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4 days ago
Current You bug pansies wouldn’t last a second on the Creek. It changes a man.
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So called “I’m over my ex” people when the Taylor Swift song comes on in the nondescript retail establishment:
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6 mos ago
Everybody I see complaining that this site is dead has like 3 IC posts total. My brother in mahz you pulled the trigger
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Pokemon rivals peaked when they had your neighbor with unmedicated ADHD violently slam into you and then threaten to sue you after every gym.
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Zach could not say he was happy with the Mother's plan as of late. Tragedy upon tragedy befell Her chosen, to say nothing of the rest of the nation. A Scion missing and later murdered, the king dead, and Kasper - it wasn't fair. Zach felt as if he'd done nothing but attend funerals and pray for the past few weeks, which was still a morbid improvement from watching Kasper decline, guilty as it was to admit. Who needed cultists when fate was so cruel already?

The resumption of his duties brought no respite either. Reassignment to a new Scion was as bitter as it was relieving - lightning this time, not shadow. He didn't know if it would've been easier or harder to see another Scion of Shadow standing beside him. He didn't really wish to know either. Not that he'd made much use of his blessing prior; it would, in theory, be an easy adjustment for him to receive a new element. But the news came with conditions that brought no peace to his heart. Zach desired to be of service, to do good in the world, especially in such troubled times, yet the High Cardinal informed him that the position demanded vigilance not only from without, but from within. He was not to be a protector, but a jailer.

The new Scion of Lightning was a criminal, and Zach was given explicit orders to watch him very carefully. He'd wanted to protest; Kasper had slipped away from him countless times, he was hardly the person to be entrusted with such a rigorous task, but then he considered who might be assigned in his place. Renault's crimes were not - on the surface, at least - irredeemably damning. It wasn't like he was an unrepentant mass murderer or serial rapist. Granted, he was a politician, which some would argue was even worse, but his crime was trying to access forbidden magics. He could speculate on what the man intended to do with such power, but it would only ever be that, speculation. This was not a soul he could dismiss out of hand, and that gave him pause. Surely the Church could find another Templar, one less merciful and less willing to see the good in a downtrodden criminal. It might've been what Renault deserved, but embittering a holy Scion was not something the nation needed right now.

So Zacharie accepted.

The man was... strange. Weird hair, predatory smile, fake-charming in the way he'd imagine a spider would be to a fly. Appearance aside, exactly the type of person one would imagine to be involved in politics. Even his blessing felt political; Renault simply shook Zach's hand, as if they'd closed some important deal and not sealed a covenant before Almighty Incepta. The new Scion of Lightning spent much of his time after acclimating to the outside world again, catching up on current affairs, the types of thing Zach assumed one did when they were released from a lengthy imprisonment. If he had family or loved ones, Zach didn't see them. He decided not to pry.

Seeing the summons from the Scion of Time was a surprise, given how hushed the entire ordeal of Renault's Scionhood had been kept by the Church. An invitation to all Scions was an invitation to all Scions, he supposed, but to organize such in only a week was a level of thoughtfulness Zach didn't figure the prince had in him. The introduction once they'd actually arrived shocked him more; Prince Lucas had been downright courteous, which was more than he could say about the rest of the room, already arguing before the meeting had even begun. He kept to the fringes of the discussion, hovering dutifully behind Renault as expected. The food might've been an appealing way to avoid any questioning pointed his way, for what a mere Templar's opinion was worth here, anyway, but one look at the cookies just reminded him of Kasper at Sir Tyler's blessing ceremony and that soured any appetite he could muster.

"If I may, esteemed Scions," Zach piped up, "I don't believe this conversation is going anywhere. No one in this room is directly drafting the war declaration, no matter how much some of us may like to." He didn't have a solution to the Kaudian problem either, but war would solve nothing of their current woes and only breed more sorrow for the nation at large. His Scion raised an excellent point as well; should these enemies of the faith turn out to not even be Kaudian, they'd only be turning their backs on the threat they already faced, and if they were, he doubted an invasion would end in a decisive conquest if the enemy could disable and capture any Scions on the frontline on a whim, no matter how intent Scion Theobald was on printing his name in the history books beside Alderman.

"We should be looking at more immediate and actionable solutions rather than drawn-out campaigns on the Kaudian front, don't you agree?"




In troubled times, it was important to cherish the little victories. Even if they came in the form of more work. It wasn't too hefty of a task, getting the Lucanian - Goddess, did this prick have no shame? - guard up to snuff; the existing force was more than adequate, but they were at war and a peacetime battalion simply wasn't something Tyler felt comfortable trusting. Sure, the castle security guarded royalty and behaved accordingly, but the staffing was a tad sparse to be fending off cultist attacks. That meant vetting new personnel, making sure everyone was adequately trained for a real attack and not just unruly pedestrians, establishing a sensible chain of command, on top of everything else he'd have had to do to settle in anyway. The upside was that it kept him in good shape. While not entirely out of practice back in the ballroom, testing the mettle of his new team definitely whipped him back into a fighting shape more to his comfort.

Now the castle had a full security detail and enough personnel in reserve to nearly defend a second Lucania Castle, with a schedule that kept every guardsman well-rested and well-drilled in the event of an attack. Lucas had simply waved his hand when asked about the budget, and Tyler certainly wasn't going to argue. Unfortunately, it was almost all for naught as Lucas somehow managed to end up fucking hospitalized. At least he got to miss that stupid coronation. King Ezekiel, what a joke. As if Lucas needed another thing to be smug about. He'd been infuriatingly coy about his stupid magic fork, though whatever it was seemed to have spooked him enough that he probably thought he was doing Tyler a favor by omitting information. Naturally, Tyler assumed it would blow up in both their faces and planned accordingly.

Other than that, Estoran palatial life was Estoran palatial life as he'd always known it, though the company was a bit worse this time around. The letter from Theo's mother still sat on his desk somewhere, along with a few half-written replies he gave up on when he couldn't think of what to say. Theodore would've just told him what to write by now.

Maybe he could write that down.

His stresses were overwritten by more pressing matters to stress over before he could, however, as Lucas informed him he intended to call a meeting of the Scions and 'invoke a prophecy', whatever the fuck that meant. At least he was only in charge of security, which was a surprisingly easy task given the guests were solely Scions and Templars. Anyone else was to be detained or dealt with, naturally. Tyler didn't practice a very PR-friendly brand of security, and he made this very clear to his new team.

Of course, the arguments started before the meeting did. While he couldn't help but agree with her, at least superficially, Belle played the part of a bitchy girlfriend trying to talk her man into a fight on her behalf wonderfully. Tyler had intended to lounge around for the entire meeting, quite frankly, but it seemed he'd have to play babysitter after all. No, mediator. Theodore called it mediating.

"Relax, ladies, you're both pretty," Tyler chimed in wearily as the flow of guests filed into the room, "I personally don't think any of our neighbors have the b-" Damn it, Rosemary. "-bravery to intervene on behalf of Kaudus. They'll huff, they'll call us warmongers, and then they'll ultimately do nothing. But I believe His Highness has a point, we can't declare open war on Kaudus while these heretics already infest our borders. Clean house first, then move to the backyard."

Their casus belli was the murder of Theodore Estora IX, as far as Tyler was concerned, and the opinions of a bunch of foreigners mattered to him about as much as the Kaudians, but they needed to exercise some tact against a force that managed to kill two Scions already. They were diplomatically, morally, and - most importantly - spiritually in the right here, they might as well take advantage of it and embarrass Kaudus on every stage.

And if they told him to fuck off, at least he could always fall back to the 'gift ham'.




Typical. A national tragedy had just happened, a Scion was in line to meet the same fate as Theodore, and the first priority was a performance review. Before their bruises even had a chance to fully darken, no less. Maybe Tyler's first fuck up had consigned every future templar to a brutal critique after they crossed paths with a heretic, in which case he sent his heartiest apologies to his colleagues. Either way, he wasn't particularly concerned with the contents of Irina's evaluation after that let-down of a debriefing. Tyler was no stranger to harsh reprimands and, of the many regrets he harbored from the night, handing Lucas a gun wasn't one of them. If he could do it again, he'd've given the prince a weapon earlier, quite frankly.

Were exhaustion not catching up with him, he'd have scoffed. Tyler wasn't here to entertain what-ifs. He protected his Scion and didn't get anyone killed in the meantime, what was the issue? Apparently she wasn't privy to the fact Tyler singlehandedly fended off a cyborg man that could've killed the entire ballroom by himself- wait, of course she wasn't. No one was. He almost spoke up, but they were ushered out of the room to make way for the second half of Irina's disciplinary hearing before he could raise his concerns.

Whatever. Might've even been for the best; if he rose the gravity of the threat right now, her lecture would probably be worse for the underperformers of the night. The sentiment didn't stop Tyler from planting himself right outside the door to the ballroom to await the Terrible Trio's exit. It was the next best thing to hunting down Fyodor and telling him instead, but Tyler wasn't certain if he was even on scene. They might've woke the poor bastard up and sent him to immediately coordinate the Church's response for all he knew.

Not that the waiting did him any favors. He had to tell someone, but there were a million other tasks that demanded his attention too. Nadine slipped further from their grasp every moment they spent standing around, and Tyler didn't have the high hopes Irina did that the nameless mooks would give everything up. They'd die for their false god and enjoy every moment of it, if they even knew enough to be of use to begin with. Tyler could be out there searching. If he didn't have Lucas to look after, he could've followed them back at the party.

That was another obligation to tend to; he didn't care that they were housed in the most secure building in Veradis, he needed to keep an eye on his Scion. That metal-dicked candy ass could waltz through security if he wanted to and the royal guard certainly wasn't going to stop him. Tyler toyed with his phone for lack of his ability to actually call Lucas - almost called Theodore's old number on accident, even. He'd have to rectify that.

How frustrating.




Against his better judgment, Tyler followed orders. He should’ve been out there searching; every second the knights looked was a second the Kaudians got further and further away with their prize, but Tyler had to make no such concessions. He could trade seconds for minutes with ease. Of course, the weight on his shoulders made no attempt to help with that; Lucas in top shape was still a liability to carry along, let alone the sorry state he was in now. There wasn’t a spot on the planet Tyler trusted to harbor him while he searched right now either. If they could infiltrate the Giles estate in force, they could get anywhere.

So he made his way to the rendezvous point wordlessly, no matter how Lucas snapped. Ulysse wasn’t the priority here, the Scions were - he was. Even safely inside the fortifications of Stern Hill, Tyler kept Lucas draped across his shoulders, despite how his back ached for a respite. Nothing could be trusted and he would need to bolt at any moment. It wasn’t until they were all ushered onto the train that he finally let his Scion down. Far more gently than he had been the entire night prior, Tyler tilted his body and deposited Lucas onto one of the train seats. Unceremoniously, he dropped into the seat next to him and leaned his head backward with a sharp exhale. Yeah, he was gonna be sore tomorrow.

“You okay?” he questioned, head lulled to the side enough to barely catch sight of Lucas out of the corner of his visor.

Despite every single protest and curse and complaint he had on the way, Lucas was more relieved to be put down. At Tyler’s question, he lifted a hand, trying to see if whatever had happened was finished. He still felt extraordinarily weak and if something else happened he would just die, but at least he could move somewhat on his own.

“I’m alive,” He replied, letting his head rest against the wall and staring at a spot on the ceiling.

Tyler huffed in response, somewhere between a chuckle and a noise of exasperation. “Good enough.” He stayed slouched in his seat for a few moments, letting the noise of the train coax his heartbeat back to a calmer rate. It hardly worked.

“You know when I said shoot people that get too close, I didn’t mean literally right that second. I meant get the people I missed.” It was a petty gripe, but it was the first that came to mind. It was doubtful that Lucas knew the first thing about protecting himself - more likely he had a royal approximation of what he thought would protect him - so Tyler wasn’t exactly mad, but he still didn’t trust that idiot with a gun under anything but the most dire of circumstances.

Lucas let out an irritated huff. “I haven’t shot a gun in months, I needed to make sure I could still aim,” He replied curtly. “Pretty sure you missed the last dude that grabbed me. Or is that one my fault, too?”

“Well if you found out you couldn’t aim, that’s a civilian with a new hole in her head to deal with,” Tyler spat back, then sighed. “I’m not mad, I’m not blaming you. I’m giving you feedback on how you handled a shitshow, it’s never gonna be pretty. I’d rather iron out the issues now before this becomes a regular occurrence.” Evidently these bastards had a vendetta against him in particular or something. Or the Estoras, which probably made more sense.

Lucas’ eyebrows were knit together in frustration, but he decided to calm himself down before he would respond again. It was bad enough that the past few hours were essentially orientation for their Scion-Templar combination and he had to admit he hated how things turned out. He thought it was business as usual with the addition of some church knight following him around, he didn’t think he’d be getting attacked like this. The thought came with an unfamiliar anxiety that he hated.

“It sure sounds like you’re blaming me,” He muttered to himself. There was a tiny pause before he continued at regular volume with, “You really think that’s going to happen again?”

An annoyed puff of air escaped Tyler’s lips. Of course this guy couldn’t take criticism, why did he expect otherwise? Of course, he’d rather let that no-limbed moron run him through than try something like reassurance for his ever-so-pleasant Scion, so Lucas would just have to deal with whatever he considered Tyler’s nagging.

“It’s already happened twice,” he muttered, “And they showed their hand this time. That was a declaration of war, by someone if not the Kaudian government.” Especially if Irina couldn’t follow through on the search for Nadine. A second Scion captured would only embolden them. Even with Nadine recovered, they had no reason to relent after that display. The fact that they managed something like that in the heart of Veradis and killed a blessed Templar would be rallying point enough.

Gone were his carefree days, he supposed. Lucas hated the idea of having to constantly watch his back for enemies and jumping at moving shadows. But it would be necessary; if they sent that tin man after him, they wouldn’t be satisfied with the captured Scion of Lightning. He had debuted today and already there was some asshat after him–except now that the thought came to mind, how did they mobilize so quickly? The tin man knew where they would be, could manipulate time, could override his own control…was it possible that metal man could have visions, too?

Lucas closed his eyes for a moment, his hand to his head. The one advantage he had was gone and he really was entirely useless. No, he had been useless before the realization with a myriad of hazy visions and headaches that drove him to his knees. He winced a touch as his leg began to get restless. He figured he accidentally touched a bruise or something, as efficient as Tyler’s manhandling was, he ached all over.

“Great,” was his only response after a long pause.

Tyler didn’t respond at first. Lucas was thinking loud enough for both of them, and the Templar still didn’t know if he was the type of person who needed to be dragged out of his own head or just left alone. Not that he had much left to say anyway. Lectures on security were wasted on someone that would forget half of it to an adrenaline dump by tomorrow, and he was far too exhausted to bicker with him right now.

“I’ll kill them next time,” he announced in place of anything substantial, “I’m gonna take back whatever they took from Theo and then I’m gonna kill every one of them.” Tyler didn’t know how to ask the question he really wanted to, namely whether Lucas intended to be a burden. It was one thing to say he’d dedicate himself to the investigation of Theodore’s murder; it was another to contend with armed terrorists.

Carefully, he continued, “Going forward, I need to know whether you want me to do all the heavy lifting or not.”

Lucas wasn’t stupid, he knew what Tyler was trying to say. He dropped his hand and stared at him, clearly displeased. It wasn’t like he was trying to be useless! How in Incepta’s name was he supposed to know all this was going to happen?! But as quickly as the anger came up, it dissipated as he caught himself. No, it was a legitimate question. He couldn’t do anything against the tin man and he was sure he’d come back. Tyler won that time with his swordsmanship and tactics but would he get away with it next time? If Tyler fell, what then?

Then Lucas’ life was forfeit and he’d meet the same fate as Theo.

“I’ll do what I can,” He didn’t mean to give a non-answer, but for the first time in a long time, he was unsure. “But I wonder…if they took time from Theo, what do they still need me for?” It was a question with no real answer, but it bothered him the same way his magic failed him, troubling him greatly.

Tyler fully turned his head to look at Lucas now, a curious squint leveled at him beneath the impassive visage of his armored helmet. What did that mean? Was that an admission that, yes, he was useless, but he intended to do better, or was that a simple way to save face when confronted with the fact that he’d done nothing but hide behind Tyler’s leg the whole time?

“Maybe Captain Dickless wants a friend. Can’t have too many time-stoppers in your army, I’d assume.” If they could mass produce the capacity to stop time off Theo alone, there never would’ve even been an attack, they would’ve just whisked all the Scions away in the span of a second and left everyone but Lucas woefully confused.

“And I think you can do a little better than you did today. We’ll work on it.” It was a goad, but there was no bite to it. Tyler mused as if it were a passing comment about the weather. Not praise, not condemnation. It simply was.

More than one time-stopper? Then again, tonight was proof that it was possible. Somehow. Lucas almost wanted to reply with some senseless joke about not having any interest if there wasn’t a dick involved, but he kept it to himself. He’d have to work on keeping his calm, he had to admit that Tyler had a point in not exactly handling the situation well. If he had kept the man talking, he could have tried to get some answers.

He didn’t get a chance to think on it too hard as Tyler spoke again. Guess his Templar wasn’t deeming him a hopeless case just yet. Even if it was half-hearted or just a thought Tyler decided to think out loud, Lucas nodded. “I’ll do better,” He replied quietly. He almost regretted saying it out loud, feeling like a little kid trying to get approval.

“And if not, I’ll have to play along with Father’s house arrest,” Now that was another thing that had bothered him earlier, but considering the shitshow that went down, it was understandably put aside. He must’ve done something to piss his old man off, but he couldn’t really think of any one thing. It could’ve just been a culmination of everything, but why now then? Oh well, that was a problem for Future Lucas.

Speaking of the future, his eyes flickered towards the tunnel. “We’re probably heading for Veradis Castle. There will probably be a medic team on hand for us. That includes you, too,” He looked at Tyler’s arm, then at Tyler himself. “Don’t go playing hero, just get it wrapped up as soon as possible.”

“Pssh, I’m fine,” Tyler huffed. Sore? Definitely. Bruised? Maybe a little. Hurt? Hardly. Then again, if that weird sword had done anything else that he hadn’t noticed yet, it’d be better to catch it early. If his arm fell off from wasting Kaudian death-sword disease, he’d be no better than his opponent. Okay, he’d still be three limbs better, but that was beside the point. “Can you walk?”

Lucas raised a pointed eyebrow at Tyler. ‘Fine’, huh? Did Tyler think Lucas wouldn’t notice considering how much time he was on his shoulders? He momentarily ignored Tyler’s followup question. “You’re fine,” He repeated, incredulous.

“Peachy. It’s a bruise. I’ve gotten worse from people I like.” Yeah, yeah, Tyler would see the medic like a good boy. Hopefully no one else had a real injury, or he’d probably end up walking away while they were being treated and hate himself when he woke up in pain tomorrow.

“Nice,” Lucas commented, scratching his chin. “The most I’ve gotten is bite marks, but those don’t last.” He didn’t think he would appreciate getting bruised on purpose.

Tyler was glad his face was covered; the look he shot back at Lucas could’ve curdled milk. He made a disgusted noise regardless. “Wrong ‘like’.” Lucas better have been able to walk, or Tyler was going to let him crawl inside at this rate.

Aw, that wasn’t as much of a reaction as Lucas hoped to get. Oh well, better not to push it. He did, however, wiggle a touch. He still felt off and weak, but he could probably walk alright. He was going to take a bath, get drunk, and pass out ‘til the morning. Or at least, that was what he wanted to do, but there was something he could get here if Elijah was also around.

As Lucas lifted his leg, he suddenly remembered how Tyler kicked the tin man. “How did you do that kick again?” He asked. “Like…do you lean back and put all your force into it?”

Now Tyler could only stare back at him incredulously. Was that a euphemism for something? No, it sounded like he really was asking about a kick. An amused snort escaped his mouth. Even without the sudden tonal shift, it was absurd, really. That was a question people asked after a sparring round, not after watching him boot a terrorist into a table of food.

“Kinda? It’s a little more technical than that.” He entertained the question vaguely, mostly because he didn’t quite remember what specific kick Lucas was talking about. “Also depends if you’re kicking to make space or actually hurt.”

“So it wasn’t just for show, good,” Lucas nodded, a glint in his eye as he brought his hand to his mouth. It had been so unexpected and he hadn’t seen any knight do something like that before. “That’s the first thing I want to learn.” The element of surprise was vital, after all.

Unless he was fucking with him. The visor didn’t help in that regard. Whatever, he’d take that chance. It reminded him of some show he saw once as a kid and thought it looked cool. Of course, that was something he was never going to admit out loud, but so long as he could replicate it, then it was fine.

Tyler stared a bit longer, then - fuck it, he laughed. “Yeah, okay. We can do that.” There was a decent chance Lucas had horrible timing and would end up with his leg cut off when he inevitably tried it, but he had to start somewhere. Desperate times or whatever.

The prince was decidedly in a better mood than when the conversation started. He did, however, finally feel the adrenaline and weariness creep up on him at last. He nodded once again before making some half-assed attempt at making himself comfortable–though he was starting to feel aches here and there with each movement–and let out a tiny sigh of exhaustion.

“To think I was going to stay up all night,” He said, more to himself than anything as he closed his eyes. “...wake me up when we get there, or just drag me to whatever room they give me.”

Tyler hummed in affirmation. He had the strangest feeling Lucas would scream at him if he woke up being carried once again, but whatever. He’d gotten permission. Not that he felt like carrying the Scion anymore himself, so maybe Lucas had lucked out.

When the train arrived at their destination - Veradis Castle, apparently - Tyler disembarked and gave the duchess only enough attention to figure out where he was ordered to go. No disrespect to the Bachmeiers’ hospitality, but Tyler was no longer in the mood after the travesty of a party they’d just attended. He paid his due diligence to the medic, letting the woman prod her scanner into the many dark spots on his skin and let him off with only a wrapping over his wounded arm and an assurance that it looked like any other bout of blunt force trauma.

With that concluded, and without a Scion to babysit any longer, Tyler made for the ballroom. It felt wrong, allowing them to be separated - and even more wrong to think he was missing the prince’s company, if only in a roundabout, duty-bound way - but the debriefing sounded far more important than tucking His Highness in for a nap.


@Hero


Tyler was already in the midst of turning back when he heard Lucas fumble, but his announcement made the Templar's blood run cold. Ulysse? Dead? That was impossible; these apostates were relentless but nowhere near the caliber of combatant needed to take on the storied Templar of Lightning, no matter the numbers advantage. His earlier thought must've been accurate. Captain Dickless wasn't the only elite stalking the battlefield. Tyler found himself unimpressed by the man's performance, but his opponent had admitted to his miscalculation - without Lucas as an unknown factor, the other Templars might not be so lucky.

Circumstance left him little time to panic, as the ballroom descended into darkness again with an ear-splitting shriek. His helmet adjusted to the new lighting just in time to see an armored man rush at him, and his blade grated along Tyler's armored breast as he narrowly avoided a piercing thrust. He hooked an arm under the outstretched thrust and latched onto his attacker's bicep, connecting it to his core to hold the man in place and plunge his own sword into the man's gut while he struggled to get away. A gunshot behind him, far too close for comfort, turned him immediately, only to see Lucas nearly using a corpse as a blanket.

The admission that followed from the prince would've shocked him, had he not already resigned himself to believe that anything that could make this situation worse could happen at this point. The explosive arrival of reinforcements was a small blemish on an otherwise perfect record for Team Sheolbound, but Irina's orders at least gave him an objective beyond 'survive'. Turning to Lucas, he knelt down to help him up to his feet and experimentally tugged at the flow of time to ensure he hadn't met the same fate. To his delight, it answered, and with Irina's men evening the odds, he had no reason to conserve energy anymore.

"You weren't doing anything with it anyway," Tyler muttered as he changed his level to put his weight under Lucas and swung an arm between his legs, "Hold on and don't puke on me." With about as much delicateness as he'd tossed Lucas around earlier - which was to say, none - Tyler hefted the prince up and propped his body across his shoulders, ignoring the way his injured arm throbbed under the weight. Once he was reasonably balanced, Tyler fed Lucas' arm to the hand supporting his leg and, with his now free hand, ignited his manasaber again.

A quick scan of the room didn't highlight any obvious escape routes; the Templars of Fire and Metal had both opted for the window, though their Scions hadn't joined them. Tyler briefly feared they were both in pursuit of successful kidnappers, though both Scions were accounted for and not in imminent peril upon further inspection. They must've been after Nadine then. Reckless, but admittedly a weight off Tyler's shoulders. The window's use as a point of escape was hindered when Edmund followed in hot pursuit, drawing gunfire the whole way. No way was he going to drag Lucas through that.

His sigil flared and unrelenting chaos of the room slowed to a sloppily correographed waltz. The crowd shifted as seaweed drifted in a gentle current, nowhere near fast enough to close the now-evident gaps through the ballroom's residents. With magical stamina to spare where his physical endurance began to wane, Tyler broke into a brisk stride as he crossed the room, steering clear of opponents where he could. Charitably, he made it a point to cross under the chandelier, where the men hounding the Templar of Gravity had begun to react far too late to Tyler's advance. His blade slid cleanly across the throat of the first, though the second managed to shift his gun in Tyler's general direction during the delay. He stepped aside and flicked his weapon upward, severing the hand at the forearm before whatever delayed signal his brain must've mustered in realtime could reach his trigger finger. Blood squirted from the remaining stump with surprising speed, enough to paint a red stripe across Tyler's body (and Lucas' unfortunate leg), though the man was dispatched before his hand even managed to hit the ground.

With Maya and Edmund's immediate predicament averted, Tyler continued toward his initial destination - Dame Irina. He picked up his pace into a light jog as he neared, not stopping until he was behind the Veradian defensive line.

"Irina! Ulysse is-" Tyler cut himself off as he remembered he was likely talking too fast for anyone to parse and let his magic fade, resuming as soon as the present caught back up with him, "Ulysse's dead, Nadine might be compromised, we need search parties out there now!" His arm flailed toward the broken window frantically, though he remembered to dispel his mana blade after the first hazardous thrust.


@Hero@webboysurf@Obscene Symphony


A Kaudian was not a sight Tyler particularly wanted to see, even if she was on his side. Her plan wasn’t terrible - it’d certainly give him more leeway to act as he wished if he didn’t have to look back to see if Lucas was still dawdling behind him every few seconds - but it also meant the enemy could concentrate their forces as well as the Templars could, and they definitely had the numerical advantage.

“I haven’t seen anyone, I stepped out of the bathroom to a guy trying to run me through,” Tyler replied. He didn’t bother asking any of the questions that inhabited his own head; he doubted Sara had any more context than he did for the attack, even if she was present for the initial invasion.

Just as Tyler turned to look for the giant of a man that marked their rally point, everything slowed down. No, that wasn’t an apt description. Everything stopped. Tyler swiveled his head back toward his Scion as the cacophony of violence that had overtaken the ballroom stilled to a peaceful silence, but he was too late; he’d barely made it ninety degrees before his awareness blanked out.

When time resumed its flow, Tyler found himself being tugged in the direction of a very flashy-looking aggressor by Lucas. Kaudian invaders shouldn’t have the capacity to use technology like that, assuming it wasn’t a spell in its own right, so this guy was clearly a cut above the rest, to say nothing of his apostasy. He shifted in front of his Scion defensively, sword held out in a ready stance. Alright, time to see what his gimmick was-

The room was still silent. A stray bullet hung in the air, just within Tyler’s periphery. Time was still frozen. And that fucker was moving.

“Please tell me you unfroze him to fuck with me,” Tyler muttered, keeping the golden glow of his suit’s eyeholes centered firmly on his new opponent. That simply wasn’t possible. The Scion of Time’s power was unreplicable. The prince had to have come up with some horrible divide and conquer plan and decided to unfreeze the enemies first for some reason.

“I wish,” Lucas sighed. “I don’t know how and he’s not really keen on letting us know.”

The man paused for a moment, observing the pair. He then decided to pocket his gun, choosing to wield the dull-looking sword with both hands. “I will insist once again for your surrender, Lucas Estora,” He stated. “However, that will be the last time I ask. Do you wish harm on your Templar?”

Lucas’ mouth parted as he let out a small laugh. “For fuck’s sake, you’re cocky, aren’t you?” He asked, though he paused. “Not that I was any use to you before, but you’re on your own for this one.” He was almost apologetic as he spoke to Tyler.

Tyler echoed Lucas’ laugh as he stepped forward to meet his opponent. Sword looked like a piece of shit, so he either blew all his funds on his fancy time-deflection scarf or it was enchanted too and he shouldn’t risk getting hit by it.

“And I insist you blow it out your ass,” Tyler huffed as he regarded his opponent one last time. If scarf man could counter Lucas, he could counter Tyler. Back to fundamentals it was then! Still, he had to play it safe, there were too many unknowns and not enough tricks to fall back on if he underestimated any of them. Luckily, he had no obligation to rush in hastily. A staredown wouldn’t get this traitor his prisoner.

“Very well,” The man raised the sword with little effort. “Tyler Morris, twenty-five, Templar of Time. A test of physical capabilities, then.”

The dull sword hummed ominously for a second before a halo of light appeared over his head. He decided on his first move and closed the gap between the two. Once he was close enough, he swung. Once the two blades collided, the mana sword fluctuated for a second but remained steady. The dull blade’s edge seemed to chip a touch.

“Your mana is stronger than I anticipated,” He noted.

Tyler gritted his teeth as the man seemed to charge up. Physical capabilities, his ass; something was up with that sword. The glow didn’t look too promising either. When his opponent came in for his attack, Tyler shifted his weight and brought his sword up to meet it. The flicker of his blade almost prompted him to disengage immediately, though it held firm against the onslaught, apparently to scarfy’s dismay.

It looked like… some kind of dark crystal. Volcanic glass, maybe. Presumably meant specifically to disable Tyler’s favorite toy, somehow. Mother help them if every Scion had an attacker kitted out similarly to counter their Templar. It had to do something else, though, since disarmament was nowhere near enough to kill Tyler Morris, age twenty-five, Templar of Time, and tester of physical capabilities and this jackass had to know it. He wasn’t too keen on testing ugly sword against flesh to find out though.

“I was gonna say the same about your breath.” He lanced his leg out straight, aiming to plant the ball of his foot in his attacker’s abdomen and stagger him back enough to follow up with a quick diagonal cut just as he reached the edge of his manablade’s reach.

The kick was unexpected, the cut striking through the suit and armor. There was a small scoff as his hand traced the hit and he decided to swing more aggressively this time. Tyler danced back, staying light on his feet. He met the swing with a sweeping parry, more intent on guiding his opponent’s weapon away than intercepting the force of the swing. The last thing he needed was for his blade to fail under repeated pressure and leave him to eat a sword to the face. He needed to pull a mundane weapon off one of the bodies. Better would be to lock this guy down long enough to toss a gun in Lucas’ direction, but he’d be lucky if he got a reprieve long enough to do either; that strike felt like that first hit had pissed the guy off.

He stepped into range again with a powerful swing of his own, aiming to crowd his enemy as quickly as he could and put the man on his back foot.

The parry had the man take a misstep, forcing him to take a stand to prevent himself from losing his footing. He stood firm as Tyler swung, blocking it with his sword. The manasword once again flickered, but this time the man pushed forward. Rather than disengage, however, he remained steady and looked to gain some ground.

Tyler’s stance switched as the man shoved his own sword back in his face, once again shifting his body under the block to avoid placing himself directly in the sword’s path should his manasaber fail. Rather than shove back with all his might, he exerted only enough force to not be pushed back, then forfeited the position entirely as he seemingly stepped back to reset. As his back foot came forward to regain his stance, he threw it with all his might to snap a kick against the potentially overextended man’s calf and then swung his sword with all the elegance of a baseball bat at his side.

The kick caused the man to buckle, the moment of hesitation enough to leave him open. Instead of taking the hit, he caught the manasword in his hand, the mana singeing through the metallic glove. His head turned from the weapon to its owner, and he swung his sword, aiming at Tyler’s side.

The Templar would’ve scoffed were he not in mortal danger. That was just cheap. He hoped this guy would lose a finger for that. Unfortunately, he had little time to lament the unfairness of the man’s makeshift block, and instead tucked his elbow into his side to protect his vitals from the sword. His sigil flared instinctively, though it did little good with Lucas’ throttle on time still overpowering his, and the blade tore into his armor like a sponge in a puddle and smashed into his unprotected arm.

Tyler disengaged sloppily as he recoiled, holding his sword up defensively with his remaining arm while the injured one dangled at his side. Not broken. No obvious hex placed upon him by the mysterious blade. Good start. Now without the initiative, Tyler played the part of a cowed wolf limping away from prey that put up more of a fight than it had expected while strafing toward one of scarfy’s buddies on the floor.

The man took a step back, an electric current running through his hand, or what was left of it; the hand was entirely made of metal and was able to move after he curled it into a fist. He raised his sword with his intact hand, pointing it at Tyler.

“It would seem your Scion has given you quite the blessing. Your strength is more than I had calculated.” He stated. “A shame. The shackles of Incepta weigh down your soul and keep you from your true potential.”

Oh, good, the heretical drivel had started. Just the opportunity Tyler had wanted. “Your pamphlets could use some work,” he spat before he pried one of the fallen swords off the ground with his toe and kicked it up to carelessly catch it by the blade in his armored hand. He tucked his manasaber’s hilt back onto his thigh and traded the new weapon to his uninjured arm.

It wouldn’t neutralize the man’s weapon entirely as a threat, but it would certainly let him block without any hesitation again. Plus, Tyler was the tiniest bit curious to see how his enlightened lack of shackles would look when he shoved this idiot’s mana-drinking sword in his own glowing scarf. Somebody’d clearly cut his hand off once before, Tyler could do it again.

“If the Goddess is so disgusting to you, I doubt you have much use for Her favored children.”

“On the contrary, Her children will be the ones to summon her back here to Gaia,” He replied calmly. “All we have done is speed up the clock–and everyone will see that it is the embrace of Termina that will lead humanity to prosperity.”

His left hand relaxed and joined his right on his sword. He tested the grip and deemed it satisfactory, and once he felt it was time, he resumed the fight, mimicking his earlier entrance and swinging.

Tyler barely had time to test the weight of his new weapon before he was raising it up to defend against another onslaught. Well, if this heretic was so keen on calling down divine retribution upon himself, Tyler almost couldn’t find it in himself to deny him. Trading Lucas for judgment day seemed a fair deal. Unfortunate that this one-armed idiot was probably full of shit, whether he knew it or not.

This time, Tyler shoved back against the sword that clashed with his own and followed up with high, repetitive swings to force the man back into a defensive stance with his sword no longer covering his lower body.

The fight resumed in earnest and the man met Tyler’s swings with his own. The swords clashed repeatedly, with the last hit resulting in a small shard breaking off of the sword. It flew back inconsequentally, though when it went through the flowing mana, the entire length wavered much like Tyler’s manasword had. He paid no mind to it, albeit Tyler’s gambit had paid off as the man’s stance changed as expected.

As the man committed to his defense, Tyler took one hand off his weapon and held it back, as if reeling back for another committed strike. He threw it with his only remaining arm, an overhand chop that would necessitate the man to react defensively, lest he need a new metal collarbone, though he cared little about where the strike ended up. He swung his now-free hand downward, as if to build momentum for his attack, only to reach for his manasaber’s hilt in a reversed grip and ignite it downward into his opponent’s forward thigh.

The man raised his blade to meet Tyler’s, but he failed to react in time to Tyler’s manasword. It surged through his thigh, the hit causing him to jerk away in a hasty reaction that caused it to rip through his thigh. He pushed back and leapt away from Tyler, the pantsleg torn and revealing the thigh nearly buckling under his weight. However, where there would be blood, there was only metal, electricity crackling through the part with every movement.

“Once again, I have underestimated you,” He confessed, reaching into his jacket and bringing out a small grenade. He hooked his thumb through the pin, holding it out. There was a slight pause as the halo faded and he remained motionless for a few seconds. “Very well. I would recommend you not follow–your Scion will be needing your attention momentarily.”

Tyler ceased his pursuit once the grenade came out, ready to dive back whenever the fanatic’s suicidal tendencies overpowered his common sense. Fortunately, the man seemed more interested in hearing himself talk.

“Thanks for the insight, Go-Go Gadget Jackass,” Tyler hissed. He wondered if this guy could still piss or if he lost that appendage too. “Lucas, follow the Kaudian girl. I’m finishing this.”

“If you choose to ignore my warning, so be it,” The man said as he pulled the pin, holding the grenade in his metal hand. The mana around him went from red to a light blue, and after a few seconds, time resumed.

The fact that he managed to override Lucas’ magic was incredulous enough, but the Scion realized what that meant. The chaos of the ballroom resumed, and once the mooks realized Tyler was gone, they immediately looked to Lucas–who had been previously behind Tyler and had essentially switched places with him.

“Son of a bitch,” Lucas cursed, holding out his hand to slow the armored men down.

The man, on the other hand, threw down the grenade once time had resumed. The concussive blast was enough to shake the walls and cover the hallway in smoke. Lucas threw his arms above his head, nearly knocked off his feet, but he ran to the doorway. “Are you alright?!” He called out to Tyler.

Tyler was preoccupied with the ringing in his ears as the smokescreen consumed him. By the time he’d regained his composure, he had no doubt the man had long since fled, though he tossed his stolen weapon impotently into the cloud anyway. At the sound of his charge’s voice, he changed directions and rushed back toward the ballroom until Lucas was properly in sight.

“We’re buying you a fucking weapon,” he muttered in lieu of an answer as he reached for his chest. The armor parted on his hand’s approach, and Tyler pulled out his handgun to offer it toward Lucas. “Here. Shoot the next fucker that approaches us, I don’t care if Grandpappy Nate himself is behind the guy.”

Lucas’ shoulders slumped as he rolled his eyes. “Why do I bother…” He muttered to himself, though he eyed the handgun warily. He wouldn’t leave Tyler waiting for long but didn’t bother hiding his reluctance as he took the handgun. Pausing again, he turned away from Tyler and aimed at the men still stuck in slow motion. He shot at each one twice, and once he lowered his gun, time resumed for them and each one went down.

“What did he mean when he said I’d need your attention?” Lucas suddenly asked.

Tyler raised a hand in protest as Lucas took the opportunity to follow up on his orders right that second, though the gun went off all the same. He almost chided him, but his inquiry was a lot more pressing, so Tyler opted to save it for the inevitable post-shitshow security briefing he’d have to give him anyway.

“Don’t know. Maybe he meant them, maybe I don’t feel like finding out.” He pointed toward the Scion of Fire in the distance. “Let’s regroup.”


@Hero@Stern Algorithm


The Templars had a privilege the Scions did not, and Zach intended to take full advantage of it; there was no expectation for him to be entertaining at parties. He needed only linger around Kasper, reciprocate any polite conversation, and take it easy for the night - as far as a Templar could, anyway. It was made all the easier when Kasper decided his latest scribbles demanded his attention far more pressingly than those in attendance, and Zach contented himself with stolen glances at Kasper's notebook and idle people watching. He wasn't really sure how to talk to nobility at these types of events anyway; it was all gossip and thinly-veiled bouts of one-uppery.

Zach's gaze trailed over lazily as Kasper shot up, suddenly alert. He figured the Scion had come up with some elegant turn of phrase to resolve whatever verbiage had been puzzling him all evening, and paid it little mind. Though, the fact that it coincided with the tingle in the air was a bit too convenient, a fact later confirmed when the lights flickered. The room descended into total darkness moments later, though the templar was hardly perturbed as his visor quickly adjusted, just in time to see the windows be kicked in by invaders.

He jumped from his seat and turned to Kasper with a suggested plan of action on his tongue, only to be preemptively overruled. He was being told to stay low? This was his job, Kasper should be the one- His objections went unvoiced, as Kasper had already disappeared.

"Of all the times to vanish," he muttered. Nothing in his arsenal could detect his Scion with any reliability once mixed into the crowd, but he was obligated to at least try to follow. Hardly a point in regrouping if his charge wasn't there to defend, let alone all the civilians potentially caught in the crossfire.

Fortunately, he wasn't the most spottable Templar either, and he slammed his crystal onto his chest. Rather than the splendorous lightshow that accompanied the other defenders of the faith, his armor coiled its way over his being in inky tendrils of shadow, the usual manalights that traced a templar's frame replaced with smooth cracks that peered into a lightless abyss. He was a hooded wraith, swaddled in white and gold and black rather than the trappings of a horror story but no less ephemeral. His faceless visage lacked even eyeholes - an unnecessary ornamentation - and instead possessed only a single hollow void overtop the space between his eyes where the bridge of his nose rested underneath.

Unfortunately, armor was still armor, and one of the interlopers zeroed in on him the moment he'd suited up, or perhaps even before, given his trajectory. Notably, he ducked and weaved around panicked nobles on his beeline for Zach. Seemed they weren't subtle about their targets, but that meant he wouldn't have to worry for the rest of the attendees' safety. It also meant he needed to find Kasper fast.

Zach raised a hand impassively with a muttered incantation under his breath, presenting a palm out toward the man that glowed with a sigil unseen in the darkness of the ballroom. Manalights strobed over his open hand, heedless of whether it drew attention or not, and each flash sent forth a bolt of energy to pelt the attacker's armored chest. He craned his neck around for further threats, only to see the first enemy he spotted writhe under the influence of some invisible attack before collapsing. Moments later, another - one of the gunmen targetting the Scion of Gravity - succumbed to the same fate.

Kasper.

Zach set off along the trail of corpses, only to witness Kasper reveal himself over the Scion of Metal. Though it looked like she'd regretfully taken a hit, at least she was safe. His relief was promptly overshadowed by an approaching assailant, that Kasper either hadn't noticed or considered an acceptable risk.

"Watch out!" he called as he thrust his hand out again to send a blast into the charging soldier's shoulder, sending the man spinning off-balance. With another incantation, he pointed a finger upward and flicked a mote of mana into the air. Once over the staggering man, it elongated and fell like a raindrop to spear through the soldier's lowered head.

Rushing over, he took up a position with his back to the two Scions, hands raised in preparation throw up a barrier should another attacker intrude while Dominika regained her footing. "If we get the Scions together, can you smuggle them out?"


@Olive Fontaine@Abstract Proxy


Tyler kept to himself on their walk back from the bathroom. It seemed he and the prince had traded roles; Lucas wanted to grace the party with his royal presence for a bit longer and now Tyler was the one who urgently wanted to leave. Not that it would do him any good - Theodore wouldn't suddenly haunt him less once he was alone with his thoughts. As the lights flickered, he thought perhaps the Goddess had answered his pleas. A power outage would certainly put a damper on the festivities, and sure enough, moments later the lights shut off entirely. Weird that it happened in the absence of a storm, unless this was some dumb party trick manufactured by the Duke's staff. Maybe Scion Nadine got too drunk and fried the building - women could still be party animals at the ripe age of a hundred, right?

Tyler sighed and pushed open the door to the ballroom, half expecting to see some gimmick he wasn't quite in the mood for starting up. The sound of shattering glass rid him of that notion very quickly. As the first screams rang out, Tyler threw his arm back and shoved Lucas toward the wall of the adjoining hallway, behind the cover of the doorframe. His other hand fumbled in his pocket, wasting no time in slamming his crystal into his chest. The armor unfurled, sleek and elegant, unhindered by the pointless trappings of ceremony it was earlier. Gold manalights pulsed from the suit's decorations, flaring with the power of the sigil of Time.

"We're leaving. Now," he ordered back toward Lucas, only to be cut off by the sounds of the Scions screaming for their Templars over the clamour of frightened nobility. They were the targets? For animals, the Kaudians certainly did know how to make an entrance. "Scratch that, I'm going in."

The ballroom exploded with light, illuminating their attackers at last. One of them had already drawn concerningly close, doubtlessly tipped off by the flash of Tyler's armaments. Worse, he weaved to and fro between panicked civilians on his approach, meaning Tyler couldn't just shoot him and be done with it.

Poor guy.

Tyler again left one arm backward to attend (read: manhandle) his Scion as he grasped for a weapon. As his assailant lunged at him with a blade, Tyler shoved Lucas back further as the attack skimmed the trim of his forward pauldron. A torrent of mana burst forth from the device in his other hand, writhing in undulating ribbons until it stabilized into a brilliant golden blade, not quite crystallized but not entirely energy either. His attacker dodged a quick upward thrust from the newly-manifested manasaber, and responded with a few hounding blows as he very obviously tried to flank Tyler and force him into playing human shield for Lucas.

The guy was fast, Tyler would give him that, but the Templar was beyond such mundane concepts as speed. Rather than continue his incessant parrying, Tyler ignited his sigil and ducked backward to let a swing sail past his face at a laughable pace. Too laughable, he had more people to kill than this. Tyler shoved the blade along its path with his free hand, forcibly overextending the man's arm before he dug his own sword into the man's flank and then ripped it out gruesomely.

A gunshot echoed closer than the others and something whizzed past his head as the first attacker crumpled to the floor in slow motion, though spray of drywall lethargically floating past tipped him off that the projectile had missed and struck into the wall. Tyler flattened himself behind the doorframe for cover and let time speed back up to meet him before he spoke.

"If you hear a gun go off, you slow everything down immediately until you're sure it's not coming at you, got it?" Ideally, he'd vacate the prince from the premises entirely, but then he'd have to leave him unattended while he went back in for the other Scions, which was historically a bad idea, especially if these were the same people.

His Scion sufficiently chided, Tyler pulled out of his hiding spot at preternatural speed to advance on the gunman from earlier. Separating from him was a risk, but it was much easier to dodge a bullet than smack it out of the air, and he couldn't do that with Lucas directly behind him. Two more shots flew past before the man switched to a bladed weapon, as if realizing the futility of trying to shoot a man that quite literally sees it coming with time to spare.

They locked swords as a second attacker joined them for an attempted cheap shot, forcing Tyler to disengage and strafe away to try and put the gunman between himself and the other attacker. The former-gunman lunged in a repeat their earlier tactic, aiming to tie up Tyler's sword so the other could exploit their numbers advantage. To that end, he momentarily dispelled his blade, letting his opponent's sword slip through the formless wisps of residual mana before it reformed past the man's guard and sliced across his neck.

Tyler released his throttle on the flow of time as the last man came in, no longer needing to cheat on a single opponent. He had to give them credit, they fought with fanatical morale; his attacker didn't even flinch when his companion died. Also meant they probably wouldn't talk, so Tyler had no reason to be anything but lethal. He met the man swing for swing until a parry sent both their weapons careening away from their center line, and Tyler followed up with a swift front kick to knock the man into a table of refreshments before follwing up with a downward slash to cut him down properly.

"No wonder you ducked me last time," Tyler goaded to the crowd as he caught his breath, hoping to draw the attackers in and away from the fleeing civilians, "I can do this all day!"


@Hero


As Lucas threw his little tantrum, Tyler couldn't help but grin. He doubted the prince was fishing for pity, but he managed to vomit his woes all over Tyler's shoes in place of physical vomit anyway. And then he stole his drink, how adorably pathetic. Lucas must've been a crying drunk and Tyler had absolutely no patience for those even when he liked them, let alone when he didn't. Plus, he'd just made the very fatal mistake Tyler had just warned him about; he was squirming up a storm in full view of his enemies ('enemies' being Sir Tyler Morris, of course).

"You have got to be the biggest lightweight I have ever met in my-" Tyler started, only to be cut off by the light of the prince's sigil. They were gonna do this here, huh? They'd have space enough for three fights in the span of time it would take security to break them up if Lucas really wanted to accelerate, which was a blessing for Tyler's spiteful side as much as it was a curse for his responsible one.

Tyler shot a hand forward to stuff Lucas' head down preemptively, though he paused just short of jabbing the prince right in his eye when his head lulled around to settle an absent stare back at the Templar. Had he just fallen asleep? Took a power nap in frozen time? Ah, hell, he was talking in his sleep. Tyler paid it no mind until the mana around them bore down on him, eliciting a sharp wince on his part. That was certainly a trick Theo had never done. He should've hit the fucker when he had the chance.

Though, Lucas seemed to be suffering from his own spell even worse than Tyler was. Which... meant it might not be his own spell - were they under attack? Tyler clenched his jaw as tightly as he could and craned his neck around vigilantly despite the metaphrical knife digging itself through his ribcage, only for the assault to suddenly cease. Lucas shot up and promptly almost doubled over, though Tyler made no move to catch him, instead turning to face- Prince Ezekiel. Not the mystery assailant he'd been expecting.

Lucas brushed off the event in stride and promptly vacated the area like a fucking idiot. Hardly a few hours into this appointment and Lucas was already trying to get himself killed. Tyler almost followed him until Ezekiel spoke again, to which he barely suppressed his annoyed sigh. Quite frankly, there were very few members of the royal family Tyler wouldn't tell to blow it out their ass at this point, especially since he doubted they had a particularly high opinion of him to begin with, but he couldn't make an enemy of Lucas' father quite so soon.

A pleasure indeed.

"The pleasure is all mine, Your Highness," Tyler lied in turn, "Though I'll be reserving any pleasure in my reappointment until after every one of Theodore's murderers has been scoured from this planet." What did Tyler have to be pleased about? His Scion was insufferable, his status had arguably gotten worse rather than better, and now he was party to strange psychic attacks.

"And speaking of my position, I should attend my Scion before he ends up passed out on a bathroom floor like the common rabble. By your leave, we'll have to continue this chat at another time." Tyler dutifully bowed his head at that and waited to be dismissed, though his courtesy wore thin.


@Hero


Tyler stuck dutifully by his Scion throughout the proceedings, in no small part because Lucas felt the need to incense the Scion of Earth and would probably repeat the stunt with the others that came after him. Now who was pulling someone off someone else? Tyler doubted the little prick was nearly as tough as his mouth was - not that he had high hopes for most of the guests Lucas would feasibly piss off either - but that still meant he'd be the one eating the punch.

Well, he wouldn't let that spoil the evening for him. There were seething people to wave at, after all. It was a mercy his face was covered and all the attention would be on the Scions for the time being, he'd caught his fill of flak for the day, and the event had barely begun. Lucas wasn't very well-received either, and Tyler almost felt sorry for him as he stepped back in line. Almost. The prince probably deserved every ounce of hate he got, but it made Tyler's job harder all the same. Truly the worst brand of solidarity.

Of course, the troubles of a public appearance had nothing on the scathing harpies that would await at the afterparty. Dipshit journalists and civilians who barely pay attention offer only the most banal criticisms, but the guests of any party that a Scion would bother to attend were certain to all be in the know. The discussion was about as riveting as Tyler had hoped; Lucas sucked, Theodore was amazing, the Mother works in mysterious ways, hardest battles, strongest soldiers, blah, blah, blah. He needed a drink.

Tyler kept mostly to himself, amicable but making no social overtures that may draw attention to him - better to keep the spotlight on his wonderful Scion - until he spotted the very man of the hour sulking in a chair. Ooh, he must've been getting slaughtered out there.

Naturally, Tyler draped himself across the back of the prince's chair, wiggling a half-emptied champagne flute in front of him to get his attention. "What was that about thicker skin you were saying earlier?" he mused innocently, "You know it'll only get worse if you let them see you squirm, Your Highness."

Theo had been so easy. Tyler only had to play along and not cause any ripples while his Scion won over the room, and then they'd both go home and he'd make stupid conversation about the event in question while Theo politely pretended he wasn't laughing at any mean-spirited commentary. It certainly never involved babysitting a grump that everyone else was even more fed up with than he was. This wasn't a partnership, it was a fight for dominance that Tyler didn't intend to concede.

After that, maybe - maybe - they could talk about solidarity.


@Hero
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