Michael watched as Diana's hair wrapped around the bristles on his toothbrush before seemingly replacing them. He gave it a small stroke with his thumb, wondering just how effective it was now, and how long this would last. There was no time for any more thought, however, as the cultist fell into his trap, and was subsequently defeated by Ulf.
Michael walked out of the room with Diana, following the path the Draugr made for them. He still felt wary about it, remembering the terror and helplessness he felt when he faced it, but he was glad it was on their side now. That was when they saw the head cultist, who immediately took control of the Draugr and began to turn it against them. Michael would have liked to believe that he would've stayed strong, maybe even stood in front of Diana in what would have perhaps been a futile attempt to protect her. In reality, though, he froze in fear. His past trauma was locking his limbs in place, and hindering his mind from thinking a way out of their predicament. His brain was a complete blank.
He may have even considered it the end for him, had a mysterious stranger come to aid them. Soon, Kheraket had frozen the Draugr in place, and by doing so, drawn all attention to him. It snapped Michael out of his fear, and he silently chastised himself for panicking so. First things first, Michael wanted to reassess his and Diana's current priorities, which was to get to whatever destination Diana had in mind. To do that, though, they needed to escape. Michael looked back at the cultist, and decided that Kheraket could probably handle it. Despite his timely assistance, Michael had no delusions nor intentions about being able to aid him in return, especially when he and Diana were still recovering from the recent tournament battle.
Turning to Diana, Michael said to her, "We should escape while we still can." With that said, he began to scan the area in hopes of finding a potential escape path.
(@Kho Special mention to you, cuz this directly addresses Seihdhara)
When Arae opened her eyes, she found herself in an unfamiliar place. Rather than lying on her tree in her sphere, she was standing on a stone floor. The room she was in contained a large amount of portraits and mannequins, many of them worn out over time, as well as a few glowing artifacts of power. The room had no windows, but the ceiling was open. Despite that, little sunlight shone through due to a massive cloud of black smoke. The door shuddered at regular intervals from withstanding powerful blows from the other side, and it seemed like it wasn't going to hold much longer.
Arae was confused by this sudden development, but soon realized a number of things. First, the place was practically radiating the energy of a god she recognized as K'nell, the God of Sleep. In other words, she was dreaming, and presumably this was K'nell's handiwork. She wondered what could possibly make the scenario she was in. His sphere, perhaps?
Secondly, this dream she was having was a memory, and it was one of her worst ones too. She hoped she would never have to relive it, but apparently that hope was not going to be. This memory was the day her fate was sealed. The war was finally ending, and the world began its descent into oblivion. Arae shed a tear.
Everyone... I'm sorry I couldn't protect you... Arae thought to herself, closing her eyes just as the door finally broke down with a loud, splintering crash.
Arae woke with a start. She shakily sighed, trying to brush off the horrible feelings from her dream. It was a bad memory, but that was all it was now: a memory. A thing of the past. There was no need to worry about what had already passed. What she needed to do now was focus on the present and future. Arae looked around, admiring her handiwork with the Pantheon. The lake was clean and crystal clear, and the Familial Trees were standing tall. Some of them were a little damaged, presumably reflecting the gods' current states, but that was fine. Nothing a little time and recovery wouldn't fix.
It was then, however, that Arae spotted something that made her eyes go wide with shock. It was so unbelievable that she remained frozen for several seconds before leaping and gliding over to the source of her concern. One of the trees was completely barren of leaves, and the flesh underneath the bark was dry. If Arae had not sensed the tiny bit of life force remaining within the Tree, she would have thought it was dead. Arae recognized this tree as Seihdhara's, the Goddess of Martial Combat. If her title rang true, that she could hardly imagine anyone actually besting her in combat. The fact remained, though, that something must've happened to Seihdhara that brought her to a state of near-death, if not outright death.
First things first, Arae had to determine Seihd's current state, and see if anything could still be done. Arae placed a hand on the tree trunk, getting a lock on her familial bond. Then she climbed up Seihdhara's tree and used that momentum to leap into the air, shooting upwards before arcing back downwards into the Pantheon lake. As she dove into the water, her body began to disappear as she used her power to send herself to Galbar. Once she was through the Gateway she had made, the water began to settle, and her sphere was quiet once more.
The water began to shudder slightly, the tremors only increasing in strength over time. The ground underneath was rising, all the way up to the water's surface. Soon, a crown of dirt and stone broke through, and it rose high into the air, trapping a small of portion of water within it. The ground continued to rise, molding itself to form an island around the crown. Then, the tremors stopped, as the island finally finished forming. Things were still for a moment, before a tremor started again, but this one was different. It was weaker than the one that formed the island, but it still radiated power as the water within the crown began to glow and shake.
Arae burst out of the water's surface, roaring as she shot up through the opening in the crown's top, and stopping to hover in the middle of the sky. Under normal circumstances, she might have wondered why she had roared, or what she had just created on Galbar, but right now she was focused on following the trail of Seihdhara's familial bond. Being so faint, Arae was having a bit of difficulty following it, but it was still there, and she could still find it. With that in mind, Arae flew off across the water, traveling southwards until she came across a piece of land. Arae continued flying, continuing to follow Seihdhara's trail while looking for any sign of her, until she sensed her power coming from an orange river.
Examining the contents of the river, Arae wasn't entirely sure what she was looking at, but she was getting an uncomfortable feeling just looking at. She then began traveling upstream to locate the source, and soon came across a pool of the liquid. Peering through the liquid's surface, she thought she could see something at the bottom. It was certainly the source, but certainly not part of the landscape. In fact, it kind of looked like...
Then the thought clicked for Arae. This river was flowing godly ichor! Seihdhara's own blood made up the river! And what was buried inside the pool was Seihdhara's body! Well, part of it, at least, but it was there all the same. Arae was filled with concern, wondering how Seihdhara could have gotten herself into such a mess. There was so much power radiating out of the river that it was its own monument now. Arae's first thought was to retrieve Seihdhara's body from the lake, but she didn't know how she should go about doing so. For one thing, this river was already well integrated into the land, and it seemed like trying to haphazardly alter it would cause extensive damage. Even if it could be repaired, it would most likely take an extraordinary amount of time and effort. In other words, it was too late to clean any of it up.
Well, if it had to stay, then Arae figured that it might as well be protected. She landed near the Seihdh Lake and began to poke several holes into the ground around it, and a sapling began to grow from each one. As Arae continued to channel her power into them, they grew larger and larger, and a portion of their roots began to extend into the Seihdh Lake. When they made contact with the ichor, though, they began undergoing changes. Most of them seemed to suffer some backlash when they made contact with the ichor in the lake and were about to die, but Arae was quick to reinforce their bodies with her power to better withstand it and even overcome the ichor afflicting them. It was difficult, and the trees were barely hanging on even with Arae's power, but she hoped they would persevere. The trees continued to slowly take in the godly ichor through their roots, and overtime, they continued to adapt and recover, enough so that Arae no longer needed to aid them. In fact, once the trees had absorbed enough of it, they underwent some radical changes. Some remained thin and flexible while others grew thicker and taller, and some didn't have any bark while some had multiple layers. All of them, however, had extensive roots that burrowed deep and wide into the ground, and flexible yet sturdy branches that could move with plenty of freedom.
Arae was a little surprised at the current development; she hadn't expected them to form so differently from each other, and wondered if it was the result of the lake's power. Furthermore, they turned into something much different than what she originally intended. The trees were supposed to provide a barrier around the Seihdh Lake, using the lake itself as its power source and additional nourishment to sustain it. Instead, the lake seemed to have mutated them into something else, and each of them held quite a bit of power in them. Also, from the way they moved, Arae could have sworn they were much more alive than what trees should normally be. Arae approached one of the thinner trees and raised a hand to examine one of its branches. In response, the tree bent forward, leaning towards her hand and rubbing against it slightly, as if it wanted to be touched. Arae was very curious about this development. She could sense that the trees were still capable of performing their intended function of protecting the lake, so she decided it was alright to leave things as they were, but she did wonder what future these trees would bring.
With the trees complete, Arae felt that her job here was done, and was just about to launch herself into the air once more when she sensed Seihdhara's familial bond coming from another direction. And unlike before, the bond was feeling like a fresh and strong rope, far different from the faint and almost dead thread Arae had been following before. That could only mean that Seihdhara had managed to overcome her predicament, and was presumably alive and well now. At the very least, Arae hoped so. With no time to lose, Arae launched herself towards Seihdhara's location, angrily sending a mental message her way, Seihdhara!!! I'm coming over to you! Wherever you are, you better be alive, and don't you dare go get yourself killed again!
-During her nap, Arae finds herself in the Palace of Dreams, reliving a rather traumatic memory of her past. After she wakes up, she forces herself to stay calm by not focusing on the past, but rather the present and future, using her Sphere as the anchor. -Arae notices that Seihdhara's Familial Tree at the Pantheon lake is near-dead, and is very alarmed to see that a goddess was reduced to such a state. In light of this discovery, Arae creates a Gateway to Galbar using the Pantheon as one opening, and creating a new island, Dragon's Crown, as the other. -Arae follows what's left of Seihdhara's familial bond and comes across the River Seihdhar, using it to find the Seihdh Lake. From there, she discovers the source of the lake as the godly ichor flowing out of Seihdhara's body, and realizes that her ichor was what made up the river. She initially wanted to clean the river away and restore Seihdhara's body, but ultimately decides not. Instead, she chooses to protect the lake. -Arae intends to create Sanctuary Trees (trees capable of generating a barrier around them, which can also be strengthened and enlarged by combining barriers from other Sanctuary Trees), but due to the influence of the Seihdh Lake, they managed to mutate into Guardian Trees (possesses two different forms, one thin and nimble, the other thick and tank-like. Intelligent enough to be sentient, but not sapient, and are even quite friendly if they do not perceive a threat. Possesses martial prowess from the Seihdh Lake's effects, using their branches and roots as appendages, and can still generate barriers as Arae intended.) -Arae believes her job is done and is about to leave when she senses Seihdhara's familial bond strengthening as she returns from the Sky of Pyres. Realizing that Seihdhara is alive again, Arae flies off towards her, sending her an angry/distressed message.
-7 FP to create the Gateway. -2 FP to create the Dragon's Crown island, which houses the opening for the Gateway to Arae's sphere. -3 MP to create the Sanctuary Trees, which can also mutate into Guardian Trees under the influence of the Seihdh Lake waters. (3/5 Might spent towards the Sanctuary portfolio)
The tournament was underway, all the contestants taking part in the display for power and fame were all gathered in the same place.
All but a few, and it was among these few where Kanzael currently found himself. Having entered the Mephisto school, seeking assistance from a willing student to undertake an ambitious task which would not only empower their school but also weaken St.Laurels. The hoodie wearing adult walked into one of the many rooms, this one in particular was a workshop of a peculiar kind. Not the type he would normally be used to himself, he was more a person into alchemical mixtures but occasionally tinkered with weapons.
"So you decided to stay behind-o, ace of the base?" The adult gave an amused grin as he looked to the only other person in the room.
"How would someone of your caliber like to do some extra work?"
"Depends, what kind of work are we speaking of?" The robe wearing student asked, as he sharpened a rather gruesome looking weapon upon a whetstone. The student in question was tall and thin, his movements almost robotic. The weapon he was working on was a sort of large cleaver, almost comedically oversized. Slowly and rhythmically he moves the edge across the stone, honing the blade with mechanical repetition.
"Oh the kind which makes me all tingly inside, and a good way to get some extra points with our mainman-o Mephisto. Though it requires someone who can do the talk and walk, plus stalk."
Kanzael stuck out his tongue before decorating his face with a shit eating grin. "I need someone who can get into the good with them St.Laurel kiddo's and become their bestest buddy, just so we can give them a chance to join our crew-o." The adult shoved both his hands into his hoodie pocket, taking out a small pill of some kind. "Slip one of these into their drink and then take them to me. Nothing like watching a shining example of the law take a real shot to the gut and then invite them to dance with the big boys" He placed the pill on his right thumb and then shot it up into the air towards Luigi. "This'll be disorienting them for awhile then make them go nighty night, long enough for you to haul their ass to safely all the way to my caring embrace." Kanzael chuckled to that.
"Do this and I shall in turn arrange for you to get some good new materials to work with, plus you'll do our crew a favor by adding some boyos to our base. But if you find a lass-o, that be mighty badass-o." Kanzael made a clicking sound with his mouth and whistled.
Luigi's arms held still, as a strange tentacle like appendage shot from a hole in the upper-back of his robes, a clamp catching the pill out of the air. Luigi inspected the pill closely or a few moments, trying to discern what it was made out of. "Hmm, I've already some clout with some of St. Laurels, making them some bits and bobs. That should be my opening...but if you do kidnap them, and they decide to.....disagree with your rules, what would become of them? Worst case scenario, to sate my curiosity." Luigi asks, speaking a bit quietly. Luigi wasn't against the idea, but he wanted to make sure if things went wrong, what the plan was.
"If they don't see things our way, even after the right kind of encouragement, then they will just have to vanish." Kanzael replied, then took a swig from a bottle of water he was carrying in his hoodie.
"At least mentally, wipe out all sense of who they are. With the right kind of pill and the right kind of time, you'll end up with the right kind of blank state mind you need to make a brand new persona. Suitable for our needs, and boy are we needy." Kanzael grinned. "Be on the lookie-out-o for the Youth officer-o Ascot though, that boyo is persistant like a fly around a pile of shit. And boy are we up to all the good shit, by good I mean the bad shit that is so bad it gets really good. You know?" The adult stretched his both arms out wide and assumed a relaxed stance. "Don't worry about it my boyo, they will never be able to track the shitto back to you. Since they be kinda fuzzy after all those good pills. Just don't mix them drinks up right-o?"
"I'll take note, I'd not want to be at your mercy. " Luigi says, hiding the pill in a small compartment on one of his arms, the metal parting to a small compartment. He gets up, swinging around his new weapon, a large one handed cleaver that makes a gentle whistling noise as it waives though the air. Finding it to his satisfaction, Luigi places it into a scabbard, allowing him to carry it on his back. "Now then, I should ask, any preference when it comes to new recruits? I live to please my clients, so knowing who would be the most to your liking is a high priority..." Luigi begins.
This guy, he gave Luigi the creeps. Maybe it was the weird lingo, maybe it was how casually he spoke about such vile things as personality reprogramming. Luigi himself could, and would do it for a high enough price but this man simply spoke of it like it was a hobby, and that was disturbing. How little regard for the mind and soul could one have to imply such measures.... It didn't matter now however as Luigi had a job to do, and he would do it no matter how much the client bothered him. He just hoped it'd not be to much of a shit show in the long run.
"Preferencio!" The man made a snapping noise with his fingers. "We need someone whose got potential, how about fetching that new shiny spectacle girl that the Laurel boyos got?" Kanzael grinned as he began to give out further physical descriptors fitting in on Michelle.
"My boyo does that little lamb need a break, and I'm the kind of guy for the job. But I'm kinda chased by o' friendly buddyboy officer Ascot, if I as much as set my foot in the school of the uncool" The hoodie wearing man went closer to the taller Luigi. "If you cannot fetch me that nice lil sheep-o, then another will have to do. Try take one who looks like they are having the time of their life. I mean, not all of us have that fortune right? Oh and try not-to chop-o up them with that cleaver o' yours right-o?" The man gave a casual shrug.
"You will get your material-o short after your delivery of the goodie goodshoes, imagine how terrible it would be with the city taxes on that shit? That's something which should be illegal." He gave an amused chuckle.
"A fist-o to our man Mephisto for providing us with this paradise underground, mighty fine and damn good for buisness." Kanzael began to slowly clap with his hands, in a praising manner but not fully convincing.
Luigi nods, and thinks for a few moments as he contemplates a plan. "Would you know how to go about catching their attention? Michelle, that is....if you want her in particular, well, I could use some good bait." Luigi asks, pulling out a small note pad, and a small mechanical pen tipped tentacle slips out of his sleeve, ready to write down anything said.
Luigi was not familiar with detaining a person for more than stripping down a corpse for parts, nor was he very persuasive as a large lumbering metallic creature. However, he was a very good salesmen which he could use to perhaps get close. Close enough to slip a tablet into her drink? Maybe not, but it was his only real strategy he could think of. He awaits a description from Kanzael.
The pillmaking deviant decorated his face with a sly look. "By impressing her with your power, plus a little bit o' extravaganza. Challenge the lass'o to a sparring match, say that you've heard of her amazing-o skill o' power and you want to see them first-hand."
Kanzael took out a small pill bottle, throwing it towards Luigi, it contains two blue pills and one yellow. "These two little blue marked beauties will empower the physical nature of whomever consumes them. Use it to beat her down but tell her you won only because of using the wonderpill, let her try one afterwards, and she'll be unable to live without getting more of them. You see, they are very addictive, to make certain you don't befall-o the same urge-o she will, take the yellow pill as you start feeling the urge-o for another and the urge-o will be gone-o. You will be feeling slightly numb for awhile, but that's nothing compared to getting some good parts right?"
Kanzael shrugged. "Though if you are confident-o enough, you can of course try beat her without them. The important part is making her want more. Then chat up with her at some café, tell her about this dapper gent you met. Be friendly and neat-o. That's when you slip the sleeping pill-o into her drink. Make sure none sees you. To her the last thing she will see will be you, take her to a taxi and tell the driver to drive her to this address... where I will be waiting." The hoodie wearing man gave a satisfied smile. "To all onlookers, you appear just as a dapper gent fetching a cab for his lady friend and all witnesses will be able to tell it was so. But it wasn't your fault the taxi driver was waylaid by some charming highwayman eh?"
"Drugs will be far less effective for me...the metal is far more than skin deep. I'll take my chances with the fair fight." Luigi begins, as his writing tool began to quickly scribe down the instructions, moving quickly with a satisfactory scratching noise. "Although, that's with normal toxins and biological agents. Magical items may work, but I'd suspect at a much worse level. Could be good if she decides to switch drinks. The taxi idea sounds like a nightmare if divine scrying becomes involved, so worse comes to worse, I'll try to just lure her to the drop site. If you're able to procure this sort of thing, you'd no doubt have a way to capture her if she was not totally sauced. Thank you for the information." Luigi says, before he starts to walk away from his new employer. This was going to be a difficult job, he just held hope it would be worth it in the end.
Just before he exited the workshop he looks back. "I'll be seeing you soon, hopefully. At most, maybe a week or two, as you can't rush a good covert operation like this." Luigi speaks, his voice taking on an almost devious sounding mechanical distortion. With that, Luigi attempted to leave school early today on a special assignment from a teacher. His intent, to head home and grab a nice club and shield before going on his hunt. Hopefully this girl wasn't off somewhere distant, hunting and fighting to train for the next tournaments. This would be so much easier if she was still in Rhea.....
Kanzael had nodded in reply to Luigi. "Use whatever means-o you have, to bring us a new recruit-o." The man allowed his eyes to turn into slits as he smiled. So many hopeful youngsters, and I have all the time in the world to bring them down to the bottom. What admixtures should I pick this time? Oh why not do it all on a roll of dice, see whom is unlucky and whose more unlucky. He mused by himself. "Take your time perfecting the catch boyo!"
Luigi returned Kanzael's nod, and walked out of the workshop with his mission at hand. This was one of the more vile things Luigi has ever contemplated doing. The hunt begins, with one life threatened to be warped and twisted to evil, and another willing walking a very fine line between monster and man, who would come out of this whole, physically or spiritually? It would be hard to say, but what was certain was that a predator was on the hunt. Luigi began his search for this Michelle, one that would hopefully end with him spying her without being observed beforehand. No need to come off as a stalker.
It was quite the sight. The two girls were walking in an almost perfect line, the second one having quite the height advantadge over the first, but being the one following obediently. It did look bizarre to the onlookers, as the second girl seemed somewhat... lost amidst the crowd and was following the first like if it was a puppy. An overgrown one.
"Michelle." Melanie said, almost a hint of inflection in her voice. " If we both go shopping... why are you the only buying? Is this how all shopping is made? One carries all the bags of the other?"
"Melanie, I told you to keep an eye out for anything you wanted to buy too," Michelle said, turning her head back to look at Melanie. Belinda soon took over, turning all the way around and put her hands behind her head as she started to walk backwards. She had a mischievous smirk on her face as she added, "Yeah, and what was it you said? Something like 'I can't have an eye out of my body' or whatever, hahahaa!"
"BelindAAA!" Michelle said angrily as she regained control, only to mess up her footing and fall onto the ground. By sheer luck, she managed to not strike her head onto the hard floor, her back taking most of the impact. Nevertheless, it still hurt. "Owww..." Michelle groaned as she pushed herself back up, rubbing her back to ease the pain.
Melanie stared at the other girl, as she lost her verticality. She stood there, watching how her comrade fell on her back. Her expression unchanged, she tilted her head as she addressed the girl with multiple selves. "That is a inefficient way of walking, it seems. Having visual information on one's path precludes falls." She pondered, before stopping for a second, her response robotic as she finally remembered that in these situations, one had to help people get to their feet. So yanked her back to her feet she did too.
"If you are wounded I can carry you."
As the two girls suffered a few setbacks, one tumbling over their own feet after a self inflicted argument a rather tall lumbering figure can be heard walking towards them as the clanking of metal is audible with each step they take. Their red robes flow in the wind, the figure's features remained fairly hidden due to a hood hiding away their face. The giant seems to be walking directly towards them as Melanie tries to pull their friend to their feet, flashes of a reflective red catching the few rays of light that venture under his hood.
"Are you ok?" He asks as he drew near, his voice with an unnatural distortion. "You should be careful. People have died from falls like that, as all it takes is hitting your head in the wrong way for it all to be over." He adds, before he leans down a little bit. "Wait a moment, are you Michel? I've heard of you, and your magical armaments. My name is Luigi and I consider myself a bit of a craftsman. Would you be willing to, when it's convenient for you, have a bit of a sparing match so I could test my wares against your abilities?" He asks, a tinge of excitement creeping into his near toneless voice.
"Heh heh, thank you, Melanie, but I-" Michelle began to say before Belinda took over. She had heard the odd sounding footsteps coming from behind her, and her instincts told her that whatever was approaching was dangerous. She turned around to determine the source, and looked up to see this mysterious fellow that seemed even taller than Melanie. The guy screamed trouble, and Belinda kept her guard up.
"Thanks, I'll keep it in mind," Belinda said, keeping up a calm and casual composure. An eyebrow was raised, though, when talk of a sparring match came up. With Belinda's provocations, Michelle tended to get these earlier in her life, and it usually resulted in their victory. This time, though, the situation was a bit different. "Hmm... that depends," Belinda began to reply, placing a hand on her hip. "What do I get out of this, Luigi? What do you have that can make it worth my while?"
"He said the truth." Melanie added in her emotionless inflection. "He is also tall." She tilted her head at the mention of craftsman. "Craftsman. Do you know of objects of beauty?" She said, her voice showing something that sounded usually very alien: Interest. She paused to ponder the implications of the craftsman. "No. you want to test wares against abilities. You sell practice targets, most likely."
"You wish to turn this into a betting game? Fine, if you insist. If you win, I'll reveal to you my newest invention, able to make anyone's powers skyrocket. You'd be nearly unstoppable to your peers with no side effects. However, if we're upping the stakes if I win I get to analyze your weapons fully after the battle. I'd know them even better than you would, and you'd be at a disadvantage fighting me in the future. How does that sound for an even trade, power for power." Luigi says, before looking at the girl with the dull emotionless voice. "I've made objects of beauty in my eyes. Things that could bring about glorious destruction, war implements of the highest quality. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me I've made many things that are gorgeous."
Belinda made a show of it, pretending to think about Luigi's proposed bet. She already knew what her answer would be, but she wanted it to look like it was a tough decision.
Belinda, I don't think this is a good idea, Michelle spoke to Belinda in her mind. Belinda knew her partner would be worried; she always was. Trust me, Michelle. Have I ever let you down before? Belinda mentally responded to Michelle. You don't want me to answer that, Michelle answered, knowing full well of Belinda's history with her. It'll be fiiiine, Belinda reassured her. No, it won't! We don't even- Michelle tried to argue before Belinda mentally blocked her off.
After the short mental exchange, Belinda smiled confidently and answered, "You're on. I'll be looking forward to our duel."
"Weapons are for defending objects of beauty." Melanie stated, her head tilted in confusion. She eyed Michelle's exchange with the new guy. An unknown. "If you don't know your enemy nor yourself you will lose every time." She recited at random. It seemed only fitting.
"Hmm, your friend seems to be quite sharp. So, when and where would you like to spar?" Luigi asks Belinda as he sounds like he's fighting back a chuckle. "I've nothing else planned for the next few days...the fight won't take more than half an hour, so if you can find a time block to squeeze that in, that'd be great." Luigi begins, pulling out a pen and paper out of seemingly his sleeve.
Belinda frowned, feeling like she was being made light of. "Hmph. Alright then, how about- ow," Belinda was about to say until she grabbed her forehead, a jolt of pain stabbing her mind. She knew this feeling. Michelle had forced her way through her mental block. Belinda didn't even have time to say anything else before Michelle regained control.
Michelle let out a sigh. She couldn't tolerate Belinda's recklessness a second longer. She needed to get something out of this. "I know of a place that allows duels. We can head there, but I'll need to make sure I can get a reservation," Michelle explained. Unlike Belinda, Michelle carried herself with a calm and composed demeanor. "Do you have anything planned within a week or two? I should be able to find a time then. Also, I'll need your contact information to send you the finalized details."
"Hmm, my next Wednesday is clear. I had been hired to build some sort of memory device, but that fell though the cracks once I explained how long, and how expensive that would be. Some people just expect the world to be handed to them for free." Luigi says, grumbling a bit before he remembered the task at hand. He pulls out a note pad from his sleeve, flipping past some marked pages before he begins to write utilizing a pen built into the tip of one of his fingers. A few moments of quill like scratching later the mechanical giant hands Michelle an address she could contact him at and a phone number written on a small bit of paper, not knowing if Michelle had a magical communications device or not. "I'll await the details eagerly, but I must go for now. My father sent me to shop and if I take to long he may get worried." Luigi explains, as he began to walk away with audible clanking.
Michelle watched Luigi walk off until he was out of sight, then she let out a long and frustrated sigh. It was quite the way to ruin a day. Hey Michelle, you're planning to use THAT arena, right? Don't we have our own room there to do what we want? Belinda asked Michelle.
Michelle lashed out at Belinda, mentally yelling, IT'S YOUR FAULT! If you didn't accept this duel, we could've had a relaxing time without this threat looming ahead of us! I was lucky to even be able to choose the time and place for us to fight!
What's the big deal? If you didn't like it that much, you could've just refused him yourself. Belinda countered.
I... Michelle started. Well... it would've been.... rude.
Rude to refuse some random stranger's challenge. Sure, Belinda said sarcastically, knowing she scored a point in this argument. Admit it, Michelle, deep down, you're like me: you want this. You itch for trouble, even if-
No! Shut up shut up shut UP SHUT UP! Michelle yelled at Belinda as she clutched her head, unable to hold back. In her turmoil of emotions, she returned back into her mind, forcing control of her body back to Belinda.
She staggered a bit and blinked, surprised. "Woah." She looked down at herself, felling a tad guilty for doing that. Oops... Belinda thought to herself. I'll make it up to her later... She turned around and saw that Melanie was still nearby. "Oh, Mel, you're still here," Belinda said. "You, uh... you wanna come to my place? Maybe find a small creature that wants your legs again?"
Melanie eyed Michelle and the exchange, the same vacant expression as always. "I am here. I am not requested somewhere else and it is not time to go to bed yet." She paused at her request. "What I want is irrelevant. I have no desires. But small creatures may aid me in my quest. So therefore I accept your request. But if they want my legs they can't have them."
And so a week passed. Michelle sighed as she waited in the training room, having arrived an hour early. She had done all she could to gather intel on Luigi and determine the fairness of the duel. She only hoped it was enough. To pass the time and get ready for the main event, Michelle began to warm up, performing various stretches and other simple exercises.
"I still can't believe you thought a hat and sunglasses would make a good disguise," Belinda said, taking control of Michelle's body while still keeping in pace of her warmup. This also served as additional practice to fight in sync.
"Your idea of wearing a sickness mask wasn't any better," Michelle retorted, regaining control without pausing during a switch in warmup activity.
"Yeah, probably not. And in the end, we wore them both!" Belinda said, chucking to herself. "Remember the look on that guy's face when he saw us? And he just turned away and pretended we weren't there."
"Let's just focus on our upcoming fight, ok? Stick to our plans and get this over with."
"Ugh, fine, you're such a killjoy."
The two continued to warmup in silence for a few minutes, then Belinda suddenly asked, "Hey, we invited Mel over to watch our duel, right?"
"Yeah, of course," Michelle answered. "Why do you ask?"
"Ehh, no reason."
A week passed, and the iron giant spent it descended into his workshop under his home, his sanctum sanctorum away from all other distractions. The sound of bending metal, clanking machinery and twisted hissing could be heard rising from the depths. After a finding about the details of the sparing match, Luigi knew exactly how to proceed with his duel of fate. "Let's see how well my planning works out..." He mutters to himself as he puts the finishing touches on his gear with a paintbrush, detailing a few numbers and letters onto the side of his grand surprise. With that being the finishing touches, Luigi heads on out with his new gear towards the place ordained for his duel. Luigi walked into the training arena, a pair of ear buds in as his head bobbed to some music. He headed towards where they would be fighting, knowing he was early he'd have time to analyze the battle ground. He hoped his special abilities would give him insight into the area that no other could gain, without far more intense study, an advantage that'd not be expected from him. An advantage that was known was easily maneuvered around, but one unknown was unstoppable. He looked around the foyer that stood before the room where Michelle had chosen for them to fight. He took count of how many people were wondering about, waiting for fights or who were staff here to prevent things from getting out of hand.
On Luigi's left arm was a shield, styled after kite shields of times long passed. In Luigi's right hand a large baton that crackled with electricity even in its idle state. His robes the same, save for the addition of a flowing cloak that obscured his form. He took his survey of the foyer, before walking to the room he'd been told to meet Michelle at. He knocks on the door to see if the room is currently occupied, his intent being to not wander into a room and get blasted in the face by a stray attack. "Hello, is anyone in there?" He asks, his robotic voice carrying a tad more than normal as he put some extra force behind his words.
Michelle was having a small sip from her water bottle when the knocking managed to startle her, causing some water to go down the wrong pipe. She broke into a coughing fit and thumped her chest with a fist to try to help clear the water out. Belinda found the situation highly amusing, but wisely chose to say nothing about it. Instead, she said excitedly, Sounds like our challenger is just outside. Let's bring him in.
"Right," Michelle croaked, followed by a forceful clearing of her throat. Michelle walked over to the door and looked out the small window, confirming it was Luigi. Opening the door, Michelle greeted him, "Come on in, Luigi. I've been expecting you." She eyed his equipment, judging their potential capabilities in battle.
Luigi was surprised to find not only was the room occupied, but it was occupied by his opponent, Michelle. Within his mind he cursed as he knew he'd most likely not have the time he'd need to study the room to its full extent. Well, if one wishes to make god laugh, tell him your plans. Luigi looked down at his sparring partner and sighed. "I should of expected you to be the kind to show up early. I take it everything is in order?" He asks, attempting to look around the room with his keen eyes for any sort of environmental factors that don't normally meet the eye of the average man.
Luigi's new equipment appeared to mostly be a shield of some non-descript metal and some sort of mechanized stun club that crackles with electricity, and a mask he's wearing with tubes leading into his robes that lets out a gentle wheezing with Luigi's breathing. His robe does have some new bumps that were not there before as well telling there is more than meets the eye. Luigi turns his attention from his scan of the room to Michelle, who was eyeing up his equipment. He knew that look, as he himself had magical powers that relied on such. He figured he'd allow them to stare, until they caught him catching them staring.
Meanwhile, Melanie arrived somewhat late, her hands with a small furry creature known as a cat on tow. She looked at both contenders, before tilting her head, and eyeing Michelle, she stopped idle for a second as she followed inside. "Your opponent is different." She stated as a matter of fact, without any kind of care nor filter, as the cat quickly disappeared through an oscillating portal in her hands.
Michelle could tell that Luigi's choices of weaponry were going to be quite the hassle. This was not going to be an easy duel, but she wasn't going to simply accept defeat. She intended to win.
A sound from the door broke her concentration, and Michelle spotted Melanie finally arriving. "Melanie!" Michelle cried out happily. Her eyes then drifted towards the cat in her arms, and surprise briefly flashed on her face before remembering that such strange occurrences happened often. "Yes, Melanie, he is," Michelle responded to Mel's remark.
Returning her attention to the matter at hand, Michelle began to say to Luigi, "Alright then, Luigi, let's get ready for the duel." The room was already emptied out of training equipment and the like, providing plenty of room for the duel. At least, Michelle hoped it was enough. She got into position near the center of the room, waiting for Luigi to do the same.
"On the count of three," Michelle said once Luigi was in position. A wicked grin broke out on Michelle's face as Belinda took control. "Three," Belinda said as she summoned her spear, instantly thrusting it towards Luigi's left shoulder.
Luigi got into position, readying himself for combat and was caught off guard by the sudden attack from Michelle. He raised his shield only for the spear to easily punch though it. Quickly thinking, Luigi pushes the spear to the side using the shield against the spear's haft, turning a crippling blow into a glancing strike as the spear head tore into his robes and sparks flew as it cleaved into the armor on his shoulder. "Oh, that was not cool." Luigi retorts as he attempts to lock the spear's shaft in the shield to prevent Michelle from moving it while he swings his club, intending to either make her take a strike while she struggled with her weapon or drop it to retreat.
"Feisty, I have to give her that. I'd of never of guessed such underhanded tactics from her. Maybe she'll be better off than I first anticipated." Luigi thought as his magical powers came into effect, studying Michelle's weapon now that the confrontation had started.
Belinda's smile widened as she felt the attack connect. The shield wasn't even an issue, or at least Belinda assumed so until she realized she couldn't free her spear from it. When the baton came swinging down, Belinda's mind was scrambling to react, but was too slow to do anything.
Michelle, however, reacted faster, taking control. Belinda's spear disappeared from existence, and Michelle's shield appeared on her left arm, which she raised to deflect Luigi's weapon just in time. The baton slid across the surface of her shield, but Michelle felt a jolt of electricity when the weapon connected with her shield. With the added weight of the blow itself, Michelle could not withstand the impact and fell backwards onto the ground. With a grunt, Michelle pushed herself back up onto her feet, but her left arm felt strange, probably from the electric shock. Michelle hoped the effects of the electricity were short-lasting.
Michelle's mind was racing at a million miles an hour, trying to come up with a way to close the gap and regain the offensive. As she played around different scenarios in her head, Belinda grew impatient and informed Michelle, Tell me what to do when you're done, Michelle. I'm goin' in. While doing so, Belinda took control again, dematerializing Michelle's shield and summoning her spear back.
Belinda began to charge at Luigi once more, aiming for his left shoulder again. Once she was nearby, though, she used her Blink ability, disappearing with a loud "pop" noise and a small cloud of smoke. She reappeared at Luigi's right side, a few feet in the air. As she fell, she swung downward with her spear, aiming at Luigi's wrist in an attempt to disarm him. She even spun a little as she swung to apply more centrifugal force.
"So, exceptionally sharp and flexible huh? Could be useful..." Luigi thinks, watching as Michelle blocks his strike and was yet sent to the floor. Luigi took up a defensive posture against her, knowing his little shield trick would only work once. Soon she got to her feet and charged again, and Luigi stood ready. What he was not ready for, was the loud popping noise and the smoke that lingered. Luigi quickly spun around to find her above him, baring down on him with her spear. However, he was not fast enough as with little problem the spear sheared off Luigi's right hand, sending it and the baton crashing to the floor. Sparks flew from Luigi's wrist as Luigi felt a surge of intense burning pain shoot though his arm along side a truly rapturous fury. Before Michelle could hit the floor, Luigi attempted to crack her across the skull with the flat of his steel shield. He aimed to strike with full force, hoping to make Michelle see stars.
"Now, you've done it." Luigi speaks, his voice an echoing boom of anger that even the mechanical modulation of his voice couldn't hide. Michelle could watch as under Luigi's robes squirmed something, like giant worms wriggling under a thin layer of soil. After a few moments, a thick blue smoke cloud would begin to erupt from Luigi as the gas began to fill the room. "Let's see you strike what you can't see...." He echoes from the billowing smoke. The echo was of course, a voice effect he used for dramatic moments. He was angry sure, but that couldn't stop his showmanship.
Belinda was mildly surprised to see Luigi's arm to get sliced off. She had originally intended to strike his wrist with the shaft of her spear, but it seems she had aimed a little too accurately. Michelle was shocked as well, and was about to express her outrage at the action. Neither of them had much time for any other thoughts, though, as Luigi's shield smashed into the back of Belinda's head, causing them to land roughly.
Belinda clutched her head, trying to get the pain to stop. Belinda! Belinda, get up! Michelle yelled at Belinda, worried for her. Slowly, but surely, Belinda pushed herself up, grabbing her spear off the ground. "Still ok!" Belinda answered with a pained grin. Even through the pain, Belinda could tell that the smoke was going to be an annoyance. "Hey Michelle, you might wanna take over now," Belinda muttered. "Your defense might be better than my offense here,"
Got it, Michelle said, taking control, feeling the painful throb of the recent head injury. Her shield back in place, Michelle figured it was no longer a time to hold back. White sparkles started appearing around her body, and her armor began materializing. First came the pieces around the arms and legs, followed by the chest piece. Finally came the full helm. Fully equipped, Michelle waited, keeping her guard up and senses active. Michelle felt that she was at a disadvantage in the current situation, and until she could get a lock on Luigi's location, she would just have to stay put and rely on defense.
Luigi watched from the smoke as his opponent geared up, going on the defensive. Under his mask, a grin crept across his face as she played right into his hands, err, hand. The throbbing pain on the back of her head would begin to subside as Luigi moved though the smog. Mechanical clanking and a bright sparking giving away his general location every so often, like a radar tracking a shark. "Come on now, are you really just going to armor up and stand there until the gas vanishes? You were brutal before, but as soon as things start going up in smoke you act scared?" Luigi asks as he stalked though the mist.
"I just got to wait now. Little does she know, this smoke is filled with a mixture of numbing agents, and sleeping gasses. With the canister now fully activated, this room's air is thick with my mixture of sleeping gas. I just hope her friend also falters in the face of the gas, or she'll be a pain to deal with. If I can get her to exert herself, she'll suck in more of it. I just hope she doesn't figure it out, and go bolting from the room." Luigi thinks as he paces around the room slowly, taking a moment to pick up his severed hand and baton. Best not to leave such evidence behind, for he'd no doubt be a suspect after she disappeared.
Michelle stayed silent, keeping her shield close while listening for the various sounds Luigi had been making. A footstep here, a metal-sounding scrape there... and that wasn't even counting the earlier taunts. To her, the tension was palpable. Michelle was close; she could feel it. She just needed to find the opportunity.
And there it came, when she heard a footstep close by. Her instincts were telling her that Luigi was within striking distance. With that in mind, Michelle clenched her fist and turned, using that momentum to take a swing at Luigi, where she hoped would be his head. Fortunately, it seemed like he was bending down, so perhaps she would not be far off the mark.
Was it her, though, or was she moving a bit slower than usual?
Melanie, on her part, squeezed her eyes, as the thick fog covered everything. She could not be a witness if she could not watch combatants, so she would be faulting in her duty to Michelle. But at the same time, if she decided to help with the visibility problem, it could potentially be seen as interference. Breathing the gas made her a bit light headed, so one quick-portal later, she was fully equipped with a gas mask. Passing out was not advisable. So, she did what she used to do in these dilemmas and situations. She called Michelle with her phone.
"Do you wish me to remove the visibility obstruction so i can watch your duel, or do you think that would be interfering?"
Luigi knelt down to pick up his baton, when though the smoke he saw the movement of a figure rush towards him. This alone wouldn't of been enough to allow him to avoid this attack, but another thing tipped him off even before he saw her move. Her phone began ringing as she attacked, giving her position away! Luigi quickly raised the baton he had grabbed onto into the path of the sluggish attack, attempting to block with it. If her fist connected, a huge burst of electricity would no doubt shock her as her armored fist smashed though the baton almost destroying the electrified head of the weapon. However, unfortunately for Michelle, Luigi's gear was built to last. Rather than the electricity ceasing after the head of the weapon was smashed and it should of faltered, it would continue as Luigi attempted to press it to Michelle.
The gas was working, sure, but he needed this fight over fast. The baton would hopefully fatigue Michelle, and then the gas would take hold as she gasped for air after the shocking pain filled her. This was his hope at least, he knew that what would really happen is anyone's guess.
A painful shock coursed through Michelle's arm as her fist connected with something. Michelle screamed in pain, and quickly backed off. Now her right arm was feeling tingly, and her phone, which she swore she had switched off prior to the duel, was somehow ringing through her armor transformation. Michelle didn't even realize that was possible. She fumbled through the smokescreen for her phone with her left hand, then remembered that she needed to dematerialize her armor to get to it.
"Ugh, why didn't I take my phone out before I started fighting?" Michelle grumbled, finally returning to outfit to normal. Probably because you forget the tiny things when you focus too much on something, dummy, Belinda playfully taunted her. "Shut up, Belinda," Michelle replied, finally finding the stupid thing and answering it.
"Hello?" A moment of silence followed, but was soon followed when she realized it was Melanie, who Michelle could actually hear in the room. Michelle didn't even need the phone; she was right there! "No Mel, it's fine, it's... it's..." Michelle was having trouble finding the words to say. Her mind felt cloudy. Hey Michelle, does this place smell a little funny to you? Belinda asked Michelle, but there was no response. It didn't take long for her to notice that something was wrong. Michelle. Michelle! Snap out of it! Michelle! Belinda continued to yell at Michelle, but Michelle was already succumbing to the sleeping gas' effect. It wasn't long before her legs lost their strength and she fell onto her side. She couldn't even keep her eyes open...
Melanie received the call with a neutral expression in her mind, closing the phone and focusing once more in the mist. She would not interfere further in the fight, despite her contradictory observation. She instead scanned the room for objects of beauty...
Luigi watched as his foe collapsed and passed out, meaning he had won. However, there were bigger concerns as he could hear Melanie speaking. She hadn't been effected? Damn it all, now Luigi had to figure out a way to sneak Michelle out of the sparring room without Melaine finding her. He began to root in his pockets, before he had an idea. Gathering up his severed hand, and deactivating his damaged baton, Luigi put his plan into action. Quickly slipping off his over robe, he slid Michelle into them, tying the bottom of it to make a makeshift sack. He slung her over his shoulder, and using the cover of the smoke tried to silently move towards the door. Without his robe on, his mechanical body was much more on display as what he wore under them was a wife-beater, a bandolier across his chest with several of what appeared to be grenades, and a baggy pair of cargo pants with far to many pockets. His helmet would also be revealed to have been a gas mask, the filters hidden under his robes.
"Ok, now for the really dangerous part of the plan. Getting her to the drop zone. My hand is severed, my equipment damaged, and I've got someone watching. I just need to hope they're distracted enough that they don't see me sneaking out of the room." Luigi thinks to himself as he moves though the smoke. Only time could tell him if his hope was misplaced.
Luigi's hope was well placed, almost perfectly in fact. Melanie seemed totally disinterested in him as he fled with his prey, leaving the arena with Michelle in tow as he fled towards the drop sight, moving not in a full sprint, but more of a jog or power walk. "Well, that was surprisingly easy." Luigi ponders, as he marched down towards where Kanzael was supposed to be to pick up the drop. "Please be here, I don't want there to be another hiccup now, right at the end..."
Kanzael stood at the meeting place, a place he usually hung out at. To him it was almost like his summer house, to others it was just a dump, but to most it was just the underside of the large old bridge connecting two parts of the city. There was a couple of wooden structures, this was a place where shady people generally met to go about their business. Was it selling stolen goods or buying it. It used to be a place where some homeless used to live, but they have since then been chased away.
"Yo! It's my boyo'rino, Luigi-chappo!" Kanzael waved as he removed both his hands from the fire lit barrel, some random lowlife thugs were about, some which had current or past connections with the school. "Let me have a look-eyo at watcha been gotten for the downtrodden! You fellorino's give him some space, you just don't flap around my metallic buddy here!" Kanzael casually pushed one of the younger thugs to the side and walked up to Luigi's imposing figure.
Kanzael walked closer to get a better view at what Luigi had brought along with him, he gave a sly grin as he realized Luigi was carrying a girl. "Fuckin' A-maze thing-o! I knew you were the right boyo for the yoyo, you came right back-o to my nice place o' slack-o!. Show me what we have here..." He beckoned to Michelle's body.
Luigi sighed with relief as he saw Kanzael, and heard his strange dialect. He quickly and carefully handed over his robe, which held Michelle. "I apologize, but you'll have to handle her for a moment." Luigi began before he shows Kanzael his severed hand. "I'm a little low on manual dexterity at the moment. I need to replace this..." Luigi mutters, sounding a bit aggravated about the loss of his hand, before he had a wicked evil idea. "....and replace is the optimal word. When she awakens, tell her you attacked me while I was trying to get her to a medical professional....and use this as proof." He says, gently moving the severed hand, flapping it about a slight bit. "I can create a better hand to replace it, but she wouldn't guess I'd just give up my hand. It'll make it that if she gets away, I'm absolved of guilt. Oh, and she can teleport, so beware of that." Luigi adds. If his planned worked, he was cleared of danger if Kanzael proved inept at containing Michelle. A win, win for the mechanical menace.
Kanzael took the wrapped in Michelle from Luigi, throwing a couple of looks over her. "Great joy'ette, ain't she a lucky one?" His words came to an halt as Luigi showed his injury, it took Kanzael by surprise. Someone actually managed to wound this massive freak of a metal menace? It both frightened him, but intrigued him. But it didn't stop there. As Luigi kept talking, Kanzael's expression changed from being excited to a look of curiosity. Once Luigi began to speak of his plan to use his severed hand, Kanzael felt strange within. It was a mix of fear now, fear and admiration. He was being one-upped by this far younger boy, this metal giant of a boy but a boy nonetheless. And he liked it!
"I could kiss you my metal-o munching masterpiece of a buddy-rino! It's an amazing plan-ette! I couldn't have done it better myself-o! You sir are a genius-otto! Your cunning is making me all giddy with wanting to get started right away. But but, a promise is a promise, I will get you the material'os as soon as possible. And I will even throw in a little extra thing-y just acquiring this nice-o piece-o of laurelette ass to my fiddling fingerinos. How would you like some bombs? I have plenty of things that can blow the common-itos house out of proportions."
"Not to worry about teleportation-magi'nistas, I shall make sure that she doesn't want to teleport-ito's away." Kanzael gave a soft exhale through his mouth while having a full on grin, with his teeth from the upper jaw and the lower not connecting. "Now time to mentally choppety chop chop on the girly's brainblob, then I'll get the material'os the coming night-o when the good lil' folks are sleeperinos." Kanzael walked to the side of Luigi. "You are turning out so damn fine-esque, I could almost think you be related with me. We are going to stir-ro up so much fun it's going to be making the circusinos go out of buisness-o."
He began to laugh as he began walk off with his newly acquired package. He had to get her to the Mephisto school basement, to one of the holding rooms. Those soundproof rooms where bothersome students and captives were generally taken. When she would wake up, she would surely find herself in one of those dark basement rooms without any window, just a small went for air and the metal door.
Of course he had to make sure she couldn't escape out of there. So on his way back he began to ponder on ways to prevent her teleportation. He gave a look to the chopped off hand which Luigi had handed over.
Luigi smirked under his mask at the mention of a bonus, his favorite thing for a job well done. Kazuel spoke of getting explosives for Luigi and a devious plan popped into his mind. "Explosives would be good. I'm sure I can put them to good use disrupting our enemies. I'll need a few hours before you send the next job, if you have one. I need to run repairs, so for now, goodbye and have fun." Luigi says as he heads off back towards home, as today was a good day, for Luigi. Soon, the entire city would know of his works, and would tremble with fear.
"Interesting..." Michael said to himself. That would mean that he'd need to come up with anti-magic countermeasures the next time he faced a magic user, or at least a way to protect his Trap Arts. It seemed like it was a topic that would be worth studying. "Well, healing's not my forte, but perhaps I could-"
Michael stopped, as he began to hear voices. Normally this would not have raised an alarm in his head, but there were many factors already contributing to it. For one, the place had been quite silent for some time. That alone was not really much, but there had certainly been at least some noise outside, whether it be footsteps or the chatter of some physicians. Also, there were voices now, and they did not sound particularly friendly. He was pretty sure he heard the words "most vulnerable."
"We have company," Michael said as he drew up a defensive buff on his chest, and enforcement buffs on his arms and legs. These would ensure he wouldn't get much more injured than he already was, or at least that was the plan. He then began to draw a Trap Art near the privacy cloth. It was small and simple, but it was all he had time for. If it went as planned, the would-be assailant would be entangled in black, inky tentacles, hopefully leaving him disoriented enough to be quickly taken out.
Arae frowned when Sartr left. If her intuition was correct, then he wasn't going to follow her advice. She sighed. After a moment, however, she began to giggle. It really had been too long since she had these interactions, or even these emotions. She wanted to interact with some more of her family members, but quite a few of them had already gone off to the crystals, leaving the hall. Arae thought it was probably for the best; there was no need for her to stick around much longer either. She needed to create, just like everyone else, and create she would do. Making her way over to one of the crystals, Arae finally left, using the crystal to travel to the place that would be her sphere.
The place was rather dull. There was nothing here at all. However, that was not what there was at all. What Arae saw was a canvas of infinite potential, just waiting for a masterpiece to be created. All she needed was a plan. Possibly a bit of experimentation as well.
First up came the base. Arae needed some land to work with, something simple yet beautiful. She looked through her memories, trying to find a suitable landscape to create with. There was much she had forgotten, but still enough for her to remember. She remembered a few of the lands she had walked through, not including the wasteland she had been in until recently. She remembered the bright, sunny forests with tall trees and humid air, as well as the large, cool mountain ranges. There were the freezing, icy lands as well as the burning, sandy deserts. The one she liked best, though, were the lands of green grass. Occasional trees to rest in the shade, and cool breezes for the heat. Yes, Arae decided she would go with that.
She concentrated, visualizing how the land would look. She felt power welling up inside her. It was different to the one she had known, but familiar at the same time. Creating... she had not done it in so long, and it felt nice to be able to do it again. The image of her mind was locked, and Arae released her power, feeling it drain from her body and into her sphere. Grassland began to spread from underneath her body, extending all the way to the horizon. Arae thought it wasn't bad, but it wasn't complete yet. The sphere was still dark. She needed a light source. Arae concentrated once more, imagining light illuminating the world. Power welled up once more, and was released. The sphere began to light up as the sun rose from the horizon. At least, it was a close resemblance to a sun. Rather than a big ball of light, a band of light was rising from one side of the sphere instead.
Whoops, that's not right, Arae thought to herself. But it does work. I like it.
So the base was complete. A piece of land to work with and a light for her to see her work. Now for the actual hard part: what was her sphere going to be about, and how was it going to work? Arae knew she had to incorporate her family values into her sphere, but how? Ideas formed in her mind, but were just as quickly rejected. Some were too impractical, while others just didn't match her preferred style. Portraits of all families were a little too complicated, as well as highly impractical. Mirrors that provided a bit more detail and real-time imagery were discarded for the same reason. Perhaps a pool of water... now there was an idea. Arae thought it fit well in the grassland she had set up too. Maybe some trees as well to complement it... yes, YES!
Arae concentrated harder than she did before, trying to visualize just how it was going to be. She had to make this one perfect. This one would be a representation of her own family, and it would feature ALL the gods. She began to walk along what would be the edge, tracing the shape of her upcoming creation. This would go here, and that would go there. She could feel the power welling up within her again, but this time, she was releasing it more slowly, giving it a more careful form. Ripples appeared on the grass, and the land turned into water. Slowly, but surely, she had formed a large and magnificent lake. It was not complete yet, however. Now came the trees. She took her time with these. She used all that she remembered of her limited experiences with the others, as well as the power of her might, to capture the essence of them and manifest each one as the various trees.
When she was finally done, she inspected her handiwork. A fiery tree that raged with a temper, and only seemed to blaze even hotter when she got too close. A tree with long hanging, green dreads, as well as scaly bark similar to that of a reptile's. A tree with a plume of orange. A tree, lush and green, and seemingly had the primordial idea of a tree when one looked upon it. A tree with a warped, thin trunk and held a lot of color in its leaves and branches. A leafless tree that was covered in an aura of darkness. There were many more, all of them gargantuan, and Arae believed that she had done the best she could at creating them. She may not have liked all of them, but they were as honest as she could make them, and that was enough for her. She took a look at one tree in particular. It was a modest one compared to all the others. It had scaly bark along its trunk and the outside of its roots, and the leaves were a sky blue. On one side, though, it had a cluster of branches that were dead and leafless. Arae knew that this was her tree. It felt right to her, and it felt like her.
Still, she was not done just yet. There was still one thing to do. Extending a hand, she made a circular motion, and a wind began to blow. It gained speed and spun in a circle, creating a tornado, which touched down onto the lake. The waters began to rise from the surface, carried upwards and creating a waterspout. Arae then brought her hands together and split them apart again, and the waterspout began to split into multiple different spouts. Each of them began to travel to different areas of her sphere and sprinkle the water onto different areas of land, providing the energy needed for the sphere to fully function. Arae heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, her sphere was complete. Her sphere would track and record the families of others for generations to come.
"Spekatha... is complete..." Arae said, having decided on a name for her Sphere. Turned toward the giant lake, Arae continued, "The Pantheon is perfect. Everything is done." There was only one question left to answer: what was she going to do now?
Well, perhaps some rest might do her some good. All that work left her feeling rather tired. Going over to the Pantheon, Arae flew over to the tree that represented her and found a spot in its branches that seemed comfortable enough. From there, Arae wrapped her body around one and let out a yawn, resting her head against the bark.
Arae travels to her sphere and creates her sphere. The base (grassland) was created, followed by the idea (the lake Pantheon). The trees took quite a bit longer, but are otherwise complete as well. Finally, the framework that allows the sphere to function (creating more lakes and trees for the future families to form and track). Her job done, Arae decides that a job well done deserves a nap and rests in the Familial Tree she created that represented herself.
-8 FP to create the grasslands of Spekatha -2 FP to create the Familial Lake Pantheon and the first Familial Trees. -4 FP to grant Spekatha the ability to create its own Familial Lakes and Trees for the future.
Michael raised his arms, flexing his fingers, then pushed himself up into an upright position. His body was still pretty sore, especially his arms, but he definitely felt better than before. It would have to do, and wherever he was going, it was a lot better than resting and recovering in bed. "Thank you, Diana. That feels much better," Michael said to Diana, nodding in appreciation. "And for the record, my name is Michael, but 'Trap Master' is not bad," He slid out of bed and got back onto his feet. There was a small but painful throb when he landed on his injured leg a little too roughly, but otherwise he was fine. Michael paid it no mind. There was work to do.
"There are a few questions I want to ask you while I still can," Michael continued. "First of all, how did you dispel my Trap Arts? I've never had that happen to me until now. Secondly, what are you planning on doing right now? From how panicked everyone's been recently I assume the trouble must be severe."
Michael watched the screen with mild concern as one of the contestants seemed to be injured rather heavily, and the others rushed off in an alarmed frenzy. He would have joined them, but with his body as injured as it was, he knew he was in no shape to offer any sort of assistance. Both arms and a leg were too injured to move properly, and Michael felt lucky to have gotten away with just those injuries too, considering the thrashing he had gotten. Instead, he turned his attention to the patients who were still around. Ria and Diana were still around, but it seemed like they were asleep. He knew Diana was for sure, but was less sure for Ria. He briefly considered the possibility of waking her for some idle chatter and possibly a few pieces of intel, but decided it would be unwise to do so at the moment. Like him, she was recovering from whatever wounds she had gotten, and he'd rather not start unnecessary trouble for his own self-interest.
That left him to his own devices for the time being. He looked down at his own body and considered trying to apply some Body Arts to himself with a paintbrush in his mouth. A few attempts were made, and Michael tried his best to maneuver the stick with his tongue and lips. It ultimately proved to be harder than it looked, and Michael spat out his paintbrush in defeat. He pondered about what else he could do to pass the time. He hated having nothing to do.
Arae made her way through the hall, wondering who she should greet first. It seemed like some were already making friendly relations of their own with each other. Some were strange ones, and she wasn't sure how to interact with them. Others were already quite busy interacting with each other, forging new relationships already. All in all, Arae felt a joy she hadn't felt in literal millennia. She had a new diverse family to spend time with and interact with, and she wanted to spend time with them all. She really had to thank the Architect for this. Speaking of which, how was he doing-
Arae's joyful expression turned to one of shock as she saw a few of her godly family members confront the Architect, who in turn responded in similar ways to their actions. Alarmed, she quickly zipped over to the area, hoping that things would not escalate further than they already have. Fortunately, by the time she got there, the matter was already settling. Seihdhara was the one the Architect seemed to eye the most before he turned his attention to other things, but Seihdhara herself was otherwise unharmed. Chopstick Eyes was nearby, and had quite a foul mouth on her, but she was soon greeted by Shengshi. Arae breathed a sigh a relief, thinking that things were alright again.
But of course, her luck had to be pushed for thinking such thoughts. Sartravius had to try and stir up some more trouble. Arae turned to face him, and turned just a little more to avoid looking at certain... parts of him. Arae really thought he could do with a little coverage, at least. A little respect and decency could go a long way. "Sartravius, please, that's no way to act," Arae tried to mediate. "You shouldn't have flames engulf the world. See, follow Ashalla's example, and create something good for the world, rather than letting fire run free." Arae gestured towards Ashalla with a clawed hand, who was nearby one of the crystals that would send them off into the world.
Deep in thought, Shengshi gazed around once more, and his eyes fell upon a shape that was quite familiar to him: Another reptillian, one a decent bit taller than him, sporting a beautiful coat of blue, striped with darker shades, but lacking the humanoid torso he himself had. The red snake-man slithered over with a broad smile carving its way across his leathery lips, peaking just under the edges of his mustache. The shape's owner was familiar to him, too. Arae, goddess of family, a domain so sacred Shengshi was certain she had to have a prosperous goal in mind! Perhaps this could be a new ally? Shengshi came to a stop before the goddess and bowed as low as his new muscles allowed.
"In the name of our blessed creator," Shengshi said, taking a moment to bow swiftly in the direction of the Architect, "I give you my deepest greeting, dear goddess Arae."
Arae watched as everyone began to form around her. As they did, Arae gained the understanding of their beings, their names and their roles in this new world. Not everyone was all good or all bad, but that was fine. As a family member, Arae knew she had to embrace and accept everything about them, flaws and all. This new family was going to be an interesting one. A greeting then suddenly came from her side. Arae turned her head around to see someone who was currently approaching her. Arae recognized him as Shengshi, God of Rivers.
"Greetings to you as well, Shengshi," Arae responded warmly. "But please, raise your head. We are family members of equal standing. Neither of us needs to bow to the other."
Shengshi chuckled softly and tilted his torso back up. "I had not expected any other answer from Your blessed self. It is indeed a holy communion of all manners of fate and destiny that I am so lucky to be here with you and my dearest, well, family, as you so perfectly put it! A so diverse and beautiful selection of relatives, agree?" The riverlord folded his clawed hands together and heaved a satisfied sigh.
"Agreed," Arae nodded in agreement. "The Architect has done a wonderful thing, summoning so many beings here."
"A most true statement. I am curious, though, my dearest sister - may I call you sister?" The serpent looked up to the greater serpent with a wide grin.
"Fantastic! Our family grows ever closer! I digress, however. I am curious, though, as to what you think of this cosmos - and what you see in its future."
"I see potential, Shengshi," Arae answered. "There is plenty of good that can be done here, and there are plenty of Gods that can make that good happen." Looking around, Arae added, "I only hope that everyone gets along well enough for that to happen."
The shorter reptillian creature nodded and plucked at his facial hair in deep thought. "A point I certainly agree with, dearest sister," he mumbled, "as the stones on the road to prosperity are laid by friends. It is indeed imperative that we all make an effort to cooperate." Shengshi bowed again. "I hope our family shares in this mindset, dearest sister."
"Not everyone will, of that I am certain," Arae said, shaking her head slightly. "But that is fine. Disagreements and arguments are bound to happen in a family, and they will only serve to increase the strength of our bonds. Moderation is key, though, which is why it falls to each other to ensure our bonds stay strong."
"Ah, certainly. Like the flow twists and turns around obstacles, familial ties will remain strong through minor squabbles - and like the flow, it cannot carve through a barrier as tough as that of blood-related enemies... Speaking of, would you consider all of us blood-related? I cannot exactly decide on what we could call ourselves..." The snake scratched his chin. "Spirit-related?"
"I... do not know," Arae said after a brief moment. "'Spirit-related' is perhaps the best description we're going to get right now. We've all come from different places, so I will not consider us related by blood, but the fact that we've all answered the Architect's call makes us family in my eyes."
"I suppose I will have to find a word that rhymes with 'spirit-related', then... That will certainly be an ordeal. I wish to know, though, dearest sister. While I am aware that your purpose in this cosmos is to be the guardian of the family - a blessed quest, that is - but I am not as aware of what your goal with this is. Would you mind sharing it with me?"
"A goal..." Arae said, staring off into the distance. "I do not really have one. I only wish to ensure that families live long, happy lives with each other. I will not allow a family to be torn apart, not if I can help it." In a low voice, almost inaudible even to Arae, she muttered, "Not again..."
Shengshi lowered his head and nodded. "I remember little from my past lives, if I am to be honest, but I am glad that I know those that remember more of their own. Your seniority will be a great asset to the blessed Architect's project, dearest sister." He took a moment to look towards the dark orb in the distance, one of the few named objects in this cosmos.
"Thank you, brother," Arae said. Looking around, she then said, "Well, I do enjoy our chat, but perhaps I should take this time to get to know the other members of our family. I hope you won't mind if I excuse myself here."
Shengshi shook his smiling head and bowed. "Oh, of course not, dearest sister! Please, get to know our family a little better! I will try to do the same. Though, please -do- come visit some time. I'll have something to drink ready for when you do." With that invitation in the air, the draconic face of Shengshi was fashioned into a wide, fanged grin as he looked back up at Arae.
Arae nodded happily, "Of course! Until next time, brother." With that said, Arae turned and flew on, wondering who to interact with next.
"Until next time," Shengshi said. He waited until Arae had moved on, then slithered on.
Shengshi approaches Arae in hopes of establishing friendly relationships. Arae agrees and the two engage in some conversation. They talk about the great potential of the world they find themselves in, as well as the hopeful compatibility of the other Gods and Goddesses. They establish a new name for the bond between the Gods: "Spirit-related", due to the Architect's call summoning them all here. They talk about the goals for this world. Finally, they leave to establish more friendly relationships with everyone else.