With a loud groan Bowser regained his senses after being tossed by his double and found himself himself lying on his back in the hallway that contracted the front gate to the throne room. As a turtle, this state of affairs was somewhat inconvenient. Thus began the rather undignified process off rocking back and forth till he eventually managed to get his feet back on the ground and righted himself. Fortunately everyone seemed to be more than distracted by Megadragonbowser to take notice of his temporary immobilization. Unfortunately said fight also resulted in Donkey Kong being thrown out of the throne room, causing the king’s victory over gravity to be undone as the ape collided with Bowser. The pair were sent tumbling back to the ground, though fortunately this time the fall did not result in any more innocent Toad deaths.
“GAHHH, WATCH WHERE YOU'RE SWINGING MONKEY” Bowser complained as he and the floor once again became close friends. He tired to get up only to be smacked in the face by a disgruntled ape. “NO. STOP. WRONG BOWSER! WRONG BOWSER!” He shouted at Donkey Kong as the latter got back on his feet and tired to shake off his concussion. As a result he was in prime position to watch the King rock back and forth on his shell as he tired to get up again. DK found this hilarious, slapping his knee before pointing and laughing raucously at the beleaguered king. “QUIT LAUGHING AND HELP ME!” he complained, which fortunately the great ape did, but only once he was done enjoying the spectacle. After Donkey Kong rolled Bowser onto his front the king stood himself up, dusted himself down and grabbed a Toad sprite before declaring:
“LET’S GET BACK IN THERE AND BEAT THE SNOT OUT OF THAT WANNA BE ME!”
Donky Kong took up thoughtful pose for a moment, one arm folded across his chest supporting the elbow of the other as it scratched his chin for a few moments, clearly wanting to do something a tad smarter than doing the exact same thing again while expecting a different result. He glanced over at Bowser and, at spotting his blocking glove hat, snapped his fingers as a light bulb appeared above his head. He had come up with an idea. With a leap the Kong placed himself upon Bowser shoulders, after which beat his chest and screeched apishly to psych himself back up for battle.
“GAH! HAY WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOUR WAY TOO HEAVY TO BE FREELOADING!” the king complained before he saw that DK had begun winding up a Giant Punch, spinning up his fist and building the momentum for one hell of a blow. “OH! I GET IT. ALRIGHT LET’S DO THIS!” he declared before taking their newly formed six armed double trouble power tower into the throne room for round two.
They arrived just in time to see the rest of the team lay into the incapacitated Megadragonbowser, but were too late to join in with kicking their foe while he was down as a result of their hallway slapstick shenanigans. At any rate, navigating through the friendly fire and icy floor would likely be another calamity waiting to happen. Also the pair could do with some healing, and so gratefully soaked in the healing melody that the dancer Din was producing. While they waited for the fire storm to die down Donkey Kong kept charging up his mega punch while Bowser crushed a toad sprite he had picked up from the entryway. “MAYBE ONE OF THESE SHROOMHEADS WILL BE GOOD FOR SOMETHING FOR ONCE”
Piper’s sickly olive branch was promptly ignored by the Boss. She was instead left to watch as he went off on a tirade at Bentley over a whole host of issues. Piper facepalmed as the Boss forced them to acknowledge in front of Dormin that the god was as shady as the sun was bright. By the time the two squad leaders were done talking she’d had just about enough of the Boss
Flaming rust buckets Boss. Yes. Dormin isn’t the most trustworthy being in existence. Your not smart for figuring that out, they told us that in the blasted briefing. They also told us we wouldn't just get answers without doing something for em to get answers, so listening to disembodied voices is literally the aim of the mission this time. Also screw you for implying last time was in any way Azura’s fault.
Piper gave an exasperated groan and then turned to leave, not looking at the boss while she walked out after Bently and co declaring that You can sit here shouting at the ceiling till your voice box shorts out and your furnace runs cold for all I care, because unless your going to dismantle this temple brick by brick it sure doesn't look like your going to get any answers. Meanwhile I’m going to do some actual investigating.“
She stomped past Bently, who had stopped to give a tutorial to Tiz, telling him and his team that "Be safe out there. Keep your eyes and mind open."
Maybe the boss would suck it up and follow her out after which they could talk outside of Dormin’s earshot. Otherwise she’d be doing exactly what she said she was going to do. Scouting. Maybe she could learn something on her own to help the remaining intact team complete the mission. The Boss did have a point, but they were probably never going to get the answers to his questions out of Dormin, at least not without some leverage.
Taking her own advice Piper’s first point of investigation was the temple itself which Piper spent some time exploring the rest of. Perhaps she could find a trace of the game’s hero, whatever means they had used to navigate the forbidden lands, or some kind of ancient scriptures of some kind.
Mega Dragon Bowser’s napalm attack caught off guard, leaving the hero's to rush past him to begin engaging their foe. Fortunately ice from Din’s magic and water from Mario’s conveniently required F.L.U.D made short work of the inferno that threatened to engulf the castle. The darn’d plumber always seemed to find the right tools for the job at just the right times, but at least for once this luck was helping Bowser rather than harming him. The mercenary cowboy then seemed to sell them out, but quickly paid for this when the rest of the team then opened fire, Zero’s shots once again catching the cowboy in the crossfire. Unfortunately just like how Bowser had shrugged off so much gun fire today the imposter came out of this initial voly mostly unharmed before retaliating with a spinning shell atack. The king was left scrambling to get out of the way along with the others while also having to contend with the issue of not squishing his troops at the same time. He was rewarded for the caution his double would never have shown by a shower of splinters striking his rear from Megadragonbowser's destructive impact with the door.
Bowser turned round just in time to see his double tossing aside the comparatively tiny Poppi. And leapt at the opportunity to go head to head with the imposter and dethrone him personally.
“I’M GOING TO STOMP YOU INTO PASTE!” Bowser roared at his foe before charging Megadragonbowser. The empower imposter turned to face him and raised a claw, catching Bowser’s initial mighty right hook with relative ease. While he was briefly stunned by this turn of events Bowser was not one to be put down so easily. Despite this no selling of his initial strike Bowser tried again, slashed at Megadragonbowser with the Mecha Mitt, only to find his wrist caught before the glowing claws could get close enough to leave a mark. As a result he was left standing there, his hands caught by the his double and unable to pull away.
”PATHETIC” MegaDragonBowser taunted his captive foe.
Bowser struggled for a few moments, attempting to get free, before realising that he had one advantage over the Galeme empowered Megadragonbowser, and that was that he was not yet out of fists. He grinned at the imposter as the sides of his top hat deployed their hidden pair of mechanical boxing arms, which then proceeded to deliver a series of rapid fire jabs to Megadragonbowser’s smug face. At the same time Sledge and Mallet appeared at their king’s shoulders to assist, having only just recovered their footing after being jostled around by the clash of titans. The larger bro spun up Blazermate’s minigun and and unleashed a hail of fire point blank while Malet made do with bonking the false king on the head with a few hammers thrown over his own king’s hat.
”RAAAAAAH!” Megadragonbowser roared more in anger than pain as he used his grip on bowser’s arms and the power of his wings to hurl Bowser to one side, throwing him clean out of the throne room though the shattered remnants of the doors and into the lobby. A few of the unfortunate Toads who had managed to survive the shower of splinters from the annihilated door were instead crushed by the tossed turtle. The hammer Bros meanwhile were poofed as they hit the ground, having been shaken off their king by the force of the throw.
”WHO’S NEXT!” the triumphant Megadragonbowser said as he turned his back on the dazed Bowser to face the room full of heros, daring any of the others to fight him one on one.
Constantina arrived though the portal and was also the person least surprised by what she saw. Castles where after all a common sight where she came from. Dwarves where a known factor, though there were probably more of them present here than there were alive back in her world. The Gnomes reminded her most of Hoburgs, though it was a somewhat inaccurate comparison as Hoburgs where closer to halflings than Gnomes, while the Gnomes she was familiar with where actually earth elementals. There were also blue skinned elves, which was terrible, and blue hairless Satyrs/Dryads, which was weird.
As for their equipment, most of them were decked out in what Constantina would consider rare magical artifacts which was very impressive. She imagined that this 100 gold they where getting, which was more than enough to hire and equip a Censor like herself back home, would go even further here. As a result she eagerly looked forward to doing some shopping, particularly because, like the others, her outfit was not suited for the far north but rather the warm mediterranean coast. Vent and Cole seemed to be toughing it out it while the talkative teen with the turtle familier was more than willing to voice his concerns. Constantina decided to grin and bare it as best she could while giving assurances to the young lad that everything would be fine.
”I suspect your right Blue. It most would not do to have us Heros freeze to death before we smite even a single undead fiend and a castle such as this is bound to have spare winter clothing fit for battle. she just hoped it would not be second hand.
While she was following after the rest of the group she happened to spot the strange hooded figure boarding their ship. To the others is must have seemed inconsequential, but to the prophetess, who had been the target of multiple failed assassination attempts by blade and spell alike and had been rendered suitably paranoid as a result, it struck her as just a touch odd. She was in a new place where such a thing might be normal, but she considered it prudent to bring it up just in case.
”Excuse me good sir she addressed the silver armored figure who had come to show them the way ”But pray tell who’s ship might that be? she asked, pointing over at the vessel in question. ”I ask for a robed individual, who seemed a just touch out of place, just boarded it with what I worry may be malicious intent. she concluded, here tone having been as polite and un-accusatory as possible throughout just in case she was unintentionally accusing some important or respected individual of skulking about their own vessel.
Azura chose the very top of the world as the place for her scheming against death. There she raised a roughly circular island upon which she erected a ring shaped mountain range, forming a sheltered and hidden valley at their center. Then she formed a final mountain directly atop the north pole. The lonely mountain in the valley at the center of the ring that pierced skywards with impossible steepness and was blessed for its hubris with eternal sunlight at its peak. Around this peak where her sphere and Galbar where forever one she built a great temple shaped like two wheels, one within the other. The spokes of these turbines where slanted to make them into great turbines. The outer spinning clockwise and drawing air up into it and in the process bringing wind and clouds into the valley and then into the Blue, while simultaneously making flying up to the fortress from the valley easier. The center one spun counterclockwise, pushing air down the sides of the mountain, making ascending that perilous peak on foot even more treacherous that it would have been otherwise.
The temple’s interior was utilitarian for the most part, filled with vast empty rooms that could be easily fit to propose later all linked by a grid of wide corridors that you could easily march a company of soldiers though. The scope of these was made primarily to prevent Azura’s newly discovered claustrophobia from getting the better of her even as she locked herself in a dungeon of her own creation. The only windows in the temple were arrow slits and the entrances where small number hanger bay like rooms guarded by sturdy gates operated by wind powered mechanisms, both decisions made to ensure entry was as difficult as possible. All of this was lit by Azura’s feathers set into torch holders and chandeliers dotted at regular intervals throughout the structure, each one carefully plucked from her body only for a replacement to rapidly grow in its place. This left the interior as bright as a summer's day and soft wind currents generated by the wind goddesses’ feathers ensured that the air was never stale.
The giant structure would be her bastion against death, and her laboratory for forging measures to counteract it. In a great hall in the outer ring she placed the soul pearl she had brought from the soul reef on a cushioned pedestal and settled herself before it to begin her study.
First she simply attempt to replicate the hardened soul ash. Having chosen a place far from the vortex this was easier said than done, and the goddess spent hours fruitlessly grasping at nothingness trying to gather the necessary ingredient for her first experiment. Eventually however she decided to partially dismantle her pearl to observe the reverse of the process she was attempting to establish, which lead to a breakthrough that allowed her to create a single soul pearl relatively easily. The process of hardening the raw material understood and then practiced a few hundred times she moved on to the real objective. Solidifying souls.
A Life bloomed before her in the form of a tiny seedling that sprouted into a delicate flower growing in a patch of conjured dirt. Azura took a moment to admire it, and then snuffed out its life. As soon as she did its tiny soul emerged and was gripped by the pull of the distant vortex. As it was the goddess attempted too wrest it from death’s grasp, only for it to slip away, for her hold had been to gentle. She tried again, holding it to tightly this time, causing the soul to be torn apart by their battle. Then she tried again.
Until finally she settled on not holding the soul back completely, but simply slowing its flight enough that she could work on it. Souls briefly stabilized she tried to harden them in the same manner as the soul oysters did with ash. At first she got only fine diamond dust that spread across the room, then fragmented stones and finally, after hundreds of attempts, the first solid crystal. It was fragile and ugly, but it resisted the vortex’s pull nonetheless.
She could do better.
Days passed and as they did life bloomed and was extinguished thousands of times as the room slowly filled with dust and flawed crystals. Plants were replaced with simple creatures. First bugs, then lizards and finally mice, some of which were allowed to accrue memories over a short span before they too were committed to crystal. The scent of blood and death slowly filled the room. As the goddess worked she wept softly, for even though she believed what she was doing was necessary, that these simple lives were worth sacrificing for the potential rescue of sentient souls from Katharsos’s grip, her empathy could not allow her to become cold to the violence she was inflicting upon them. Yet even as she cried a deep old buried part of her was more than comfortable with these sacrifices. She hated that part and understand not from whence it came. She buried it deeper than it already lurked but could not extinguish it entirely. As she learned and gained experience she expanded her scope from painstakingly preserving single souls to flash freezing dozens at a time, moving herself to a second room which was rapidly filled with purer crystals. Yet even this was not enough. She needed older souls with more memories to solidify if she was to hope to perfect the art for the void souls. It would be a tragedy if she came to their aid only to destroy their minds and memories because she had not mastered her invented art.
With a gust of wind Azura threw open one of the sets of gates to her newly minted fortress, letting the light of the blue stream inside. Beyond in the blue fluttered thousands of sky slugs, the simple creatures having multiplied without end without in the predator-less sky and had as a result easily recovered from the moonfall massacre. They would suit her needs well and so a second slaughter began.
Several hours later Azura felt that she had gained all the knowledge she could bare to gain from the sky slug souls. She had also discovered a problem, namely that the sky bastion was rapidly filling up with Soul Crystals and that it was not going to be a sustainable place to put them. They were also making the fortress frightfully cold as they drew in heat to sustain themselves. If filled to the brim the entire bastion might well freeze over, stilling its turbine, sealing its gates and sapling the life from it’s occupants. The Soul Crystals would, in the end, render the fortress worthless and unable to protect them. So she had dragged the tones of solidified souls down to the foot of the mountain, and carved a hidden entrance to a buried necropolis into a secluded crevice at the end of a ravine. Already feeling rather hemmed in however, the giant bird struggled to find the will to move into her newly created soul sanctuary.
”It makes sense.” She assured herself ”the vault can be ever extended under the island and it’ll be safer from meteorites and the like. You just need to go in there and make the rest of it Azura.”
After a few more moments of steeling herself she finally entered the tunnel. She got about 100 meters worth of tomb carved before breaking, the stress and exhaustion she had been suffering combining with her recently discovered fear of enclosed spaces forcing her to beat a hasty retreat back out into the perpetually twilight smothered the base of the mountain. She couldn’t do this. Not now, not soon, and yet time was of the essence. She’d need something to perform this task for her.
To achieve this Azura took one of the mostly blank memory-less crystals from her first successful crystallization experiments and formed a body around it. Air solidified into luft-stone that was infused with the dust of her first failures which formed a pair of arms and a head around the Soul Crystal. From the rear ends of these body parts emanate a cloud-like mist from which wind could emanate to push the creature around and let it maneuver its two disembodied limbs. Once it was finished forming the construct, that ended up being about the size of a small dog, it floated before her motionlessly, devoid of will or propose. To rectify this she pushed her mind into the smooth featureless soul crystal and ever so carefully carved memories into it.
She taught it how to carve, how to dig, how to build. How to understand souls, make temporary links to gain simple information from them to allow for categorization. To understand language at a basic level to engrave what they had learned about souls into notes that they and others could read. How to cooperate with more of its kind to complete its singular given task: to expand, organize and maintain the Vault of Souls. Then she made hundreds more of these all copies of the first. As soon as they were completed the Curator swarm set to work without any additional instructions. Some collect some of the already produced soul crystals and began taking them inside to store in the tiny Azura prepared section of the Vault. Others immediately headed to the depths and began carving out new tunnels and crypts for both those that had already arrived and for those that where yet to come.
Azura was content to watch them for a short while, but soon enough even the ravine became to claustrophobic and she had to extract herself from it. All that greeted her was the beak stone valley she had created. Rain was falling in the valley and where it fell above the vault it became snow. It was a somber sight, one that matched the grizzly business that had gone into learning what she had about making soul crystals. Her practice was not yet complete. She would need more complex souls if she was to perfect the process in preparation for saving the void souls. Yet she had made progress and could not help but feel pride in her work. She perched there on that lonely mountain side for just a few moments, letting the snow and rain washed the smell of blood, dust and ash out of her feathers.
The moment of stillness was over all to soon, for there really was not time to spare for basking in her accomplishments. Azura took wing and soared back up to the sky bastion. There was still so much left to do.
learns how to crystallize souls via a tone of animal testing
fills up way to much of her fortress with crystal as a result of extensive practice at soul crystallization
tries and fails to make an underground tunnel complex to store these in thanks to claustrophobia
makes golems/robots/constructs made of floating rock, soul crystal cores and wind magic to dig out the tunneling for her
hangs out in the snow for a bit for a moment's rest
Soul crystals: Soul crystals are Azura’s response to Katharsos’s burning of souls. To keep the dead out of the grasp of his vortex of souls Azura has found a way to make the souls solid, granting them the mass to defy the vortex’s metaphysical pull. This solidification process creates a unique crystal structure with the hardness of diamond that come in a myriad of colors. The size of a Crystal correlates to the size of its body in life (generally about 2% of its former volume), while its density is a reflection of the level of intelligence the souls mind exhibits. As an example a human’s crystal would be roughly 5 cm while having twice the density of Gold while an ant’s would be a few mm in size and as light as a feather.
Soul Crystals require some energy to sustain themselves which they gain by drawing in heat from their surroundings, resulting in them feeling cold to the touch. In large numbers they can also noticeably drop the ambient temperature of their surroundings. They can also absorbs more energy than is necessary, allowing them to be used as power sources for things like golems, future magic systems or ghostly manifestations. Crystals have reservoirs of power as well that can be depleted as part of a personal or forced sacrifice to gain significant burst of energy at once.
Soul crystals have number of weaknesses. While very resistant to mortal weapons those of divine origin or with diamond or soul crystal tips can still shattered the souls made physical. They also have no protection from Katharsos’s fires if they are brought to them. Finally, and most importantly, a soul crystals need to physically grow to change, a lengthy process that prevents the kind of rapid personal growth or learning that a ethereal soul is capable of. They are also incapable of committing anything to long term memory without consciously growing new crystal growths to store those memories (an energy intensive process), or overwriting old ones. As a result even if a soul crystal is given a body to control it won't be the same as if it was a ethereal soul. Not only will the soul struggle with the aforementioned rapid adaptation or long term memory problems, it is also less attuned to its body as it is physically joined to that body at a single point rather than occupying it in its entirety, leading to a feeling of disembodiment. All of this combined makes a soul crystal akin to a static AI rather than a living person. A memory or archive of a life rather than a continuation of it.
Luft Stone: the stone used to create Azura’s floating temples. They defy the gravitational pull of whatever body they float around in just the right way to act as if they are unaffected by it while also not falling off it if it is moving. It is indistinguishable to mundane Granite in all other aspects.
Curators of the Vault of Souls: Constructs of Luft Stone powered by a soul crystal, these creatures are in charge of maintaining, organising and expanding the Vault of souls.They can perform no other task and will not obey instructions, nor attempt to remove intruders or interact with anyone who enters the vaults in any way. If attacked they will attempt to flee. If a soul is removed from its proper place they will attempt to retrieve it by snatch it from the clutches of a would be thief. Curators are capable of extracting some basic information from soul crystals such as species and can ask a soul some very basic questions for further record keeping purposes such as their name and a brief personal description. They do this by allowing the soul to briefly manifest a small light construct version of themselves that can be asked those questions. The soul is, of course, entirely capable of lying to the Curator and the construct would be none the wiser if this where to occur.
They take the form of a central soul crystal surrounded by a small ring of stone that keeps it aloft accompanied by two disembodied arms it uses to manipulate the environment. Soft clouds form around the back of these three components that can create controlled gusts of wind to move them around. Curators are capable of producing a small laser from their “heads” that they use for carving stone, either to dig through it, to mason it into shelves, staircases etc or to carve in written signposting and labels for crystals.
Start points: 3 MP & 25 FP
3 MP: Divine ability: Soul Crystallization
4 FP: mid sized island: Isle of Twilight
8 FP: mountain range: The Broken Crown Mountain Range and the North Peak/Pole
2 FP: for addition to sphere: The Sky Bastion
2 FP minor land feature: the Vault of Souls
2 FP: extraordinary species: the Caretakers of the Vault of Souls
7 FP: gateway. the tallest mountains that pierce the clouds will enter the blue during daytime
Collaboratively written by BBeast(Ashalla ) and Draco(Azura)
The storm tore across Galbar’s ocean, whipping the sea into a frenzy. Dark clouds blotted out the light of the stars and the Lustrous Garden, with the only light left under the storm being that provided by arcs of scarlet lightning. The storm followed directly beneath Veradax, illuminated in full by the light of Heliopolis on the far side of Galbar. Supersonic winds whipped around the ferocious storm, enough to cause utter desolation wherever it went.
Which was why Ashalla wanted to stop it. The storm was terrifyingly fast, but Ashalla was faster so was able to catch up. The sea surface had been churned into a mist so thick that there was no well-defined surface. Colossal waves heaved out in the storm’s wake. Ashalla might have calmed the sea if she could have afforded to stop, but the storm was moving so quickly that she had to keep moving. Ashalla swam under the storm, and in the storm’s epicenter she looked up and saw Veradax framed by the twisting black clouds. This storm was being pulled by the Sphere. Any efforts to deal with the storm would need to break or at least weaken that connection.
Ashalla expanded to fill the ocean beneath the storm, then tried to oppose the storm’s torque and deprive it of moisture. Yet the storm flayed the water of her form, and Ashalla felt pain for only the second time in her existence, the first time being on entry to Galbar’s atmosphere. Being stretched out dulled the sensation, but as she was gripping the storm with her whole being it attacked her whole being, so there was no ignoring the agonizing assault on her form. Eventually she relented and withdrew from the storm, which had barely been slowed.
As Ashalla’s attack on the storm ceased Azura’s began. She came roaring out of the Blue in the path of the storm accompanied by a a great torrent of wind that she wrapped around herself in a spiraling drill. The goddess struck the destructive gateway like a cannon shell, punching deep inside it before expelling a vast explosion of air in an attempt to dissipate the phenomenon. The dark storm bulged, its extraneous clouds pushed further from the center as a brief opening of clear sky was formed where Azura had punched through and then detonated. Yet Veradax’s shadow could not be so easily erased and the storm soon closed in on Azura with a vengeance, the clouds being pulled back under the baleful moon. Azura, now flapping her wings as hard as she could simply to stay inside her cleared area, could only watch as her entryway was sealed off and the dark walls closed in.
”No. NO! Stay back. I demand that you stay back!” she screamed at Orvus’s gateway only for it to respond with crimson lightning that lashed out from every side, striking the Goddess of the wind out of the sky. Azura plummeted, her decent uncontrollable, as the storm became whole once more above her.
As she fell, the ocean rose towards her. A great watery maw opened up around Azura, swallowed her then dragged her deep beneath the surface. The water was calmer in the grip of the ocean. A bubble of air opened up around Azura, and Ashalla’s face sculpted itself onto the inside of that bubble.
”Feathery one, it is good to see you! We do not have time to chat. We need to stop the storm,” Ashalla said, her voice echoing in the bubble.
Of all the terrible ways to discover that you are claustrophobic, Azura’s last 10 seconds of existence had to rank pretty highly on that list and she freaked the hell out as a result. As Azura was dragged down into the abyss she wildly flapped her badly burnt wings in a vain attempt to reach the freedom of the sky. When all at once they found a grip on air rather than water as Ashalla’s air bubble opened up the wind goddess was somewhat relieved, even more so when the water formed the friendly face of the sea goddess. Still, being trapped in an air pocket deep below the surface of the ocean was not an enjoyable experience no matter how pleasant the company nor how closely aligned their goals where with yours
”Yes. Storm bad. Now please let me out of here!” she agreed with inelegant urgency as she attempted to work out how she could escape if Ashalla turned out to be uncooperative.
Despite Ashalla’s poor empathy skills, even she could notice Azura’s distress. The bubble rose up through the water and breached the surface behind the storm. ”Thank you” Azura gasped as she surfaced.
Ashalla spoke, the goddesses’ voice heard clearly despite the ferocious noise of the storm. ”The storm appears to be linked to the moon. If we can break the connection between the moon and the storm, we might be able to stop it. I noticed the storm weaken slightly when you brought the daytime sky with you.”
Azura floated on her back on the stormy seas as she tried to calm her breathing as her large body was being bobbed up and down by the angry waves that had been left in the wake of the storm. It took about a minute for her to compose herself, during which her lightning wrecked body slowly pulled itself back together, burnt feathers regrowing and regaining their former luster. This gave her plenty of time to think about the problem they were facing. Options like ‘Destroy the moon’ and ‘second sun mk2’ where quickly discarded. By the time she was ready to speak she had decided on two options.
”Ok... Ok. So the storm follows the moon and is also fueled by the moon right? So then maybe we put something between the moon and the storm? Like a… smaller moon or perhaps a large flying creature that shadows the moon and absorbs or reflects its power.” Azura’s shouted loudly in an effort to be heard over the rumbling of the receding storm. ”Or we work together to trap and bind the storm to one place that would bear the brunt of its fury each and every time the moon comes overhead. Either way, bind or chase, I could give the martyr of the moon’s wrath my aura to try and soften its burden.”
Ashalla rumbled thoughtfully, then said, ”Yes, that could do it. You block the moon, then I’ll move the storm away and bind it in place. I think I know a good place to bind it, too.”
Azura floated idaly for a few moments before responding. ”Oh. Right. both.” before rolling over onto her front. ”On it”
With that she began to flap her wings rapidly, sending water splashing in all directions until she pushed herself skyward, at which point the wind caught her once more and her flight became far more graceful as she chased after the storm. As she flew she caught glimpse of a chunk of Veradax sunken deep below the waves and came up with an idea.
”Sunken slab of hostile stone. For your violence you must atone. Take wing and rise up into the air! The mortals of this world you shall spare from this vile destructive typhoon. To do so you shall block out the moon!”
Her verse spiralled down into the ocean and wrapped itself around the fragment of Veradax which slowly began to change itself to match her song. A few moments later a titanic whale, one the size of an island, breached the surface. It’s underside was pale as moonrock while it’s almost perfectly flat top was dark as Orvium. The whale did not crash back down into the waves however, but instead continued to ascend skywards on colossal feathered fins. Azura landed atop the great beast’s head and sang:
”Faster faster you must fly! To take your rightful place in the sky Hunt down the moon and steal its power So that we may dock the storm in its harbour”
When she finished the wind picked up to aid the whale, obeying its will to surge its speed ever faster and send it soaring ever higher. Up and up the pair soared, past the clouds and into Galbar’s upper atmosphere. The wind followed them bringing air up from below and down from the Blue to push them forwards through the thin air as Azura used the same ability she used to throw herself into space to surge their speed even faster. The whale added its wingbeats and tail stokes to this and soon they were racing forwards to catch up with the storm. As they flew she sang a final verse.
”Titan you will shine so bright And bring day to darkest night Like the home of dear virtue turn blackest of night bright blue”
It flowed into the great whale’s feathers, making them shine as radiant as her own and in doing so brought the sight of the Blue to the skies above the storm, making the moon more distant as its dim light now had to pass though her sphere to reach them. As the Blue surrounded the whale the depths of its dark metallic skin where suffused with a rich cerulean, turning the desolate metal from a source of destruction to a heat sink for it. The great whale, now complete, soared above the clouds of the angry storm, eclipsing the distant moon and cutting line of sight between it and the storm it fueled. Instead the moonstone made flesh absorbed the power of its progenitor, consuming the energy meant for the storm even as the desolate energies wracked its body. Azura felt guilt at having brought life into the world only for it to suffer even as she urged the beast to endure. Perched atop it she too writhed beneath that terrible moon, finding penance in the shared agony.
With the night sky replaced by the Blue and Veradax hidden, the great storm’s furious pace began to slow, its supersonic winds rapidly dissipating energy and momentum. The ocean beneath the storm lurched at Ashalla’s pull, creating powerful currents beneath the storm. The storm started to drift off its original course, slowly at first but accelerating as it deviated from Veradax’s path.
As the storm’s trajectory was changed, the ocean currents picked up speed. Far beneath Galbar the Abyss churned to drive these vast currents. Hot water from the Saluran Mendidih met cold water pulled down from the arctic by Swahhiteh-Tendlepog, the meeting of hot and cold further fuelling the currents being orchestrated by Ashalla. Soon the storm had been pulled clear of Veradax’s path, and while its winds still raged, crimson lightning still crackled and dark clouds loomed, its strength waned slightly as it left Veradax behind.
The currents would keep carrying the storm for three days until it would reach a point near the equator south of Swahhiteh, about 5000 kilometres from the storm’s current location. There Ashalla had established a mighty whirlpool bounded by a ring of islands which would keep the storm bound to that location, and this whirlpool was fed by a vast gyre, all backed by her divine will. The mixing hot and cold waters which fueled the gyre would enhance the natural aspects of the storm, and lesser storms would be birthed from this great maelstrom, but no longer would a supersonic storm of desolation lay waste to vast swathes of Galbar.
Ashalla had prepared these things over the course of several hours. The eclipse whale would need to follow the storm until it reached its destination to ensure that Veradax did not regain a hold on the storm, but otherwise no more supervision was necessary. Out of the direct gaze of Veradax, the destructive energies flowing through the eclipse whale were much weaker.
”Feathery one, your plan is working,” Ashalla called up from the ocean. ”In just three days the storm will be bound to a single location, and your flying giant rock fish should be able to protect it until then.”
A slightly frazzled looking Azura landed swooped down to fly just above the ocean, leaving the great whale floating in the sunless blue sky above the storm. She was feeling rather chipper about the fact that they had successfully corralled the storm even if the prospect of having to defend the area was a daunting one.
”That’s wonderful news” she called back to the ocean, ”but when you say protect, do you fear that the storm’s creator will return to free it? Do we even know who the stormcrafter is?”
”Until the storm reaches the maelstrom, the moon might be able to regain a hold of it as it passes overhead. The flying fish needs to stay around for at least that long,” Ashalla said. Her form drew up near where Azura hovered so that they could see each other. ”As for the stormcrafter, that would be Orvus. There is a possibility he might return and free the storm, but I doubt your flying fish could do much to stop him if he tried.”
”No. I suppose they would not be able to stand against a god. Perhaps we could make some way for my creation or yours to warn us that Orvus approaches? Sadly he is not the only one who causes crisis and danger.” Azura sighed deeply, the joy of success having been quickly been worn away by the knowledge that numerous Gods that still needed to be confronted or opposed. ”Death, darkness, desolation. Three of our kind act only to bring destruction and I fear that there are more of their like.”
Ashalla rumbled thoughtfully. ”The storm is more than just a storm. It is also a passageway to the moon. It is very likely that Orvus will travel through it. What we don’t know is whether he will expend the effort to destroy the binding. I have not found anyone else likely to interfere with the binding. Although… you seem to be concerned about other things.”
”Yes. I suppose I am. I’ve spoken with Aelius and Asceal who made the Suns and they told me of some troubling events. Melantha attempted to destroy the first sun soon after it was made, and someone else succeeded in destroying the second the monet it was lit. They also told me of Katharsos and how he is burning all the souls that came with us from the void to ash. I have been to his realm. I have seen the slaughter with my own eyes” Azura shuddered at the memory, one still fresh in her mind. ”We don’t know why he is doing it but those souls that still remain must be saved. Somehow.” The degradation of Azura’s mood completed its tumble from the lofty heights of success and landed the parrot in a pit of dejection.
Ashalla rumbled again. She had nothing to add regarding the suns, but on the souls she did have more information. ”I know why he is making the soul ash. It is from that ash that new souls for new life are made,” she said.
Azura blinked in surprise, having not expected to run into a source of information while being sidetracked by the storm. ”Where did you learn this?” she asked excitedly, her mood poking its head out of the sadness pit, wanting to learn everything she could.
”I watched the soul-ash in action and I spoke with Katharsos. About a third of the way around the world eastwards from here, a great ethereal vortex collects the souls of the dead and deposits large quantities of soul-ash.” As Ashalla described the scene, her form morphed to also depict the scene, picking up matter floating in the ocean to add to the diorama. ”The soul-ash made everything in that part of the ocean much more virile, and great blooms of plankton filled the sea. But the soul-ash also bore impurities which bore a bitter taste, so I called Katharsos down to deal with the issue. We created some oysters to purify the soul-ash in the area, and I built a vast reef in the area. Would you like to see it?”
The ramifications of Ashalla working with Katharsos could wait till later, this was big. ”Yes! More than anything!” Azura responded with aggressive interest before calling herself a little to respond in a more dignified fashion. ”I mean. yes. I’d be very interested in seeing this place for myself. Do you mind if I pop over to the east and take a look. Right now. If you need help I’ll come back as fast as I can.”
Ashalla was bubbling with excitement and pride. Here was someone who was excited about her creations. ”Better, I’ll go and show you.” Ashalla collapsed back into the ocean and pulsed away beneath the surface.
”Right now? Ok then!” Azura ascended higher into the sky and then raced to follow after the water goddess, wings hammering and wind churning to keep pace with her speedy guide.
A few hours of travel brought them past the Kick before the shallow water of the Great Soul Reef came into view. It was shaped like a vast spiral, although it was too big to be seen all at once. Just beneath the surface of the ocean was a dazzling array of colours. Coral, algae, fish and more painted the sea floor with dancing patterns. Ubiquitous in the reef was a particular species of oyster.
Ashalla manifested a head above the water and two waves swept out from her like outstretched arms. ”Do you like it?” she asked Azura.
Azura fluttered too and fro, taking it all in. The place was one of contrast Azura felt. Below was vibrant ecosystem full of colorful marvels that she longed to explore. ”Your reef is gorgeous,” she told Ashalla truthfully.
Above however was the Vortex of Souls, a vile maw that must have devoured the souls from the void in the same way it now consumed the spirits of the creatures the gods had made. Down from the Vortex rained soul ash which that she could see all to clearly now that she was looking for it. She watched it suffuse itself into the eggs of fish and blossomed into a simple soul and in doing so she gained something of an understanding of why Katharsos was doing what he was doing. She also saw that some oysters were seemingly eating the ash and decided to investigate. Finding one close to the surface she carefully raised the stone it was on with her mind to inspect the mollusk and in doing so discovered the soul pearl within.
”What is this?” she asked the ocean goddess
”Those are soul oysters. They cleanse the soul-ash,” Ashalla explained. ”Within are the impurities in the soul-ash condensed into a solid and inert form.”
Fascinated, Azura plucked the tiny pearl from the oyster and brought it before her, turning the gemstone too and fro to examine it. It was strange and beautiful. Soulstuff made solid. Free of a body yet also free from the pull of the Vortex.
It gave her an idea.
Ashala and azura both try to combat the storm following Veradax’s shadow individually and both fail. The two meet up and agree to work together, Azura creating a massive flying whale that blocks the storm’s connection to Veradax while Ashala drags the storm to a ring of islands containing a whirlpool to bind it.
The initial part of this plan is pulled off, but during the subsequent 3 day transportation period of the storm to its binding point the two get side tracked while talking about Katharsos. Ashala invites Azura to tour the reef beneath the vortex of souls and the twho leave the whale and storm to complete their journey unsupervised. Ashala shows of her beautiful reef and Azura learns more about Katharsos from his vortex and ash. In the process Azura finds, and is told about, soul pearls. Then she got an idea. An awful idea. The Birb had a wonderful, awful idea.
Azura Start: 5 MP & 25 FP Spent: Created the eclipse whale, a single beast of phenomenal power, for 2 MP End: 3 MP & 25 FP Portfolios: Tonnikala (7/10) Birds (6/10)
Ashalla Start: 6 MP & 15 FP Spent: 8 FP on creating the Maelstrom which binds Veradax’s Gateway (major terrain modification, enhanced by Oceans) End: 6 MP & 7 FP Portfolios: 2 FP towards Colour. 8 FP towards Storms.
Piper was pleased and surprised to find that the boss more or less did as he was told and rather than pissing off their host or blowing a gasket at her. Instead he turned his back to her and began talking to himself. Either that or to someone one the other end of an unseen radio. Piper assumed, and hoped, it was the latter. With little else to be done other than wait for the inevitable retribution Piper dusted of her hands and turned her attention back to the conversation between Bentley and Dormin.
That conversation seemed to have gone well. A deal had been struck. Kill these new colossi in exchange for information, one question answered for each target eliminated. She really hoped that these assassinations weren't going to turn out to be of the morally questionable kind. Bently and Delsin certainly took no issue with the prospect of slaying these unknown invaders so Piper didn’t feel the need to voice her doubts. That could wait for later once they were out of earshot of Dormin and found out what exactly they were supposed to be killing.
As bently outlined his plan Piper sighed at the prospect of getting stuck with the boss as the only appointed leader around, but agreed regardless. “Works for me I guess” she said as she walked back over to the Boss. She hoped he was done sulking.
The steambot was fairly sure she’d never be able to co-opt leadership of their small team while keeping the boss a part of it, she expected his ego would not stand for such a mutiny and he might even fight her over it. Also, colossal ass he may be, the Boss did at least seem competent when it came to combat, so losing him would put a real dent in their already limited firepower. That said, there was no way she was just going to fall in line like some good little soldier-bot, particularly after the stunt she pulled with shushing him. So instead she tried a different approach, working with the boss rather than for or against him. Time would tell if either of them would be able to stand that kind of arrangement.
“So Boss. If they’re going to the west how do you feel about trekking back across the bridge to the Old Temple in the north?” she suggested “It’d be easier for us link up with the other team if they get in trouble from there compared to the other places.” she based this assumption of the river separating the west and south, and the distance between the west and east being greater than the suggested pairing.
“Also is it possible to link whatever radio/phone your using right now to Bentley's Binocucom?” she suggested after overhearing Bentley's description of his kit. “It’d be useful to keep in touch with the other team’s leader.”
She told the young human after he introduced himself. He was followed in this by the rest of the squad's as they all made their way inside the Ragnarok. She didn't really get the understanding of what they could do from said introductions like she had wanted unfortunately. Alica and Cloud where straightforward enough to guess however, the former used guns and the latter their immense sword. Joker she was less sure of, but perhaps he was a brawler like slayer, or perhaps a magic wielding person like her? Basically she had no idea.
At any rate, there were slightly more important things to focus on, like the rather vague explanation King Dedede gave when questions about what had happened to bring them to this stage where directed at him. Naija, very familiar with the feeling of being left in the dark, decided she should to try and shed some additional light on the situation.
“Just to, uh, add to that a bit. Meta Knight's ship attacked the castle. Then he came in and stole this bag one of the virus monsters from the attack on the smash arena(which is a place in the city) had, as well kidnapping this guy who was part of organizing the fight at the arena. The bag has.. Other worlds in it? Or… um. Can go to other worlds? And is also infected by the virus, but the worlds in it aren't.”
Naija struggled trying to remember what little Dr Solus had told her when she had been hanging around the lab yesterday evening. Then she glued that together with the briefing information.“but I guess the bag can infect the worlds now? Something like that anyway. Basically it’s bad. Also Guile got stabbed by meta knight by a sword that destroys pixels. Which we’re all made of. Which is bad because they can heal him. So they froze him to stop him from dying.” there was definitely something to be said for how succinct king Dedede’s explanation had been when compared to Naija's rambling“then meta knight ran away in the ship and fox chased him. That's... Basically all you’ve missed I think?”
By the time she was done her exposition they were preparing for take off. Copying the rotund penguin she got herself strapped into one of the chairs after a only a few failed attempts. Then they were off into the sky. If she hadn’t seen the halberd disappearing into the night she would never have believed the hunk of metal they where in could fly, but fly it did. Naija did her best to enjoy the strange experience as they raced towards their destination. She still got a bit plane sick though but she did her best to pay attention to the subsequent addendum to the briefing regardless. Despite thinking that vault boy was talking about turtle shells instead of cannon shells she mostly got the gist of it.
Then they arrived and had about 10 seconds of peace before they came under attack. Kirby went out to confront them and, Ignorant about how space worked, Naija was ready and willing to follow him out of the airlock but was stalled by the fact that she struggled to get the seat-belt undone. This gave her enough time to register Vault boy’s disbelief at Kirby’s actions and intuit that going outside was probably not a good idea.
“So uh. If we shouldn't go out there is there any way to help form in here? Or should we just go get into those shells?” she asked instead of venting herself out into the void.
The ravages of the Phoenix had left the island desolate and ruined. What had once been a thriving ecosystem had been reduced to ash and soon the souls of the creatures and plants that had lived here would also be burnt to cinders in the sky pyres. Yet this ash would be the fertilizer for new growth, a growth stronger and more vibrant than what had come before. Helping this process along where Azura’s gemstone gardeners, the four species of parrots she had made to react to just this kind of disaster and they did their best to fulfill this purpose even though there were fewer of them now than there had once been. The colorful forms of the Parakeets, Keas and Macaws fluttered too and fro, working together to plant and fertilize the replacement seeds that would soon grow into a new jungle. As they worked the Parrots sang to one another in a beautiful yet crude conversation. This conversation was lead mostly by the Onyx Cockatoos as the stone breakers had been left with little to do in the already soil covered fields.
Mostly they sang of purpose, of their given task to bring nature to barren lands, but this song was punctured at intervals by sorrow, for among the charred remains of feathered and scaled beasts they occasionally found one of their own who had been caught up in the phoenix's rampage. They sang of hope and fear spurred at the sight of the two gods battling the burning monster, a contest of strength so great that compared to its combatants the parrots like but feathers in the face of a hurricane. The Kea’s particular bemoaned their inability to help, their failure to protect as they had been tasked to do. The Cockatoos meanwhile added anger and frustration to the verse, fueled by a minor emphatic link to the creator of the Orvium in their bodies and by their current idleness.
Individual songs from across the island slowly coalesced as the work continued, tunes and melodies stinging together until all sang with one voice with one aim. Simple minds with simple hopes and fears all called out for their goddess.
Azura, protect us
Azura, morn us
Azura, strengthen us
Over and over they sang until the work was done and the first prayer slowly dwindled way. Their task complete, the gardeners turned north towards Kalmar’s new continent. The Gardeners left the Eye of desolation for the first time to continue their work on new shores and soon after the southern tip of the new land began to sprout its first growths thanks to their tending.
Azura heard her creation’s prayer as she fell and it added to her misery.
High above them in the black void, beyond even the sun where she had spoken with Asceal and Aelius, she had seen the souls of their dead along with billions of others all slowly being burned to ashes in Katharsos’s pyres. She was first of the living to see the fate that awaited all souls with her own eyes and she deemed it an abomination. An attempt to break the death row inmates had been made, and it had failed. The lord of death’s power was simply too strong even in his absence. Azura did not even consider attempting to pluck individual souls from the masses even though that might have succeeded where a mass prison break had failed. Driven to exhaustion by the attempt and fearing that she would be discovered Azura had fled the sky pyres in disgrace. As she did so she saw a great beast, like a combination between a worm and an octopus, traveling in the opposite direction. She had a lot of time to ponder what Vakk was doing approaching the pyres, but lacking any knowledge on the Lord of Talk the only conclusions she could draw where based on his appearance. Needless to say the theories drawn from the monsters looks were as unfaltering as her opinion of his chosen aesthetics.
From there she had fallen back to the sun first and had spoken with Aelius briefly to confirm what Asceal had seen in the stars was true. Then she had headed back down to Galbar, using her air bubble both times to avoid incinerating herself. Now she found herself home once more in the Blue and bore witness how it had been ravaged by Ovius’s unseen passing and the fall of his moon fragments. Thousands of Sky slugs had been obliterated from existence while many of her temples had been reduced to rubble or completely knocked out of the sky. Unlike her parrots however the creatures of the Blue did not have the capacity for sadness or loss and so continued to cluelessly flutter too and fro around the morose bird. In her sullen state Azura found that frustrating and in her mind a division began to form between which souls need saving and which was not. It was a rationalization that made her task easier certainly, but it was also a cold one by her standards, one reflective of the slow hardening of her heart that witnessing the evils of other gods had caused.
Down below her she saw another one of these evils racing across the surface of Galbar. A vast storm that tore across the world at unimaginable speed, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, both physical and spiritual, as countless souls drifted free of the ocean behind it. She noted that these souls all seemed to drift across Galbar’s surface rather than right up to the pyres as she expected them too. She also noted to her horror that the storm’s westward path took it dangerously close to the eye. Fear for her Parrots lives was enough to push her to act once more despite her emotional exhaustion.
Azura descended back to Galbar to confront the desolate storm.
Azura’s parrots replant the burned islands of the Eye of desolation while singing to their goddess. Then they travel to the southern tip of Kalmarland to start planting there.
Azura hears the prayers of her creations while she descends from the sky pyres. She also sees Vakk on her way down but the two don't have time to speak as she hurtles on by him. In the pyres she witnesses everything Seihdhara did up there, tires and fails to free those waiting to be burned, and then runs before Katharsos can show up and ask her what she is doing poking around his sphere.
Then she returns to The Blue, gets a bit cross with her sea slugs for not being sad about all their dead comrades and ruined temples and also spots the Gateway to Veradax wrecking its way across Galbar. She ceases moping and goes down to intervene.
In response to his confused question Bowser received an avalanche of abuse. He was utterly stunned by his double’s cutting character assassination and it left him standing in shock. Bug eyed, with his mouth standing agape, Bowser’s jaw hinging up and down slightly as he tried and failed to work out a retort while the Megadragon move onto fresh pray.. By the time he had managed to figure out any kind of response his doppelganger had left them in the company of the… of a Master Hand. Along with it where more Galleem controlled puppets, ones supposedly familiar to some of the others, that they would need to face to proceed. Ratchet running over and hugged one made him quite sure they where a non issue however. Instead of getting involved he focused his attention on the hand and proceeded to yell at it. Most of what h shouted was what he wanted to shout at Megadragonbowser, but hadn’t been smart enough to come up with while his double was still around to hear it.
“SCREW YOU OVER-SIZED MITTEN. UNLIKE YOU AND THAT LOSER COPY OF ME IN THERE, I WON’T BEND A KNEE TO SOME DIME A DOZEN JUMPED UP ONE-OFF VILLAIN LIKE GALEEM FOR A CHEAP POWER BOOST. THE LIKES OF THEM ALWAYS SHOW UP ACTING ALL HIGH AND MIGHTY WHILE WANTING TO DESTROY THE WORLD OR UNIVERSE OR WHATEVER. THEN THEY GET THEIR BUTT’S KICKED JUST ONCE AND THEN THEY NEVER COME BACK. ME THOUGH? I’M STILL RIGHT HERE, WHILE EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM HAS RUN OFF WITH THEIR TAILS BETWEEN THEIR LEGS AFTER THEIR FIRST BEATING! YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE THEY’RE QUITTERS WITH ZERO GUTS WHILE I’M THE TOUGHEST, MOST TENACIOUS, MOST AWESOME BAD GUY OF THEM ALL. SO BUZZ OFF BACK TO YOUR STUPID LIGHT BEFORE I CRUSH YOU MYSELF!”
Bowser sucked in air into his lungs, flames licking at his lips before he spat a roaring fireball at the Master Hand. Sadly (or perhaps fortunately because provoking the titanic glove would likely have made the situation ten times worse) the hand took its leave of them before the king could pull off his attack. The flaming bolt ended up soaring harmlessly over the heads of the stationary figures it had left behind and splashed harmlessly against the castle wall.
“YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, RUN YOU COWARD!” the dragon turtle yelled, shaking his fist at thin air.
After a few moments of continued shaking he dropped his hand back down with a frustrated sigh and then turned away from the castle and the arrayed frenemies guarding it. “ALRIGHT TROOPS, GET ON WITH THE LOVING REUNIONS OR POWER OF FRIENDSHIP NONSENSE OR WHATEVER IT IS RATCHET’S DOING SO WE CAN GET A MOVE ON. GALEEM’S GOING TO REGRET GETTING A FAKE ME FROM SOMEWHERE WHEN WE BEAT HIM, TAKE ALL MY STUFF BACK AND TURN IT AGAINST THEM.“ he ordered his minions as he stomped towards Mario. It was only then that he noticed that the pig mask wearing man had apparently picked a fight with some scrawny bomb lobber. As the two rushed away from the group trading fire Bowser summoned Heel from his shell. “KEEP THE FAT MAN ALIVE” he ordered the Striker that had formed in his un-clawed palm, before lobbing the Rabbid after the retreating roadhog.
Heel soared through the air noisily. After barely avoided being impaled on the spiked tire Roadhog wore over one shoulder he ended up instead clinging to the back of his shoulder straps. From there he pulsed his healing ability to help the junker recover from the grenades that had pounded him, before chucking one of his own far weaker bombs back at Junkrat. Concerningly ducky grenade only managed to slow down their pursuer for a brief moment, its explosion having barely harmed the triple powered grenadier. Heel, deciding that his mount was doomed, proceeded to lob his remaining grenades as fast as possible before bailed on the situation, the Striker de-materializing and returning to the safety of Bowser’s shell.
Bowser meanwhile continued onward to where Mario was, fairly certain everything was under control even though it most certainly wasn’t. Once the pair met up there was a brief moment of tension before the king laughed dryly.
“IT’S FUNNY, NORMALLY THIS WORKS OUT THE OTHER WAY ROUND.” he commented, ”WELL ANYWAY, WELCOME TO MY ARMY MARIO. TRY NOT TO GET IN MY WAY.” Then he looked over his shoulder and yelling at the small child the master of masters had just freed from Galeem “THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO TINY HAT WEARING PERSON. YOU’RE ONE OF BOWSER’S BADDIES NOW.”