graves would run him over, or run himself ragged, or worse. God, it could get so much worse.
turnitoffturnitoffturnitoffturnitoffturnitoff

She scrambled back to her feet. “Jeez, jeez, jeez—Sif!” she shouted, hoping to snap the girl out of whatever trance had her grasped so firmly. “Brother—help—get—get your brother!”

Shackles formed around Seele’s wrists, and she bolted after Graves, shouldering through the door onto the street. Her eyes found Siegfried immediately and she snapped her fingers at him. The air around him briefly glinted with dull violet light, and with another snap, the same thing happened around Graves. Cracks appeared in her chains, not enough to break them, but she had a feeling she’d be throwing more shields out. Shackled as she was, the ones she created were weaker than normal—they wouldn’t hold up to real magic, or a heavy assault, but she hoped they’d take a few punches.

Her fingers formed a gun and she took aim at Graves’s back, but hesitated. Shielding them was one thing, but debuffing her friends? That couldn’t really be necessary, could it? All she needed to do was keep them protected long enough to break her chains. Then, hopefully, she could anchor Graves down and Sif could get Siegfried to walk away. He was reasonable enough to do that, right? Sif could convince him, right?

Right?
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by TGM
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TGM A Clichéd Tsundere™

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Location: Trade District Markets, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



By the time Graves and Siegfried had gotten into their altercation, the group of four that had left had made it well into the markets and not that far from the doors of Mystic Prophecy.

Rael still wasn’t sure about how the interactions would go. The last time Rael and Graves had visited they had asked Priscilica, the new interim leader of the group, if she needed anything and she didn’t exactly give them a list of things. It was a group of smart people who had money lying around, so it wasn’t like they would be in danger with the new motion for taxation. Ideally, Rael just wanted to be away from the tavern and do something and Benkei had the excuse of wanting to look into apprenticeships. What was the list Sif had rambled about? Check in with anyone they knew. Communicate with craftsmen organizations. Try to get an audience with the queen.

It was still very early. But Kazuki hadn't had much luck, so she wondered how they could fix that.

“So Mystic’s right here.” Rael mumbled as the early morning sun shined upon the group; her eyes glancing back before her hand motioning toward a different direction, upward to the left. Toward the castle that overlooked the city. “...‘less you wanna do something else.”




Location: City Streets, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



Siegfried should’ve been scared.

But he wasn’t. Morons. Bullies. People who got people hurt through their bad decisions. Every friend he had in Kansas City had been like that and after the accident he had sworn he wouldn’t stand by and let it happen again. That wasn’t even accounting for his parents and what he had to endure while his sister was treated like a prized turkey. It was part of why he wanted to become an electrician–to do something where his sister didn’t need to rely on their parents and their get rich quick schemes or their constant ways of abusing their kids. That aside, he knew Graves was a good guy. He wasn’t like Siegfried’s parents; he led the group, did the dirty work, and probably had good intentions. But he didn’t have the courage to tell Seele it was a bad idea. Just like Siegfried–Jimmy didn’t tell his friend David it was a bad idea to do what he did. By morning David was in the morgue.

Graves was outside of the tavern now, staring at him with as much rage as he showed the ogre in the dungeon. Good. He got under his skin. When Sif scrambled outside not too far behind him, it didn’t shake him. He gave her a look–stay out of this; let it happen..

The blood knight did not wait for a remark to start the fight.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Supermaxx
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Location: City Streets -- City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria


Graves fought with the speed and ferocity of a feral animal. He flung himself at Siegfried without a moment's hesitation- no prodding at his defenses, no harsh words, no final chance to solve this amicably. Sig had his chance to back down. Had his chance to swallow that last barb and walk away. But he'd known just where to shove the knife to piss Graves off and he'd taken the stab. Now it'd cost him, perhaps dearly.

The blade danced in the air in wild, unpredictable arcs. It would dash forward as if to strike only to flutter away and leave an opening for a gaunleted fist to slam into whatever opening it had exposed. Never let up. Never give him a moment to breathe. Keep stepping forward into his space, always forcing the retreat. If Sig stopped he'd get a knife in the gut.

There's a tight cluster of blood vessels just above the eye. A quick, surface level slash would send a gush of crimson flowing into a man's eyes. The shoulder socket was a ripe target, too: a good few inches in and he'd sever the axillary artery and damage the nerve cluster that controlled the arm, paralyzing it. Stab through the inner thigh, targeting the femoral nerve to lock his hips in place. Graves knew every inch of the human body. Knew just where to cut to break it. If he'd wanted, he could kill Siegfried right there with one flick of his wrist.

Feint with the knife. Draw attention away from other hand. Slash the jugular. Watch him fucking die-

It took all his willpower to drown out that ravenous little thing in his chest. No killing blows. Nothing that would paralyze him. Just small, light cuts. Make him bleed. Make him hurt. Never more than that. The blade was more of a distraction, anyway; amateur duelists always focused on their opponent's weapon rather than their stance. You could always tell what someone was planning to do based on how they stood, how they planted their feet or rotated their hips. Graves had fought more player than Sieg had probably even seen. He'd danced with the masters of the art and proved himself worthy time and time again. Dungeon delving and slaying monsters was fun, to be sure, but this?

This was his profession.

'Not doing real damage. He's shielded. The girl.'

Seele, still playing hero even now. It made his blood boil watching her protect the man that so obviously didn't give a shit if she lived or died. That so callously mocked her potential brutal murder. All she wanted was to help people. Save lives. And this is the thanks she gets from spineless, gutless little rats like Sig.

'Supports are the backbone of a party. Tear them apart and their allies crumble.'

Why did she insist on protecting him? This was a lesson he needed to learn. He needed a dose of humility- of respect- beaten into his fragile skull.

'You can't stop him until she's dealt with.'

How could he possibly convince her? She wouldn't understand. Couldn't.

'She trusts you implicitly. You'd be on her before she even knows what's happening. It'd be quick.'

What?

'She's weak. Why the fuck was he thinking- Strike the temple and she crumples.' Couldn't get it out of his- 'She won't even feel it.'

He felt himself slipping further. The pounding sound of blood in his ears was rising to a crescendo. He cut deeper. Struck harder. His heart beat inside his throat. He hadn't realized he was losing control until it was gone. Until he shoved Siegfried back and rounded on Seele.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by TGM
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TGM A Clichéd Tsundere™

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Location: City Streets, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



Siegfried had expected a brawl, two men solving out their issues fist-to-fist; but what he received was something entirely different. Graves came at him like a beast, an unstoppable force. Denizens and Wayfarers on their way to the Worg had stopped in their place, if they hadn’t immediately reconsidered their life decisions and made their way elsewhere as the two men went at each other like blurs in the street before the tavern, one full of rage and the other unrelenting as he moved between each strike, spinning his feet to move.

The ginger-haired man wasn’t as good as Rael with this sort of dance, but where he faltered Seele’s magic helped him greatly. Siegfried had made his remarks, but whatever he said… it wasn’t like throwing punches. Graves wasn’t hearing it; he wasn’t listening.

It became so dire Siegfried had to actually draw his weapon, but then just as Graves pounded against the barrier protecting Siegfried from the blood knight’s skill and magic, he turned and… the tone of the fight changed for a second time.

He’s going after Seele? What? He’s–

Siegfried’s brows narrowed. When he told Graves he had doomed Seele to her death he didn’t mean he personally dug the knife into her heart. This was impossible, crazy, and made no sense. What kind of magic did Graves use that it made him like this? There was no time to think about why and how. His legs surged with enhancement magic as the air behind him began to murmur and instantly a gust of wind propelled him over the blood knight and in front of Seele. The Hero-Blacksmith of Thorinn did not expect he would have to fight a dungeon where the boss was Graves, but then again, that’s exactly what this appeared to be.

“Have you lost your goddamn mind you stupid idiot?!” He shouted as he slammed his feet into the earth and prepared to block Graves’ onslaught, the stone wrapping around his feet as he did so. Earth Magic. Wind Magic. Alteration Magic. The only three he knew how to use.

“Sif! Shields! Debuffs! Now!” He commanded, “Seele, I hope you have a good fucking plan!”
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Mcmolly
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Location:The City of Thorinn, Aetheria


It was like time had stopped to gasp.

Graves spun and Seele froze, everything froze. The moment their eyes met was pulled taut at both ends, and yet if it had gone on forever she doubted she could have deciphered what she saw there. He hardly seemed sane. He hardly seemed human. She hadn’t recoiled because even as he reared on her she thought: ‘He won’t hurt me. He wouldn’t. He’s grumpy but he’s not…’

God, she didn’t know his name. It was a silly thing to think, especially as something that could very well have been her last thought, but it was all that came to mind. She wished she knew his name.
say it
Time caught its breath, the moment snapped to.

Siegfried was in front of her. Seele caught herself before she stumbled onto her rear. Focus. Focus. Her body was two steps ahead of her. Pressing the barrel of her finger-gun to Siegfried’s back, she fired a Thrill of strength through him. He barked orders to Sif. Caster. Support. She whirled her hand and shot the girl with a spell-powered Thrill and a snapped an Aegis of protection around her for good measure.

In the back of their minds, they’d hear a young voice humming happily.

The Shackles continued to crack.

“Don’t hurt him!” She shouted. It wasn’t a cry for mercy, it was an order to Siegfried. She just needed a few moments. A few moments and some spells.

Seele invoked The Fivefold Path and gave Graves both barrels. A double-dose of strength-debuffs came hurtling his way like bolts of violet lighting. Graves was fast, and had her hopelessly trumped in agility; if her spells hit, then they hit, but she wasn’t banking on it. They didn’t need to, they just needed to buy time.

The chains binding her began to shimmer and crackle. Just a few moments more…
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Supermaxx
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Location: City Streets -- City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria


Graves' skull was a pressure cooker seconds from exploding. A high-pitched, piercing wail filled his ears. It felt like someone was pressing their thumbs into his eyes from in his head. Every inch of his body shook from the overdose of adrenaline flooding his veins. When his assault began the look on his face was one of indignant rage: a desire to get one back on someone that had hurt him. Now, as he wheeled on Seele, marching toward her with malicious intent, his face was a mix of confusion and sheer, unadulterated rapture. Every strike from Siegfried sent a pulse of delight through him. Every time Graves blade kissed flesh he was practically giddy with glee. The smell of blood filled his nostrils, urging him onward.

It was the best high of his fuckin' life.

This was how Graves' magic worked in practice: he needed to either cause or endure pain enough to make blood flow. No sane human being would ever throw themselves into harms way like that without radically altering their natural instinct toward self-preservation- so that's precisely what Graves' mentor taught him what to do. Dark magic turned what ought to have been pain to pleasure. It sent waves of dopamine and serotonin into his brain every time it registered the scent of blood. Most pedestrian drugs with this level of intensity would've fried his nerve clusters eventually.

Most of those drugs didn't come packed with a healing factor.

The strength was stripped from his arms as Seele desperately worked her magic. He could hear the unnerving, unintelligible whispers that came with her hexes. That ravenous thing in his chest saw it as further excuse to...neutralize her.

Somewhere in the depths of his mind Andrew knew this was wrong. He needed to stop himself. Needed to fight the urge to fill his base, ugly needs before he hurt someone. Before he hurt Missy.

'Please, God, stop. Please.'

Let it happen.

'Just fucking stop yourself already.'

It'll be over sooner if you just let go.

"P-please..." Graves managed the barest of whispers, stiffled between sucking coughs.

Not like they'll forgive this anyway. Might as well let it ride.

For the briefest moment Graves stopped swinging down at Siegfried. He held the knife in the air over him, staring down into the boy's eyes with a glassy, indeterminate ecstasy. His hand shaking nigh-uncontrollably, he turned the blade around in his palm until it was facing inward- and jabbed it down into his chest, just under the clavicle. A pained roar ate at his throat as he pulled the weapon free only to slam it back into place in the same place again, and then a third time, until finally he struck the right section of nerves for his fingers to go limp. The knife clattered to the floor and Graves stumbled onto a knee.

He couldn't even look Siegfried in the face as he muttered to him: "E-end...it."
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by TGM
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TGM A Clichéd Tsundere™

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Location: City Streets, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



This guy was freakin’ nuts!

Siegfried was glad the other members of the group like Alex and Artemis had stayed inside the tavern and not made it outside. In his mind, nobody should’ve had to see this kind of shit. It was unsettling and ultimately made little-to-no sense. Sometimes in the world of Pariah Siegfried forgot they were in this intrinsic magical world of sorcerers and monsters; sometimes he thought he was back in Kansas, but then something would always bring him back to earth. Graves breaking free of his weird magical bloodlust or whatever it was and turning his own knife on himself made him raise an eyebrow, though he still maintained his guard as Sif and Seele did their thing.

When the blood knight asked him to end it, his face hardened and he slammed his spear into the stone path underneath their feet as the knife clattered downward.

It was also when he punched Graves in the face. Hard enough to send him flying back.

As Graves went flying backward Siegfried kneeled down on the ground looking at the knife itself. As a weaponsmith there might’ve been something he picked up about the item now that he had a closer look at it. His voice lowered as he spoke to Seele and his sister, as if looking to them to do him a “solid”.

“Heal him.” He grumbled as he used wind magic to clear the blood from the knife. “Ask questions later.”

As far as he knew, the knife wasn’t one of the game's weird ancient artifacts. No distinct carvings. No weird metal inscriptions. Just a knife.

While Siegfried had intended to make a point, the only thing he came out of the fight with was that Graves’ abilities were spookier than anybody knew. They just hadn’t noticed because he had always directed it at things like rats, goblins, and ogres before. His eyes looked forward as Sif moved to heal his wounds. What kind of questions could someone ask when the dust settled? A twisting feeling encircled his gut and he wasn’t sure how he was going to handle this. If a little bit of rude statements could get him like this, how would they fare if he turned on them? What if a demon got inside his head? He discarded the thoughts. He wasn’t Benkei. He wasn’t the leader. He looked to Seele and felt a twinge of guilt. Had he not started the whole fight she wouldn’t have had her friend try to kill her. He owed her something. Her plan was still stupid, though.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Mcmolly
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Location:The City of Thorinn, Aetheria


Time’s lungs were full, this time it was Seele doing the gasping.

Graves dropped his knife, limp, whimpering. Whatever it was he asked of Siegfried, he got a fist instead. It sent him tumbling back, blood lining the whole way—so much blood, oh god. Oh god. He’d stabbed himself. He’d stabbed himself in the chest.

Siegfried seemed entirely unphased, more preoccupied with the knife. He absently asked them to heal Graves, but…she couldn’t do that. Seele wasn’t a healer. She was a support, but she hadn’t—pointedly hadn’t—taken a single healing spell anywhere along the way. Her place was to keep people from reaching the edge, not to pull them from the depths. Now, staring at her friend bleeding on the ground, she didn’t know what felt worse: the helplessness, or the fact that she didn’t regret her choice.

Sif was a support though, surely she had something in her kit that could knit him back together. He might be grumpy about it, but at least he’d be breathing, and alive, and—moving.

He was still moving.

He was still going.

“Stop!” she yelled to Sif, in the same moment that her Shackles broke. The arcane crack that accompanied it did not snuff out her voice, but rather carried it, amplified it, distorted her cry into a dozen different tones and emotions that all withered in the air as quick as a licked wick.
don’t leave me

The air around her became charged with a ghostly puissance, like the whining before lightning struck. She hunched low, hands digging into imaginary earth, and then rose with slow, shaking effort as though she were lifting something massive. Her teeth grated together, her fingers stiffened and curled and began to blacken at their tips. The cobblestones around Graves rippled and began to bubble, boiling, roiling like waves whipped in storm winds. Like something was rising to the surface.

I dreamed I was a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea.
Don’t Leave me
The Anchor breached. The air smeared in thick jets around him, three, six, a dozen, two dozen.DON’T LEAVE METhey shimmered unnaturally, not glowing but rather pushing off the light around them, revealing in negative their ghostly, chain-like forms. Each link was as thick as war hammer, and as wide as a person’s shoulders.DON’T LEAVE ME

Graves had noticed the whisperings when he’d taken Seele’s debuffs, but in his haze he may not have realized that the voice uttering them was different. When she shielded him, when she strengthened him, it was her in his ear, in his mind, making promises, asking for promises in return.DON’T LEAVE METhis was different.

This was not Seele’s voice.DON’T LEAVE ME

And it was getting closer. It was coming from the chains. No, it was coming from his head and it was speaking to the chains. It was the chains speaking to him.

Don’t leave me. It said. The air filled with the scent of petrichor. Don’t leave me.

They surrounded him, a twisting, tightening maze between him and Sif. Don’t leave me. Closing in. Pulling forever up and down, endless, faster don’t leave me. The sound of waves lapping stone don’t leave me. How deep was the terrestrial sea beneath him that it could harbor these things these chains that were not alive but they spoke DON’T LEAVE ME they screamed DON’T LEAVE ME this voice this little voice it was so clear in his head DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME but it was garbled and blurry it was submerged it was an anchor DON’T LEAVE ME IT’S SO COLD DON’T LEAVE ME PLEASE PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS

The chains ran faster they ran closer they ran tighter they wanted him they wanted to hold him keep him DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME Don’t leave me DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME Over and over and over so soft so weak but so loud and so there and DON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE MEDON’T LEAVE ME DON’T LEAVE ME Don’t Leave Me Don’t Leave Me Don’t Leave me don’t leave me don’t leave me don’t leave me dontleaveme dontleaveme dontleaveme dontleavemedontleave medontleave medontleavemedontleavemedontleavemedontleavemedontleavemedontleavemedontleavemedontleavemedontleaveme
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Supermaxx
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Location: City Streets -- City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria


Pain rippled through every facet of his being. Body broken. Blood flooded freely from the tears in his chest, his arm, his face. He'd lost his footing somehow, landed several feet away from where he'd started. Couldn't place how, or why. Thumping in his head like a jackhammer was tearing out of his brain and trying to get through his skull next. Taste of iron and vomit filled his mouth. Scent of blood- so much blood- overwhelming his nostrils. Vision was blurred from sweat, tears, other shit he couldn't place.

Graves was drowning in sensation. The magic in his veins was working overtime to block out the intense pain; to replace it with exhilaration and a need for continued violence. Those feelings tore at his attention until he felt like he'd split in half- tear straight down the center until there was a sickening snap of his halves coming apart.

He saw something in front of him. A shape, dark, impossible to place. His brain screamed threat. Urged him to act when he could barely keep breathing. Felt hands on his body and fear forced him to move. Reaching out, Graves grabbed their arm and attempted to yank them down to the ground with him. Squeeze, break the hand, twist it til their vision goes white.

'Stop stop stop stop-'

'You'll die if you don't.'

Then he felt the ground shift underneath him. Heard the air twisting, bubbling, turning in ways it was never meant to. Dozens of shapes in his vision, even less defined than the person he'd grabbed. Ephemeral, phantom things, dragged up from the depths of hell to take him there. He'd never been particularly religious but if someone told him this was how the sinful were delivered to the lake of fire he'd believe them. It took Graves a moment to recognize something approaching speech in his ears. Whispers, a voice unfamiliar, growing louder and louder as something wrapped about his form and pinned him to the ground. Cold iron appeared around his wrists, heavier than anything he'd ever felt before.

'What the fuck? What the fuck?!'

The voice in his mind screamed, anguished and desperate and pleading. Terror seized his throat as he screamed, too, thrashing in a vain attempt to escape whatever tormentor had wished this upon him. He dropped whoever he'd grabbed and wrapped his good arm around himself, as if it might somehow shield him from the cacophony in his mind. The thundering of waves against the cliffs swam in his ears. Water filled his lungs yet he could not drown.

we deserve this

He bucked, thrashed, fought with all his draining might to break free from his shackles. He must've looked a madman the way he bashed his skull against the ground, the way he kicked and tore and screamed. Oh how he screamed. Every terrible dream he'd had since the Glitch came roaring back into his head. Memories of all the people he'd failed. The family he'd hurt. The strangers that had died under his watch. Enos' body sanguinated. Will, lying on his back with vomit in his throat.

With one last howl Graves lifted his head as high as he could and brought it back down against the stone. The voice went silent.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by JessieTargaryen
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JessieTargaryen Celestial Queen-in-Waiting

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Location: The Laughing Worg Tavern -- The City of Thorinn, Aetheria


The situation seemed to very rapidly take a turn for the worse before Artemis' eyes. While she wasn't overly eager on the plan at hand, fearing for the life of one of the newfound friends she had made, it seemed another in the group had much stronger opinions than she. Siegfried, was it? She wasn't certain of their name, but his determined voice shook her from being lost in her thoughts. Her eyes widened as she could feel the tension suddenly shoot up in the tavern. Becoming so thick, that she swore she could see electricity sparking between Graves and Siegfried.

She wanted to speak up, to tell the two to calm themselves... yet found her voice caught in her throat. Who was she, trying to barge into a group and tell them what not to do? Surely Seele would get a grip of the two, even as she moved between them. Artemis stayed silent, slinking back into her seat in silence, though she kept a hand on Graves' wrist in a move she hoped might bring him back from the dangerously escalating tensions. Why did they have to fight over this? She understood why they weren't seeing eye to eye on the plan but did it really warrant going at each others' throats? Artemis shook her head, hoping that Seele had what it took to stop the two from coming to blows.

She was wrong. Oh, she was terribly wrong. Her eyes shot wide as Graves yanked away from both Seele and her own hand, the two men making for the door as if to duke it out in the streets. N-no! Don't do this! She wordlessly pleaded, even as the woman sprung to her feet to follow after them. Still, she wasn't certain what she could do to stop them. After all, she had no clue just how dangerous these two might be once they got into it. Still, Artemis felt she had to try to do something to stop their meaningless fight! With a hint of determination in her heart, she followed the others out into the street where the fight seemed to just be getting started...

...And was immediately hit with a scene of horror. Blood, a mess of the crimson liquid was clearly visible on Graves and in their immediate surroundings. Seele seemed to be casting something on the two fighting, while the other involved seemed caught off guard by the actions of Graves. Her momentum from earlier stopped as the previous determination died in her chest, clear as if Graves' soaked knife had found its home there. Her eyes widened in horror as Artemis took an unknowing step back, towards the safety of the tavern. Away from the violent scene.

Suddenly the air cooled, and the world darkened around them. The sounds of the tavern faded, and the street disappeared. Graves, Seele, and Siegfried, all disappeared in the moment. Ghostly mirages of those she had known before covered their forms instead. Her back pressed into the door, yet instead of the wooden tavern door, she felt the cold stone door from that horrid dungeon. Rodents swarmed, and a cacophony of screams roared through her ears.

Light tore back through her vision, and the air warmed once more as that arcane crack ripped through the air. Then scene reverted to modern horror. Seele's chains tore towards Graves, who had just finished stabbing himself in the chest. The girl stumbled lightly as the sickly scent of blood hit her nose. Making her wond-

The dark returned. She had to get out of here! The screams had stopped, replaced by a horrific moaning of people who had lost the ability to resist their pain. The scents of their wounds filled the room, and the scent of the swarming rats, along with their horrid screeches assaulted her. They turned to lu-

Light burst forth once more. Seele's chains gripped harder, tighter around Graves' form. Covering him despite the hideous wounds he had inflicted upon himself. This was wrong, everything was wrong.

Light.

Dark.

Light.

Dark.

Light.

Dark.

"MAKE IT STOP!" The girl screamed out, uncertain if she was outside the tavern or hidden deep below in that dungeon once more. Her frantic mind flipped between two scenes, even as only one certainty was drawn forth: Her friends, new and old, were in peril. She was the only common factor between them. She was the cause, the only conclusion her mind could reach. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she tried to make sense of everything, anything. The scenes continued to violently change before her, and in her panic Artemis moved without thinking. Fingers danced along her bow, igniting the Fos rune, even as a glimmering-white arrow marking Ekrixi appeared in her bow. She had to distract these monsters her friends, break their attention from the violence.

She fired, straight into an empty portion of the dungeon street. Upon its impact, the spell created a small explosion of blinding light and a mighty roar from the explosive impact. AS the effects faded, a whimpered, weakened "Just stop!" fled Artemis' mouth, as the girl fell to her knees in the street, and promptly ejected the contents of her last meal onto the street next to her.

"S-stop dying..." She said in a soft whine, pleading with anybody who might be listening to the poor, broken girl.


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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Hero
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Kazuki's brow furrowed as he took a moment to think. He knew realistically he would prefer to avoid Mystic Prophecy, but if they didn't have a genuine reason to visit, then showing up without reason would likely result in unneeded tension. In truth, everyone was aimless--Benkei had the right of mind seeking out an apprenticeship, but what the next step would be was anyone's guess.

His mind still swum a touch, but it was enough that realistically he could think of a few options they could pursue here and now: seek income, seek a way to get materials, and learn valuable skills. There was, for once, a minor silver lining; the way the skill system worked in this game paralleled real life, so all you had to do was practice enough to get good at something. Real-life skills translated nicely as well, and he figured quick learners had some sort of advantage.

"If Priscillica needs something, I feel she would appreciate us stopping by," He noted out loud. "Otherwise...perhaps we could ask the townfolk if they're in need of help? Isn't that how you get sidequests for extra income sometimes?"


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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Lemons
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"We shouldn't need to have a job from Pris to talk with them," Alja huffed out. "You've heard everything that's going on. Wayfarers aren't the most well-liked group right now, so the more of us there are, the better chance we have to make it right. Keeping a line of communication open is a lot easier than reopening a broken one." She walked up to the door, hesitating in front of it.

If she was honest, she was scared of going into Mystic Prophecy herself. Every time she'd been in this guild hall before, it had been like a home. Now, as the silence yawned, it felt more like a tomb. But there was no point in running away. Kazuki was only half the reason she'd been so insistent on coming here. There were people here that she liked, like Pris. People she borderline needed, like Leaves. And somewhere back there was Luci, surviving on anger and spite. Maybe, just like after Arnaakus, she couldn't do anything to help her. But, just like after Arnaakus, damn sure she was going to try. Rael and Benkei could could come if they wanted; she rather hoped they would. But Kazuki wasn't getting out of here without going in. He might have visited Prophecy post-glitch before. He might not have; she wasn't sure. But if he had, then it hadn't. Been. Enough.

So she couldn't give him an out. She couldn't give him any way to avoid this, or else it would never happen. He might hate her after this. That was fine. He could hate her all he liked. But she knew very well what desperate guilt gone unaddressed turned into, and she wasn't keen on turning him over to it.

She turned to the three behind her, judging the distance from her to Kazuki. "Come if you're comin', we don't have all day!"

Then, with one swift motion, she yanked the door open, snatched Kazuki's wrist, and pulled him inside with her.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by TGM
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Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



“Idiot…” Rael sighed as Alja barged into the chapterhouse without even considering knocking.

It seemed no matter who was in her group, she always stuck with someone who didn’t think before they did things. At least with Graves he was smart enough to not forget knocking was customary. It struck her as strange given the disappearances of wayfarers that Seele had mentioned that Mystic wasn’t locked up like Fuchū Prison, though.

Did Priscilica not consider the threat that dire, or was it something that they weren’t particularly aware of yet? The idea that one of the most prominent wayfarer groups being unaware of that kind of thing didn’t settle in her mind particularly well, but then again it wasn’t like Mystic was exactly in a good state. Pris and Shev were the only ones who were mostly unaffected by the loss of Enos and Aaginim; and that wasn’t accounting for the schism that had occurred before the glitch. Mystic was far from being at full power and probably would be for awhile. The red-haired Japanese girl shrugged off the thought, sighing as she followed Alja into the halls.

It didn’t take long for the group to run into one of the members, given they had basically kicked in the doors and made a big show of showing up. Unfortunately, the first one they ran into was as cold and prickly as the last time Rael and Kazuki had shown up at Mystic. With her hand on the hilt of her sword, said member moved from one of the common rooms into the entranceway. Upon seeing that it was Alja leading the charge she did seem to relax her position, though not completely.

“Ah. Here I was worried over nothing.” Luci remarked as her eyes moved from Alja to Kazuki, Benkei, and finally to Rael. “What do you need. I assume you are here for a reason.”

Rael crossed her arms, Alja wanted to barge in so she could bother with dealing with the swordsinger herself.
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Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria




“What do you need. I assume you are here for a reason.”

Benkei’s heart sank the moment his eyes fell to Luci. He was praying for Priscillica or Leaves to be there first, but the ice queen herself was here. Who does she hate more? You? Or Kazuki? He couldn’t save Aaginim’s life, but you led the team. It’s your fault most of all. Benkei clenched his fist tightly, trying to drive out all the thoughts constantly spiraling in the back of his head.

It was probably the most surprising thing that he actually spoke up first, among the whole group. “You’re probably aware that Wayfairers are disappearing. And not just by dungeons or out in the field.” He felt the gap between the two; the endless schism that separated the two. She had lost so much. And he was standing here with his brother. Was it right for him to be here? ”If we are to survive here for the time being, we have to work together. Whether it’s information or protecting one another. To the people of this city, we’re nothing more than refugees now, and that paints a target on the back of everyone.”

If there was one thing he wanted above all else now, it was to prevent any more tragedies like they’d experienced. Benkei never wanted to see that pain again.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by TGM
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Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



“No, I am not aware.”

It didn’t surprise her, but had she been aware? Not really. Between the new economic demands and the difficulty reaching out to other members several kingdoms over, it wasn’t in hers or Priscilica’s purview to play the game like they used to.

Her eyes met Benkei’s, carefully looking at his body language. Anxiety. Tension. His fist was curled and although he was speaking to her like he would before there was something to it that she couldn’t place, something that indicated concern and worry. Did he feel guilty about what they all had survived? Maybe. If they did, part of her wanted to feel content with that conclusion but another part of her felt unnerved by it. She had said some strong, in-the-moment things to Kazuki. She had lost her fiance and her best friend. Although the brothers had little to do with it, she was still coming to terms with accepting that; she was having trouble coming to terms with accepting anything at the moment. It was why she spent so much time practicing her technique. She was basically becoming a shut-in.

“Are you aware that only two of us are able to do anything around here?” She remarked, colder than she intended. “I’ve been struggling getting back to normal. If Pris and Shev were not here…”

She cleared her throat. This wasn’t any of their problems. She didn’t need to burden their whole group and its stability because of her and Leaves psychological downpour, after all.

“Yes. Refugees. Right. I don’t know what you want from me, Pris already opened the doors for your entire group. I don’t know anything about these disappearances. What could I possibly help you with?”
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Kazuki felt that sometimes Alja either didn't listen or just didn't understand what he said. He supposed it was typical for other people to act before thinking, but he didn't put up any protest as she dragged him in. Unfortunately, he was as wimpy in the game as he was in real life, and that meant getting away from the much-stronger Alja was fruitless. He did roll his eyes a touch, mumbling, "Income from NPCs, not other people." as he was pulled along.

He wasn't sure what to say to Luci's words, though for once it wasn't out of guilt. He still had no idea why they were here only to find that everyone was, once again, clueless as to what to do. He wasn't surprised Luci didn't know anything since she seemed to not be a fan of doing anything she deemed unimportant.

Letting out a small sigh, he figured he should speak up. "Do you have any idea what the other guilds are doing, then?" He asked.


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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by TGM
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Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse, The City-State of Thorinn, Aetheria



“The guilds we associated with prior to the glitch…”

Luci looked to Kazuki, considering the question. Since Priscilica took over in Aag’s… absence… she had done everything in her power to coordinate with the limited relationships they had. She wasn’t going to reach out to Obsidian Vanguard, though she was sure her old friends were having a parade over the state of things. Other larger guilds in the kingdom had been working with Pris or Pris was in the process of convincing them. So many guilds had fractured or broken down after the glitch, and lacking Aaginim's charisma and their traditional numbers Luci wasn't sure if Mystic had any sway in getting some of the more obtuse guild leaders to play ball. It was a reality Luci had told Pris about but the pink-haired wizard refused to listen to her logic because she was emotionally compromised.

“Helen’s Battalion has devoted most of their time to protecting people on the roads and containing wayfarer unrest. Avalon Academy is trying to coordinate a dungeon defense initiative, they were here yesterday. Obsidian…” She paused, her feelings on Obsidian Vanguard creeping into her mind and those who knew the history between Vanguard and Mystic Prophecy would not be surprised at such pause. “...Obsidian Vanguard, last I heard, had moved eastward. I have no idea what they are doing.”

She leaned back against one of the walls. “There are others, but it's a lot of work. Pris went out to visit another guild a few minutes ago. The Children of Letria. Leader's not been a fan of us in the past. I don't know. Maybe you could have some better luck.”
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by HokumPocus
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Alex flipped through his own notes with a quiet sort of shame that adults had to keep to themselves. Seele's own discoveries and strategies had revealed quite a few spots in his ideas, and he found himself coming to terms with a pang of self-consciousness that seemed out of place for a grown-up. Ironically, one of his primary motivations had been to conduct research in a way that avoided any sort of tunnel vision or incomplete conclusions, and now he'd realized he was headed for a similar outcome if nothing were to change. He had been too focused on the human element rather than the logistics involved in travel routes and locations. His former guild had chastised him for that often. He was a people person who preferred talking it out in contrast to the more pen and paper approach his brother and the rest had favored.

"Still good." He muttered, updating his notes with Seele's findings. "We can... still do my thingy. Good to have a lot of perspectives." He could combine them too. Interviews conducted with an emphasis on the shady hotspots, possible witnesses that didn't show up in registries but inhabited the same areas as the disappeared, there was a lot of information to play with in front of him, and a lot of good moves to make.

A disagreement had sparked at some point, one which only escalated and later advanced outside. It worried him, but so did the mission at hand. The two would duke it out, the pain would register, and then they'd forget about it. Guys did that all the time. Alex wasn't thrilled at the prospect of using Seele like fishing bait, but it was the fast and punchy thing to do, and it seemed to him that they were already late to the trail. Their shouting eventually became lost within the noise of the tavern, and he went back to muttering to his notes.

"We can do it." He bit his tongue as he underlined a particularly confusing passage. The fighters would fight, the talkers would talk, the awkward ranger would figure something out within his labyrinth of scribbles.

Whoever was orchestrating this mess had a particular interest in wayfarers that had a harder time fighting back, to summarize their findings. In other words, they didn't want someone fighting back. That was a bad outcome for them, a condition an all-powerful force wouldn't be sporting. It was what galvanized Alex the most. He knew if you wanted to beat up a rogue or stealthy guy in a videogame, you wanted to take them on directly, where they're at their weakest. With the element of surprise propelling a head-on strike, he was confident things would be in their favor. They also had, for a lack of a better term that didn't sound psychopathic, a second shot. Artemis was fine with being goat in a dinosaur enclosure number two if things got to that point and Seele hadn't died. He brushed a stray hair back. He'd be number three, he silently decided, if he were able to find a way to pass off as a support character.

"Everyone's gonna be fine. We've been holding on, we can really do it."

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