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Their commander was so young?

Isidore locked gazes with Fiacre. Talented then, or nepotistic. Considering the conditions they were in and the low moral of the men, however, it sounded like the former. Talented but unpopular, sent on a mission that was unfavorable to damage his reputation. Such complex politics only popped up later on in Isidore’s life, but it was easy enough to imagine.

“Not the storm,” he said, gazing back the way they came. “We were attacked by the Dirithen soon after coming upon them.” A twist of the dwarvish polearm told what happened afterwards. Simplified, convenient truths. Never a need to speak more than necessary. “Call me Isidore. My companion Augusta.”

More snippets of information. The beast, a missing captain, and the dwarven gates. Internal strife or external threat. Firebeard’s machinations, and the faction he lead. A pass blocked off by an avalanche. He internalized all this, then rubbed his shoulder. Despite Augusta’s healing the night before, it was still sore. Phantom scars, perhaps.

“Tell me about Rheane, the beast, and Railey.” A pause. “I’ll keep an eye out as we go further out.”

With luck, their rations would last until they came across the mushrooms of the Urutha. But if not, a contingency was good. His gaze swept the rest of camp while Fiacre spoke.


None with the same breathtaking fairness of Augusta or the budding beauty of Leuca. Was his companion going to be outed on the merit of her heartpiercing allure alone? Isidore shifted his stance casually, interposing himself in front of the long-eared woman more. Maybe a mask would be helpful.

Shika watched.

They did not cooperate.

Internally, the corpse-flower frowned, before shrugging, resigned. Oh well. If the Hunters were drunk, then they were fine with waiting until they were sober. Until then though? The show had to go on!

Arrows lanced through the sky, a meaningless barrage for a horde of infected humans. They screamed, horrified as piercing points drove deep into their flesh, their bones, their organs, leaving grisly exit wounds. Some survived still, gasping, twitching from the agony, while others were mercifully slain on impact; an arrow through the head perhaps. But no matter the trauma, the parasite-devil lurking in their bodies drove them forward, lurching with a swift but uneven gait towards the Devil Hunters.

Maria had the right idea though, and Mai followed through after her sword gave her some confidence. For the dead and the soon-to-be dead, dismemberment was a simple affair. Their bodies parted for flaked obsidian and tempered steel, arcs of blood brilliant against the moonlight that reflected from the snow. Could Mai’s sword read ambiguities, or was a convenient answer all that she needed? Regardless, Maria had set the example first; if there was a fallout, Maria could take the blame as well.

And of course, Maria would take all the glory too!

“Truly,” the vampire lady crooned, “A slayer of devils rather than a savior of man.” She drank from her glass of wine with irreverent disdain at the woman’s fiery approach, before her eyes burned with a predatorial light. “Well then, have at thee!”

With a flourish, the seven foot tall lady swung her wine glass in the Devil Hunter’s direction, and sanguine blood surged out, a veritable tidal wave of aristocratic excess. From behind Maria as well, the anguished cries and the crick-cracking of bone sounded as well, five of the parasiticized humans lunging at her in expense of their legs. Even puppets had value, after all. Far be it for one to assume that a mob was composed solely of weaklings.

Indeed, with both vanguards occupied, Hoshio found seven rushing for him as well, hurtling through snow and foliage at a frenzied pace. Perhaps in a zombie shooter, this scenario would simply be unfair. After all, speedy zombies were usually not so annoying tenacious either.
It was Mai’s encounter, however, that perhaps was the most curious.

As the Envoy turned in the direction of the voice, the eyepatched woman’s gaze widened, an animal fear seeping in. Not at the Hunter, but at what laid behind her. And then, like a rabbit, she bolted.

A feint or a genuine threat? How long did Mai have to decide?
Fast as any self-proclaimed healer ought to be after such a massive attack landed, Raime was a dark gale as he sped through the debris and dust. A tunnel was left in his wake as he tracked down the individual in the most danger. Klein’s fiery cowl made him easy to spot despite the obscuring dust, slumped as he was against a tree. The Scout skidded beside him swiftly and immediately jammed four healing vials into the Mountain Man’s mouth, tilting the man’s head upwards to ensure that all the fluids went down smoothly.

It tasted like blood to Klein, but his health shot up by 120 regardless. Now he could perhaps withstand a hit from an oni after all. But only one.

Magpie was Raime’s next target, scampering away still at the spin-kicking oni. Bending her knees and clawing against the ground, the Brawler dragged out a handful of small rocks from the earth and hurled them out to her target with such a terrifying force that it sounded like a shotgun blast. Pebbles tore through rotten flesh, but they were too small to stop the oni’s advance. It had to be at death’s door at now though, and if she simply pushed on with the attack like that giant ape from Attack on Titan, Magpie had a re-

A burst of wind from behind, and her mask was lifted, four glass vials were thrust into her mouth! Immediately, her body quaked, muscles shuddering at the taste of blood. Her HP rose by 120 as well, and with that, the monstrous strength the Brawler had disappeared. Who did this, she couldn’t tell, because that instant of distraction was enough for the oni to hop back up onto its feet as well! Surging forward, it leapt into a drop kick, aiming to split her in half!

Things were heating up for Ames as well. The fire of his sword had died when it was wrenched out of his hand, but Raime’s arrows forced the zombie oni to back away as well, giving the warrior the opportunity to re-arm himself. It was a matter of mere moments now, a matter between who had the faster draw as both combatants surged for each other. But in that critical moment, Ames messed up.

It was AGI which determined one’s speed, not DEX.

The corpse-worms vibrated with mind-numbing intensity as the oni wrapped its one arm around Ames, squeezing the warrior against its stomach. The bind was imperfect, more of a squeeze than a bear hug though, and even as 49 HP was lost from the chest-crushing grapple, Ames still had his own sword free, driving into the monster’s neck before swinging it out. The head lolled forward, connected to the neck now only due to some shreds of flesh and skin that remained, and putrid blood oozed out from the hole. The monster’s own grip, however, did not cease to weaken.

This body was broken, and there was a new one pressed right against it now.

Pinpricks of pain pressed against Ames’s stomach, as, from the smoldering hole that Raime had shot, black worms began to wriggle out, digging into his own flesh. Their numbers were small, only 24 points of damage dealt for twenty-four worms trying to infest him, but how would he rip them out, when there was no space between the oni’s stomach and his own to maneuver?

Amulak’s predicament was dangerous as well. Through a glassy-eyed gaze, the mage held his breath as the silhouette of the oni continued to turn. It was only three seconds, but with a dilated perception of time, those three seconds were the longest he ever had to endure.

Two seconds now…


The wind howled around the mage, dispersing all the dust around him in an instant. Raime knelt before him, four healing vials jammed into Amulak’s mouth. 120 points ticked up the mage’s HP bar, but for all the comfort that some extra health gave him, all he could do was watch as the oni’s rotten eyes swung in the two Immortal’s direction. Playing dead couldn’t work, not when they were actively being healed by another.

…second now…

It coiled its ruptured legs, drawing in strength that lingered even after death, and kicked off the bull!


Behind, Amulak’s magical mines burst, arcane energies surging outwards and eradicating all matter caught up in the radius. The oni’s extended leg was caught up in the blast, turned into a bloody mist, but it still sailed through the air, remaining leg swinging outwards like a ballista bolt!

Glass shattered inside the mage’s mouth as the oni’s ankle rammed itself through his teeth. Another 74 damage was taken by the trapped and now silenced mage, while a meaty hand swung out for the surprised Scout. Though a step fast enough to avoid a hit, the fingers of the oni still snagged against Raime’s clothing, and the sheer strength of the oni was enough to slam Raime into the pulverized stomach cavity of the phantasmal bull. A rib the width of a log skewered the scout’s chest, goring him and dealing 187 damage to the unarmored man, the unfiltered pain enough to almost cause him to black out.

But the system wouldn’t allow him to, and through tear-streaked eyes, Raime could see the oni’s fists raise upwards with savage intent.

Amulak was tough and well-armored, perhaps even tougher than Lugh. Without the ability to move or to incant though, how would he survive the pummeling that was to come?
@Shovel@Searat@Psyker Landshark@OwO@Yankee

Gan’Bol smirked at Calace’s attitude as he waved the two off. “Well, have fun kiddos,” he called. “Make sure you’ve got enough to pay bail!”

And now, Lugh and Calace were on their own, neither of them possessing any acumen for organized crime. The headstrong healer may be eager enough to run off in any direction, but after a couple minutes of fruitless wandering, the duo had to stop and think. How would they actually pull off some banditry or thievery without getting obliterated, and how would they pull it off in a way that Gan’Bol wouldn’t just laugh at their attempts afterwards?

It wasn’t immediately obvious what the answers to the first two questions were, but there was definitely one thing that had to be answered before even that.

How would they find a mark?

There were three options that came easily to mind.

First, they could find themselves a map of Nyu-Taro’s surrounding geography and find a trade route that wouldn’t be populated by too many caravans. Once an easy, isolated mark showed up, they could attack it and hope for the best.

Second, Lugh recalled the criminal organization that Ari had been trying to steal from. Though he wasn’t absolutely certain where they were, he had the general sense that they must be somewhere in the area she was crawling through previously. Maybe with some sweet-talking, the two of them could pick up some nice criminal tips from them?

Third, they could look up the quest wall at the Keystone’s plaza and see which merchant caravans were hiring. With only a group of two, there would probably be other Immortals hired as well to escort them, but perhaps it would be easier to burglar through betrayal, rather than through ambush.

Of course, the hidden fourth option was just to give up and mindlessly grind mobs instead. Even Lugh wasn’t finished maxing out his first class, after all. What chance did they have against any well-equipped party of Immortals? Mayhaps it was better to play it safe than to fall for Gan’Bol’s taunting and end up dead.
@Haha@Cu Chulainn

The smell of citrus hit Ari as she pushed into the office of the CCC. Though the layout of the lobby looked simple enough, with an area immediately beyond the door where one could remove their shoes and swap them for indoor slippers, potted saplings were placed on every corner of the room that she was to step up into, their branches weighed down by small oranges. That explained the smell at least, a smell potent enough that she could hardly catch the stench of oil and ink that seeped down from the surrounding rooms. The noise, however, couldn’t be masked. Muffled voices and the clacking of wood against wood resounded from all neighbouring walls and humans dressed in a variety of outfits went back and forth carrying boxes stacked fivefold upon each other. It was frenzying, and took a moment or two for Ari to not just register all their voices as white noise.

“This bundle’s ready for delivery!”

“What’s the stats on our readership in Ryoku-Jo?”

“No contact from the Mora-Sho sub-branch yet, boss!”

“C’mon, let’s get those interviews out the door!”

In the middle of the room stood Zhi-Toren, the woman now only dressed in collared shirt and slacks. Ink blots marked her handsome face and her hair was done up in a bun as she coordinated the chaos, directing people to go to one room, shouting out orders, or just telling people to pick up the slack. It was a strange sight, one that reminded Ari of those chaotic restaurant sim games that her classmates got into one summer.

Amidst the chaos, though, the purple-haired woman caught Ari’s eye. “Two floors up, third room to the right,” she shouted. “I’ll be up in ten minutes!”

If Ari followed those directions, after some complicated evasions of other Immortals carrying large, unwieldy loads, she would find herself in a room that was much quieter than the rest. A window in the back faced the center of Nyu-Taro, and bookshelves filled to the brim lined up against the walls. In the center of the room was a massive table, upon which a map of Horogi was laid out, accompanied by various navigational tools. Up above, glass lanterns were suspended, their light shining with a magical brilliance.

Leaning over the table with a compass in one hand and a wired telephone in another, was a blue-eyed man dressed in a jet-black kimono. Scars criss-crossed his pale skin, and his aviator goggles held his wiry black hair out of his eyes. He looked up at Ari and stared. One second passed. Five seconds. Ten seconds.

The man frowned, then shouted, "Self-introduction!"
Isidore dropped down low as Leuca hid behind him. He counted twenty easily, armed and armored just as well as the two that they had come across further down the mountain. It was more than he was willing to deal with, perhaps even more than he’d be willing to fight if he had a gun. His eyes lingered briefly on the star-eating serpent that served as their banner. Curious imagery. Snakes were devils, back on Earth.

“Augusta,” he murmured, keeping his gaze on the encampment. “Can you read them?”

Augusta stared over the camp, worried that one of the many men there might notice them at this point. She double checked her hood to make sure it was pulled over her ears tightly. When Isidore asked if she could read them, she shook her head. “That they have names. Not much more from here. Maybe I need to level up my eye so I can glean information from further out.” She pondered for a second before removing the thought from her mind. “What’s the plan, Isidore?”

Isidore raised a brow, shifting slightly to face her. “How would you “level” it up?”

"I'm unsure if it's possible. Some of this has seemed like a game so it was a bit of a thought." Augusta shrugged, the faintest hint of defeat hovered on her face. "Becoming practiced perhaps."

He nodded, then fell into silence for a while longer. The ideology of these humans, beyond their racially-charged violence, was that the world was false. A dream perhaps, the whim of a god or two. That wasn't so far off from his own beliefs about the place of the Storyteller in this world. And if they are to move through this place safely…

"Leuca and Octavia stay behind. We are travellers, seeking the land beyond the village. We'll approach. We return the horn, and direct their attention to the dead at the foot of the mountain." A pause. "If they discover who you are, Augusta, talk your way out of it. If we must run, go first; I'll follow."

"A dangerous proposition you have there. Though, it should work nicely if all goes well, I can't imagine us coming out of this well if it all goes south." Augusta seemed somewhat hesitant of the plan considering the wrong step would sic twenty hostiles on her. "But, i'll trust your plan."

Isidore closed his eyes, calculations of risk and reward whirring through a brain that envisioned everything so much more clearly than it used to. A moment later, he stood up and strode towards the encampment, Augusta following from behind. In one hand, he held the dwarvish polearm, and in another he held the horn that he had taken from one of the dead men.

Locking eyes with the guard on the outermost perimeter, Isidore raised up the horn in the air. “This belongs to yours, yes?”
Just chillin' ye.

Certainly, this was a gold mine of information, and one that Otis had no intention of letting go anytime soon. The fact that youkai were capable of establishing separate domains was interesting indeed. No doubt, it was a similar technique to the boundary that the assassin had set up. A shame, really, that all trace of that particular spell was destroyed when Ultana and Lorelai burst in. If the spirit realm was more of a private society than a different world though, how would he get around to accessing it? Perhaps the talismans of the Tsuchimikado would offer some insight.

Also interesting, however, was the ASTG that Motsumine no Fujiwara described. Isolationist policies may deter one from delving into their particular secrets, but the nature of isolated developments of magic meant that one could usually come across something much more fascinating than the usual affair. The Strigidae nodded along, keeping in mind to start Googling those folk once he had some spare time.

When their parting was at hand, Otis stopped his recording, turned to Motsumine no Fujiwara, and bowed. “This humble self is named Arillo Tan Otis, of the Strigidae family within the Arboreal Valley. Your answers have been enlightening, and there are no words with which to express my gratitude,” he spoke, taking the opportunity to try out keigo. “I’ve a final request, however. Can I have your LINE?”

The smartphone raised up again, Otis’s bright orange eyes looking up at the man with that strange mixture of predatorial intent and human curiosity.

Whether contact details were swapped or not, however, he was satisfied enough with busting into the old storehouse the Fujiwara head had directed him to. With sleeves rolled up and phone connected to portable charger, Otis was 100% ready to get his head into whatever spirit world or youkai related stuff he could pick up.

After all this time, he was still a man on a mission. Find a way to get to where half the class was, and then restarting his hunt for the assassin of the Kaganomiyas.

Qantz-Farron was content with waiting and watching as Sera slipped into the building. If she was as professional as she professed herself to be, she should be able to manage risk well enough. And if she wasn’t? Then his concerns were unfounded. So he remained content with keeping his mouth shut and his ears alert, listening for any signs of violent conflict within the building.

Finn, however, was not.

The man’s gaze met the Adept’s, inscrutable for an instant. It was Vela, however, who spoke up first. Qantz-Farron let out a small chuckle, turning the palm of his free hand up in her direction. “Well well, Lady Vela, who can say for certain? The Age of Dreams has distorted the definitions of ‘normal’ and ‘special’, after all, and I had mentioned that the unique nature of this drug enabled one to find more of its kind. Considering the rarity of purebloods, however, it's safer to assume that those who appear human rarely are, no?”

The crunching of glass drew his attention though, as he turned with deliberation towards the trio of individuals further down the alleyway. A different building, but perhaps one that was related to the one Sera had entered. Qantz-Farron drew in a breath, feeling for the influence of the leyline that slashed across Arskel, drinking deep of the ichor. And yet, he did not move from where he was.

“I’ve demonstrated my talents, and Sera’s demonstrating her own. Lady Vela, shall we leave this to you?"
And thus, chaos.

Magpie’s shovel, empowered by the Brawler’s trademark passive, ripped through the air and shattered the oni’s arm. The metal, never meant to be used as a weapon, warped at the impact, but she carried through regardless, severing off one arm. The oni’s body vibrated in fear and anger as it grinded to a halt behind her. Salty waters churned underneath as it twisted around, swinging its remaining arm at her.

Magpie matched those movements too though. Her AGI may not surpass that of the oni’s, but she wasn’t so far behind that the monster’s movements left her in the dust. Eyes wide open, shovel swinging out for a second strike, she drove the warped edge of the shovel into its arm. They clashed in that instant, the shockwave sending sea water on both sides, but neither gave up an inch.

Then, the cracks began to show.

The wood of the shovel’s haft splintered at the same time the bones of the oni fractured, and with a meaty thunk, both shovel and arm broke, scattering to pieces upon the watery battlefield. Magpie’s improvised weapon may have been of uncommon quality, but it was never meant to be a weapon to begin with, and her passive only improved the damage it dealt, not the abuse it could withstand. Blubbering about her loss, the Brawler turned tail and ran, right as the worm-oni cartwheeled onto the stubby remains of its arms. Blood now frothed within Magpie’s territory, as it spun its legs around to create a helicopter kick of carnage that pursued Magpie with murderous intent.

Ames’s thrust ended up striking only air as well, the one-armed oni twisting out of the way of the flaming sword and releasing a quick jab. It was a maneveur that the warrior had predicted though, and he stepped in tune with the monster’s attack, evading the blow and swinging upwards to the intercept the oni’s arm as it snapped. The incandescent brand sizzled as it carved into flesh, but Ames only managed to graze the monster. It had raised its arm up instead, and the warrior’s sword met empty air instead.

“Stupid zombie oni!”

Spinning on its heel to gain extra rotational force, the oni swung down with a chop, and Ames brought up his sword to defend. The warrior’s knees buckled under the weight of the impact, just barely catching the hand with the guard of the sword. The stench of cooking flesh permeated from where the oni’s hand was pressed against the burning sword, and it squirmed at the heat.

But whatever fear it held within its hive mind repressed, as it grasped onto the sword instead. A high-pitched whine sounded within the infested oni’s body, and it swung its arm off to the side, bringing Ames’s sword away with it.

An opening of a split second.


Ames went flying ten meters back, but only sustained 35 points of damage from the kick that had sent him there. Though his reflexes were slow, the system had not been, and stylish movement kicked in at the last moment to bring the buckler up to block it. He recovered with a mid-air somersault, and as he landed, Raime finally had a clear shot at the oni. With arrows ignited by phantasmal flame, the scout unleashed a salvo unto the oni. Three were blocked by its arm, but one met its mark in its stomach, causing the creature to writhe further. It tore the arrow out of its stomach, but damage had already been dealt: a black, steaming goop began to seep out from the hole.

The creature was not dead yet though, and with a growl, it reached out with the stump of its arm.

But for what purpose?

Klein ran, his heart beating against his chest, his muscles pushing harder than it ever had before. Had he ever even worked out this hard in real life? But for all of Cacophony Concord’s realism, it was still a virtual world, ruled by numbers and truths. No matter how hard he mentally pushed himself, there were hard limits still, limits that ruled him as the slowest individual by far within this encounter. The roar of the dead bull sounded behind him like a train. Perhaps in another timeline, a timeline where his Nuclei had yet to be awoken, this would be where a determination to live opened up a new possibility for him.

Ashwatthama offered vengeful immortality though, not escape from duress.

Amulak cast his own spells before he turned to run, arcane veins flooding out to craft near-invisible bombs at the landing sight of the oni. If his timing was perfect, the mines would arm themselves only after the oni landed, exploding upon the monster instead of the corpse. All he had to do now was run, and in another timeline, yes, the mage would’ve easily outpaced his ally.

They were fighting creatures that infested dead bodies though. Creatures that could manipulate detached limbs. And though Klein had helped Amulak remove the arm from his face, neither of them had done the thing zombie movies always told people to do.

Double tap.

Amulak’s left foot jerked back two steps into his run, and he fell flat on his face as a crushing pressure clamped down on his ankle. Given more time, it wouldn’t have been a problem at all, not with his superhuman strength giving him the ability to move effectively even with this fleshy manacle over his leg, but the mage didn’t have time to get up, and his allies were all too far away or distracted to assist.

The bull fell, and obliteration followed.

A wave of debris surged out from the epicenter of the impact. Magpie, at the very cusp of her own Territory, withstood the shockwave without being carried off, but the Brawler could see Klein’s form ragdolling away. Mid-air, the mountain man’s form was coated with that infernal shroud, but the flames waned successively as his body smashed through more trees. His HP had dropped to 1, and [Ashwatthama]’s HP was only at 69. One more hit from any of the onis would kill him.

Amulak’s situation though, was much more dire. Even with his pain settings at such a low percentage, being struck by that bus-sized bull still felt like taking an baseball bat to his entire body. Every inch of his avatar ached, and as the dust settled, he could see that, through his relatively high END and his rare-quality armor, he had still sustained 528 damage.

Insanely enough, he may have been the only member in this party who could have taken such an attack face-first and survived. Now, however, he was trapped, legs crushed beneath the bus-sized corpse, and though the dust still shrouded him from sight, Amulak could still see the silhouette of the oni on top of the phantasmal bull, searching for him.

Three more seconds until the mines were armed.
@Shovel@Searat@Psyker Landshark@OwO@Yankee

Though Ari still knew nothing about how addresses worked in Nyu-Taro, asking the guards worked well enough to get directions that she could actually follow. Her activities in the market had left her low on money, but rich with new toys, and the fact that the ninja merchant she was looking for didn't seem to be around was...questionably fortuitous news. Maybe the procrastination just made the anxiety worse in the future, but hey, Cacophony Concord was a big game. It wasn't totally unlikely that she'd never see him again, and thus would never have to deal with his reprimands!


He was a ninja, after all. He may leverage his unique set of skills to track her down and force her to pay back her loan, plus interest.

Regardless, the address that Zhi-Toren handed Ari pointed her in the direction of the central-western portion of town, to a building that looked just like any of its neighbours. Three stories tall with white walls, tiled roofs, and a dark, timber framework, the 'CCC HHQ', as the wooden plaque proclaimed, didn't really seem to be anything special beyond its anachronistic name. If she focused her hearing, she could just make out the repetitive thumping of wood against paper, and there was a curiously acrid smell lingering in the air as well. Still, nothing was going to happen unless Ari did something though, and with no way but forwards, the catgirl Immortal would do...what?

Loiter around until Zhi-Toren popped out from somewhere?
Pretty sure that wasn't meant to be funny, Dark Cloud. Just pointing out the massively problematic qualities of the main inspiration of this RP. Which ain't to say that Koffee's going to go for that angle, of course.
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