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The smell in the air were rather dull, sterile in fact. Nothing smelled musty or old, as if the interior was perfectly maintained. There was no coating of dust covering any of the treasure. As for the routes, the same metallic smell of gold and silver seemed to flow from all of the paths except for the stairwell down. Smells of fresh water seemed to draft up from the depths. It's possible the other routes only led to more of a livable fortune laden castle.

Upon closer inspection of the spiral staircase, it seemed that there were crumbles of stone all around it, as well as coating the steps themselves. It was the same stone as the floor was made out of. It looked as if the entire staircase had been hidden under the floor before, but was freshly uprooted by something. The dust of the rock being smashed was still lingering in the air.
John began to spin the mace faster and faster, the intermittent hums of the weapon as it passed by slowly become one continuous droll buzzing. Keeping track of the weapon as it spun was now impossible as well, at the speed it was going the path which it took was totally obscured by the yellow energy trail it left behind.

By this point Raiya had left for the entrance. "If you spin that thing any more I might start thinking you're a helicopter." Nemo called out to him humorously. On cue, the roaring humming and trail abruptly disappeared as soon as the doors to the temple closed. The mace head head suddenly reappeared as the young Father Galvadon swung it at him overhead at a blinding speed. It crashed down into the floor, discharging all the energy it had built up into a massive explosion that dwarfed the first.

The explosion rung out into the inside of the temple, shaking the entire structure significantly. The sound it made was incredible as well, even with all that solid stone to insulate them, the detonation could be heard with ear-ringing strength. It was followed by an eerie, total silence. Whatever the attack was, it was meant to wipe out everything in sight. It was hard to believe that anything could have survived.

As it stood, the inside of the temple was lit well enough from Travis' spell to see even with the doors closed, removing any outside light. What they were currently standing in was just a wide open hallway leading to an opening to another large room. A room where various golden and jeweled treasure strewn about it willy nilly. Considering pirates were embedded deep in this paragon's history, it's likely the items were pillaged loot from long ago. There were three doors within, leading to places unknown. As well as one great stone spiral staircase leading straight down in the middle of the room.
Nemo let out a pleased sigh when he saw Zuri and Travis take car of the statue inside. However just before Nemo let go of the statue a peculiar sound graced his ears. A sort of faint metallic jingle, followed by a high pitched whistle. The whistle grew louder and louder at a speedy pace, something was coming and it was coming fast.

Nemo's years of experience made locating the threat easy enough, after turning his head a large spiked golden flail head attached to a gleaming golden chain was furiously barreling down at him from overhead. Nemo was barely able to dodge out of the way in time, without his advanced reflexes and speed, escape would have been impossible. The mace slammed into the ground with incredible speed and power, causing an explosive like reaction when it his the side of the statue and stone floor. Uprooting a large part of the pavement in a kinetic explosion as it pulverized the stone into dust.

Nemo watched the mace slowly get reeled back to it's owner by the chain. The spikes creating sparks as it slowly scraped across the floor. Finally the chain led to a golden ornate staff, retracting back into a opening at the end and locking the spiked head back into place. The weapon was held by a golden yellow haired figure, Father John Galvadon, the man Nemo had told Raiya about earlier. A malicious looking smirk crossed his face as he eyed down Nemo and Raiya. "You have no idea how much I've been looking forward to this." He commented.

After the statue sustained heavy damage, the twin doors of the temple slowly began to lose power and close. The attack seemed to destroy the connection between the two artifacts, causing the entire system to begin to fail. Nemo quickly shuffled back to the construct and placed his hand back on it, pouring much more energy in it than before and effectively slowing down the closure of the doors with the overcharge.

Thoughts quickly began to run through Nemo's head as he wondered what to do. They must have planned this ambush to split them up, they reached here first no doubt, but if Stockton isn't here too, he's probably already inside looking for the paragon. He can't get to it first, but Travis and Zuri will never be able to defeat him on their own.

After a short pause Nemo finally spoke. The usual humorous cadence in his voice was lost on him now. "Raiya, I need you to get inside before the doors close. Stockton is likely already in there somewhere, Travis and Zuri will need your help against him. I'll just have to fight Johhny-boy alone." He explained. Considering that Nemo had said Galvadon was sent to assassinate him earlier, it was a rather grim proposal.

Galvadon suddenly retracted the spikes on his mace and let the psuedo-wrecking ball loose from it's shaft again, causing the head to drop to the floor with a heavy metallic thud, followed by the chain spilling out from behind it and piling up on the floor. He grabbed the chain and began to twirl the mace around above his head. It slowly began to pick up speed, the chain magically lengthening as well to give it more reach. Soon the golden mace-head began to glow with yellow magic energy and let off a humming sound each time it cycled above his head.
After reaching the other side of the ravine, Nemo dug a weapon out from his manainventory. He extended both arms out to softly catch a ornate double barreled side-by-side style shotgun once it spawned. Except for two gold triggers and damascus barrels, the metal parts of the gun all seemed to be made out of heavily engraved silver. The stock and fore-end both were made out of some sort of white ivory to match the gaudiness of the floral engravings. The stock had a embossed tan leather shell holder strapped to it with six extra shells. Four of them were forest green, and the last two were dark burgundy. Finally, the firearm had a matching leather sling attached to the stock and fore-end.

"This should do the trick, just promise you wont lose it." Nemo commented. "Despite what some believe, a long barreled shotgun like this has more than enough range and accuracy. It's simple to use as well, each trigger fires one of the barrels, pull both if you need double the power. Counting the two already loaded, you've got eight shots total. The green shells are buckshot mixed with small manacrystal pellets, the special powder inside will charge them when fired, giving the pellets the ability to shatter a magic shield. The two red ones are for special occasions. They're aethermetal slugs tipped with anti-magic runes. Instead of just shattering a shield, these puppies will pierce right through it like butter." He explained before presenting Travis with his creation, clearly it was something that Nemo had himself designed and crafted, including the ammunition.

After handing the shotgun over, Nemo continued on into the jungle, which seemed to slowly begin to clear out more and more after they crossed the ravine. As the thick jungle lessened, the remnants of stone buildings began to increase, until some of them could actually be entered unlike the rubble from before. Soon an opening in the foliage revealed strange sight, a giant stone palace was erected in the middle of the island. Unlike the remnants, this building didn't seem to be very old. Despite the extremely dated design, the building practically looked new, as if it hadn't aged at all. The only other notable thing in the area was a shrine in the shape of a giant hand placed in front of the pristine temple.

"Well I think we made it, I just hope we were the first." Nemo commented as he walked up to the stone shrine to inspect it further. The entire thing seemed to be encrusted with crystals. Upon closer inspection Nemo realized they were uncharged manacrystals. Nemo placed his hand one of the oversized fingers of the statue and began to pour his energy into it. The multicolored crystals on the statue slowly started to light up in a spiral as they filled up with energy, and in turn the doors to the temple started to part slightly.

"Raiya, mind giving me a hand with this." Nemo requested. "Zuri and Travis, as soon as the doors are open you two should head inside and see if there is any way keep it open for us from within."




After hearing Nemo's request, Raiya surveyed the area a bit more before walking up to the statue. "Yeah yeah, I got it." She commented before putting her hand on another one of the fingers and pouring some of her mana inside.

With that all the gems on the idol had fully lit up, soon after the twin doors parted fully allowing access to the inside for Travis and Zuri.

Nemo looked to Raiya, seeing her modify her outfit. That poor selvage denim, it's really done for now. Cut to pieces. Massacred. I fear to imagine what's happened to her jacket too. Nemo thought, visibly distressed when she retrieved it and Nemo got a good look for himself. Nemo's own outfit seemed to have survived quite well, since their time on the shore any damage to the garments seemed to have magically repaired itself, to the point where the only standing defects was a slight dampness or surface dirt from the unwanted wash he received.

Nemo looked back to Travis and he explained his story. While he spoke Nemo spawned a small silk pouch from his inventory. It looked like a more gilded version of those small brown sacks people used to keep gold coins in in medieval times, but instead of gold Nemo held something a bit more peculiar. He loosened the string on the pouch and dipped his hand inside, pulling out what looked like a glowing blue gumball. Anyone using manalysis of some type would see it as a small crystal ball of pure mana. In the middle of Travis' exposition, Nemo opened his maw and placed the ball on his tongue, he then proceeded to casually swallow the entire thing whole. After returning the pouch, Nemo seemed to feel the effects shortly after. Nemo contorted his entire head and body in opposite directions until they stretched out into a snap. His neck popped first, shortly followed by his shoulders and back. After the apex of his stretch, Nemo let out a pleasant shudder and returned his posture back to normal.

"Yes, I've seen your handiwork, it's quite impressive. For an untalent you're rather talented." Was the first thing Nemo spoke after his ordeal. "Even if my first option is to smash through everything with brute force. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate seeing a skilled hand at work. Sometimes even I prefer that way." Nemo replied.

As they continued walking through the jungle, Nemo started to see remnants of stone buildings among the foliage. Clearly this island wasn't going to be entirely remote. He figured that the paragon wasn't going to be just sitting on the jungle floor out in the open anyways. As he thought he began to hear the sounds of heavy water, something not very welcoming for the group given what they've just been through.

Soon the thick jungle seemed to give way to an opening, displaying that the all around the middle of the island there was a vast trench filled with running water that separated the two. Small waterfalls flowed off from the 'inner island' to fill the trench, constantly replenishing the supply. Even then the water was quite a painful drop down, leading to god knows where. At best it was out to the ocean so they could start all over again.

Nemo looked to the trees, finding the tallest one he could closest to the edge. He charged a spell and shot it at the base, chopping out a decent chunk of it's foundation, enough to make it unstable. He then used a gust of kinetic force from his opposite hand to cause it to finally fall in the direction of the moat. The tree crashed down, creating a usable but perilous bridge to the other side.

"That should do it, as long as everybody is extra careful." Nemo said, walking over and stepping on the log. He checked it's stability, figuring it was good enough and started on his way down. For someone like Nemo it wasn't surprising to see that he had excellent balance. "Do you have any weapons on you, Travis?" He asked once he was one third of the way across. "I could lend you a firearm if you want, it's probably going to come in handy real soon." Afterwards Nemo continued on to finish his trek across the ravine without a hitch.

Nemo let out a small chuckle. "I don't know if what we were at jeopardy of being eaten by can really be called a 'fish'" Nemo replied, wondering what exactly had happened to the squid creature, and if the water would be safe in case they had to return to it in the future. In distance he saw Zuri walked along the shoreline towards the group. "Looks like everybody survived the wreck at least." He commented, remembering Zoey's demise shortly before.

After they had all regrouped, Nemo looked to the thick jungle and let out a small sigh. "I hope everyone is ready, because from here on out we wont be fighting glorified fishermen anymore." He announced before walking forward towards the foliage and scoping out a path to take. "Can you walk on your own yet Raiya? Warm up enough?" He asked her.

After taking his first steps into the jungle and finding a decent enough path to tread on Nemo loosened back up enough for conversation. "You were a student of the Academia before, right Travis? What convinced you to tag along on this gig instead? I would of thought that wandering around that knowledge theme-park they call a institution would be much more favorable than what so far has been multiple near death experiences, inevitably followed by even more near death experiences. I suppose the Societas' treatment of 'untalents' didn't earn them any brownie points, but you still look like a masochist to me."
"As pleasant as a bask in the sun would be, it's a activity that might be a bit too risky for today. But I think I have a solution." Nemo added. He whispered a small incantation into his glove and then pressed his palm on top of Raiya's midsection. A warm sensation would soon start to spread throughout her body. Afterwards Nemo removed his hand and spoke. "This is a slightly modified version of a spell that I've used on my own body on missions. It's a technique to mask my body heat from sensors by increasing or decreasing it to match the surroundings. In your case, for the next five minutes it'll gradually heat you up. Since it works on your whole body, it'll probably get results even faster than a sunbath." Nemo explained. He then carefully scooped her up and started walking down the shoreline.

"I'm getting déjà vu Raiya." Nemo said, remembering carrying her back on the ship. "As your partner I just couldn't leave you there alone while you couldn't move, not with those two louts still unaccounted for." He admitted. "I fear the Arcanocracy isn't enthused for a friendly competition. Taking their abilities into account, Stockton and Galvadon aren't here just for the paragon, they're a hit-squad."

"But for you that might not be all bad news. Specializing in fire and light magic, and casting through a weapon to make my absorption mostly unusable, Galvadon was likely chosen specifically with my end in mind. By the end of this I might be out of your hair for good." Nemo finished.

A buzzing sound interrupted Nemo's thoughts. As he looked around he noticed a bright sight among the wreckage. Upon further inspection he found Travis cutting away at the metal wreckage. He walked over to him, seeing that he was trapped below the debris. "Need a hand?" Nemo asked, loud enough to hear over the sound of Travis' magic. Nemo let go of Raiya's legs and used his forearm to support them. He pointed his free hand towards the wreckage with his two forefingers extended. The then abruptly pointed them upwards, causing a distortion in the space between Nemo and Travis. Afterwards the torn hull magically shifted upwards, allowing Travis the ability to pull himself free.
Most of the nervousness Nemo felt began to fade away when he started to hear a faint heartbeat. Her body wasn't cold either, as he felt a slight warmth on his cheek as he listened for the pitter-patter of her heart. The sound of her voice afterwards caused him to let out a small sigh of relief. He picked his head up from her chest, now using his hand to shade his eyes from the sun. "Strange, that's what I thought too..." He replied, completely serious and squinting slightly from the brightness as he looked down to her face. One might wonder what Nemo's vacation plans looked like, Siberia maybe?

"Are you hurt?" He asked. "That wave hit us pretty hard, I'm really sorry Raiya. I didn't have anything of a high enough caliber to protect us all properly." Nemo added, sounding genuinely downcast over it. "In the past I've often only ended up improving my absorption related barriers. Generic physical ones were always an afterthought."

Nemo looked away from her, turning back to the shoreline and the debris. "If you aren't hurt, we should try to find the rest of our team post-haste. Otherwise I could always carry you some more?" He suggested, scratching his head to free particles of sand from his hair. "Time is of the essence here, if we survived that wreck, then the two Fathers probably fared even better than us. And I'd certainly want to get my hands on that paragon before them. If it's even here that is. " Nemo finished.

Nemo put his hands back in his pockets as he surveyed the scene. "I've hunted my fare share of beasts in my day, the only way someone could kill this thing is with extensive planning and very specific, and very large equipment. Something we don't have. Face it Raiya, we're out of our depth here." Nemo replied, seeming calm despite what he was saying. Even going as far to inject a pun.

Just as he was prepared to speak again, the entire ship began to rock from a great disturbance in the sea. He was barely able to stabilize himself and prevent himself from sliding. Multiple shipping crates came loose, some banging against the ship, some breaking, and some just going overboard. The creature was rising. Tentacles of the sea monster began to lift out from the water all around the ship off in the distance. They were everywhere. There wasn't a single direction to go that wouldn't run into it, it was simply too massive to ever escape.

The tentacle appendages didn't stay for long however, all sank back down out of sight. Leaving Nemo to wonder why they had disappeared. The sound of the creature breaching the surface of the water caused Nemo to turn around. He was surprised to see that it wasn't close and about to break the ship in half with it's arms, instead it was far off in the distance.

This was the first time he got to see the whole creature as a whole, it was truly gargantuan. Anyone observing from a far off distance would probably presume it was just an even larger cargo ship. But closer inspection would reveal the hideous, barbed, barnacle covered goliath sea squid it was. The entire thing wasn't just mossy-black, it had a crimson maroon stripe pattern upon it's back that traveled down some of it's appendages as well. Even from Nemo's distance he could make out one of it's most striking features. It's eyes. It had mostly black eyes, except for lazer red dots for pupils. Nemo knew it was staring directly at them, not the ship. Even in his situation, and the threat the monster posed to them, Nemo couldn't deny that he admired the creature. For him it truly was a breathtaking sight to behold.

Before he could take in the sight anymore, all of the beasts limbs suddenly began to rise out of the water... straight up. They towered above like a fleshy skyscraper. The tentacles even grew in width as they got closer to the creature's body, making the size of the ends that hit the ship before look minuscule. Even with it's giant length, Nemo knew it wasn't close enough to hit the ship. But Nemo figured already that it had no intentions of hitting the ship... directly.

Once the tentacles reached apex height, all sound besides the rain stopped. They held there for a while, putting an ominous feeling in the air, and then silently began to start falling back down all in the direction of the ship. Then they all crashed back onto the water to make a gargantuan splash. Moments later the sound traveled over from the incident, sounding like a supercharged thunder-strike nearly capable of deafening someone's ears. The point of the action made itself more than clear when a colossal wave began to form in the sea from the splash travelling towards the ship. By the point it had made it halfway to the ship it was about the same size as the creature that made the wave itself. The sound of the looming wave began to loom around the group as well, gradually growing louder in time.

Nemo let out a small chuckle, at a loss. "Just how much do you hate swimming, exactly?" He asked rhetorically before busting out into a cackling laughter. Apparently nothing could truly shake Nemo's personality from him.

The wave grew in size till the point it loomed over the ship, appearing to double it's height. The sound of the impending rush of water made it harder to hear anything but their oncoming fate. It was almost there by now, just about to crash into the side of the ship. Nemo took the opportunity to do all he could, create a barrier to try to block the water from totally crushing them. It extending into a wall in front of the group. Unfortunately since it was made out of energy and mostly transparent, it did nothing to block out the ghastly sight of the wave about to collide.

The last thing Nemo saw was the side of the ship totally obliterate from the impact, the water immediately going onto collide with his shield...

and then everything went dark.




Part Deux


Nemo felt feeling in his body slowly come back to him, terribly sore. He had a hard time opening his eyes, but once he eventually pried them open he saw something truly unexpected. Light, bright sunny light. It was such a one-eighty of the dark storm they were experiencing before. It didn't make sense, and he already hated it. Nemo despised the light, it irritated him. He always worked much better in the dark, with his eyes it was actually easier to see in that environment. Nemo wondered if he had died and this was his punishment, stuck in a sunny place for all eternity. A truly terrifying thought.

He let out a groan and started to get up, rolling onto his knees for a start. While he did so he got to feel the ground, it was sand. Nemo wiped his eyes and looked around. After taking a few seconds to fully adjust to the brightness he could see again. Nemo had no idea how much time had passed. He was on a sandy beach, on what seemed to be a small tropical island. He turned around to see the ocean, and bits and pieces of Seidon's ship that had washed up, totaling to what he guessed was nearly a fourth of the original vessel.

Maybe they had actually made it to the island? He pulled up his manadial, relieved to see it was still operational. Nemo made sure the device was as sturdy and reliable as possible. Unfortunately, while it was still powered, the map was completely distorted, making finding any of his teammates or knowing where they were impossible. He figured this could either be because the paragon was nearby, or he really was in purgatory. A light use of his manalysis shed some arguably positive light. A great source of mana and energy was located at the center of the island, possibly the artifact they went through all this for.

Nemo stumbled to his feet, looking for anything else of value in his peripherals among the wreckage. After dusting off as much sand as he could from his garments and hair he started off walking. Nemo wasn't really sure where he was going, but he needed to find the rest of his team. As he traveled he wondered how this could have happened. Nemo knew that there was way the squid beast had spared them, the only reason that he could come up with is that after the wave, they must have passed through the threshold into the paragon's anomaly zone, sealing them off from the sea where the monster dwelled. That or it was scared off by something even it couldn't understand, a testament to the paragon's power.

Before Nemo could think any further on the subject, he spotted something peculiar off on the beach. It didn't look to be a part of the wreckage. Nemo used his hand to try to shade his eyes from the sun to get a better look. As he got closer he was able to identify what he saw, it was Raiya, or at the moment, just her body. Nemo immediately picked up the pace to make it over to her. As soon as he reached where she was Nemo keeled down beside her and looked over her body. She was laying on her side, not moving.

"Raiya, are you alright?" Nemo asked, putting his hand on her shoulder and briefly shaking her. "Raiya?" When she didn't respond Nemo started to fear the worst. He turned her on her back and pressed the side of his head up against her chest to listen for a heartbeat.

The spear traveled deep into the sea, seconds later a faint muffled explosion could be heard underwater, followed by a even louder groan from below the sea. Nemo almost had to cover his ears as the ship vibrated from the noise. "I think you've only made it angrier." He commented. The noise was followed by a new one this time, a low lurching looming noise, following by the ship shifting in the sea. Nemo's stance immediately shifted. "Everyone get away from the edge." He announced abruptly before he started to jog back.

Soon another one of the tentacles erupted from the sea, this time much closer than the last. It was rapidly moving towards the edge of the ship they were just standing by with clear intent to ram it. Within seconds it collided with the hull and the railings, causing unseen by undoubtedly heavy damage to the cargo ship. The entire ship was knocked around from the impact, the shift was definitely capable of knocking someone off their feet if they weren't ready. The tentacle then folded over the side of the ship and slammed down onto the deck. Nemo had to use his warp to shift himself out of it's path just it time to avoid getting smushed into a fashionable pancake.

The encounter made it much easier to see a part of the creature up close. The entire tentacle seemed to be a dark mossy black, except for the suction cup covered pinkish underbelly. Nemo quickly charged up a spell and fired, hitting the appendage directly with a large explosive beam of energy.

The attack connected with no contest, however the effects were a bad sign. When the smoke cleared not all that much damage had been done to it. Besides the surface being scorched roughed up a bit, the tentacle was still mostly unscathed. Tentacle jerked it's suction cups free from the deck of the ship and then began to slide back into the water.

"It's likely that it's skin acts like a magic resistant armor, it probably has a soft spot somewhere. But with the type of damage it's doing it wouldn't even need to show it in order to destroy this ship." Nemo explained as he surveyed the crumpled section of the deck the tentacle smashed down on.

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