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The Story So Far...






The time is now - 14:11pm - March 11th, 2045 - Undercity Region, Texas, USA
Hidden 8 mos ago Post by XianaEvermor
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XianaEvermor Tragic Villain

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[???? ??th, ???? - ??:??pm - ????????? ????, Low Orbit, ?-?]



[A ZombiesAndHyenas / XianaEvermor collaboration]


Eyes fluttered open to black. The tingling of nerves returning to their virgin state, untouched by pain or trauma crawled up her spine. The supernatural softness of her Tinker-made armor liner crumpled gently against her newborn skin as she stirred.

Bleat of static.

She violently tore the mask off her face as the abrasive light seared her retinas and the noise stabbed at her ears. It skittered across the ground, and her hair spilled out in purple waves down her shoulders. She writhed on the hard sterile tile as she curled into a fetal position, the hard leather stitching of her gloves scraping abrasively against her face as she pressed her palms into her eyes. Air lacerated her vocal cords as she raised her voice for the first time.

"Scheiße!"

Soft reset.

The woman sprawled on the ground for a long time before pushing herself up to her feet and staring out into the void. Where was she? As if in answer to her question a light flickered from the inside of her mask, faintly illuminating a sign. A familiar deep thunder thrummed beneath her feet as a Pendrake Arc Reactor Turbine spun up from deep within the facility and lights began clacking on sequentially. She squinted against the dull ache of her irises adjusting to light for the first time and an icy chill splashed down her back.

Terminal Asylum: Humanity's last hope.

"What have you done, Witch?" she whispered.

"Life-sign detected, re-initializing life support systems," the soothing British alto of the facility AI announced over the PA. She stood aghast as the massive observation dome overhead slowly opened, allowing her to gaze out at the softly flickering sphere of dimensional energy encasing the last square mile of unconsummated Earth floating in the void above the ruined planet.

"Subject Identified. Welcome home, Director."

From without came the sound of screeching, roaring, and a cacophonous rumble. Like a landslide or peal of thunder that never seemed to end, but never seemed to have had a beginning. The world was suffused in a violet-cerulean-teal-gray light. Cold, almost clinical, somehow.

The 'Earth' below was a warped thing. No dirt, nor stone, nor true soil was left. In place of these comforting familiarities was a thick layer of fine glassy white-gray powder. Curious shapes scuttled and scurried in the powder below. Some large enough to lend credence to the idea that perhaps dinosaurs of some variety had returned.

Others larger still.

On the horizon, a gargantuan shape strode through the world, half rotting, half frozen in glass. It bore fifteen limbs, some of which appeared to be nothing more than bone and ligament. All of which were twitching, stuttering through the world as if it were trying to... Teleport? Perhaps?

It had the shape of perhaps a tick, perhaps a frog, perhaps a badger. Chitin covered the whole of it, and though it was practically falling apart at the seams, the titanic monstrosity could be seen partially pulling itself back together. Thousands of smaller limbs thrashed, and where they passed, organics healed, while glass fell away.

It's head was lost in the thick cloud cover that swirled around it. And reality itself seemed to weep over its very existence. The body split into four segments, and the fourth was drooping, as if ready to rot away and slough off to the world so far below.
Power, of some sort, pulsed from the creature and reached for the sky. Reached outward, and ever higher, for the facsimile of a sun.

Gone was the warm yellow light of Sol. It's murderer sat where the sun had once rested. Wreathed in eight... nine... ten... eleven. Eleven ever circling, ever waving, ever moving tentacles of what could only be described as script.
Perhaps English, or some sort of code, or some unknowable language.

These tentacles reached out from a perfectly black sphere, sitting in the throne that the sun once held in the sky. Wherever they touched, creation screamed. Reality would bend around these limbs, and as one elephantine creature tried to scurry away on broken legs, the edge of one such tendril passed through it.

It's resulting scream was high enough to be heard even within the sanctuary. It's body gone, only the 'corpse' remained. A snapshot of the beast, mid struggle, encased in glass. Two seconds later, said glass sculpture crumbled into powder that matched perfectly with the 'sand' below its feet.

Somewhere, across the world, and yet only a mile or two away, amidst the ever-churning chaos, an eye creaked open against the weight of time immeasurable. A scream, truly unavoidable, ripped against the world at large.

It hit her like a ton of bricks. Standing and falling, both silent and screaming. All she could do was clap her hands over her ears to try and drown out the cacophony. She squeezed her eyes shut to avoid eye contact with the creature, though its v̷̻̓ó̴̙i̷̛͜d̶̝̈́l̸̰̔i̷̮͑g̷̭̿h̸̨̓ṱ̸̑ pierced through Eva's ũ̸̙̚n̸͇̫͕̐̕͝s̶̞͍̱͘e̸͙͍͔̒͑ë̵̮̗̀n̶̘̋́͋ ̴̜̓̏̒ḙ̴̢̊̓y̴̙̦͒̆̕e̴̜̪͙͛̊͝.

Even through the darkness she could see herself vibrating in resonance with the dimensional sphere containing the Asylum, a lavender hue still brushing off the roughshod green stitches of [̶̼̬͌̌B̴̟̃Å̷̠Ņ̶̺̉̐Í̵̺Ş̵̛̪̋Ḧ̴͔̗́̕Ḿ̶͈͐E̶̫̮̊̒N̶̹͆̇T̶̗͆]̶̖̄. All at once every cell in her body screamed. Blood spilled from her eyes, nose and mouth, and her body crashed to the hard tile dead. For one single blink, both an instant and an eternity, she was at peace fading into the void.
Hidden 8 mos ago 8 mos ago Post by XianaEvermor
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[???? ??th, ???? – 01:51am – Terminal Asylum, Low Orbit, ?-?]


[A ZombiesAndHyenas / XianaEvermor collaboration]


Eyes fluttered open to black. She stirred; the super-natural softness of her Tinker-made sheets crumpled gently against her newly reconstituted skin. Eva's hair spilled around her like straight platinum curtains, and the perfectly temperature-controlled air gently caressed her.

Hard Reset. The clock ticked over 01:51.

"Good morning, Director. [Sensitivity Preferences] have been re-enabled," greeted Monarch. The lights in her quarters slowly illuminated dim, and Eva rose out of her bed, dragging the sheet with her to shield her body. The Director shuddered. Even though her body was in perfect physical condition, her insides still sizzled at the phantom burns of her encounter with the Alien. Every time she blinked, she could still see its eye peering at her through the voidlight.

"Status," she whispered hoarsely.

"One thousand. Four-hundred. Twenty-three years have passed since the initiation of the Director's project. As predicted, the creature has spread to consume the entirety of our planet. It has not yet spread beyond our solar system by any observable means within our current scope.

"Once all life was subsumed, subject A-Zero stagnated as predicted, though has yet to die out. It appears to be in a self-perpetuating cycle of birthing new life which it then consumes to sustain itself. There does not appear to be any specific form or function to the life-forms it creates."


She took a moment to process this information as she strode back out into the observation dome. The cacophony from the surface was muted to faint discordant songs by the facility's noise filtration. She stood next to the pile of empty leather she was previously wearing as a handful of Enchanter's drones scrubbed diligently at the bloodstains she left behind.

The petrified branches of Yggdrasil were now stretching into the stratosphere, its twisted, blasted branches held up in a vain attempt to shield itself from the pale intensity of the star A-Zero had summoned to destroy it... The star pummeled the continent below with intense radiation, vaporizing any living matter that came too close before it had a chance to develop any resistances.

A beacon and monument to the failed apotheosis of Kiran Kingsley left curiously untouched by time... same as the other monoliths of their failed attempts to stem the spread of A-Zero. "Look upon your failures," it mocked. Eva scowled out of the observation dome.

"Can it see us?"

"Unknown. The creature appears to be aware of your presence, but has not attempted to breach The Divide. Suggests A-Zero cannot cross the dimensional threshold."

This single utterance, from a being that was no more biological than it was astral, was evidentially paying some form of past karma.

In the distance, that singular unwavering eye blinked once. Immense power focused itself, weaving a collection of [SPELLWORK] into the air, before it came to a full stop. Thoughts, alien in their make, raced through multiple choices. Took multiple paths, and consolidated on just one of many that could achieve the wanted goal.

The eye blinked again, and for a moment, the 'sun' vanished. Once again, that weave of spell work bloomed to life, casting faintly visible lines of ... Something? Light? Onto the very sky itself. The sun reasserted itself, back to 'normal' in its existence. The Director stiffened, her eyes darting up towards the 'Sun.'

'A-Zero' turned its eye to-and-fro, casting its' sight in all directions before settling for l̸̙̇o̸͈̊̕ó̸̺̈k̸̗̾͘i̴̖̣̾ń̸̦͝g̷̢̮̿̃ ̸̬̀̊d̷̳̔͒ͅi̵̻̾̃ŕ̴̤͜ḛ̴̝̈́͝c̸̰͔̄̉t̸̝̻̿͑l̴̨̙̈́̈y̵̠̕̚ ̸̲͖̐a̶͔͐t̷̝͠͝ ̸̱͊h̶̩̐́e̴͓̒̇r̷͚̎͗.̸͎͑̕ The pupil contracted, becoming little more than a pinprick in a massive sea of orange-purple-silver-[BLOOD].

And like a bomb, a shockwave rippled across the world. Another psychic scream that punched through the 'dimensional barrier'. Infiltrated the space that was/was not in A-Zero's 'vision'.

Sundered all that had thought, ripped the surface of the world below into shrapnel.

Then, as swiftly as it came, the world settled again.

The eye blinked, and waited.

Eyes jolt open to black. She stirred. Her body was restored to perfect physical condition, but she was still addled by the feeling of having her persona psychically disintegrated what felt like not a moment ago.

"Hypothesis updated: A-Zero is most assuredly aware of you, Director," Monarch noted clinically.

Another Hard Reset. The clock ticked over 01:51.

"Is the Tower still functional?" She croaked, pressing her palms into her eyes.

"Indeed."

"Center-mass, please," she instructed.

At first, nothing... then, several seconds later, a spear of fire and alloy arced over the horizon from where Texas used to stand at some fraction of the speed of light, showering the Earth in the first true-light it had seen in an age, leaving a chasm of molten glass in its wake.

The lance of death and fire flew, and flew, in silence and with the conception of deicide, it flew.

And struck. The observation dome darkened against the flash, and the facility's noise filtration reduced the cataclysm to a distant peal of thunder. Waves of force rippled over The Divide, shaking bones that were not, warping flesh that was not, and spilling blood that had never been. Pain, fleeting and eternal, flashed through the flesh. The thing in the space that was not real and yet was had fought back. Interesting.

A new variable.

One that was nothing and meant nothing, after all... One could not kill the divine with a gun.

Reality bled, and with a whisper, the planet fell into chaos once more. The barrier was no obstacle, the force and focus brought to bear was enough to kill God. And it had.

So, what was one mortal thing?

N̷͇̬͕̟̪̞͋̚ ̷̗̭͇͈̻̗̓̀́͂o̴̘̹͇͕͙̲̊͛̐̒̽ ̸̧̰͍̖̥̿͗͜t̸͍̯͈̦͉͕̃͛̏͑͗ ̷̲̺̱͍͠h̵̯͚͛̿͝ ̴̲̎̃i̷̞͑͠ ̵̛̟̣̯̏̑́͗ͅͅn̷͚̖͚̬̉͌̇͌͆̕ ̵̛̘̮̳͉͇͇̃͊́͝ģ̵̬̣̿͋̂͘͜͠.̸̫̼̯̗͉͑͋̄͝

Another psychic attack. The Director shielded herself fruitlessly as her consciousness was ejected into the void.

Hard Reset. The clock ticked over 01:51.

"SCHEIßE!" The Director jolted awake. Her eyes darted to the Conduit Emitter in the adjacent chamber, and she strongly considered making a naked dash to escape into the Exospace from the death revolving door.

"Ammunition depleted," informed Monarch. "Shall I target the creature with another weapon?"

"NO!" She shrieked, trying to come up with a plan in her scant moments of consciousness before her next death.

The world had stopped moving, in the time that The Director 'slept.'
On the horizon, that singular gaze of malice stared at her. Its pupil contracted once more, before exploding outward. It swallowed all the color, leaving nothing but a pure-black disk.

The intelligence behind the eye thought, and thought, and-

Another wave rushed out from it, warbling and undulating like the distorted call of some psychic siren. Weaker? Stronger? Something about this 'scream' was different. As if it were trying to mimic a song, give her an earworm, make it stick...

The intelligence over-estimated what she could handle.

Hard Reset. The clock ticked over 01:51.

"Activate the Conduit!!" The Director shrieked as she bolted upright. Her body flickered out of the bed with the signature thud of displaced air as she reappeared in front an unremarkable wooden door framed in the center of a Dais at the southern edge of the facility. She hurled the door open, slamming it dramatically against the frame to reveal... the back of the facility.

"The Conduit will be available in fifteen seconds..."

"...Scheiße."
Hidden 8 mos ago Post by XianaEvermor
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[March 11th, 2045 - 14:15pm - Paradox - Undercity Region, Texas, USA]



Heavy boots crunched the rocky soil of the Outskirts as she followed the delicate tendrils of silver stretching Northward at a methodical walk. She tilted her head to the side curiously as a crackle of static tickled her ear. A momentary distraction, though her pace was not altered.

"I've done as you asked, Iridium Dragon. Halcyon is in a tizzy over the potential Crusade, and tearing up all of Undercity to find the Templar... Causing lots of distracting problems for the Rogue Collective as well."

"Entangling the 'Collective should keep them too busy to interfere with your search for our missing Subject. I trust you will not require any further 'assistance' to complete your assignment?" Her eyes narrowed. She could hear him swallow his heart on the other end. The incompetence of some Agents never ceased to aggravate her.

"N-no, of course I can handle it from here..."

ID neglected to sign off, and instead just ended the call. No doubt she would end up having to clean up his mess.

A dome of swirling [Mana] came into ID's view as she crested a hill, following the silver trail. She paused to squint at it and let her eyes adjust. Beyond the dome she could barely make out an array of Cairn stones, and a massive drain around which traces of the [Crimson] swirled lazily, resisting the process of natural diffusion back into the land. Within the array was a small settlement no more than a few miles across containing a zone of tranquilly elevated [Mana] circulating throughout the surrounding Earth. It trickled up through the plants, and suffused the wildlife in the area, taking the Haze through the Drain, filtering and De-Aspecting on a scale many times larger than she could with her Drain Crystal. A powerful enchantment... no wonder she lost the trail.

ID's eyes were attracted to the spectral light of a particularly large flock of Ravens in the distance, and she squinted, confirming the signature of the [Fire Crystal] that she'd entrusted to Weasel within the settlement.

So this was the Stoneworks. It seemed more and more likely that her investigation of the disturbance of the Manascape, and the missing Subject were overlapping. No matter: she had a destination, and as long as she didn't draw attention to herself, it was highly likely she'd be left to her own devices. ID mused at the top of the hill for a long several minutes, running the silver thread idly through her fingers. She'd been watching the settlement for several minutes when something piqued her from behind: a chill wind from The Graves. ID turned to face the disturbance, shielding her eyes from the flash which heralded the emanation ripping through the Manascape.

A peal of thunder without sound, a shockwave ripping through the world like a bomb that passed through physical matter harmlessly but incinerated spectral forms in a storm of psychic screaming. It would blunt against the ambience of the Mind-Aspect in populated areas, and the Stonework's robust barrier would shield all but the most vulnerable inhabitants. ID, though...

She was stuck in the outskirts literal miles away from anything that might shield her, and she could already feel the intensity of the disturbance clawing at her [Dreamself]. Her signature would probably get blasted away on the Astral Wind though... ID hesitated for what felt like a long moment to her, though to anyone else it would have been but a moment. She pulled the Silver Thread back to her, cancelling the Tracing script and closed her fist around it. Even that small amount threatened to make her body burst, and as it coursed through her the shockwave slowed to a crawl.

ID used that moment of acceleration to pull the scant threads of mana in the Outskirts to form a barrier. She whispered words of [Fortification], pouring in her own mana and weaving a protective lattice just as the last mote of Silver evaporated. The Scream slammed into her roughshod shield, nearly knocking her off her feet, ripping at the part of her which existed within the Manascape and threatening to tear her out of her own body. ID endured the deafening cries, and just as she thought her barrier would be shattered and herself along with it the storm passed, leaving tumultuous whispers in its wake.

W̵̩͆h̶̼̐e̵̟̋r̸͙͆e̵̟̕i̷͙̒s̴̭̈ȋ̴̹t̵̉͜ẅ̸̠h̷͖̑ē̶͕r̷̠͘e̴͘͜i̴̥̚s̸̘͒ĭ̶͍t̵̛̰w̵̺̐h̵̘͘e̵̖͐r̸̪̔e̴͎̽i̴͋͜s̷͚̈i̶̫̕ṯ̵̕w̶̦͌ḧ̴͕́e̸͙̅r̶͖͘e̸̛̲i̴̦͑s̴̳͂i̶͝ͅt̵͙̆w̶̝̾ḥ̵̃e̸̟͋r̶̠̉ë̷̳́ǐ̵̮ş̶̿į̸̀ṱ̸̚ẉ̷̐h̸̢͂e̷͎̐r̷̛͉ê̶͎i̷̜̚s̵̤̆i̵̢̕t̸͙͑?̷̊͜


ID exhaled, turning in time to watch the storm buffet the Stoneworks bubble, and stretch off into the distance towards the Forges. Seems the entire crater would be subject to the Scream, though the areas closest to the Graves, and farthest from populated areas would endure the worst of it. On the bright side, the chaos of the disturbance might mask her arrival to the Stoneworks. ID mused, sliding herself carefully down the sheer hill towards her destination while sparing only a passing glance back towards The Graves. The Scream had originated from the direction of one of their Blacksites. She tamped down a wave of irritation as she made a mental note to check on the facility later: no doubt they'd be calling on her soon to clean up someone else's mess.

ID was lost in thought as she walked briskly towards the settlement, and with her ears and other [Senses] still ringing from the Scream she almost didn't notice the rubble getting disturbed behind her. She flinched as a creature of chitin and sinew clawed its way to the surface from the rubble nearby. Its huge fibrous wings blasted dust off the rubble as it launched itself at her.

A flash of light and heat; the creature's chittering was drowned out by the shriek of superheated light flash-boiling all the moisture from the air. ID patted out the embers on her gloves as the creature crumpled to the dirt at her feat smoldering. She gazed at it for a long moment before turning her back and returning to her journey. A minor inconvenience.

Or so she thought... the creature's flesh started to sizzle, stretch, and bubble behind her. Its shifting weight resonated through the stone at her feet, causing ID to slow her pace. The sound of dozens of chitinous legs scrabbling against the rocks as its rapidly growing flesh and sinew popped and crackled. She felt a large shape loom over her, and its radiant energy on her back as she slowed to a stop. ID exhaled slowly.

"Apex..."


[March 11th, 2045 - 14:17pm - Paradox - Outskirts - Stoneworks Region, Texas, USA]



"M-maybe... Rat can dig too?" Ask Rat, muffled as he was pressed into tight chambers of the partially collapsed tunnel. J-3's massive, sinuous claws scraped methodically at the dirt and rock. "No, Cat-Kitty? ... Okay...," Rat trailed off, seeming more and more uncomfortable with the oppressive silence. At least the cultists were busy with whatever monster was smashing its way through the lower levels.

"Sing a song then, Cat-Kitty? Everybody likes songs. Soothing soothing songs... Rat likes the classics, he does, yesyesyes," he informed, taking a deep breath.

"Baaaa-by... Sha-" Rat's voice was choked quiet by tendrils of inky sinew coiling around his neck. "Rat will be quiet now," he squeaked.

They endured the coarse scraping of J-3's claws in the silent darkness for what felt like a long while before the creature stiffened, its flesh bristling unsettlingly like the inky fur of a cat standing on end.

"Cat-Kitty?"

"Cease its mewling," they hissed. Ink swirled over their skin, and they sloshed through the narrow gap to their south, roughly depositing Rat in front of the Templar. J-3 reconstituted, but didn't truly become solid again as they grasped manically at the tenuous motes of [Mana] in the tunnels. Their flesh shifted in swirls of ink as [Something] slammed into them, distant thunder held shakily at the entrance of their tunnel as the psychic storm ripped through the tunnels unfettered by the laws of matter or physicality.

Whatever defenses J-3 had erected failed suddenly, and the thunder of a thousand screaming furies erupted into their burrow. Rat crumpled to the floor, and though it felt as though it lasted hours, it faded as suddenly as it had set upon them, leaving tumultuous whispers in their wake. Rat wasn't moving, at first it seemed he may be dead, though after the tinnitus began to dim he could be heard muttering: "Where is it? Where is it, Cat-Kitty?" over and over.

J-3 was deathly still for a long moment, and in the distance throughout the Labyrinth behind them the shrieks and cries of a legion of creatures driven to frenzy began to drift upwards towards them, slowly growing louder moment by moment. J-3 mirrored their shriek and surged past them, slashing and clawing at the rubble for ages until they burst through the surface and an oppressive wave of heat fell in through the gap. Their destination was in sight: the Cairn Stones marking the border of the Stoneworks not a hundred yards or so away.

Around the bend of the border, near the opposite side of the settlement the flash of fire and smoke roiled vigorously towards the Plate ceiling, and the nearby crackle of rapid explosions echoed loudly throughout the Outskirts. There was a lull in the turmoil, before a cloaked figure leapt high into the air... no, leap wasn't the right word: J-3 could see flares of tightly controlled [Sun-Quiet-Fire-Fury] quickly blinking in and out of existence as the figure used them as stepping stones to reach a lofty position before jumping and twisting, allowing her momentum to carry her backwards towards the settlement. She aimed, framing her target with her hands and then...

The air shrieked in protest as a wave of blistering heat washed over J-3, a streak of fire and light near as fast as a bullet lanced across the gap below her. Even from their relatively safe distance, the tectonic shift of the detonation was enough to throw J-3 to the ground, sending rubble and dust skipping down into their tunnel. There was a tangible pause before the clapping thunder of the explosion rolled over them as the figure splashed through the Stoneworks barrier. She landed roughly but found her balance quickly, thrusting the smoldering end of her cape behind her with one hand as the hot wind of the shockwave buffeted the Cairn Stones.

For a long minute she just stood and looked over the carnage she wrought, making sure her quarry would not get up a third time. She was still, though her breath came heavy, and the occasional wisp of gas would escape the mouth of the red dragon mask she wore before sparking and igniting in the heat. The mushroom cloud of fire and smoke began to billow over the crest... the final punctuation mark on the trail of molten glass and burning rock leading towards the Stoneworks from the Southwest. Illuminated by the flickering fire, ID's burgundy gaze slowly turned towards J-3.
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March 11th, 2045 - 14:19pm - Forges Region - Ignis Citidel, Texas, USA


[A XianaEvermor / Fate0013 Collaboration]


Forgemaster was putting the finishing touches on Yue's Drachenmail, polishing out the embellishments on the helm, and wiring the delicate sensory equipment in its articulated ears. He ignored the DPS vs. Tank banter of the other two nerds in his chamber, concentrating on his work. It was a massive upgrade: battered and worn mundane armor replaced with a highly polished and embellished, nigh indestructible Tinker-Alloy of his own make. The flexibility of Steel combined with the hardness of Chromium, and the heat and corrosion resistance of Tantalum, all at a fraction of the mass of Tungsten and in the gleaming silver of the Templar's namesake.

The best part is that the Dragon theme embellishments and runic engravings would glow orange (but not deteriorate or deform) when heated by the adiabatic compression of Yue's acceleration to super-speed.

Form. Function. Fashion.

...Fabulous.

Based on the way Yue pawed and fawned all over it, it was safe to say she was a satisfied customer.

With her suit being nearly finished, Alex opted to leave Yue to fawn over the armor. He didn't really understand the need for the "ears" to be articulated but Forgemaster seemed compliant to add it in to the finishing touches. Even if he wasn't a tinker, Alex thought it seemed a touch impractical to add a motorized moving part on a brute's suit.

Then again, it wasn't his so why dwell on it? He returned his focus to his order Forgemaster had finished recently. The resistance suit was a full body harness with a wide assortment of springs, hydraulics, and other movement impairing mechanisms. Alex's physical abilities had gotten to the point that weight lifting and conventional forms of training on its own was giving him diminishing returns.

He was struck with the idea that he might even need something like a gravity chamber or under water rig later down the road. Enhanced density was annoying in its own ways.

Excitable. Inquisitive. Her wide, burgundy eyes practically twinkled with levity as she danced to-and-fro about the workbench, examining every detail, finding every hidden reference to Final Odyssey (and quoting the supporting lore verbosely). It was a far departure from the "Stoic Enforcer" the media made out Silver Fang to be, mused Alex. At least.... until something else caught her attention.

All of a sudden she was laser focused on something outside the chamber. Her gaze could have melted a hole through the Ferro-crystalline walls of the Citadel. It drew Forgemaster's gaze as well, but all he saw were the armor and weapon displays on the Southeast wall.

"Did either of you hear something?" She asked, stepping away from the workbench. Suddenly she braced, covering her face as if to shield her face from a bright flash. Something hit the citadel shortly after, a distant peal of thunder ripping through the chamber and filling their minds with discordant screaming and tumultuous whispers. The sheer pressure on his being forced him to a knee, and Yue crumpled lamely to the floor.

Yue's suddenly random comment drew his attention away from his thoughts and the ungodly bulky piece of equipment. Alex didn't get the chance to comment however when what felt like an entire hive of hornets began stabbing into his brain at once.

The suit dropped to the floor without a sound. Alex couldn't hear anything as he desperately grabbed his head, trying to make pain stop. He didn't even have the urge to scream as his body seized up in pain. Only able to register the constant hot Stabbing and deafening lack of noise.

When it finally stopped Alex jerked upright with a gasp of relief. Body covered in a cold sweat, he couldn't tell how long it had lasted. The only sign of whatever that was had happened to him was the dull ringing he could still hear in his head. Also, he had apparently collapsed on the floor from the pain. And maybe slammed against the floor a few too many times if the dents were any indication. Guess Forgemaster didn't make the floors all that indestructible. " Fucking hell what even was that?" Alex took a second to rub his eyes and temples to try and calm his nerves.

Forgemaster pulled Yue's limp body up onto one of the workbenches. He quickly checked her pulse and listened for breath.

"She's still breathing," he called out in Alex's direction. Her skin had a sickly, death-like pallor but she seemed to be otherwise unharmed. Several minutes went by, and there was quickly a bustle in the chamber as the facility medical team was summoned to assess. The subsiding tension was interrupted by the sound of of commotion from the corridor outside.

One of the facility technicians slid breathlessly through the door.

"Spit it oud, Kid, what's the matter?!"

[b]"APEX!! Hazard 5, closing fast from the Southeast!"[b] He shouted breathlessly from the door.

There wasn't so much a response from Alex as there was simple a held thumps up in Forgemaster's general direction as Alex stayed on the floor a moment longer. Unfortunately it didn't seem like the universe was gonna give anyone a moment of relief today. Even with hearing that Yue was ok.

when he heard the news from the technician there was a momentary sinking feeling in Alex's chest at the announcement of a Hazard 5 closing in. " You've got to be kidding me."

Hazard levels were a classification originally coined by researchers topside in regards to the level of danger an Apex creature posed. Each being a super powered and deadly organism, it was arguable why and how you could classify a level of threat from something that was a walking disaster. Dispite The absurdist it was actually quite simple. The more an Apex's body glowed and the brighter it was, the higher its Hazard level.

A soft light between areas of skin or scales along with glowing eyes and mouth? That's a Hazard level 1 or 2 at worst. The entire creatures body looks like every inch of it has neon bright bioluminescence? That's a 5 right there. The Glowing was a sign of the creatures biological energy output supercharging its cells and overclocking its biological systems if what little data there was on the things was to be believed.

down in the undercity though, it was a lot more simple an issue. The more it glows, The worse the danger.

Alex found his resolve and got up on shaky legs. "I'm going. I'll buy you guys as much time as you need to get in gear." He fumbled a bit with his bag before getting his armor out and began suiting up as fast as he could.

The Citadel lurched gently. Outside, the distant thrashing of the beast echoed over the open bridge leading to Forgemaster's chamber. Periodically it was pierced by discordant howling and a thunder-like rumble. The Citadel had become a hive of activity as people rushed to fighting positions and the sounds of weapons fire began to quickly filter in as the denizens attempted to discourage the beast from getting any closer.

"Drive it away from the castle if you can!"

Tightening the last of his suits straps, Alex turned on his helmet and practically slammed it on. " On it! Just make sure she's ok." He pivoted on his heel and charged out of the workshop at a breakneck speed. workers and technicians were able to get out of the armored brutes way easily enough since nobody really wanted to get trampled in the confusion.

One confused worked seemed to recognize him as he came close. ""Aegis? When did you-?!"

"No time! I need an exit now!"

After a dazed moment, Aegis was lead to an emergency hatch that lead out onto a rooftop of the castle. A quick survey of the facilities outer walls from his vantage point let him find what he was looking for, although the growing dust cloud that was moving fast towards the forge's walls wasn't all that difficult to spot. The tell-tale light the Apex's glow came through the cloud of debris. Damn thing was big, and didn't have any obvious tells to what it could do from here.

"This is a stupid idea and I'm gonna get an earful for doing this I just know it. With that, Alex made a glowing field under his feat catapulting himself into the air and rapidly accelerate to meet the monster.
Hidden 8 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by chaotix14
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chaotix14 The seething anger

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March 11th, 2045 - 14:14pm - Outskirts - Stoneworks Approach, Texas, USA




"I'm planning to make small detour at the market, I don't know how much of our pantry got raided by Alex and I wanna make sure I can put something on the table that can satiate their appetites." Raudd said to his sister breaking the silence after passing the last landmark until the Stoneworks would be coming into view.
"Are you sure Alex isn't going to be in the kitchen making something by the time we'll be back anyways?" Zolya responded after a slight startle at the voice breaking through the sounds of the breathing of animals, the ravens flapping their wings high above and the sound of the hooves and clawed paws on the coarse ground below.
"You know he's making Forgemaster pretty much make a whole new suit, you saw how trashed it was. He's probably still working on the finishing touches, I got the time... Even with the little excursion. We already had that seafood fettuccine for lunch so I'm thinking maybe a hearty vegetable stew with some bread." Raudd mused trying fish for a side dish from Zolya. However instead of an idea he got an "Oh fuck no!" from her.

She jumped off the deer that was carrying her prompting Raudd to do the same. "What? I thought you liked veggie stew."
"No not that, something's coming. Cover me." She said diving behind her brother for cover, raising an extra barrier or two.
"I don't see shit. What kind of magic bullshit are we facing?" Raudd asked looking around whatever has his sister so agitated and brining up his shield, expecting it to do exactly nothing against what has his sister so worried. She didn't get much of a chance to make it clear to even herself what was coming beyond 'this is bad' before it hit them.

A silent shockwave blasted through tearing at the barriers like a child peeling a chocolate egg, the animals flickered as the wave tore on their existence and the screaming. Zolya clearly got the worst of it barely being able stay conscious and keeping herself from hitting the ground by clinging onto her brother.
Raudd Well he sure as hell felt something, something hot almost burning as whatever force battered them tried to invade his mind and the whispering a distant sound yet clearly coming from inside the mind. "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP!" His voice suddenly boomed through air contesting the screaming, whispers and the burning until it faded away.

What was left was the ragged breathing of the two siblings and a static crackle from the wisps of red mist that escaped with each exhalation from Raudd. Looking over his shoulder to see how Zolya was holding on, quite literally, Raudd could see she was still struggling quite a bit to catch her breath. So he decided to just make himself a tree, at least until she was gonna let go.

A long moment passes before her breathing finally stabilizes and she finds the strength in her body to let go. "What on this cursed earth was that!" She yelled into the ether as the walked back to her ride back home.

"Well seemed like some magic bullshit to me." Raudd sort of jokingly replied hoping to brighten the atmosphere getting back on the back of his stag. Seeing his little sister struggle getting up on the other stag he decides to give her a helping hand after which the two got back on their road back towards the Stoneworks with the other animals in tow.
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March 11th, 2045 - 14:20pm - Paradox - Outskirts - Stoneworks Region, Texas, USA





The first thing it did was stare.

J-3 felt the battle-fury-calm settle over it. The eyes of its form stared. And stared. And stared.
Ink pulsed slowly, warping its shape until it settled on an old face.

A woman’s shape, five feet and some change in height. Average weight. Average build.
Soft features, rounded cheeks, slightly upturned nose.
Hispanic in origin? Perhaps Hawaiian.
A small scar centered on her cheek; burn? Acid burn.
Blue-green eyes.
Black-brown hair. Well maintained.

It settled on the framework of what J-3 thought of instinctively. It pushed forward, rising up to stand on somewhat equal level with [Hurt-fear-HATE-FLAME-BURNINGBURNINGBURNING] her.

The shape they took blinked once.
The tunnel behind them, and the air before them, shuddered and dimmed for a moment.
Mana swirled into a spiraling symbol behind it.
A simple circle center.
An intricately woven two circle core.
A massive spider web of lines and [WILL-SHAPE] between the three.
[INTENT] pressed onto the mana. Onto the spider web.

It’s skull spread open like a flower, revealing a golf-ball sized sphere. It was water, swirling and whirling around so hard upon itself that it churned.

J-3 screamed. A true woman’s scream, spliced through with a buzzing cicada and the strangled cries of some reptilian song-bird.

A toothpick thin line blurred into existence. Sniping forward with the pressure of a small lake behind it, a beam of saltwater lanced itself forth, sweeping towards the [HATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATE].

Ink spread as the shape screamed and weaved [MANA-KILL-AQUA-SHEAR]. Four extra limbs formed. Behind the shoulders, two heads, skinless and made purely from bone and sinew atop a similarly macabre necks.
Jaws snapped open, revealing an additional two, larger, baseball sized, spheres.

Blurred water rushed forth, small bursts of pressure so high it impacted stone like a hot knife through butter.

It reacted. Faster than it should be able to: [Mana] simply doesn't move like that. ID met the aqua-jets with her fist, which ignited the air with a pulse of opressive heat. The water boiled as it impacted, or seemed to at least, and screamed as billowing steam rushed back towards J-3. There was a tangible shudder through the bubble swirling around the Stoneworks as the force of her mana slapped against it; an invisible shockwave setting the rocks a-sizzle as it chased the lance of pure light and heat ripping out of the steam, reducing rocks and sand to bubbling glass.

It moved as it wove. Darting to the left with a strength and speed that belied it's form.
J-3 stopped screaming, and rushed forward with abruptly formed, venom laden fangs. A twinned pair of tails flailed in the air behind it, the tips club-like and bony.
The spell work vanished... Before the air shuddered again. [MANA] pulsed, and the spells reformed, and fired again. Short bursts like that of a sprinkler.

If a sprinkler could shatter stone like high-powered drills.
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Máire Crossed her arms in front of her chest, leaning against one wall of the tunnel while the shapeshifter dug their way back toward the surface. She ignored her companions’ comedy routine, her mind still on whatever had provoked the tunnel to collapse on them in the first place, and the noises she had heard coming from beneath them. Hydra… well. Regardless of whatever it was, they would be out soon, and their time here could be freely forgotten.

She glanced over at the shapeshifter, noting a sense of growing agitation. Understandable, considering their apparent distaste for their rodential guide. Máire just needed them to remain patient for a little while longer. After that, their impatience wouldn’t matter anymore. Probably. The shapeshifter slipped further down the tunnel away from them, likely to find some respite from Rat’s chatter.

“Don’t stray too far,” she advised, pulling one boot away from where the shifter had dropped Rat at her feet. The shapeshifter’s moody teenage antics were such a far cry from the friendly persona they’d introduced themself with in the guise of a fellow templar it was almost comical. Possibly funnier than the speed with which they’d dropped that mask.

Her attention was jolted downward by a sudden whine from Rat, her guide falling to the floor in the crumpled heap. He grabbed at his head, muttering something half-deliriously, and Máire crouched down with an outstretched hand gently finding his shoulder to try and rouse him back to reality. Was this an illness of some sort? A bad drug trip? He hadn’t displayed any signs like this before. She looked down the tunnel back the way they’d come, the sound of wild beasts echoing from the deep, then snapped her head in the other direction when a sharp, inhuman shriek cut its way down the passage.

“What’s wrong?!” Máire called out, jumping back to her feet. The shapeshifter hacked violently at the rocks blocking the entrance, then burst through and was out of sight. Máire grit her teeth, swiftly scooping Rat up in one arm before dashing her way through the gap and up toward the surface.

She skidded to a halt and recoiled as a blast of heat hit her face. Something was going on; Máire looked back down the passage from the entrance the shapeshifter had carved out, listening to the steadily growing clamor of frenzied beasts echoing from the labyrinth. She shifted Rat’s weight, debating with herself whether to leave him, but deciding against it.

Máire stepped out of the tunnel, finding herself in a greyscale wasteland pockmarked with similar such holes. A dry wind blistered through the area, and the distant lights of civilization were bare pinpricks on the horizon. Seeing it for herself, she understood why they called this place the Graves. Her focus reasserted itself, and she became aware that the trio were not alone here. The shapeshifter was under attack. An assailant in a green dragon mask and a hood, assailing Máire’s companion with jets of flame. Máire really did appreciate the weird urge supers felt to adhere to a theme.

She raised an arm against the heat, squinting against blasts of steam to take in the full view of the battle unfolding before her. The shapeshifter had taken a woman’s form - was that their actual body? Additional arms grew from their back like tree branches, heads sprouted from their shoulders like seed pods. They danced across the Graves with untamed ferocity, all lashing tails and violent fangs and blasts of water to obliterate stone.

Máire had no idea what had drawn the masked figure’s ire, but it didn’t matter - imposter or not, the shapeshifter would lead her to Bayushi, and that was good enough. A blade manifested by her empty left hand, and Máire launched it into the sky, soaring into the air as it tugged her along after it. Rat began to stir and struggle against her shoulder - ”Be still,” she commanded, quiet in her intensity.

Knives formed beneath her feet, serving to halt her momentum through the air and giving her a platform to stand on, spinning like a top to lash her sword at the masked figure like a blade on a whip. The enemy ducked under it at the last moment, sending the blade clattering across the ground. It burst into silver mist on the third impact.

Máire didn’t stay still, running across the sky using knives as stepping stones, each one launching toward the woman like a bullet as soon as her feet lifted off of them. A zweihander appeared in her hand, and her other cast Rat away from her, trusting his agility to see him to the ground safely. “Go!” She ordered, gesturing in the direction of the Stoneworks. “We’ll catch up!”

Then she leapt into the air, raising her sword above her head with both hands before bringing it down toward the dragon woman.
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A complication. ID's eyes had been tracking J-3 through the steam when she sensed something enter her sphere of influence: a swiftly moving blot of darkness cutting through the glow of the elevated [Sun] aspect she'd woven throughout the area. She crouched instinctively, and something metallic whooshed over her head, clattering against the ruin behind her. She regained her footing, skipping backwards with the practiced grace of a dancer as the daggers nipped at her toes. ID whispered [Fortification], weaving a strengthening lattice into her hands, down her arms and spine and into her legs. Her footfalls left sizzling prints of fire and melting rock as she maneuvered to keep J-3 and her new assailant in her vision. ID planted her feet, bracing to meet the other woman as she fell through the steam. She grasped the hilt of the machete at her hip, emblazoning the sheath with smoldering kanji. ID met Máire's eyes, and for that second that the Templar was falling towards her with sword overhead the world stood still.

At the very last moment before Máire could cleave her from shoulder to hip, ID's hand closed around the hilt of her machete and drew it to meet the Templar's attack. Rather than cold forged iron, a blade of brilliant white flames and scalding heat clashed against the Templar's zweihander, throwing an arc of flame along the path of the draw to intercept J-3's charge. The impact splintered the ground at ID's feet and showered the battlefield with sparks and embers.

Queen of Swords. ID's eyes narrowed very slightly. Mother had warned her about this one: Cruaidín Catutchenn was an overzealous extremist that could not be reasoned with. A report about Cruaidín trickled through the Menagerie news network just this morning concerning the Templar murdering a group of looters who'd broken into a cybernetics lab without so much a warning shot or a "stop, Templar." More concerning was that their missing subject appeared to be under the Templar's care.

ID's eyes flicked to check on J-3 as she held the Templar's advance, hesitant to make any further offensive moves: she wasn't supposed to clash with the Templar if it could be avoided, except in specific instances... though she didn't think she would be faulted for self defense. ID held the Templar in sword lock, maneuvering her to keep J-3 in her cone of vision and briefly wondering what the creature could have said to bamboozle her into its service.

She clicked a button in the palm of her free hand and was rewarded with a few droplets of liquid before the feed sputtered dry. She swiftly enwrapped the fluid in swirling mana and white flames, holding the fireball at her fingertips ready to deflect an attack from J-3. Her fuel reserves hadn't yet recovered from her fight with the Apex, so that small amount would have to do.

Rat landed in a graceless heap after quite a bit of noisy flailing, but slowly pulled himself to his feet.

"Ooooohhhh... fire bad, fire very very bad. Oooh my head, the mind magics!" Rat muttered as he staggered away from the battle towards the Stoneworks as quickly as he could manage while rubbing his temples.

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From the Stoneworks a cacophony of howls raged in response to the wounds it received as a pack of 14 astral wolves raced out from the streets and fields. Their howls fading into growls as their neared the group that dared to fight on the grounds of the Stoneworks.

One of them splits off almost immediately seeing it's chance to strike from the back of the hooded fire throwing lady that seemed to be facing off against the other two. Another two seemed to have set their eyes on her for a more frontal attack.

The other wolves set their eyes squarely on the inked abomination of nature. All of them charging straight past the woman in hood and the templar sword summoner without giving either a second glance their mouths open, salivating and eager to dig their teeth into the nature offending flesh.

The two wolves attacking ID from the front miss their coordination completely and ID easily sidesteps the both of them as they collide in the air where she'd been yelping on impact, however the one from behind times it's attack well enough to latch onto ID's left leg the moment she takes her step. It doesn't hold for long though as it's saliva vaporizes immediately and the heat seeps in through the mouth. It quickly let's go and runs away from the foundry levels of heat around her, with the two others following close behind, the three yelping as they flee to a more tolerable temperature.

Growls and barks of anger, bloodlust, and disdain burst forth from the pack of wolves as the 11 lunge forwards to attack. More than half of them are met with flailing limbs, the spray of high velocity acid, and one even getting mauled by one of the jaws and spit out, before their teeth could even bite down on anything. One managing to bite into one of the limbs, but was quickly thrown off as they swung wildly. Another finding a thin piece of flesh on the body ripping it off and the momentum of the lunge carrying it off into the glassed soil beyond. Two who found a hold on the tails of the creature were smacked against one another and lost their hold in the impact. A last one managed to join his brother head first inside the maw of the other head and biting into the creatures tongue before it spat the the two of them out in reflex.

Not a moment after the siblings had crossed the crest of the final hill between them and home did another problem appear on their horizon, clouds of steam mixed with fire and a long scar of glass across the stoneworks. Raudd"Ugh, really? Sis, get the defenses up, we need to teach some dumbasses to not mess with the Stoneworks." By the time Zolya pulled her gaze from the problem in front of them and looked at Raudd he was already busy planning something with the stag he was riding and he had drawn his rifle.

"Annoyed enough to waste some ammo." She mused to herself before following her brothers suggestion to get back inside the barrier. "They really picked the wrong day it seems."

After a short explanation of the plan Raudd riding the stag charged into the fray. Closing in on the action he could make out the silhouettes of four among the clouds of steam, from this distance he couldn't really make out any details until one of them made himself identifiable by voice. Rat? What was that idiot doing here, in the middle of a fight between supers no less? He is an extra special kind of stupid, but normally he knows how to avoid getting involved in anything other than those parcels of his. Looking at the silhouettes Rat must be the one crawling to their feet. At least that was one less problem, now what of the other three.

Why does that have tails now... Don't tell me it's that thing again. Ugh, water and shapeshifting... How likely would it be to find two creatures with that exact same powerset? His body seemingly already having made up their mind about the matter fired the rifle. A streak a light trailed after the slug as it screamed through the air straight through the body of that shapeshifter. Though it hardly seemed to faze the creature that there was a hole from one end to the other through it's body as ink flowed back in to fill the wound. "Strafe it!" He yelled at the stag as he drew his axe with his free hand.

Not wasting a moment the stag kicked up it's speed a notch and lowered it's head presenting the pointed ends of his horns to whomever decided to stray into it's path. Closing in for the melee Raudd managed to switch the rifle to it's plasma burst mode and fired at the shape that had been assisting the shapeshifter in it's act. With a crack of thunder sending a burst of hot plasma at the acrobatic ally.

With the axe wielding hand he managed to make a shallow cut on the shapeshifter before he and the stag passed through the group. Stowing his rifle he managed to scramble to a standing position onto the stag. "Now!" He yelled as he jumped backwards and after a moment in the air his feet connected with the hooves of the stag kicking off them like a springboard to fly back into axe range of the shapeshifter. "I'm not done with you." He muttered as he prepared a more directed strike to cleave off one of it's tails.
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by ZombiesAnHyenas
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It felt its’ perception of the world slow.

The Blonde One, the Templar, the human. She leapt, twisting into the air as she tore her way into the fray.
The movements she made, the [AGGRESSION-BATTLECALM-FOCUS] warped it’s ability to see her.

But it saw the fire that was growing to meet her. It saw the shape of [MANA-FAMILIAR-eNtRoPy]. It saw the world smothered in warmth. In heat.
Backlit by it all was this suffused [FORTITUDE-LOCK—]

Pain.
Pain in their legs. In their body. Pain assaulting the flesh— A hole. Heal it. Turn to the aggressor.
[EnTrOpY-VIOLENCE-FORCE-{ETERNAL}]. From before. The man. A line of pain sliced through their shoulder, a shallow gash.

He was followed by a suite of wolves. Five new-old wounds. [MANA] seeped away… No. not good. They were beginning to run close to low.

[DOMAIN OF FLAME] prevented easy siphoning from the very air. [MANA] did not draw in as swiftly, as smoothly. The One of Fire was trying to burn them out? No.

A hand lashed out as J-3 burst into motion. They ducked, twisting in a show of flexibility that would make the bendiest of contortionists green with envy.
The Viking passed over them, blade slicing down and cleaving through their throat as they looked up at him.

Their expression was blank. The meat was beyond concern.

Its fingers closed around a wolf as it came too close again. Mana PULSED, pouring into the construct in its hold. Filling it. Filling it. Filling…

It twisted again, LAUNCHING the wolf at the One of Fire. The mana construct sailed through the air, filled to near bursting with [MANA-FORCE-BANG].
A fireball sailed from finger tips.
A wolf vanished.

And those who could [SEE] were treated to a light that shut eyes could not diminish. A flash bang, of sorts, for the initiated.

It shifted, ink swelling by its legs and left arm as it shut off the ability to perceive pain. Perceive anything but pressure.

Then, like a rocket, and with the violent sound of bone shattering like glass, it moved. The muscles in its legs and waist were magnified in size and in efficiency. Bone was nothing before the force of it launching itself forward.

Ink pulsed once more, flesh ballooning to nearly cartoonish size as J-3 found themself suffused in hellish heat. They soared through the air, moving faster than they had ever.

It entered the [DOMAIN OF FLAME].
Flesh cracked, hair exploded and vanished into dust, but still. Still.
J-3 pushed onward.
Its’ arm split along a single cracking vein, moisture sapped by the very air…

The sound was akin to a gunshot, or perhaps a tire, but it exploded by ID’s face all the same. The form of the shapeshifter rushing by her as they tackled into the form of the Blonde— Of the Ally. They wrapped around her as they went, ink WHIRLING into motion as it’s shape changed again.

They threw her, tossing her forward and into the air as a new skull whipped around. They were a human-serpent-crocodile shape now. Plated bone took up eight feet of serpentine muscle and coil, before meeting with thick scaled flesh of the torso. They still bore two arms, and though the torso was humanoid, it was almost startlingly large.

The skull was crocodilian in form, hairless and covered in scutes and scales. The throat was still cut, though it healed in a blink.

Its hands were clawed, six inches on eight digits each.

[MANA] pulsed in the air, fading as an area of three meters around its form became [VOID].
[MANA-PAIN] was impossible to ignore, but the chance to deprive further [MANA]-weaving. The One of Fire must be denied further action.

Escape? Escape sounded good. They were dangerously low now. Time? Time. It… No.

They had … Two? Minutes. Before they would shut down and expire. A new source of fuel was needed.

J-3 stared ID down in silence, before turning away and dashing. They moved north. Calling into the open air as they did, voice still like the first shape they wore in this battle.

Female.

WE SHOULD GO. NOW. TASK-FOCUS-LEAVE!” They screamed to Maire.
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A trail of short lived energy pulses marked Alexander's "flight path" as he made his way towards the roiling dust cloud being kicked up by the oncoming Apex. He Could have at least tried to call it in for some form of backup, but if that . . . scream had any equal or greater effect on anybody else nearby then he was on his own. The foundry's residents wouldn't be geared up soon enough either. Alex was really getting sick of the universe making him play the "Last line of defense" roll as consistently as it did. If there was a god they probably found all of this hilarious.

He could hear the damn thing bellowing and roaring now. All in different intervals somehow. His confusion was short lived when something was launched out at him at considerable speed. A layered platform of blue light flashed into existence just in time for the missiles to crack against the hardlight. Some even breaking through enough to become imbedded in the construct, causing Alex to have jump so as to not let himself get hit.

"Well, at least it isn't lightning this time." He looked over the bone spikes that had stuck themselves into his temporary perch and found them covered in some sort of liquid. This having come from an Apex monster it was probably safe to guess that the things were either toxic, corrosive, or a combination of the two.
Lookin down further through the mostly transparent barrier revealed the creature in all its terrible glory. It had stopped to look up at him, its three heads glared up at him with snapping crocodilian jaws.

Getting a better look at the Apex now, it resembled a hydra with a few heads missing and instead fused with dinosaur parts. Wherever its boney armor platting would have hindered its movement was instead covered with a thick oily fur. Its tail possessed a bone club at the end that was also studded with wicked bone spikes. Having two powerful arms helped drag its coiling serpentine body around entirely to face Alex. if it weren't for the natural armor and fur Alex could swear that the thing was all muscle.
The bright glowing light that seeped out of every seam of its body gave the beast an almost cartoonish appearance of danger as if the thing was radioactive.

The thing must have had good senses to have seen him up so high despite the dust cloud it had previously been in. Which means it could probably hear him too. Since he had its attention, Alex figured he could taunt it a bit to see how intelligent the thing was. "A Hydra. Well obviously I'm not going to try cutting off any of your heads cause I'm not a complete idiot. Since I've never seen one like you before, I guess I get to name you! Maybe Tyrant Hydra? Oh that's a bit too cool for you, why not fluffy?" There was some irony in the situation given that Alex's Aegis costume was Greek inspired and he was facing down an actual hydra. granted he wasn't wearing a lion skin and there didn't seem to be a giant enemy crab anywhere nearby.

Whether or not the Apex could hear him and was upset over being named fluffy of all things was anyone's guess. I did however look royally pissed off. Rearing back its heads and spitting out more bone spikes up at the armored rouge. Alex simply jumped up and formed another platform underneath himself, letting the spikes riddle his previous field and allowing it to dissipate before it shattered entirely. "I get the impression that your upset for some reason?"

Not even a moment later Alex saw the damn thing rocketing up towards him. in a panic, Alex used the platform to catapult himself off to the side. Not a second later before the Apex crashed into his previous barrier, shattering it on impacted dropping back down nearly 100 feet to the ground. All three heads quickly clocked onto Alex as the Hydra coiled up its body tightly before launching upward again. The shear force of the motion pulverizing the ground it used as its launch point. Again and again, Alex shot away from its snapping jaws and fast moving bulk. He wasn't in the mood to try and test if its biteforce would be enough to puncture his durable body.

"No use just playing keep-away. Gotta try something." That something came in the form of a barrier field being generated underneath the Hydra as it coiled again to try and catch him. One of the heads looked down in puzzlement before it was launched into the air. The thing flailed and roared as it said through the air with the grace of a sixteen wheel freight truck.
Not wanting to waste the opening, Alex launch himself at the Apex, flinging himself multiple times to quickly pick up speed.

The two collided with a thunderous Crack. Alex hitting whatever counted as this things solar plexus with an elbow strike. weighing nearly a quarter of a ton and having bones that might as well be indestructible, the rather simple martial arts move was devastating when used by a brute of Alex's level. The Apex reeled as the two of them came hurtling back down to the ground.

Quick to pick himself up, Alex let loose a burst of concussive blue force to blow away the dust and get eyes on the Apex again. Only to get hit center of mass by the Hydra's tail club, which might as have hit him at the same speed as a bull whips tip if the sound was anything to go by.

Staggering a bit, Alex picked himself off the ground and began to crack his joints and roll his shoulders. Brute rating aside, He was pretty sure that hit was gonna leave some form of bruise. He coughed to clear his lungs. "I'm probably gonna feel that one in the morning. Or maybe in an hour." Looking up, the Hydra had already oriented itself to coil up and face him. Letting out a sigh, Alex rolled his shoulder and began forming hardlight armor around his cracked suit. Spikes jetting out everywhere after he felt it was sufficiently reinforced. "Alright. round two Fluffy?"

With a roar from both the hydra and Alex, the two charged into each other at full force and resumed their clash.

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ID jockeyed the Templar to keep J-3 in her sights, eyes flicking back and forth between the two foes. It wouldn't do to sustain an injury due to carelessness... a new presence entered her sphere of influence... two... five thirteen. Fast. Too fast for her to react to being attacked from behind. ID planted her trailing leg, whispering [Hardening] through her skin. The heat surged fifty degrees in an instant, filling the air with wisps of white smoke and the acrid stench of burnt polymers as her heat-resistant clothing hit its limit. Something clamped down on her calf for only an instant. ID felt, more than heard teeth break, and the shriek of saliva vaporizing on her 1700 degree skin drowned out the yelp of a surprised animal. The assailant retreated, and the others seemed hesitant to close in, so she didn't retaliate.

The wolves set upon J-3 and the Templar, affording her an opportunity to make some space with the Templar. ID lunged, throwing her weight into her sword arm and shoving the Templar a few paces... just far enough to get caught up in some kind of energy weapon fire. She danced backwards out of the way of a charging stag, and though grass scorched and burst into flame wherever her feet landed, she was careful not to let the fires spread. She didn't want to see this place of beauty burn... not yet at least. ID's eyes flicked quickly between the combatants, in the chaos she had lost sight of the shapeshifter for an instant. Only an instant... though long enough for it to snatch up a wolf and... ID squinted, taking a few quick mental notes for later, strafing quickly a few steps. The fireball she'd primed shot from her fingertips, exploding violently against the beast that had been thrown at her.

The shockwave buffeted her cloak, and for a tangible moment the whole battlefield was silent as the blue-white flames hungrily sucked the air out of the arena. The ground lurched, a brilliant flash of light and heat, and the discordant crash of thunder shook the Stoneworks. ID threw up a hasty barrier of mana, but still managed to catch an eyeful. She blinked rapidly, suppressing her [Dreamsight] in time to see J-3 charging at her.

Vents in her mask clicked open. Crimson scales crawled up her skin, spreading over her brow and about her eyes, which burned amber as her pupils stretched into slits. ID stepped back, splintering the earth as she planted her foot and braced as J-3 closed in on her.

She took a breath.

J-3's exploding pustule was met with a massive lance of superheated gas, and the concussive burst was smothered by the flame's howling. The creature didn't press the attack, however, and made to flee with its thrall. It wasn't safe to pursue... ID would find another opportunity. Instead she sheathed her Firebrand and took a defensive posture, her amber eyes burning like embers as black smoke billowed from the corners of her mask's dragon mouth.
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druidquest 魔法少女

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Máire’s boots kicked up dust as she and the dragon woman danced around each other, her blades slicing through the air past the masked figure in repetition. Close, closer but still not close enough. This woman wasn’t just skilled, she was experienced - but still ever on the defensive, her initial aggression seeming to fall away now that she had to split her focus between two opponents.

No, more; a pack of wolves descended on the battle as if from nowhere, fangs sinking quickly into the shapeshifter’s mass and the dragon woman’s leg. Máire made to seize the opportunity, but the sound of hooves beating against the earth forced her to jump back out of the path of a charging stag. There was a crack like thunder and a sudden burning shock hit the side of Máire’s face and chest, and she recognized the sensation of plasma rounds before her surviving eye marked the man astride the glowing deer.

Her hood was singed and melted in places, the visible parts of her face painted iron as a swarm of silver dust rushed to repair the damage. A blue-white flash filled the air a moment later, and Máire’s right eye flashed the same color to compensate for her shocked retina.

The man was on the ground, and the dragon woman had her back to her. Six blades formed by her hand in an instant, not willing to let the opportunity go to waste a second time. They shot forward, only to explode into dust as some great hulking flesh barreled into her, lifting her off her feet and enveloping her in its mass. She was ejected a moment later, catapulted into the air away from the battle. The silver dust lingering in the area instantly swarmed to meet her, sinking through her skin and back into her blood before her feet touched the ground.

She saw the shapeshifter linger for a moment, gazing at the masked figure, before it turned and dashed northward, screaming out to Máire to retreat in a new, feminine voice. She grit her teeth, staring down the warriors they were leaving behind, bitterness filling her mouth. Then she shot one of her blades into the air, grabbing an invisible link only she could feel and using it to pull her after the shapeshifter.

Máire flew swiftly across the Graves, generating a new blade each time the last started to lose momentum. She spotted Rat down below, and switched to using her current blade as a pendulum, swinging in a wide arc toward the messenger. Her hand reached out as she got close, and in the next instant he was squirming in her arm as they flew onward, following the shapeshifter.
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chaotix14 The seething anger

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Raudd found himself hooking his axe on the tail of the shapeshifter for only a moment before it flung him to the side landing in a slide along the grass and rubble of the outer Stoneworks area. Luckily the damage was contained to mere scratches on his arm as his armor and the shield took the brunt of the impact. Unfortunately it had given the shapeshifter, rat(the poor sod), and what he now could clearly identify as another templar time to get a head start running away while he'd been busy skidding along the ground. "Why the hell is a templar helping that fucking thing?" He muttered as he got himself back up from the tumble. As luck would have it though one of the ravens took it upon themselves to tail the duo and their involuntarily passenger.

With only one remaining on this field of battle, and it being the most likely culprit of the long term damages sustained to the area, Raudd turned his attention to the dragon lady. The remaining wolves circled at a distance staying as close to the searing heat as they could sustainably bear. The lady put away her weapon, but between the defensive stance, blistering heat and the black smoke she was spewing she definitely didn't give off the feeling of wanting to deescalate the situation. "I don't care who started it or why, somebody turned these luscious grasslands into a garden of glass and rubble and somebody is going to have to fix that. Now if you could turn off the rolling coal and heatwave so we can settle this peacefully. Or we can do this the hard way and we chase you across the crater, you're not going to escape though."
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by XianaEvermor
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Eyes fluttered open to black.

Yue was washed along eddies of ideation, emotion, and color. Invisible figures slithered around her, brushing against the curtains of [Silver] surrounding her. Coils of [Crimson] drifted out lazily from her core, drinking in the [Silver]. She inhaled... but could not breathe. A pang of panic lanced through her, as she found she could not move. Was she dead? Tendrils of [Crimson] connected her loosely to... something in the distance. There was no up or down: direction had no meaning. She wrestled with her body to turn and look around, to blink, to breathe, anything. Wraiths behind the curtain writhed hungrily, groping and pawing at her. A spike of fear drove through her, only serving to incite further frenzy in the wraiths.

All at once everything went silent: a pulse of [Strength] turned the wraiths to what she assumed was dust. Something took her gently and turned her, sliding the massive luminous surface of the moon into view... except it was "wrong" in a way she couldn't describe. That is until it opened a massive, luminous yellow eye and stared down at her. The surface of the moon began to shift ponderously, lifting its gleaming silver-scaled head and stretching its wings to encompass the "sky." It breathed power and grace and all she could do was lock eyes with it... if she still had eyes. It reached down towards her, and with one single talon, gently pushed her back towards the [Emotion] and [Noise] she'd been drifting away from.

Not... Yet...


The force was unreal. The gentlest of grazes catapulted her away, throwing her thousands of miles in an instant. Motes of light streaked past dizzyingly and just as she felt solidity rushing up on her back...


[Paradox - Forges Region - Ignis Citadel, Texas USA]



Yue suddenly gasped for breath. Something was over her eyes, pressure on her shoulders and chest. Wisps of [Crimson] flared out of her skin and she grabbed reflexively, sitting up and lifting someone off the ground. An instant stretched into eternity, and in her hand was this fragile thing, tentatively held together like wet sand that would crumble if she just closed her fist. The cool cloth slid from her face and she locked eyes with the Citadel medtech that had been tending her, paralyzed by the intensity of her gaze, grasping desperately at her wrist.

Everything started to come back. The warm glow of [Creative Intent] emanating from the displays of weapons, armor, tools, and machinery spread throughout the room stabbed deep into her retinas like a bright light she could not block out. She exhaled slowly, gently lowering the medtech back to the ground, and feeling something rigid relax from the corners of her eyes and brow. She pressed her palms into her eyes and drew her knees up to her chest as Forgemaster energetically explained to her what was happening. Muted pain signals tingled throughout her body deep under her skin like something inside her was ripped clean out of her body and then shoved haphazardly back into place. His words drifted in and out of her consciousness while she shifted herself off of the table she'd been laid upon until something he said prickled down her spine like icy water.

"Wh-What?!" Yue turned towards Forgemaster sluggishly while massaging her temples.

"He's out there fighting a dangerous giant monster! BY HIMSELF! How many times do I gotta say it before it gets through that thick skull of yours?!"

Yue found a mix of emotions swirling in her chest, a few familiar: Anxiety, fear, excitement... a few that were too alien for her to identify. She found her eyes drawn towards the sword still embedded in Citadel floor.

"C-... Can I borrow that?" She asked, pointing at the sword. She heard Forgemaster suck in air for what she at first thought would be an indignant refusal. Who would want a priceless artifact swung recklessly at monsters in a pitch battle, after all?

"You mean you actually want to USE it?!" He exclaimed, with childlike glee. The whiplash sent a spike of numbed pain down her neck as her head snapped back towards him. The excited Tinker was already rustling waist deep in a crate full of heavy sounding metallic objects, and his sudden enthusiasm cracked the corners of her mouth into a smile.

"I mean... does it kill Kaiju?"

"Oh, enthusiastically so."

"Do we have time to make a minor modification?"

"What did you have in mind?" A sly smile spread across the Tinker's face as he drew a scabbard out of the crate.




In the distance, a glint of silver atop one of the Black Citadel's spires tinged orange by the lavafall behind the Citadel superstructure dropped towards the earth. A plume of dust rose up, slowly fading into the faintly glowing mist of the distant Forges. The Hydra's discordant shriek echoed over the rocks as it brought down its talons heavily onto Aegis' barriers, sending a spiderweb of cracks throughout the hardlight. Before he could recover, the bone-spiked tail whipped around and caught him in the side, throwing him roughly into the dirt. It was over him in the blink of an eye, crocodilian heads darting down to clamp down on his torso.

As Aegis was preparing to shield himself with a barrier, there was a flash of silver between him and the beast. After a very tangible pause, a deafening clap of thunder and shockwave roughly buffeted him with coarse metallic dirt. The Hydra's center head had become a stump with arcs of lightning cauterizing the wound and raking down the creature's back, interrupting its attack and staggering it backwards several paces. The plume of dust that had appeared to his side at the end of three deep scars in the rock flickered electrically as a pair of red eyes gleamed menacingly. Fang flicked the sword of Justice, as though to clear the blood from the blade, sending electricity dancing over the rocks and snaking up the metallic surface of her Drachenmail as she slid the blade home into its scabbard with. Still glowing like smoldering embers, the runic script running throughout the seams of her armor sizzled lightly as they slowly faded. Yue lowered her stance, holding the scabbard behind her while she prepared to [Godspeed Slash] with the other.
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by XianaEvermor
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"Oh Gods, oh... Safety with the Erlings, yesyesyes, finally sweet safety," muttered Rat as he attempted to scrabble farther away from the battle raging just behind him. Between gouts of flame and jets of water he crawled, making himself as small of a target as possible.

"Safe space... saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe space yes. Stoneworks is a saaafe space if... Rat... Can... Just...," he stretched, reaching his spindly claws towards the last bit of Earth that would carry him over the ledge and out of danger. His fingers just barely made purchase on it when something scooped him up roughly.

"WHAT?!! NOOOOO WHYYYYY?!" his voice trailed off in the distance as he clutched desperately at the few blades of Stoneworks grass he was able to salvage.

ID's slitted amber eyes watched Raudd carefully without blinking, though she was very clearly aware of where each member of the pack of wolves was, as evidenced by the fact that her stance shifted slightly whenever one strayed too close. Her eyes narrowed very slightly at him as he spoke and she listened but she wasn't really hearing his words. Her breath came heavy, escaping from the mask and igniting in an occasional flicker of flame, though she did not appear to be winded. It felt like she was looking through him, and she was... her [Dreamsight] had mostly recovered, though she felt it burn in the back of her eyes subtly... what had her attention were the hungry wisps of [OBLIVION] escaping from his wounds.

"Shōkyo mahou??" Whispered ID, to herself mainly. Mother would be interested in that for sure. Her eyes flicked away from him between words to assess the flock overhead, and watch one of the corvids break off and follow the escapee. Good to know.

Three scenarios... she thought, as her attention turned back to Raudd, watching every muscle twitch as he spoke.

Best case: Exit combat without souring reputation with Stoneworks.
Second best: Combatant attacks after lowering guard. Exit combat intact (some collateral damage)
Worst case: Peace untenable. Survival at all costs. If I must, turn it all to glass.


There was the other signature that had passed briefly through her sphere of influence to be aware of as well. A long range combatant? If it was the magician who crafted the local Grand Enchantment the situation could turn sour for her really quickly. ID resisted the urge to turn her head to look farther into the Stoneworks. He was done talking... expecting a response, she guessed. Presumably "put your weapons down, or else." ID contemplated "Or Else" for a tangible second, rolling her shoulder slightly. She felt the melted fabric give way, exposing gleaming red scales running down her skin.

"Heel the dogs," she replied cautiously. "Please," she added after a moment: the combatant seemed to believe she was not in the position to be issuing demands. There was a possibility he was correct. She released the heat hesitantly, allowing the area to cool rapidly and crackle as glass hardened and splintered under her feet. Her stance did not change: she could still react if "peacefully" actually meant "you die," and her [Hardening] would hold the wolves at bay for a time. She could fortify it... but for the time being decided not to cast any spells, should that be seen as a hostile act.
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chaotix14 The seething anger

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The lady seemed to react in a strangely disjointed way to what he had said, which gave him some weird sense of deja vu. She seemed to be looking through him rather than looking at him, when she was looking in his direction anyway. It seemed the animals, including the ravens which thus far had only been observers, were more worthy of her attention. She had a point, a guy with an axe is something you can find in a lot of places, moving constellations on the other hand were a little more rare.

Along with her bringing the temperatures back down to reasonable levels came a request from her side to bring the 'dogs' to heel. Well, if that makes her feel safe... A quick whistle sounded through the air and the wolf pack split itself, those nearest to Raudd sprinted towards him and made themselves comfortable in a dogpile around his feet. Those behind ID went towards the Stoneworks to meet up with Zolya who was now looking at the situation from considerable distance, however they kept standing at attention.

The ravens however were still very busy burning the very existence of the lady into their minds, clothes, face, hair color, silhoute, mana signature, and even breathing pattern. Not a single detail would evade them nor would she evade them even if she hid herself in the darkest corner of the crater.

Before he had any chance to open his mouth one of the ravens carrying a clear stone of some kind landed on his shield and tapped the stone twice before pointing it's beak in the dragon lady's direction. Of course. He thought as as he pieced the clues from the raven together and gave it a nod. The raven then pointed to something Raudd had only seen from the hill in the distance, the burned out corpse of what her assumed was likely an apex creature surrounded by more stone turned to glass.

Zolya seeing this exchange from the distance focuses her sight on the [Immaterial world] seeing her light up like a flame. With that revelation she walked towards one of the larger cairnstones in the area, gently placing her hand on it as the wolfpack followed her one member constantly keeping an eye on the lady.

"Given that you are of that kind and apparently can make these, providing compensation for the damages should be easier. Minus the bounty for that creature over there, of course." He said lightly tapping the crystal with the haft of his now unpowered axe before putting the axe away, the shield remained deployed though... Mostly because yanking the foothold away below the feet of the raven wasn't a nice thing to do.

"So she can make these crystal thingies, those are expensive right?" He murmured into his earpiece hoping for some advice from Zolya... Which he got along with a peck to the helmet from the raven. "To create those takes considerable effort along with a slew of resources as far as I know. While it will take a while to restore the affected areas, she has also deposited some resources over here not to mention slain an apex... I think enhancing some of my fire aspected stock would be enough compensation." She replied immediately. The potential access to a mage that could create high potency materials was more important than an instant reward, it would open up more practical solutions to her work.

"I'm told that enhancing some materials would be sufficient compensation for the damage wrought on the lands. If you are okay with it we could head into the Stoneworks so we can discuss the exact terms over some refreshments rather than out here. That way these guys can go on their merry way as well." He said as he scratched the chin of one of the wolves that had nuzzled up to him. "Beyond that I doubt you've come here just for sightseeing, so maybe we can help with whatever has led you here?"
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by XianaEvermor
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Enchanting work? ID raised an eyebrow, and once the dogs left her stance relaxed a little, but her hand did not come off the hilt of her Firebrand. The person on the other end of that earpiece conversation had a keen eye if they had already identified her as the one who crafted the Fire Crystal. Though... it could have also been their network of spies, she noted, flicking her eyes up towards the flock of summoned animals.

"Is that all?" she asked, with a note of incredulity. "Wait. Right..." she muttered into her mask, reminding herself that material enchanting wasn't such a casual chore, and for most people a Fire Crystal wasn't something you just gave away willy nilly. At least it had done its job of buying her some good will.

"I apologize for the damage: I was chased onto your land by that creature and then attacked. I'm willing to cooperate but, are you sure it's wise to be relaxing?" She asked, tilting her head curiously at Raudd, who was now engaged in scritches with one of the wolves. She had yet to release her [Fortification] or [Hardening] spells.

"Have you forgotten? Apex tend to travel with packs: we might only have a couple minutes to catch our breath, is this place so well prepared that we need not spread the word? The Hunt is beginning!"

The distant din of frenzied creatures began to waft up from the hole J-3 and the others had emerged from. ID could feel the subtle tremors in the ground underneath her feet of the swarms digging through the collapsed tunnels when everything else was still. She stood her ground for the time being, but otherwise made no other moves.
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chaotix14 The seething anger

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Raudd couldn't help but snort as he tried to hold back his laughter at the "Is that all?" coming from the dragon lady knowing the extent of his sisters stockpiles, she probably had a more extensive stockpile of materials than some organisations. It did however seem to contribute to her softening her stance a bit along with the wolves no longer circling her like some prey animal. Still the fact that she thought so lightly of it, meant it was a rather easy task for her... Not the best thing to let the party on to before the negotiations, though honesty also has it's value and a bit of it from both sides should make establishing a good connection a bit easier.

The questions that followed were of a more serious nature, though it also told him she didn't know much about the Stoneworks, asking whether it was wise to relax when the hunt was beginning. Raudd removed his free hand from the chin of the wolf and coaxed the raven from his shield by offering it a perch on his gloved hand instead. "Short answer? Yes." He said as the bird moved it's perch allowing Raudd to retract the shield. He whistled once more and the wolves lazily started to get up and move towards the settlement with Raudd close behind the group.

"The longer answer would be that they are waiting for me to get my ass beyond those runestones." He said pointing to the outer ring of runestones. "... So I don't have to walk all the way to the eastern side to enter through the gatehouse. Well unless an apex does get close, then I'll just have to go the long way. As for the other areas of the Undercity, I'm sure the message has already been passed along." He said as he walked towards the ring of runestones he mentioned, making sure not to get too close with the pack of wolves to the lady, no sense in creating a tense situation now.

"Could you hurry up a bit, or I'm really going to drop the barrier on your face!" Zolya yelled at Raudd from besides one of the runestones. "Well, you heard her." Raudd said to the dragon lady with a sigh picking up his walking pace a bit to technically comply with her request.

As he reached the threshold of the barrier the wolves around Raudd split off and ran to wherever it was they felt compelled to go. Most of them seemingly running through the area between the ring of runestones and the first layer of structures.
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by XianaEvermor
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"...Oh," ID muttered after a long moment of silence, seeming to physically relax for the first time since her arrival. With one last look towards the hole from which the frenzied creatures would likely emerge, she followed behind Raudd (at a respectable distance) through the inner circle. The scarlet scales adorning her body slowly dissolved, and her eyes relaxed back to their original burgundy, though her gaze was no less intense. Her eyes lingered on the runestone for a long time as she crossed the threshold, studying the patterns of mana flowing through and around it.

A static barrier strong enough to hold off an Apex was no small feat... literally, the scope of the barrier was enormous if it encircled the entire settlement. Mother would be interested in this. ID kept a hand on the hilt of her Firebrand. Even though fighting with a mage who commanded a territory as large as this one wasn't on her to-do list, she didn't relax her guard completely. They seemed like nice enough people, but retreating to discuss business over tea and cakes while literal monsters terrorized the lands just outside the door was just a little too surreal for her to trust. Someone with a more tenuous grasp of reality might question if this was real or not, but ID could read the writing on the stonework... its glow scraped uncomfortably bright against her traumatized [Dreamsight], causing her to squint a little.

ID fidgeted as she watched Zolya erect the barrier, feeling more and more like she'd just stepped into a spider's web.

Well then... looks like there's nowhere else to run.
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