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In Lem's Stash 2 days ago Forum: Test Forum

“Come on, come on come on come on hurry up! We're not gonna get there in time!”
Saffron Mergansett

Location: Uhladein, Eastern Marches

The kids apparently did not appreciate the little lesson she attempted to give them. Looked even more scared, actually. Fucking cowards. And Galeil also didn't seem to happy. Ah well, at least he recognized that they were her lessers. She gave an exaggerated shrug as she asked her to directly channel into the crystal herself.

"Oh, don't me wrong, I'd love to. Maker knows you need it up here. Problem is, my magic's real strong and real wild. I try to channel a crystal, it goes crack-pop-boom. And I assume you're not looking for fireworks in here." She gave him a half-grin and tapped her eyepatch. "How do you think I lost this eye?"

Still. As much as she joked with him, she was kinda pissed. She went to all the trouble to give those pyromancers a lesson and this was her thanks? They fucked up harder and now their teacher was pissed? If there was a problem with their form and focus, it's because he didn't do a good enough job training them. Coward. But hey. She knew when she wasn't wanted. This wasn't any fun, anyway, and her cannon just hit full charge. Another exaggerated, theatrical shrug, at odds with the focused frustration in her voice. "Still, looks like I'm not needed here after all, right?" Her eye flashed a blazing yellow as she ripped a soulflame from one of the windows, hopping up into the frame and preparing to jump down again.

You must not shirk in your duty. You must not leave the fire. And you must not abandon your comrades.

"Maker damn you, Mom," she muttered. No matter how much Galeil had galled her by not training his stupid students well enough, they were still the pyromancers keeping them alive, and they still needed protection. It was her duty as a pyromancer of Midnos, and as goddamn annoyed with them as she was, she wasn't quite mad enough to ignore what she'd been taught and leave them to their own devices. It wasn't their fault Galeil hadn't trained them properly, and it wasn't really Galeil's fault that they needed to be coddled as much as they apparently did. A flash of memory flickered against her mind and she shut it down with a snarl.

So instead of leaping down like she so desperately wanted to, she remained in the arched window, sighting along her cannon just in time to watch Fianna the Bloody turn into her sobriquet's namesake. Her sword exploded into the air until it embedded itself in the keep wall. Quinnlash smirked. "Least I'm not the first one to go this time, Freakshow." She'd be back soon anyway. Death wasn't really a big deal for her. Well, it wasn't a big deal for Hunters in general as long as it didn't come too often, but it was an even smaller deal for Fianna. The blue-haired woman with the long spear was falling towards the city, still gripping the back of a dying Void roc. No point shooting that one anymore. The Ldranti with the huge fuckoff shield had gotten slapped to the side, and the melter was...still alive, actually. Quinnlash raised an eyebrow. She expected her to be a stain of black charcoal on the ground by now. Seemed like this one was made of tougher stuff than the others she'd seen. And she'd just ripped the ogre's chest wide open, revealing its pulsing innards as she exploded on it.

"Goddamn. Not bad," she said absently as she sighted up her shot. The angry kid had been tossed far enough that she wasn't too close. The Ldranti had been knocked a good distance away. Both of them could still move, so neither was too much in danger, and Fianna was currently a red stain on the ground. They were mostly out of the splash zone. It wouldn't be a big explosion anyway, not like the previous ones; her soul was pretty fragmented, and she could feel her magic weakening substantially. And she was really, really bored. So, as the cannon roared beside her and she felt the burning metal blistering her cheek, she belted out over the twin storms of thunder and Void in a voice that would carry for a mile:


And then, a whispered "Boom."

She waited for a moment, giving time for people to move out of the way if they wanted to. Then, with an enormous smile on her face, she let the shot fly. A burning fireball hurtled forth, rocketing down to the ogre at tremendous speed before detonating. She'd aimed for its chest cavity, but she was high up enough that she honestly had no idea where it'd gone. It had been even smaller than she'd anticipated, honestly. Guess she had the four flames she'd ripped out of her a minute or two prior to thank for that. But the sound brought a smile to her face nonetheless. She leaned back slightly and called into the crystal chamber, "If you need me, I'll be up here. Keep channeling, Galeil. I'll deal with it if you need defense."

Another cracking sound. Another reload. And as she waited for the charge, she turned her attention inward, fire dancing along her fingertips. Wouldn't do to make that promise and not keep it, after all. And though the soulflames in the windows should help, one never did know, and she should never shirk her duty.

Maker damn you, Mom.

Location: Uhladein, Eastern Marches

"Fucking lunatic," Quinnlash muttered as Fianna did...well, Fianna things. Maker, the woman was goddamn creepy sometimes. Still, she'd told Quinnlash what she needed to know. Everything was at least nominally handled down here; she could get herself back up to the tower and do her best to stop those pyromancers from letting everybody die horribly. She turned her wary eye away from the Void all around her, squinting against the blinding rain to look up at the arched window that Galeil's fire had splashed against and through. It certainly wasn't a big target, all told, and it would be unfortunate if she missed. Still, her cannon had been building charge for a bit now, it should be okay to—

Her thoughts were cut off as a sky-ripping shriek echoed from above her and she looked up in time to see the shadow of a fully-grown adult roc, corrupted by the void, cast in harsh relief against the clouds by sweeping lashes of blue fire. Her eye widened fractionally for a moment. That was the blue-haired Hunter again. She wondered for a moment how she managed to get up there before a grin spread across her face. Didn't matter. No way she was letting her have all the fun. Just because she was headed into the tower didn't mean she couldn't make a detour along the way.

She stared up a moment longer, calculating distances, trajectories, running through backup plans. The explosion would be too big to drop it on the ogre without injuring Fianna, the Ldranti, and the melter, so best not do that. Then, with another bellowing laugh, she jumped outwards from the wall, towards the seething Void army.

Just as she was about to hit the ground, she slammed an almost fully-charged shot into them, leaving a hole thirty feet across. As the shockwave blew painfully through her she blasted skyward towards the roc, howling with mad laughter. The remnants of fire from her cannon seared across the sky as she went, a meteoric tail as she rocketed upwards, already charging another shot. She directed herself with small, powerful bursts of pyromancy; rotating, shifting, getting herself in place as she shifted herself around and twisted backwards, placing herself firmly between the enormous void and the Hearthfire keep as she neared the apex of her flight, only perhaps fifteen feet beneath the massive corrupted creature. From here, she could see the iced hole in its wing, could see the azure hair of the Hunter on its back, could hear her own crazed laughter. Her smile spread wider. "Heads up, Ice Queen!" No more than a second later, she blasted it with another explosion. Though it was of course weaker than the last, it was enough, with gravity's help, to send her bolting towards the window. One more course correction with pyromancy, and—

A roc hatchling, its cry like a knife scraping against a sheet of steel, dived towards the opening itself, drawn to the glow of the Emberstone within. With a deft movement, she slammed into it as she fell, catching it between her legs. It snapped at her, clawed at her legs, but she just smiled harder as she sailed through the window, crushing it between her thighs with one last burst of applied pyromancy. It let out one last strangled cry as it split into two, the halves crumbling to ash and falling to the ground just a heartbeat after she landed ten feet from Galeil with a thunderous crack and a madcap grin. "Sorry I'm late!"

As she straightened up, she tossed her rapidly-failing braid back behind her and gave an offhanded salute. "Hunter Quinnlash Loughvein, reporting for duty!"

A moment later, as she watched the pyromancers staring at her, her smile vanished, replaced with a stormy frown. She gestured angrily at the apprentices. "What the hell is this?" More confused looks.

She flung an accusatory finger at the apprentice just clockwise of Galeil, which steadily traveled around the circle and pointed to each in turn. "Your form is completely wrong! Your focus is clearly almost completely shattered! Your form is off too, even more than hers is! Your form is off too—do you people have no idea how to channel a Hearthfire?" Sparing a second or two, she adopted a mock channeling stance in front of the crystal, though of course a Hunter couldn't actually channel into it. "Like this, morons! Head up, shoulders back, back straight, legs evenly spaced, arms fully out in front! How long have you been doing this, three days? And all of you are too nervous! Your arms are trembling so much they can barely channel at all, let alone properly!"

Another Void screamed through the window, and without stopping her rant or even looking, she thrust out a hand, roasting it to an ashen crisp with a jet of scorching flame. "Galeil's clearly needed in the defense effort, since he's the only one of you that's at all competent. So you need to be able to hold this without him! Maker help us if this is what's supposed to preserve the Hearth! You need to ignore this shit! Don't be afraid of the Void!" She lifted her cannon to her cheek and reloaded it, pointing it threateningly at the kids. With any luck, the golden flash of light and the sudden sharp report would get them properly intimidated of her. "Be afraid of me if you don't calm down and fucking FOCUS!"

That said, she whirled around and walked to the wall, leaning against it, but keeping her attention sharp. Whatever happened, she needed to be ready. These stupid kids got Void anywhere near them, and the Hearthfire was probably doomed. The cannon in her hands, ready to fire at any moment, began once more to rumble and roar. It was louder now, with the rain and Void outside muted by the thick stone walls. She rent her soul into four more pieces and flung a hand wide, placing an everburning soulflame within each of the windows. She hissed and swore as the pain redoubled before she spoke one more time. Aggravation dripped from her words, masking the pain in her voice.

"You super-special kids have a full-fledged Hunter here for the sole purpose of keeping the Void off you. So focus up and do it right."

The Sharkfin, Lower Decks | South Seas Ocean

Tella looked quickly down at her feet as Marina entered the diving chamber with her typical flair for the dramatic.

She hadn't been too fond of Marina for longer than she cared to think. Being neck deep in devotion and propaganda to the Imperial cause had the lovely little side effect of her deeming anybody that had left as a 'coward' and a 'deserter' and 'unfit to lick the Emperor's boots.' Of course, she thought different now; she'd gained a great deal of perspective recently, after all, or she certainly wouldn't be preparing to drop from a Diver vessel.

But still. The pure embarrassment over her former steaming, simmering resentment had her looking at the floor whenever the fellow 'Imperial' was around, and very pointedly avoiding most contact with her. Still...she'd been looking back on her days in the Academies more often recently, at the people that she'd known and the bridges she'd burned, and she found herself profoundly missing Marina. It had been years since they'd known each other. Eight since they'd talked? She remembered them being fairly good friends once upon a time.

But then again, she thought bitterly, she was a very different person back then. The Tella of today was a shattered shell of her old confidence, especially in her headstrong adolescence.

Still. As silly as it was, as burnt out the embers of that ancient friendship were, Tella missed her. And hearing her again, recognizing that same cadence even now, only made her miss Marina more. And so, as she made one last check of everything, she raised her eyes shyly from the floor. Her voice trembled slightly when she started, but as she continued, it steadied out:

"If the sea really was sick of us, then we'd have all sunk to the bottom long ago, no?" A deep breath, and she finally brought her eyes up to Marina's soft violet ones. Not entirely sure what to say, she fumbled some over her words, but kept speaking. "The tides may bring terror, but they—Mother Ocean also brings hope too, right? And joy. And...forgiveness as well. And we should thank her for that."

Contradicting Marina in that particular way would probably get her labeled as a wet blanket, which was...well, certainly not conducive to rekindling any faint embers of the friendship that she remembered.

But she'd at least talked to her. And that was a start, right?

Alja bit her tongue in frustration. Looked like Kazuki was dodging around things again. But at least Luci seemed...well, she didn't seem like she was doing great, but she seemed reasonable, at least. Last she'd heard, the swordsinger had still been absolutely catatonic. If nothing else, that was comforting. And the two of them were speaking pretty normally. A sudden spike of doubt punched through her. Had she been wrong about what was going on between Luci and Kazuki? She'd gotten better with people as Alja, but she still couldn't read these situations instinctively like she wished she could. In situations like these, Kelly was far too prominent for her liking.

As they spoke, she found her eyes wandering past Luci and into the chapterhouse proper, roving to the side where she knew Leaves' room was. She was worried about her. Really worried. She hadn't seen her at all since Arnaakus, and she'd seemed shot all to hell at that point. It was only natural to worry, regardless of feelings she might hold for her. Right?

Still. At least they had an objective now. Or she did; she didn't know how the rest of her party would react. She nodded to Luci, leaning against the wall herself. "Children of Letria, huh? I've played with 'em once or twice, on decent terms. See if I can bring 'em into the fold, get some lines of communication opened." A moment passed, and she moved away from the wall, nodding at the other three. "If you want to get a head start, you can head on over there. Or go do somethin' else, I can probably back Pris up on my own if you have pressin' stuff to get done." Her eyes roved again, back towards Leaves' room. "I've still got some business here, so I'll meet back up with ya later. Capisce?"

Location: Uhladein, Eastern Marches

Quinnlash leapt backwards, breath coming heavily. The flames dropped from her hands and feet as she removed herself from combat and hopped up on a shattered-off piece of the tower, taking a moment to survey the fight. It was going...well? Or if not well, at least it was going predictably. The Void was encroaching, and normal humans were falling back and taking shelter. Whirls of blue flames and ice spat from the rooftops, alternately torching and freezing flying Void in its wake. It moved smoothly, quickly, as though gliding. That would be the Hunter with the spear and blue hair, she thought. The one that held herself like she was some kind of special. The one that looked at Quinnlash like she was better than her or something. She twitched, and her lip curled up in a sneer.

In front of her, the paltry remnants of a guard patrol ran from the army of Void goblins, and the enormous ogre-shadow at their head. Between the two of them was the little one, the small Hunter with the angry eyes. She radiated heat, steam rising from her constantly as the rain poured down. Her claw-talons, the ones that Quinnlash had thought were inefficient weapons, were blazing white-hot. Perhaps not inefficient at all. But certainly painful. As she watched, the girl rushed to meet the mass of Void, shearing through them with ruthless savagery. She left molten footprints as she went, the stone itself yielding to the immense heat before the rain darkened it once more. Quinn snorted scornfully. We've only got five and one's a Melter. Of course. Thanks, Maker.

She hadn't seen where the tall pink-haired Ldranti had gone, but from the horrifying sound of a Void creature being butchered and bellowing in pain coming from around the other side of the keep, she could probably guess.

And, of course, along the top of the wall was the only Hunter here that she knew personally. As usual, her body was some degree of twisted, and the metal...meat...sword...thing that twisted out of her arm gave Quinnlash a chill that few other things could. She'd had the...dubious pleasure of working with Fianna a few times. Midnosian Hunters both, after all. And every time. Every time. It always ended up with her dying. Sometimes once or twice. Sometimes over and over. She growled deep in her throat, and her cannon growled with her.

There was a grating shriek from above and she snapped her head skyward in alarm in time to see a blast of fire explode from a tower window. The Void had taken hatchlings from a roc, seemed like, and they dipped to strike at the pyromancers that tended the Hearthfire crystal. Their mother couldn't be far behind. As skilled a pyromancer as Galeil—it had to be him, she didn't respect any of the other idiots up there—seemed to be from that blast, the Void was far more than he could handle, or else the Hunters wouldn't be here. A half-forgotten memory of a voice whispered in the back of her head: You are a pyromancer. Pyromancers like us are the final line. We have the final say. You must not shirk in your duty. You must not leave the fire. And you must not abandon your comrades. We are the final line. We have the final say. All of us. The phantom memory galled her, and she waved it away with a snarl and a swear, spitting foul-tasting Void blood and dry ash from her mouth in disgust. "Fine! I'll go! Now fuck off!"

With a few deft steps, she bounded over broken chunks of masonry, bouncing across shattered, rain-slicked fragments of stone towards the wall. Crazy or no, molten-hot or no, that girl wouldn't last long against a horde like that. She was a Melter, after all. Mostly cannon fodder. But the longer the cannon fodder lived, the easier the real Hunters' job would be. She moved like a wildfire herself, burning through any Void in her way, until she topped a steep pile of rubble where she could have a moment to aim. She unslung her cannon.

She pressed it to her cheek, pointing towards the lone, white-clawed figure that blazed—incandescent—within the swelling Void tide. She had a much better angle here. Wouldn't risk immolating the guards if she twitched. The world was lit with the cold white luminance of lightning, and with an abrupt exhalation, she pulled the trigger. Another tremendous explosion lit the night as she unleashed a blazing pyre upon the ogre, careful to catch the other Hunter out of the blast radius. Or at least only slightly within it. The ravaging inferno consumed the enormous beast and anything even remotely near it in golden radiance. It certainly wouldn't die from that. It would take at least two or three fully-charged shots to bring one of those to its knees, let alone kill it, and this was far from that level of power. She could tell it was in pain, though, and the burning goblins streaking through the air like little meteors brought a smile to her face. She gave a casual salute towards the girl. Least she had some breathing room for a couple seconds until more came to fill the gap.

Thunder rolled in the distance, and just like that, the smile winked out. She couldn't spare the time to really enjoy it anyway, not before the anger flooded back. With a few more nimble leaps and some well-applied bursts of pyromancy, she reached the top of the wall, staring out at the Void sea. In the lull that followed the last crash of thunder—the comparative lull, at least, only the hissing of the rain and the horrifying sounds of the Void—she turned and shouted at Fianna with a sharp and loud voice, another lightning-harsh sound accompanying another golden crack and another soul-deep pain as she reloaded. It took some doing, breaking the crazy woman out of her battle trances, but she was still the only Hunter here that Quinnlash was familiar with, and as much as she hated to admit it, the only one she could even moderately trust. At least as far as she knew. But that didn't hold if she couldn't even think. She needed her to listen and talk. Now. "Hey! Freakshow!" She kicked a fist-sized rock at her, smacking her in the back of the head. "Snap the fuck out of it, dumbass! You—"

She broke off, whirling a high kick at a Voidling that came scuttling up the wall. As it connected, a burst of flame surged out of her booted foot, launching the sickening creature back into the rest of its kind with a chittering scream. Three more followed and she gnashed her teeth. The enormous barrel of her cannon was suddenly wreathed in ethereal flames and she swept it back and forth like a warhammer, slamming it through their chitinous shells and sending them flying as her pyromancy consumed them. She glanced down and saw a swarm of the insectoid creatures skittering up the wall at her. Her cannon wasn't charged very much, but it was more than enough for this as she brought it to bear and it poured out a curtain of blazing light, knocking them from the stones.

As the swarm collapsed, it let out a sound like ten thousand knives on ten thousand stones, and this time she beamed, throwing back her head in a laugh of absolute euphoria and letting the freezing rain dull the pain, if only a little, as it washed the ash and ichor from her face.

When her joy abated, she huffed out another heavy breath and stood straight again, tossing her sodden braid behind her. She turned to Fianna, Undying Light resting on her shoulder and still leaking remnants of the pyromantic flare. The searing light flashed again on her chest as another soulflame nestled into the core of her cannon and began to swell as fast as she could grow it. In defiance of the rain, the familiar pain surged back stronger, carving its way through her whole body. Her eyes darted skyward at the boiling rainclouds overhead. Who knew how much time the pyromancers in the keep had left?

"You up shit's creek, or can I head up?"
You think I don't
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