Status

Recent Statuses

2 yrs ago
Current I want to see things - that no one else can see
2 yrs ago
I'll judge you with my Stand! 「Greased Lightning」!
2 yrs ago
At maximum overbork
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3 yrs ago
Are you tired of peel, peel, peeling potatoes? Stop!
1 like
3 yrs ago
You are the ocean's gray waves, destined to seek life beyond the shore just out of reach. Yet the waters ever change, flowing like time. The path is yours to climb.
2 likes

Bio

I am currently managing the Crucible, an extradimensional tournament with a unique combat system, and have managed several Dungeon Keepers roleplays in the past along with a RWBY RP I left in more capable hands. Forgive me for melodrama as I say: I can't promise I'm a good man, but I'll do the best I can.

Most Recent Posts

Mountain Dew Quickscoper

Location: Downtown
@Lazo


Instantly an incredible pain blossomed in Dew's wound, as one might expect, but what came next he could not have anticipated. Every nerve in his body surged with heat and light, causing him to convulse in shock and forget about the blood gushing from his arm. Without any force behind it, the arrowhead sunk deeper, driving itself through flesh, muscle, and finally the humerus, almost bisecting the bone as it burrowed by.

Even before that, however, the agony had melted into a different sensation—one of profound wrongness. Were Dew as knowledgeable about real life weapons and military affairs as he were with virtual ones, he might be aware of the subjects of military equipment tests centered around giant microwave emitters for crowd control. They did not burst into flames, start glowing, or give rise to any visible effect, but the waves washing over them scrambled something inside. Never did the tests last long enough to see what happened next, since try as they might subjects could never stop their bodies from moving out of the waves as soon as they felt them. Restraining subjects for the purpose of determining the effects lasting microwave exposure, meanwhile, stood as cruelly inhumane.

In this moment, however, Dew might understand how people in such a scenario might feel. Every ounce of him squirmed, wanting to retreat from or annihilate itself, even though when he looked at his skin nothing appeared to be wrong. His vision flashed, pitch black and blinding gold, a pressure building in his left eye. It compounded every second, growing stronger and stronger as the arrowhead pushed out the other side of his bicep, until the feathers on the shaft's other end passed through and the arrow was in him no longer. The moment the arrow hit the ground, his eye exploded.

He could hear and feel the fluid blasting from the socket, even if by some merciful twist of fate he could not feel the pain. It splashed against the wall, on the floor, and covered his clothes. A whirling tumult of unidentifiable sensation had gripped his mind, squelching and kneading his brain. The world spun, and he dropped to the ground in a final spurt of viscera.

Then he blinked.

His mind: clear. No pain, no wrongness, no pressure, no confusion. A moment passed before Dew got a hold of himself. Bolting upright from the floor, he looked about in panic. His body, his clothes, the floor...nothing whatsoever seemed amiss. The arrow on the ground, clean as its surroundings, innocuous as a dropped penny. The only trace of anything strange occurring could be found on his bicep: an inch-long scar, long healed over. That, of course, and something weird with his left eye; it took more effort on his part to keep it open.

If he happened upon a mirror, however, he would find something else, something extraordinary, unprecedented, and very much amiss. His left eye, though just as functional as before, was now in its entirety a rich, oily black, and where the iris and pupil once were there appeared to be a two-dimensional golden coin emblazoned with a skull.

The Cereal Killer

Location: Oldtown
@Propro


Restrained by the pirate and his fox-eared comrade, Cyril's thrashing died down quickly. While he might have possessed the strength to throw one or both off before, he was already almost wheezing from the effort of token resistance, and in a moment his struggling ceased. The knight's breathing slowed, growing less labored and more regular, as he stared at the far-off highrises against the early sky. His eyes gradually adjusted, though their glaze did not fade completely.

Even so, some time passed before betrayed any figment of conscious action. His muscles finally relaxed, and after another few seconds, he met Runch's gaze. Though awake for the moment, he remained weak, his tenuous grip on consciousness poised to loosen at any moment. Speaking took a disproportionate effort, but speak he did.

“Uggghhh...thah feeling. So sharp i's ma' me focus. Bih...bitter failure.” Cyril ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth as if to chase away its numbness. “Shou...shoulda know ya wouldn' let...me die.” His eyes drifted closed again, his face creasing into a angry frown, though not one directed at Runch. “I...I saw. En'less dark...millions of...of lights.” His voice dropped to a whisper as his neck's muscles began to go slack. “They wanned...me.” Before he could say more, his head lolled to the side, and Cyril was unconscious once more.

Inari

Location: What Lies Beneath
@Kapuchu


The moment Lily said 'anyway' the trio was roused to alertness, extending their attention to the kitsune in turn. They listened to Brucie as he made mention of his companion's abilities, with Marotte in particular taking note of the way Lily acted in response to him. Though he shark did not say anything that Lily failed to repeat in greater detail a moment later, he did tell the perceptive jester something in particular that could be useful later on.

Either way, the monsters' temporary captain proceeded to reveal her own abilities, then to size them up, summarizing their specialties as best she knew. Out of all of them, only I.O. acknowledged her description with an affirming nod. Their focus did not waver as she launched into a final explanation of the tournament's current state, noting that the metal machine, newly repaired by Serval, would serve as a guide to their next encounter. Lily's battle plan received their collective approval, made known through a series of nods at its conclusion. I.O., however, reached up to scratch his little head after being confronted with her policy on killing. “Hm. I see. My control is not the best, so I will focus on defense,” he declared.

The others kept their silence, thinking about Lily and her plan. Neither Egon nor Marotte believed that she shared her full capabilities given her distrustful attitude, status as a self-proclaimed trickster, and a certain shred of information picked up by an informant last night. However, they could work well enough with what she did say, so neither planned on complaining. When Lily offered the cinderghast an intricate miniature globe, he took it and held it up with one hand. “Appraise Item,” he growled, and the object gave a brief orange flash. A moment later, he tossed it up to levitate a few feet in the air, saying, “Sophisticated mapping device, likely for the city. Nonmagical. Should be able to project the map.” Putting his ash-gray hands together, he pantomimed opening some complex mechanism, and the orb twitched violently. After a few seconds a click issue from it, and all across its surface lines shone bright green. A large, three-dimensional projection of the City Echoes formed a moment later, made seemingly from light itself. The entire cityscape appeared, though only the surface; a brilliant singularity, probably meant to represent the globe itself, hung in unmarked space beneath the thickest, tallest section of the metropolis.

Marotte peered at the holographic assemblage of skyscrapers with unmasked curiosity. "͞Wh̴at ̶a ̡fu̶n̛ lit̕t̀l͠e͟ ͜toy̵. Usef͡u͡l ͝t͡o̴o, evȩn͢ ̧i̷f it͠ ͢show҉s only ͏ou͝r̛ p͜os̡itíon͢." He turned the eyeless slits in his false face across the rocky barrens and distant fungal forest, where morning sunlight streamed down through the enormous hole by through which Deadbeat Sky had come. “I͘f ͟al̶l i͡s ͢s̀or̵te̴d ͞oùt, and ͏w̡e̵ ̸ha͟ve҉ our̶ goal,͞ w̕e͜ c͘an d͠ep̀árt ̴for̶ ͜th̀e͟ ̨s͜u͏rface̵.̡”̢ Reaching over, he tapped I.O.'s enormous armored gauntlet, more for the noise than the utterly insignificant impact of his finger. "You̶'͞ll͠ ̴f̛ly u̕s̸,̧ ýes? I̡f ̢n͡ot҉, ̸i͠t̨'s a̢ r̶athe͡ŕ d͝àu̧nt͢i̧ng͞ climb." In response the giant gave an emphatic nod, eager to be of service. The great shield on his back, it seemed, was in fact an immense wing-case, fittingly beetle-like. It beggared belief that a creature so huge, heavy, and unwieldy could take to the skies, but I.O. appeared nothing if not confident in his ability to provide for his allies.

“Good morning!” A sudden and familiar voice boomed. The squad turned to see a streak of gray headed their direction, swooping down toward the cavern floor from a room high atop the birdback cathedral. Carreau spread his wings to slow his descend as he approached, coming to a stop a few meters off the ground near his formidable insect companion. His crested helmet masked his fluffy feathers and golden eyes, but since he needed to turn his whole head to look, all present could see him cycling his attention between them. “So! It looks like you've all made your introductions. Good morning to you in particular, Marotte. Your tireless efforts exploring the city have been invaluable, and I'm glad no ill fortune confronted you in your travels.” He clapped his gloved hands together. “This here is a killer team. I will look forward to seeing you all in action.” Were his helmet not on, Lily might have seen the wink directed at her. “Not killing, of course, hahah.” After that, he seemed to have nothing else to say, so an awkward pause hung in the still cavern air alongside him.




It was evident that Umi’s voice had reached the other two, as a certain half of the duo had lit the way for her. Not just figuratively either, but quite literally as well. She began running immediately after catching sight of him, figuring she’d need the head start; after all, with her running like a complete girl, she’d be vulnerable to any unknown pursuers that lurked in the fog.

"Th-thank you!" Umi called out as she ran, though she would also be thankful that nothing was there to chase her down.

Come to think of it, she never got the name of the boy that was emanating with light. Perhaps this would be a decent opportunity to get to know him better, while the three of them were together. They were all allies, after all. Just as Umi opened her mouth to say something, a recording had played from the dummy that she was holding. What everyone was hearing would’ve been more correct if it had came from a chipmunk rather than a human, but perhaps it came across that way due to the sheer speed that it was playing at.

In any case, they had their choices. They could come back to that scenario later, and deposit the dummies they had in hand just so they secured their points, or they could take the dummies with them and keep going. Umi was also thinking that now might be the time to prepare her Quirk for combat, just on the off-chance that going to the aforementioned destination was what the villain responsible for setting the situation would’ve wanted the three of them to do.

Umi decided to do the smart thing, and confer with her future classmates before acting on anything. If not for their presence, she would’ve overthought herself into agony by now.

"Wh-what do you g-guys think?" she asked, "P-press forward? Go b-back?"



“Huh? Why would I…?” It was about then that Taro clicked. He pressed his eyes shut and nestled his eyes into his hands, shielding them from the universal batsignal that followed. Even through the safety of his eyelids and his hands, the flash still pressed through: a bright white, threatening to engulf his hiding eyes. Almost like a rabbit poking out of its burrow, Taro poked out of his hands once the light had passed. At first, he almost looked impressed: his furrowed brow loosening and perking a little higher before it quickly pressed back into his eyes. Now, he was wary: if Umi could have seen that, then who else might have?

The first movement in his sightline drew his eye. His arms tensed as he swung his head to meet the figure, only to find a familiar face instead: Umi. His gentle sigh of relief was stained white by the cold.
“We should go back.” Taro concluded out loud, his eyes returning to scanning over the fog-concealed buildings. “If there ever was a safe time to assume we’re being tracked… that time is now. At least one point might get us a seat in the class.”

Though seemingly conflicted as a young man with an invisible face could be, Goro gave a light nod a moment after Taro finished. “That’s fine. The heroic thing would be to rush off in search of the parent dummies, but since we have nothing to go on it could take ages. Plus, the run back to the start isn’t so far from here. We’ll drop ‘em off and be back to keep looking in just a couple minutes.”

He looked at his dummy and winced. The way he and Taro worked, they should have been able to lift the pole off them, rather than roll it. They could be docked for inadvertently causing the would-be disaster victim damage. If Umi stuck around, she would have been able to slide the dummies free while he and Taro had the debris up, but what was done was done. Maneuvering his dummy into a piggyback position, Goro prepared to light the way back to Zone 2.
Palpable relief flooded over Arthur as he waved the gentleman off. "Thank you, sir! I hope you'll attend." The surrounding crowd, meanwhile, appeared just as convinced. The capability of the human mind to rationalize the impossible, Arthur reflected, truly stood as one of man's most remarkable abilities. A few words from an emphatic, convincing fellow and people could in full awareness turn their backs on a fifteen-foot Eocene monstrosity heaving along across populated sidewalks in broad daylight.

Noting the self-imposed time crunch of a half hour, Arthur began to walk, trusting his new friend to follow behind or shuffle alongside. When a momentary scarcity of bystandars allowed, he leaned over to say in a low voice, "I must commend you, Hogan. You're smarter and more cooperative than a great many people. Thank you for putting up with my little act." Once across the bridge to the park island, he set his eyes roving across the scenery. A walk through the place at a reasonable pace would leave his team more than enough time to beat it before the alleged animal show was to start. Of course, he anticipated having to explain to others as he came across them, since obviously not everyone in the area heard his skit in the parking lot, but regardless he expected time enough to definitely find out whether or not the man he sought was nearby.
All good things must come to an end, Elliot knew, and that meant returning himself to the den of ridicule and ridiculousness that was the PRT headquarters. The destination looming before him like the onrush of night did not, however, prevent him from savoring the last few morsels of the ordinary world as he passed them by. Elliot took his time on his way back, letting his eyes wander even if he confined his feet to a particular path, and in doing so happened to discover someone that stood out from the crowd.

While waiting for the 'walk' sign at an intersection, he found himself momentarily admiring a pretty ginger and musing on the contrast between her stellar looks and drab garb. He made sure not to glance at her for more than a moment. I'll not give her the wrong idea, lest the creature notice and reap from me my soul to fill her empty void, he thought, snickering at his own joke. However, he could not ignore as she seemed to approach him, growing unusually near to him -especially for a member of the opposite sex- before pronouncing three words that made his hackles rise. The Margrave, for in a flash the anti-hero was on the case, cast the woman a portentous glance that she met with her own even gaze before moving on. A second passed, then two, then three. The stranger veered into an apartment building not far away, her retreat marked by the lone crusader glaring over his shoulder by the stoplight.

“Someone's been paying a bit too much attention for her own good,” he said aloud, not even under his breath. Two of the four other citizens waiting at the crosswalk threw him a bewildered or indignant look, but the young man who seemingly accused them paid them no mind, for he had already leaped into action. The Margrave traced the woman's path, approaching the building into which she vanished moments ago, and upon its doorstep lay a sealed letter. Its embellishment appalled him, since no enigmatic vigilante could be seen clutching an envelop emblazoned with such femininity, but duty called and the Margrave answered. He tore open the letter and crushed its packaging underfoot, his wanton littering a clear rebellion against the establishment, and took in the message's contents whilst leaning against the nearest wall with utterly casual confidence.

A moment later, he'd come to a decision. “Fiendish aberrations lurk in the shadows,” he murmured, making his voice as low and gravelly as conceivably possible. “A demon betrays her kindred, spurred on by still greater darkness to aid the light. It falls to me to bring this intelligence to light.” The crosswalk-signal went white and the citizens began to cross, only to nearly be trampled by the Margrave as he sprinted across the street and made for the Protectorate HQ as though stygian Cerberus itself were nipping at his heels.


After a moment of silence Helena narrowed her eyes. No response seemed to be forthcoming, and not just verbally, either. Aside from the stranger coming to standstill, she gave no sign of awareness that the woman in black existed. A couple seconds of pacing later, Helena started to feel ridiculous. Her imposing behavior came to no effect, leaving her a performer without an audience, though that in itself told her of this person's abnormality.

As the ghoul commander started left again, her eyes slipped from the woman's weapon to her face, and with a frown she noticed a very slight, almost imperceptible change of expression. The moment that Helena passed in front of the stranger's face, however, the still-as-a-statue figure became a blur. Helena's reflexes, couched, tiger-like, sprang into action. Her right hand, clasped behind her back, shot around to grasp the hilt of her dagger, but before those digits could so much and graze its pommel its brief journey came to a dead stop. Helena jolted as she felt the woman's hand close around her own, paralyzed not by an iron grip but by her own shock.

Her dark eyes locked onto the sightless orbs of the stranger, her breath suddenly a touched labored. How!? the thought resounded through her mind, over the chaotic tumult like a thousand angry hornets buzzing around her mind at once. I-I-I didn't even see her! She must be as fast as...as Garlock, or Baron. How could I not sense her power!? Heart beating like a drum, teeth clenched, she watched as the woman held her palm like a seer. Some sort of trance had overtaken her, but it lasted only a moment, and in the next Helena came to her senses and yanked her hand away. In fact, she went straight into a shadow dash, bursting a few meters backward before sliding to a stop in a cloud of dust. What did she do!? She tore off her black glove and examined the skin, finding no mark. Not a physical attack. Her eyes fell on the stranger once again, who did not seem to have moved. The absence of physical trace could only mean some kind of foray into her spirit or her mind.

The so-called messenger spoke then, stating her duty and then laying bare the emotion that clutched Helena's heart. Her assurance a second later that she meant the ghoul commander no harm did little to assuage her fear. A being as fast as she, boasting the power to behold things magically concealed and to peer into one's mind, posed an incredible threat. Though stronger guardians could take her on, and Volaris could no doubt annihilate her, Helena's own vulnerability came as both an gut-wrenching shame and tremendous liability, since this woman might very well be able to glean from her consciousness some information precious to the guild. There's no telling what she stole from me just now. If I am responsible for losing guild secrets, I must atone for it here and now. For the safety of our guild, I must kill her, capture her, or die trying.

An instant later, the accursed Void Stiletto was in her hand, and she assumed a battle-ready stance. Helena refused to answer this Priscilla's question, since to some sorcerous beings names held power over their owners. She could feel the eyes of her troops on her, waiting for her orders to attack. They would die for her, but their sacrifice would be meaningless against an entity more powerful than Helena, if not somehow beneficial. Moreover, she did not want to see the lives of her soldiers wasted. She whispered a Message to them: ”Run.” Then, she reached with another Message to the mind of the remaining ally she knew best. ”I have engaged a telepathic enemy at the very least faster than myself, northeast of the forest south of a village. I need backup just in case.” She then looked Priscilla straight in the face and raised her voice.

“You lie, for you have already harmed me.” Her tone came colder and sharper than the steel of her composure, its timbre full of deadly intent. Keeping out the specifics of her background, she got straight to the point. “You have stolen knowledge from me, and by extension my organization. The penalty is death. Explain yourself immediately, or by the authority invested in me, I will enact your sentence.”



“Slaughtered?”

Forgetting Sagi, the Ubergeist treated the newly-revitalized king to a questioning glance, then directed a suspicious one at Morningstar. Assuming the man told the truth, which he really should be given the circumstances, Tatter could begin to put two and two together. “...Hmm. Well, last I heard there wasn't any slaughtering on today's chore list, so try and keep your finger pointed in the right direction, wouldja?” She blinked, realizing another thing Lucius said, and gave him a grin. “Oh wait, you said 'toys', didn't you? You're that type, huh? That's fun. I hope I get you afterward!” Reaching forward, she tapped the king on the nose, giggling. The dial on her chest flared slightly. “Shame your spirit's already a bit broken, though. I don't like playing with other guardians' scraps.”

She then backpedaled to float around, spinning every so often in excitement. “So, you wanna Message Volaris, Starry?” she threw out the name of the Supreme Lord without much care for Lucius hearing it. “Or ya can squeeze Lucy here yourself. I'd be glad to heee-eeelp!”

The next moment, however, she froze in her tracks. Her glowing eyes were motionless for a few seconds, her attention focused on something only she could perceive. Afterward, her expression morphed into one of determination. “It's Helena. Calling for reinforcement, east-northeast of here. Sounds like she's encountered some kind of super-fast mind-reader.” Turning to the other guardians, she scanned their faces or, as in Sagi's case, face substitutes. “I can go myself, but it'd take forever. We got anyone nearby we can send?”




As fired up as Goro felt moments before, the combination of isolation and dire surroundings threatened to squash his heroic spirit again. He moved at a decent clip despite the difficult path, but to say that the shapes looming out of the fog at him didn't slow him down would have been to lie. 'Eerie' and 'nerve-wracking' did not quite do these streets justice; 'oppressive' or, more viscerally, 'crushing' suited them better. He threw his light all over, probing alleyways, thresholds, and windows for any sign of victim or villain, keeping his ears as sharp as his eyes. All the while he made sure not to wander too freely from the main street, instead veering back toward it whenever he ventured down a branching path, to avoid becoming lost in the misty labyrinth of ruin.

Contrary to the confidence-shaking howling that could be heard from the starting zone, this place bore an eerie silence. Goro did not hear the suppressed gasps of the two adult dummies until his spotlight revealed them first. “Aha!” Hurrying over to the hapless mannequins, he examined the weight that pinned them and gave it an experimental heave. While it shifted a touch, he could not lift it up. “Oh,” he murmured, disappointed and a little frustrated. My first find and I'm powerless to help. In the lull that followed, during which he busied himself thinking on how to approach this situation, he became aware of a whining cry off in the direction of a larger structure. Though muffled by the distance and the quality of the speaker that issued it, the sound could not be mistaken as anything but a weeping child.

With a start Goro realized that he had a major problem on his hands, one that could be constituted as a test of his judgment and rescue aptitude. The crying spoke of more dire need than these adult dummies' own noises did, and wasn't triage -the practice of prioritizing cases based on worse condition- common practice in emergencies? As callous as it might seem at first glance, he felt expected to leave these two and go seek out the child. Still, that meant leaving these dummies to the competition, and who knew how tight the scoring would be? Stuck in a quandary, Goro hesitated a moment longer standing above the trapped figures.



"Y-you think we should f-f-follow him?"
Taro looked down to Umi, following the voice, where he caught her eye. He gave her a nod with a quiet ‘mmph’ through the fogged breath about his face. He took after her - after Goro.

Goosebumps formed on the skin left between his horns, but the cold was the last thing on Taro’s mind. In fact, as he pressed through the streets, he hardly felt it at all. He was much too focused on what was at hand: desperately trying to follow the light in the dark and claustrophobic streets, all while keeping an eye on Umi and the surrounds both. Admittedly, the jogging did wonders to warm him up, but it didn’t stop the heat knotting in his chest as he pushed himself on.

With the rattle of steel, Taro jumped onto a chain link fence and pulled himself over. He wasn’t far from Goro now, who stood over two pinned adults.
"We’re students!" Taro called out as he hit the ground with a bit of a stumble. He looked back towards Umi for a moment, making sure they were still together, before he jogged over towards Goro. His eyes flicked over the two dummies before turning to the wider area, where he tossed over a loose bit of lead pipe - hitting the ground nearby with a rattle - before he started dragging over a blob of uprooted concrete.

Alert to the sudden noise, Goro whipped around, but relaxed when he saw Taro. A familiar face in this almost nightmarish landscape was a welcome change. Behind the new arrival Goro spotted Umi, though neither of them could see his welcoming smile. “Ah! Hello.”

Taro rolled the uprooted concrete into positions besides the two dummies with a heave and a grunt.
"We should probably get all of them, right?" he asked as he snatched up the pipe. He could have almost come across as rude: his indifferent voice and firm scowl accompanied with his presumptions. He flourished the pipe with a twirl besides him before he took it in both hands, where he wedged it between the fallen utility pole and the concrete blob. "That should be at least one for each of us. Help me out here…" With a strained wheeze, he pressed down on the pipe, attempting to lever the pole up even enough to just get the dummies out from underneath.

’Wait, hold on. One for each? But there’s three of…’ Umi was thinking aloud, but that’s when it hit her. There was still the sound of a child’s cry in the far yonder. She looked back at Taro for just a second, but he was preoccupied with his attempt to rescue the two dummies for himself and the brightly lit boy.

"I g-guess I’ve got the l-last one," Umi decided, "I-I’ll be right b-back."

With that, she ran off ahead into the fog, hoping to find the source of the cry sooner rather than later.

If the horned student acted with rudeness, Goro did not seem to notice. He nodded vigorously at his new acquaintance’s suggestion. “Right, let’s do it.” Any thoughts of teamwork’s illegality faded for the moment as he leaned in to leverage his strength alongside Taro’s. As he did, he concentrated his light on Taro’s arm, sending revitalizing nutrients to be absorbed and put to use.



Meanwhile, Umi had been fumbling around in the fog, trying her best to find where the sound of the cry was coming from. Eventually, she came across another life-sized dummy, this one being smaller than the two that Taro and the student they were following had been trying to rescue. Assuming they were all weighted to represent their human counterparts, this would also mean that this smaller would thankfully be significantly lighter, as Umi wasn’t strong enough to lift a full-sized adult. Umi knelt, and collected the dummy off the ground and into her arms.

"I g-got you," she said to the dummy, nerves still rattling in her system, "Y-you’re safe."

But still the dummy wouldn’t stop crying. Umi frantically tried to run back towards the others, but with the fog being as thick as it was, she lost her way with ease, and quickly grew concerned that she made one wrong turn too many and strayed too far for anyone to help her.

"G-guys?! A l-little help here, pl-please?" Umi called out in desperation.

She looked all over the place for some kind of sign. Anything that could help her reunite with the others. She took in the sights while she was here, but they were not promising in the slightest…

Even if her soon-to-be classmates did not spy her form through the fog, however, her voice did reach them. Planning to give a signal the only way he knew how, Goro yelled, “Over here!” He then gave a nod to Taro and told him, “Close your eyes.” After doing the same, the boy let out a brief but very bright flash, turning a whole swath of the fog white. He had no doubt that Umi, wherever she was, could see it--though he also feared that other, unknown lurkers in the area might come also.
Following a bunch of oversized spiders through a jungle island would have been a strange point in the experience of a demon hunter, let alone a smith, but here Souta was. He trudged dutifully after the broodlings, kicking through undergrowth where necessary, until their scuttling led the misfit trio to an elevated area of thin soil and wind-worn piles of rock. His face grew dubious as the miniature demon-spiders soon abandoned their tracking for the sake of a rather vicious squabble. Souta heaved a sigh, looking around at the scenery for any kind of monsters until a sudden thututututut drew his attention. Snapping his head back to the broodlings, he spotted a cluster of long spikes in the ground, and their source turned up a moment later.

An unsettling emanation radiated from the demons, but whatever the color of their leakage, Souta wasn't too concerned. After the kind of things he'd seen in the Undersky and on that forgotten island, these beasts left much to be desired in the realm of intimidation. Snarling and scrabbling the Assaults converged on the intruders, and like a batter at the plate Souta wound himself up and waited for just the right moment, until...whack! Without any regard to limiting his strength the stocky man heaved his newly-gained Mountain Buster in a horizontal arc, aiming to drive its pointed head into the demon's body. While the brutal impact alone might have very well been enough to put it down for good, Souta didn't get the chance to find out. The next second the weapon's stake extended and, on impact, unleashed a small but savage explosion to hurl whatever remained away

Carried almost off his feet by the weapon's weight, Souta found himself too occupied to express satisfaction in his armament's first use, and instead stumbled forward. Another attack came straight on the heels of the first, obliging Souta to aim a kick at the Assault to fend it off before he heaved the Mountain Buster into position for another swing. A thought flashed through his mind. Man, am I glad that I've been mostly fighting dumb beasts so far. This stuff wouldn't fly against a real opponent.




To Goro's dismay, his words of assurance and geniality appeared to bounce right off everyone around him. He couldn't really blame them of course, given both the distractions of constant anticipation and opposing viewpoints, but it stung nonetheless. Could it be that his encouragement came out as cheesy, disingenuous, or maybe even pathetic?

Did they hate him already?

The thought weighed on the glowing boy heavier than the imminent exam. Problems he could solve, pain and exhaustion he could take, and dummies he could find, but he could not win the hearts of other people. Still, he managed to shoulder the anxiety and put it aside. Now was no time for feeling like a loser—not when he had a test to win. Goro looked between those assembled, sparing a glance at the bus toward the end of the scan. A couple teams stood more or less ready to roll, some of their members sharing names and quirks. The last few students, being the solid-looking horned guy and the stick-thin tube girl, had appeared. Lost out on most of the conversation and side-taking, they began their own preparations. Following suit, Goro began to blink his light, heightening and lowering the power in quick succession to limber it up for use. After all, the test could begin at any moment.

It did in fact begin the next moment, though while Goro had imagined he might burst forward like a track runner at the starting line, he found himself quite unable to move.

A chill sharper and deeper than whatever the morning air could offer pierced him, surging through each bone and vein. In an instant Goro's heart leaped into his throat, its panicked beat distorting his breathing into labored gasps. His eyes raced across the scenery, trying in vain to find the source of the hideous, nightmarish noises of suffering. When he looked down a moment later, he saw his hands shaking, but he could stare at them for only two seconds before a buffet of air bowled him over.

Indignant anger rushed through him as he leaped to his feet a second later, hurt more emotionally than physically, but the turbine-bearing braggart had vanished into the mist before a word could leave his lips. Some of the others seemed just as eager, like miss Bicolor, who he watched barrel off into the unknown a moment later. The gas-masked girl got started next, but Goro found himself looking at his hands instead. They were not shaking anymore. The sudden tumble, he realized, affected him like a slap to the face or a whiff of smelling salts and shifted him into gear; while outside things looked as foggy as ever, on the inside things were clearing up.

Those voices, he rationalized, were not real. Either a villain made them, or they came from the dummies themselves, piteous beacons to help the students home in on their targets. He needed to find them, and soon, before anyone else could. Given the strong start of Blowhard, Bicolor, and Red, he felt he'd have better chances elsewhere. The opposite diagonal direction seemed good.

With a deep breath, Goro stepped up. He willed the light streaming from his face to strengthen, and its glow split the fog in a wide cone. The next second, though, the world went white, prompting him to blink in confusion. “Whoa!” After a brief moment of being dazzled, he figured out that he'd blinded himself with his own light thanks to the sheer thickness from the mist, even though he'd gone nowhere near full power. On impulse he increased his focus and tightened his hoodie's drawstrings to narrow the beam, and with visibility restored he could see that his spotlight extended a little more than ten feet. A nod of satisfaction made the spotlight bob up and down, revealing lengths of rebar and chunks of jagged concrete that might have tripped up anyone who went that way.

“Looks like it's go time, then.” Raising his voice over the unnerving din, he called out, “If any of you want to come along, please feel free.” While he did feel that teamwork might be against the rules, and that either way it would lead to problems dividing points, he did not mind lending anyone a helping hand with his light. Whether or not anyone chose to follow him, he took off at a sprint, face at a downward angle to keep an eye on the terrain and avoid tripping over rubble. Though neither super strong nor super fast, his warm light offered an advantage nobody else did: the power to cut through the fog and spot dummies and villains alike. With this in mind he kept an eye out for any large, relatively intact structures. Any dark indoor areas would be free pickings, he thought, for someone who could pierce the shadows like him. As the ground became more difficult he slowed to a brisk job, angling left as he continued forward.

(Goro is making an arc through Zone 3 to Zone 6)
Wearing a genial expression, Arthur took stock of the man who approached him. The nitty-gritty details did not bear in-depth consideration; the individual before him was an ordinary man. To such a citizen, the sudden appearance of crocodile, particularly one the size of Hogan, constituted not just a threat but an occurrence seemingly discordant with reality. How could such a thing be possible, one might think, to see such a great, lumbering beast of the deep plop out of a van's posterior in midday? A sense of surreal unease afflicted this fellow, and Arthur felt obliged to set his worries at ease.

“My apologies if my friend here unnerves you, sir,” he said, putting his expressiveness to work through his face and hands. “While there's no statute against reptiles here, I understand you completely. However, please let me assure you that Hogan here is not only professionally trained, but also very friendly.” He crouched down and ran a hand across his comrade's scaly back, stroking him like he might a dog. “Here, take a look. Hogan, do you want to be friends with this gentleman?”

Arthur gave a slight nod to indicate what Hogan should do, then waited for him to help out.

“And are you dangerous in any way?” This time Arthur shook his head 'no', and he dearly hoped that Hogan didn't take offense to the suggestion that he was harmless. It's all part of the act, the businessman wanted to tell him.

“And are you here for the licensed, professional animal show beginning in half an hour?” Hopefully the snaggletoothed stand user would catch on. With any luck, the man -as well as the trove of nearby onlookers- would buy the act and let them go about their business. So long as the pair departed within the next thirty minutes, which would be ample time to check the park, there should be no issue.


The commander's silent vigil almost fell to pieces as a sudden, inexplicable voice resonated in her mind, for so wholly unprecedented was it that Helena nearly jumped out of her skin. Fortunately her steely nerves took hold the next instant, allowing her to stay still and listen to the words that, while incomprehensible gibberish, bore a distinct reverberation. A moment later the unbidden whispering ceased, leaving her mind to race with pondered possibilities.

When Gretchen warped back a few moments later, Helena lurched forward to clap the old witch on the shoulder with utmost urgency, her manner so intense as to paralyze the poor crone in terror. “Did you hear a voice?” the ghoul intoned in a low voice, to which Gretchen could only jerkily shake her head. Leaning back against the ravine's earth wall, Helena breathed a frustrated sigh. That meant that the stranger's words sought her out alone, meaning in turn that she failed her mission of stealth. Somehow, despite the presence-masking hex of the Skulker's Veil given to her by Yseult herself, her position had been compromised to the unknown woman in white.

Helena prepared to move. Her compatriot stared at her desperately. “Ma'am, what are we doing?”

“Damage control. For me, at least” As she spoke she brushed bits of dirt and grass from her torso, lifted her cap for a moment to straighten her hair, then pulled her sleeve back to examine the back of her wrist. “Does my skin look gray?”

“Ma'am?” Despite her mask, the witch's confusion was clear to see. “Er...only a little.” She seemed to catch on to her superior's intentions a moment later. “Not unnatural, I mean. You would have no problems passing for human.” Trying to help, Gretchen reached up to pluck a stray dandelion from Helena's bun. “Good luck, ma'am.”

A moment later, Helena strode forth from the ravine, heading toward the dirt road that the woman in white stood upon. Aside from her expensive black uniform, which couldn't be identified as any nearby nation's, and the slight pallid look of her flesh, nothing could be said to be unusual about her—except, perhaps, that even if she lacked any awareness of it herself, her beauty as a treasured creation of a detail-oriented Supreme Lord stood out as far above the average human.

Clasping her hands behind her back, Helena narrowed her eyes as she grew near and began to circle the stranger, sizing her up in the manner of a seasoned veteran. “What manner of sorceress are you,” she drawled, “That can speak strange words into a person's mind?”



The Ubergeist's woven eyebrows rose as she was made aware of the new captive's profession. “Oh wow, a king? How convenient is that?” At Morningstar's confirmation she held up a hand and treated Lucius to her most winning smile, though the expression came across more as 'conniving'. “Okay then, I'll take care of you. Don't worry, Your Royal Highness, I'm a trained Cantor, so you're in good hands!”

Effulgent green particles welled from her hand, and without delay they coalesced into a stream that flowed straight into Lucius' chest. His wounds and burns began to heal with impossible speed, sealing up and disappearing in less than two seconds. The piteous feathers on his wings fell out, pushed by a new, pristine crop. After just a moment's time, the man might very well be feeling better than he ever had in his entire life.

By the time Tatter ended her treatment, a few new faces had moseyed onto the scene. The golem in particular arrived with a tremendous noise, though since the Geist floated she did not feel his stomping. She knew both Xirphi and Sagi more by reputation than acquaintance, given the distance between their domains, but unlike their little brother Lexicon she found no reason to dislike them. At least, she did not until Sagi voiced his intentions to slaughter Lucius on the spot. “No, you dope,” Tatter chastised him along with Xirphi. “You're not following his orders right.” Knowing that the proclamation would get Sagi's attention, she crossed her arms and grinned as she floated up to meet him face-to-face.

“You said you're supposed to destroy any who 'enter.' Well, that's an active verb, and Lucy here did not 'enter.' He was brought. Passive. So you shouldn't destroy him. Duh!” Tatter held her hands up and to the side, palm-up, to show just how obvious the correct course of action should be. Meanwhile, she left handling Xirphi to Morningstar.
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