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Current I hate all of you.
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I thought Sleeping Dogs was just a terrible GTA clone that used over-the-top cinematics to hide the fact that its game play was shallow and staggeringly slow paced.
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What that a programming pun that I didn't understand, or...
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Being pretty is such hard work.
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When people peak into my profile, I'm offended by how little they learn about me through their paltry little efforts.


This is where a bio would go if I actually cared enough to write one.

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"Three 2s," Zay said quietly, placing his cards on the table. By now, their Caravan was nearing the edge of the commercial district. Noru didn't concern himself with the conversation happening across from him, and played his card quietly.

"One 3."
"It's fine. There are only three kinds of people that make me angry in the world, Lieutenant; Liars, idiots, and murderers." He shook his head from side to side quickly and tapped the table. "Hurry up and pick a game! It'll be at least an hour before we reach the Sunken Ramparts." Noru rolled his eyes and smirked, eyeing Lyullia and Pyra. They seemed a little constrained, even more than he was. It served as a reminder to keep his composure tight, and undiminished. The dark haired Lieutenant straightened his back again and folded his hands together, waiting for the game to start.

* * *

Around that same time...
Arcadia - Ivory pillar, The Holy Chamber

Very few got a chance to step foot into the Paladin order's holiest chamber. It was a room of splendor and holiness from which the highest ranking Paladins organized their missions across Thoris, and spoke with Maeti himself. It was certainly the central hub for all things holy, but that whole shtick about being able to directly speak with god himself had never been true. It was a rumor in its entirety, one that the Paladin's themselves have denied. Exodar Ramsey has himself made it clear on multiple occasions that it is a nonsensical tale of wonderment brought up by children and fools. Many refuse to believe him, but with so many pressing matters to attend to as the head of the Paladin order, and the leading General of Arcadia's armies, Exodar allows the people to believe what they want. It doesn't harm the order, nor do they reap benefits from a few misguided children of god. The same could not be said for the offshoots of Maeti's following in Marrenfall. Those wretched churches have clung to that myth with gusto, claiming that Maeti communes with all Paladins. Prayers will be answered, wishes will be granted, wealth will come, sickness will go, all in exchange for prayer and reparations.... Drivel, the lot of it! It was a chain of nastiness that preyed on the weakness of Maeti's people. If relations between Arcadia and Marrenfall were not so important, Father Ramsey would have seen to the end of those terrible 'houses of god' himself ages ago!

"Father Ramsey," A woman called from the entryway of his holy chamber, slowly making her way across the red velvet carpet leading from the entrance, to Maeti's holy shrine at the room's other end. She wore a shimmering set of marked armor, bestowed to only the highest ranking Paladins of Arcadia's order. Silver plating covered every inch of her body, hiding all features beneath a sheen that refracted light brilliantly. "I've received word that the last of our Caravans are set to leave within the next two hours." Exodar was lost in thought. He knelt before the shrine to Maeti, donning his hefty golden armor with closed eyes and a puzzled look smeared across his face. The woman paused mid-way through the room, and rested herself on one of the stone pillars that lined each side of the velvet path. "Sir? did you hear me?" Exodar opened his eyes like he'd awoken from a dream.

"I heard you, Lisandra."

"Then will that be all?" Colonel Lisandra Birukov, Ramsey's personal assistant for lack of a better term, crossed her arms impatiently while she adjusted herself. The woman wasn't fond of the Paladin's garb. Most Paladin's weren't, but it was part of the job. Uniform was uniform, no matter your rank. "Will. That. Be. All?"

"Yes, yes! Bloody hell, woman, I don't need a scolding. I've enough on my mind."

"As per usual, sir." Lisandra turned away and began to make her way out of the chamber, when something forced her to turn back. Exodar was still hunched over with his back to her. "Sir, is there any particular reason you've wanted updates on Caravan activity, recently? Miss Eridal is overqualified in her management of the situation." Exodar sighed, and slowly rose to his feet.

"Lisandra, I'm a careful man. Thoris has become a right dreadful beast as of these past two decades." He turned towards her with a tired look in his eyes as he began making his way out of the room as well. He passed Lisandra as he spoke, and she began to follow him side-by-side. "Paladins have been dropping like flies, men and women die daily out in the wilds to threats that hadn't been so much of an issue for over 1000 years, and the king has been ever so persistent in reminding me of my failures. We've not recruited any new Paladins for two years, and those dreadful churches in Marrenfall continue to anger Maeti with their misdeeds." Lisandra kept one eye locked on Exodar's face through the slit in her helmet. The man's grey hair and gruff features only served to accentuate his stress. "On top of all of that, I'm supposed to be in charge of the entirety of Arcadia's military. My job doesn't demand much during times of peace, but I pay a tax - that in the form of my love for this Nation's people and her prosperity - a tax that weighs heavily on my conscience day in, and day out." He stopped suddenly at the chamber's exit and looked Lisandra dead in the eyes. "Is it then, so confusing, that I'd like to know when our people are being sent against the forces of nature?" He glared at her impatiently. There was a manner of doubt in Lisandra's heart to Exodar's true intentions. It didn't add up in her head.

"No sir," She gasped quietly. There was no reason to press the matter any further. Exodar was an overly kind man, and there was much that she didn't understand. Recently with all of the happenings in Arcadia, part of her could understand his unusual demeanor. It still bothered her to no end. Exodar sighed and walked off, leaving his assistant to think over his words. "Not at all..."
Zay yanked his head sideways as if to say 'oh well' before making himself comfortable. And then Flin, in the most ungraceful way possible, fell from the ladder. Falling was already bad enough. The fact that he didn't sustain any injuries at all was unbelievable. But his excuse afterwards? It was quite literally one of the stupidest things Zay had heard in his entire life.

"Flin, we're allowed to make a few little mistakes here and there," Zay mumbled into a yawn, "But could you not act like a moron? I'm lax about most things, but I won't tolerate immature or idiotic behavior, especially lying." He paused and turned to him. "That includes making buffoonish excuses like you're some character out of a children's storybook." Noru snickered at Zay's comment. Marilyn didn't care one way or the other, keeping her head straight forward.

"I'll play a few rounds," Noru conceded. His mood had taken a sudden turn for the better. He sat in a chair so that the table was evened out, making sure that the others couldn't peek at his hands. "What are we playing?"
~ Chapter 210 ~

Gideon, He Who Cuts

Zelraka looked towards Jeff and Bruce- Or rather, this new Gideon, with a hint of true curiosity. He wondered exactly what happened. His own fusion was impermanent, and only succeeded through the connection they shared in the void. While it wouldn't be impossible for others to do the same, it would have been extremely difficult. He floated there with a soft, relaxed smile as Gideon saved Zios from certain death. It would be rude to interrupt the man's introduction. That part of Zelriane was still very present in Zelraka. Despite Rajaka's overpowered anger, Zelrian's reasoning seemed like it won the tug of war, in exchange for his serious demeanor.

The cracks suddenly coursed along the entire surface of Yzeira's outer barrier, until the entire thing shattered like glass. Jenso's trajectory sent him plummeting straight into the gravity well above him at top speeds, but the sheer energy radiating from his body push the crimson waves away, sending him directly through the giant mass until he reached the other side. A hole was left in his wake, and the energy began to crumble, before erupting into a massive explosion. But now the rain has stopped, but shards of Yzeira's energy, now crystallized, fell from above like pieces of shattered glass.

Jenso had not escaped unscathed, though. Despite his best efforts, the energy of the gravity well licked at his body as he passed through. That, in conjunction with the energy he'd just expended, put him in a terrible position.

And he'd still been unable to land a single hit on the Chaotic leader of the order of Chaos.

Yzeira's bodies slowly walked closer to one another, restoring one sphere at a time as Jenso almost reached the outer edge of the tower's sealed dimension. They had floated so high by now, that they were almost in space. The masked man lowered his head and shook it from side to side in unison with his clone.

"The end can't be too far off."

~ End Of Chapter 209 ~
Escaping the barrier was one thing. Escaping the gravity well was another entirely. The barrier around them cracked as Jenso contacted its edge. But it didn't break. He pushed and pushed, and the cracks grew larger, but still no success. By now the gravity well was closing in. There was no hope.

"Was that it?" Yzeira quipped.
The homing lasers from earlier crashed into the side of Jenso's newly created barrier a few moments after he'd erected it, denting it severely with the first two hits, and then breaking it open with the third. Before that, Yzeira waited patiently in place for Jenso's attack to fire off. His fist made contact with the barrier in a flash of fire and light, sending cracks sprawling around nearly 70% of its surface area from front to back. But as soon as the whips launched forwards, each one was deflected, unable to pierce the barrier while leaving no additional impact. His orbs were of course, contained within. As Jenso launched his fruitless effort, the clone fully restored his orb supply, and gave Jenso a curious glance while his barrier repaired itself.

"I feel a little more like myself, now."

Yzeira rose his right hand above Jenso's head, and took a step back, placing the other hand on what remained of his barrier. All 7 of his spheres jumped into his body, and suddenly Jenso's entire barrier took on a red hue, and the hole created earlier by Yzeira's attack was sealed, while the floor below them was covered in a layer of red energy as well, trapping both of them inside. The hand he aimed above Jenso had a different goal in mind. It was now pulling the gravity sphere towards both of them. All the while, it doubled, tripled... no, Quintupled in size, while his other body channeled all 7 of its orbs into it.

"I'm sure you know this, but my energy cannot harm me."

The sphere of energy approached them at an alarming speed.

"Likewise, My energy can phase through itself."

The sphere continued to fall.

"With your immaculate intelligence, I'm sure you can deduce..."

The barrier around the two of them thickened even more...

"...What comes next."
The body near Jenso's wall-turned-saw ignored the oncoming attack at first. Instead, it clenched its hand, causing the energy around Jenso to explode, destroying his outer shield almost immediately, but inflicting insignificant damage to his body. Even so, it became clear that enough of those homing attacks in succession would prove cumbersome, if not entirely lethal.

As the saw exploded, Yzeira's targeted body rose one hand and expelled several hundred miniatures lasers at point blank towards the resulting flurry of saws. Each and every one was destroyed as the lasers struck their centers, but the attack didn't stop there. Right afterwards, the storm of energy bolts joined together into 5 streams, and began to chase after Jenso, slowly catching up to his speed. At the same time, the body controlling them began to restore its orb count, from 3 to 5.

The other body, with all 7 orbs surrounding it once again, aimed one hand at the gravity mass that was being bombarded from within the barrier. Suddenly, the shield collapsed on itself and was sucked into the well within. But when Jenso's energy was completely dissipated, the remaining orb was much smaller than before, back to its original size. Yzeira, of course, began to increase its size once again. Jenso's efforts would be erased shortly, and Yzeira had an infinite pool of energy to draw from. Despite his new boost in power, and ability to visibly damage Yzeira's barriers, things were not looking to be in his favor.

Worst of all, Yzeira's hair was beginning to return to its normal hue...
When the gravity sphere was encompassed, Jenso was released from its pull immediately. But it only took a few seconds for the barrier that he projected to begin caving in on itself. It wouldn't hold for long. The shards that went after each of Yzeira's bodies shared a similar fate, in that they had very little effect.

Yzeira's cracked barrier did not leave any room for the shards to penetrate. Instead, the bounced off and hovered nearby as the series of explosions sounded off. After the smoke cleared, the barrier had already fully regenerated, and had no cracks to show for it. The explosive nature of his attacks expelled force too unevenly to inflict a serious amount of damage, and trying to worm into the cracks was foolish while Yzeira was there to actively deflect smaller attacks.

The other clone saw the attacks coming as well. There was no point in hiding the onslaught from his eyes. Before the shards could erupt fully from the ground, Yzeira twisted his ankle and sent a shock wave through the roof, evaporating more than half of them as they emerged, while also flattening the ground he stood on before it could come anywhere near upsetting his balance. The wall served zero purpose, as well. Yzeira could see through it. It didn't matter though, he ran around it and focused on Jenso as he was released from the orb's pull, once again conjuring energy around his body with one hand. A red glow encompassed Jenso and followed him as he moved, but this time, Yzeira had taken 2 orbs into his body, and began to conjure something in his other hand, leaving him with 3. The other body took the moment of reprieve to restore his orbs to full power, while also taking one into his body, preparing something opposite to his clone.
'Mandatory?' Noru thought to himself. No wonder Daelin got along with Zay. They both seemed a little too care-free for his taste. Of course as soon as he'd heard Daelin's offer, Zay was sitting down at the table with his hands eagerly tapping against the wood. He had a ration stuck in his mouth and narrow eyes. The Captain loved playing cards.
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