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5 yrs ago
dissertation done. can actually post again. yay.
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wordcount: 894 (+2)
Midna: level 8 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(43/80)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Garudo Town
Warp Charges: 2


Sleeping under the stars had been a lovely way to pass the night. Admittedly it had involved laying on the rough ground and had been quite cold, but a combination of exhaustion and the echoes of comforting memory had made for a deep and rejuvenating sleep that the princess had sourly needed. Then, of course, the blasted sun came up and it was time for the princess to get back to squinting and being much too warm.

”It’s going to be good to get out of this wretched desert, that’s for sure” the princess told her wolfos as she got herself fully dressed and then slipped out of the sleeping bag and into the morning air.

She had drifted up into the air and was in the midst of stretching some of the stiffness out of her limbs when Tora came storming past while making a right racket before tossing himself into the water for a morning swim. If anyone had still been asleep among the outsiders they were sure as heck awake now.

Still, a rude alarm clock the fluffball might have been, but at least he made up for it with his and Poppie’s cheerful attitudes and silly antics, the latter of which Midna was swiftly dragged into without any complaint. Sometimes you needed silliness, especially when the day ahead no doubt held more trials and tribulations. In short order the princess found herself dashing across the sands and using her shadow-hand to launch the living volleyball, the exertion and laughter that resulted from this doing far more to get her limber and awake than the stretches had.

Unfortunately the game eventually came to an end when the mercenary boss yelled at them to get a move on ”Ahhh you're no fun, but fine fine, let me just check in with the market first for a moment so I can afford breakfast.”

Well, first she intercepted Sectonia, borrowed the Symbol of Avarice and used it to crush the Sanscale spirit she’d picked up last night. The common spirit gave her an unremarkable gemstone of some kind, but given that she’d been intending to sell whatever she got anyway, that worked out well enough.

A few minutes later and she’d found a jeweler and a silversmith who saw worth in her various looted currencies other than their unrecognized monetary value, indeed the buyer of the ducats had launched straight into seeing if they could make earrings out of the odd coins moments after the sale had been made. As a result the princess had wound up with a pretty decent haul of 2300 gold, most of which she set aside for future succulent pig-equse purchases.

First tap of that fund: a big breakfast

As a result Midna started the day with her seat at the table being served a big pile of eggs, bacon, hash brown, baked beans, sausage, toast and, fortunately, no regret because she had 3 other mouths to feed on top of her own. So when push came to shove it really turned out to be more of a small and mostly vegetarian breakfast for her, because most of the sausages and bacon went under the table to a rotating line up of her twilight-beasts who took turns at portaling in and getting some light-world grub.

So that was what Minda was up to while the team were informed of the existence of a giant cat based transportation that apparently existed in an underground ‘subway’ of some kind. It sounded very silly to the twilight princess, but then it was always better to have something silly and helpful than something nightmarish and ever so lethal in this mashed up world, so she couldn't exactly complain.

”So, guess what we’ll need to do is go down, split up, ride some more cat drawn carriages and find out where these ‘lines’ all end up?” Minda said, before taking a little scoop of eggs into her mouth and the having a thought ready by the time she swallowed
”Or, you know, just find a map? That would be a logical thing to have down there… which given how whimsical the place sounds I guess is not a guarantee”

”That said, I’ve got some unfinished business with that split mountain before we ditch this roasting land for good” Midna said, popping one of the port stones down on the table as she spoke to make it clear how she was getting up there ”get that poor guy his oil from that Convent… If either he or it is left… that worm probably messed up the mountain pretty bad”

That put a bit of a potential damper on her plan but still, I wouldn’t stop her from at least trying ”Well anyway, I don’t mean to drag it out. Pull a lightning raid on that place and then drop down the mountain more or less as fast as possible. If we put the other one of those warp rocks on the Virgin Victory I can just jump back, and maybe retrieve the one up on the mountain top while I’m at it if there’s nothing else worth seeing up there.” she suggested, putting something on the table to ensure that it wasn't a frivolous waste of time from the perspective of those who would need to take steps to ensure she was not left behind.
Investigating the Scene of the Crime


Twilight’s Rest was wreathed in smoke, but the city was not ablaze with anything but the fires of prosperity. Umbrium harvesting had increased massively as the sweeping method was replaced with full scale quarrying facilitated by environmentally sealed suits with seismic senses that allowed mortals to survive the dangerous and pitch black terrain of the 11th realm.

From humble beginnings of a single prototype suit the operations had ballooned as wealth pulled out of the dark land was used to fund the creation of more and better suits and equipment. This patronage and recovering of fuel had in turn drawn much of the burgeoning magmatic magitech tinkerers and industry to the region, transforming the trading town into the industrial heart of the realm.

Xavior had stopped by very briefly and had been forced by decorum to take a quick look around, but this wasn't why he was here. No, he was here because of the blood red aura that still lingered in the sky around the pitch back realm. Sword at his side, the god and his ever faithful guardian Annie, first of demon kind, had left that city long behind as they marched up across the road of light that had grown strangely silent.

Oh, there was still trade traffic a plenty, but the frequent attacks on that traffic by the node’s insectile monsters that the paladins and demonic warriors who patrolled the roads had had to fend off had slowed first to a trickle and then stopped entirely. For the merchants this was good news, for the paladins it simply was, for the demons it was a threat to their livelihoods and for Xavior, it was a dread omen.

There was no hope to be found in the god’s heart that what had passed here was what he feared, only futile self enforced ignorance till the final truth was revealed. The location of the red glare and the nexus to node 33 having closed where the first parts of the evidence, then as the god approached the 12th node he saw it too was no longer shared with him, but the final twin nails where the split black blood, and a witness who had stood idly by as its creator had been slain.

The shepherd of shadows, the towering mass of darkness that could suppress all sound around it if it wanted to, had been in the process of fulfilling its duty, herding up all the insectile beasts, those that remained and had not been slain as a consequence of their endless aggression into a central location. The result was an final orgy of violence, the penned in beasts slaughtering each other around the grave of their creator, a bloody sacrifice to her self destructive fate.

Rather than take her own life even when she fully lost the will for it, the goddess had sought her own death in a manner similar to her children, though rather than simply attacking anything in reach she had sought this via the declarations of enmity with all she met rather than Someone, it seemed, had finally taken her word at face value and treated her like what she said she was.

Someone who had seen no reason not to see things to the bloody end: “Eleanna” Xavier said, his mouth rotten with bile as he spoke the name of his sister’s murderer “She’ll pay for this. I swear it”

“I’m not saying it was right, but she only did what Monica wanted in the end” Annie pointed out, as she extracted the blade of a massive greatsword from the neck of one of the bugs that had decided to fight something other than its kin.

“No, that doesn't make it right,” Xavior said quietly, “nor does ignorance excuse taking Monica’s declaration of enmity without analysis. I dont care if she is stupid or is simply murderous by nature, the consequences of this will be the same either way.”

He drew a longsword of his own and then with a wordless cry dashed to the side and decapitated another bug that was coming to attack them before Annie could go and handle it. Then the grief-stricken god entered the slaughter wholesale, intensive paladin training paying off as he moved with the swift steps and style of another fallen god, weaving among beasts and unleashing his fury.

Annie took one step to follow, and then paused. Even she could not follow him into the melee and guarantee she would live, the seismic sensors in the suit she had been given not being made to parse such numerous foes. So instead she looked up to where Xavior had said the Shepherd was and asked it “So, what about you, what are you going to do now?”

There was a long pause and then it told her that it would go north, to the other land of Maelite, and fulfill it’s duty there as well. When asked if it ment south, it casually revealed the shape of the world that was quite obvious to it. Monica had gone south to reach it, but the shadow had sensed its distant change was closer if it went north, and so it had done so.

“And then?” Annie asked, once she’d had time to process this fundamental truth about the shape of the world that had been casually dropped in her lap “when all of Monica’s other creations are dead, will you follow her?”

A casual affirmation followed to which Annie had to think for a while before saying “Our gods may be great, but… they are still just people” Xavior had made little attempt to build an aura of infallibility as Benea did after all, only one of indispensability, “we don’t have to be what they want us to be”

When the shepherd pointed out that she was what he wanted her to be, the first demon, changed irreparably by that process, replied that “Being what they want is to be is always a choice”

They were stopped in their discussion when a spark suddenly flashed in the black realm, and then fire blossomed, a raging inferno that defied even Maelite’s hungering cold as it swirled and raged around the god, a firestorm that devoured all the remaining bugs, a vast chunk of the land, and those remains of Monica that hadn’t been scavenged by her slayer.

Annie backed up, and then was sheltered by a gentle hand of the shepherd from the fires as they raged and raged and then finally died. Between her vision returning from the blinding light and the darkness swallowing up the sputtering embers of the flames, Annie saw two things.

The runes of a demonic ascension circle sacred into the ground, and her god, now adorned with white angelic wings whose feathers were ever smoldering, as if they had just been scorched by the flames of their creation and and might burst back into that same rage filled inferno at any moment.

Then the dark returned and she was back to relying on the seismic sensors she’d been provided with such that she could accompany her god. That god approached and then stepped past shadow and guardian, and placed a hand on the node, being the capture process. Only then did he turn to the others, speaking up to the titan “I am to be the master of this land. You will serve me, and together we will have vengeance upon Monica’s killer!”

The Shepherd thought for a long while, and then politely declined.

“No? No?! How can you… What am I saying, of course you won't, you let her die after all. Well then fine, go off and die as well seeing that is clearly her will”

The Shepherd also declined to do this. It informed him that it was going to fulfill its duty, just as it had told Annie it would, and that after that, once its purpose had been fulfilled, it would decide itself what it would do with its life. Then, with those words said, it simply left to do just that.

As it strode away Annie quietly approached the stunned god, grasped his wrist and took his hand off of the node, leaving it in the dead goddess’s hands from now “Come on, let's go back into the light drink to her memory instead and decide whether to do this with a clear mind later, yes?”

The god finally got a hold of his breathing, and then sighed, “yeah, yeah i could really use a drink”

It was that way that travelers on the road got to see the curious sight of a god riding on the back of a merchant’s cart, one being drawn by a newfangled rolling stone while he, his towering guardian, and the caravan guards where in the process of getting shitfaced and singing a songs of warriors lament both in honor of the fallen goddess and to the end of the deaths caused by her creations.

Monica’s legacy would be a complicated one, but as the smoke continued to rise above twilight rest, a dark titan strode through the oceans depths and a hungover god reaffirmed his oath of vengeance, it was clear it would not be one to be soon forgotten.





The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1,762(3+)
Bowser: Level 10 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (228/100)
Bowser Jr: Level 9 EXP: ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (201/90)
Kamek: Level 10 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(128/100)
Location: Limsa Lominscuttle Town - Grand Bazaar
Feat: Rika


Kamek stopped to let a small black haired child into the Reedirait Bookstore before exiting it herself, and strolling a little ways away from the storefront before pausing her stride cackling to herself merrily.

“You seem happy? Did you find something good” came a question for Rika, who had been shopping nearby in Shynini's Accessories where she had acquired for herself a nice yellow sundress and a pair of somewhat outdated sunglasses, which she had added to her existing haul of various traits and goodies found within a large shopping bag she was carrying around.

”Oh I got a wonderful deal, that fool of a shopkeep had no idea about the true value of this little number” she said, holding up a rather plain looking leather bound book that seemed nothing special till the mage flipped it open and reveal it to be titled the ‘Grimoire of Ruin‘

“Sounds spooky” Rika said cheerfully as she gave it a look, “Is it’s magic or something?”.

”Oh yes, very much so. It’ll certainly bring ruin to my foes, that much I’ll say” she explained, vaguely, before quietly laughing to herself.

“By doing whaaaat exactly?” Rika prodded the mage for details.

”Hmmm? Oh. well it has lots of tips and tricks on improving summoning magic, as well as being a good reservoir of power for exactly that kind of art” Kamek actually explained ”I’ll need to tinker with some of the run circles within to make them compatible with my specific magics, but my summons should be about, oh, 20% more deadly?”

“Neat”

”add that to this little number” she patted a coiled up leather whip now hanging at her side ”and my minions should be quite the nasty bunch”

“Cool. wait. You aren't going to whip them are you? That seems mean. And weird seeing as some of them look like our friends” Rika asked

”What? Oh no no no. Only the enemies shall feel this weapon’s sting. It's got a bit of magic in it that draws their focus and makes them do more damage to the target I lash you see.” Kamek explained, which got a relieved/satisfied nod from Rika.

Having talked about her haul already, the magikoopa turned the conversation around and asked Rika what she had gotten.

“Well I got this cute dress, and it just looks nice, but these glasses do something neat. You’ll have to shoot at me first to show it off thought”

”I don’t think that would be a good thing to do in public, especially with the Galeem touched all around. It would be quite bad if they misinterpreted the situation.” the mage pointed out, not wanting to be mobbed by blood-lusted bystanders trying to stop a villain, be it her, the attacker, or the former abyssal, who was still getting the odd bit of side eye despite her fusions and fashion changes mostly obscuring her origins.

“Hmmm. ok. Oh I know!” the ship girl reached into her bag of treats and pulled out a gumdrop before handing it to Kamek “Toss this at me like it’s an attack”

The mage cocked an eyebrow at this, but then did as she was asked, stepping back a pace or two and then tossing the sweet treat at the ship girl’s chest. The girl leaned back as a dodge, which should not have worked if it wasn't for the fact that the candy hit some kind of invisible field that slowed in its flight by a fair margin, letting the girl matrix dodge under the shot. Or, well, she would have if she hadn't craned her neck up and caught the candy in her mouth as it drifted over her limboing form.

“Shee?” she said with a candy filled mouth as she stood back up, shifting the treat to the side so she could speak clearly “pretty cool huh?”

”Very, though perhaps use a more practical dodge in actual combat situations?” Kamek said suggested

“Mmm”

”Oh, and before I forget, did you do as I suggested and not spend all your money in one place?” the mage asked, before swiftly adding ”I don’t blame you if you didn’t mind, there is just so much on offer here, even I only just managed to resist the temptation”

“Mmm hmm. Barely touched my own money” she told her friend, nodding proudly to herself as she did

”Good good, very responsible of you” Kamek praised her, before suggesting ”Now, how about we go find the royal family, see how they are doing?” knowing full well they would not be able to follow that advice.

She was not yet quite aware how right she was in that assessment, but found out soon enough as a quick stroll through the markets allowed them to spot the unmistakable looming form of Bowser standing amidst the piles of metalworking found inside a sprawling scrapheap of a store called Whiteside Salvaging. The mage wondered what her king was doing in a store like that until they got closer and spotted the much more mechanically minded young prince arguing with the stores owner, one of the Tora like creatures clad in some kind of diving suit who went by the name Rurui

”Come on, the piece of junk doesn't actually work right! I’m going to have to do sooooo much work just to salvage useful parts from it” Jr was saying, rapping the side of a hover vehicle that had once belonged to a certain doctor they were familiar with with a scally fist.

“Bah, it’s one faulty anti gravity lifter. Plus, you think the damaged state of this isn't already bringing the price down? If it was in one piece I’d be charging three or four times as much” the nepon retorted.

“Hi hello, what is that?”

”huh?” Jr blinked his eyes and then glanced away from his stare-down with the shopkeep (which he was losing due to said shopkeep’s eyes not being visible) and saw the shipgirl and magikoopa lady approaching ”Oh, hi you too” he gave them a wave and then explained ”This is one of eggman’s hover mobile things which I wanna use to upgrade my own car. Get more lifting power, shove some jets on the back, aaaand get a big wrecking ball as a bonus, what’s not to love?”

”That sounds like it will be a lot of work to do. Make sure you don’t stay up too late working on it if you get it” Kamek advised, before asking ”so how much is it?”

“2000” Rurui chipped in, and then, before anyone could point out that jr could afford that, the boy said ”Yeah, except if it is then papa can’t get that” pointing over at a severed robot arm sporting a boxy contraption strapped to the forearm. It didn’t look like much at all, till jr moved over, tugged at some exposed wiring and caused the weapon to deploy, the front pushing forward and two vents popping out to the side, revealing it to be a massive fist with two jet engines strapped to the side ”It’s a rocket punch! How cool is that gonna be?!”

Bowser raised a hand and covered the side of mouth to surreptitiously whisper ”He’s uh, really excited about it. But also the guy’s charging 3000 for it, so, you know, pretty pricey” to Kamek, revealing quite simply that this was all Jr’s idea. Not that the king didn’t also think it was pretty cool and powerful either. You couldn’t exactly deny that, hence the price.

“That is pretty cool. Maybe I can cover some of it? I’ve got money to spare” Rika offered, only to get shooed down by Kamek

”No no no, that is your money, you should spend it on yourself, just as I said” Kamek insisted, and then with a sigh to herself realized what that meant if she wanted to not put Jr down in the dumps ”I can cover the difference”

”You sure, the same advice goes for you too you know?” Bowser pointed out to his ever faithful servant, but she simply shook her head. ”It’s fine, it is pretty powerful after all ” she said. Plus it would be worth it to make the young prince happy

”Yeeees! Thank’s Kamek!” the prince gave the mage an unexpected hug, before immediately getting to work salvaging the weapon from the arm of its former owner while saying ”Oh this is gonna be so great!”

Then there came a cough from the Nepon who held out a hand “glad you’ve decided to buy. Now please do so before you start meddling with the merchandise.”

A few transactions and a bit of tinkering later, and the troop exited the store with Bowser hauling a (miturised) eggmobile over his shoulder with one hand, while his other one now sported the rocket fist strapped to his forearm. Jr was happily nattering away about designs, while Rika in her fresh new outfit nodded along, lollipop in mouth, and Kamek flicked through her magical tome.

All in all, a successful evening’s shopping, With Kamek and Rika having even managed to avoid spending all of their own money. Bowser and Jr meanwhile were back to being utterly broke as they had been only an hour or so before.


How deep does the rabbit hole go?


Xavior stood in the central chamber of the temple surrounding his one and only personally owned node, examining the monolith with a fresh eye. The workshop form in which the seemingly endless innovation had sprung had been cleared away because that well, he knew, had finally run dry. Now there was only what he and mortal kind could make with their own hands and minds left to discover.

He had to wonder why that was. There were still so many nodes he could gain access too after all, and yet here was a cap. Was this simply the peak of what was possible? Was it a limit put in place deliberately by something or some one? A creator or a previous law maker? The document of the known history of the crucible, as told by Olipha anyway, sitting on one of the remaining bits of furniture in the room next to a steaming teacup did not give answers, but it did give hints that secrets could be found that he and not even considered might be available to them before Dzallitsunya had gotten her to spill the beans on the rest of her past.

Of course, most of them would have been wiped away with the resets, such as the obelisk the goddess had found when she had first come into being, so there was something of a limit of where to seek them. Best to start with the one constant: the nodes, which was why he was presently wiring together a large array of green glowing gemstones around the base of it, the cooling crystal wax mixture painting pulsating magic circles all over the room.

Some might question if he had time, energy and finances for such frivolous experiments. There were wars on, and an even greater one to train for, but sometimes, in the god’s opinion, you needed to sate your own desires, or in this case do something with the idea you had been buzzing around in your head since the last cup of inspirational honey sweetened tea you had had. That specific idea was a theory that the nodes must be connected somehow for the information they shared to be transferred, not to mention the ability to use them for long distance transportation. And if there was a network down there, then perhaps he could find something interesting from its layout.

Thus the large array of seismic gems and the actual main investment for this experiment, an amulet worn as a buckle on the belt of his nice new tailored suit. Once the array was all set up, he flicked it open, revealing a hyper-dense crimson gemstone of his own making, within which masses of magma churned with roiling power, which flooded out into the room and supercharged the gemstone array.

“Now then, let’s see just how deep this goes”




“Xavior? Are you here? We have training soon!” Annie called out as she entered the central chamber of the temple, having been looking all over for her god. She raised an eyebrow at what seemed to be a trashed ritual array of some kind, lines of crystal wires having been meticulously laid out and then had the gems they were meant to link up torn out.

She was wondering if all this would explain the rumbling that had occurred earlier. That, plus the empty teacup and equally empty honey pot next to it gave her a hint that she was on the right track, and caused her to give the room a proper once over in her search for her god.

While doing so she quickly found something strange. A hole in the floor.

“What is this?” she asked the deep, dark hole as she leaned down to peer into it and saw nothing but darkness within and then, on a hunch, shouted down it at the top of her lungs “Xavior! Are you down there!”

There was a pause as her words echoed down the hole for several seconds, before a call of “Yes!” came back up to her. The demoness sighed, running a hand over her face and then had to ask “Why?”

Down down, so deep down, deep enough that the stone was growing hot the god poured endless power into the haphazard energy drill he had been using to bore ever downwards after his first attempt to find the bottom of the node had failed, the crystals shoving the stone aside and compacting into denser materials to reinforce the absurd tunnel the god was digging. Yet despite all of this, the hours of digging, the ruined suit and exhaustion he was forced to shout back up “Because this just keeps going down forever!”




Q-T Brackman


When the bot powered back on in her (reinforced) bunk for a brief moment she could almost believe that they hadn’t crashed down yesterday, and that it had all been a bout of fanciful imagination. Of course, the fact that she was powering up rather than having spent all night tinkering away with personal projects was the first clear sign that this wasn’t a standard day shipside.

With the ship being in a low power state Q-T, like any responsible crewmember, had not wanted to waste what power they did have on excessive frivolities, and so after a justifiable amount of frivolities she’d put herself into sleep mode to wait out the night. It always felt like a waste to not use every hour her mechanical physiology provided, but if there was one little advantage it was the shared experience it provided with her human teammates, one of which was gracelessly snoring away in her bunk.

The bot rolled out of her own and then gave her crewmate a poke and a ”Wakey wakey Neilsy, it's morning again“ which got her a spluttered response and a thwack to the face that hurt the human far more than it did the bot.

“Owww” the women complained, shaking her hand as she sat up and then insisted “I'm awake I’m awake,” despite looking and sounding half asleep “So quit hassling me”

”Hey don’t complain, you’d sleep in without me“ Q-T retorted

“She slept in with you too” Riley pointed out as she leaned into the bedroom of their shard quarters, their squad leader half-way through a piece of toast.

”Wait what?“

“Emergency times mean emergency hours, so get your butts up and prepped pronto” Riley replied with a jerk of her thumb

“Damn it alarm clock, you set yourself wrong!” Neilsy berated Q-T, who was quite offended by this designation ”Hey wait, you use me as an alarm clock? Is that why i have to get you up all the time!“

“Well yeah duh”

“Ladies, focus please. We have work to do” came the exasperated call of their leader, who had already left the room to go sit back down to eat the rest of breakfast.

“Yeah yeah,” Neilsy replied, pulling herself out of bed “so what’s on the docket today boss?”

“Captain’s going adventuring again, but incognito this time, so we need to get up to sewing and pick up some local disguises” she informed them as the pair traipsed out into their little living/dining room.

”Wow, that is so cool! It’s like something out of star trek“ Q-T’s eyes lit up as she referenced the part of mandatory astronaut cultural viewing material, before her visor displayed a pair of furrowed eyebrows and she asked ”Wait… What am I going to be?“

“You?” Riley checked her pda again, gave a little snort of a laugh and informed her that “You’re a box”




”This is just so undignified“ Q-T complained from within her disguise as she was single-handedly hauled off of the ship by the captain

“Quite, boxes don’t talk” she was reminded by Riley, who was sticking close to her subordinate’s storage receptacle, to which Nielsy added “Also this is a classic sneaking technique, so you're being almost as cool as us”

The pair of them had both ended up being provided with sailors' uniforms complete with baggy pantaloons, tricorn hats, and large navy blue jackets which were perfect to hide a variety of gadgets and gizmos in, mostly a mix of surveying and survival gear. No period appropriate weapons however, which turned out to be a slight oversight when the team managed to get themselves accosted by thugs in a dark alleyway.

”Hey! What’s going on out there?“ came a whisper shout from the dumped bot-create.

“Nothing security cant handle quietly I’m sure” Riley insisted as she backed away from the thugs before she put a hand on the top of the box to stop Q-T breaking out, and then also batted a hand at Nielsy before she could reach into her jacket, which caused the other human astronaut to go “Ow!” flinch her hand away from the fold up rifle she had been reaching for and then say “well they better or you guy’s are gonna regret it!” to the thugs to protect her ego.

wordcount: 1914(+3)
Midna: level 8 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(44/80)
Level 7 Big Band (56/70)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Oasis next to Gerudo Town
Warp Charges: 2


As the rest of the ladies made their way into Gerudo Village Midna rode along with the big guys towards the out of town market to see if they could pick up supplies for their night out. Camping equipment and clothes were what they had intended to come here for, but as they approached the market a scent in the air got Midna’s stomach to remind her that it had been a very active day, and she hadn’t eaten anything since that sandwich on the mountain top.

She sniffed the air and her mouth watered as she got a better whiff of what was drifting on the wind. She clapped Braum on the shoulder and commanded him to ”Follow that smell!”

A few moments later and they’d found the source of said smell, a whole ass hog being rotated on a spit by a man in wearing a palm tree covered shirt and a six gallon hat who introduced himself as: “Tom Sheldon, purveyor of the best damn barbecue stand this side of the apocalypse,” in a typical Texan accent before gesturing a hand towards the main event of his stand in the market (if you could call an open fire a stand) “I see you fine folks smelt my succulent pig. Well lucky for you I’m putting my grilling skills to work as a little side business, so if you have the coin, you can get yourself some prime pork cooked up just right”

Braum couldn’t start combing through his inventory for loose change fast enough. For the Freljordan strongman the need to feast was pretty much a given in order to maintain his incredible physique, but Band couldn’t deny that a belly full of pork after a long, hard day’s work sounded very appetizing. Though much of him was machine, there was still enough of a man in there somewhere to crave sustenance as much as anybody. Unfortunately, his own wallet seemed to be a little light at the moment. Matching Sheldon’s price would cost him his bottom dollar. Still, the detective stepped up right after Braum, who had more than enough money after all the transport and delivery commissions he took in Al Mamoon while the rest went off to investigate the Resistance.

As he waited for Sheldon to carve off the lion’s portion for an eager Braum, Band considered that he might be able to find some odd jobs of his own to rack up some savings while out here. If the Virgin Victory was going to be stuck here any longer than tonight, might as well. While random commissions weren’t what Big Band was made for, it sounded like a nice change of pace, in a way. Even if there weren’t any tasks that catered to his specific skillset, it seemed like a lot of stuff in this world needed to be punched, and practically anything beat playing the sax on a street corner for nickels and dimes–or fighting against a Skullgirl, for that matter.

Behind him, Vandham cleared his throat. “Don’t reckon I saw ya with the group when they came by Alcamoth last, mate,” he said to Band. “Seems like the main teams make new friends wherever they go, eh?”

With all the people he saw join the Seekers even since he himself tagged along, Band could help but agree. “Sho ‘nuff. If today’s any indication, we need all the help we can get, too.”

Vandham raised an eyebrow. “Oh, yeah? What all’d ya get up to exactly, if ya don’t mind me askin’?”

”We got up there” Minda said jokingly while pointing a big shadow hand all the way up to the top of the split mountain as she waited in line to get her own, more modest, slice of pork roast ”Buuut that’s rushing ahead to near to the end of the story”

It was at that point, right when she was about to make her purchase, that she realized that, while the stuff she had looted from the catacombs was all shiny and currency, it wasn't exactly in a standard bullion around these parts.

”Don’t suppose anyone knows the exchange rate on silver for gold? Or… whatever these weird holly ones is?” she had to ask, looking rather embarrassed at having not thought of this til now.

Nobody really knew, but in the ensuing silence Sheldon looked over. “Well now, what’ve we got here? I dunno if I’d take those, mind, but the great thing about a market’s bein’ able to sell off all yer junk.” After delivering Band his portion he jabbed a thumb at the nearby stalls, some of which seemed to still be open, even if the owners had dozed off. “Cain’t say for sure if ye’ll get what they’re worth, but it’s better’n nothin’, uh?”

As he stood by, chewing on his pork slice, Band looked over the night market. “Oughta let young Tora know,” he mumbled with his mouth half-full. “Li’l guy was all over that tomb place, scrapin’ up whatever he got his wings on.” The detective put on a wry smile. “Bet ya he’s already asleep over at the inn, but the minute he hears a way to make money he’ll be wide awake. Then I can make sure he keeps his word, heheh.” Vandham chuckled as he dug into his own serving, which left a choice of shoulder or ham for Midna.

”Drat… well… at least i know exactly what this is worth” Midna said as she popped her no longer needed Arctic Shield out of her inventory, something she had acquired for exactly 325 gold ”So I can at least afford dinner, and then we can deal with pawning stuff off and buying stuff up in the morning” and presumably, maybe, find someone who would at least take the old coins for their base mineral value.

”I’ll be right back” She declared, before scampering off into the night to go find someone to whom it would be of interest and who looked at least moderately awake.

She returned a short while later with her spoils and, after acquiring a nice helping of ham, the sale left her with a few coins left. After joining the manly trio, she, Big Band, Vandham, and Braum shared a pleasant meal around the crackling fire in the quiet of a starry desert night. Music would have been nice, a slow and quiet melody to suit the overall mood, but for today the band was all played out. While Vandham didn’t feel nearly the physical toll that the others did, he respected their weary silence. Even if the little group didn’t exchange any words, in this moment they were connected, united by bonds forged in the grueling heat of battle, and tempered in the bitter cold of the frozen peak. Around them the fronds of the palm trees swished softly in the breeze, the whispers of the wind like a distant lullaby, and when they’d eaten their fill the diners’ next thoughts were of slumber. Sheets or sleeping bags from the bazaar would be stifling around them, provided they were big enough in the first place but beneath them they provided the comfort that the course sand could not, and the gentle darkness above could be their blankets. As the others stretched out, Band reclined against a tree, and closed his eyes. The rhythmic rise and fall of his iron lung grew more peaceful, and in a matter of moments the detective drifted off to sleep.

While the gentlemen rested their eyes the princess slipped away into the familiar comfortable dark of the night, a blanket of privacy her eyes adapted to a world of eternal darkness allowed her to navigate with ease. A half turn around the oasis later and she had a secluded spot by the lake side where she could get herself clean before sleep, the princess sliding into the water under the cover of darkness away from prying eyes.

All prying eyes but two. A pair of reptilian eyes attached to a crocodilian broke the surface and eyed an unaware and petite meal ripe for the taking that had stumbled in range. It started slowly creeping forwards towards its prey, passing by an unassuming spiky plant as it did.

The ‘plant’ raised its head, sniffed the wind and then it, the Vibrava, noticed that some of the sand was somehow moving towards the lakeside. It cocked its head in a moment of confusion, and then brought up its wings, rapidly buzzing them and sending a directional cone of horrendous sound rushing forth. The air that went along with the attack blew away the surface of the sand, revealing a Sanscale that had been swimming it, which scrambled first away from the sound and then rushed forwards to deliver a fowl chomp to the morsel’s defender when it realized that was little defense.

In response the dragon defender that Midna had used to drape her clothes over to air them out while bathing steeled itself rather than risking dropping the items in its care into the sand, and took the nasty nom head on, only for the sandy crocodile to hiss and startle back as a bit of the damage it dealt was reflected right back.

The moment of shock/surprise was enough of an opening for the Vibrava to blast out a beam of dragon fire, and then another, dusting the lower level pest after only a few short moments of combat.

”Hey, what’s going on back there!” came a low shout, the flashy fireshow finisher having brought the princess’s attention to the scuffle going on on the beach of the oasis. She got a reassuring cry back from her mon, and so finished up her wash/swim before floating over to see what had gone on

”Oh, huh. Good bug” she said when she found the spirit, before storing the spirit and using the not a bug but actually a dragon as a big hair blower (via holding it in a shadow hand and having it flap air at her super fast with its dragonfly wings) to dry off. Re-donning her shaken out and aired outfit, the princess then shadow snuck her way back to camp and into a sleeping bag, leaving no one the wiser of her little excursion.

Well, they might have guessed that something had gone on after lights out when they woke up in the morning and found Midna now had a wolfos napping beside her for nostalgia reasons, but as to what, well that wasn’t all to clear.

What mattered was that a new day had dawned!

Oh and that at least half of them had no money to buy breakfast, which was not an auspicious way to start the day it had to be said.
A Toph Man in a Dark Land


The Union of Umbrium Harvesters wasn't exactly the most prestigious of organizations that made its home in the burgeoning fortress town of Twilight's Rest. The sturdy lumberjacks, hard working farmers, free roaming herders, the wealthy merchants and their Paladin-Demon dark guards all had their palace and various kinds of respect.

The Union members meanwhile were snidely referred to as the ‘road sweepers’ because of how they collected up the dust of the ever dark realm that drifted onto the road using long brooms and cart sized dustpans which generally got in the way of merchant traffic.

They provided an invaluable service, in their opinion, both in keeping the road of light clear and in providing non lumber based fuel for the infernal fires of Twilight’s rest, freeing up the still somewhat dangerous to acquire wood to be used for construction. Yes, it wasn’t exactly skilled labor, and so their ranks were often filled with what some would consider the dregs of society, but they put back into their work and their necks on the line against the roaming horrors of the dark land to bring back warmth and light to hold back the dark and fuel their defender’s might? But did they get respect for that? Not one bit!

Or at least that was how they felt, and it was part of what had had the Union pile together what excess funds they had on a commission for something to improve all their fortunes, and today was the day it had finally arrived.

With the palisaded town looming behind them and the road of light close at hand, the sweepers had gathered to watch as one of their number, Geoffry (a middle aged bald man with rosy skin and an impressive fiery red handlebar mustache) was strapped into a suit of salamander leather (ethically harvested from the great beast’s shed skin) that, with a few modifications, had been made to keep his heat in and the cold out just as well as these suits normally resisted the cold (the secret ingredient being massive amounts of soft fluffy goat wool).

This suit had two other notable alterations to the standard pattern on top of that cold proofing. The first was a pair of boots with green gems in their soles, and the other was a tiara of them on his brow. Both his forehead and his feet had Ambroisen fibers wrapped around them, but these were connected via crystal wiring linking them to the gems and not to his own nerves.

These meant that, as he stepped forwards into the dark and the world vanished into nothingness, he did not step without wisdom. No, instead as he carefully picked his way across the ever dark land the Ambroisen fibers around his feet squeezed around them with greater or lesser intensity to tell him how far away his foot was from the ground, feeling nothing upon contact with the ground and an constricting with almost blood stopping pain when he almost stepped into some kind of ravine that would have claimed his life otherwise.

Being able to walk was all well and good, but if it where only the land he had to worry about, they could have done this with guide ropes and tethers (which he did have, one was tied to his back and trailing all the way back to the land of light so he could find his way home).

No, the issue was that he wasn't alone in here. There were things out there in the dark. Horrible, crawling things that goddess Monica, bless her soul, had made for reasons no one really knew or understood. What they did know was that they hated all other life with a feral passion, and that was why, on top of the blindness and the cold, walking into the dark should have been suicide.

The man only had so much time till he attracted their attention, so he swiftly set to work, crouching down and pulling out a small rock hammer, which he used to chip away at a nearby outcropping, chipping off some samples of pure Umbrium, and then trying to do the same with one of the local plants, only to fail to break its crystalline structure and resorting to a combination of hammering the ground it was in and pulling to uproot it.

And that, that was what caught the attention of something dangerous. So far only little bugs had been trying to kill him, but thanks to his fully enclosed suit that was oxygenated by two small canisters of re-breather kelp sitting on either side of his mask, and one larger one strapped to his chest and connected to his mouth via tube, they had been able to do him no harm. Now something larger was approaching. Not too large, only about the size of a dog. But in the land of the blind the monster that did not need to see is a deadly hunter no matter its size, for it could fight tooth and claw while the man was helpless.

Or so it had been till this day.

Geoffry caught the beast coming closer while glancing back, the Ambroisen fibers on his forehead constricting and forming little pinpricks as the gems on his forehead’s magics reached out ahead of him and detected the tiny seismic tremors of its many feet striking the bear stone of the land.

It wasn't detailed, he could mainly tell that there was something coming at him, and that it was big but not that big, and it would not be enough to let him land a sword strike or nail it with a perfect arrow. Besides, Geoffry was no warrior, let alone camomile kissed paladin or inferno fueled demon.

He was merely a sweeper with a pair of nubby horns. But he was sweeper with a new tool. With shaking hands he reached over his back and unslung something crossbow shaped and sized and pointed it in the general direction of his incoming death.

Then he pulsed his pathetic magic reserves into the trigger pad, and there was a crackle of magic and a a wumf of air followed by a scream as the stone thrower shotgun blasted a dozen geokinetically propelled stone shards in a cone wide enough that even the blind sweeper was guaranteed to hit something.

The man tugged his rope and started to backed up/be reeled home, his stone sensing steps letting him tread backwards as he fumbled a latch on the the stone thrower, pulled out and replaced the spent stable crystal battery and then shoved another rock down the barrel, before bringing the gun up and with a crackle, woomf, crash another shot blasted out and hammered the beast. And then another. And another. Till his forehead stopped being pricked by the bug’s writhing and the deed was done.

A few dozen moments later, and the man stumbled back out into the light and into the arms of his fellows who gave a collective sigh of relief as several came up to embrace the brave pioneer.

“How was it, you hard bastard?” one hairy chested bloke asked after breaking his bear hug with Geoffry.

“Terrifying. I mean it worked. I’m back and not down a ravine somewhere, but still. Bloody terrifying” the man said, before reiterating “But it worked, creator’s bones did it work. Took one of them down with this thing” he clapped the stone thrower before getting to the main event, reaching into his pouch and pulling out first the Umbrium shard that seemed to eat the light even out here “but i got the rock, it's definitely mine-able, though the land’s a right bloody mess in there. Cravasses and such everywhere. Gonna be right bloody pain”

The other’s nodded. They hadn't expected it to be easy, but damn would it be worth it if they could get lots of dense flammable Umbrium out of it.

“Plus I also got a plant… ah where is it, the bloody thing was a pain to pull out let me… tell… you” his words faltered as he and the other’s beheld one of Maelite’s plants in the light for the first time, and its crystalline structure sparkled in the sunlight.

“Are… are they all like that?” the technician who had provided the suit asked, breaking the stunned silence “because if they are… if the entire land is suffused with these gems, that could be a boon and a half to science and industry… May I see it?” she asked, getting a stiff nod of permission and taking the plant to give it an examination during which the reality of the situation

“Do you know what this means Geoffry?” the bear huger said as he grasped the stunned explorer’s arm in both of his hands“we’ve got more than just an endless supply of firewood on our hands here, we’ve struck bloody gold!”

“Diamonds actually” the technician helpful informed them, which damn near caused the entire assembly of sweeper to faint with shock. Their fortunes were made, and from the sweat of their brows and the black and clear bounties of Maelite the 12th realm’s industrial revolution would truly begin.




Xavior learns how to decapitate something with a hard carapace (eventually)


Xavier had returned home from his expedition to Daminan’s lavaside crystal refinery, taken one look at the state of his “renovated” throne room and decided he did not want to deal with that right now.

No instead, after quickly popping by the center of the temple and sharing his node with Dzallitsunya as part of a trade organized via the embassy system, he left home once again, this time going on a short trim a half turn around the lake at the center of the 12th realm. On its western edge sat the newly constructed local headquarters of the Paladins, suitably separated from the main chunk of the city by the mighty river flowing down from the lake and into the sea.

His reason for visiting was twofold. First, it would be good to see in person this asset/potential threat sat on his doorstep and touch base with its leader in preparation for the further wars ahead.

Second, well, there was something he’d put off for too long that he needed to learn. The god knew that, having claimed but a single node, he was likely the least versed in combat god that there was, and he had not even killed the beast that had guarded his realm. This had been fine, right up until Monica returned from a stroll through the city, bearing a wound most fowl and casually reported a murder. Her divine kin had been horrified, Benea fell quiet and contemplative, while Xavior was split between grave concern for his sister and shame at what had occurred right under his nose. One god wounded and another slain right here in his city, and he had been none the wiser.

The corpses of a bird had been found by city enforcers following rumors of a particularly blasphemous black market sale, and now sat in a small coffin locked securely away, nobody having any real idea what to do with it, other than having it act as a grim reminder that the killer was out there, and that he had struck without them ever knowing he was here.

If Xavior could not rely on his people to keep him safe, or at least that was how it felt, then it would be foolish not to learn how to defend himself.

Thus, his real reason for taking a trip to visit the paladins: hoping to take advantage of their formalized training methods that his own people’s armed forces had mostly copied off of them anyway. Up until recently, heading across the lake would have involved traveling by ship, the rivers feeding in and out of it having never been bridged due to the fact that that would restrict the shipping swarming the 12th realm’s waterways.

Not so anymore, because a group of innovative demons had taken a leaf out of Annie’s first flight and used their wings to capture some of the flying Tonicalla that soared through the skies of their homeland. Not for eating however (or not primarily for that anyway, though the flying fish did pair very well with a lemon sauce Xavior had found), but for taming to be used as mounts. First only by people like them but, after they’d invented parachutes for safety, (a process made much easier thanks to the testers having the ability to safely abort a failed chuting) it had started to spread out to wingless people.



It was still expensive and a bit risky to do, but neither expense nor fear of falling where of any obstacle to the god, and as such his fishy steed granted him a lovely view of the paladin’s headquarters as he soared through the skies with his first priestess/royal bodyguard Annie (who had been rather instrumental in coming up with this idea in the first place) at his side.

Below the structure almost stood out from any other building or complex in 12th node region. The paladins were very specific on how it was to be built, making it a copy of Queendom architecture and very specific to regulations on what a paladin recruitment and garrison center should look like, with its own flair of course. Overall it was a large artificial hill with a shallow moat and a thick stone outerwall with flanged heels to deflect stones. The gatehouse was squat but almost always open, a drawbridge wide open to provide access from the road and into the walled garrison.

Inside the large square was a small town of buildings, from bakeries to smiths to armories. The only thing that kept it from being a well defended village was the sea of caped paladins, a bastion in the center, large dirt training grounds and the red roofed garrisons that hugged the interior walls.

The god found the self-sufficient nature of the compound simultaneously irritating on a political level due to it limiting the integration of the paladins into the local population (which limited his and the council’s economic influence over them) and admirable on a personal one. He was quite sure that he would do something much the same if he was in their place after all, so could he really disparage it? Indeed his own temple home was almost the same in how it sat amidst the urban sprawl that was Eunomia.

Regardless, the paladins had shown themselves to be nothing but amicable and helpful, so the level of concern this state of affairs caused these days was minimal.

The god swooped down to land before the gatehouse, respecting the formality of entering in an official manner even if he could have bypassed it, before he and his looming guardian made their way inside. The flying fish was handed over to a bemused stablemaster, and then the two of them set about seeking out the local leader of the paladins.

But it didn’t take more than three steps from their esteemed Tonnikala before a purple caped paladin approached Xavior and his bodyguard. Before speaking, the man fell to one knee and with both fists touching the ground, he bowed his head. “Welcome to the 12th recruitment, my lord.”

The god raised an eyebrow at this prostolatising, it was a touch more than even he, a god king, was used to, but he quickly adapted.

“Rise, nobel paladin. I have come to meet your leader, and I should be expected” Xavior explained simply, the god not being so crass as to drop in unannounced though this had admittedly been arranged on quite short notice. “Please, lead us to him, if you may?”

“Of course, liege,” the Paladin stood up and procured a long purple ribbon from under his sword belt. He held it out to Annie. “Please tie this to your wrist.”

It wasn't exactly the towering woman’s first visit to the compound, so she simply nodded and followed procedure, tying the ribbon around her blue skinned wrist which it complemented fetchingly.

“Right then, let’s be off and get to business shall we?” Xavior said, before they set off to meet the boss around these parts.




Steel clashed once, twice, thrice and then the fourth blow hammered Xavior in his armored gutt so hard it sent him careening through the air and into a nearby wall. The sturdy wood cracked and then the god fell forwards and hit the sand.

He lay there for several heartbeats and then with a grunt stabbed the tip of the blade into the dirt and used it to haul himself upright while holding a hand to his chest, healing his own wounds once more as he demanded “again!”

“No,” Frederick swung his massive blade over his shoulder to rest. “Not until you start listening to what I’m trying to tell you.”

“And remind me what that might be?” Xavior replied bitterly, repeated failure stinging his pride and fueling unnecessary vitriol, “because the memory seems to have been beaten out of me”
.
“Xavior” came the voice of Annie (who was observing/guarding the training) who when the god turned to her, gave him a ‘come on, really?’ look that caused him to sigh and add “please?”

Frederick twisted a frown and with a heave he slammed his blade down in front of him, sundering the ground between him and Xavior. “You keep leaping back to avoid the hit. To fight like a paladin, move to the side and don’t keep giving me more space to work with. I have the larger weapon, you want to keep the distance close, move in the circle pattern, keep your feet liquid yet solid.”

With little else, Frederick swung his sword wide at Xavior, utilizing the entirety of the space between the two to put a massive amount of weight behind the blow.

Instinct screamed at Xavior to back up again, but at this point he had given so much ground there wasn't actually any further back he could go, the cracked wall being only a few feet behind him. So, out of a lack of any other options, this time he actually tried to follow the Paladin’s advice and lept to the right, away from the incoming swing. For a brief moment, Xavior felt the joy of dodging the strike accurately, that was until a gauntleted fist plowed into his already dented chestpiece and knocked him on his ass.

Frederick stood over the god and shook his head. “Too rigid, and you took your eyes off of me.” The paladin offered a hand to Xavior. “I hate to say it, liege, but I do not think you are ready for skirmishing. If you want to fight like a paladin, you need to start at the beginning like everyone else.”

“That... That! … is not going to be good for my image” Xavior admitted, or semi admitted, why he had tried to skip straight to the advanced stuff.

“You were never exactly a warrior king” Annie pointed out

“Yes, well, still” Xavior began and then sighed “we do what we must. Let us begin at the beginning then, it is, in hindsight, the only place to start.”

“Perfect!” Frederick bellowed. “As with any new recruit, our first lesson is on how to breathe!”

“Technically-” Xavior began, only to be cut off.

“You don’t need to breathe, yes, but you also don’t need to circle me when you fight and yet that didn’t work out too well for you either, did it?” Frederick planted his blade into the ground and leaned on it. “The Queen has revealed in part the martial tactics of a warrior god named Faringdal. We mimic his fighting style, and so despite being mortal, we fight with the same technique as a god — so it should stand to reason it will only benefit you to follow it to the letter.”

“That... I did not know” Xavior admitted and did have to wonder how long these people had known what he had only so recently learned about the grand regent of the last cycle now that he did. It did put both a bit of humility in him, and a bit of concern. Afterall, he was learning the style of a god killed by the one he would have to face, passed through 2 different filters.

Still, it was a more mature technique than any other in the world, so it was still likely the best place to start. He had to learn to fight before he started trying to innovate something that could stand against Garravar. “So.. how do I breathe?”

“Annie,” Frederick turned to the demon. “Could you go and get me my training rod? You know the one.”

The demoness nodded, and in a flap of wings was gone to get the same rod that had turned her from untamed titan to towering warrioress. She hoped it would be able to turn her god from shut-in smith to stalwart swordsman. Only time and dedication would tell. He was not lacking in the latter, but the former? That was less clear.





wordcount: 794 (+2)
Midna: level 8 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(41/80)
Location: Sandswept Sky - Train
Warp Charges: 2


”All this, impossible technology from the future, but they can’t even install a proper washroom on this thing?” Minda complained to herself as she took her turn using the bathroom sink to try and get the sand and ash out of her everything, and failing spectacularly. The inadequacy of the cleaning honestly only managed to make her feel dirtier, which was just a delight.

”Blech, whatever, I’m a rough and tumble princess, so who needs to look presentable when you kick ass like me” she said into the little mirror in the bathroom in an attempt to convince herself of that fact, before giving up shoving open the door and saying ”Next for the inadequate hygiene facility, step on in. Take a good look, because if we are going to be sticking around there are going to be some royal renovations around here” loudly, before traipsing off to make the one change she could make right now.

With how cramped the ship was it didn’t take long to get to her intended destination, which was the room they had warped into right after the intense exit battle. To this room Midna added a little teleportation related addition of her own, raising a finger and embedding sliver of Twilight into the ceiling, and setting up the start of her own personal portal network.

Priority number 1 for the development of that network? Finding a way to link up Shangri Spa to it, (be it by flying to wherever it was or sneaking into Al Mamoon and using their teleporter again) so she’d never have to try and wash herself in the ship's dinky bathroom ever again!

The Princess gave an impish grin at her cunning bit of handy work, and then moved off to find somewhere to wait out the rest of the journey, and got herself a bit more space afforded to her by both her new very spiky shield and her equally spiky minion whom she had decided got to enjoy the only good thing about this ship she had found so far: the wonder of ‘air conditioning’

She had no idea how you conditioned air to do as it was told, but you could not argue with the crisp and cool results that made it far to easy to just nod off in a corner, something the princess unknowingly followed Tra’s lead in doing, finally allowing the exhaustion and injuries to catch up with her.




The Princess unladily snorted awake with a ”Huh, what?” when the intercom blared and announced their arrival at Gerudo Town. She shook her head to wake up and then pricked her pointed ears up to listen to the explanation of how the place operated, and raised an eyebrow at its unusual operation, the princess being unfamiliar with the somewhat iconic all female race due to their absence both from her own time period and from the time crisis. Well, other than their most infamous and only male member that was. Oh, and the dead woman who’s spirit she held in her body and who’s power and skill she had developed extensively since she had slain and absorbed her.

She was reminded of Urbosa directly for the first time in a while due to her clear kinship with the people she saw guardian the town, and it caused her inconsistency with her reaction/treatment of that women and the rebels of Al Mamoon to rear its ugly head in her mind.

Had the Garudo also been controlled against her will, she was forced to wonder, or even just confused by Galeem?

Or was she right in her assessment that anything that stood beside the arch evil that was Ganon was irreparably tainted?

It wasn't really a question she wanted to face. Not today at least. She was much too tired for that sort of thing. So she sought out an alternative to sticking with the ladies of the group.

”Room for one more?” Midna asked the trio of big guys as she landed on Braum’s shoulder and used his bald head as an armrest as she waved her free hand nonchalauntly through the air while saying ”Because it hardly seems fair for you gents to be the only one roughing it under the stars now does it?” keeping her actual reasons for wanting to join them to herself.

Now as to why she was going with them rather than to the inn? Well, for one she thought some nostalgia for the times she and Link had roughed it out during their two person war against her usurper would be a balm for the soul. Plus, it wasn't like they were poor company. Quite the opposite in fact, if the big freljordian she was rather fond of at this point was any kind of representative of their amicableness.

Besides, she needed a change of clothes if she was going to sleep comfortably (that combined with taking a more refined and dignified lake bath) so stopping by a market like they were planning to do was right in line with her own needs.

Of course, if they really wanted it to be a lads night, she’d obliged and find other accommodation, but she hoped she wasn't being too imposing with her request.

Their answer was a trio of pre-offered fists, ripe for bumping, something the princess replied to with a toothy grin and a bit of one on three action using her orange glowing shadow hand to bump all three of the fists at once.
Practical applications


Dawn rose over the south west of the 12th realm where fertile plains met verdant forests, both of which had been repeatedly fertilized by the blood of war. Here human and beast had shed each other's blood over and over, yet while their vitality had bled into the soil, no bones or bodies had left to lie, for instead they had filled bellies and bonfires to fuel the cycle of violence that had sloshed back and forth across the land in waves of crimson and hate.

Failure to strike a decisive blow had not been taken well by the humans. General Rebecca’s string of losses and Pyrrhic victories had seen resources that could have been used to reinforce her battered army directed north and east instead to more successful forces, leaving her to struggle in the mud against their first and most hated foe alone. Only now was she seeing a significant investment by the capital (sans the first), which she felt was well past time.

For perhaps the dozenth time her army marched forth. At its core were her veterans. Survivors if not winners of many battles, who had empowered by the dead such that they stood head, shoulders and broad chest above both of the rank and file she had scrounged up from wherever she could, and of the new bizarrely clad reinforcements she had been furnished with.

It annoyed her a little that the newcomers were not really here because they saw it as their patriotic duty to fight, or because someone had finally seen fit to fulfill her requests for aid on its own merit. No, they were here on a ‘test run’ and acted under the command of one known as Damina, who was riding atop some oversized lizard near the back of the formation from which he would ‘observe the experiment’.

She found herself scowling back at him, the man having been quite the pain to work with. He was an oddball that one, and integrating his own people into her army had been both a pain and only moderately successful.

Then the hulking blue skinned woman shook her head, dismissing the train of thought and instead ran her hand over one of the things she’d gotten out of the collaboration. It looked like a crossbow, only about three times as long and six times as wide, a size such that only a juggernaut like her could carry one around and use it as a personal weapon. It also didn't have a bow, instead it hosted a series of gemstones lined along the inner edges where the arrow would have. ‘Would have’ being the optimum words, because what went in that much wider groove instead was altogether much more fun than a plain arrow.

However she felt about the rest of this operation, Rebecca could not wait to try it out on a live target, and the all too familiar howling coming from the woods they were approaching told her she’d have plenty of those soon enough.




The howls of war rang out, calling the packs to do battle once again, and come they did, to cast out the invaders, and to prevent their home from being turned to ash.

These where no scattered clans fighting with tooth, claw and bestial cunning. No, the wolves of the south had both trained and armed themselves for war, first with stolen scraps, and then later from looted corpses.

Arrays of wolves stood ready with long-swords, axes and hammers held in their jaws, ready to smash armored foes, while smaller wolves carried bundles of spears for stronger throwers to use one at a time to strike their enemies from afar. A good number of them had squirmed into rusting armor, while the younger ones carried stolen buckets, ready to rush to put out the fires in the forest that inevitably came with a human assault on their homes.

They were old hands at this, some quite literally. A whole pack of kings made up the mirror of Rabecca’s own veteran core on the wolfish side, muscled brutes in stolen demon armor who had grown strong and towering from gouging on god touched human flesh. Meanwhile many of the rest of the pack where outsiders, come to heed the howl of war with hopes of doing the same.

Today, unfortunately, would not be the effortless feast some of the new arrivals expected. The leaders knew this both from experience and from their scouts, who had detected yet more new and strange contraptions among the human ranks, along with strange ones clad in form obscuring cloths.

Still, it was their home on the line. That they had learned from howls that had traveled all the way from the north, where the ill prepared kings had burned in a fire, brought low by their own arrogance and passivity.

The king of kings, Skullcruncher, would ensure this fate would not befall his realm, no matter what the cost.

The hulking beast, big as a rhinoceros, who had a coat white as death and blood red eyes and who carried a heavy warhammer in its jaws, growled instructions past the handle to his weaponless pack caller, who let loose a howl that began their preemptive strike. Whatever the humans had planned, the wolves would strike them hard and fast to ensure it did not come to pass.




They were getting into position now. Rebbeca was familiar enough with this land that she knew exactly where the requested distance from the tree line was, and she’d even made sure they had a hill to park on. Unfortunately, this hill plan had a downside, which was that the larger wheel mounted equivalents of her own new weapon were proving a pain to drag up there. Worse, the hybrid forces were getting in the way of each other as they tried to set up a battle line, which was exactly the worst time to get ambushed by wolves appearing from the underbrush on their left side.

It was also exactly when Rebbeca had expected they would be ambushed, so while the majority of the force scrambled to respond to her commands, the general herself was already aloft with her elites. Instinct had her itching to reach for her twin axes and to dive down into the fray, but she had orders from the council to prioritize weapon testing, and so instead she and her fellow demon juggernauts reached into hip mounted pouches and pulled out one of the set of disks that where held.

As practiced/told, she placed the disk at the bottom of the open air channel where the notch of an arrow might have gone if this were a crossbow. Then she raised it and started pulling power from her horn based mana reserves into a set of crystal wires on the handle and fore grip of the weapon, which caused the gemstones lining the flight groove to glow. In response the gemstone ladened stone disk began to hover, held aloft by geokinetic magics, and then started spinning rapidly, charging both the weapon and it’s ammunition with power until a few dozen heartbeats later she pulled the trigger and disk when hurtling towards the incoming wolves.

A barrage of a dozen of these scythed forth, hammering into the ground in all but one case where the luckless wolf was bisected by the spinning disk. Then they all exploded. But they didn't just explode. The demons in their haste and lack of real practice with these weapons had chosen a random uncoordinated assortment of disks from the carefully curated set they had been given, resulting in a chaotic cacophony of violence.

Some of the disks exploded with chaotic lightning, some in pillars of fire, others tore open fissures into which wolves fell, or caused massive stone spikes to rip out of the ground and impale their hapless foes, while one disk in particular simply liquidated the earth around it into a boiling pool of molten dirt.

The utter devastation should have broken the wolves but for a major flaw in execution, and that was that the delay in explosions ment the detonations had mostly gone off at the back of the pack. The front runners barreled on mostly oblivious to anything but the noise, while those close enough or spooked enough to look behind them found their retreat cut off.

There was nowhere to go but into the ranks of humans trying to form up ahead of them, and so race on towards them like cornered rats they did. Commoners in tinpot armor scrambled to react, firing off a smattering of crossbow bolts at the incoming enemies while captains shouted for order and beaked engineers demanded they be protected.

Rebbeca cursed, slapping another disk into her launcher and ignoring the safety instructions she had been given to charge it as quickly as possible. Her squadmates did the same and, just before the wolves hit, another volley of disks slammed down into the dirt behind them, Rebbeca and over half her squad’s launchers cracking, splitting or in one unlucky case straight up exploding from the misuse.

Another maddening eruption of power ripped through the rear of the charging ranks of wolves, far too close for comfort for the humans who those blasts had been intended to aid. When a set of fireproof suit-wearing soldiers pushed into the lines of militia troops and let loose torrents of scolding flame towards the incoming beasts, ignorant or indifferent to who was too close, it all became too much for the freshly mustered troops.

The humans broke and fled in response to their physiological damage inflicted by their allies' own weapons, and for a moment Rebbeca was witness to what to her was an absurd sight: human and wolf fleeing together, side by side. Then one of the wolves leapt and slashed down a human who was on its way with a rusted sword, and everything devolved into chaos.

Those humans with their wits still with them formed hap-hazard clumps of spears, jabbing at wolves who either tried to flee through the army’s front line or out the back into the open field beyond, and thus right through the soft center, but that was about the limit to the spontaneous coordination.

“General! Restore order!” came a shout from Damian, as his armored salamander let loose a torrent of magmaticaly empowered boiling spit into a trio of wolves and his assistants did their best to find shelter behind him, “I cannot work in these conditions!”

The demoness grunted with annoyance at his reasoning, but did not disagree in the slightest as that it needed done.

“Command team with me! Charge!” she cried out, tossing aside the damaged disk launcher and drawing her twin axes as she plummeted from the sky and into the panicked ranks “Form up! Form up! Stand with me and live to see another day!” She bellowed at the soldiers while bringing her axes down and cleaving a wolf in twain right as one of the flamethrowing masked troopers exploded into a pillar of fire.

“Creator’s breath, this is a right bloody mess”




As he thundered across the dead grass towards the fighting Skullcruncher would have had to agree with his opponent's assessment, but for him it was a bloody mess he could at least turn to his advantage.

The attempt at a hit and run attack had turned into a chaotic scrambled melee with both sides messed together in an incoherent mass. The wolf wasn't entirely sure why the humans had broken in response to their own attacks, but he wasn't going to sniff a proffered throat, especially one that had prevented the humans from bringing the same weapons they had used on the flankers to bear on his main forces.

They did still have other ranged weapons still of course, but these were of the kind the wolf was familiar with and could endure. Light bolts from repeating crossbows rained down, striking down lesser wolves but simply sticking in the thick fur of the kings, or plinking off stolen armor. In retaliation wolves with spears, axes or just heavy branches in their mouths pivoted and then leaped, putting their whole body into overhead tosses of their assorted throwing weapons, which crashed or stabbed down into the shieldless ranks of humans.

Heavier crossbow bolts retaliated, these ones held back by more professional troops for just the right range to strike down some of the tougher wolves. Skullcruncher was the target of many, but the wolf had been listening for the telltale human bark to fire and leapt to the side moments before the shots came for him.

Then heartbeats later he was upon their ranks, his titanic form and mighty hammer plowing through the pathetic human’s ranks as if they were naught but air. A human with a layer of stone somehow held across their full body suit as armor came at him with a tall axe. They swung it poorly, yet when he moved to block it the stone in its head quadrupled in weight, causing the wolf’s eyes to go wide as the putty human forced him back. But only for a moment. He quickly recovered and swept a paw forwards, batting the human aside, breaking its body with a single swipe and then moved on to continue the reaping.

All around him chaos had struck the human front ranks, who were being overwhelmed at the front and harangued from behind by wolves from the opening flanking attack who had regained some of their senses and were trying to regroup with their kin. It was all going down like a clean hunt, the king mused, which was right when he heard a familiar sound.

“You! This time you die!” came a shout, drawing Skullcruncher’s gaze to the sky and finding a great muscular blue skinned bronze armored demon swooping towards him. A familiar one. He’d recognize that stupidly long autumnal colored hair trailing dramatically down behind her anywhere.

He growled and leapt back as the annoying human came to fight him once again.




“Your reign ends here, White Death!” Rebecca screamed at the top of her lungs, as much out of passionate hatred for her foe as out of a desire to raise morale through her bravado. Then again it was easy to be brave when you were a towering titan of a demon and not a frail human, though against this king of kings, it was practically as if it were a battle of a mundane woman against a plain old wolf.

Except her horn and wings, of course, or the fact that the wolf came at her with a massive warhammer held in its jaws. She flapped her wings once to pull herself back out of the way of the blow, trampling a lesser beast as she did, then swung forwards with one of her massive hand axes.

The beast blocked it with the steel rod of the hammer as Rebecca cursed whoever had commissioned a hammer like resilient and then gone and died while wielding it, before swinging her other ax, only to get a paw swipe at her leg which knocked her off balance enough for the blow to miss.

She cursed and lashed out with a cloven foot in retaliation, forcing the wolf to pounce backwards. Then both of them had to block or dodge as both their allies took that moment to launch shots at their foe, Rebbeca catching a spear with the side of an ax while the wolf shrugged off more obsidian crossbow bolts and charged right in. The demoness brought up her other ax to guard, only for it to be smashed from her grip by the hammer bow. She cursed, and then, already on the back foot, got the other blade knocked out of her hands by a dastardly swipe from the end of the hammer’s handle.

“Piz!” she cursed, animal instincts telling her to flee to the skies while her mind knew that if, after her dramatic proclamation, she turned and fled the rest of the army would likely break and rout as well. So instead she dove out of the way of a killing hammer blow and snatched up the first weapon she could find that was her sized: an ax with a spear length handle and a comparatively small head that had a large rock of all things embedded in the core of the ax head. It was weird, but it would do, she thought, not knowing that the blade’s previous owner had fallen trying to slay the very same white wolf that she was up against.

She rolled to her feet and faced the wolf king once more, raising the new ax and sweeping it down in one swift motion, feeding power into it as she felt it desired her to do.

The wolf raised his hammer to catch the blade on the handle once more, only for them both to be shocked when the super heavy blade, fueled far past its intended limits by Rebbeca’s arch demon levels of mana reserves, smashed right though the handle, utterly ruining itself in the process.

Both were stunned at their sudden weaponlessness for a second, but would have gone at it tooth, fist and claw mere heartbeats later had the world had not started exploding.




Skullcruncher snarled, furious that his weapon had been broken by this annoyance. He was going to rip her throat out! Or at least that was the plan before the strange contraptions at the center of the army suddenly started glowing. They were like the ones the annoyance had used to devastate only even larger, having to be wheeled around by teams of humans, which was why it had taken them so long to get into position at the top of the hill. But now they were there and everyone could feel the magical charge in the air as they started charging.

Madness, were they going to shoot into the melee? Destroy their own people? The wolf king would not put it past the humans. The truth, however, was far worse. Geomantic magics hurled goat sized disks over the heads of everyone fighting, sending them raining down all across the wolves’ forest home, where they burst into searing pillars of flame that refused to go out no matter how much water was poured onto them.

The searing pillars reflected in Skullcruncher’s blood red eyes, the flames beginning to consume his kingdom. To consume his people. The young. The old. The pregnant mothers and their cubs.

The battle ground to a halt as anyone not immediately in danger found their eyes inextricably drawn to the building inferno. Close to silence fell across the blood soaked soil.

And then the humans started cheering with renewed vicious spirit and the wolves yowling in fear and sadness, their morale shattered by this attack..

And just like that, the battle was over.




Well, it wasn't quite the moment it ended. There were pockets of wolves too trapped to flee to put down, and those that were able to flee back to try and save either the forest, their kin or themselves were not allowed to leave bloodlessly, the beasts being hunted down by the victorious humans as best their forces could muster in their battered state.

As was tradition at this point, the victory was swiftly followed by the lighting of bonfires, the victorious general bathing in some of its power while a number of fighters from the ranks who had outdone themselves took the rest of the heat from the burning corpses (or sometimes not quite corpses) of the wolves.

As the general stood before the flames, arms outstretched while priests attended to her minor enhancements, Damina approached her: “I can see now why you were having such difficulty, without my inventions, this would have gone quite poorly,”

“It is because of your inventions that the left flank collapsed-” Rebbeca began to bite back, but then stopped herself. It was good enough to have someone important recognise the difficulty of what she had been through. So she switched tact and gave a proper analysis “we will need to acclimatize people to them, and make sure they are properly protected in future.”

“Agreed. Further refinement both to the new weapons and the military strategy of employing them is needed. The results have been quite spectacular so far, if i do say so myself” the demon said as he gazed to the burning forests, its light reflecting in the volcanic glass of his bodysuit’s goggles “we will simply need to ensure the people are better suited to make use of them”

“We’ll have plenty more battles. If this war could be one in one battle I'd have won it long ago” Rebbeca said, as she joined the scientist in admiring the burning woods. Oh how long she had waited to see that, and this, this was only the beginning of the fire they would rise.




Rebecca was wrong. There would be no more battles, or true ones at least. Not here. Not now.

Though his winter white coat was peppered with arrows and blackened with scorch marks and soot, Skullcruncher had survived the collapse of his forces on the battlefield. He had survived braving the first fires to pull his people from the ashes. He had survived challenges to his leadership, leaving more wolves dead at his own paws.

If he was to survive any longer, if his people were to survive, he and they were going to do the unthinkable.

They were going to have to leave the forest behind.

Thus as the humans cautiously closed in on the forests, flamethrowers at the ready, they heard howls not of war but of farewell. The southern kingdoms sent dire warnings along the woods to their eastern kin, and then left them as only wolves still stalking the 12th realm.

The northerners had burned in one swift execution. The southerners had fought on a brave fight, but they knew a slow death when they saw one. So they gathered their families, packed their stolen gear, and simply left, beginning a mass exodus south into the (to them) unknown lands beyond.

Let the humans have their ash heap.

They would find a new home in the south.

As for the easterners, well, they heard the news on the wind, of tales of gemstones and crystals bristling with power, and thought those sounded quite familiar. The last wolves of the 12th realm (and despite the death in the north and flight in the south, the east held legions far greater still) turned their eyes to the mountains and ships of strange crystals traveling down from them with vengeance in their hearts and hunger in their bellies.

And chaos sang out for its misbegotten children in kind




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