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I guess my comfort zone is "eccentric side character."

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Yuri Kozukata (Fatal Frame V: Maiden of Black Water, Assist Trophy)
Arcade Bunny (Nintendo Badge Arcade, Assist Trophy)

Arcade Bunny is only there because I think having an arcade like that in Smash City would be fun.

Level 3 - (5/30) + 3

Word Count: 3718

Location: Lumbridge

Link cocked his head at Shulk’s explanation. The land regenerated? He thought he knew what that could mean, but the way Shulk said it this was on a much grander scale than any blood moon he’d even experienced.

“It was a dragon.” Link said. “An enormous dragon, black as midnight. Spat acid. I managed to get a picture while it was circling. It’s not good, but…” He pulled out the slate and flipped to his album, pulling up the shot he’d taken of Tora, Poppi, and the Cadet perched up on the dragons back and showing it to the boy. Nopon for scale.

“I think those people might have it handled, but. I’d still like to make it back if I can. They ran into me on their way to fight it. I was in a sorry state, and they stopped to help me. I’d like to return the favor if I can.” He looked around at this, sighing. “Unfortunately, to do that I need weapons, supplies, and directions because I have no idea where they are. My guide just flew the coop.”

Seeing a fellow adventurer in need was all Shulk needed before he chose to lend a hand. “Well, I’m happy to help! We can get you kitted out in a jiff. This whole town’s basically made for adventuring, after all. You’ll want to head there.” He pointed out smoke rising from a sturdy brick building down the street. “The Sisters of the Forge. They’ll do your weapons and armor. If you don’t have the cash, you can even get stuff on credit, long as you sign the ledger. And Miss Dragon landed by the market square, where you can get your general goods. If you need better stuff, Malo Mart will do the job, but Malo doesn’t offer credit.” Scratching the back of his head, he looked out toward the horizon in the southwest. “As for direction, uh...the End is at the far side of this region. The scouts say there’s a big, dark orb, like a hole in reality. That’s where the big hunt is on.” He gave a bright smile, hoping that his words were of assistance.

Link’s eyes widened as Shulk mentioned that the local blacksmith worked on credit. A terrifying memory flashed through his mind. Him standing in a Goron shop as the heat made his fingers smoke, eyeing the armor that would keep him from bursting into flames the moment the magic potion that was chilling his body wore off while a Goron who seemed fully content to let him burn to death should it come to that counted out the exact Rupee amount he needed to purchase it. Of all the close calls he’d had on his adventure that was the one that sometimes kept him up at night. These sisters, he decided right then, must be the golden goddesses themselves.

“Thanks Shulk.” He said, following the smoke the boy had pointed out to the Sister’s forge. Malo was out if he didn’t offer credit, but he could at least get a shield. He was sure that he’d more than make up the cost on the trek back to that black sphere.

Ren watched him go, considering his options now that a little more information had trickled his way. The ‘End’ that Shulk mentioned sounded a long distance away. He remembered the good look he’d gotten at the rolling grassy hills and picturesque swaths of forest, seemingly extending forever, and the student couldn’t see any dark orbs from here no matter how big the scouts made them out to be. That just landed him and his team right back where he started--in dire need of transportation. He heaved a frustrated sigh, missing that cat’s oftentimes helpful advice right about now. Still, if he couldn’t get a hint from Morgana, he could at least get one from Link. Better to try and speak with him after errand got wrapped up, after all. While Link kitted himself out, so could he.

Ren turned slowly, watching the crowd. Things went back to normal pretty fast after Mym left, with almost no trace left behind of the ruckus she inadvertently caused. Even the pigs returned to their jovial selves, working to establish relations with Lumbridge through their mercantile talents. Though his sharp eyes swept over the available goods, nothing tickled his fancy, or rather he couldn’t get a good grasp of their worth. He left the marketplace behind and headed for the guild hall. Rather than enter the castle, he followed the sounds of combat toward a lot behind it. There he came upon a number of adventurers hard at work bettering themselves in an elaborate training ground. With obstacle courses, all sorts of dummies, a few interesting-looking dummies marked as ‘combat adjudicators’ that seemed to be on the more challenging side, and other various facilities, it offered everything a budding quester could want. Ren leaned against a palisade wall and watched, arms crossed. Nobody really noticed him or questioned his presence, thanks to his ordinary looks and marginal presence. His stare swept over every adventurer present in turn, sizing them up one by one.

Meanwhile, Link entered the smithy to find the sisters on break. Fresh -or rather, tired and dirty- from what appeared to be a serious session of forging, Ramona, Rena, and Renee sat around the front of the workshop, trying to cool off. Of the three, the youngest happened to notice Link first. “Hiya!” she greeted, waving a mitted hand. “What’s shaking?”

Link waved back, slightly surprised to see how on point he had been about the goddess idea. “A lot.” He said. “About as much as a giant dragon can shake. I’m low on funds and in need of a sturdy shield. Shulk advised me that I could get one on credit here. I assure, I can find something in the wild or perform some favor in order to reimburse you. Anything you need.”

Ramona perked up. “Hey, that could work.” She leaned forward on her chair, resting her elbows on its back. “I’ve been thinking about writing up a quest for salvaging equipment. We’ve been working with local materials, which is fine and all, but we don’t have access to rarer metals, crystals, and so forth.” One hand went up, gesticulating as she explained. “We can arm you for now, but in return, when you go hunting around the countryside, bring back any high-quality weapons ‘n armor you find. We can study ‘em to learn new tricks, then melt ‘em down for their materials. Or maybe just repair and resell ‘em.”

Her older sister looked pleased. “That’s a wonderful idea, Ramona!” Rena glanced over at Link, a big smile on her face. If he held true to his word, he’d be bringing in a lot more wealth to the smithy than he took out today on credit. “So, a shield, you said. We can hammer out a damascus-inlaid heater for you that’s both tough and lightweight. Anything else?”

Link did enjoy collecting weapons, and he’d kind of done this sort of thing before. It had been just showing off various weapons to a kid but he’d enjoyed it. He’d always ended up with more than he could carry anyway. “Yeah, I can do that.” As for anything else, he considered that for a moment. “Do you have any weapons you were just going to trash? Mistakes, accidents, things rusted to uselessness? Stuff you can’t do anything with, it doesn't matter if it would only last one hit.”

He received varying levels of confusion from all three. “Uh, maybe. Don’t know why you’d want that, though,” Ramona remarked. Renee jumped off her bench to skip into the back and get looking. “We try to make use of whatever we can, which means melting it down if it turns out wrong,” she explained. “Most adventurers just toss the remains of whatever breaks on the ground, too. So pickings might be light.”

Renee returned after a few moments. She held a small bundle in her arms, which she unceremoniously tossed down in front of Link. “Ta-da!” Rena narrowed her brows at her, prompting the youngest sister to give an exasperated sigh. “What? They’re not getting any crappier.” She turned and presented their visitor with a broken straight sword, a bent pickaxe, a shattered axe, a fork, and a brandistock. “Well, those last two are probably fine, albeit a little fragile,” she observed. “But nobody buys weird polearms. Just swords, swords, swords, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Link picked up one of the pair of weird polearms, testing its weight in his hand. He’d never seen a design like this before, with the three short barbs on the end. Still, the girl’s assessment was sound. It seemed like a fine weapon all its own.

The first three, though, had been exactly what he’d been looking for. Complete trash. He especially admired that axe, which looked like it legitimately had one or two swings left in it before it turned into shrapnel. “These are perfect. I’ll take the lot off your hands.” He picked up each of the weapons in turn, and one by one the things vanished from his hands to be stored wherever the sheikah slate stored them. Noting the confusion of one sister over his choice of armament he said, bashfully, “Even the very best weapons tend to break when I use them. I like to keep a few on hand that nobody would miss. I wouldn't want to destroy anything rare before I got it to you.”

“Hmm. I see.” Rena knew a few adventurers who stood at the opposite end of the spectrum, who could wield weapons (or more usually, a single weapon) without sustaining any equipment damage at all. “Well mister, we’ll get started on your shield in a few minutes. Since we keep prototypes around to speed up standard orders, it won’t take long. Come back soon!”

Ramona dragged herself to her feet. “Aaalrighty then, I guess break’s over.”

After taking a deep breath, Kai adjusted her cap so that she could wipe the sweat from her brow before pulling it back into place. With practiced precision she re-engaged the safety on her rifle and stowed it in a carrying position. A half-turn brought the Four Swords into view, who’d all been waiting with barely-suppressed patience for their turn on the firing range. Since according to the others their over-enthusiasm often left a mess, she’d been quite particular that they hold off while she got her daily training in. No sooner did she step away, however, than the four boys sprinted into the firing range with bows, boomerang, and bombs, hooping and hollering. The hint of a smile played about her face as she shook her head and joined a few other fighters on their way out of the practice yard. A young man with frizzy black hair fell in behind her, but she thought nothing of it.

Halfway through Lumbridge, however, she began to take notice. The boy followed at a respectful distance, but he followed nonetheless. Given what Kai knew of this town’s idyllic nature, it seemed remarkable that anything off-color would happen, but the soldier was determined to take no chances. She turned away from the door to the Malo Mart, circled behind it to the patch of dirt that lay between it and the smithy, and stopped. Sure enough, the sound of footsteps signalled the approach of her pursuer.

When he drew near Kai stepped out from behind the building, her face intimidating. “What do you want?”

“Negotiation, already?” the boy remarked, more to himself than as an answer to the soldier. He cleared his throat, looking unperturbed by the confrontation, and examined Kai’s eyes. Kai herself eyed his hands in his pockets, but she couldn’t make out the shape of any hidden items. “Well, I want to undo the distortions plaguing the world of cognition, of course. Just everyday stuff. How about yourself?”

Confusion welled up within Kai, but she kept her features stern. What did she want? He was acting as though this were an everyday conversation, not a tense standoff. Now that she got a good look at him, he appeared to be about highschool age. What exactly did he think he was doing? “To go about my business in peace. Why are you following me?”

“A serious one, then,” the boy observed. His tone grew more straightforward. “Actually, I was hoping you could lend me your power.”

Kai bristled. Things were not as they seemed. “I’m not an adventurer. If you need help, submit a quest to the guild. Now leave me alone.”

Her pursuer shook his head, looking disappointed. “Oh, well. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I am not going to accept this distorted world. Not now, not ever.”

Kai’s hands went to her rifle. In a flash it was in a combat-ready position, not yet pointed at the boy, but able to be. He withdrew his hands from his pockets and held them up. “Careful, shadow. I’d be happier if you joined me. Allow me to jog your memory. I’ll show you my rebellious spirit, my true self. Come forth, persona!”

The boy burst into blue flames. They washed over him, changing his attire into a black suit and coat, and his glasses into a white mask. Behind him a shape rose from the fire, adopting a humanoid form, until its wings spread wide and its form emerged. Kai’s eyes went wide and she raised her rifle. She pulled the trigger. A bullet struck the thief in the chest, and while he staggered, he did not go down. “What?”

He held up his own hand, a pistol pointed at her. When did he get that?! Not expecting a fight so soon, Kai was far from cover. She dove, but her assailant fired. Eight shots, much quieter than her own, pelted her in quick succession. She gasped, holding a hang to her stomach, but felt no wound. Baffled, she could only watch as the thief snapped his fingers. “Arsene!”


The winged specter released a blast of dark energy that burst against Kai like fire. With a cry of pain she fought to her feet and held out a hand. “Stop! Don’t kill me!”

The thief held out a hand, bidding the creature stand still. In reply Arsene disappeared, leaving the two alone. “Ready to negotiate again?” the boy asked.

“Yes, yes,” Kai assured him, trying to bide her time. As gunfights went this wasn’t a loud one, but someone had to have heard it in a town like this. However, the moment she said that, something seemed to change. There was some kind of feeling, a ringing maybe, in the back of her skull. Like she knew something was wrong. “What do you want?”

“For you to be my strength,” the thief declared, as if that explained anything.

Kai grit her teeth and tried to play along. “And what does that mean exactly?”

The thief crossed his arms. “It means we take up arms as comrades. That we cooperate through thick and thin. That we weather whatever challenges may come our way as warriors of honor, watching one another’s backs, leaving nobody behind.”

Kai found herself laughing at the corniness of his response. Still, though she didn’t know if he meant them, his words resonated with her. She stood up straight with a wry expression. “Hmph, what a load. There’s no place for kindness or honor on the battlefield. You rather remind me of...myself…”

She staggered as if shocked by a sudden realization, her eyes wide. The sunset-red within them drowned within azure flame. “What in the!?” Her head was spinning, her thoughts jumbled and her memories afire. She held her head with her hand, staring out at the thief. “I...I remember…” Her gaze fell on the palm of her hand. “I don’t belong here...I’m not from this world. I’m from the sea...of humanity’s souls.” Straightening up again, she saluted. “My name is Leena Schulen. I’ll serve as your mask as you march into the future.”

So saying, she disappeared into blue fire that flowed into Joker’s mask. He held it as if putting it on again, standing still for just a moment, before his garb reverted back to school clothes. His fingers lay on the rim of his glasses, as if he’d been adjusting them. “Just as I expected,” he said aloud.

“What, that she was a ghost?” Came a voice from behind him.

Link stepped out from behind the corner where he’d caught the very tail end of whatever it was that had just happened. He’d been left with thirty minutes to kill and had been getting the lay of this town when he’d heard...well, it was hard to say. The small explosion. A sound that he’d never heard before, but was at the same time familiar. Like he’d heard it recently, in some forgotten memory or maybe in a dream. Whatever it’d been the noise stirred up unpleasant feelings in his chest. It warranted investigation.

What he’d found was a girl wreathed in blue fire, swearing loyalty to a boy in a mask before vanishing into it. The boy had pulled a quick change after that, reverting to what Link could only think of as his disguise. After all, he’d seen the opposite more times than he could count. Assassins had stalked the lands of Hyrule, a whole clan adept at hiding their true faces right up until they were close enough to bury a sickle into Link’s chest.

He kept a wary distance from this boy. He didn’t know what sort of situation this had been, but between that sound and the mask he viewed the entire thing with evident suspicion. The girl seemed like she’d been lending him her aide intentionally, but she had also just immolated. Maybe that had been “spirit fusion” in it’s own way.

“Then again that fire wasn’t exactly the kind I've seen surrounding ghosts. So, what exactly was it that you expected? What did I just watch?”

Ren regarded Link with curiosity. He didn't try evaluating him, since the swordsman was an ally in the fight against Galeem and neither did he plan to try and deceive him. Still, he didn't need to waste time trying to explain things to shadows, even if they were on his side. "We formed a contract," he told Link. "It's a...talent of mine. She's agreed to be my Persona." He didn't hold off on the jargon, suggesting that any further inquiry would be similarly difficult to understand. Few, he imagined, would spend their time trying to understand the minutia of how things in this hodgepodge world worked.

“Is that anything like becoming a striker?” Link, who had time to kill, asked.

Shrugging, Ren turned to walk his way, his hands slipped in his pockets. “I wouldn’t happen to know what that means. Still a lot to learn about saving the world,” he joked.

“Apparently.” Link said, following after him. More to keep an eye on him than anything. “Though, I’m not much more in the know than you I think. If you want to save the world there’s this group I was with before I got hauled back here that has most of the answers. I’ll be headed back their way in half an hour, but it’s apparently a long trek.”

“So I’ve heard.” Ren guessed that Link must not have noticed him standing around earlier. “I’d like to join this quest, but I figured I should gather Personas first. The shadows around here are pretty carefree, but they might attack en masse if they found out, so I set about doing it discreetly. See any that seemed useful?” As the two emerged on the main street, with none of the nearby pedestrians apparently any the wiser, Joker looked both ways. “I’m in the same boat as you otherwise. I need a way to get around.” He flicked his head to indicate the guild castle. “Maybe we’ll find both over there.”

Link looked around with him, trying to figure out where these enemy “shadows” were. He saw people going about their day, adventure’s headed between the various shops, one guy chasing a cucco through the street, but he didn’t see anything that looked like it could attack them in mass. Unless...he thought back to his amnesia, and the conclusions he’d already come to about where that Tora guy had probably gotten the slash across his chest. His eyes flicked back to the kids, watching as they moved over the villagers. No doubt about it, he meant them.

Could that really happen? Everyone here just turning on them? Looking at them now he couldn't believe it, but then again seemingly normal people put on masks and became assassins.

“No, no one really caught my eye.” He lied, deciding to focus his attention to the guild building. “If nothing else we might be able to at least get a general map. Hiking isn’t bad once you get used to it, but I can probably find something for us to ride.”
The preceding two weeks had been busy for Matthew. He'd made sure of That.

First of all there were the magic classes, which had been a bit of an eye opener. He knew magic would be varied and weird, but that didn't exactly prepare you for the first time you saw a girl grow a pincer. It made him grateful that most of his was apparently the blue kind, at least according to the instructors, and that blue magic worked pretty simply. He just grabbed something, concentrated on it, and it got filled with blue. Then it...uh...

It wasn't an explosion, he was sure of that now. That was no boom, no heat, just a scattering effect. Like if you hit a Lego house with a bat, except lethally fast. He came to that conclusion after a couple of hours of private practice, finding small piece of debris that he could toss Kilroy's way and watching them pop in the middle of the secluded shop. Once he started thinking of them as Lego's the other facet of the spell he was using came to him naturally. With an entirely redundant wave of his hand he watched as the broken pieces of a coat hanger danced across the floor tile, making little tinkling sounds as they rolled and tumbled to the middle of the room where the thing re-built itself like a 3d puzzle. Of course he had tried to repeat the process but once he picked up the coat hanger he found it wouldn't accept any more of his magic.

It had a pretty good memory for an abandoned hunk of plastic. How good, he wondered? Maybe he could find out.

He raced down to the sleeping area and grabbed his bag before returning to what he was thinking of as his training room. Reaching in he pulled out the alarm clock and ran his hand around wall of the room until he found a place behind the counter where he could plug it in. He did, and the red numbers on the front sprang to life. Pulling the thing from the wall he poured his magic into it before carrying it gently, like a bomb, into the center of the room before diving behind the counter and hearing the parts of the thing spray all corners of the shop.

Popping his head up, he waved a hand and watched the various parts reassembled themselves into his old familiar alarm clock. He hopped the counter, quickly scooping up the clock and running it back to the outlet. He missed three times in his eagerness, but on the forth try he managed to find the plug and beat the floor with his fists in excitement when the red numbers reappeared.

It wasn't just magic that was keeping him occupied. It was also Mira, and how he hadn't been able to say anything as she'd walked away. Maybe someone smarter or older, or someone that had known her longer than him would have been able to say the right words to pull her out of that mire, but Matt didn't have anything. Anything he could say just sounded like a lie in his head.

It had put his ass in gear, though. If things were as bad as she'd made it out to be than these people needed all the help they could get to lighten the load, and even if all he could offer up was his body he was going to do it. So, one day after magic class had ended, he approached the instructor and ask if there was anything he could do.

It was amazing how quickly he got back into the swing of deliveries. Goodnight was a small town and there was always someone in need of something. Coffee, aspirin, bedding, laundry, food, water, toiletries, all the things essential to keeping a mall full of strangers on one anothers good sides. It was on foot instead of behind a wheel, of course, but he was amazed at how the same principles applied. Keep the package in good condition, go as fast as you can, and when the customer was a jackass you just smiled and tried to leave as quickly as possible. The second principle in particular was a breeze, as he'd assembled an absurdly thorough mental map of the mall while scouring it of all graffiti and now knew all the shortcuts through the backrooms and maintenance corridors.

Considering his blue magic produced quite a lot of shrapnel Matthew had decided early on to do most of his training of it privately, trying to more precisely control the "fuse" the determined when something scattered and seeing if he could influence the direction of such things when they did, like he felt he had with the centipede. The whole process was surprisingly intuitive. It reminded him of driving, like his body already knew what he should be doing, and so he wasn't very surprised when it seemed like the magic itself helped guide him to doing something new.

He charged an old door handle just like he had a hundred times before, but this time it felt different. He wouldn't have been able to tell you what he had done differently if asked. As he held it in his hand it seemed to deform, ripples moving across its surface as he moved it as though it were water forced into the shape of a door handle. Squeamishly he dropped it to the floor, expecting it to splatter like paint across the tiles. Instead there was a sound like crushing stone as it landed. He stared at it for a few moments, then reached down and tried to pick it up. It wouldn't budge.

It wasn't long before Matthew developed a bit of a reputation as a gopher. It was a common sight to see him popping out of an unused door, hauling a heavy box up one of the powered down escalators, or navigating a trolley through a packed hallway. It was as though every moment he didn't spend sleeping, training, or eating was in transit from one person to another and sometimes he ate on the run. It kept him in shape at the very least. You could't pay for this sort of cardio, and between it and the magic he slept like a dreamless log every night.

Of course, it wasn't long before people started asking him for things. He'd just got done delivering a package of aspirin to a little old lady who couldn't have been a day younger than 60 when she'd asked whether he could do he a little favor while he was up and about. He'd barely said yes when she'd shoved a big clear plastic bag full of what looked like multicolored rags into his arms and asked him to stock some of the derelict claw machines around the mall with her "sock monsters."

It turned out that a "sock monster" was less terrifying than what he'd first though upon the lady's hasty clarifications. She had sewn up a bunch of socks she'd been donated into, well, various plush animals that she'd embroidered with fanciful little designs and decorated with googly eyes that she'd somehow gotten ahold of. She'd apparently done something similar for the local children after "the hurricane," though Matthew didn't know which one she was referring too, and thought that maybe giving people something to do would help calm some of the tempers that were flaring up around the place. Matthew didn't know if that would work, but he gone out of way to stock the machines anyway. Most of them didn't even have glass, but as he left the last one he saw a small curious group gather to try and get the things anyway.

Matthew stood, back to the wall, beads of sweat forming on his brow as he watched a group of people practicing black magic while being overseen by one of the impromptu instructors. One of them, a big buzzcut guy in his late 30s, seemed like he was in deep concentration while his partners held his hands. One of them, a tall blond woman that was still half his size, suddenly squealed in delight and said something like "Now, roasted marshmallows" to him. Buzzcut opened his eyes halfway, grinned, and then shut them again. Matthew tried to will himself forward, but found himself affixed to the wall as though by magic. He shook his head, managed to take a step forward, then found himself right back where he started only a moment later.

He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to be near them. There was a pitch black terror nestled in the pit of his stomach that kept him away from that group. He wondered if the fear came from a memory he had, or maybe it was something he'd started developing along with his recovery.

It didn't really matter though, did it? No matter what he was still afraid. No matter what he still had to go over there and talk to them. No matter what they had the same type of power he had. He could feel it there, in that pit. The same kind of power that could tear apart a human mind and leave someone with nothing. Powerful. Horrible. His.

"C'mon, c'mon, get it together." He muttered to himself. "Useful. Make yourself useful."

"Hey, you okay buddy?" Came a booming voice that jerked his eyes upward. Buzzcut waved at him like you wave at an old friend you met sudenly on the street.

"Uhhhh, yeah. Yeahyeahyeah." Matthew said, pushing himself off the wall. "Just, y'know, taking a rest. Gotta get on now, though. Lots to do. Lot of things that need doing..." Matthem called the last line over his shoulder as he shakily made his way down the hallway, leaving Buzz and his two friends confused.

Baby steps. That was what Matthew thought to himself. Just like getting your life back together, you needed to take baby steps. Maybe he'd try a little black magic tomorrow. Just a little bit. Just a little.

When Matthew was roused bright and earl on the 20th and was sent to a room that he had never actually been in before he assumed at first that he was being sent to pick up a delivery. So when he entered amid what seemed to him to be some kind of important business he sluck, kind of embarrassed, to the back to await his turn. It was only when Simon mentioned fighting living street art that his head perked up and he realized that he was a part of the important business.

He stepped forward and listened intently as the man laid out basically everything Mira had told him two whole weeks ago. The VU was on the ropes. They had taken heavy losses. They needed help.

Time to get up off his ass.

"Absolutely." Matthew said. "Anything to lighten the load."


Level 8 - (44/80) + 3

As Linkle crested one of the large rocky outcroppings that enclosed the floating reef the toes of her shoes scraped along it. She gave it a sharp kick, launching her and her transport forward toward the center of the island and plopped down of the rocky road in the center and letting the cucco flutter down to her feet. She was soon joined by the other two, the ones she'd handed to The Cuphead and had chucked wholesale toward the needful Fox that had thrown himself wholesale off the island. For a moment when she'd seen that Linkle had thought that he could actually fly, but once she realized he was just falling with style she'd had to act quickly.

Speaking of the Fox she called out a quick "Here!" in response to his inquiry on if they all made it. Everyone made some indication, even if it wasn't directed at Fox. Some, like Tora, flopped down in relief. Others, like The Kid, crawled all over the newly empowered Courier in order to get a good look at the transformation that had carried him so easily to this island. Still others concerned themselves with practicalities. Bowser was a good example, stepping up to get a celebratory bonfire going, while Peace did the duty of asking whether She or Geralt wanted to part with their spirits.

Linkle felt a flood of relief at the prospect of getting the Enderman out of her, then a hint of shame for being so ready to expel the newcomer from its place inside her. This shame was quickly tempered by a fresh flood of relief as she realized she could feel feelings again, and the subsequent reminder that the Enderman also imposed it's weird feelings on her. Tora comment about not being able to look at her sealed the deal for her. "Please, I don't think I can live like this." She said, warping forward one last time as the Nopon and his Blade began to talk among themselves.

It hadn't been nearly as painful as she thought it would be, but then again why would it hurt? It wasn't like her limbs stretching out had been painful in the first place so why would them shortening back hurt at all? Post extraction the first thing she'd done was whistle at Tora and jump high in the air, waving her arms, just to test that none of the monsters intrusive thoughts had had any time to set down roots while it had been a part of her. Since she didn't have any compulsion to go and hide nor rip him apart with her bare hands when he laid eyes on her she decided that Peach had ripped any trace of the monster from her being. She spun around and gave Peace a bow. "Thanks a million, Princess." She said, raising up and holding out a hand for the spirit.

She cupped her hands over it, careful to keep it totally concealed in darkness. As she made her way over to the fire where the Koopas were busy cooking food on sticks she wondered what she should do with it. She couldn't just smash something that had been as helpful as this thing had. It had saved her life after all. She couldn't repay that by destroying it. Neither could she stand to have it be a part of her again. She considered keeping it as a Striker, but... no, no. She didn't want to subject it to that, not having felt the way it did. Being summoned over and over in battle, getting looked at by all sorts of crazy people? It'd be torture for something as shy as these guys.

There was really only one option that made sense to her. She placed the spirit between the pincers of her beetle, the pincers gently closing and indenting the sides slightly, before pointing her arm back the way they had flown from. "See you later, tall guy." she said, launching the beetle. "Hopefully nobodies around to bother you wherever it is you guys go!" She called after it as it was carried to the edge of the beetles range. She watched, just a little sad, as the beetle got as close as it could to where the monster's brethren now rested at the bottom of this sea before dropping the little rainbow spec out of sight before making its return to its rest on her arm.

Satisfied with her sendoff of the thing she sat crosslegged beside the fire, eagerly grabbing a stick of her own. She was getting hungry by now and a quick lunch seemed like the best way to go. She curiously grabbed a few of the squishy white foods she had never seen before and, watching how Bowser and Kid cooked the things, copied them in skewering them and holding them over the fire until they turned brown. Pulling the strange food back she pulled one of the slightly melted things off the end, she looked it over before blowing on it and popping in in her mouth. Linkle let out a short, excited grunt before swallowing and devouring another. "What are these?" She said between mouthfuls. "They're the best! Maybe the best ever! Do you guys have these where you're from?" She hadn't realized how empty her stomach had been before these sweet melty things were in it.

She continued eating for a while, even as company showed up. Fox and the Princess to charge of the newcomers almost immediately, though now without Bowser attempting to assert his authority only to get rebuked by the bird man. His comments about the worth of the Koopa army actually stung. She had seen the Koopa army. She had seen how useful they'd been and how hard they tried when called to battle. So far as armies were concerned she considered them a fine army. Also, she was in the army sorta kinda so it was like he was kicking her along with them.

Any retort from Bowser was interrupted by the appearance of Sectonia's cleaning crew which set to work on him and his torn up suit, doing a quick and fantastic fix of the Koopa's damaged clothes. Eventually a detachment of the bugs made their way over to Linkle, the green one pointing a demanding finger at pretty much her everything. Looking down it was easy to see why. Her clothes were charred in some place, ripped in others, dissolved in a few, and altogether stained with soot, dirt, ash, fishman blood, her blood, and all other manner of foulness. The last tie she had done any self-maintenance was back at the castle. She must have smelled like a combination cigar lounge/poultry farm situated right across the street from an open air fish market. At least, that's what the blue ones impatiently tapping their feet indicated. Linkle didn't have any problem with being dirty. When she was a kid sometimes she got so covered in dirt people started mistaking her for a Goron, at which point her grandmother would throw her in a washtub and scrub her like a dog until she was presentable again. It was funny, the look these bugs gave her reminded her an awful lot of her grandma.

Not wanting to relive that particular childhood memory hastily surrendered everything but the undersuit, which was basically an entire outfit unto itself. If she had a mirror she'd be a little disturbed at just how un-Linkle like she looked without her "Linkle" gear. "Be careful with that compass." she said as the bugs got to work mending, patching, even shining her weathered outfit. One of them looked up from the big circle that had been burned into her blouse by the cigarette bat earlier, then pointed at the equally big hole in the same place of the suit. Linkle crossed her arms and shook her head. "Uh-uh. Figure something out." Compelled by his queens orders the bug launched itself at Linkle with a needle and thread, leading the girl to let out a surprised shout as the cleansing mist went up. There were the sounds of a light struggle, then a bout of riotous laughter and what sounded like a sewing machine for a few minutes before the cloud dropped. Linkle stood there fresh as a daisy and running a finger around the seamlessly patched hole in the suit. "Good job." She said, impressed. The ant gave a professional looking bow before making its way back to mend her blouse. She knelt to watch them work.

Linkle was getting dressed again, her gear all positively sparkling, when the Courier announced he was headed back to Lumbridge and asked whether anyone wanted to accompany him. "I'll go!" She said, pulling on her boot and hopping up. "We have to head for that awful land of the dead place." After all, friends had gone back to the land of the dead while they'd headed to kill the boss of this area. Linkle hadn't really gotten their names, but she did know they had fought to help the half of their group that had gone their before. That was enough for her not leave them twisting in the wind. "Besides, Cadet said that's where we can find the hero and-"

Linkle was interrupted by the shadow that flashed across the ground. Looking up and spotting the source of that she instantly pulled her crossbows and took aim as the dragon descended. Instead of shooting them with a ball of acid or thundering past to throw them around with hurricane force winds, though, this one dropped somebody off. A polite, energetic young woman that said something in a strange language before switching to Hylian to introduce herself as Sakura. At first Linkle thought she might be from the same place as the bird man and his friends, but as the dragon landed behind her Linkle spotted someone familiar on its back. "Euden!" She shouted.

While Linkle had been gushing over the survival of their friends Geralt had actually answered the girls questions, pointing out the Princess as their leader. As Linkle ran passed her on her way to meet Euden she stopped for a moment beside the girl and was surprised to see the color of her eyes. Had Euden and Link freed her? Or had the wave of darkness reached all the way to Lumbridge? She supposed it didn't really matter. She clapped the girl on the shoulder. "Welcome to the party! I'm Linkle. Nice to met you." She said quickly before taking off down the road. "Euden! Link!"

"I knew you guy were okay!" She said in the relived tone of someone who had been only 99% sure you were okay. She skidded to a stop beside the dragon and looked up expectantly behind the boy, only for her face to suddenly fall. "Wait, where's Link? Is he okay? Did the cats get lost?"


Level 8 - (41/80) + 3

Location: The End ---> Eryth Sea
Word Count: 1706

Linkle felt more than saw Bowser's impact with the dragon. From where she was she felt the shutter wrench through the creatures flank before, like a kid playing on a trampoline suddenly joined by a larger kid, it jerked under her and sent her flying off the dragon.

She landed on her feet on the yellow stone, giving her a front row view as the dragon built up energy before popping like a balloon, sending a wave of force over her that she needn't have even bothered bracing for. That was the end of Galeem's second guardian. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Tora's riotous laughter signaled the true end of the battle, revealing that he was the reason that the dragon's final gasp had been so pathetic. The cadet quickly joined in, contributing to the celebratory mood. She watched the Cadet intently as he hefted up Junior and his prize, reviling in the feeling of victory. She wished she could experience that right now. Triumph, relief, joy, even satisfaction with a job well done would be all right. Instead all she felt was cold, barring a slight spike in heart-rate as she felt his eyes swept over her.

She at least perked up when the Cadet mentioned their friends being all right back in Lumbridge. "Those cats belong to you?" she asked him, not taking to long too realize what he was talking about with regards to people being carted off. "Useful pets."

As if on cue there was suddenly a riotous clucking in the distance as three white shapes began running up to them, the dragon's acid finally cleared up enough so as to allow them passage without burning their little feet. The sight thawed her heart slightly and she bent down to greet them, only for the cucco's to bolt straight past her. She looked behind her, and would have normally been horrified to see various parts of their white feathers scorched back. "No." She said, warping after them.

She didn't reach them in time to stop the birds from fluttering up and slamming beak first into his already damaged shoe. They bounced off, of course, but they didn't give up. They threw themselves against it again and again, tearing at whatever part they could get at with their claws before Linkle got there. "Hey, stop that." she said, running up and snatching the leader of the charge out of the air. It struggled in her grip, still desperately trying to get at Bowser like the other two. "Quit." she ordered, turning the bird to face her and staring into her beady eyes?

Oh, right. Just a moment ago she'd been sure she was going to have to either heart it or kill it, but no. This little guy had been exposed to the wave the dragon had released when it died. The only thing compelling it to fight was the standard cucco desire for furious vengeance. She almost felt relieved. Sticking the bird under her arm she reached out and scooped up the other two in her long arms, cradling all three as they struggled and watching the sky in anticipation. There didn't seem to be any incoming, though. Maybe more cuccos couldn't hear the call to action in this dark bubble.

A dark bubble that was rapidly dissolving from the looks of it. Beams of bright sunlight streamed down into the void as the darkness dissipated, revealing a startlingly beautiful view of a sparkling sea surrounded by mountains. In the distance islands like these floated above the water, a few man made structures set atop some. Unfortunately those islands were much better at floating than these. Linkle felt the now familiar sensation of freefall as the island they were on lost its fight with gravity and began falling toward the sea. Her feet lifted off the island as the island began accelerating, the furiously flapping of the Cucco's in her arms causing her to fall slightly slower than the rest of the island. She looked around at her friends, ready to toss one to anybody in need to slow their descent.


LEVEL UP!!! Level 3 - (2/30) + 3

Location: Lumbridge

Link watched through his viewfinder as the red dragon flew further and further away, carrying with it the boy he’d been carted to this village with, a brave girl, and any hope he’d had of getting back to the battle in the timely manner.


It wasn’t even the best picture of people riding a dragon he’d taken today, but he registered it anyway.

He had to admit, hearing a cry of “DRAGON!” had been the most energizing wake up call he could have gotten considering recent events. It had cut through the haze and confusion he’d had upon waking up in an instant, silencing all the pertinent questions such as “Where am I?” and “Did I die again?” going through his mind as he looked around what seemed to be a quaint, lovely village. Him and the other blond kid had gotten up with a start, hands on their weapons as they’d hopped down from the carts they’d been pulled in on, all ready to defend the town from the wrathful attack of what he assumed to be a monster.

Those assumptions had been challenged when they’d gotten a good look at the dragon and his erstwhile companions' whole demeanor had changed. He went from stalwart and ready to brave any danger to...amazingingly, sheepish and embarrassed. Less like he was about to fight a monster and more like he was about to tell a family member to please, please, put their pants back on and sit down. Just the sight of it was enough to rob the situation of all its urgency, and Link had slowed down to drift at the back of the assembled fighters as the boy had pushed his way through.

This had been a mistake for three reasons. The first is that he wasn’t able to capture a good picture of the dragon’s when it was still sitting on the ground. The second was that he didn’t have a front row view of her transformation and subsequent loving assault on her darling, though from what he could hear it had been exactly as embarrassing as the boy had dreaded. The last, and most pressing, is that when the dragon had offered to fly him back to the fight it wasn’t Link that convinced her there was room for one more. Instead he heard a young girl speak up asking to be taken to the fight. It had been at that point Link had started shoving his way through the crowd, but by the time he’d broken through the people in front the dragon had already taken off, leaving him to stare plaintively after them.

He signed in frustration as he lowered the Sheikah Slate. He wasn’t so frustrated at being left behind. All things considered, it might have been a better idea for him to stay out of the fight now that he’d been extracted from it. He looked down at his shield arm and gave a few swipes through the air, the practiced motion of his parry. He decided that something definitely felt off about it. He knew exactly what that technique was capable of. Even if it couldn't have stopped the dragon's tail outright he felt like it should have done something to mitigate the impact. Instead his shield had shattered on impact as though he hadn’t even tried. His diminishment, it seemed, went far beyond the runes on his slate being wiped out. If he went rushing back it was likely the most he’d contribute was being a body in need of protection. Whatever those cats were he was lucky they had intervened on his behalf, but he couldn't expect things like that to save him.

Haste makes waste. If you weren't careful the thing it wasted was you. At some point, when he’d been trekking across Hyrule loaded down with powers and gear, he’d forgotten that. He prayed that it was something the girl that had taken his place on that dragon understood because she had no idea what she was flying into.

Right now, though, he had another problem. A familiar one: how did he proceed from here? He supposed the first thing he should do was get his bearings. Where was he? Where had he been? How long had he been out this time? What could he do at this moment? The best thing he could do was ask the townsfolk what they knew.

Luckily for him as he turned to face the disseminating crowd he spotted a familiar face. Well, not so much the face but it would take a fool not to at least recognize the boy’s weapon. It was very distinctive, and he’d gotten a good look at it when the boy had stepped to the edge of the cliff right before Galeem’s light had wiped them all out.

Since the Sheikah Slate was already in his hands anyway he snapped a quick picture of the red, strangely blunt blade before catching up to him. “Hey.” He called out, falling into step beside him. “Shulk, right? It’s Link. We were on the cliff together. It’s good to see you made it out. Could you tell me where I am? I just got carted in with him,” He pointed out the red spec in the sky that represented Euden and his lady friends. “And he didn’t have any time to tell me.”

Level 8 - (15/80) + 6

Bowser Jr: Level 6 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (67/60) + 6

Location: The End
Word Count: 1132


Linkle glared coldly back up as Bowser looked down at the anti-endermen force now milling about her feet. She was already upset about having to fight the feeling of Bowser’s giant eyes on her wasn’t helping in the slightest. She felt her mouth start to open a little too wide for her liking, but luckily the big Koopa caught the hint and averted his gaze before Linkle did something she really would have regretted.

That was the only thing about this situation that made her any less upset. While they’d been cleaning up the endermen the dragon had come down, but not without cost. Linkle felt her guts twist themselves into a knot as Jr helpfully pointed out that both Link and Euden were getting carted away by the mysterious cats. “Maybe you should try and get some as minions.” she said, trying to force some cheer by telling herself that the two of them were at least alive. Really, though, she didn’t even know that. Who knew where the cats took people?

The dragon was able to pick itself up with minimal resistance, though, despite the sacrifices made to bring it down and had the gall to swipe at them as it thundered past. Linkle ducked out of the way as the claw dug deep into the stone, but the group that had fought the endermen was an afterthought compared to the latest duo to target the dragon. Linkle followed the volley of missiles back to Tora and Poppy and watched with horror as the dragon beat on Tora with the cruelty of a cat batting around a mouse, nearly having a heart attack as the Nopon was hit point blank with a blast of acid.

That tore it. Every aggravation combined to push her over the edge. The dragon, the endermen, her friends, even Jr’s self-congratulatory attitude all congealed into a dark, cold lump of ice in her heart.

She let out a breath she hadn’t even noticed she had been holding, and with it flowed out all the warmth in her body. After the stark experience with the Endermen’s terrible shyness she was able to notice easily. This coldness wasn’t hers. It belonged to someone else, and Linkle had a pretty good idea as to who. That didn’t matter right now, though. The only thing that really mattered to her right now was how to hurt the dragon. It whipped its tail back and forth in front of them as the others began their assault anew, hoping to ward them off. Bowser looked like he was going to avoid the tail entity, crouching on all fours and judging the angle of his jump. Linkle nodded to herself. Yes, that would definitely hurt the monster more than anything she could do. The best option was to help make sure that hit it. To stop the dragons movements. But how? Freeze it? Could she make that much ice?

Jr called her attention down again, gesturing at the tail for her to go first, but as she looked she caught sight of something else. One of the little goo creatures that Junior had summoned was skirting slowly around without a target. Curiously, an idea forming in her head, she reached out, touched the creature with the tip of her talon, and concentrated. Ice spread quickly through its watery body, and with a cracking sound the creature froze solid. She pushed the new ice sculpture in front of Jr. “After them.” She said, hovering over his shoulder just out of sight. “Send them to cover that things tail in goo, quick.”

Jr, momentarily regretting mouthing off to the now considerably creepier Linkle, blinked a few times as he looked at the iced Stu till he got the plan. He grinning with toothy glee before grabbing one of the Stus with one hand and snapping the fingers of the other.

”Primids Party! Let’s mess that dragon up!” he commanded, calling out the recharged striker squad. As they came into being he darted forwards to get into range of the boss, planting the point of his gadbrush to the ground as he ran and painting a trail across the ground clearing the route of any residual acid and forming a trail of goop out of which more Stus rapidly formed.

Once close enough he spun the gloopy creature around by its head fronds to build up momentum and hurled it at the Ender dragon. Jr’s first shot was followed up by a colorful barrage as the purple skinned troops of the subspace army followed their boss’s lead, grabbing more Stus and hurling them at her. The gang of vandal’s living paint balloons pelted the Ender Dragon’s tail, splattering it with the colorful inky goop, leaving it primed and ready for Linkle’s cold rage.

“Team jump.” Linkle ordered, turning and hopping up on the shoulders of two surprised Primids. The two bucked in surprise, but that was enough to send her backflipping over the lashing tail. At the height of her jump she pointed her crossbows straight down, the tips flashing blue as her hair as she unleashed a pair of ice arrows. The impact would have created ice anyway, but these also flash froze the goo coating the monster's tail and spreading out even to some that had splattered on the ground.

Satisfied, Linkle re-holstered her crossbows as she dropped and landed flat palmed on the ice. Summoning up her inner strength she concentrated and poured as much of this icy power of her as she could into it. Grow, grow, grow, she commanded it. It began to get bigger, merging into the ground. Just like how she’d kept the wind from sending her flying before she willed the ice down into the nooks and crannies of the sponge like rock of the island. To hold this beast. To make sure it couldn’t get away. To make sure it never tasted the sky again.

As she finished up she saw the darkness of a shadow pass overhead. She would have smiled if she could at the moment, thinking about what the Koopa King was going to do to this dragon, but she also heard a sound. A wet, meaty sound. She looked over her shoulder to see the Cadet carving a deep run into the dragon’s tail, and thinking quickly she refocused a bit. Turning and running up the tail she warped past the Cadet as they got uncomfortably close to one another, falling to her knees in a skid and digging her claws into the open wound. Ice began to spread in there too, filling the wound and spreading up it a ways before growing and growing the way ice does in the crack of a mountain to spread the flesh even farther apart.
Jessica's implication that Penny might be dating caused the girl to let out a choking noise and fumble her next swing, sending Excalibur halfway through a nearby tree before she managed to stop it.

As one the peasants stopped and turned as one to scrutinize Jude for a few uncomfortable moments before one lifted his stumpy little arms in the air and squeaked, "God save the queen!"

"No one is the queen!" Penny said quickly, spinning around and catching the other peasants with the arms midway up and their mouths halfway open. They flopped their arms down under her stern gaze, disappointed. Whether it was that their King was still queenless or simply that they'd been cut off before they could start a good chant Penny couldn't know. Her gaze softened when she turned it to Jessica, empathizing with their shared lack of social experience. "We just met today. I mean, right?" She said, briefly looking to Jude for confirmation. She had enough self-awareness to know that she could have run into this guy somewhere before all this and just not payed him any mind at all. If you pointed out some of her classmates on the street Penny would have a hard time giving you their names.

"The point is, like, I didn't know anybody here and a dude who's going to stop me from picking on a little girl and a girl whose idea of evil is loitering and coming up with tough sounding nicknames are a pretty solid draw in terms of people I could have met before we all got thrown into the deep end together." She hoped they were picking up what she was putting down, but turned and kept working so she wouldn't have to see their faces if they took it the wrong way. "Especially if the deck has dudes like that like Goodfella we beat up in it."

She kept hack her way through the underbrush before they came to a familiar looking bubble machine. It wasn't the most valuable piece of salvage they could have found but it could have its uses as crafting material, especially with the use of her companions epithets. "You guy think you could do anything cool with this?" She said, walking up to it and setting her peasants on standby around it. If either of them gave the word the peasants would carry the bubble machine wherever they were told to.

In the quiet that followed, though, she could hear the noises creeping into the clearing. A distant audio distortion, and a distant voice. There was a choice, but then again there wasn't a choice. After all, broken machinery wasn't in the habit of getting scared and moving away. Penny made her way to the south, not so fast as to leave her companions behind fast, and cupped her hands around her mouth. "Hey!" She called back, listening intently for any call back as she made her way further toward the voice. "You're going to be all right, just stay where you are."

@Octo@Kafka Komedy
Hyrule Warriors

Level 2 - (16/20) + 6

Level Up! Level 8 - (9/80) + 6

Location: The End
Word Count: 2363


Linkle took a few deep breaths as she felt the rush of magic fade, but she didn't have much time to get her bearing back. She was after all standing eye to eye with a creature the size of her entire village, a fact she felt keenly as there was a thrust of upward momentum that nearly sent her stumbling off its snout as the creature broke free of Bowser's grip and began rising into the sky again. All it would have to do was move it's head to send her spinning away into the void.

It wasn't the dragon that knocked her off though. At least, not directly. Linkle heard a familiar voice on the wind getting closer and closer, one word extended into a battle cry. It was the vocal equivalent of pulling back your foot for a particularly good kick.


Linkle never saw the Blade, but she definitely felt her. The shockwave of her impact traveled up the behemoths snout and crawled on skultula like legs all the way up to her thighs. She was going to turn around and give Poppi some praise but the second impact knocked the dragon's head up and sent Linkle careening forward, rolling over the top of its skull as it thrashed in pain and sending her sliding down its back. She tried to dig in her heels to arrest her fall as she plunged down the near vertical slide but there was nowhere to find purchase even among the bumps created by the creatures scales. She was just falling too fast.

Surrendering herself to gravity, Linkle made the best of her situation. "Woooooo-hooooooo!" She shouted, her voice mostly lost to the air rushing past her ears. Pointing her crossbows forward she peppered the dragons wings as she shot past them on what was possibly the greatest slide of her life. She slid and slid, down the back and onto the tail where the movement of the dragon finally caused her to slide off the edge and send her free falling toward the biggest splotch of white in this world of darkness and off-yellow.

Right before her impact with Bowser's hat she vanished, reappeared in the air about a stones throw straight up from her previous position, spun in the air firing her crossbows to break her momentum, and landed perfectly on her feet with a commanding view of the battlefield.

Link went from satisfaction at how precisely he had placed his shot to amazement at the wide array of attacks his companions let loose on the dragon's head. The dragon seemed to have enough, though, ripping itself from Bowser's clutches and pulling out a tooth in the process. Even as he winced he stared in awe as the Guardian girl hammered into the dragon, hammering it with a one-two punch that returned the favor by sending several of the beast's teeth spiraling to the ground. Link's eyes followed them down, making a note of where they landed out of habit, before looking back up just in time to catch the girl losing a leg and Linkle sliding down its back.

He didn't have the kind of time he needed to worry about that, though. He steeled himself as the dragon beat its wings and spun through the air. It's tail whipped like a scythe across the tops of the spires and he only had moments to think before it swept over his own spire, leaving nothing but a fading "HYAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaa!" on the wind in its wake.

Linkle had perhaps the best spot in the house to view the Koopa strategy, a blazing bombardment of minions that lit up the sky like miniature suns. She almost started laughing until she saw where the balls that didn't strike the dragon were going to touch down.

"Hey!" She shouted, running to the edge of Bowser's hat and jumping down to the brim where he had a better chance of hearing her. "You have to watch where you're aiming. Over there is-"

It was too late, though, as Bowser began stomping around trying to crush the swarm of monsters that were now converging around his feet. Linkle groaned. She had just started thinking these guys weren't all that bad. They had been a largely neutral force up till this moment. Now there was nothing for it, she was going to have to kill them. She had already seen first hand today that they would never stop now that battle had been joined. She jumped down to Bowser's shoulder. "If you cooked my cucco's too I'm going to be so mad!" She took the time to shout into his ear before leaping off to the side of Koopa King Jr and Kamek weren't on and leveling a flying kick at one of the creatures as she fell.

Her foot impacted for just a moment before the creature vanished, the momentum causing Linkle to skid forward a little ways before coming to a stop. In front of her stood the monster she had kicked, a strange expression on its ghastly face. It looked simultaneously sad and bewildered as it stared at her, the sort of look a kicked dog gives its owner afterwards. Betrayal, from a place where it wasn't considered possible.

Ender had struck ender.

"Don't give me that look." Linkle said in clear discomfort, pointing her bows at the thing. "I told you guys to leave."

The creature's expression changed as it recognized what was happening, it's mouth opening wide and vicious. Even if Galeem hadn't been compelling it to fight it still would have out of sheer anger. It warped again, showing up right in Linkle's face with its talons raised above its head. When it brought them down, though, she wasn't there anymore. The enderman heard the release of bowstring behind it as a piercing pain struck it in the back, causing it to warp again to a safer position.

The bolt that had stuck between what passes for the endermans shoulders hadn't been the only one Linkle had fired, however. She faced Bowser's shoe and waved the crossbows back and forth sending a stream of crossbow bolts at the Endermen she hadn't gotten the attention of yet. With every bolt that dug in or clipped an enderman they warped away, leaving her other bolts to plink harmlessly off Bowser's shoe.

They stood about the island now, in a crude half circle around her. All looking at her. All wearing that same mask of betrayal. She could feel their eyes boring into her. It didn't want to make her scream and run. It didn't make her want to kill them all. Nevertheless, there was a horrible pressure to it.

One of them suddenly warped, and Linkle's face was filled with Enderman. She ducked as it brought its claws around, dodging under its hug-like attack, only to be blocked as another appeared in her path. She warped again as its claws ripped the stone apart where she'd been standing, but had to jump back as another appeared in front of her. Then another, appearing mid jump, slashed at her in the air. She shot out her leg, kicking back off the creature as its talons ripped gashes in her shoulders. The attack wasn't as bad as she thought it would be, as the creature vanished as soon as her foot connected.

As she landed another appeared, and she did the smart thing and warped to a new location. Another followed her, but as soon as it appeared she lodged a bolt in its chest that sent it warping away. It was just as quickly replaced, and Linkle reflexively shot this one too. The bolt, though, struck the block of off-yellow stone the creature held in its talons. It dropped it and struck, Linkle catching a cut across the cheek as she dodged back only for another to appear inside the first one's reach and stab forward with its arm. Linkle was about to kick at this one when another appeared over the attackers shoulder, bringing its own claw down. Mid-kick Linkle warped away, right behind one of them. She slammed her boot into its back, but again the monster warped away before it could take the full brunt of the attack. It was immediately replaced by three more attackers, simultaneously warping in and slashing at her in a semi-circle, forcing her to warp again.

It went on like this. Warp, attack, warp, evade, attack, warp. It was a dance, just like any fight with multiple foes. Unfortunately, it was a dance the Enderman were much more experienced at than her. They piled on aggressively, not giving her even a moment to rest, and unlike her they seemed able to warp as many times as they liked with no ill effects. Every time Linkle reappeared it took her just a moment longer to orient herself, leaving her vulnerable to the relentless claws of the mad Endermen. If it wasn't for the fact that they seemed to attack exclusively head on she had no doubt the cuts that marked her body right now would be much deeper, but it wasn't as though she could land many substantial blows either. They vanished the moment they felt any pain, replaced with a new opponent. At least she thought it was a new one. Because of the disorienting nature of the fight she wasn't even sure how many enemies there were anymore, or which had taken the most damage. It was a war of attrition, a war that they would win if she couldn't figure out a way to deal some serious damage to them. She needed time to think, figure out where she was, and come up with some kind of plan.

She warped again, but this time held her ground. She raised up her arms, her hair flashing blue even as her pursuers appeared. They struck, but all their claws found this time was the wall of clear ice that had sprung up in front of Linkle. As the monsters reeled back Linkle took a deep breath and got her bearings. Her eyes scanned the island, looking for anything that could help her deal with these monsters.

When she spotted it she wanted to kick herself it was so simple. As they stepped around the wall to try and claw her again she smiled, and warped. This time it was different, though. She didn't stop to attack, or evade, or try and change direction. She warped again and again toward her target in a straight line, a target so big and stark that even if she veered off course she could find it in an instant.

Finally she stopped and waited. Like before the monsters appeared before her in a squad of three, arms raised. Linkle was ready for them. As their claws descended on her she ducked, slammed her palms to the ground, and concentrated. Ice suddenly sprang up around the group of endermen, quickly growing and engulfing the monsters into solid ice crystals. Linkle was just as surprised as the enderman at how quickly the ice had entombed their bodies, but she didn't have long to admire her handiwork as she quickly warped out of the danger zone. Of course, the ice prison probably wouldn't hold them for long. Linkle hadn't tried trapping them in ice earlier because she figured they could just warp out of it and keep chasing her. There was no point in trapping them if it wouldn't kill them at the same time.

That's what Bowser was for.

A moment after she warped away the giant stomping foot she had lured them under came down like the wrath on an angry god, crushing the Endermen into nothing but ash and spirits. Linkle didn't stop to watch, not just because another group of Endermen were attacking but because she didn't want to think that the one that had helped her up on the island might have been underfoot. She warped again, dodging monstrous claws as she heard the sound of Bowser's foot lift up.

As she warped underfoot again the Endermen seemed more hesitant to follow her. That was fine. She compelled a few to come and get her with some crossbow bolts and repeated the process.

The wind and pressure dug into Link, trying to dislodge his iron grip from the dragon's tail as he was flung through the air at speeds he had never before experienced. His arms screamed at him, all his joints begging and pleading as they struggled not to pop out all at once; what in the world did he think he was doing!?!

He wanted to scream back that, like it or not, this was really the only way. He couldn't have climbed down the tower, it was too steep and smooth and with nothing to get a grip on the wind wall would have sent him flying regardless. In the best case someone would have to rush to catch him. In the worst he was sent flying over the edge to certain doom. Even the middle option, hitting the ground and then no doubt tumbling along it like a boulder rolling down a mountain, didn't appeal to him.

So as the dragon had attacked he'd done the only thing he could think of to save his life: grab the tail. As it had come rushing at him he'd pulled out the shield Linkle had given him and jumped to meet it. The impact had caused the shield to shatter into fragments of blue light, but he had been counting on that. The force from the shield shattering provided him with a cushion against the force of the dragons attack, a force that still made lights dance in front of his eyes.

His hands, though, had worked on instinct. Even though this dragon's hide looked like the strange stone it was far more easily grasped. His hands found the perfect places to dig in and hold on as the dragon flung him through the air. After that, it was just a matter of holding on until it tired just like any animal.

"That was just an amateur hour bird." Clover said, rubbing at the place where Jonas had jabbed her. "The Antarctic Tern, on he other hand, is famed for it's very set and predictable migrational pattern."

Of course, that was what she'd said about the last bird. She's thought the same about the four before that and at this point the belief was that of a gambler doing one last spin over and over again in the hopes of hitting the jackpot. In a way it had worked out. Almost all of her seemingly random movements had kept bringing her into contact with people either out for Oh-One or willing to help her along the way. Hell, most of them were converging here, like they were were being drawn in by some kind of gravity she wasn't going to even thing about understanding.

She turned to follow behind Jonas and Otsana as Brown raced down the hill towards them, but something caught her eye. She looked on as a makeshift sled, rider and all, hit the hill and skipped across the past them before sending its poor rider flying off into a nearby snowbank. Even if there wasn't likely anyone else that could be falling from the sky the persons helmet identified her well enough as a MAVERICK trooper. She felt a full body shudder come on as she imagined what that poor bugger must have been going through in their last moments. The boys they had stolen their plane from owned them some serious thanks.

"Sainte atha ma u Hrair, kan zyhlante hray u vahra ma hyaones." She muttered watching them, a funerary prayer for them and their countless comrades who'd gotten tangled up in this nomad business. The respectful tone she'd taken was shattered, however, when the soldier started to push themselves out of the snow. "Say, we got a live one!" She said, a pleasant shock coloring her voice. "Brown's reinforcements are here."

Clover broke off from the group and made her way over to see how the soldier was doing. Pretty well, she decided, if she was pulling off her helmet in this weather. "You okay, hero? Nothin' broken?"
Hyrule Warriors

Level 2 - (10/20) + 6

Level Up! Level 8 - (3/80) + 6

Location: The End
Word Count: 1294

@Yankee@Dawnrider@Archmage MC

Linkle's and her birds mad dash back to the center of the island wasn't fast enough to reach the dragon before it disengaged with Bowser and launched its deadly counterattack. She almost screamed in rage as the dragon brought its claw down on six, who was only saved by the sacrifice of his new mechanical friend. That scream dies in her throat as instead of mangled remain, the dragons foot lifted up to show the robot was perfectly fine. Well, not fine. Laid out on a stretcher borne by a bunch of weird cats, then vanished away just as quickly. She didn't really have time to think about one of their comrades getting kidnapped by weird cats, though, as the dragon flew around lobbing acid at them. Linkle whistled and dove to the side as one of them rained down near her, her birds mirroring her movements like baby chicks following their mother. Drops of the acid sprayed out of the impact site, looking to splatter on the group, and on impulse Linkle extended her hand. A clean sheet of ice sprang up in an instant to shield the quartet from the spray, the acid carving deep trenches in its surface before the wall melted away.

It wasn't long before the dragon swooped in again, looping in the air to create another of those wind gusts. Linkle stamped her feet onto the spongy ground, ice growing across the spongy rock from the pint of impact. It wrapped around her boots, coiled up her legs like ivy, while at the same time spreading down and forcing its way into every available hole in the rock. As the gust swept over Linkle she bent over and braced herself, the ice holding her even if it did throw her cucco's to the far edge of the island again. Linkle looked back at them as the wind subsided, seeing them land amid the cluster of dark shapes they'd just left behind.

She considered calling the back over, but at that point the dragon started hovering over the island and letting loose with an unending stream of acid. Linkle decided that it may be a good idea to let the girls hand out at the edge for a bit.

Link, for his part, had down with pure grip strength what Linkle had used psychic powers for. After jumping around to avoid falling acid he had just dropped to his knees and grabbed onto the stone when he saw the dragon go into some kind of break neck turn. He's fluttered like a flag in a storm, slamming over and over into the ground, but but he'd held on before pulling himself up with a pained sign.

Harder to deal with was the sea of acid he saw steadily encroaching on him. He hopped backwards away from it a few time, wondering how exactly he was going to avoid this, when Sectonia helpfully swooped in and lifted him up from behind and carried him up to the top of a spire. He bowed gratefully to the bee queen before walking to the edge and again pulling out the bow. He'd heard what one of the metallic girls had shouted earlier about the head and from this height he had a good chance of hitting that target. He drew back, aimed, and released another arrow at the low flying dragons head.

Linkle had panicked for a moment, thinking that her great plan for dealing with the wind was going to get her burned by acid. She made ready for a herculean struggle to free her legs from the ice that now held them, but to her surprise when she tried to move the ice crumbled away all on its own. Now she just had to figure out where she was going.

She was close enough now to hear her comrades, in particular Blazermate calling out that the dragons weak point was its head. She knew what to attack, the problem was it was all the way up there. She could always teleport up there, but being dizzy on the head of a dragon seemed like a good way to get thrown off a dragon. Luckily for her, someone called out to lend a helping hand.

Linkle ran over to the Cadet's outstretched hand, shouting a frazzled "don'tlookatmedon'tlookatmedon'tlookatme," as she took it and was pulled up to the top of the spire. "Thank's for the lift." She said, careful to stand behind the cadet to avoid his eyes as she looked toward the dragon. Many people were assaulting the monsters head now thanks to Blazermate, though Bowser had taken a different tactic and was trying to rip the creature from the sky. That was smart, that was how Linkle had beat her dragon. This one was quite a bit bigger and smarter than that one, though. It might need a little more than a tail grab to disorient.

Luckily she had a move with a good history of stunning giant monsters.

"I'm going to need some more help, though. I've got something I've been saving for a monster like this. Just stand right there, don't turn around." Linkle said, taking a few steps back from the Cadet. She pulled out her crossbows and took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she felt power welling up in her not unlike when she used her musou attack. This power, though, didn't get unleashed in one big burst. She held on to it, feeling warm energy begin to flow throughout her body. Magic began to swirl visibly around her, red and hot, and the very air seemed to be filled with a warm pressure. The compass hanging around her neck suddenly flashed a white light as she opened her eyes, surrounded by a red aura.

Magic. Oh magic! With all of the ice she had been using she'd nearly forgotten what it was like to be in her true element. White hot power burned in her like a bomb just on the cusp of exploding. You couldn't hold on to it forever, but when you had it you were unstoppable.

"All right, team jump!" She shouted, running at double speed toward the Cadet's back. She leaped up on his shoulders and then was send soaring through the air toward the dragons snout. At the apex of her ascent she warped once, moving just far enough to land on the dragons snout.

She wasn't the only one up here. The Kid and Mr. Fox had both moved up her as well, and Linkle began to feel that panicked feeling again as the two laid eyes on her. This time, though, she chose fight instead of flight. After all, soon there would be too much explosion for anyone to see her.

There was something like a shockwave that spread out in front of Linkle, not enough to move anyone. A pressure, just enough to be felt, as though Linkle's body was warning everyone in front of it about what was about to happen. The red aura around her disappeared as Linkle aimed both of her crossbows in front of her and pulled the triggers. What came out was an impossibility.

It was a bomb arrow. Not two bomb arrows, one. One big one. Bigger than crossbows that fired it. Bigger than her. A massive boulder sized bomb, encircled with a ring of magic light, with the tiny insignificant arrow part sticking pathetically out of the side. It soured in a low arc that should have carried it over the dragons head had Linkle not jumped after it. Leg wreathed entirely in flame she lashed out with a kick, striking the bomb and knocking it down to hopefully explode right between the dragon's eyes.
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