Piper was in the middle of refueling herself after her climb when the Boss yelled up at her. She’d been leaning against the wall of the walkway she’d found as she did it, but clanked her furnace shut and walked back to the edge when she heard him making a nuisance of himself. At being spotted she got yelled at some more which was fun.
”Oh did ya get tired of sulking and want to help? Good. Well you wanted answers, so that’s exactly what I’m looking for. Looks like there's only a bit more to look into regarding this here temple, so I’ll be done in just a tick. Then I’ll come help with these horse things whatever they are. If I’m not back soon I’ve found something. Or I’m dead. Anyway. See you later Boss.”
She shouted back before turning away and making her way up a short stairway that lead to a stone archway. Inside she found an overgrown secret garden, filled with more types of plants than she had ever seen in her life and heard the sound of something strange living deeper inside. With one hand on her holstered frontier shotty she cautiously went to investigate the sound and the garden, picking her way through the greenery till she came across the gown wearing woman, her child and another horse. She had no idea how the hooved creature had climbed up here.
There was a moment of quiet in the garden as she got over the surprise of meeting someone up here, and the woman presumably go over hers at the appearance of a guest, before she greeted the woman with a friendly ”Howdy” and raised her hand away from her weapon to wave at her once.
”I’m Captain Piper Faraday and I ain’t here to cause you any trouble. I’m with a group investigating the possible origin of something called the mutagen virus in these here forbidden lands and I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a few questions miss...” she said, ending with an attempt at prompting the woman to offer her her name.
Bowser took advantage of his allies following following up his attack to recuperate, a claw grasping his punched jaw to shoogle it side to side, setting it back in place with a few painful sounding cracks. After a few practice chews he got out the super mushroom from his jacket pocket and shoved it into his gob, chowing down on his nemesis's favorite snack to try and get an edge against his double. The moment the shroom hit his stomach the effect took hold and bowser increased in size by 50%.
“AHAHAHA” the now even more massive bowser laughed before flexing “NOW THIS IS MORE LIKE IT. WHO’S THE BIGGEST BADDEST BOWSER IN THE ROOM?” He asked rhetorically before ending his bout of showing off just in time to react to the flying furniture. His hand snapped out and grabbed the flying throne with an oversized claw, halting its killer momentum just in the nick of time.
“WHO’S A BUG NOW PIPSQUEAK!” He taunted Megadragonbowser while brandishing his newly acquired throne like like a liontamer, its for feet acting like four prongs of a spear. He stomped forwards as his allies unloaded their guns at the dethroned tyrant king and then stabbed forwards with the golden weapon, aiming to smash Megadragonbowser into the wall and pin him there.
As Azura flew up and away from Ihokhe and his companions to join Luis the eclipse whale who had been exploring their surroundings while she and the mortal had conversed.
“Hello Luis. I’m back. Sorry you couldn’t join it. Hope you weren't to bored?” she said one she had flown up to
”No I’m good. I met some others like me in the sea while you were chatting. Not the best conversationalists, but they were nice nonetheless. They were very impressed by my size and flying ability apparently.” he said
“Wait what… oh! Someone made regular whales.”
”Is that what they where? Ashalla apparently made them. Not sure why. So anyway, how did it go?” he said
“Some good. Some bad.” she said before recounting the conversation to Luis. In her opinion it had been a useful source of information, but she had bungled her part of the exchange fairly badly in places. “I hadn’t really expected to have to explain all this to mortal races yet. The gods are all racing ahead of my expectations and ability to deal with the consequences it seems. Not that I can blame them I suppose, it’s not like I want to make our plans public knowledge lest we alert Katharsos to them.”
”It’s out there now though right? Or will be soon. This Ihokhe fellow knows and you’re going to to tell the rest of his kind about it.” he said
“Yeah… Time runs short. I do need to tell the rest of them, but after that we’d best be prepared as soon as possible, because it’ll get out to the rest of the gods before long. To Ohannakeloi first if he hasn’t been told already… I’ll need to think of a better way to get my point across before long.” she said thoughtfully
”Do you want help with that? We could pre-prepare what you will say? I think that would probably help you alot.” Luis suggested tentatively.
“mmmm…. like a speech! Haha yes we can wright one up and then I can present it to the world!” Azura said elatedly, performing an excited barrel roll in the air as she did
”Then why don't we slow down our trip and think one up. I’m more than happy to help there”
And so that was exactly what they did. The pair spend some time bouncing ideas off each other, writing and rewriting the explanation of soul crystals and the nature of death. Things where going smoothly till they came across K’nell’s magpies during their trip. Their story both shocked Azura and agitated her greatly. Fortunately retelling the tale to Luis forced her to reflect on the tale rather than storm of blindly into the night to find Li’kalla’s lost souls, storm off to confront K’nell about the truth of his story or enter a rage and go to try and stab Vakk.
”Well that’s messed up” Luis responded matter of factly ”So what are you going to do?”
Rather than dwell on the regret of having left Li’kalla alone to be molested by evil tentacles Azura focused on what she could do right now. “I’ll call her” she told Luis
With that Azura reached out with her mind and tried to contact Li’kalla. What she got in response was silence that lingered ominously until a feeling of rage, hatred and hunger lunged out of the silence at her mind. Azura reeled in shock and slammed the connection shut before the feelings of the dragon overwhelmed her.
“Ok. Something is very wrong. I got nothing but rage. She was such a sweet girl, I have no idea where that might have come from.” she told Luis after taking a few moments to recover.
”So this K’nell’s probably telling the truth. Or some of it at least?”
“Seems so and we have just the tools for the job of finding these fragments of her soul if they exist and have somehow resisted the pull of the vortex. If you don’t mind, I’ll need to borrow some of your Alma” she said as she landed on one of Bruna’s temples.
Some of the Alma Luis was carrying to come out of the structures littering his armored back and meet her at his behest. The bird gathered around her as she picked at their minds, adapting their ability to detect intelligent souls in general to the task of finding a specific intelligent soul. As she got into the zen of editing the gems to find Li’kalla, the same zen that had let her miss the goddess's initial cries for help, she modified some of the others at the behest of the memory lock in her mind without her conscious mind being recognising that that was what she was doing. Since she had arrived in the Architect's universe from the Void the lock and her had formed a working relationship as they got used to begin alive again. It plucked information from the depths of her memory, scrubbed clean of any context and then presented her with knowledge she had used to make sense of the world without having experiences to base her understanding on. She did her best to ignore its existence, as she was supposed to, while still accepting its knowledge which is what had let it create its own little soul seeker without her noticing.
Once she was done most of the birds scattered to the winds to begin scanning Galbar for signs of the goddess’s shattered soul. The lock modified ones returned to Luis unnoticed. They would need to wait, for their target was to be found high above and was unreachable by mortal means.
“If K’nell is telling the truth then those will tell us soon enough. For now let’s keep going. Time grows short.”
”Alright then… if its short why don’t we take a leaf out of K’nells book. Spread this speech through the Alma. There might be other mortals by now right?” Luis said, having had time to reflect on their situation while Azura worked on the Alma
“hmmm. That’s a good idea. But let’s see how it lands first?” she suggested. It wouldn't do to have their speech sent out only for its first retelling to be a flop.
”Onwards to Ohannakeloi then?”
Azura talks to Luis about her conversation with the mortal Ihokhe and concludes that it did not go as well as she had hoped. The two resolve that she should pre prepare a speech to give regarding death and soul crystallization While discussing this they encounter K’nell’s magpies and learn of the fate of Li’kalla Azura attempts to check on Li mentally, but receives only the angry, hungry thoughts of the dragon in response. Azura modifies a number of Alma to seek out Li’s soul. One of these is also modified by the mental block imprisoning her old memories to find a currently inaccessible soul. The two continue on their journey to go meet Ohannakeloi and his Ihokhetlani while the Alma scatter to the winds to atempt to locate the fragments of Li’kalla’s soul.
Start: 3 fp, 0 mp 0 mp soul crystal mutation. Modified some Alma’s ability to find sentient souls to instead make them seek out specific souls. Li’kalla’s and an unknown soul realted to Azura’s mental block. End: 3 fp, 0 mp Portfolio progress: Tonnikala (7/10) Birds (6/10
wordcount: 635 (+3) Level up: new Ability: Withdraw. Bowser pulls his head and limbs inside his shell for added defense or to perform a Koopa shell spin/slide attack. Level 4 EXP: ///////////////////////////////////////// (3/40) Location: Peach’s Castle: Throne Room
It was good that they held back, because in all likelihood if they had engaged they would have got stuck in just in time to be blown back by Megadragonbowser’s explosive recovery. Bowser pocketed the super mushroom for use later, as it would take DK and his hat out of face punching range, before he went to get stuck in. After the tyrant tore their haiku slinging ally in half Bowser joined the fray. With a mighty leap he jumped over the shock-wave his double had sent out before bringing him and Donkey Kong down with a crash before their foe, this time ganging up on him with the others rather than going at it alone.
”BACK FOR MORE RUNT?” mega Bowser asked as he got up from his ground slam
“IT TAKES MORE THAN THAT TO TAKE A REAL BAD GUY DOWN AND YOU KNOW IT!” Bowser responded, bringing his fists up into a boxer’s stance.
”TWO MORE TIMES AND WE’RE DONE HERE? THAT’LL BE A BREEZE!” Megadragonbowser retorted as he brought up his dukes for their second bout.
Bowser and Donkey Kong engaged in an all out frontal assault against Megadragonbowser, starting with a combined mighty right hook. Megadragonbowser brought his arms up in front of him to shield his head, blocking the triple punch with his scaly limbs. The force of the punch sent him sliding backwards on the tiled floor mostly as a result of DK’s wound up giant punch, his clawed toes scraping against it and making the most awful sound as he did so. They kept up the pressure with a subsequent left hook which, while less powerful, took advantage of their initial blow having knocked him off balance. Striking the side of the boss’s blocking arms the team broke his defences, bashing the limbs to the side so that their third punch struck true.
The triple power tower slammed their fists into Megadragonbowser’s face, the power of the blow knocking his head back and to the left. “HA HA, NOT SO TOUGH NOW!” Bowser taunted, only to be caught flat footed as Megadragonbowser’s head whipped downwards as he stepped forwards under Bowser’s forth strike to deliver an uppercut to the king’s jaw. Even as he did so however Donkey Kong got a retaliatory strikes against their up close and personal target, driving him back just enough to stop him overwhelming the Bowser completely.
”ENOUGH!” he roared, before sucking in air, fire licking at his lips as he fueled his furnace.
“UH OH” Bowser said as he recovered from the blow and realized what was going on
“Eeek!” screeched Donkey Kong as he abandoned ship, leaping out of the way as fire burst forwards from Megadragonbowser’s mouth. Browser meanwhile retracted into his shell at just the right moment, his packed shell thudding to the floor as the flames rushed over his back. Safe from the flames he was not safe from being kicked, which was exactly what Megadragonnbowser did, slamming a clawed foot into his shell and sending him spinning away though the hall. ”BUZZ OFF!”
Bowser’s arm snapped out of his shell, the super-heated power-claws on it burying themselves in the ground and hand breaking him to a stop a fair distance away from Megadragonbowser. Successfully stilled Bowser un-retracted himself as quickly as possible and slammed the ground with a palm to push himself upright. Then he readied himself for any follow up attacks by his doppelganger. Meanwhile Donkey Kong had landed a touch away from the Megadragonbowser and had then used his momentum to somersault further away, after which he flipped himself into the air before landing back onto his feet near Tora and Poppi. He gave them a thumbs up before turning round again to keep Megadragonbowser in his sights.
Luis soared through the Blue with Bruna on his back, the two getting having spent some time getting used to working with one another. They were above the north pole, where a number of peaks of the the Broken Crown Mountain Range poked up into Azura’s sphere from the Isle of Twilight down below. The soaring knight had weaved in and around these peaks, while engaging in a spot of target practice. Targets had been carefully carved in stone and they had then been subjected to the concentrated wind blasts fired from Bruna’s horn like soul gem, resulting in craters, gashes and bored holes littering the area.
Well this was productive he thought as he examined his gradual improvements in accuracy But I wonder if Azura is done making her soul collectors yet?
Bruna acknowledges your progress. Bruna does not know. Current location does not allow for estimating the number of days cycles that have occured since arrival. Bruna responded unhelpful. Deciding that now was as good a time to check in as any the whale left behind his impromptu self made training ground and headed the short distance towards the Sky Bastion, where Azura had set up shop upon their arrival.
A number of temples had ended up in the area, some of which were covered in veritable gardens of greenery thanks to the occasional arrival of rain clouds from the Gateway to Galbar found below. Apparently this had not been the case before, but now that Azura had properly linked her sphere to the world below there was a lot more greenery to be found up in the Blue, much to the delight of the Grazer Drakes.
Azura could be found inside one of the hangers of the Sky Bastion working on her soul saving constructs. The doors of it were flung open and as a result the pair could see one another and speak, or rather shout, too one another. The occasional sky slug flitted in and out of the hanger in search of food where none could be found.
”Hello Azura, how are things going? You free to talk now?” Luis asked her once he came up to the bastion, parking himself alongside it. Bruna actually had corridors specifically meant for docking up with the building’s hangers, but Luis instead chose to move an eye in front of the doorway, peering in at Azura while she worked.
“I’ve got the core design down and getting close to the end of putting the instructions in now, so yes, I’m free now. Thank you for giving me the space to do this, I think it’s going to turn out wonderfully.” she responded “OH. Did you think of any suggestions while you were out practicing? How did that go by the way”
”It went well. Think I’m getting the hang of this whole fighting thing perhaps?” he answered before suggesting that ”Maybe you could make them not do the ‘this one will’ thing? I told mine to just use its name instead but it’s still a bit awkward to hear ‘Bruna will this’ and ‘Bruna will that’”
“You gave it a name. A person name? No no no, they aren't supposed to have people names” she said a touch incredulously
”Why not? Its convenient. And less of a mouthful than the name you gave it. No offence.”
“Because I specifically made them to be as un-person like as possible. They don’t think, they don’t feel, they have no dreams or ambitions and certainly no feelings. I want a clear line between people and tools and naming them blurs that distinction. It’s why I don’t want them using ‘I’ because they have no self. Machines are their purpose and function and nothing more, which makes it ok to use them as tools.” she responded, getting a little worked up over this as she did with a lot of things.
”Why is this so important to you” he asked, his tone curios rather than dismissive
“Because I need to be good person! But there isn't time to reflect or build some kind of ethics system. There isn't time to try and plumb the depths of my smothered mind in the hopes that I can fine done their either and the Void only knows if I’d like what I found. So I’m just winging it and making this massive teetering tower of decisions which i don’t know if their the right ones and one day it's all going to come crashing down anyway and gah.” she groaned at the ceiling “People’s free will is important. I can’t make people who want to do what I want, because then they aren't free they are slaves to my and my mission. I can’t make people who I then convince some of to do what I want because there is no way of stopping me from making their minds predisposed to agreeing with me because when it comes down to it their minds are built out of mine. So I make things that aren't people but still feels wrong in a way. Like I could make them people if I wanted and that I am technically stealing their person-hood from them? Which is why I want to make sure I can’t mistake them for people.” she finished before asking “Sorry for rambling again, but does that make sense?”
”I don't think that is how that works? People aren't people until they are people I think. Otherwise everything that could be people, the rocks. The air. Those tiny things in the ocean I eat would be people and that is a touch… excessive? I think we should worry more about the people who are people rather than the things that could be people?”
“You are right.” she agreed after a brief silence. “I told myself I would focus on helping people first and foremost. Thank you for reminding me.”
”Speaking of people, if it’s not ok to make people to convince to help you, isn’t it ok to convince people who already exist to help you?” he asked, trying to direct the conversation towards more a more productive/optimistic area.
“Well yes. I’ve already got two gods helping me. There’s the void souls as well but that’s putting the cart before the horse.”
”Maybe the other gods made people like me?” he asked, a touch hopefully.
“Perhaps. Those would also be ok to recruit I suppose. Freeing them from servitude would also a good thing I think? People would prefer to be free, where as my machines would not care if they had no one instructing them. Which makes how I am making them a better way of doing things.” she concluded, putting a final stamp on her logic.
”I agree. It would be nice to meet new people and help them.” He responded. He like the idea of having friends who where like him, creations not creators. As much as Azura tried to avoid acknowledging her god/parenthood in their conversations it was always there, lingering in the background unsaid. Literally in this case as she tinkered away, writing instructions into the very soul of the new life she was in the process of creating.
That life it seemed, had finally reached completion. It was a bird, roughly crow shaped but scaled up to about the size of a vulture, one with spectacular feathers like Azuras and the Gardeners. The feathers of this first one where shades of orange, red and purple but as Azura began to replicate it there came others, with feathers of blue and turquoise others with green and yellow and so on. Small spectrum of shades rather than the set colors of the Gardeners. All of these had long flowing tail feathers that trailed behind them on the ground as they stood motionlessly, awaiting activation. The source of this stillness was the additions of non living parts to the creatures. They had metallic braces along their wings that held a single soul gem each as well as numerous slots to store numerous soul crystals, much like the one found inside Bruna. On their heads they wore pointed masks of Luftstone as white as polished marble into which where set three soul gems, one above the forehead and one over each eye.
“They are inspired by you and your armor” Azura explained “although functionally they work the other way round. The birds are very simple, a bundle of instincts and little else while the crystals do most of the task related decision making. They can sense the dying and recently dead and can also infer the intelligence level of a being’s soul. They can also crystallize souls like I can and can store them like your armor can. All these abilities together mean they can go out into the world in my place to save people from Katharsos’s flames. Then they will bring the souls to the vault for safekeeping. They’ll also be super useful for when we assault the pyres, helping to pick out the people from the trees. Also you can control them like your armor and the curators. Take a couple dozen for yourself before I release the rest for testing purposes.”
”I see.” he said simply, before reaching out and doing just that. At his behest a flock of the creatures, who now filled many of the rooms of the surface of the Sky bastion as Azara kept replicating them, flew out to meet him. [silver]Coming to you[/silver] they told him as they did so. Azura had apparently listened to his suggestion, removing the rpetive ‘This one will’ out of their speaking pattern, rather than it being lost in her ramblings, which was nice. Despite their heavy mechanical additions they flew swifty, aided by Azura’s blessed wind. He noted, as he trolled through these creatures crystals, that they too had the capacity for violence like Bruna, namely wind beams and shielding. They also had the ability to manipulate things with wind based phantom limbs, an ability he got Bruna to replicate right away.
Once the flock had landed on his back and took up roosts in Bruna’s many halls Azura told him that “That's about enough of them I think. Now we test them” before turning to the rows and rows of motionless birds and announcing.
“Awaken my soul collector birds, and go fulfill your purpose!” she instructed, at which point the hundreds of birds awoke and began to make their way past her. Luis backed out the way as the colorful swarm burst up and out of the way as they began launching themselves out of the hangerbay and flying up into the Blue.
”Can I suggest something a touch shorter? For the name?” he said tentatively.
“How about Reaper Birds? Soul Takers? hmmm” she suggested, seemingly not perturbed by his suggestion
”How about Alma?” he said
“It’s not very descriptive.” she complained
”Most names aren't” he said
“... I suppose not. It is a nice name. Ok then. Alma they are.” Azura said as she followed the last of them out. The birds where ascending now, having been programmed with an inherent understanding of the Blue’s strange geometry and how to use it to travel faster. Once they were high enough almost all of them headed off in one direction, rocketing south as fast as they could.
“That’s odd. I thought they would spread out to go find the gardeners?” Azura commented as they all raced off.
”Maybe someone made something else smarter?” he said.
“No. No surly not… If they have... We should follow them!” shouted as she took off after them without explaining her logic.Thus began a relatively short chase during which Luis got to see traverse roughly half of the blue in a rather short amount of time. Rising high into the air he encountered its shrinking geometry, then flew after the birds, watching as the flat representation of the world below raced by below him. Eventually he caught up with Azura on the southern continent, the one he did not know was called Atokhekwol. There he saw what the Alma had found.
”So. What are they”
“People.” she explained. “It looks like made the Alma just in time.”
Luis does some time at the range shooting targets Azura and Luis talk a bit about things while she finishes the soul collecting birds she is making In short, Azura is still putting herself under a lot of pressure and also does not have a real reason to do good other than an innate desire to do so which makes her worry that her actions might not be truly. Recruiting other god’s creations to their cause and/or freeing them from servitude is also discussed as a alternative to making servants/soldiers and as a generally good thing to do. Azura finishes the soul collecting birds. Luis takes a few to keep as a fighter complement while the rest are released to test their mortal finding abilities. Luis suggests naming them Alma instead of using another one of Azura’s word vomit names The birds all go down to Atokhekwoi and find the Ihokhetlani. Azura and Luis follow them and thus become the first to witness Ohannakeloi’s masterwork.
Linguistic not:construct soul crystals are now referred to as soul gems just to make a distinction between artificial and natural soul crystals.
Start: 6 fp, 0 mp Alma (reaper birds) 3 mp empowered by soul crystal port. 0mp blessing discounted by wind, Alma are assisted by the wind in their flight. 0mp blessing discounted by soul crystal port to allow Bruna to copy the powers of other soul crystals.
Vulture sized constructs that can: Detect souls at long distances and judge their intelligence level Crystalise souls Transport souls and gain power from them to offset their weight and help them defend their precious cargo Shoot wind beams, create wind shields and create wind based elemental limb to manipulate objects
Clunking around the temple had done little for Piper’s mood as the entire structure seemed devoid of basically anything useful. ”Grind my Gears, who makes a building this big and puts nuthin’ in it?” she complained as she ran out of places to look, finding herself as high as she could go. Anything higher up seemed to have no stairways leading to it and it was all covered with greenery.
Piper rested her back against one of these plant covered walls and popped open her chest mounted furnace in order to poke around in there with a little folding fire poker basically every steambot carried around with them. She nudged some of the existing coals around and then popped a few more little clump of fuel in from one of her hip pouches to keep the fire going. Then she popped it shut again, put away the poker and took a swig of water from a small canteen she had. Once this refueling process was done she pushed herself of the wall and turned to face the weird greenery she had been using as a head/back cushion.
”What even is this stuff?” she asked herself, tugging at the tangled plant growing against the wall she had been leaning against. ”s’ like a ladder. Made of plants? Weird” she concluded when she followed the path of its growth upwards. Piper did think it might be deliberate in some way, certainly there seemed to be more temple up there that nonetheless had no other ways to it, but having a complete lack of any understanding or experience with plants in general she really couldn't say for sure it wasn’t natural. What she did know was that there was more places to explore up there and, even if it was a waterless venture it was at the very least a high point from which she could use to get a better look at their surroundings.
”Maybe I can see a way forwards or spot those Titans from up there? Only one way to find out ah suppose”
She gripped the plants and gave them a tug to test their strength. Suitably impressed by their sturdiness she hauled herself up of the ground, her human like and claw machine hands pulling the rest of her body upwards. Surprisingly it all managed to hold the weight of the bronze forged bot, even if there was some ominous creaking.
”This is such a terrible idea.”
But it was this or either going back to the Boss and admitting that she hadn't found anything, or wandering off into the forbidden lands alone. Both of these where things she did not want to do for entirely different reasons, so up she climbed. It was tough going, climbing up the often unhelpful plants that were often only barely adequate in their emulation of a ladder. While her weight fought against her and her missmatched hands weren't ideal for this task, most of Piper’s physiology was suited for this climb. She’d chosen her own parts as she grew, and her resulting frame was designed predominantly for monkeying up and down ladders inside the cramped confines of spaceships, meaning she had plenty of upper body strength. She also had no muscles to tire nor any skin to become sore, only gears, pistons, metal and sensors. As a result the climb was a calcuatable contest between gravity and steam powered engineering, one Piper knew she could win barring any major setbacks.
Setbacks there where however. Plants snapped under her weight or slipped from her inelegant grasp. Once or twice she nearly fell. She could also probably survive falling here, although someone would have to put her back together after she smashed against the ground. That would make her look bad in front of the boss however, and she did not want to leave the task of getting fixed to him. At certain points she had to give up on the the plants entirely and rely instead along stone outcroppings. At one point she even had to jump from one wall to a stone pillar to keep going. Though none where setbacks where enough to kill her or stall her for to long, by the time she was approaching the top Piper’s furnace was in dire need of refueling.
Piper’s hand reached up one last time from the greener, only to find air and then stone below it. Feeling a little further forwards she found that this was not another stone outcropping out an actual platform she could stand on Her destination reached Piper halued herself upwards onto onto the stone surface.
She’d done it! She’d made it! Now where in the world had she made it too?
Luis drifted idly though the sky, having been left alone again as his creator again after she had once again been distracted by another god. The first time this happened was when she and Ashalla wandered off to look at some reef somewhere, and now, after she had come to find him roaming the skies above the ocean west of the Malstorm, she had done it again when she had spotted the mirrored version of the home built on Li’s Island. The great floating whale did not mind this too much but he was glad to see her again when the glowing parrot flew up to meet him.
”Hello Azura, you’re look like you are feeling a lot better.” he greeted her, noting the wonder a bath and rest had done for her appearance.
”I am. I feel re-invigorated and ready to get back to work.” she responded as she came to a stop before him, her mood having also picked up like her appearance. ”Would you like to come with me?” she then asked.
”Yes” Luis responded slowly. Even though the answer seemed to him like a forgone conclusion his massive sluggish mind always took its time to think things through. This made him quite the contrast to his impulsive creator and resulted in their conversations occur in bursts, with Luis taking his time to respond while Azura was right on his tail ever time he finished speaking. ”What work is there to be done?”
”Now that I have my strength back I have one last vital piece of my soul preservation plan left to create.” She explained as they turned and began to fly north ”You remember what I told you about Katharsos and the fate of the dead?”
”Yes. The souls dead go to his fires to burn but you have found a way to make them not go away and have a place to store them at the north pole.” he answered once his mind had dredged up the memory. He had so few, and yet his mind was already prepared for the day when he would have millions.
”Exactly. But the problem is that, although I have somewhere i can put the saved souls, I can’t be everywhere to save everyone when they die, so I need others who can go find those about to meet their end so they can save them in my stead. Preventing either their first death if we are lucky, or their last if we are not. I just need to work out exactly what to make to fulfill that task. They need to be friendly, and fast and strong and so many other things to perform their duty correctly. Not scaring mortals they come to save is also important… hmmm” she said, before going quiet, presumably to contemplate the problem.
Luis thought about this for quite a while as well and then asked ”Could I do that for you?”
”Hmmm?” she responded, broken out of her musings, ”No no no no. I’ve put you though quite enough already. Besides, you can't be everywhere either.”
”oh.” he responded disappointedly, before asking ”What are you doing after this?”
”I’m going to make weapons, and use them to invade the realm of death to steal the souls of the people still remain unburned. Before you ask, no, you don’t need to help me with that. I cant put you in harms way again.” she responded
”Why not? I want to help.” he insisted
”Because it was wrong of me to do so in the first place.” Azura responded in frustration, thought that frustration seemed leveled as much at herself as it was at him ”I should never have made something as intelligent as you as a moon shield, nor should I have made the gardeners so intelligent. I mean you needed to be smart to complete the tasks I gave you, but in the end I brought you all into this world only for you to suffer and die and burn! I had no right to make you. I’m sorry I did.” Azura cried, having got very worked up about this very quickly.
Luis was quiet for quite a while before responding ”I’m glad you made me. The start hurt a bit, but everything after that has been nice. Helping you made me happy.”
”Because I made you that way… I made clever creatures and then bolted instructions onto their minds. You’d probably feel terrible if you weren't able to help me right?”
”hmmm. Probably. It was lonely once the storm was in place. I went looking for you. I’m glad we found each other again.” he agreed.
”The Gardners are probably the same.” she said sorrowfully ”I hope they are ok.”
Upon the Kick a great congregation had amassed. Thousands of Gemstone gardeners of all 5 kinds had met there after planting the rest of the island with seeds from all across the globe. In a mass shouting match they discussed the one great issue plaguing their kind.
“The southern land is covered in forest that grew on its own!” cried one
“The spiny lands have trees already, and they walk around!” one horrified bird explained
“A little cloud zapped me there!” another complained
“I was planting to the south and then everything caught fire and now the seeds won’t grown in the sand there” a slightly singed bird said
“Above that I was planting and then there was blood everywhere and everything grew super fast.” said another who bathed far more often than was necessary
“Weird cat bird thing ate one of us down there so we beat it up!” announced a very heavily scared and yet very proud Emerald Kea
“I helped! A god touched me and now I am amazing!” declared a Blood Cockatoo that had managed to stick a Griffin feather in its head plumage as decoration
“There are no new worlds left to garden!” the all cried
“So what are we going to do now?” they asked
“There's this island to the west of the big other one. Everything glows there like us but not quite the same. I couldn’t plant anything there but it was nice.” a bird mentioned
“I think the nice glowly lady who healed me lives there?” said another who had been a survivor of the Phoenix’s attack on the eye of desolation.
“Should we go there then?” some asked
There was quite a bit of pondering about this
“Sure, why not?” was the general consensus.
Thus began a great migration of a vast and colorful flock up to tendlepog, across to Swahhitteh, after which they tool a a short skip around the maelstrom to mount chop and then across all of Atokhkwoi till at last they arrived at the glowing island of Istasis.
“This is nice.” was the general consensus of the congregation before it dispersed across the island.
The Giant bird and giant whale had flown in silence for quite some time now. Luis had been contemplating, his mind running in circles of logic. He liked Azura, but he only liked her because she made him too, but he didn't want to not like her, but that was because he was made that way and so on. Azura herself seemed to be moping. Eventually he came to decision. ”The birds. I met some while you were away. They’ve been dying and go to the fires right?”
”Yes. I saw some when I went there, but could not free them alone. Aceal will help me next time. As will the allies she.. makes” Azura trailed off before Luis interjected with a surprising degree of haste ”Then I want to help them. Because they are like me. I don’t want them to burn. That's something I want to do on my own right? Not something you told me to do?”
”I… Yes… yes it is. I gave you empathy, like I gave you reason, but the idea is yours. You want to do it even though I said you shouldn't? Its to dangerous, there will be fighting and you are not made for that. You are big and slow and soft and Katharsos will tear you apart.” she responded eventually
”Then please make me stronger Azura. Give me the power to help them” he requested, not adding that he also wanted it so he could help her. It wasn't what Azura needed to here, he concluded.
”But you might die!” she responded, near terrified by the prospect
”If I do then you will preserve me?” he asked
”of course!” she promised
”Then I have nothing to fear.” he concluded.
”Ok.” she responded softly, uncertainly, before repeating herself more resolutely ”Ok. I’ll do it. I think i have an idea as to how to do this.”
And so she sang, and as she sang soul ash and wind solidified from the air, forming crystal and Luft stone at her command.
“Construct your life and death are one Yet your souls shall not be undone With your armor made of mighty stone You will protect Luis’s flesh and bone With simple mind with life un-living Bare the brunt of foes unforgiving Yet in this you will not be alone For the fallen you will give a home Willing spirits will join the fight To aid this world's first Knight!”
What formed out of woven song, air and soul was a cross between a construct like the ones managing the Vault of souls and one of Azura’s floating temple, all scaled to be just a smidgen longer that Luis. It had a large flat top that was shaped like his head and its own jointed tail that lazily swept back and forth in the wind. Atop its flat space where a number of flat buildings containing vaults for storing souls. These however were not the same plain shelves as could be found in the vault, but where instead metal devices that held the crystals in place, keeping them from falling and letting them drive additional power into the stone creature to increase its power if they wished.
Along with these storage places where about two dozen of small constructs attached to its body, all roughly the height of a regular humanoid. Each was a stocky blocky legless torso bearing two rectangular arms. A single crystal sat where the construct’s head would be that controlled the construct, while four more were found at the ends of the arms, forming two claws on each limb. Finally the construct had a crew of beings that where a lot like the curators of the vault of souls which performed the same role as the ones in the vault, namely sorting and storing soul crystals, though instead of mining equipment the curators where instead capable of building with Luft stone, allowing them to make limiter repairs to their living home.
Beneath it where hundreds of rib like limbs that rocked back and forth idly, making it appear to be some bizarre centipede whale skeleton hybrid. At its front was a singular massive crystal that sat just about where the creatures brain could be expected to be, which spiked up like a massive glowing horn from its forehead. Here it seemed lay the mind of the vast machine creature.
Luis looked upon this strange monster with a hint of distaste at its many limned nightmarishness. As if reading his mind, though the goddess had assured him when they had met for the second time that she would not, Azura said:
“Ah. That looks a little more disturbing that I meant it too. To many legs. Still, I’m quite sure it will look alot better when you put it on”
”Put it on?” He asked, having almost forgotten what the point of the exercise had been, so in awe was he of the goddess’s ability to form something so massive out of thin air.
“Yes. Like armor. I have to thank you by the way, making this has given me a much better understanding of the art of soul crystallization. I think I’ve more or less mastered it. Which means I believe imparting this piece of power to link you to this creature will be a simple task. Do I have your permission to add a power and knowledge to your mind?”
”To make me stronger? Yes” he responded, at which point Azura sang again
“Soul in flesh and soul in stone To one another you are known Construct give him power So that he need never cower Luis lend this tool your mind And to your will it will bind Now as one machine and master will stand strong against disaster!”
The song flowed into him and all at once Luis became aware of the mind is dwelling within that body of stone and crystal. He reached out with his mind and found it accepted this mental connection without comment or hesitation.
Hello. What is your name? he thought to it. Its response was a cold, rigid and emotionless one that sounded a touch like Azura if all life and spirit had been drained away from her.This one greets you. This one is named as Luis’s Armor it responded, before adding. This one awaits your instructions Not entirely sure how to proceed he attempted to emulate his first conversation with Azura where when asked the same question he had told her that he was called the Eclipse Whale. He removes the self deprecation she had shown from the response and saidThat's not really a name. What would you like to be called? but unfortunately it responded This one does not understand your question.
”I do not understand this person.” he told Azura
“That is because it is not a person. I have realized my mistake with making you and the Gardeners. To make a mind and then inprint instructions on it was thoughtless and I am forever sorry that I did that to you. Here instead there are only instructions with no mind attached. In this case it knows how to work for you, with you, to make you stronger, but little else. Look closer and you will see that you can probably understand the contents of its mind in a way that we never could if it were another person. It is just that simple a soul.”
Peer closer he did, and indeed he could see the instructions somewhat, though they were mostly incomprehensible to him. Perhaps if he dedicated his time to examining it he could come to understand it. He wondered if this was how Azura saw him, of if she spoke honestly when she said they were the same kind of being. This one awaits your instructions it reminded him with utter insurgency that still conveyed something akin to impatience.
”It keeps asking me for instructions.” he told Azura, ”what should I tell it to do?”
“I would suggest telling it to armor you. Then ask it for help and it will tell you all you can do together”
When he did so it told him to Please remain still. This one is initiating the armor donning process. Then it approached and set itself over him, its many limbs spreading wide to engulf him before it descended. The construct touched down gently and then embraced him, it’s many limbs wrapping down around his face and body. Everywhere it touched him he could feel a strange sensation as it gripped onto his very soul for purchase, the very outer edges of his very being becoming solid and linking with the construct till he and it where as one. It was took him a great effort of will to remain calm as he was engulfed, yet once it was in place the armor felt natural as his skin, a part of him he never knew he was missing. Gazing down at the the water he could see himself reflected in the blue waves, a knight in stone armor that moved with him as one. The creepy legs and closed together to form a breastplate that guarded his underside, while the crystal that housed the constructs mind was placed directly above his forehead, making the pair’s minds extremely close to one another. He could feel the other augmenting his mind, making parts of him run faster than his sluggish meat brain could ever hope to.
You are now armored it announced once the process was complete. Let evil tremble before your might! it added, in a flare of emotion that made it sound a lot more like Azura than it normally did, before it repeated that This one awaits your instructions in the same dull voice.
Interesting. Luis’s…. You need a better name. Azura was awful naming things Luis’s armor, you are now called Bruna. Do you understand.
This one acknowledges your instructions. This one will now respond to the name ‘Bruna’. it confirmed
Good. Now. Bruna. Can you help me? he asked as Azura had instructed, only for his mind to be swamped with information about Bruna’s capabilities. While he was trying to absorb it all Azua asked him “Do you like it?”
”This is a lot to take in” he responded, and indeed it was. ”I’m not sure how soon I will be useful to you.”
“It’s fine. Once we get to the north pole you will have time to practice while I make more tools and weapons.” she told him and indeed they where. It took them only a short while to reach the pole, the sea turning to ice below them, then to snow covered mountains and plains. It was rather bleak and sad compared to the vibrant oceans and lands found to the south. Azura did not stop them here however, but instead brought them up towards the top of the central mountain, and it was there where Luis got to enter the Blue for the first time. He had always been able to see the strange buildings and small creatures fluttering around the Blue as he brought the day sky with him wherever he went, but could never touch them. Here however was a world above the clouds, full of color and wonder.
Bruna’s Curators, a variant of the curators of the vault of souls that repair rather than mine stone. 1 fp discounted to 0 by soul crystal port
Praise discounted to 0 fp by soul crystal port for Luis the eclipse whale: grant the ability to mentally linking himself with soul crystal constructs to be able to command them
End: 6 fp, 0 mp
Portfolio progress: Tonnikala (7/10) Birds (6/10)
Bruna is a living warship that can be worn by Luis like a suit of armor to combine their power, Luis’s sentience, control over soul crystal constructs and air-speed combining with Bruna’s durability and faster reflexes. Bruna can store Soul Crystals, and can also draw power from them to enhance its own crystals power. These abilities are: Wind beams: Bruna’s main crystal and the small turret constructs lining its body can all fire tight beams of air at extreme speeds. These can either do concussive, piercing, cutting or drilling damage based on the shape of the wind attack (wide, thin, narrow or spiraling) the main beam is very large, while the smaller ones are only really effective at attacking small targets. As a result they act like a main gun and a pound defense system respectively. Construct control: Burna is capable of multitasking, while Luis is able to control other insentient soul crystal Constructs. Together they can coordinate armies of these constructs far better than a regular mortal could. Mortal crystals on-board the vessel can also be brought in to help with this task, adding their expertise or micromanagement to the command system. Windshield: Bruna can enclose itself in a bubble of flowing wind that can deflect incoming attacks. It cannot fire and use this ability at the same time.
Azura leave behind LiKalla’s island and returns to the company of Luis the eclipse whale The pair have a long conversation in which Luis tries to find a way he can help Azura despite her insistence that he need not do so Azura says that Luis only feels the need to help her because she made him that way and then regrets creating intelligent creatures to do her bidding in the first place. Luis ponders the nature of his free will and then insists that Azura allow him to help in the fight against death despite her insisting that he need not do so. He based this decision on a desire to help the gemstone gardeners rather than his inbuilt desire to help Azura. This wins her over, as she acknowledges it as a decision made by him, rather than by her programming. Azura makes a Soul Crystal powered construct that can act as armor for Luis and can be used to both draw power from and transport Soul Crystals. Azura then gives Luis the ability to command other soul crystal constructs. He then make the armor don him and tells it its name is Bruna. The two then travel to the north pole and enter the blue where Azura wants to make constructs that will travel around crystallizing the souls of the dying to then bring them back to the north pole.
In other news the Gemstone gardeners have finished their task of spreading nature across the globe. Without any further instructions most of them migrate to Istasis because it is a nice place that suits their own luminous nature.
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.