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1 day ago
Current Have you ever had a dream that you, um, you had, your, you- you could, you’ll do, you- you wants, you, you could do so, you- you’ll do, you could you want them to do you so much you could do anything?
1 day ago
A paraphrased quote which perfectly demonstrates the severity of Article 13. Lawmakers need to be made aware of the worst of the three iterations of this.…
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1 day ago
“If you were a lawmaker and you set a law saying that anyone who owns a knife will be sent to jail, sure, you’ll send to jail the criminals, but you’ll also send to jail...[anyone who owns a knife].”
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4 days ago
Just found out my favourite granddad has between 3-5 years left to live. Kinda depressed about that, not nice news to hear on your birthday :( I'm gonna share a pint with him tho, always wanted to! :D
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6 days ago
Of course the day I plan to post is the day I need to check out the house I'll be house-sitting. Ahh, roleplay: there's either too much time or never enough time.


There is a universe. No-one knows it's name, where gravity wasn't strong enough to bind matter together and no stars formed. And because no stars formed, no stars exploded. And because no stars exploded, no planets came about. And because no planets came about, there was no life.

There's another universe, no one knows it's name, where gravity was strong enough and did light the stars and planets came about and boy, they were gorgeous, planets in perpetual winter, planets in perpetual summer, planets that could rival the Garden of Eden and no bloody snakes! And on one of them, eventually, complex life evolved and one of the species developed large brains learned things like manners and dabbing, when they looked up at the stars and wonder what they were doing here. You called them octopuses, I suppose. Gosh, they were clever, for octopuses, and one of them, several million years in, almost wrote something in ink on the seafloor, a message to its friend. And the message almost read: "Hi! How are you?" And a few millennia later, space folder back on itself and, you get the idea.
Goodbye Octopi.

There's another universe, where life formed on every planet, in every solar system, and it was carbon-based, it was silicon based, it was made of crystals and water and plasma, it was made of quantum fields and light, and everything was alive, everything was doing a boogie, and it was everybody's birthday, everyday, relatively, and everyone got presents, and they had over a trillion languages, some written down, some only spoken, some conducted telepathically, and they bought a galactic civilization together, as a perfect unity, sharing stories, sharing technology, speaking a common tongue, understanding everything about how the cosmos been put together. And finally, when everything was sorted, the galaxies were arranged into perfect geometric formations, transmitting pure love, and wisdom, and birthday greetings to all species in the universe, for all time. Papercuts never happened, coke came in glass bottles, no one even remembered the word for war, everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

And yet, for a quirk in their evolution, because resources weren't scarce enough on the planets these species developed on, not a single creature in the universe was conscious. Food was eaten and no-one enjoyed it. Movies were released, and there was no laughing, or crying. No-one chuckled at a joke. Ever.
Space collapsed back on itself, eventually, and there hadn't been a single moment of sentience in the entire history of creation.

There's another universe, where the strong force is too strong the weak force is too weak and nothing forms.
Another, where life develops too late when the Stars have all gone beyond the light boundary and there's nothing to even see.
Another with too many dimensions.
Another with not enough.
Another where time goes in the opposite direction, and species begin as gods, and wind backwards to cells, and never learn
to survive.
Another that only lasts milliseconds, and collapses in on itself, and heads straight back to oblivion.
And that's how it just might be, across all possible universes, across all possible space times. Problems with the laws of nature, not enough resources, missteps in evolution.
An atlas of dead-ends.

Then again, there is one exception.

There's another universe, a big one, where life is rare, where intelligent life is very rare indeed, the stars are very distant from each other, the laws of nature are very complex, it's extremely lonely for any species developing, and most never even develop at all, but somewhere, we believe, is a planet where the oceans are vast, and the climate is varied. Where the smartest species on the planet may have developed just the right mix of ambition and kindness.
And if you were to travel there, to this unbelievably rare statistical anomaly, to this impossibly lucky planet, where evolution, biology, chemistry, nae, the laws of physics themselves have come together to create sentient intelligent life, you may be able to catch the native inhabitants singing for joy. Of what an impossibly lucky, and rare position they find themselves in.
It is a chant of gratitude, a ritual of showing appreciation for ending up in perhaps the one universe, in the one solar system, on the one planet with all the basic ingredients for intelligent, conscious life.


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Duel for a Future - A collab between Claw2k11 and Delta44 | 27,765 Characters

Illyarion Myriavin
Syllia Myriavin



The marble walls and polished floors did little to conceal the true purpose of the arena, an area so out-of-touch with the rest of the castle it was like stepping into a whole other world. Stands lined the sides of the rectangular room, a faint circle painted over the center to create an impromptu stage, as well as various chests and wall mounts with wooden weaponry, enchanted to feel like those they represented. It was currently empty, however soon it would be filled with the knights of Kron-Nesis who had the day off, so they could watch the coming fight.
A much anticipated fight, between Maryvale Reyes and Syllia Myriavin.

The Dark Knight was already in the room, her blade and armor for practice ready. Her regular armor would do well enough for the duel, though she wouldn't be using Dark Vibrance for the coming fight. Like all the knights of Kron-Nesis, she had her own enchanted wooden blade, aptly titled "Dark Stick", which was a suitable enough counterpart to use. That way there wouldn't be any fatal severing, simply painful beatings and bludgeonings. The enchantments were only made to replicate the original blade's properties, from weight to width, and all things in between. Magic was never really allowed during such duels, and just like today the king has arranged for no exception. A group of mages did their best to enforce magical barriers around the arena, which would help onlookers keep track of the battle, displaying numbers and testing audio signals.
She stood off to the side, close to one of the rows of stands, furthest from the entrance. Her focus was on her sword, simply adjusting to the minute differences in how it felt, though for the most part it was exactly as the original. Proper credit should be given to whoever made these, for if there was ever need of a blade replicator, Maryvale would recommend whoever it was who made her own wooden replica.

And her opponent, the elf Syllia had just moved inside the arena as well with a a similar wodden copy of her two shortswords, her "talons" as it were. Unlike her opponent, she wore no armor save a light gambeson to protect her from the worst parts of what damage a hit from Maryvale could mean for her. Unlike her opponent's calm demeanor, Syllia seemed to have a more confident air to her, perhaps sure that her agility would give her the victory that she desired.

Meanwhile, in the front seat stood another elven figure, fully arrmored save for the helmet. This one, unlike the few knights that were already there and prepared to cheer for either of the two ladies, had a rather displeased look on his face, fully knowing the stakes of the duel for both of the two fighters on the stage.

With the fight's beginning now minutes away, it left the Dark Knight to wonder just who would show up? Surely her liege, Princess Azymn, would do so, and perhaps some other members of the royal family, no doubt. She had promised, and already made arrangements with her father, so she was free from the Kron-Nesian courts for today. Her father, the Grand Marshal, could potentially make it, though it all depended on whether he was still suffering an extensive workload. She had wished to see him, but had been unable to for days, given a number of recent events that kept the two away from one-another. Though it did not distract her, part of her wished to display to her father the fruits of what she had learned; they hadn't sparred in a good while, and he had not witnessed her recent growth.
There was one person, however, who had already made himself present, whose expression drew a glance from the corner of Maryvale's eye.
She couldn't help it, his look was far too displeased for her liking - she had to speak up. "Illyarion," she began, not quite facing him, "you look upset. I take it you're worried about the defeated party?"

She had an awful habit of putting things bluntly, but one had to admit her senses were keen. Even if it was written all over the Elve's face.

"Quite so." Illayrion answered, as unlike most people, he had grown quite used to her blunt demeanor. "I care about both you quite a bit and you both have quite a lot on the table for this match." He said, his expression relaxing a bit. "To be honest, I didn't think the king was that smart. This way, he wins no matter who wins and who loses this match." A hint of rage appeared on the man's face the more he pondered about the situation.

However, after a few moments of intensity in his expression, he sighed to calm himself down. "However, even so, I expect both of you to fight as hard as you can!" This time, he turned towards Syllia as well. "No underestimating your opponent, understand?"

Syllia nodded wordlessly at her master and turned towards Maryvale, now with a large excited grin on her face. "Ready, Maryvale?" She asked, forming up into her combat stance as the time for the start of the duel drew near. It seemed that she was not nervous at all about the results of the duel, or if she did, she hid it really well.

People started to pour in given a couple more seconds, knights of varying repute, including Konrad, the second strongest knight in the realm. And one of these knights entered the arena, having woodden weaponry on him as well. This selected knight was to be as a sort of referee and to stop the fight should one of the two fighters become a bit too overzealous in their combat. Maryvale could recognize this knight as one of the king's bodyguards, she had never quite caught his name, though she did know that he was a quite skilled swordsman himself.

As he reached the edge of the arena, this knight raised his hand and awaited for a few moments so that both Syllia and Maryvale would have time to enter their favored stance, or just do some last second preparations.

"We're getting this started sooner than expected." Quipped the Dark Knight as she entered a deceivingly defenseless stance, blade at her side rather than holding it in front of her, only wielding it with one hand. It tended to put others off-guard, how easily she could wield her blade, heavy as it was, with only one hand. Two was always better, but if need be, one would suffice. "I am prepared."

She caught the sight of the last entrant, blue cape standing out as much as her marble hair. It was a habit one had to develop as retainer: always know how to locate your liege in a crowd. It made Maryvale smile. "My name is Maryvale Reyes, first daughter of Grand Marshal Lenius Reyes, of the Grand Kingdom of Kron-Nesis. As retainer to Princess Azymn and current occupant of the realm's greatest knight, it is by my honour that I must accept your challenge, Syllia Myriavin. May we battle fair; glory to the victor, and honour to the defeated." With her little speech out of the way, Maryvale awaited either Syllia or the referee to speak next, be it to prove one's honour, or the other to start the duel.

As Maryvale proclaimed her readiness, Syllia's smile twitched slightly before she herself started to speak. "My name is Syllia Myriavin, first daughter of Illayrion Myriavin. As a knight candidate, I am honored that you would accept my challenge and I hope that no matter who the victor will be, we will stay on good terms! " She said, and seeing Maryvale's relaxed stance, she herself relaxed her stance, lowering her swords and she herself seemingly dropping her stance.

She had studied Maryvale's fighting, she had even had a few mock duels with her in the past, she knew not to be fooled by this seemingly defensless stance, so she had to be ready for any sort of movement. She turned towards the referee and simply nodded towards him, signifying her readiness.

He himself gave a quick nod, and raised his arm out in front of him, letting it stay. He looked to his left, then his right, before dropping his arm with force.
"Fight!" The referee shouted from the edge of the arena.
The battle had finally begun.

Where once Syllia might have charged, she just slowly walked towards Maryvale with a confident smile on her face and stopped just outside what she considered to be Maryvale's reach would be, staying there and daring Maryvale to make the first move and if possible, the first mistake.
Her predictions were made easy, for as she approached, the Dark Knight raised her blade in Syllia's direction, so to not let her get too close. She showed no real emotion, no sign of happiness or excitement or sadness or anger; serious as always. Though most knights would consider Maryvale's stance too open and entirely foolish, there were a few who knew that her way of fighting was never so simple. She didn't fight using just her sword, after all.
Not too keen on letting an opportunity pass, she lunged forward, pressing her body into her blade, which was suddenly across her body rather than extended outwards. In what seemed like a second, she had gone from completely relaxed to battle ready, and no lesser knight would have seen the subtle hints to her shift in weight to accomodate for her forward momentum. While her sword was between both their bodies, it looked as though she intended to bodyslam Syllia, her charge filled with force.

Of course, her opponent was no lesser knight. She too remembered the few duels and sparring sessions they had done, though few were actually official. Though there were times where the Elven Knight had beaten her, it wasn't as though she could beat every other knight as Maryvale could, so it was hard to say who would be the victor of this duel. With the stakes as high as they were, it would keep everyone, especially the two in the ring, on their toes.

Thankfully, the duels that the two had been a part of, had shown in part a few of the Dark Knight's moves and as such, Syllia fully expected a charge, though at the speed that Maryyvale had charged almost took the elven fighter by complete surprise, sidestepping from the charge by less than an inch. She dreaded to think what would have happened if she had taken that charge full force, it may have ended the duel moments after it had began.

She did not dwell on it, though, the charge made the Maryvale defenseless and unable to parry an attack. With amazing speed, Syllia quickly threw two quick lunges towards Maryvale, both aimed at the back of her legs, hoping to force her opponent to her knees and perhaps open a few more strikes for her.
It wasn't entirely unexpected that Syllia would dodge and try to make a counterattack. She had faced off against Illyarion enough times to get the gist of how quick and cunning an opponent could be. Thankfully her forward momentum carried her just enough to avoid one blade, though unfortunately not the other, as it sunk into the back of her leg armor. In knocking out one knee and not the other, it caused her to almost stumble forwards, only just able to catch herself with her other leg. The weight of her armor or sword didn't help, but it was far from a death blow.

She quickly pressed off of her forward leg, using it to get some backwards momentum, swinging her sword around in an arc with anticipation. Even if it failed to connect with Syllia, it would lead into whatever she could try to hit Syllia with next. After all, that was Maryvale's fighting style in a nutshell:

Yet, Syllia did not seem to back down from the attack that would be fairly easy to dodge, however, as she did not to lose her momentum she budged not one inch and instead instead, she used one of the two things that defined her fighting style, speed and flexibility. She lowered her torso in order to dodge to attack and at the same time, she fought to keep herself on her feet.
Thankfully, she had been trained by Illayrion for most of her life, so this was not something very difficult to do for her and in the moment the sword passed her by, she steadied herself and charged straight for the now vulnerable Maryvale, striking with both her shortswords towards any human's most vulnerable point, their throat.

As she attacked, a large confident grin could be seen on Syllia's face and if one were to look in to the crowd of knights gathered there, the few that supported her sported the same grin as they knew that a strike to the throat would be severely damaging to the Dark Knight, if not incapacitating, should they properly hit.

Maryvale saw just how close Syllia truly was, and used the opportunity to spin arond full force, so she could land a devastating punch, preferably to the face. However, it would seem she was too aggressive for her own good, as Syllia avoided the attack entirely, and struck directly in the neck with both her blades, seemingly in an instant. It made the Dark Knight freeze in place, caught winded by the surprise move, completely throwing away her previously accumulated momentum. She caught herself on her sword, though it wasn't without a small stumble, forcing her to reaffirm her stance.
'That... hurt...' She thought to herself as the ache of her throat, only barely finding room to breath, immediately put Maryvale in a disavantage. She wasn't out of the fight, but it surely had made its mark, which served only to fuel the fire of Maryvale's rage. 'Not yet... Don't get angry yet...'

Syllia was smarter than many of her opponents, but she fought like Illyarion, which meant she didn't have to worry about being surprised so much. It was a pain that she couldn't just use her magic to corner the little snitch, but, as were the rules of the duel, she was not allowed. She'd have to focus more-so than usual to win, and guide her blade true, rather than use overwhelming force.
Not that she would forsake overwhelming force if she could.

The Princess, who had found her own purchase besides Illyarion, was analyzing the fight to pick up any useful information about the two fighters. In spite of the stakes involved she couldn't help herself, wanting to know just what kind of skills each of them had in store for the other. In her mind, it was natural for Syllia to target points of weakness that Maryvale had, such as the legs or the throat, and would likely go for the head multiple times, as the Dark Knight wasn't wearing a helmet. Her retainer, on the other hand, seemed more likely to go for the dualist's body, being the easiest part to hit and also the best way to knock her opponent down in as few strikes as possible. While her gaze never shifted from the fight, her words were clearly meant for the Elven man who sat beside her.
"The stakes for this battle are high, are they not...?" She had a somber tone in her voice as she spoke. Almost grim. "In the end, no matter who wins, the other will be forced out of the palace at best, and out of the city at worst. As much as I would like to be excited for this fight, I can't shake this sense of unease..."

Her shuddered sigh was a typical sign of Azymn beginning to tear up, though she didn't look as though she would just this very second. Still, she was undoubtedly sad, for no matter how this fight turned out, the princess would lose a friend; a lose-lose scenario. "But... I'm glad you're here, to make sure she won't back down, for my sake. I would not forgive myself if I simply let Syllia go and leave, just so Maryvale could stay. This is how it should be... It's... the fair way of doing things. Even if I'd rather it not happen in the first place..."

Illayrion, who was not even looking at the princess, placed a hand on her shoulder as she spoke. He knew how close she and Maryvale were and he knew how heartbroken she would be were the Dark Knight lose her title as the strongest knight and forced to leave.
"I would be happy as well, my lady since I have been a teacher to both, but the stakes make me sick to my stomach when I think of the consequences and angry when I think of the one who caused this." Illayrion would have said more, he would have complained more about the king, he would have cursed the king even more, but the respect he had for the princess prevented him from doing this, instead he sighed and kept his hand on her shoulder to try his best to reassure her.

"Just know, that whoever loses will enter my Ravenguard and they won't be lost to you forever." He said and quickly realized that this was a poor way of consoling the princess, as the Ravenguard was allowed to enter the capital only once a year and not stay for more than a month.

Instead of saying anything more, Illayrion just kept his hand on her shoulder and spoke no more, for a little fear of saying something even worse.
"That... makes me happy."
She turned to face him now, an honest look of gratitude on her face.
"Thank you, Sir Myriavin. That would make me very happy, to even be able to see them at all. I can live knowing I'd be able to see one of them again, as they are in your capable hands."
The princess turned her attention back to the fight, and fell silent as the battle continued.

Meanwhile, Syllia, who was woefully unaware of the consequences the duel had, decided to press her advantage and launched another flurry of blows, directed at her legs and aimed to knock the Dark Knight off her legs and end this duel once and for all.
But, if there was one mistake Syllia could make, it was thinking anything would be easy when fighting Maryvale.
In her haste to end the duel as quickly as possible, it would become incredibly apparent that haste was not something to take when fighting the Dark Knight. As she rushed forwards to strike her, Maryvale spun around, her force overwhelming in spite of the heavy armour she wore, sword tearing through the air like some massive club. It came from below, where she was attacking from, and though Syllia was able to land one blade, the other was sent hurtling across the arena and into a wall right by one of the knight's heads in the top row stands. Maryvale's blade had made direct contact with the shortsword, and if Syllia hadn't let go when she did, her arm would at minimum be dislocated.

Either way, with Syllia so close it wouldn't do to have her getting in a free slash, so kicking with her foot was the most effective way at trying to shoe off her attacker. If she didn't move then she'd get a kick to the face, most likely, though she could probably back away in time to avoid the hit. Though it was starting to annoy Maryvale that she still hadn't gotten a single hit in yet...

In a swift attack, Syllia was reminded that Maryvale was not just some random brute and realized that not only had she had just lost her initiative, but any advantage she may have had over the Dark Knight.
However, the fact that she had just lost one of her weapons did not make Syllia any confident in her chances of winning, it had just made her a bit more cautious with her attacks. She jumped back, avoiding Maryvale's kick and any potential damage that might have done to her. Now realizing that her regular stance would not work with just one sword, she entered a duelists stance, placing her free hand at her back at holding the shortsword forward.

Though the stance itself was more effective with a rapier or a sword with a longer reach, it was the only thing she could do at the moment until she would be able to either disarm Maryvale as well, or perhaps even incapacitate her, though she struggled to think how she would be able to do that. Now, Syllia was focused on her defense, ready to dodge any attack that the Dark Knight might have against her and hopefully be able to exploit that opening enough for her to finally claim victory.

But was Maryvale inclined to give her that opening?
And she sure as all Hell wasn't about to let Syllia rest for even a moment, either. With a small amount of her esteem reinvigorated, the knight let her blade fall into both her hands, now targeting with precision as opposed to raw power. Her opponent was undoubtedly skilled at avoiding attacks from larger foes, so she had one of two options avaliable to her, and frankly, Maryvale disliked that second option, what with her recent luck.
Her eyes narrowed on approach, looking to go for an arcing slash from above. However, within the last moment or two she let go of the blade with one hand, using it to counter her previous attack - a feint attack. Her real attack, another body-centered attack, had the full force of her best arm and a spin behind it, as well as Maryvale's ambition to get just one goddamn hit in!

For a moment, Syllia's mind imagined what the hit would do as she often tended to do. It kept her on edge enough for her not to become too complacent with her skills again. Thankfully, Syllia's luck had come back as fast as it had disappeared and she was able to sidestep Maryvale's charge at the last moment and leaving the Dark Knight open to attack once more.
And attack she did.
With Maryvale behind her at the moment and unable to block the strike in time, using all of her strength and all of her knowledge of the human body, Syllia swung her shortsword with all of her force at the back of the head of the Dark Knight hoping to knock her out for good this time.

So confident in her own feint attack she was, Maryvale didn't expect Syllia to dodge out of the way, let alone counter. In a rush faster than she could have anticipated, her opponent landed a devastating blow to the back of her head, causing her to tumble forwards. Nausea was creeping up on her, a roaring headache rippling through her head, not only from the attack itself, but from the sheer rage that she felt towards her opponent.
"I'll... kill you..." She muttered with searing venom in her tone, now staggering to keep upright. She was breathing heavily, eyes half-lidded, like some kind of reanimated undead. Her sword kept her upright, though soon enough she got to her own two feet, eyes reengaging with her opponent. She was absolutely enraged, ready to jump into a frenzy at any moment.

But she wasn't mad at Syllia. She wasn't enraged at her opponent.
No. Maryvale was angry at herself.

The arena seemingly caught its breath as the Dark Knight, the strongest knight in the realm, collapsed onto the dirty floor in a heap. She had been knocked unconscious. Syllia Myriavin was the victor. Though the princess rushed forward to her friend's aid, little could be done about her conscious state, as she felt herself fade into the darkness...

Meanwhile, the rest of the arena held their breath, thinking that Maryvale would jump back up and fight once more, but that moment never came. Even the referee raised his hand, but waited for a few moments as well to see if the Dark Knight would get back up to her feet, but once more to no avail.
"The victor is Syllia Myriavin and as per the conditions of this duel, not only has she become a knight, but she has taken the title of Strongest Knight in Kron-nesis at the same time!"

Syllia felt a flush coming to her cheeks and her smile turning into a grin just from the sheer wave of emotions that the victory had caused. Soon, the crowd of knights began to cheer, though some did still keep quiet for their own reasons, either because they had supported Maryvale, or that they simply did not like elves. She looked through the crowd, searching for the smile of the only person she really cared about, her own father, Illayion.

However, it seemed that her expectations were shattered as Illayrion entered the arena itself. He didn't have a smile, he was not happy for her, he was sad, frowning that Maryvale had lost instead of being happy that she had won. He did not even come to congratulate her first, he joined the princess over the Dark Knight's unconscious body.
Rage boiled within her and she wanted to catch her fathers attention, had the referee not continued speaking, nearly having to shout to cover some of the still ongoing cheers of the knights in the stands.

"Also, as per the conditions set, Maryvale Reyes having lost the title of Strongest Knight, is no longer fit to be the bodyguard of Princess Azmyn and as such, she shall relinquinsh the position to the current holder of the title, Syllia Myriavin!" The referee shouted, followed by another wave of cheers from the crowded knights.
However, she could not be happy right now, she finally realized that she had just separated two lifelong friends. She fought only for the attention of her father, for she did not care for the knighthood itself or the city that much. She would be sad that she would not be able to see Azmyn anymore, but it wouldn't have been the end of the world, she could always go back to Illayrion's castle near the mountains. Meanwhile, Maryvale had fought with her entire livelyhood at stake... and lost.

Syllia turned towards Maryvale and the princess and fell to her knees next to the two, placing a hand on the princess' shoulder. "I'm sorry, I didn't know that..." Was all Syllia could muster to say. Her mouth was still open, yet, no words were coming out of it, all of them were stuck in the back of her throat at the realization of what she had done.
And yet, the princess shook her head, wrapping her arms around Syllia and pulling her close.
"According to the rules of someone omnipotent, this is how it must be. It's OK, Syllia. I'm glad to see you didn't back down, and throw away your own life for my sake." Undoubtedly the princess was upset, but she was doing her best to keep herself together. She couldn't help herself. If Maryvale was gone, then...
"I-it's... OK. I might be losing a friend v-very soon, but it's a chance to become closer with another. We haven't known each other very long, Syllia, b-but I hope... we can be close friends."

Syllia had handled demons torturing her and doing all sorts of things to her without shedding a tear, yet, she could not handle the princess' kindness at all. She wrapped her arms around Azmyn as well and simply started to cry her eyes out like she had not done in a long time.

Though the display itself was fairly touching, the duel had concluded and many of the knights present there slowly started to exit the arena itself, speaking to each other about the parts of the fight they loved, or that they hated, should they have been Maryvale's supporters. In through the crowds snuck through someone, not a knight, but a messenger here for Maryvale and Azmyn, not knowing what had just happened in the arena.

There hadn't been any need to even consider the cat's presence before Azukina had bolted off, though the sound of sarcasm dripping in the distance put something of a smile on Yomodachi's face. It was the redhead, Kūki, who had her attention. Wasn't she one of those that spoke out against her in the beginning? Why was she even tagging along?
Her pace slowed somewhat to help the other student conserve stamina, even if her boost wouldn't make it much longer. A solo boost that enhanced physical ability wasn't going to help her much anyway, and it made more sense to just let it go if she had a plus one. Given her drive wasn't solely focused on gunning it to the nearest villain, it gave her some vital time to think and reconsider herself, and how to best approach the redhead. She had introduced herself, it was completely disrespectful to not provide the same.

"Yomodachi. Azukina Yomodachi. My quirk allows me to release a snowstorm from the palm of my left hand, which is useful to keep people from moving around. If you ever need to find me in a confrontation, follow the cold."
She did her best to flash the redhead a smile, though it looked more cocky than friendly, however unintentional. Even so, she wasn't arguing with Kūki, which was the third time today she had gotten along well enough with someone to talk without getting heated. "As for civilians, so long as no villains are around, I am with you completely. However, I feel it should be our perogative to deal with a threat before it can cause more harm; if we can deal with both at once, all the better."

The running took the pair to an area not entirely unlike their starting position, however as they drew nearer the cries of the dummies grew louder and louder, each one unique, both in voice lines and how they were positioned. Seeing how everything was laid out firsthand, it made Yomodachi call into question how she had previously viewed the exam. How had she been so stupid? To compare a hero course's exam to the standards of typical academics, it was totally foolish. Thankfully, even without her boost to mental clarity, the sight before her gave her a new perspective that could just help her and her teammate get through the challenges ahead of them.
"... I think I understand this exam a little more now." Began Black-n-White with a watchful eye, making out some of the dummies in the open. "There isn't going to be a standard when it comes to how many points you earn per dummy. That is to say, each dummy will likely give a different amount of points, depending on how they are trapped and how they are handled."
She had to speak quickly to avoid wasting time, but didn't have much else to say. "The villains will probably be the same: different points depending on scenario or skill. We should clear out the civilians in this area, as we are so close to the safezone, provided we don't get attacked. I suggest I take the ones in the open, while you search the buildings, though if you'd like to stick together till we verify the area as 'safe' I understand."

If Gas Girl's quirk meant she could avoid the dangers of harmful gases, then her working indoors, where leaking gas pipes may have ruptured, sounded like the best course of action. Meanwhile, Azuki's own quirk worked best when there was a lot of space provided, so in her mind it made sense for her to stick to the outside. But she wanted Kūki's thoughts before they went ahead.

Kūki, the Gas Converter

Despite how misleading the girl's actions from earlier may have been, earning her a rather premature label as someone who thought teamwork a bonus rather than a priority, talking with her one on one revealed a different truth. Though they'd been on somewhat opposing sides early on, they both had relatively the same goal in all of this, as Kūki imagined most of them here probably did. Kūki was grateful the girl decided to slow her pace, knowing full well that with the boost she received, she could've just as easily ignored the strawberry, prioritizing points over working together. Maybe she wasn't so bad after all...

After having made acquaintances, Kūki followed the monochrome girl to an area much like that they'd started in. The gas girl didn't find it that surprising, as they hadn't yet traveled very far. There was no telling how drastic a change the environment might go through right around the bend, but for now, the 'civilians' at hand needed tending to. Listening to Yomodachi's conclusion in regards to the exam, Kūki couldn't help but agree. It would make the most sense for them to grant points based on how skillfully a rescue is performed, while also factoring in its base difficulty. A sigh escaped her, relieved that she was working with someone so astute. Those without this knowledge might haphazardly just try to gather as many dummies as possible, as recklessly as possible and, ultimately, only end up hurting their point total.

All around them could the cries and whimpers of the injured be heard. Kūki herself could tell that many were within the buildings, though one seemed to be placed in such a manner so as to make itself more pronounced, having gotten itself stuck inside a wall. It's larger size and the loud grunts made its presence most noticeable, and Kūki couldn't help but wonder if there was a reason for that. Nearby was a smaller dummy, legs fastened tightly in a sewer. In this situation, Kūki believed they were testing whether or not a student would prioritize a child or an adult. If she had to pick, it would clearly be the child.

"If it's alright, I think we should tend to the ones we can see right now, before splitting off prematurely. We don't know where villains could be hiding, after all, and if they were to catch one of us by ourselves while either of us is in the middle of a rescue..."

Kūki's voice trailed off under the sharp sound of a sudden roar. From the sound of it, the redhead had to guess it came from Zone 4, where Hiroki supposedly was. Before the pair knew it, yet another branch had been added to their tree of decisions: rescue the dummies here, or see to Hiroki's safety?

The roar was familiar, Azuki felt, similar to the one they had heard at the beginning of the exam. She watched the direction of the sound with intensity, though after several seconds in relative silence, she visibly relaxed. "You're right, we should work on saving those we can before running off alone. And while these two don't appear in immediate danger, if we can find a way to help them, that would do us well. I'll try to work on the larger dummy - you try and help the small one in the sewer."

With a light jog, Azukina made her way to the distressed grunts of a dummy half stuck inside a wall. It seemed like he was positioned as thoough trying to fit through a gap of collapsed or broken wall, but couldn't quite make it. Some leverage would help, or something to push him through. Even something as simple as lubrication. As it happened, Azuki only had one of those abilities, yet even then it probably wouldn't be enough. Although, there was one option, if only a little foolhardy. Yet as she thought it over, the distraction that was the roar was an awful lot closer than before, and this time, she could hear Turbine's voice, too...

If Kuki hadn't heard it then she likely would soon, maybe even feel a chill in the air, as Yomodachi left the lodged dummy to seek out the source of the roaring. Most pressingly, she had to find Hiroki.

[Action: Locate source of roaring/Hiroki's yelling]
Claw and I are working on our first post, sorry for the delay everyone ^-^

'They're not listening. At all.'
It looked like she was right. They weren't going to listen. No matter how reasonable it was to make a test judge individual skill, but also measure the worth of teamwork, it was either one way or the other, and it seemed as though she was the 'other'. Along with Turbines, apparently, even though if they had just listened to what she had said, she didn't even agree with him. No, it was either total cooperation or no cooperation, there was no middleground, there was no reason to assume both could be correct.
They had no idea how this test could be marked outside of the points gathered. As far as everyone knew, it could literally just be all about points.
'But nooooo, it's all about teamwork, about vital first impressions, even though they could literally test that another time. It's fine, they can do that. Imbeciles. Idiots. If even I can beat them, it goes to show just what kind of weaklings they are. Maybe I should just go ahead alone, then. Less people to worry about.'

She didn't even bother giving the others a proper response outside of an irritated "Ugh...", as she turned her back from the conversation as a whole. She'd had enough. She tried her best to try and get them to at least understand her point of view, but if nobody wanted to listen, then there was no point in any of it. It was actually a little tempting to play the bad guy, just to see if she could prove them wrong, but even with her quirk, Azukina didn't like the idea of facing a villain alone.
'Fine. It's fine. Whatever. Don't even think about them, Azuki. If they want to join forces to rescue civilians, and nobody sees the point in at least distracting the villains, you can't change their minds. Let them get destroyed as the villains slow down their progress. Then you can just take as many dolls as you want while the group suffers for their stupidity. It isn't stealing if you're helping the injured get to safety, after all. If they're going to take it like this, then I'll be happy to show them how stupid they really are.'

She returned to her sprinter's pose next to the blue boy, eyes staring directly ahead, like a predator ready to strike. If the others were all going after dummies together, then it would do her well to find some herself, and let the villains roam freely. "To Hell with all of you, then..." Yomodachi's spite was clear as day in her murmured tone, though only those close enough would be able to hear what she had said in the first place...

Me and my friend have been looking for a good fantasy RP for a while, would you mind having 2 more players?

Jojo is actually right, as far as I'm aware; feel free to send us your characters whenever you're ready! :3

Yomodachi hadn't really been paying much attention to the other kids, though perhaps if she had been, she could've saw what was about to happen coming. Maybe it was some kind of bad luck for coming off too analytical, but, in a way reminiscent of her mother, she got her 'punishment'. A subtle gasp and a wince of shock exited Azuki's mouth, after Kaito's hand made contact with a place she only recently discovered was attractive to the opposite sex. Thankfully her sprinter's pose held her in place, because there was a surprising amount of force behind his palm. Not only that, she felt some kind of... rush coming from where he had touched. It pulsed throughout her entire body like a shockwave, throwing all the stress and tiredness in her body to the wind.

It was odd. Part of her felt more confident in herself, yet another part felt like curling a fist and socking the young man in the face.

'Calm down, Azuki.' She thought to herself, trying not to let herself get too worked up. 'It was an accident made by an idiot. They're all idiots. Don't stoop to their level and get kicked out, no matter how tempting it is.'

She closed her eyes, and sighed deeply. The blush fell away from her cheeks, and she carefully readjusted her uniform, patting out her skirt. Thank the lord she decided on heated leggings this morning.
Crimson revealed itself, Black-n-White seemingly relaxed. He was playing the guitar, but why? He mentioned a buff, but why? Quirks could come in all sorts of different forms, but from what she understood, he had gifted her strength through music, like a bard from one of those so-called 'video games'. She had felt the rush shortly after contact, too, so while the butt touch was necessary, it might not necessarily be necessary.
Yomodachi couldn't help but groan and rub her temples for a moment. "I'm not angry, just disappointed." As she looked to him again she had a serious expression on her face, though didn't look completely pissed off. Just enough to know he wasn't getting away with that. "You're owing me for that, bard. You must be blessed, with so many reasons for me to not use you as my personal shield, but we'll discuss the specifics of your new debt later."

Turbine's yelling diverted the teen's attention, and earned him a furrowed brow, though she kept herself quiet. She was glad they agreed, though she didn't completely align with his point of view, that they couldn't at least cooperate. This was a competitive environment, yes, but with villains around it would be a whole lot tougher to go solo. Dealing with those that could oppose them was where they should team up, in her mind, and rescue operations could be accomplished on an individual level. If it meant more points overall, then teaming up to fight the villains wasn't a bad thing, at least in her mind. And while he didn't directly imply he viewed himself as a hero, the end of his rant did get an eyebrow raise. Again, Yomodachi said nothing.

The one with the glowing quirk, the voice of reason, was welcome to Azukina's ears. His opinion was needed amidst the chaos, and it had her support. "I agree completely, Sunlight. I haven't heard of a team exam, and don't see the logic behind taking one for our entrance exam. We need to show them our heroic spirit, and we can't do that together; individually we need to prove who here is the most capable! Otherwise the teachers wouldn't know which students require the most help." She nodded in agreement with what he had to say, flashing him a brief smile. She hadn't lost her confidence amidst the heated debate - she hadn't gone back on how she felt earlier, it would seem. "And yes, once this exam is over, I have every intention of being more approachable with my potential classmates. Until then, however, a rivalry must be established for the sake of fairness. We can compete and cooperate, so long as it is appropriate to do so."

It seemed to Yomodachi that the frustrations of not being right had put a toll on Haruishi, as she made her own declaration of protection. If it weren't for her height and thigh muscles suggesting some kind of physical quirk, the ice-user would've assumed her a boombox of sorts, who could manipulate their voice to rattle eardrums. It still wasn't out of the question, really, but the shouting match was just... annoying at this point. Thankfully, the Amazon lady let the matter drop there, as did Bluey, giving everyone a break from the madness. She, too, was thankful things were settling down, but alas, someone needed to speak up.
Although, it was quite unexpected as to who it was that made their opinions known.
Despite choosing to listen, part of her wished she hadn't. I mean, she could see where the redhead was coming from, but it just felt so... pointless. Why host an exam using dummies without anything to detect injury when they could make a separate exam specifically for dealing with civilians in an accident? But, she did admit, she was right about the villains and support heroes, at least in part.

"I'm not suggesting teamwork isn't an option. Admittedly, I did a poor job of voicing how I thought everything was supposed to go down. I think teamwork overall is bad for the test, but it will come in handy when it comes to the villains. If they were easy they would be dummies too -- targets, if you will -- and be worth a similar amount of points to civilian dummies. But I suspect they're animated because of the supposed difference in points they offer, maybe as people, maybe as robots, who knows?"

She cleared her throat, looking calmer than before. "But treating them 'nicely' is silly because this fog exists. If someone threw a dummy or injured it, how would the faculty tell? Maybe we'll see something once we get in there proper, but I didn't see any kind of sensor on the one thrown on the bus. Why would we be lied to if they want to take in decent students? If we're the only group, why mislead us in the first place? They can just as well teach heroic spirit as part of heroic classes - it's silly to make that a requirement for an entrance exam, because you're only hurting those who haven't learned the meaning of it yet."
There was a pause, her thoughts wavering but a moment, apprehension on her mind. She quickly shook it off.
Confidence was key.
"My father was quite like that: a youth who didn't understand what being a hero really entailed, what it meant to embody it. He was taught that. And he wouldn't have been if he wasn't accepted into hero school."

The cool air was welcoming to refresh her mental spirit. All the debating and chatting was pretty tiresome. She wasn't used to talking so much when she didn't expect it, though the many different faces around certainly exuded the air of a talkative lot. There was a draw to debate, even with complete strangers, about lots of things. Unfortunately it took time away from her power up, but the signal had yet to sound, even if Yomodachi felt it would be soon to come.
And being unprepared would be disadvantageous.
"I apologise if I come off as cold. I don't know anything about the exam except what we've been told, and I draw conclusions a lot. In the end, we could talk about this from dawn till dusk, but neither soloists nor teamworkers will change their stance. I still believe teamwork is needed for the villains, and pointless for the civilians, but if I'm wrong the results will speak for themselves at the end. Until then, I have every intention of showing my potential classmates just what kind of hero I aim to be, so if you're intrigued and can keep up, we can eliminate the threat of villains together, and show our personal strengths in how we rescue the defenceless! I will be the top student by the end of this entrance exam, and I dare each and every one of you to try and prove me otherwise by your own merit!"

Their time talking would be drawing to a close soon. The entrance exam for Jigokuraku was about to begin, and Azukina Yomodachi was going to show everyone just what being a hero meant to her.

@follycle@Stern Algorithm@Lugubrious@ShwiggityShwah@Zelosse
@Jojo@Witcher Should still be accepting, feel free to make an app c:

was about all the reaction Azukina could give at the loud lady's, err, yelling? At least at first. It caught her by surprise, even though she knew she shouldn't have been, that this 'Haruishi' thought it best to team up. Even though others had voiced their opinions on the matter, they weren't quite loud enough to break her concentration like she did. It was even worse that she was grouped together with the other teams, worst of all someone else who thought they could take on villains in their own little group.
There would be only one villain-fighting group, as far as Yomodachi was concerned, and that group was hers.

"Just to be clear," chimed Black-n-White in a way that you just knew was about to start something. "The notion that we should all team up to pass is silly. Coordination and cooperation is fine, but heroes in the real world have their rank and pay based upon their individual skill, and team disparity is still very much a real thing. I'm not about to hand over free points to someone who hasn't earned it - this is a competitive exam, not a cooperative one. If they wanted that kind of exam, they would've given us a different one." She didn't turn around as she spoke, simply speaking aloud while waiting for whatever signal was about to come to start them off.
"The villains here, assuming they're animated, are a priority both because of their worth and how they can interrupt rescue operations. In the real world, in this environment, the danger doesn't come from the debris which has already fallen, but by the injustices that these villains can commit still standing. And you're right: heroes don't compete for points. They compete in other areas. However what's the point in having a test where the skill of each recipient can't be accurately measured? It's not like you can rank heroism out of ten; you either are or you aren't heroic, it's a checkbox, not a scale."

"Now, with that said..." She paused and took a look over her shoulder at all those standing behind her, a fierce look in her eyes, as though scanning the rest of the students. She wasn't pissed or anything, but certainly was driven.

"This test is about score. We know how to score points, and if I had to guess, there is criteria for losing points, too. Perhaps cooperation is one of them. But that doesn't mean I'm going to be wasting time dispatching villains or rescuing civilians by being 'careful' with the 'injured'. The villains I don't mind, but those dummies are how we'll be distinguished between, so sharing them means screwing with my own chances of winning. Just like the pros, we can be efficient without being slaves."

It was a bit of a speech, but if she didn't voice it right then and there she knew she'd be roped into following the whole 'save people together' idea, which wasn't how she wanted to work. After all, there could only be one Number One Hero.
And Azukina Yomodachi had every intention of taking that spot.
Number One Student would do for now.

To the Principal of Jigokuraku,

This is a letter of recommendation from Mayuri's Girls School for the Gifted, and we're hoping you'd consider taking in Ms. Yomodachi, the top student of Mayuri's. Now I'm going to be honest with you: this letter isn't quite up to standard, and neither is Ms. Yomodachi's test results. She was originally going to another school for a totally separate field, however she decided on becoming a hero and many of us up north have had to rush out her paperwork and testing to even get her to Kirisama, so I must apologise for her tardiness. However, we feel that all of that extra work would be well worth it if you accepted her as one of your first year students.

Ms. Yomodachi has been a student of Mayuri's throughout middle school, and has consistently shown diligence, strength of will, quirk competence, and a growing intelligence. She has been expected to perform at the highest standard, and manages to somehow outdo our expectations at every turn. I imagine being the daughter of Frostbite, one of Japan's former great heroes, too sets her up with high expectations, yet it would seem she's more than capable of delivering on them.
Her sense of duty and heroic charisma has helped rally classmates to try break their limits, alongside her own, and her understanding of what it means to "be a hero" is honestly quite impressive. Her sense of heroism outweighs some pro heroes', and her philosophical understanding of what makes a good hero means she won't be much trouble both in and out of class. She has a tendency to get along better with teachers than her fellow peers, though in spite of this, is by no means a troublemaker for her classmates.

Young Azuki has shown a high degree of aptitude for sports, both quirk-based and quirkless, winning multiple awards in several different categories. In terms of her quirk, her hair should tell you plenty, though for reasons I don't fully understand, she only uses half her power. That said, the snowstorm she creates isn't unlike her father's, and while not as powerful for the time being, she shows plenty of promise with her quirk. Ms. Yomodachi has also made great strides to become smarter during her time here, and while not the brightest in class, she has shown consistent improvement in her academic ability.

Students such as she are rare to a new school like Jigokuraku - usually new schools receive the brunt end of delinquent applications and never, as far as I'm aware, receive letters of recommendation. It would do us both well if you took in Ms. Yomodachi as one of your students - her application may be late, however I am sure that she will prove her worth during the entrance exam. If you have any questions about her application, or would like a detailed list of her accomplishments, I have sent an additional attachment with regards to contact information. Please send a message informing us of your choice.

Principal Grace Mayuri

"What Makes a Symbol of Peace? An In-Depth Analysis of All-Might's Embodiment of Heroism, and What Makes a Hero in the Eyes of Society," isn't quite the kind of book you'd expect to find a first-year student reading on their first day, especially if they happened to go to Jigokuraku, a school who had only opened its doors this very year. However, its applicants came from all walks of life, and Azukina was no different.
It must have been quite humorous to anyone who saw: the girl by the aisle absorbed in literature, and the boy next to her scowling at the world about him, blasting music into his earbuds. In spite of the distinct contrast in appearances, somehow they were sitting next to one-another. There were plenty of seats to go around -- students didn't necessarily need to sit next to one-another -- yet for one reason or another they were together, if a little quiet. The only real sounds that came from their direction was the music coming from Hiroki's earbuds, and Yomodachi's whispering voice, following along with her eyes as they scanned the page. Not really enough to be an annoyance to one-another, but both loud enough to not forget each-other's presence either.

"And so we must come to the conclusion that heroes are like kings," read the bookworm aloud, nodding to herself as though affirming her own previous beliefs; "in that they must embody the pinnacle of the human experience, and show drive and motivation to rally fans and strangers alike to their cause, as opposed to being slaves to the work of a hero. Few heroes can raise the kind of resolve, physical and mental strength, charisma, and relatability that comes with being the Number One Hero. All-Might, while not a perfect hero, could demonstrate all of these qualities during his time as Number One, which garnered him more popularity than any hero who has ever come before him. Because of this, All-Might remains this world's sole Symbol of Peace, and while a new Number One is always chosen, they lack the same presence as him because of these reasons."
Hero philosophy was something of a niche subject in the world, considering how the presence of heroes had only recently become a real thing. It took several generations of quirk evolution for those strong enough to resemble heroes for the government to recognize it as a profession, and even then, who actually read philosophy nowadays? Living in a world of superpowers meant asking difficult questions became a whole lot more difficult, and science was far and away the more popular answer to those questions.

As the end of a chapter came to a close, so too did Yomodachi's book, where it was quickly shuffled back into the backpack wedged between her legs. Too much reading on the bus would make a person sick, and she didn't feel like vomiting during her entrance exam if she could help it. The cold in the air was a comfort at the least, and while she had dressed warmly, both for the sake of her quirk and the weather itself, the sharpness of the cool on her skin and filling her lungs would be a godsend. The bus was much too warm, too stuffy, for her own liking. Outside was where she preferred to be right about now. She missed the morning chill of Aomori.

There were many different kinds of people riding alongside her. Those whose quirks expressed themselves she wasn't worried about -- turbines, horns, lighting --, it was the ones who looked normal she was most interested in seeing. You couldn't tell a thing about the kinds of power they had on the surface, though certainly at least one of them would have a transformation quirk. If anyone was an emitter, like she was, then that would really be surprising. Then again, it wasn't like emitters without visible quirks were that rare. She was one, after all.
Staring at people wasn't as interesting as she thought it to be, and neither was looking out the window. Boredom would've begun to be a problem if they had arrived any later, though thankfully, it was around this time that the bus pulled to a stop, and the door hissed open, as though trying to scare away the cold with hydraulic anger. Azukina was sure to shift her bag to the storage area above her seat before she lined up, thinking it best to move it out of the way for the person sitting next to her. The line was quick to funnel out of the bus, and while many appeared to dread the cold weather, Azuki was one of those strange few who enjoyed it, sighing comfortably. One might find it adorable how she tried to blow smoke like a dragon, though in the thick fog of Kirisama, it unfortunately didn't take shape.

Yomodachi listened intently as the... little girl began going through the instructions for the exam: save dummy civilians, capture villains, though the finer details of both tasks aren't going to be regulated. It made sense to keep the test simple, especially with it being in a competitive form, scoring with points. She had a basic idea of how scoring would be implemented, guessing maybe one hundred dummies worth one point, and five villains worth twenty, reaching a total of two hundred points. That could be easily divided among a class of 20, assuming that was what the size of their class was supposed to be, and would give plenty of incentive to those who could beat villains. Of course she could be entirely wrong, but it made logical sense, in her mind, to do things that way.
With their 'instructor' back on the bus, Azukina took to stretching, like the other few who had decided on the same. Her quirk and athleticism were almost built for this environment, particularly the villains, who she felt confident she could handle with her own abilities. Even scoring one would give her an advantage, but if she were lucky enough to get two...

She took her position at the front with the boy she had sat next to on the bus. Seemingly relaxed, Black-n-White entered a different sort of sprinter's pose, leaning forward and bending her foremost knee, though still standing upright. Though most of the background noise her classmates were making faded into the background, there was someone still on the bus who hadn't got off yet, which made her raise an eyebrow. It was too hard to see anything through the fog and fogged windows, though, so she could only assume the small person from before would do something about the remaining student. Her focus turned back to the scene ahead of her. She had to focus. No point in worrying about her prospective classmates. So long as they're not getting hurt, that is.

"It's all or nothing!" Exclaimed the teen, reciting her personal one-liner, a cocky look crossing her complexion. "If anyone wishes to help me deal with the villains, I'd be happy to split those we defeat between us! Though, I must warn you, my quirk could make it difficult for the less durable to use their own abilities effectively, so I wouldn't recommend just anyone coming along."

If done correctly, the villains could be dealt with before all the civilians are rescued, meaning more points. If she had a partner or two, the job could be finished sooner, splitting the workload between them, putting all of those involved at a distinct advantage.

At least, that was the theory, anyway.
Azukina's from Aomori in the North. Her family is poor and so she will have to provide for herself. She would've only recently came to the city.
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