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The Dover Twins

Ben's Current Power set

-2x human Speed
-Mandate's Strength
-Mandate's Durability.

Freya and Ben stared, drawn from their quiet argument by the sounds of metal hitting the ground, at the canisters as they landed for half a second. Then Freya yelled, "Smoke Grenades!" and she and her brother leapt over the meat counter, laying prone to keep themselves covered behind it, as the smoke filled the grocery store and the sounds of gunfire and screaming soon followed. "Who are these people? Freya groaned, reaching for her pistol. Judging from the sounds of the gunshots, it was high caliber rifles. She wasn't properly equipped to deal with this situation in general, much less whoever these assholes were that had decided to assault the store. Ben shrugged. "Don't know. Don't care. They want to kill us, so now we have to kill them. How much punishment can I take with this thing? He tapped one of the orbs in his left palm, the same color as Mandate's skin.

"An insane amount. Unless they have some sort of super powered weapon that hits like a nuke, you should be fine." "Any chance of supers? Freya thought for a moment, mind racing a mile a minute. This she could deal with. Guns and bullets were familiar, where magic and spells were not. "Doubt it, but I can't be sure. To much smoke to pick them out, and if they were any degree of smart the supers would hang back. Can't be a lot of them, if any, though. Too many sneak tactics and guns for that. Ben nodded, tightening and relaxing his fists. "Alright then. Wish me luck. Stay down." He stood up, making ready to hop over the counter, when Freya grabbed his ankle. "Could you grab me one of their guns? This," she shook her pistol, "isn't going to cut it. Ben nodded, winking at her as he hopped over the counter.

It was smoke and chaos. Shapes were running to and fro, the screaming civilians, and he couldn't see anything through the smoke. Well, I guess I'll start walking till I hit someone with a gun. Ben headed into the smoke, pushing civilians aside as they ran into him. He scanned through the thick smoke, looking for something that would indicate an attacker. He spotted a figure in the smoke, standing still, a stark contrast to the chaos around them. That alone was enough to make Ben certain they were one of the people he was looking for. A gun going off in front of him and bullet hitting his chest confirmed it.

Ben quickly closed the distance, looking down at the man in front of him. As always, he looked the person trying to kill him in the eyes, attempting to understand a bit of why. Normally he saw fear at this point. Maybe some anger, a little bit of surprise, but there was always fear. Fear because the person they had just shot was not only still standing, but was very close to them. He saw none of that in this man's eyes. Only hatred, burning bright and filled with fire. The hatred of a man who has lost everything, and was seeing the cause right in front of him. It caught Ben by surprise. These weren't thugs, or even hired mercenaries. These people had some sort of stake in whatever the hell Freya had dragged him into, and that was a problem. But one to be dealt with later. "You know, smoke won't save you. Werewolves have a really good sense of smell. Even the worst books on the subject cover that."

The man didn't reply to Ben's casual observation, instead backpedaling as he fired two more rounds into the giant's chest. Ben darted a hand forward and yanked the gun free, throwing it behind him. In another instant, he was behind the man, cutting off any retreat. Ben's fist darted out, to fast to be blocked by a normal human, aimed squarely for his opponent's nose. Two unexpected things happened, at almost the exact same time. Ben's fist made contact with the man's face, and then went through his face in a splattering of gore. Less than a second afterwards, Ben was thrown backwards by this massive force, going through the store and through its concrete front wall in seconds. "HOLY SHIT!!

From the meat counter, he heard his sister shout out, "Language!"

Instinctively, Ben kicked his feet down, desperate to get any form of purchase and to stop his uncontrolled 'flight'. His feet hit the ground and then dug into it, creating deep furrows as it dragged him to a stop. Ben caught his breath, his heart racing from the surprise, and stared at his bloody hand. "Note to self: Test out strength and blowback limits of this new strength.". Becoming aware of his surroundings again, he looked up at the smell of burning rubber. He was in the middle of the parking lot, two more men with guns staring at him from the front door. Someone had set fire to a car, more than one. It was coming from where they had... "Oh no." He sprinted forward and was at the vehicles in seconds, but it was far to late. The Dov was burning down, and there was nothing anyone could do to save it.

Ben felt his fists clenching, distantly. He felt disconnected, staring at the burning wreckage. That van had been with them since their new lives had begun. It had been his sister's pride and joy. She had been so proud when she had brought the junker to him, babbling about what deal she had gotten on it and how many uses it had. It was her first foray into making and closing deals. More importantly, it was their's. Their first item they actually owned themselves, their first home without that bastard to run tests on them. Their first safe place they could call their own. It meant so much to her. And they had burned it. Like it was nothing.. Just like he would have.

Ben looked over at the two front door guards. They were lifting their guns, speaking quickly into their mics. Presumably to alert their commanding officer of the situation, and to get back up. Not that it would matter. They'd be dead very soon. He was over there in a heartbeat, crouching down and uppercutting one of the door guards. Like before, the man's jaw and face disintegrated into a shower of gore. However, this time the blowback went straight down, and Ben caught it on his knees and only sank into the ground, cracking the asphalt all around him.

He grabbed the other guard by the arm as the man tried to retreat, taking the gun with his free hand, and threw the man into store. Unlike Ben he didn't have super durability. He smashed against the thick concrete and fell down in pile of broken bones and blood. Ben sighed, hefting the gun as he quickly searched the bodies for ammunition. He'd have to tell Freya about the Dov. It'd break her heart to hear what had been done to it. Later. He promised himself, hopping through the hole he had made on his way out of the store. When we're not in a life or death fight.
Hey, I took a 'which medieval weapon is best for you' quiz and

@Antarctic Termite

I also happened to get the pole arm


Enjoy what Rulanah has become, duderinos! I felt the Catholic Retort was appropriate in response to Chiral Phi actually putting in the effort Sularn hadn't so far in IC.

I forget who called him that, but every nickname except for ‘The giggling holocaust’ and ‘The sword with no hilt’ came from other IC characters that weren’t my own.

P.S. I had the dogma in mind before everyone started calling Vestec literally the devil in OOC, so mnyeh

<Snipped quote by BBeast>

Yeah, I had this huge thing planned! I guess I was a bit too ambitious about it months back when I planned it out. I just wanted to do Brown justice. I'll finish the plotline and then throw Astie back into the mess that is Galbar! No one has seen her in what must have been a few decades at least


Good to go
<Snipped quote by Antarctic Termite>

>See BBeast's flurry of activity on the wiki

>Is reminded of all the pages he needs to write
>Checks list of things Vestec has made that need to be written
>Lies to self and says he'll do it later.
I wish only the best for all of you, and I hope you can forgive me.

First off, congrats on the art student thing!

Second, there's nothing to forgive dude. This RP has always been slow and steady with various members of us fading quietly into the background as RL takes us. Vestec won't drop a moon on Alefpria or send Lif on a doomed quest. They're too well written and integrated into the lore to do that.

We'll wait for you to come back, get RL taken care of first.

Good luck man!
Threads and Stitches

BBeast, Muttonhawk, Rtron

Teknall. I need your help. Give me access to your workshop? I know you have one, and I need to meet you there. I promise not to break anything.


Vestec's plea reached Teknall, although it was met with healthy scepticism. That the cry could be traced to the Realm of Madness only deepened Teknall's suspicions. Yet this cry was uncharacteristic of Vestec. There was a strange weakness in his voice. So it was that Teknall answered Vestec's call.

The god materialised in the Realm of Madness, alert and ready in case it was some dirty trick. "What do you think could possibly make me-" Teknall started, but when he laid eyes on Vestec he stopped dead. A knot formed in his stomach. "Oh."

There were plenty of things of interest to Teknall in the Realm of Madness which he had only just Perceived for the first time. Here lay the ruins of Xerxes, conspicuously missing from its proper location on Galbar. There were the spirits of creation, which actually seemed to be a strangely kind gesture on Vestec's part (assuming he had established them intentionally). Even, in the distance, was a long-lost sibling. But these sensations were all brushed aside. Teknall beheld Vestec clutching the stump of his severed left arm. Multicoloured blood spurted out in streams. The Chaos God's strength was failing.


Vestec giggled weakly, blood launched from the missing left half of his face as he did so. "Oh indeed, brother."

Teknall's dumb shock was quickly overtaken by a search for a solution. Vestec needed medical intervention immediately.

"Promise never to go there uninvited or take anyone else there?" Teknall asked hastily.

The God of Chaos feebly waved a hand. "Yes yes. I promise. And I'll promise more if you want after we stop all of my blood from pouring out of my body. I'd personally say that takes precedent, but if you want more promises by all means ask them. I'm not going anywhere."

"A simple yes would have sufficed." Teknall put a hand on Vestec's back and led him through a suddenly opened portal. They emerged in the greys and metals of Teknall's Workshop.

"You know me, always the talker," Vestec added.

Teknall, on the other hand, thought now was a bad time for talking. He sat Vestec down on a metal box and quickly inspected Vestec's wounds. Arm torn out at the socket. Flesh ripped from face and shoulder. Bleeding profusely. Severe burns across most of body, but those aren't bleeding. Divine being- function of blood is to store divine essence, not perform homeostasis. No risk of shock or infection, but bleeding must be stopped. Cutting blood flow to wounded areas not practical. Must block the wound.

Pulling on a pair of thick latex gloves and picking up a roll of steel wire, Teknall worked nimbly to tie off Vestec's exposed arteries. The bleeding slowed, although it did not stop. The wire wouldn't hold long. Even now it bubbled and thinned in contact with Vestec's corrosive ichor. Picking up a plasma torch, Teknall cauterised the open arteries. The chaotic flesh shrank and melted shut. The wounds now no longer spurted blood.

With both hands, Teknall applied gauze to the wounds and tied it firmly in place with a bandage wrapped around Vectec's chest and head. They applied pressure to the wounds and further slowed the bleeding. As Vestec's blood discoloured the first layer of fabric, Teknall applied several more layers until he was satisfied that it would last for at least a few minutes.

Teknall stepped back, stripped off his blood-soaked gloves and dropped them in a metal tray on a table. The gloves had almost been eaten through by Vestec's ichor as it tried to corrupt its way through everything it touched. With a gesture, the puddle of blood on the floor was scooped up by an invisible force and funnelled into a glass jar beside the tray. A discoloured recess remained etched into the concrete floor where the blood had pooled.

Emergency over. Teknall sat down at a different workbench opposite Vestec, placed his satchel on it and began rummaging around inside. With the worst dealt with, Teknall spoke. "Your wounds are pretty severe. As gods, our bodies are not mere machines of chemicals and hydraulics but extensions of our very essence, imprints on reality of pure divine will. We aren't wounded easily, but we don't heal easily either."

Vestec swayed in place, giggling. He wasn't sure exactly all that was going on, but "You know the Gods. We don't do anything easily."

From his satchel came ingredients; Holy Tree leaves, Lex ring ice, rose petals, powdered silver, cinnabar ore, aloe vera, isopropyl alcohol, and a bioluminescent mushroom native to the ice caves. Robotic arms carried over a mortar and pestle, a crucible, a distillation apparatus and a few beakers and conical flasks. Teknall carefully measured out precise quantities of each ingredient and then ground, boiled, and mixed. He continued speaking as he worked.

"So what happened? It can't have been Logos, I know that much."

Vestec stared past Teknall, gathering the scattered images. He began rambling from the beginning. "Kyre's dead. Killed by Zephyrion, or whatever he calls himself now. His sword shattered. I..." He swayed again, catching himself. "I dealt with his remains, and rebuilt his sword and activated his holy site. The Hilt I think he called it? Created an Order out of the Djinni living there based on his ideals, and now all the power the Hilt is generating is flowing into his sword. After that I went to go ask Zephy why he killed Kyre. Could have been self defense." He shook his head, scattering more droplets of blood.

"It was not. We had a chat, then he attacked me and ate my arm and half my face."

He waved his remaining arm. "I'll deal with that later, but it's the culmination of an alarming trend. All of you are all getting stronger than me."

Teknall noticed how unsteady Vestec was. A robotic arm carried over a reclining seat which had been made moments ago and placed it beside Vestec. Teknall gestured to it. "Lie down."

Teknall stepped aside from his alchemy and a Promethean Manipulator carried on with the task. It printed strange patterns in orichalcum and coloured chalks around the bowls and beakers as it continued to stir and mix the ingredients. "I'm aware of the circumstances surrounding Kyre's death. Toun came to me with the news not too long ago. He commissioned a device to trap the murderer, this fragment of Zephyrion, and enlisted Logos' help for the confrontation."

Teknall checked that the jar holding Vestec's spilled blood was still intact. The next task required other equipment he collected: A tall and narrow glass jar with a hole in the bottom, a rubber tube and a wide syringe needle. He attached the three, set it up on a stand to the right of Vestec, inserted the needle into Vestec's arm, taped it in place, and poured a portion of Vestec's blood into the glass jar, which was slowly fed into Vestec's veins. Teknall affixed a weak air-pump to the top of the jar to compensate for the weaker gravity of the Workshop. "Don't knock it over."

Teknall returned to the main jar of Vestec's blood and poured an aliquot into the distillation apparatus. He gently applied the heat and watched as red vapours boiled out of the distilland. "As for us getting stronger than you, what do you propose to do about it?"

Vestec giggled from his position on the reclining seat. "My my. Toun is more well connected than I am. It must be his little birds." His stump of a shoulder twitched slightly, as if he tried to wave the nonexistant hand. "As for power, it's simple, Teky, very simple. I just use the power from Death's Mountain and The Arena, and strengthen myself till I catch up with you all. Of course, I will have almost no more creations in the world, but you probably don't think that's a bad thing at all." He giggled again, watching his blood flow. "A trap you say? Why not just kill him? Also, the only way you're going to get Logos to properly help is if you threaten his precious acorn. Arocn? Aaaaanorc. Arcon? Arcon! It's his planet he made while hiding from all of us. Remember, he's disdainful of all of us. He'd rather we die and he clean up the remains than help us."

The first portion of the distillate of Vestec's blood was a simmering red liquid. Teknall removed the flask containing it and replaced it with an empty round-bottomed flask. He wafted the fumes of the red liquid towards his nose. He exhaled sharply at the scent. It outright burned his nostrils. Although it burned, he could smell a carnal strength from this portion of Vestec's essence. He stoppered the flask and put it to the side.

The remaining distilland was boiling in fits and bursts, with some of the vapours spontaneously crystallising on the sides of the distillation head before melting back into the distilland. Teknall carefully adjusted the temperature to prevent it from passing the boiling point of this component.

"Although I also doubt that Logos would do anything purely for our benefit, he has agreed to confront the shade regardless. Logos has already forged for himself a suit of armour which could probably weather an attack from the shade's spark of power. From all appearances it is Logos' intent to fight the murderer head-on. I believe Logos is going to fight not because the murderer threatens us, but because the murderer rivals his strength and threatens the stability of his so-called Natural Order, or something along those lines."

"He's going to kill him." Vestec shook his head as if trying to clear a fog. "Logos. He's not going to go with your 'trap the murderer' plan. You're lucky as is he only chopped Jvan in half instead of absoultely murdering her. He hasn't signed your little oath either, so he's going to kill Zephyrion. And you can't stop him. I might be able to, but uh..." He wiggled his stump again. "I'm missing an arm and half my face. I think. It's a large blob of pain right there so I don't really know the extent of the damage. Do I still have part of my left skull at least?"

"You still have most of your skull. I'd get you a mirror, but you can't see anything through the bandages." Teknall removed the latest portion of distillate from the distillation apparatus. Even though it had cooled to room temperature, the substance seemed intent on freezing, boiling, subliming, condensing and melting all at the same time. The colour also changed erratically, jumping between the visible spectrum and Beyond Colours, making it maddenning to watch for too long. Teknall stoppered the flask and set it aside. In the distillation apparatus, the vapours currently rising from the distilland were highly turbulent and etching away at the glass.

"Toun and I are aware that Logos intends to kill this fragment of Zephyrion. Toun's plan is to ensnare the shade before Logos can get to a finishing blow. If the trap works as I designed, then no trace of the shade will be detectable from the outside, so Toun could pass it off as having obliterated the shade. Even if Logos sees through that facade, it would be foolish of him to break the trap open and free the shade. The precise details of the execution of that plan are up to Toun." Teknall ran his hands over the glassware of the distillation apparatus. The glass, bending to his will, recovered some of the damage from the corrosive fumes. "You've seen how it is with Toun. The deaths in the family have taken their toll on him. The Oath of Stilldeath is ample evidence of that. He'll do everything in his power to prevent more murders, even of corrupted murderous fragments of his siblings."

Vestec stared at Teknall for a moment, assessing whether or not the crafting god was taking his weakened state as an opportunity to mess with him. "That's not gonna work. Either he's going to kill the murderer, take the trap, or try to punish you two for trapping away a known murderer. He chopped Jvan in half for killing Vowzra. What do you think he's going to do to you two for protecting someone who has cannibalized Kyre?" Vestec shook his head, ignoring the pain it caused. "As for Toun's oath, try putting me like this in front of him. He'll either watch me die or try to make me another one of his slaves."

"Toun wouldn't let you die, although I wouldn't put it past him to leverage it for his benefit."

Vestec made an unconvinced noise.

The last batch of distillate condensed into the round-bottomed flask. It was a turbulent fluid with streaks of colour like a puddle of oil. It was highly corrosive, dissociating the atomic structure of the glass flask it was in and slowly etching its way through. Teknall decanted it into a thicker flask, stoppered it and put it aside.

What remained of the distilland was thick like honey, and even had a slightly sweet aroma to it, yet it was black as tar. It clung to every surface, soaked into every microscopic crevice, and left a black sheen on all that it touched, slowly eating away at the material. Teknall also decanted this substance into a thicker jar and put the contaminated flask and glassware onto the metal tray with the other contaminated materials.

On the table sat four flasks of distilled godly essence, each some aspect of Vestec. Violence. Madness. Discord. Corruption. Each was potent and dangerous in its own right, although some posed more challenges for long term storage than others. But those could be dealt with later.

Teknall nodded to the Promethean dealing with the potion, who attached a pair of alligator clips to the metallised alchemical circles it had drawn. The patterns glowed, their light scintilating off the bowl of polar ice in which the paste sat, with two small fires of incense sitting on either side. The light was sustained for a few seconds before the orichalcum lines suddenly rusted and crumbled and the fires flared and turned into thin wisps of smoke. Their submaterial essence had been consumed. Teknall carried the bowl over to Vestec. "Burn cream," he explained as he rubbed it over Vestec's skin.

"You seem to assume that Logos is fighting the murderer to avenge Kyre. While his motives are always veiled, it seems more likely that Logos is fighting to protect his title and 'his' Universe. Eternal imprisonment and stripping the shade of its power serves those goals just as well. Even if revenge is the motivator, trapping the shade in a featureless pocket dimension for all eternity is also pretty decent vengeance. And that's assuming Logos can even sense the continued existence of the shade beyond the Tesseract walls."

Done applying the cream to Vestec's burns, Teknall changed over the needle of Vestec's blood transfusion drip. Vestec's blood had already corroded the metal. "It is, I admit, a somewhat risky plan, but the most likely outcome of failure, besides losing the battle, is for the shade to be killed. Logos might get a bit mad, but he's already disappointed in us, so that doesn't really change anything."

The Chaos god snorted, shaking his head. "Avenging Kyre? No. Logos is doing this to carry out his justice. Which, in this case, I happen to agree with. Trapping Zephyrion will only result in him inevitably getting free and trying to kill us all again. It will be much safer to just kill him and remember what he was, not what he's become. If you don't, that trap will break and he will be either insane or angry. Perhaps both!" Vestec giggled again, shifting slightly. "Thank you Teknall. I feel less agonized already."

Teknall replaced the intravenous drip and adjusted the tubing. "The murderer is not Zephyrion, but some fragment of him. When Chronos collapsed with Zephyrion inside, he escaped through..." Teknall mentally pulled together Toun's description and his knowledge of the Codex. "...the Mechanism of Change and was torn in half. One half became an apparently more benign spirit, Aihtiraq in name, and the other half became the murderer."

Teknall stepped in front of Vestec. "Killing the shade would have been the easier path, but to allow more gods to die is anathema to Toun and I'm inclined to agree. Besides, you seem to understate the effectiveness of the prison I constructed. It can hold him in indefinitely." An accusing gaze pointed at Vestec. "You should be quite knowledgeable in the long term imprisonment of a god."

Vestec rolled his injured shoulder, testing it. He was unperturbed by Teknall's accusing gaze. "I presume you mean the imprisonment and trapping of Julkolfyr. Believe it or not, brother, I didn't do it out of random spite. If you may remember, Julkolfyr challenged Logos for the crown of 'King of the Gods'. It was rather dramatic too. Crown of dripping shadows, deep voice, all those shiny bits. The difference, Teknall, is that Julfkolfyr didn't have Logos' restraint."

"That may come as a surprise, Logos having restraint, but consider something for me. When he came back to Galbar, ready to claim his throne, why didn't Logos kill everyone who opposed him till everyone else cowed out of fear? He could have done it. You and I both know he could have. He didn't. He still believes he should rule, but he is not willing to kill his siblings, or maybe subjects, to ensure it. Well." Vestec giggled. "He isn't able to kill some of us. Regardless. Logos has restraint. Rules. He only sliced Jvan in half because she's a murderer. Julkolfyr, didn't." Vestec's colors flashed a brief red, quickly returning to their normal randomness. His voice remained disgusted.

"He didn't have restraint. He planned on killing, imprisoning, poisoning, and generally violently harming anyone who stood in his way. The bonds of family meant nothing to him. Only power did. Family is everything Teknall. Even I care about it. The only reason I killed Reathos was because I had no choice, and once he died he became a tool, not family. So I found Julkolfyr and had a chat with him. Pretended to be cowed by his 'magnificient power and ruthlessness' then trapped him in an Orb of Darkness, and have used him for my own devices ever since."

Vestec raised his deifant mask up at Teknall. "I'm not going to release him. It's already too late anyway. All that's left is madness, hatred, and sadism. And before you accuse me of being wrong, brother, may I remind you, you let Jvan get so bad she killed Vowzra, and are getting ready to imprison what remains of Zephyrion in a prison no better than the one I have Julkolfyr in."

Teknall stared at Vestec for a few moments longer, and Vestec stared back, until Teknall's posture softened. "I suppose that is valid."

Teknall turned around and walked back to the workbenches. He picked up the flask of Violence and carried it over to his satchel. The Promethean had cleared away the remains of the last potion brewed. Teknall sat down and produced more ingredients. Holy tree leaves. Powdered silver. Red mercuric oxide. Rare lichen from high up a Deepwood tree. Roots of a particular plant of the Venomweald. Water from the Firewind Resort. Teknall combined them all.

"So how did you turn the Orb of Darkness into a prison? They're normally pretty big and tend to dump things in the Gap."

"The Realm of Madness is infinite and constantly expanding. As for dumping things into the Gap, it was fairly simple. You take the inside of the Orb and throw it in the Gap. All you're left with is a very large barrier of darkness that repels most mortals. Do a little shifting on the inside and you have a large prison." Vestec shrugged. "You'll have to create your own restraints however. Once you take away the 'dumping in the Gap' bit their walls tend to resist being shifted about."

"Hmm..." The gears turned in Teknall's mind as he considered the possible designs. Meanwhile, his hands continued to perform alchemy. A distillation apparatus collected essence of holy tree leaf. In one beaker he added napthalene, reductants and oxidants, butyl lithium, allyl alcohol, thiol and a few other ingredients in a particular order, in particular stoichiometries, then filtered out the precipitate, evaporated the solvent to leave a white solid, redissolved it in hot toluene and then allowed it to cool slowly. Pure crystals formed.

Teknall turned his attention to the vial of Violence. It was a potent reagent, but some of its aspects would need to be suppressed for the present application. Teknall bubbled through some concentrated aura from the Valley of Peace, then poured in some crown ether and benzyl alcohol. He wafted the vapours and found them to still be too hot, so he set up a pair of coupled alchemical circles. In one he placed the vial of Violence and in the other he placed a live rat sealed in a glass box. Teknall drew some runes around the circles in lines of colourfully burning metals. Muttering some occult incantation, Teknall touched the vial with a sprig of burning willow, and then touched the rat's cage. The rat screeched, convulsed and died. The surface of the red essence of Violence stopped simmering. Teknall wafted the vapours again and found them to be suitable.

Teknall mixed together the other ingredients in a single vial, then added the tempered essence of Violence last. The result was a lustrous red opaque potion which cast a very soft, barely perceptible glow. Teknall carried the flask over to Vestec and handed it to him. "Drink. It'll help."

A grinning mouth split open on Vestec's face. He took the flask. "Thank you, Teknall."

The liquid was warm and sweet, and when swallowed it gave Vestec a feeling of fullness and warmth which spread across his body. When it reached Vestec's wounds, they prickled underneath the bandages. The discomfort grew until it itched to the point of torture.

Vestec's mask returned to normal. The god of chaos shifted uncomfortably. "Teknall, dear, I think the potion or whatever is you gave me is working a little too well. I feel like my skin is regrowing and trying to break free and murder someone. Could we, perhaps, take off these bandages so I can start scratching?"

"Scratching would interfere with the regeneration process. Once it's finished, your wounds will be healed over and you won't have to worry about bleeding or falling apart. Until then, deal with it," Teknall said.

"How cruel." Vestec grumbled. After a few moments of uncomfortable shuffling, he became distracted by something else. His head tilted to the side, listening to some unheard voice. "I'm sorry Touny dear. But I can't let you in here. That's Teknall's special place." He looked over at Teknall. "Toun wants to join us for some questions."

Teknall's expression betrayed pleasant surprise. "Toun? If he wants to see you, invite him over. Tell him you're in Teknall's Workshop. He's been here before."

"Oooh, I see. The brother who makes slaves and treats most of his creations poorly is allowed instant and trusting access to your workshop, but the one who causes mass destruction and war isn't. How fair." Vestec teased, tilting his head again. "Touny, dear, you can join Teknall and I here in his workshop..."

A space in reality snapped on the other end of the rotating workshop. Above Teknall and Vestec, a flash of white shrunk into a bead of glossy clay.

"...It's really quite nice," Vestec finished his sentence.

The bead erupted into an expanding, opaque white fluid that took the larger and more familiar shape of Toun, the featureless robed man. A shock of shining grey sprung from his arm -- an oversized needle -- and stopped with a hand clenched on its length. Toun lifted his head to show his glowing blue eye.

He did not speak. He stared across to Vestec with a suspicious gaze. The draping clay fabric of his robe trailed behind his floating movement through the workshop. He slowly turned upright. His feet touched the ground between the two gods gently enough to make only the sound of a teacup on an anvil.

Toun broke his gaze. His head twisted to eye the alchemy, the essences, Vestec's wounds, Teknall's instruments, and, finally, back to the remains of Vestec's mask. Teknall stepped up to Vestec, removed the drained intravenous drip, and unwrapped Vestec's bandages. The potion had finished its work, and where exposed tissue and blood vessels had once been was now a layer of fresh skin. The skin pulsed and shone with the dulled multicolored waves similar to his mask and clothes.

Toun began in a monotone. "You survived Xos."

Teknall perked his head up. "Xos? Is that the shade's name?"

"My closest estimation." Toun turned his head a fraction towards Teknall, though his unmoved eye did not release Vestec from his question. "The djinn I read were damaged of mind. The name they learned was only ever close to the sound."

"Hm, interesting." Teknall turned his attention to the accumulated pile of equipment and materials tainted by Vestec's ichor, and the task of safe disposal and decontamination.

"Survived is a strong term, Touny dear." Vestec experimentally rolled what remained of his shoulder, tsking at it. "Thank you Teknall." He hopped up, experimentally touching the healed side of his face. "I met Zephyrion, or Xos as he seems to be calling himself. We did what our family seems to have a penchant for doing. We disagreed, gave speeches to one another, and then we fought." He paused, considering. "Have you ever thought about that? Every single time our family has fought one another, we always prelude it with these big speeches. It's really quite dramatic."

Toun did not react.

Vestec giggled, returning to the subject at hand. "Regardless, Zephyrion, Xos, was stronger than me. Tried to eat me and only half succeeded. It seems he's determined to destroy Galbar and us and return everything to darkness or some such. I don't quite remember that bit particularly well, as he tried to kill me right after." Vestec waved a hand at Teknall. "I was just telling our dear brother that your prison isn't going to work. He'll break out of it, somehow, someway, at somepoint. Death is the only thing that keeps whatever you want gone, gone."

Toun's knuckles bulged from the closed fist around the needle. His eye narrowed. The seething lasted and built. And then, Toun's eye relaxed. He remained direct. "The attack. Describe it."

"Same as all attacks Touny. He made an aggressive move at me and I wasn't skilled enough to stop all of it." Vestec giggled. His stump wiggled as he failed to lightly wave his missing arm. "Don't have a seizure Touny dear. Zephyrion leapt at me and tried to consume me with his very essence. Consumed about half of what he touched and then I got away before he could get the rest."

From behind the bench holding the four flasks of Vestec's distilled essence, Teknall asked, "Vestec, do you mind if I keep these?"

The god of chaos nodded cheerfully. "Sure Teknall. You saved my life, least I can do is let you keep the various fluids you got from my body at the time. Do tell me if you make anything interesting out of them, though. I'm very curious to see what you can do with them." As Teknall decanted the essences into fresh flasks, Vestec turned his attention back to Toun.

"Xos carries a weapon. Did he use it on you?" Toun demanded.

"Weapon?" Vestec paused for a moment, searching back to the fight and his near death. He remembered the awesome surge of power, much more than Xos should have been able to generate by his own energy. "Ah yes." He murmured, his colors muting. "He did. He's hiding it somehow. I didn't see any weapon, just a surge of power and death, so fast I couldn't avoid it. Almost got me right then and there, but as it burned me I fled to my personal plane. I came back after he was done, too angry to think about not fighting him again. That's when he did all this to me, by trying to eat me."

Toun stared. "You may then mark a rare agreement between us, brother," he said. "It would have killed you."

Taking a step back, Toun half-turned and bowed his head in thought. "If he can hide it, he can take it into the prison," He mumbled to himself. "It will be contained as well, but irretrievable without releasing Xos with it. Unless...he was not carrying it at the time. Did he use it at all? What is the nature of that weapon?"

While Toun quietly pronounced his thoughts, Teknall returned from his forge. He brought the result over to Vestec and its form was obvious. It was an arm, with bones and skin of adamantine and muscles of pistons and motors. "I've made two prosthetic arms since coming in to being. This one should last longer than the last."

Teknall fitted the arm to Vestec's shoulder. He strapped a polymer sleeve (internally reinforced with metal cables) firmly to Vestec's residual limb. "The control system is a tricky matter. I wouldn't trust an implant with your hostile physiology. But I suspect that, you being a god, a direct bio-interface shouldn't be necessary to control it."

Vestec flexed his new arm and wiggled his fingers. His colors flowed over it, marking it as his own. "My, my. Thank you, Teknall. This is an impressive and unexpected gift. I'll take good care of it."

"If you can temper yourself another question, brother, you mentioned hearing his motives." Toun twisted his head up to peer at Vestec again. "Do you remember anything else about what he said in that regard? Did he say why he wishes to destroy us?"

"Not us, per se. Just destroy in general. Everything, really. He seeks to return all to the chaos at the beginning. You know, where we were all non-existant and everything was just divine energy flowing around and smashing into one another and such. I get the feeling he doesn't like us much."

Toun broke his gaze. A moment of contemplation passed. He stepped away with his head straightening. His feet made barely a scrape on the floor. "I shall stop the murderer," Toun said. "No more of the family shall die by Xos' hands. And though you may doubt me, brother..." Toun half-turned back and raised the point of Tomb Weaver to Vestec's masked face.
"...There is potential yet on yourself for fresh divine blood. My leniency is not unending. Do not doubt that any acts to obstruct the plan may result in more family dying, and such an accessory may find Xos with an inmate. And you..."

Toun lowered the needle and squinted at Teknall with a twitch to his head that hinted at reluctance. Not that his tone was any less venemous. "Your tongue is your responsibility, brother. But with every soul you teach of this prison we made, you make it less secure. You..." Toun's porcelain neck bulged and contracted. Something restricted the rising volume of his words. "...have disappointed me."

Teknall lowered his gaze at Toun's rebuke. He looked back at Toun to say, "I shall take more care, then."

Vestec laughed aloud. "Don't feel bad Teknall. You have freewill. That automatically makes you bad in Touny dear's book. Do you have little birds for him too Touny boy? Or is that just for people you can't drop in on randomly?"

With a step, Toun turned to faced Vestec fully. His eye squinted.

"It must be frustrating, mustn't it, to know that there are so many like me out in the world, and you have only so many birds. And you haven't even tracked down Logos' little hideout have you? I could show you, you know. I could even help you spread your birds far and wide." Vestec gestured widely, as if to emphasize how far Toun's birds could spread. "For a price."

A frozen moment passed. Whether Toun was processing the absurd offence taken or considering the offer, it was unclear. He could have been considering pinning Vestec to the floor and removing his other arm. He could have been considering testing the Tomb Weaver on a live subject. He held the needle tightly enough that even his pure white knuckles were white upon their surrounding clay skin.

"I neither need nor desire your help with the droningbirds," Toun hissed in disgust. He lowered his voice and continued.

"But you would present knowledge of Logos' holdings. Take care what you ask in return. Knowing him is not beyond my means; anything that desperation would pay is not worth my time, so if you must barter, appraise wisely. Speak your offer."

"Ah, ah, ah." Vestec wagged a finger."You don't want me to make you need help with your little spies, do you? It'd be a shame if there were to be something to counteract them, wouldn't it?" Vestec giggled, flexing his new arm. It would take some getting used to; he would adapt. "Anywho," He began, walking around the workshop and looking at everything in interest, drawing Toun's gaze with him. He hadn't noticed anything when he first got here, busily trying to not pass out and die as he had been, but now he saw all sorts of interesting things.

He idly poked one of Teknall's prototypes. Teknall watched him like a hawk.

Vestec continued. "I can give you Logos' planet's location. I can even get you and your little birds there quietly without him noticing and getting very angry with you. You saw what he did to Jvan, yes? She's not dead, but that didn't look pleasant at all. So we'll go for the quiet route. In return for getting your spies into Logos' private planet without them noticing, I want to be there when you deal with Xos. More specifically, I want to be the one who uses your pretty little trap on him."

Toun drew the needle down and away almost protectively. "You?" Toun huffed. "Absurd. You are just as likely to kill him instead as you are to steal the Tomb Weaver away and try to break it. What is your interest in this if not fratricidal mischief?"

Vestec held a hand up placatingly, looking over with obvious interest at the small vats of Arksynth. "Relax, Toun. I'll promise to not kill Xos or break your Tomb Weaver if you are that concerned. You may think many things of me, none of them pleasant, but you know that I won't break my promises. I'll even promise to Amul if you're really concerned." Vestec idly made his way over to the vats, humming merrily as he did so.

He resumed talking when he got to the vats, picking one up and examining it. "If you must know, its because I actually like you, Toun. You're my brother. And Logos will try to kill you if you suddenly stop him from killing Xos by trapping him instead. If you try to talk him into it, he'll merely dismiss your claims and then break your prison. His form of justice, which I'm inclined to agree with, is death. You and Teknall and the rest aren't okay with that, and I'm fine with that. Logos isn't. So if you do this he'll try to kill you like he tried to kill Jvan. I like you, despite our differences, so I'm not interested in seeing that happen." Vestec looked over at Teknall, gauging if the craftsman would be upset if he took one or three vats.

Teknall's eyes narrowed. "What are you doing with that?"

"Who knows, Teknall? It makes things mildly annoying when it comes to dealing with mortals with it, our dear brother Vakarion's last will it seems, but it has all sorts of interesting properties. I'll find something useful for it. If you really insist I'll go steal some from Lifprasil or Jvan, but this is just right here and isn't doing anything. Though I do wonder if it'll confer the same resistance I have to Logos to others."

Teknall stared down Vestec for a few seconds longer, before rolling his eyes and sighing. "Fine. It's not as if my refusal would slow you down considerably."

"Thank you, Teknall. And it'd slow me down a bit. Not supremely much if I took it from Lifprasil, but a bit." Vestec giggled, then paused. "Though he did take on Logos, so maybe it'd be a bit of a fight."

Casually tucking the vat he was holding under his arm, Vestec continued. "Which brings me to the deal. As I'm sure Teknall has told you, Logos literally cannot harm me. And I cannot harm him. We're bound, two sides of the same coin, and any attempts to hurt one another only result in me completely healing and him being unaffected. If I spring your trap, Logos will be angry with me. What else is new? But he won't be able to do anything. A little bit of aesthetic additions on my part, a few assumptions, and he'll think it was all my idea. My creation. You keep your standing with him, I get some revenge on Xos, your little birds visit Acron, and no one dies. Seems like a good deal to me."

"Too good to include your good faith with it," Toun grumbled in return. "Is revenge your only motive here? What do you intend to do with Xos and the Tomb Weaver once the ruse is done?"

Vestec shrugged. "I am a very simple being Toun. I don't need a reason other than personal pleasure or gain. You should have known that from the beginning. It's why I do many things. As for Xos and the Tomb Weaver, once we've done our clever little ruse, I'll hide it in my personal plane. I suspect Logos will be very interested in getting it and breaking it to kill Xosy boy, and you don't want that to happen, so I'll hide it where he can't go. He doesn't know the Realm exists, and can't even go there without my permission. It's perfect really."

Toun's face regarded Vestec with no less suspicion. His silence was as much a lack of insults to throw as it was scrutinising Vestec's offer.

Rather than wait patiently for his brother, Vestec looked over at the Prometheans, visibly perking up. Those were definitely new. He made his way over to them, looking them all over. "Teknall, you didn't tell me you had made another race. Where are these delightful creatures going?"

"These specimens are staying right here," Teknall answered firmly.

Vestec shook his head. "I know you, Teknall. You've got plans for them." He tilted his head, looking over at the craftsman. "Specimens. Interesting term. You've got more don't you? Not on Galbar, I would have found them. Somewhere beyond then. Where? Close by our brother Ull'yang, wherever he's hidden himself? Certainly not by Arcon. You wouldn't risk Logos finding them. Come now Teknall, tell me where they are. I promise not to destroy them."

"Their location is for me to know and me only."

"Very well, make me do it the hard way. You wouldn't happen to know where Ull'yang is? He's not on a personal plane, I'm fairly certain. He's probably made his own planet like good ol' Logoy. Any idea where that is?" Vestec asked, unperturbed. He'd find where this new race was going, one way or another.

"I've been to his star before," Teknall answered. "Ilunabar made a sunflower which points the way. However..." Teknall closed his eyes and raked his memory, "Last time I saw his essence he was in New Chronos. Although, that was some years ago."

"Hmm. Wonder what he's doing there. Did his star have a planet near it? Yangy isn't the type to just aimlessly wander space and fire rays at things. Him showing up at that, rather unfair, ambush of yours proved that."

Toun broke his look at Vestec and lifted his angered eye up above. He shook his head as if frustrated at Vestec's speculation.

Teknall still talked. "All I saw at the time were rocks and asteroids, but that was thousands of years ago."

"Disappointing. I'll have to find that the hard way too." Vestec left the Prometheans. A tiny bit of chaos energy surreptitiously slipped from his finger, onto a Promethean, and quickly disappeared inside the robot. He wasn't going to give up on the easy ways quite yet. "Very well, if you won't tell me where they are, what's their purpose? They're not a defence force. You would have already deployed them around Galbar if they were. And you're not like me, making things willy nilly with no plan. So. What's the goal?"

"They build things," Teknall replied tersely.

"Oh come on Teknall. You know I'm going to find them eventually. Unless you've made two hidden planes, they're somewhere in the universe. And I can scour that endlessly without ever leaving Galbar. Be a good sport and throw me a bone or two." Vestec wheedled, walking over to more prototypes and designs.

"With in excess of ten-to-the-thirty-two cubic lightyears to search, I doubt you will find them in any reasonable timeframe, and I have no intention of helping you to do so."

"Ah, but I will find them. It's just a matter of how far along their goal they are. But fine, be cryptic and possessive. I'll let you know when I finally do find them." Vestec tucked the Arksynth into his coat and then shrugged. "I should point out, however, that I never hid or denied you access to any of my creations."

"Have you had that chat with Jvan yet, by the way?"

There was a few seconds of silence before Teknall eventually said. "In a sense. She was barely conscious, so mainly we talked with Chiral Phi."

Vestec's colors flashed brightly and he exclaimed in delight, "Chiry! I recently talked to her! Well. Recently enough. She's a happy, cunning, power-hungry little box that's holding back all the horrors of the gap, isn't she?"

Toun muttered a complaint legible only to him and the nonexistent god of ears and mumbles.

"Did you know she planned to make an alliance with Lifprasil then was going to attempt a bloodless coup when she had helped him conquer the world? I sent her to a different budding nation, so that mess was avoided, but still. She told me something very interesting and concerning about Jvan. Which I need to talk about with Niciel soon. Anyways, I'm going to guess your chat didn't go as well as planned, as all of Jvan's things are still doing their various things, and her change-eaters are still quite ready to do what they're designed for."

"We managed to clear the air on a few matters, although there were some matters better deferred for Jvan directly, rather than being discussed through Phi."

Teknall turned his head to Toun. "Have you made up your mind yet-?"

A spray of tiny metallic flakes hit Vestec just before the sharp crack of a sonic boom behind them. A fingernail's worth of air separated Vestec's mask from the point of the Tomb Weaver needle, floating in the air. Behind it was a bright yellow trail that lead straight to a new hole in the dormant Promethean. The Promethean Vestec so surreptitiously touched just moments before. From another hole in the machine's hull, the same thread also trailed to Toun's outstretched palm across the workshop.

Vestec noticed a mess of zapping power around the needle. It petered out. His now impaled chaotic mote died to natural entropy in a small demonstration of the Tomb Weaver's power.

"How dramatic." Vestec giggled.

"You will use the needle to trap Xos," Toun declared.
"You will hide the needle with Xos trapped. You will keep the needle's origin and the rest of our plan a secret. And you will not use the needle on anyone else." Toun turned his head to draw Vestec's gaze to his.
"Those are my terms."

Four white lumps grew on Toun's fingers until they took the form of clay hummingbirds. Metallic glints shined between their outer plating. In formation, they each spread their wings and droned forth. One, two, three, four little metallic clatters on the needle and they were perched on the floating Tomb Weaver.

"You keep your promises. I will keep mine by oath."

"I agree to your terms, Toun." Vestec picked up the Tomb Weaver, his colors flashing ecstatically. "Ooh we're going to have so much fun, the three of us! Xosy boy isn't going to want to go quietly, and Logos isn't going to like my presence and it'll just be great! Send me a message when you want me to appear with this lovely little device!" With a bow and a flash, he was gone. The glowing thread winked out into thin air with him.

There were a few moments of quiet.

Teknall's gaze scanned from the point where Vestec used to be, across the damaged Promethean, then finally rested on Toun. "What are the odds that Vestec's going to twist this in a way we'll both regret?"

<Snipped quote by Antarctic Termite>

I've got plans for a whole invasive ecosystem, or at least something that could pass for one from a distance, waiting on Osveril to realise that the Crawlers will need support. I imagine that fiberlings won't be the only obstacles they face - white giants probably wouldn't like them either, and even clever mortals could figure out ways to deal with the swarms once they reach more populated areas.

As for the gods taking notice, with Osveril's attitude it's only a matter of time anyway. Given that he still thinks he's got convincing arguments for them, that might even have been his intention if he had a better idea of how minds work.

And everyone complains about Vestec, but has [i]he[\i] ever tried to turn the world into a void with hungery monsters of doom? No. :p
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