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=WPC 2021= Field of Crystal

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1/23/2021 23:28:42   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

Where are you, when you are nowhere? Where are you, when death and life are one and the same, when the endless shadows engulf the ceaseless light, leaving naught but an eternity of gray? Where are you, when time and space cease to have meaning, and fate watches with baited breath?

And what do you find there?

Black and white stones stretch endlessly over the twists and turns of the Chequered City. Stairways climb to blank walls, alleyways curve into dead ends, paths that lead nowhere at one moment and everywhere the next. This is the city for the lost. The city for those pulled from their homes and sent adrift. The spires above, the slums below, and the eternal city between: all stand with eerie perfection, inhabited only by the silent, ever-moving automations that are at once no one and everyone. Within this city, strangers will find food, rest, equipment- whatever they truly need. A final offering to those that march off to War.

An offering of anything… but a home. This city is not meant to house the chosen, but to guide them. To guide them to doors and gates, meant only for them to open. To guide them to shadows and pits, meant only for them to enter. To guide them to nothingness, where they find themselves stripped soundlessly from the city and brought to War.

For Pawns only belong in one place.

The Battlefield.

Air rushed past as The Pawns fell through a sky swirling with every color imaginable. There is nothing but this; an eternal plummet towards a floor that will never arrive, a fall towards a death that will never be granted. No pain, no end. Only the endless embrace of the descent.

Until it was severed by a crack of thunder, a bolt of lightning that twists chaotically across the sky, setting it ablaze. As it ripped the air, the realms shifted, folding inwards until they suffocated all else before springing forth into a new world.

From a flash of light, color is born within a wide cavern drowned in the scent of blood.. Four pillars stand tall, their glowing forming quadrants within the cave. Needle-sharp crystals of ebony traced aimless patterns along every stone surface save the floor. They gleamed with ruby, emerald, and amethyst - their luster the only source of light and color.

Above each Pawn, a symbol flashed. A five-spoked circle. For some, the circle was white, with straight, pristine spokes. For others, the circle was black, the spokes curved inwards in a tumultuous spiral. The circles hovered above for a moment, their presence made known to all, before quickly winking out of existence.

The cavern shuddered, as if a low chuckle of some ancient god echoed through it, and a crystal of brightest crimson on the ceiling burst. A blast of bubbling, green liquid that yearned to melt anything in its path rained downwards, splattering on the stone floor and evaporating away.

The chuckle gave way to voice, a lone snarl that screamed with fury and venom.

“Welcome to the Field of Crystal. No Good will bring you warmth, no Evil can provide you comfort. Prove yourself worthy, Pawns, or perish in solitude.”
Post #: 1
1/27/2021 21:28:42   
How We Roll Winner

Hoatzins cawed and monkeys hooted amongst the leaves and fronds rustling in the wind. This is the Dark Jungle, one of the deadliest locations in the world. Even in the face of modern civilization, pollution and deforestation, it stood strong and healthy. In fact, little known to most, it actually spanned multiple continents by means of time-space anomalies, allowing one to cross oceans in an instant provided one knew the proper waypoints. In general though, the jungle was a terrible sprawl that threatened to confuse and loop aspiring travellers in endless circles, until they succumbed to thirst, poison, insects, predators, or anything in between. At times almost mockingly, the foliage would make way for a small clearing, enough to take a look at the clear sky above before the jungle took them.

This night, the sky was pitch black save for the glow of the moon. In one such clearing knelt a woman. Though physically she looked as if she had only recently embraced adulthood, in reality she was older than the mother of the many generations of mothers of the matriarch of a family. Her hair was adorned in braids and ceremonial tattoos adorned her arms and cheeks. Her clothes, form-fitting yet loose, concealed all manner of deadly weapons, ranging from hair-thin needles concealed in her wild mane of hair to the wickedly distorted blades sheathed on her back.

She faced a large totem in the shape of a great serpent which mysteriously, despite being strangled by vines, seemed to be brand-new. Slowly, hesitantly, she began to tap the effigy. At the same time, she chanted in a low, singsong tone.

“From the sky in which the eagles fly /
From the darkness in which the snakes reside /
I beseech thee, one long and wise /
Heed my prayer, and come to my side.”

Her voice was barely audible over the ambient noise of the jungle. Yet, invisibly, the vibrations carried into the totem, traveling through the vines, echoing through the trees.

The jungle abruptly went silent. And when the jungle goes quiet--

There is a predator near.

She found herself trembling. She took a deep breath and forced herself to be still with all the discipline she could muster. Something tingled at the edge of her senses. She looked up -- and involuntarily gasped.

From the darkness slithered a creature as vast as the great anacondas that roamed the jungle. Only this was no anaconda.

She raised her head and her hands, palms up. Acutely aware she was exposing her neck, she said carefully, “I, Citaral of Kihororu, greet Caurasou'nabbaie Nabama.”

Caurasou'nabbaie Nabama, the 499th, gazed coldly back at her with great, golden eyes. It did not move, but colors shimmered through the gleaming circles. Colors that Citaral understood immediately despite the years.

:::Citaral of Kihororu once the Priestess now the Grand Mistress of the Disciples of Crizox returned to her homeland disgraced yet begs an audience.:::

Citaral shuddered as the invisible singsong words, soundless but understood, were hurled like spears directly into her heart.

“I come not as Grand Mistress,” she said firmly (she hoped), forcing her voice not to waver. “And in my heart, if not in name, I am always a Priestess of Kihororu. I return to save my homeland.”

:::Then the Priestess understands the dire straits the Jungle suffers.:::

Citaral did.

A few months ago, Citaral had caught wind of a disturbance in the Dark Jungles. It began with the disappearance of a team of Crimson Hexagon researchers, but had been slowly escalating into an indescribable threat. Indescribable indeed, for words failed to describe her horror upon witnessing what had happened.

Where once she remembered the trees and vines, the harpy eagles and lemur monkeys, snakes and aardvarks, there were now bulbous, pulpy masses that pulsated and spewed toxic spores, infecting the trees like a cancer that fed on anything and everything living. Even worse, the hapless wildlife that happened to breathe in these spores were transformed into horrific monstrosities, with hard, bony fungi-like growths bursting out of their heads and flesh, reducing them to demented creatures that could only be described as demons. They shrieked in agony as they clawed off their peeling flesh, bloodless, pale, and marred by webs of the infection, until all that was left was a stone-like substance and they stood motionless, forever preserved in their last moments.

The survivors called this plague the Root.

The denizens of the Dark Jungles, from the Bonehunters to the Butterfly’s Lights, rallied to fight the Root, but as of now, the cause seemed hopeless. The Root relentlessly corrupted everything in its path. Magic fizzled out in its presence and it seemed to defy the laws of nature. And most dire of all, Kihororu, the holy city, Citaral’s former home and the place of worship for the Durdaunta Saupas -- the Guardian Snakes -- was now besieged by the Root.

“I am glad to see Caurasou'nabbaie Nabama has survived,” Citaral said.

:::My predecessors the 497th the 498th have fallen to the Root has spread unchecked.::: 499th signaled.

“Both of them?” Citaral whispered.


“As I feared,” Citaral murmured.

:::Does the Priestess seek the 499th for a reason?::: the 499th inquired. :::Or does she simply miss her old master?:::

Citaral winced. Even after all these years, the 499th never failed to make her feel like an overexcited child. “The tribes are afraid--”

:::That their god has abandoned them?::: the 499th said, indigo and blue humor flickering across its eyes. :::They could have discovered this by a simple prayer. No, they wonder simply why the 499th wanders the forest rather than solves this crisis.:::

Citaral nodded. “That is one way to put it.”

:::And to solve a problem,::: the 499th continued, :::we must stand in the holy city, staring ominously at the ones we protect..:::

Citaral winced. “That’s not--”

:::The Priestess ought not blame herself,,::: the 499th signaled. :::The seasons are past many but to the 499th the Priestess is still young. The 499th when young would have approached the problem the same way. But now the 499th is older and wiser, and it knows that sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to forget about it entirely.:::

Abruptly, the 499th changed the subject. :::The 499th has been contained too long within cut off from the world outside not the realm of Durdaunta Saupa. Everything you know, tell the 499th.:::

It sounded like a redundant request, considering the Saupas had the entirety of the jungle as its eyes and ears, but Citaral understood her former master’s intentions. Or so she thought.

Citaral recounted her tale. After the fall of the Disciples, she had retreated with the Grand Master Caeos Essence and his Truthspeaker Avisar ri Ens to a hidden retreat in the Northern Mountains. There, they were joined by Caeos’s personal warriors, the True Disciples and the retreat’s guardian, the Archivist Irikori Enorivah. Save for perhaps Avisar, no one knew the Grand Master’s intentions.

Then abruptly, the Grand Master left the Northern Mountains on a journey with a purpose only he knew. Without the Grand Master present, the Northern faction had crumbled under the assault led by Sariel of Flying Mountain Sect. The loss of Third Master One-Eye had enabled the Oracle of Parakmi to predict the location of the Grand Master.

Avisar had led the Disciples to war against the Five Families, Caeos’s captors. As Grand Mistress, the Grand Master’s shadow, Citaral had sprung him from the clutches of the elegant monster, Velageance. The assassin had poisoned Caeos with a rare hallucinogenic toxin, causing him to ramble incoherently. At the time, Citaral had carried the delirious Grand Master out of Velageance’s stronghold while simultaneously fighting her off, but the Grand Master’s words still reverberated in her memories.

“A field of white and black, a sky of changing colors. Four for Order, four for Chaos. Tip the scales, win the war. A boon the powers provide. A choice for ones unworthy.”

The 499th’s eyes seemed to come alive at these words, shimmering green and yellow with inquisitiveness. Now that was an odd thing for the 499th to take notice of.

“‘Four for Order, four for Chaos,’” she repeated. “A field of white and black, a sky of changing colors.”

:::Yes.::: The 499th did not speak with sound, but its eyes seemed troubled. The many years Citaral had spent with the Disciples of Crizox had served her well in honing her intuition.

Caurasou'nabbaie Nabama recognizes this phrase.” It was not a question.

:::Recognized,::: the 499th affirmed. :::An ancient tale among Durdaunta Saupa nearly forgotten. A scale of Order and Chaos primordial forces use chosen pawns to battle for cosmic superiority. Powers beyond the Jungle, earth and sky manifest in the material realm in the form of a “boon” in exchange for victory in their arranged arenas of death.:::

Now this was a story Citaral had never heard before. “What is Caurasou'nabbaie Nabama implying--?”

:::Speculation,::: the 499th said. :::The Grand Master, a powerful individual shook the earth in his prime. Pivotal. Influential. But still subject to powers greater than he. A logical conclusion dictates he was chosen as a pawn for this cosmological war:::

“Chosen … as a pawn … by the ‘Powers’?” Citaral said, startled. Unwittingly, she blurted, “Did he … succeed?”

She wasn’t sure what she was expecting to hear. :::No,::: the 499th said firmly. :::His conflict was with himself.:::

Citaral’s head was spinning. A glimmer of hope--!

“If I have any honor left as a former Priestess,” Citaral vowed, “I will become a champion and take this boon the Powers provide.”

:::Folly,::: 499th signaled as it hissed, angry red stealing across its eyes. :::The boon the Grand Master failed to take when his power eclipses yours hundredfold. The Grand Master is stronger than you lost to the Grand Master sullied your honor in becoming his trophy bride guarding his life.:::

Citaral’s cheeks burned in shame, a sight that would have shocked many who knew the Grand Mistress. She had spoken too soon. The 499th did not miss it, but it did not stop there.

:::The powers select without prejudice. Thus a sixtieth of the sixtieth of a chance that the Grand Master was chosen. Unreliable. Coincidence.:::

“But--” Citaral began to protest.

:::Draw your weapons Citaral.:::

Citaral’s heart sank, but obediently, she immediately drew both of her blades and sank to a partial crouch.

499th uncoiled itself from the trees and dropped to the ground. Its size was shocking. Even as it raised itself erect, standing taller than Citaral, its lower body formed coils on the jungle floor. Citaral moved uneasily as she made eye contact with the deformed head attached to the 499th’s upper body, no longer hidden in the foliage. The Mauthau Theukaunou.

Then the sound came, as she was expecting. An odd wet sound, like water running through a pipe -- or an artery. The scales under the Mauthau’s plating swelled --

And with a strangely anticlimactic hiss, several streams of dull, grey-red tendrils, fluid as water, poured out from each side of the Saupa. Instead of falling to the jungle floor like fountain spouts, the streams stopped abruptly in midair. They rippled slightly, then coalesced into single, tentacle-like appendages so that Citaral was now facing a massive Saupa with “arms.”

The 499th lowered its newly grown limbs to its sides, and with a sharp, fluid movement, drew out two blades, hidden under its scales.

The Devious Twins.

For several long, silent moments, they stood in combat ready stances, their blades glinting in the moonlight.

Without warning, Citaral struck, propelling herself at the 499th, barbed sword outstretched. The Saupa reacted with equal speed, bringing its right arm up to counter the blow. Edge met edge and briefly they locked swords.

Citaral did not hesitate. Their blades clashed at incredible speeds, catching the faint moonlight and reflecting it like flashes of lightning into the dark foliage, sending the nightly denizens scurrying.

Then quite suddenly, the 499th’s rhythm changed. As it parried Citaral’s strikes, it suddenly lunged with its head, maw aimed at her shoulder. She twisted aside to evade the bite --

-- and a crushing impact caught her between the ribs and she went flying. Her back hit the ground, and she used the momentum to roll back to her feet. Citaral panted imperceptibly. Curses! She’d forgotten about the Mauthau, which always provided the 499th a firm field of vision at any angle it chose.

:::Grand Mistress of the Disciples of Crizox still making an elementary mistake not worthy of such position nor Priestess,::: the 499th tauntingly signaled.

Citaral clicked her tongue. The 499th was deliberately provoking her, trying to throw her off rhythm. Although a classic strategy, Citaral was keenly aware she could not give the 499th even the slightest hint of indignation. Not a flushed face, not a quickening pulse.

Or at least, that was what she told herself. :::Focus,::: the 499th warned. Its coils shifted and it slithered toward her. Citaral lifted her blades, reversing her grips. This time, the 499th did not wait for her to strike first. It launched itself at her in a whirlwind of sword strikes, made even more disorienting by the Twins’ whipping blades.

Slowly but surely, it forced her backward. One step, two --

Enough. She leaped, spun, and kicked--

-- and lost her balance. If she didn’t know better, she would’ve sworn she had somehow kicked a stone wall. A stone wall? What was--

The talwar swung around and sliced her shortsword out of her hand. It spun in a horizontal arc and embedded itself into a tree’s trunk with a thud.

She recovered and whirled -- too late. The second Twin wrapped itself around her neck. She caught the curved end with her fingertips before it could skewer her throat, but the battle was over. One twist and the talwar’s edge would take her head clean off.

She stood stock still, heart thundering. Something flickered in the 499th’s eyes, and she released her hold; the blade uncoiled from her neck. The 499th sheathed the Twins.

Citaral bowed.

:::There is nothing more you can do here,::: 499th signaled. :::Do not throw your life away for nothing. I will do my best to hold out. Gather the tribes and flee this place, for our time here is at an end.:::

It reached its body up and began to pull itself back into the branches. For a moment it paused, and met Citaral’s eyes once more.

:::Priestess,::: 499th signaled. Was it Citaral’s imagination, she wondered, or did she catch a shade of violet in the 499th’s eyes? :::The 497th and the 498th disowned you when you lost to the Grand Master. But know that I do not blame you.:::

And with that, it vanished into the shadows.

I am the 499th of the Durdaunta Saupa. A deity not by birth, but by name.

I am the 499th, and the Dark Jungle is my domain.

I am the 499th and I am helpless as a plague destroys my and my people’s home.

I am the 499th and this is my story, though I doubt there will be any to read it when it is over.

I slithered through the treetops with practiced stealth. This region of the jungle was untouched, at least for now. Untouched by the Root, I corrected myself, but not by uncertainty … and fear. The spider monkeys and orangutans cowered within their retreats in the trees. The stray harpy eagle stood watch over its nest, morose and thin. They saw me and kept their distances.

The Durdaunta Saupa do not comfort nor assuage, for that is not in our nature. But we are sworn to protect the Jungle, and both we and all Her inhabitants know it.

I was unfocused. Distracted. My thoughts returned inexorably to events mere hours ago.

Contrary to what I had conveyed, Citaral had greatly improved during her time with the Disciples. She continued to use the traditional weapons of Kihororu, but the same could not be said of her techniques. Brutal. Powerful.

I had not been entirely truthful to the Priestess. Although I had quickly learned, after the fates of the 497th and 498th, to avoid the noxious fumes of the Root, I could not deny that something in my body had changed.

I had not been fast enough to avoid the Priestess’s lethal kick. Instead, I had triggered that instinctively, as though it had always been a part of me. I first noticed it months ago, when I awoke from my daily slumber. A strange stiffening, a hardening that prevented me from moving. I could not breathe, could twitch a single muscle, utter even the faintest of sounds, though I retained the full range of my sense faculties. A small thing, nothing more, that lasted for the barest of tongue-flicks.

A bare week before today, a boulder had somehow dislodged itself from a cliff, plummeting toward me. Normally, I would have easily dodged it like the Youd’dhau I am in the scriptures. Instead, I had not moved a muscle, and the boulder had cracked off my body, not even managing to budge me, nor the tree I was in, an inch.

A method bestowed by the jungle for me to fight the Root?

I do not know if I ever want to find out.

As for her story--

At last, I reached my destination: a tree that stood taller than its brethren, with hundreds of vines extending from its branches. The Sigan’yaulimm Ttri. To climb this tree was a taboo among the natives, for it is said the snake gods use it to speak to the Jungle Herself.

The vines converged into a circle, tied and suspended in the air with a rather intricate system of carefully trimmed branches. From the foliage, I reached the tip of my tail down to touch the vines.

Minutes crept by, which transitioned to hours. Then I felt it.

Gods existed to be prayed to, for deliverance in times of need. This was the purpose of the Sigan’yaulimm Ttri, a way for all the tribes to communicate to their protector gods. I listened, and the vibrations painted a picture for me. It was an image that had persisted for months now. I did not expect any changes, and was not disappointed. Soldiers with faceless helmets and single eyes, clutching instruments that spit fire and death. A large mechanical walker, piloted by a monstrous shark-like creature. Swarms of the infected, absorbing all punishment, overwhelming even the outsiders and their advanced technology. And worst of all, my people, the ones the Durdaunta Saupa were sworn to protect, on the run, confused and frightened.

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem was to forget about it entirely.

If only I was just as good at taking my own advice.

I coiled myself in the center of the chamber, the Cintau. The Durdaunta Saupa did not worship gods, for to the Dark Jungle, we were those gods. This chamber was the sacred meditation chamber of the Guardian Snakes, of which only the High Priest or Priestess may enter to consult with the snake gods. Engraved totems of my predecessors lined the walls circling around me, staring at me. I imagined them to be staring accusingly.

I tipped the earthenware pot, scattering the mixture of herbs. A human Priestess would need to burn the concoction to draw out its mystical aroma, but I did not require something so primitive as fire. My tongue flicked almost unconsciously, tasting the air. The room seemed to blur, causing the surrounding totems to ripple like the haze of heat. The colors began to distort themselves. I peered through the hypnotic haze, trying to make sense of the dazzling eyespeak.

Foolish. Stubborn. Attached. Help.

Could the story be true? To the Priestess’s story, I had simply built on it, assumed it to be true, without actually believing any of it. Was it because I, faced with the prospect of extinction of the snake gods, had grown disillusioned? Or was it because even till now, I could still conjure hatred against the arrogant human called Caeos Essence, who had tricked Kihororu out of its Priestess in exchange for mercy?

Be that as it may, the Priestess was truly afraid for Kihororu. I wondered if the Grand Master even knew his Grand Mistress had left his side. She was even willing to sacrifice herself.

I snapped out of my daze. Hissed as I rose up, tongue darting.

The smell was gone.

Not just the aroma of the hallucinogen. The smell of limestone and mud bricks signature of Kihororu’s architecture--


Replaced with a deeply unsettling scent of something not quite natural, not quite artificial … simply … wrong. The heat signature was wrong, the smell was wrong -- everything was wrong.

This is not Kihororu.

I uncoiled and slithered out of the Cintau--

-- into a dazzling light.


But my senses did not deceive me. This was not an illusion conjured by the hallucinogen, for no hallucination was this vivid. The Cintau was located in a deep, cloistered section of Kihororu. A deep, underground part of Kihororu.

And here, I peered out from the Cintau, suspended nearly a hundred stories above ground. Beyond stretched a twisted, distorted version of Kihororu, merged with buildings of shape and form of which I was not familiar. Gleaming with pristine onyx and marble, smooth and unmarred in surface and temperature.

How do I get down? I wondered. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind, the empty space at the chamber’s entrance shimmered, brilliant bars of white (and black!) light coalescing with a blinding flash. When the bright spots cleared from my eyes, I found myself looking at vine-like structures leading to one of the buildings below. These “vines,” if you could even call them that, curved and twisted like their living counterparts, but were cold and solid to my eyes and tongue. Cautiously, I reached my body forward to touch them -- they did conjure themselves out of light after all, and it would not do for the 499th to plummet to its death due to an illusion.

The artificial vines held. My great length wrapped around the vines, slowly moving toward the next building. It and the ones surrounding it looked for all the world like an artificial mockery of natural trees. Unlike the twisted, battered frames of trees that fought against their parasitic neighbors, these fluted columns stood straight and tall, with regular, diamond-shaped hollows lining their sides in evenly spaced partitions. Cold. Lifeless.

One “tree.” Two “trees.” Three. Four.

What is this place? I wondered. A passing thought, nothing more, but the city answered, in rippling waves that stretched as far as my eyes could see. Messages that rippled in patterns reminiscent of the Divine Proportion, echoing itself through the walls, the buildings, and the sprawl.

:::You are now a resident of the Chequered City.:::

What day is it today?


What is this material?


Why am I here?

:::You already know.:::

Then, I thought, set me down on the ground.

And quite suddenly, I found myself at ground level. Confused, I arched my head backward. Yes, there were four tree buildings behind me, along with the original being the tallest. I could make out -- albeit barely -- the vine structures I had moved upon. The spatial anomaly had deposited me from several hundred meters in midair to the ground in the flick of a tongue.

I was not alone.

I jerked my head back, rising into the warrior stance. Enemies! How had I come across them without detecting them? They almost seemed to have appeared from nothing, based on what I could perceive with the Mauthau--

I faltered. I recognized them. The tribal chiefs of the Greu hau’undia, Ssaunta’khuli, Barbara’bounau, Muragi’mauchau, and the rest. A grand total of twelve stood in a circle. Visually and by scent, they matched … but something was wrong. Their bodies were as blue and flat as the artifices surrounding us. No heat. No life. This sense of wrongness shifted to alarm when the chief of Greu hau’undia greeted me, “I, Chau’iyeura’matou’cula of Greu hau’undia, greet Caurasou’nabbaie Nabama..”

In all the world, the only human who had laid eyes on the Guardian Snakes was the Priestess, and only she knew my designation.

Unlike humans, I do not require conversation to ascertain my adversaries’ intentions. I lunged and grabbed Chau’iyeura’matou’cula’s jaw with my mouth, swiftly wrapping my great length around him and squeezing him in a death grip. :::Who are you?::: I hissed.

Up close, I could feel that what passed for its skin and clothes were actually composed of a hard material cool to the touch, like coated limestone. Like the rest of my kind, I abhorred machinery but this did not mean I was unfamiliar with it, for a good hunter must study all of its prey’s characteristics. Unlike the Outsiders’ machines, these things were powered by methods I could not easily discern.

The body of the thing that resembled Chau’iyeura’matou’cula crunched under my strength, but it did not respond, did not even flinch. None of the other machines made a move to aid their comrade. Of the one in my grip, I twisted its head off, which gave off little flashes of lightning, before releasing the wreckage. I glared at the other machines. :::What are you?:::

In the space of time my tongue flicked to taste the air, the wreckage of the effigy of Chau’iyeura’matou’cula reformed itself, not a scratch marring its surface. As one, they stepped back from me and promptly went still. I detected a tremble in the ground, though none of the machines before me had moved. I looked up.

:::You are not the Priestess.:::

The construct that took the form of High Priestess Citaral blinked. Then, as though to mock me, its eyes flashed eyespeak.

:::I was no longer the Priestess when the 497th and 498th disowned me,::: it said, in a perfect yet twisted imitation of Citaral. How I would have imagined her speaking, if she were biologically capable of using eyespeak as a Duraunta Saupa.

:::The Darkness and the Sorcerer are dead,::: I found myself answering. :::And the Priestess returned of her own volition.:::


:::And yet the 499th pushed the former Priestess away,::: Citaral -- the construct -- countered. :::The 499th is ancient and stubborn refuses to seek help afraid of its own irrelevance. The 499th is aware of the Root’s extent infecting the jungle’s denizens creation of the Death Cult yet hides this fact intending to solve--:::

:::Insolence.::: I unleashed my Kousa at a speed which frightened even myself, drawing my swords in a single, fluid movement. The Citaral construct reacted instantly, drawing its own replicas of Citaral’s barbed shortswords.

:::The Priestess will not disrespect the Durdaunta Saupa,::: I reprimanded it.


And so once more we fought. I had not realized it before, but the sky somehow darkened so that we stood in a stark, artificial imitation of the clearing not so long ago.

Our blades clashed at incredible speeds, catching the false moonlight and reflecting it like flashes of lightning at the constructs of tribal chiefs, to which they did not so much as blink.

Then quite suddenly, I changed my rhythm. As I parried Citaral’s strikes, I lunged with my head, maw aimed at her shoulder. She twisted aside to evade the bite --

-- and with my tail, I caught her between the ribs with a crushing impact and she went flying. Her back hit the ground, and she used the momentum to roll back to her feet, panting imperceptibly. Her eyespeak cursed. As I had anticipated, she had forgotten about the Mauthau, which always provided me with a firm field of vision at any angle I chose.

:::Grand Mistress of the Disciples of Crizox still making an elementary mistake not worthy of such position nor Priestess,::: I tauntingly signaled.


Her heart stilled -- there was no heartbeat -- her breathing evened -- a facade for machines do not breathe --

:::Focus,::: I warned her -- it -- as I shifted my coils and slithered toward it. Or was I warning myself? Citaral lifted her blades, reversing her grips. This time -- I had not waited the previous time either -- I did not wait for her to strike first. I launched myself at her in a whirlwind of sword strikes, made even more disorienting by the Twins’ whipping blades.

Slowly but surely, I forced her backward. One step, two --

:::Enough,::: I caught her eyes flashing, as she leaped, spun, and kicked--

-- and lost her balance as I turned into stone. It lasted for only a second, but it was enough. I reverted back to living form, my momentum preserved--

--and I swung the Twin around, slicing her shortsword out of her hand. It spun in a horizontal arc and embedded itself into the Muragi’mauchau’s head with a clank.

She recovered and whirled -- too late. The second Twin wrapped itself around her neck. She caught the curved end with her fingertips before it could skewer her throat, but the battle was over. One twist and the Twin’s edge would take her head clean off.

She stood stock still, cold and unfeeling.


I wavered.

She did not.

Citaral twisted her head and -- before I could release the Twin’s grip -- decapitated herself.

I stared at her head, which sparked and sizzled at the neck. Not real, I reminded myself. And yet--

:::The Outsiders are coming.::: Citaral’s eyes flashed eyespeak, glaring at me accusingly. Even as I watched, its marble and metal began to twist and straighten themselves, as unknown forces drew the construct’s broken form together.

:::I will stop them,::: I said.

:::The Jungle will burn,.::: signaled Chau’iyeura’matou’cula.

:::Silence.::: I swung my Twin and sliced off its jaw, sending it clattering down the marble walkway.

:::The Root will consume,.::: signaled the Muragi’mauchau, the shortsword still embedded in its head.

:::It will not.:::

:::They will turn,::: signaled Citaral.

:::No.::: I slammed my blade down on the reforming construct. Before the edge reached her -- it -- the floor simply opened up.

I fell.

Colors swirled around me, in a curtain not unlike the haze of the Cintau’s aroma.


Lightning flashed, tearing the sheen apart, burning it away. And as it burned, the world shifted, collapsing on itself, like the Root infected slugs as they joined together into a single amorphous blob before springing forth into a creature anew, or a horrible, twisted flower.

SFAHSFAH                         SFAHSFAH
  TOTETOTE                    TOTETOTE
     UOTLUOTL               UOTLUOTL
       BLAPBLAP            BLAPBLAP
         BICHBICH        BICHBICH
           OSHEOSHE     OSHEOSHE
           ULTLULTL      ULTLULTL
         BIAPBIAP          BIAPBIAP
       BSCHBSCH              BSCHBSCH
     OHHEOHHE                  OHHEOHHE
   RFELRFEL                      RFELRFEL
NODPNODP                             NODPNODP

I sheathed my blades and retracted my Kousa, away from the lightning which could permanently injure it. I prepared to harden, but that proved to be needless

I was deposited, none too gently, into a cavern composed entirely of black crystal. They lined the walls in jagged, random patterns and also formed four great pillars, not unlike the temple complexes of Kihororu. The cavern might as well have been shrouded in pure darkness save for a few colored shards hidden amongst their darker brethren, which gave off faint glows. Not that that mattered; Durdaunta Saupa did not rely on merely our eyes to see.

I was not alone. With me were four others, seemingly arrived at the same time. Above their heads, symbols flashed. For two of them, along with myself, a white wheel with straight spokes floated, bright against the cavern’s darkness. Above the other two floated black wheels with spiraling spokes.

They flared and vanished. A single crystal on the ceiling exploded, raining down green liquid like a Root pustule. The acidic droplets splashed against the stone floor, hissing and evaporating.

The voice called, laced with venomous fury.

An ancient tale among Durdaunta Saupa nearly forgotten. A scale of Order and Chaos primordial forces use chosen pawns to battle for cosmic superiority.

I am the 499th of the Durdaunta Saupa, and I am no longer helpless.

I am the 499th, the Warrior Snake, the Sorcerer’s successor.

I am the 499th, once a god of the Jungle, and now a Pawn of the Field of Crystal.

I am the 499th, and I was not ready.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 2
1/28/2021 17:24:58   

Agbangon kan, bini ginto.

There was sunshine, peeking through the boughs of trees that never had to fear the sharp bite of axes or machines; that stretched towards the heavens as if they were pillars left by the gods of these people. It was comfortably humid, with a stray breeze dancing through the leaves now and then. Fire didn’t touch anything here. If it did, it was just for warmth and to cook food- never for destruction. 

Rays of light played on her eyelids, fluttering and heavy with sleep, gently teasing her out of her slumber. The bands on her arms winked a gentle gold as if also basking in the comfortable heat. 

If you don’t open your eyes, you could stay here forever.

She knew that voice. Through her birth, through her wars, through her storms, it had been with her ever since. She was aware of her body by then, every bundle of nerves twitching as she wrestled back her awareness. 

Will you not let me go? I can do greater things for you too. Just sleep here. Rest.

Maykan, bini ginto. Malamlamiis-en ti bantay.” 

(”Come, lady of gold. The forests grow colder.”)

She gulped, her tongue feeling heavy, leathery. Her skin roiled from the sudden heat, her chest constricting from the heavy vest as she took a deep breath, her fingertips giving a sudden jolt.

You have been through so much.

The heat intensified, the smell of kerosene igniting filled the air. She felt her chest clench so painfully that she gave out a gasp, a tear escaping and evaporating to steam before it could run down her cheek- but she was changing too, her human skin ripping away by dark scales, her fingers splitting to give way to jet black talons that clicked and glowed with wisps of golden flame. 

Agsubli ka kadi? Nasyaat met nu madi...

(“Are you ever coming back? It’s okay if not…”)

Your insolence has become a thorn at my side, Ginevra.

“As… As if you’ve never… dealt with it… before.” 

She was already tired from the exertion of the change, breathing in short sharp puffs as she opened her eyes and blinked, once, twice.

This...Definitely was not Cordillera.

The white wall she leaned on was colder, and under each foot was a chequered tile, like of a chess board. Eva reached up to rub her eyes, the scales on her face clinking softly. Her own fire didn’t hurt her, but she was careful not to gauge her eye out as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. 

“Where did they assign us this time?” she asked.

Gold light seeped through her bulletproof vest, its light a familiar thing she was still glad to have with her. It took awhile for the dragon to answer. 

Xylmaelyth’s own heat started to mingle with her own as she felt them roil around her body like a heavy, invisible serpent. The horns on her head flared brighter, and like a lost little candle, she let the light bounce off stretches of white and black, illuminating the corner where she had lain prone a while ago.

Her chest heaved, stiffened and heaved again as she held herself, stopping herself from shaking too much. 

It is familiar, Xylmaelyth said finally. There are only fragments of what I can remember of this...place.

Eva swallowed, her tongue feeling like leather, before she stood up properly, flexing her back as a pair of leathery wings shook themselves out. At least it was a good buffet against the wind, her wings. She ran her talons (that apparently was not going away, at the rate of the dragon’s quiet seething at her) down her cargo pants, suddenly relieved again at the familiar curve of her hunting knife’s handle. There were the standard military guns, but at a place like this, it was unlikely that such a thing would have been useful- that and she didn’t bring any to begin with.

She flattened herself back to the wall as a shadow loomed behind her. Daring to look up against the white unnatural glare, she made out smooth metal plates, long limbs. Robots? she thought. It seemed to be motionless for a second before it pushed something wrapped down in front of her, then moved away. Eva stayed motionless for a moment more before its strange creaking sound receded. 

She made a grab at the pack; something crinkled inside: a bottle of mineral water, another small, glass bottle of vodka, twinkies, a pack of four circular onigiri that still steamed. Eva frowned.

Eat. I’m starving, Eva’s jaws almost unhinged by themselves as she unwrapped the plastic off the rice treats. 

“I am not eating the wrapper!” she hissed at Xylmaelyth before biting into it- and almost swooned. There was tuna filling, and she began eating with gusto. There was a freedom of savoring good food without the scrutiny and the bullying made by a superior officer, and Eva liked that...despite not knowing where she was.  

Was that not a recurring event? The barracks had to separate the male soldiers from the females, but the squad, the boys...she had filled in with them without complaint, and more often than not had woken up with them in the most bizarre places. Home was far away, but they made it feel like it was closer...

I hate tuna, Xylmaelyth commented as Eva polished off the last of the twinkies (both surprisingly not expired- a miracle). “You hate everything,” Eva countered as she wiped her mouth at the back of her hand, finally finishing. She even took a swig of the vodka before tucking the small bottle in her pant pocket. She was full, she had rest. 

The air felt suddenly thinner, like a vacuum. Eva gulped. Her surroundings were weird enough. She flexed her talons, almost on instinct. It was a breathlong moment that seemed to go quicker than it should.

What no-


Falling was one thing, flying was another, and maneuvering was another thing entirely. The air was pushed up against your face like a feral cat and this was why humans needed those goggles; to keep their eyes in their sockets. 

The momentum loss had made Eva fall backward into space, weightless, the breath knocked out of her as adrenaline shot up her system in such a rush, a myriad of colors exploding into her sight like an erratic rainbow. For a moment, she almost forgot that she could fly, her hands scrabbling over her chest as if to deploy a parachute-

You forgetful child. Straighten your spine, rest your arms, ankles together. Now, glide.

She snapped her wings open, and immediately regretted it.

The food she had just consumed threatened to go the opposite way as she tried to fight the freefall, her muscles screaming in protest as she stretched her wings out to their fullest extent, attempting to land on her feet at least. But with a vacuum that seemed to pull you all ways together and apart, it was far more complicated than willingly jumping out of a plane and knowing where the ground even was.

The wind slipped and slid her all ways like a disgruntled washing machine trying to wring her dry before she righted herself midair, remembering at least how to make proper use of the dragon’s remaining aspects: the wind was more of pulling her back at a more cushier rate this time, but then she barely had any time to register the colorful jagged points of ...shiny things? before slamming right into them.

Girl and dragon seemed to roar at the same time as they slammed against what looked and felt like a crystal studded spire, the points digging into skin and scale. Eva retracted her wings, tucking them tight against her small frame. There was a good deal of breaking and grunting as she finally crashed on uneven ground, slightly smoking. It indeed was a miracle that the rice treats had stayed firmly put in her stomach.

Then it was Xylmaelyth’s turn to screech, making Eva jolt up from her landing and scramble away from the pillar. She was indeed smoking yes, but it wasn’t from her, she knew that as much. It was straight up, smoking acid.

She backed away from the spire,checking her vest, her knife, and just now noticed the individuals that stood a little way from her. She shakily stood up, wisps of smoke trailing from her talons and mouth, her golden eyes adjusting to the new light.

The arena... she heard the dragon say in what almost sounded like begrudging familiarity. She barely even had time to register the symbol that floated above her horns, but her wings snapped even closer behind her body. She felt Xylmaelyth, their hearts slowly beating back to their comfortable sync. 

A voice boomed ahead. “Welcome to the Field of Crystal. No Good will bring you warmth, no Evil can provide you comfort. Prove yourself worthy, Pawns, or perish in solitude.”

The dragon in Ginevra stilled for a moment, then seemed to coil tighter around his mortal remains. The storm has just only begun.

Post #: 3
1/28/2021 23:47:52   

“Pendulum!”, Alzeera shouted as she burst out into the open air. The word had barely escaped her lips when a wave of nausea slammed into her. She stumbled, hand clasped over her mouth as the acolyte fought the urge to vomit. Why?, Alzeerha thought in-between her dry heaves, did the infernal automaton always have to wander off on her watch?? She was oblivious to the freezing rain as it soaked through her clothes and seeped into her skin, instead fighting the urge to curl up into a ball and wait for the discomfort to subside. Yet she knew that it would not relent: the rulers of Gnosis were not ones to employ paltry half-measures. Each night the discorduous hum began at dusk and permeated throughout the city until dawn. Unless the magistra deemed otherwise, none would walk the streets under the guise of night. And the magistra were not ones keen on changing their minds.

Breath shaking, Alzeera collected herself and stood upright. She could bear the pain. For now. Her jaw quivered from the unease eating away at her. The acolyte clenched her teeth and peered through the night. All around her rose and fell the glinting violet of the harvest tower’s support beams, its glow blurred by the rainfall. The structure was forever rearranging itself, trapped in a constant shift to best collect the wild magic hanging in the air. Even after being abandoned by the city’s mages, the tower still transformed, grasping for any wayward stands of arcanum left lingering in the air after their constant experimentation. The perfect place for the Blinding Radiance to make their headquarters; a terrible place for their most precious asset to wander alone.

Heart racing, she called out again, her voice small and insignificant against the vastness of the storm. It and the coughing fit that followed did not echo but were swallowed by the dark, the violet glow only dispelling the shadows to shape a prison around her. Her stomach churned and twisted against itself. The quicker she found the automaton the better. Azure eyes swept across the hanging metal, darting from one edge of the living labyrinth to the next. Where is that blasted-


Off towards the northeast corner of the building about fifty feet above her position sat a bronze shimmer set against the canvass of night. The automaton was still as the beam it stood upon came to a halt before lazily rising towards the tower’s apex. It showed neither concern for its increasingly perilous position nor any sign of hearing her less-than-gentle shouts and commands. Alzeera gasped as the last cry triggered a stabbing pain in her temple. She stumbled, only catching herself a step away from the tower’s edge. As the agony waned, the acolyte caught her breath. Below the city slumbered in a murky haze begot by sickly green pinpoints of light. Its image was haunting, but with no ladders or cables to pursue the automaton, Alzeera would rather fling herself from the tower than have to explain to Garox how she lost their only weapon against the Scyons.

Fling myself from the tower…



Thousands of raindrops pelted his metallic form, each crashing with a sharp ping amidst the chorus of their brethren. There was no pattern - he had already determined that - but one could not deny that the sheer volume of the onslaught gave the illusion of one. It was intriguing in its way, this false deliverance of order. He could have spent hours watching the rain fall - he already had - but it was not the focus of his observation this time.


A city lay sprawled out before him. Through its heavy mist broke beacons of emerald light set within warped, obtuse structures that littered the field of view. Above each of them stood an interlaid series of arches joining together into a twisted spiral. It was from these formations that the incessant buzz capable of making the acolytes ill through sound alone came. A metal hand grazed the auditory receptor on the right side of his head. It signaled to his consciousness of danger, that it should likewise flee. He ignored the message - no signals for structural damage accompanied it. The Discordance Calling was designed to disperse crowds of humans, but Pendulum was not one of their kind. That much had been made clear to him.


Him. One of the few things that the Architects had bestowed upon the Chronomantic Engine. Architect Hollow had been the one to supply it. Pendulum recalled his voice with absolute clarity. “The human consciousness has identity. Thus it shall keep its name. Furthermore, from here on forth, Pendulum shall also be referred to as a man, lest his consciousness devolve back into common machinery.”


The Blinding Radiance did not agree. They still called him Pendulum, but they also called him “it”. Perhaps he was an “it”. He had no reason to hold on to the claim of manhood; it had been an arbitrary decision made by his creators. The automaton wiped the rain free from his visual panel. Yet he still clutched on to that fragment of identity. The Architects had built him, the Blinding Radiance had stolen him, but he had named himself.


A blaze of light tore the sky.

And Pendulum slipped from the grips of Time.

The world seemed to come to a halt around the automaton. Had time truly froze, then light itself would not move and he would be rendered blind. But no, he had not frozen time. He had merely...slipped from its constraints. Still, it was the phrase that the acolytes of the Blinding Radiance used to describe the phenomenon, and against his better understanding Pendulum found himself using the phrase as well. Was this an aspect of a developing subconsciousness? Or were his reasoning and logic systems beginning to corrode?

These thoughts floated through his head during this time without time. He allowed them to linger as he examined his failure. Above, the arc of lightning he had aimed to capture was inexact. Blurred. Imperfect. The snaking form of the thunderbolt blended together with the sky and clouds, creating a white mar in the black night. The perfect image of lightning mid-strike continued to elude him.

Pendulum stayed in the time without time, nonetheless drinking in every aspect of the diminishing lightning bolt and counting the endless raindrops. How much time had passed was unknown to him, for time did not pass here. But he found he was not adverse to the march of his own pendulums coming to a halt. “Favorable”, Alzeera had once told him. “Not being adverse was favorable.”.

Pendulum did not find the failure to witness the perfect lightning bolt favorable. But he did not find it adverse either.


The automaton was thrust back into the stream of time. He was greeted with the crash of thunder, its roar drowning out almost everything out. Almost. Pendulum looked down below for where a shout had originated. Rain running down his visual panel in their river-like paths, Pendulum made out the form of the acolyte Alzeera clinging onto one of the tower’s rising beams. She must have leapt from the rooftop onto it in order to acquire such a precarious position. Pendulum raised his gaze to the sky once more. Her actions made little sense to the automaton, but he had not been made to make sense of the mortal condition.



The Chronomantic Engine looked back down at the struggling Alzeera. Her legs kicked at the empty air and found no purchase. Odd. Pendulum was sure the members of the Blinding Radiance understood that raindrops lacked the substance to be footholds, not to mention their falling status. She swung one hand onto the beam only for the other to slip off. Wide eyes turned to him. “Help!”


Help. Current observations indicated that the task being referred to was climbing back onto the beam. Perhaps these were the tasks the acolytes completed when Pendulum was in his confines. The automaton turned back to the overhead clouds - he did not know if he would get the chance to witness another storm.



Higher, shriller. More desperate? The automaton reached into his chest, plucking free one of the three pendulums keeping their meticulous pace. Without a glance Pendulum tossed the rhythm keeper down below. It landed with a sharp clang, and the temporal field took hold. Passing raindrops struck violent ripples of kaleidoscopic colors as they passed through its boundaries, clashing against each other in chaotic sprays. The acolyte’s thrashing slowed to a crawl. With the slowed passage of time, she should have no trouble leveraging herself back onto the beam.


Assuming that the visual and auditory distortions did not overwhelm her. The colors exploded in their unpredictable ways, and the pitter-patter of the rain ranged from careless whispers to the might of cannon fire. It would be overwhelming for the unaccustomed mind, and Alzeera had never participated in the Blinding Radiance’s experiments with the Chronomantic Engine’s power.


With his task of providing aid complete, Pendulum turned his full focus back to the night sky. He could not predict the moment of the lightning strike, and his powers of observation only went so far. Violet light from the harvest tower shimmered as it reflected off the veil of rain. All round him, the metal seemed to hum in harmony. He had not bore witness to such a phenomenon from the tower in his time with the Blinding Radiance. Perhaps it was a function of the tower when collecting-

A flash of light.


Pendulum slipped from the constraints of time. But not before the bolt of lightning struck him.

Brilliant white light encompassed the automaton’s form, blinding him to all but its own luminance. Signals for severe damage surged from every sensory across his axiom network, demanding to be answered. His consciousness lurched from one message to the next, struggling to keep up with the flood of information. But no matter how fast he went, it did not end. He had slipped from time, in the moment where every warning system was caught midfire. Pendulum could not address or dismiss these signals, only jump from urgency to urgency with no means to enact a solution.

He thrust his consciousness to re-enter the flow of time. He was denied. Thought functions processed faster at the impossibility. The fourth dimensional space was always one he could enter and exit freely - had the lightning strike damaged critical mechanisms? Was such a thing possible? His consciousness ran in its frenzy across all damage signals. The Architects had kept the source of his powers a secret, and the Blinding Radiance had yet to uncover them. What had happened then? Pendulum executed his command to depart the fourth dimensional space again and again, each time meeting with failure.

How many times did he attempt this escape? He could not say.

No time passed for time did not pass here. His inner pendulums did not partake in their rhythmic sway, his pistons did not pump along their cables, and his mind could find no ordinance for keeping measure. The moment was all that there was to Pendulum. This was his instance. This was his eternity.

How did one measure what by definition could not be measured? And how did one calculate when it ended?

For it must have ended. From the brilliance appeared a figure clothed in a long black robe beset with golden signets. All along the hem flowed a series of arcanic runes that bled into one other, falling apart and reforming into new ones in their bluish glow. A thousand thoughts for fight and flight flitted through the automaton’s mind, each as useless as his frozen body. He recognized this one. He always would no matter how much time had passed.

The figure in that all-too familiar robe drew close. The white light began to fade, a skyline emerging from its illuminance.

“Second Generation Chronomantic Engine, Mark VI,” spoke the Architect. “Granted the name Pendulum in pursuit of consciousness. Keystone to the Chronos Shackling Imperative.” His voice was harsh and scratchy, as if each syllable was a struggle to produce. He did not know it, but the automaton had given him the name Architect Rasp. It was one of the few things that had distinguished him from the others.

Another command to thrust his consciousness from this fourth dimensional space. Another denial.

Architect Rasp stopped just short of Pendulum, smiling with a crooked grin. “Subject maintains control of the shift from our perception of time into a fourth dimensional space.” A withered hand reached out from the robes and clasped the automaton’s own, pulling it forward in a mocking imitation of a handshake. The mage iron ground against itself as it was animated by an outside force, but outside the small spurts of noise gave no resistance. The Architect leaned closer. Had Pendulum had olfactory sensors, he would have been able to smell his breath. “But only back in Gnosis. Not here - not in this city.”

A different alarm went off within Pendulum’s mind. The Architects had never once mentioned the city’s name while within his presence; they purposefully and meticulously told the automaton as little information as possible.

Who are you?, thought Pendulum, his auditory emitter refusing to acknowledge his will.

“Who am I indeed?” the Architect. He continued to manipulate the automaton’s arm until it was outstretched before Pendulum, as if the Chronomantic Engine was offering some invisible gift. “To see the result of your so-called purpose. The Blinding Radiance believed you were a weapon.” The following smile split his face wide. “A test, I think. Their weapon...versus ours."


They had told him of his purpose, of his mission. They did not tell him when or where or how, only that when it was time the scion would attempt to stop them. And Pendulum was to stop the scion.

A flurry of questions burgeoned from the automaton’s consciousness, of where this scion was, of what it was but this time he received no answer. The being resembling Architect Rasp turned on his heel and walked out of Pendulum’s field of view. Upon doing so, the footsteps stopped. Logic demanded otherwise but the automaton knew that whatever it was, it was gone - leaving Pendulum alone.

Over time that did not exist, a city fully emerged from the lightning’s white light. Towers of obsidian and ivory that scraped the sky came into visual view, the radiance toning itself down until it was naught but a bleak grey. Around him was an open yard of sorts, beset by alternating stones of black and white. The closest building was some several hundred feet away, although Pendulum could not be sure - whatever this place lost to time was, it was difficult for him to quantify it in any meaningful way.

Day and night refused to give way to each other. Perhaps neither could because this was but a moment in this city’s timescape. Pendulum stared ahead looking for something, for anything all the while his axiom network yearned to respond to the warning signals still burning in his consciousness from the lightning strike. But he could not and did not, for Pendulum could not dislodge himself from his state freed of time and no other crossed his field of view.

He was locked. And he was alone.

And then he was not. The sky did not fade, the light did not wane, but another figure entered the black and white square. This one was unfamiliar to Pendulum, and he was very unlike the Architects of Gnosis or the acolytes of the Blinding Radiance. Dark of skin and gold of hair, the automaton had not seen anyone quite like him. Scion? The automaton’s function demanded he slip from time to study this specimen, but that was still beyond his control. Instead he had to settle for watching the figure approach, scarlet flowers blooming in his wake.

The stranger came to a stop just shy of the automaton’s open hand. Once upon a time, within time, Pendulum could have counted the length of their shared stare to a nanosecond. But in this timeless place, he could not even keep track of the stranger’s strides. Golden irises peered into his visual frame. Was this the scion? Or was he something else all together?

The stranger plucked a blooming flame from the air around him. “For luck, shall we say?” He placed the fire in the automaton’s outstretched hand. It flickered and danced, but his body did not register the heat that should be coming from it. His network was still trapped on the lightning still coursing through him.

After a moment or a lifetime, the stranger stepped back with a smile upon his face. A smile so similar yet distinct from the ones belonging to the Architects. “Seems like we all need it here.” Luck, thought the automaton in his prison. The fabrication of fortune or its inverse falling upon you, ignoring the algorithms dictating the chance of said events. Thought perhaps that all luck was - the unlikely becoming the possible.

Whatever it was, it was not with this stranger. Mid-step, the ground gave way to swallow him. Somewhere in the inkling between now and forever he was gone, and Pendulum was once again alone.

The fire flickered at the edge of his vision, its flame reflecting off the bronze fingertips enclosing it. His peripheral was flawed, mimicking that of humankind. What form did it take, where it danced between the known and unknown? Could he but glance down at its presence, he would drink in every twist and curl of the flame. His mind executed the command to re-enter the stream of time as it was pelted with the urge of escape and safety. Like before, it went unanswered.

And then the fire spread.

Pendulum thought it was a trick of the light at first, the fire taking a new shape upon his palm. But as it got brighter, it grew to overlay his form. Tongues of flame snaked across his palm and in-between his open fingers, wrapping around his wrist and ascending his arm. The automaton was well aware of the danger of fire, but his axiom network did not send any impulses of the impending danger. Instead, the opposite occurred. Wherever the fire crossed, the warning signals embedded in his system from the moment of the lightning strike faded away. The urgency waned as the flames spread to his shoulder, across his neck, and to the other arm. It poured down his back and reached up to engulf his head in his vibrant light. Signal after signal winked out, embracing the automaton into a state of calm. By all logic, his systems should be firing on all pathways that he was enveloped in an inferno and yet the lack of receptor signals inspired him to not take any action. Or attempt any, in this place removed from time.

At some point the sensation of falling had taken him, but he could not say when.


A crash of thunder.

The fire receded, that much was true. When and how were of a different matter altogether. His sight returned, the azure glow his visual core swung back and forth once more, collecting the new world before him. Gone was the city with its black and white monuments. Gone were the strangers both old and new with their perplexing words and even more perplexing actions.


Gone was his prison.

A voice reverberated in the chamber with its thousands of gleaming needles, with its pillars and residents. His auditory receptors caught them all but his vision was focused on his hand still outstretched before. The fiery flower was gone, only a faint soot mark left behind where it had been.


Five symbols were birthed in the chamber, each marking one of the combatants. For here they were combatants, decreed the voice. A gnarled black shape hung over Pendulum, one that was shared by the creature across the way. A creature standing not on its legs but fleshlike appendages, its traditional eyes covered by a mask of metal while a singular eye lay lodged in its chest

Was this his enemy to overcome, or his ally?


The combatants closest to him had each bore a brilliant white emblem. One took the form of a large snakelike entity; the other a humanoid figure bearing horns and wings with hands alight with fire. It reminded him of the stranger. Did you warn me of the scion? Or are you the scion?

A moment of peace.


One finger curled against his palm. Then another and another until he formed a fist. The Blinding Radiance had made one thing clear to him.

He had not been created for peace


The automaton’s shoulder’s shifted first, a loud ka-chunk as the torso loosened its hold on the sockets. Within the automaton’s frame, the pistons began to pump faster. He could not experience adrenaline, but he could attempt to replicate the sensation. As the entire upper body began to rotate, so did the thought process begin to race within the automaton’s consciousness.


Attack the other one marked by the black emblem? No, for if it was a coordinated brawl, then he would be striking down his only ally.

The torso finished its first revolution, its speed accelerating.


That left the ones chosen by the white symbol. Either he needed to conquer them, or by eliminating one of them he could garner the support of another. It was only logical to join forces with those with the same goals.

His extended fist whirled in the open air as the second revolution came to a close, with no sign of stopping.


Left or right? The simplest of decisions as it was a numbers game. Should the white marked ones be against him, then attacking the snakelike one left two at his back while the opposite only left him exposed to one. Similarly, if he was against the other one chosen by black, then he forces its hand in having to tear through two enemies to reach him.

A soft click accompanied the third revolution, and Pendulum’s forearm disconnected at the elbow. It hurled through the air at the one wielding flames in her fingertips. The torso came to a screeching halt as Pendulum bounded after his appendage, heavy steps clattering against the battlefield’s floor.

AQ DF MQ  Post #: 4
1/29/2021 11:12:25   
Purple Armadillo

Stone cracked and crumbled, rent iron bars wailed. Glass sundered against stone, the entire city groaned. Four frantic forelimbs tore at the seams of this chequered prison. One by one, entire structures collapsed in the wake of this creature, its fury unrelenting. One by one, an even larger building now stood in its place; the city’s will - absolute. Gluttony settled for but a moment amidst the dust laced air. Their four tendrilous limbs pulsating to the beat of a racing heart. The large, green eye within Gluttony’s chest darted left, then right, up, then left again.

A faint crackling of metal softly resounded behind the Scyon before multiplying. Two, eight, sixteen, now a rainshower of footsteps. Law Keepers of black iron gathered into the alleyway, cutting off any escape. They spoke no words, yet the city made its demands.


Stone trembled beneath claws as Gluttony turned, rising to their full height on two limbs. The heat of their halo warped the air, their pupil rescinded to a narrow slit. Its snarl gave way to a voice rasped like choking on glass shards.

”Where are…they?

You.... hide them… from me…”

The silent swarm of black ants made no attempt of an answer, save for one. The stench of ozone permeated the air and shadows crackled along the walls as a spear brought its own arcing energy to life. The armed ant slowly approached the Scyon. Two successful steps for the insect before the blue light of its spear snuffed out, the source of its magic suffocated.

Claws clicked in anticipation before the Scyon lunged forward. One claw gripped the head of the iron creature, another the hips. With a grunt and a screech of metal, the Law Keeper severed in two. The scampering of footsteps and the screams of twisting iron echoed throughout the streets of the Chequered City as each such insect met a similar fate.

After a moment, four lumbering limbs carried Gluttony out the passageway, striding deeper and deeper into the city.

Empty ants…
Hungry… so hungry…

Correspondence amongst the Maegistra - 1
Transcribed to the common tongue by Nicales
Twelfth Moon post Calamity

“Most holy Speaker for That Which Understands. I beg that you will forgive the informality that encompases this message, but I must immediately inform you about the current tidings surrounding the Scyon Project. I do believe we have finally done it!

Unlike the incredibly tepid Cobtif line, we have erred away from adapting a purely artificial soul into a human husk, such methods yield lackluster results. Human consciousness similarly has proven to produce unrespectable results. It was only with your grand generosity that we were able to extract consciousness from The Aether. Working with such an intelligence has been such a joy, as it has proven to be unyielding as they are delicate.

Such consciousness, we believe, are the key to unlocking the full potential of the Scyon Project.

In order to fully unlock their potential, however, we require the use of more human souls. We currently face two obstacles. The first is just how delicate and unmoldable portions of The Aether are once extracted. We cannot hope to modify it to our liking. Secondly, binding such a consciousness to a humanoid base is nearly impossible. The body simply rejects such a foreign consciousness and will rot over time without regard to of any preservatives we attempt to treat it with.

Our proposal is to make use of human souls as a bonding agent to properly root a newly extracted consciousness into a body. We believe that a properly emulsified amalgamation of human souls will prevent rejection rot. We also believe that in selecting for traits among the souls we use, we will be able to influence the tendencies of the final product.

It is a unanimous recommendation from the Council Architectura that we proceed with this method. It is a personal recommendation from myself that when selecting for human traits, we select for gluttony and bloodlust. I believe that linking the two together may be the most effective way of controlling such a creature.

Michael - The Witness - Maegistra”

Countless twisted iron corpses collapsed onto the street, decorations alongside the black and white stones. Every single twist and turn presented more ants than the last, each alleyway stretched alongside increasingly massive buildings. The last of the ants within this passageway collapsed. The Scyon faltered. It wrapped its arms around its stomach as a loud crack echoed through the empty alleyway. It slammed its banded forehead against the cold stone wall. A sob drifted away as Gluttony slumped and choked on agony. The breaking of iron did not sate. Nothing in this city could sate. The place proved endless. The emptiness of the city, endless. Tendrils shivered and convulsed. They shook alongside Gluttony's shoulders as the Scyon wept.

A soft storm of shivering claws clacked against stone, a gentle rain of tears did the same. Sound all but disappeared as both claw and tear found themselves without anything to land upon. Wind howled across Gluttony’s ears. It caressed their face as the world had dropped out from beneath their claws. The endlessness turned to a black void. Falling became striding. Gluttony found their senses drawn to a new scent. This one of iron and salt. Its mouth watered as claws twitched just as lightning struck, a flash revealing the expanse of jagged gemstone. Words here were spoken, yet not comprehended. A white hot coal within the pit of the Scyon’s stomach lurched at this new scent. The white hot flash of lightning revealed they were not alone within this cavern.

The Scyon’s mouth trembled, attempting to force words from their lips. Words did not come forth, yet a scream in their place. Gluttony howled as their hunger took hold. The song of starvation began. Their ravenous wail echoed throughout the surrounding room, enticing all who heard to feed.

Immediately to the right, one of cloaks and limbs stood. Flesh unrent, blood not spilled. Four tumultuous tendrils tore at the floor as the Scyon flung themself at this one. One single tendril lashed out, attempting to knock the spider off their feet.
DF  Post #: 5
1/29/2021 11:58:59   

In one powerful grapple the thing had him by the throat, claws of black and white metal bringing him closer to its face as he tried his hardest to get away.

He could hear its breath, erratic and shaking.

His eyes widened, shining a pale blue. He sensed and saw what came with it. Almost in a trance, he felt the last shreds of what once have been spirits before this thing devoured them all. Little lights, tiny specks of emotions they represented.

Among them…

His eyes focused again.

“Do it,”

He growled in a gnarly tone.

“Take what’s left.”

And as if contemplating, it brought him closer. Its mouth opened, and where once were teeth there now were shards of the same metal, the darkest black and lightest white. The stream, the stench grew so much stronger, so much louder. He could not look away, powerless in its claws, almost in a trance.

And then, it closed to the same smirk.

He could barely let out a sound before the thing landed him in water and rocks with a brutal swing. The rocks that bruised and knocked the air out of him could not be more painful than knowing just why.

There was nothing of worth in him to devour anymore.

He scrambled to find his footing in the chilly waters, only to see that it was already gone.

He felt his Arthra farther and farther the more the creature ran, and he cried out, desperate to get on his feet again, to continue the chase.

The thing paused its escape, hovering above the water that was once clear.

A cloud of blood formed under its feet, and even if he couldn’t see it clearly, he could feel it. The many fish that couldn’t escape before it got there, lifelessly sinking to the bottom of the lake. There was nothing it could get from their spirits, their deaths.

This was just a game for it.

In a short spurt of fury, he attempted to dart forward with his limbs that reached out to grab and tear. He was betrayed by the sharp pain in his side where the chequered claws had landed. He refused to look up again, face barely above the chilly water. Watching as the blood left his arms and tanted the water around.

He knew it was already gone.

Gabriel’s head hung, teeth clenched. All of this was nothing compared to the hollowness that followed every time he almost reached her again, only to have her yanked right from his grasp.

With a grasp on his chest where his heart should be, he howled out a curse. A curse against the uncaring universe that let this monster run wild, against the Powers that let this grave injustice and pain happen.

And just like that, he realized that it was a mistake.

There are just a certain things a Weaver feels. There are things that a normal human would feel, of course.

A weaver thing to feel would be the soul-devourer returning. A weaver thing to feel would be knowing that there are souls nearby, in the ravens overhead, in the constant buzzing of the bugs hiding in the trees.

There was silence. And it was Silence that was so heavy it made the air feel like no air at all, it shimmered and rung like bone hitting silver.

Gabriel’s hairs stood on end.

Now on his feet, he stepped back, watching his blood in the water gather much darker tones, turning into blackness that spread over the water far faster than he could ever manage to escape. Stars shimmered from below the blackened surface, as if the entire night sky had decided to take a break, without any moo nor sun in sight, and above, where the sky should be…

There was the lake.

If he had seen clear water before, and as chilling as the wind and frostbitten trees, it was nothing compared to the deepness of this crystal clear sky ocean. And up there, in the waters that reached far beyond in depth, he saw a shadow.

It moved too fast to discern, and yet it was so impossibly enormous, with its fins and a tail no dragon would be ashamed of.

And in the same time, in the black abys below, something brushed Gabriel’s leg, so huge it sent the whole surface rippling, stars and galaxies shaking in fear.

He stepped back, now up on his feet. Clutching his wound with a now star-tinged hand he glared up at the shadows above and bared his teeth.

Into the silence heavier than any words could ever be, he spoke, his voice shaken by awe and determination the same.

„I know what I said! I stand by it-„

Only for him to immediately stumble backwards as the enormous creature jumped from the seas above into the void below, bringing the impossibly clear white waters with it. The world shifted into a blur, and he saw the star speckled black leap up towards the sky, just as the white infected the waters below.

And then the waters took him, his vision darkening as the blindingly pristine and clear waters overtook.
And he sunk, far deeper than the lake ever had any right to be.

Where are you, when you are nowhere? Where are you, when time and space lose their meaning, when there’s no above or below, and no good and evil?

Gabriel awoke with a start. There was no pleasant hovering in the watery void, there was no dreams other than flashes and fleeting thoughts.

There was just the water filling his lungs, numbness, and…


The lake had a surface this time.

First a talon, then a gauntleted hand, then a talon that slipped. His fingers grabbed at something sharp and symmetrical, and Gabriel pulled himself out of what appeared to be… a pool?

Like a rainbow sided fish, though in many ways less graceful, the Chaosweaver flopped on the pristine floor of whites and blacks, and laughed. Hoarsely, as was a custom with this man, though this time, it could be due to water stuck in his lungs as well.

Finally, he stopped.

"Well. I deserved that."

Where are you, when you’re everywhere? When time and space lose their meaning as there is only one, when all colours blend into one, when good and evil no longer help?

Gabriel roared with the wind tearing at his cape, his hair, his skin. It had been so long since there was something to feel.

A flash of lightning and the sky blurred again as the echo rumbled in his ears, and then there was suddenly a place. A place to stand.

Among crystals and rocks, among sharp, jagged edges, among the hungering liquid that sizzled the beatiful ground.

His head buzzed just as his heart. The descent was still burning in his mind, but one thing was far clearer than that.

The hunger.

The souls he felt around him were all so, so strange and alien, and yet hey were fuller than his had been for so long. The symbols and the voice were almost lost to the haze of his mind as he stilled his focus, breathing deeply to try and let his throughts govern over the empty chest that hungered over everything this cavern had to give. Over the limbs, sparking to life and shivering.

„I meant… What I said.“

He clenched through his teeth.

Then prove it.

Gabriel clenched his fists and stared straight ahead at a behemoth charging, eyes lighting up in a pale blue.


A tendril lashed at him faster than he had expected, sending him backwards.

Not for long. A silken, sticky thread formed around his arm as he flew, and it lashed back, intending to stick to the creature and pull Gabriel towards them.
DF  Post #: 6
1/31/2021 21:25:55   
How We Roll Winner

“The first is a trial of individual skill. A death match of sorts. My first opponent … was a woman covered in crystals.
- the Grand Master’s journal.

:::The Powers begin with a test to select the ones most worthy.:::
- the Epic of Yeukhauneu Shakti Sangharsha Hayua.

The stillness erupted into a cacophony of violence in an instant. Across the cavern, I could make out an abhorrent, unnatural creature glowing white hot launch itself at a humanoid with extra spidery limbs, who returned the gesture with a spray of sticky thread. The two of them would be busy with each other for a while. Most would have doubted the spidery one’s ability to fend off such a creature, but I was accustomed to seeing those less physically capable than a Durdaunta Saupa perform marvelous feats. If he were anything like Citaral, he would be able to take care of himself.

My attention was drawn instead to the two beside me. The mechanical monstrosity which resembled a distorted human skeleton lumbered toward the last combatant, a rather petite female. I identified her as simply female, but not human, for despite her humanoid frame, my infrared vision could clearly detect the draconic wings on her back. That was not to mention her distinctively reptilian scent ...

She had dodged the machine’s flying fist by a hair, stumbling to the left. A curious maneuver, I thought, what was she--


I saw what she was planning. The question now was: do I help her, or the machine?

Plain common sense dictated I aid the female. After all, she and I, as well as the spidery one, shared a common symbol. The machine and the other creature shared their own symbol. Why had the machine not attacked me instead, who was closer? Perhaps it feared a two pronged attack from behind by the other two. Of course, such a choice assumed that I, by myself, was less of a threat.

That would prove to be a poor assumption.

In any case, disregarding the wheel symbols, disregarding even our natural repulsion to such artificiality, there could only be one possible path for me. I remembered the Priestess’s -- the construct’s -- eyes staring at me accusingly.

Keeping my coils together, I shuffled up behind the skeletal machine. This would be tricky. Unlike in my natural habitat of the Jungle, I would have nowhere to retreat should I make a mistake.

Positioned behind the machine, my height when I raised my upper body upright gave me a perfect view of the female. I looked directly into her eyes.

:::Courage,::: I said. :::You are not alone.:::
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 7
2/1/2021 0:16:12   

Eva had started to count her breaths every time she was about to be tossed into the heat of war- but more on because she didn’t want the next one to be her last. What would have happened then, if every breath meant every name that she lost?

Her eyes were wider now; her wings that cocooned her from the very bad fall down the crystal pillar unfurled, letting her stand properly to appraise her new surroundings- but even that was one breath too late.

She had been through a minefield once. The mines that were rooted in the ground always had a certain smell to them, despite being left in the earth for far too long. The older it was, the fainter its clicks, the more sudden its impact was. The dragon helped: their eyes were her eyes, but sometimes Xyl just assumed that Eva knew. And that was often increasingly unhelpful.

She heard the same soft click, her delicate ears picking up that subtle sound. Eva looked up just as her body jerked itself to the left almost by instinct, careening to the ground before a metal fist passed mere inches away from her face. She gasped as she stumbled to a messy roll on the ground-

The acid. Your “robots” melt, correct?

No matter how confusing and sensory-overloading the wars were, Xylmaelyth’s voice rang loud and clear as a bell. Eva pushed herself upright. Metals always corroded with acid, she thought, catching the whiff of approval from the dragon. Just then, she caught the gaze of a giant snake rearing behind the machine.

A scream caught in her throat, held fast by the dragon who frowned at another adrenaline spike, this time from fear. The acid, child. That snake is an ally. She understood immediately, from whatever assurance both snake and dragon gave her despite Xyl’s voice being begrudging; but in the end, it helped clear her head. She nodded once and her talons began burning brighter as Eva stood up again, using the momentum of her roll to rush back and shove herself right into the humanoid machine, where it had lumbered directly across the crystals.
Post #: 8
2/2/2021 11:00:01   
Purple Armadillo

“Where… am I?”

“You are exactly where you need to be today. Tomorrow we will put you somewhere else, and that will be exactly where you need to be.”

“Why.. am I?”

“Just as the gods created angels in the image of their own perfection, so we have created you, the Arbiter of our Perfect Order.”


The sound of Gluttony’s tendril striking the spider. An impact of flesh and bone. The Scyon shuddered, salivating. Once a burning coal within their stomach, now a frozen pit demanding satiation. It was time to feed. Feed. Feed. Fee- A bright flash of white. Their feast interrupted.

“Clever spider…”

The Scyon flinched. Silken thread lept from the spider’s hand. Thread meant to entangle. Rope meant to ensnare. Protect. Tendrils retreated. They curled around Gluttony’s body protectively. The silken snare attached to the undulating appendage. Weight pulled the limb downwards. The spider’s own body climbed upon them. That limb thrashed and flailed. In vain it attempted to dislodge the skittering intruder. The eye in the center of the Scyon’s chest focused on this spider. Dragging their weighted limb along, they turned to put the spider between themself and the shining gemmed pillar.

The weighted tendril whipped, its compliment lashed out to strike. The Scyon attempted to land its claws into the spider’s body. If the strike did not land, perhaps the spider would fall upon the shards.


“Why...does this hurt...so?”

“You are blessed with the divine will. You are the most righteous of creatures we could ever have hoped to create. It is your never perfect drive that makes you feel this way, you hunger to fulfill your purpose.”


DF  Post #: 9
2/2/2021 22:50:21   


The blazing adversary tumbled down and to her left, avoiding the flying fist by the slimmest of margins. Pendulum analyzed her every move - even in the adversity of recovering from an unceremonious fall, she displayed superior dexterity and a heightened sense of instinct. A vessel enhanced with pyrokinetic abilities and modified to inhuman levels of performance. Results on being the scion: inconclusive. Pendulum’s footsteps reverberated throughout the battlefield as his pace quickened. With such a skilled foe before him, pressing the attack would be the most beneficial course of action, assuming…


The automaton’s head rotated one hundred and eighty degrees, its blue panel gazing at the snake behemoth now slithering after him.


The world around him stood still.

Unmoving, Pendulum analyzed the now frozen enemy. Its black coloring was accented with crimson, and a second head protruded from its form. Not a living head, determined his logic system. Most likely an ornamental piece decorating the armor that draped what could be considered its upper body. Intelligent enough to craft armor or simply outfitted by another? Were you armored by the Architects? Putrid yellow eyes stared back at the automaton. The Blinding Radiance had once referred to the Architects as “snakes”, but Pendulum could see no physical resemblance between this creature and the mages he had known. Where was the similarity? The Architects were...


“The A-Architects?,” said an acolyte - more boy than man. He gave one of the many shudders that had earned him the moniker “Acolyte Shiver” from Pendulum. “Devious. Devious and cunning. Can’t trust them further than you can throw them. Well, than I can throw them.”

“The Architects are evil,” chimed in Alzeera, leaning back into her chair, speaking freely. “Plain and simple. Everything they touch turns to rot - no, I don’t mean that literally, let me explain-”

”Ruthless,” said Garox, hand ever resting on the pommel of his blade. The large man stalked across the floor, moving with the restless energy of a spring wound too tight. “They know naught the name of ‘mercy’. Those taken alive receive the worse fate by far.”


Cunning. Devious. Evil. Ruthless. Which one made the snake like these Architects?

Which one was the most dangerous?

Pendulum counted the many crystal needles lining the walls and pillars in his field of view as he deliberated over which quality was the greatest threat. He finished without reaching a conclusion; none of these made Adversary Snake any less or any more dangerous. It was an enemy, and that was the only function of it that mattered.


The automaton’s head swiveled forwards once his consciousness re-entered the timestream. His remaining hand darted in and out of the pumping pistons within his chest, yanking free one of the pendulums in the process. Logic dictated that dealing with enemies one by one had a higher success rate than fighting the two at once. Before him, Adversary Blaze rose to her feet, talons alight with blistering fire. Behind him, Adversary Snake continued the pursuit. His computational unit stocked the order of commands,


His consciousness executed his orders. The body gave a jolt as the torso whirled in place, spinning in a complete three hundred and sixty degree arc. The hand holding the pendulum released its grip as it crossed the path of Adversary Snake. The momentum carried the counting rod to land a few paces ahead of his foe. The temporal anomaly would either slow the creature’s crossing or force it to take a more circuitous path. Both options, as Alzeera had taught him, were preferable.



An idle relay passed through the automaton’s mind as Adversay Blaze surged forward, hands flaring with new vigor. Odd, as all of his units were accounted for in processing other information. The relay reminded him that all three pendulums had been in his chest upon entering this battlefield, and thus there no longer was any field providing aid to the acolyte. Alone on the harvest tower in the pouring rain, the odds of her extracting herself from that situation safely were not in her favor.

The Chronomantic Engine dismissed the signal. If he was as vital to the rebellion’s plan as they insinuated, then the Blinding Radiance would assign him a new acolyte. It was only logical.


With surprising strength and speed, Adversary Blaze slammed her burning hands against his chest. The force of the blow sent the automaton reeling back towards one of the arena’s glittering pillars. His warning relay erupted into a frenzy at the sudden influx of structural damage and heat conduction reports. He dismissed signal after signal; Pendulum needed the processing power placed elsewhere. He adjusted his torso to face his assailant.


Weaving a link between a pendulum and his main body, the Chronomantic Engine executed the command to freeze. The rhythmic needle came to a sudden halt, as did his torso in the midst of his staggering. His metallic head and limbs squealed in their sockets by the immediate and absolute halt of motion. It would not prevent his eventual collision with the glittering pillar of crystal - but it would provide an opportunity to pay back in kind.


Without missing a beat, Pendulum thrust his incomplete arm towards Adversary Blaze. In the precise middle of the counterattack, he rewound his thrown hand. Vanishing from its spot on the arena floor, it rematerialized on his limb just before making contact with his foe. The newly returned fist struck true in the center of her chest. A direct hit, though injury would be mitigated by the lack of torque behind the blow. Considering her strength, the automaton doubted it would do much more than pain her.


Pendulum released his hold on the stasis. The frozen pendulum swung once more as the Chronomantic Engine crashed into the pillar with a sharp clatter. The strange inflection of sound was far quieter than predicted by his prognostication unit, indicating precious few of the needles had broken, if any. Low-levels of heat conduction signals alerted his consciousness to the scalding liquid sprayed across his back and three of his thoracic pistons. Inferior to the flames conjured by his adversary, but enough to damage his system over time if unabated.


Steadying his balance, Pendulum raised his arms in a defensive stance. The limits of the enemy’s capabilities were still unknown, and she had managed to dent his mage iron with a simple shove. His logic system relayed alternative after alternative on how to approach combat with such a dangerous foe.


The light within his visual panel flickered. Scant yet ever present, a singular thought process crossed his axiom network again and again no matter how many times his consciousness rejected it.

Inaction begets nothing. Your worth is your war. Conquer.

His consciousness was unable to identify which system was sending the message.

AQ DF MQ  Post #: 10
2/3/2021 11:37:46   

They’d found her in a field of snow stained red. With nothing but bare birches by the field’s sides witness to what had happened. There was silence.

There was no one here where a village once stood. Their souls had been taken, their bodies unraveled. And what stood there, black and white plates, was no longer the woman he heard of.

It was no longer a woman, a she.

For anything that could lay those horrors to the land could not be a person anymore.

An it. A creature,

Gabriel felt Arthra struggle within his chest, the warning hiss of a spider trying to tear out of his own throat.

He felt it just as clearly as she did. The spirits, the essences of all this thing had devoured. He felt them struggling, sliced to bits and turned to mush, he felt them living even as they’d lost anything that made them themselves.

He felt her limbs climb out of his back, deep black and ravenous, and he shuddered in rage.

“You’ve committed an atrocity, an abomination against weaving itself and the lives of many,”

Gabriel started, walking forward, hand reaching into the winter air.

“May the swift wings of Baltael aid me…”

As if he’d ever cared about anything other than himself.

He exhaled as he sped into a run, feeling his hand grasp a weapon, a pole of black metal seething with energy.

“May the light of Pandora guide your soul.”

Now that I can get behind.

He felt her amused voice more so than heard as he leapt, rage filling his own as they converged.

And in a single movement scythe and claw swept out at the beast, one body, one soul.

“In your banishment!”

The beast wailed back across the plain.

He had not sensed it before. Dodging a speeding behemoth, or almost dodging in his case, and fighting back. Slamming full speed into a tendril and then holding on with bare hands and strained muscles, struggling not to be thrown. That all kind of takes one’s attention.

He clung to the tendril and gave the single eye a smile just a bit too forced, a bit too full.

“Thank you. Most aren’t. I’m special like that.”

A talon of his attempted to slice at the eye just before it sheltered itself in tendrils.

It felt

oddly enough

as if that chilly glow had stayed where it was even with all the tentacles in the way

and he had realized that he felt something horrid in that chilling glow.


Different, yet the same.

Something unnatural and morbid, like souls ground up to be nothing but dust and yet not enough to be truly dead, to not be. His breathing turned heavy. A tendril came, but with newfound fear and fury his own limbs retaliated to try and hold the claw and muscle back, their sharp points digging in.

How about you bleed, thing.

He squinted in the effort it took to hold the tendril back. He felt felt his limbs’ shadowy sinews and bones creak and crack under the other’s strength, knowing he couldn’t hold it back for long.


He spat, fury as well as worry and confusion.

What are you?”
DF  Post #: 11
2/4/2021 9:08:18   

Eva’s wings fluttered uncertainly as she only stood back up to see the robot turn its ungainly head towards the snake, in time to see it move almost too placidly through an almost-invisible sphere that shimmered in the air. She turned to face the robot again, her eyes widening as she saw its fist materialize back into a socket and aimed. “Xyl-”


The dragon’s voice suddenly sounded so discordant before the impact came, in the one single moment that her breath came a second long too late- the robot’s fist crashed into her vest, her chest … her heart.

A clap of thunder…a shattering?

Flames surged up through her veins like lightning, and diverging voices crashed through her head, murmuring, roaring, screaming into her mind. She seemed to leave the arena in all its entirety as her consciousness divided into two for the briefest, most painful moment, thrashing wildly against the dragon’s coils as Xylmaelyth started to squeeze.


The light on Eva’s chest burned brighter enough to flare, even shining through her vest as she skidded on the ground, landing on her knees hard. Talons, teeth elongated and the light quickly leapt up her throat-

The dragon had twined around her, their coils wrapping around her tiny human body as she hovered at the centerpoint of both their existences. Their black and gold scales glimmered darkly against the embers from their fiery maw, but they were an ouroboros: they had been her end and her beginning, always had been.

You will not lose me…

Eva dug her blazing talons on the ground and crouched low as a gout of hellfire exploded from her mouth, her eyes flaring gold and red as the flames bounded over the automaton like hounds after prey, burning bright and lethal as she aimed them towards its legs. She was back in the arena, shaken, her taloned hand gripping at their hearts, but not alone. Never alone.

I will not lose us...
Post #: 12
2/4/2021 20:54:20   
How We Roll Winner

“Used are we, to those lower than our caliber, that we never thought we would be the ones hunted today.”
- the Grand Master’s journal.

:::There is no such thing as one too weak, or one too strong. The Powers choose carefully.:::
-- the Epic of Yeukhauneu Shakti Sangharsha Hayua.

As a Durdaunta Saupa, I would have liked to say I did not feel fear. And yet, here I froze, and not at all because of “that.”

My plan to catch the machine unaware had failed spectacularly. Something possessed the machine to turn its head, the blank panel I assumed to be its face looking directly at me. I immediately stilled myself. I did not believe I had given myself away somehow, but I was not practiced at stealthing about while totally exposed. Briefly, I wondered if it might have trouble seeing motionless objects, but I dismissed the thought -- the Outsiders’ machines had no such difficulties, why should this one?

An elementary mistake--

The abruptness and unfamiliarity of the situation had caused me to hesitate ever so slightly, but the same could not be said of the draconic female. Most impressively, she charged with fists of fire, slamming into the machine, but not before it tossed a metallic device in front of me. I had seen the Outsiders use similar weapons before. Instinctively, I braced for an explosion.

Nothing happened. Or, at least nothing spectacularly so, save for all the colors in a dome around the fallen device. Even with my natural infrared vision, the colors twisted themselves disorientingly. When I tried to inch forward, time seemed to sloooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrghh--

I jerked my head back. The sensation was not much different from getting stuck in a tar pit; my mind screamed to move and my body obeyed, but was hampered greatly by my surroundings. So, the device, whatever it was, possessed the ability to slow down whatever came close to it. “Close” was a relative term, I thought darkly, for it lay quite a distance from me; about a meter or so more than my upper body length.

What if -- I looked closely. I could see it now; the distorted colors formed a sort of dome over the piece of metal. If I was correct, then this dome was the full limitation of the slowing effect.


Although I was assessing the situation with the practiced patience of a hunter, I was quite aware I had to decide quickly. First possible choice: I could simply plow through the dome, heading straight for the machine. That would simply not be happening, unless I had a death wish.

I glanced toward the female. Attempting to round the dome toward her would take far too long. Which left only one other option.

I made my decision in a tongue-flick. I took off toward my left, heading in the direction of the column the machine now found itself against. As I observed the duel between the two combatants, I counted down the distance to my target.

The machine appeared to defy physics, as evidenced by its abrupt halts in motion. It was difficult to make out due to my infrared vision--

--but I could have sworn its launched arm somehow instantaneously reappeared and reattached, so it could land a punch on the female--

As I passed behind the crystal column, I heard something crash heavily against the spikes. Definitely the machine, only something that heavy would make the air tremble that much.

Before I rounded the column, I hesitated. This time, I was not so confident as to assume it would not detect my presence. Even if I did manage to land a strike, thanks to its rotating torso, it would be able to retaliate instantly.

Not entirely for the first time in centuries, I was truly unsure. Do I trust her?

The 499th is ancient and stubborn refuses to seek help afraid of its own irrelevance.



Twin streams of liquid flesh dropped from under the Mauthau’s plating. I reached down and drew the Devious Twins.

A roar of fire accompanied a spike in temperature.

I turned the corner, closing in on the machine. With my right Kousa-limb, I slashed out with the Twin, aimed for the machine’s neck. If it did not turn, perhaps I could take off its head and disable it.


If it did turn, then it would experience the full might of the Youd’dhau Saupa in close combat.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 13
2/6/2021 22:35:50   
Purple Armadillo

Drip, spatter, drip.

The spider’s limbs had found life. They had leapt up and caught the tendril, their tips digging into the leathery flesh. Dark and steaming droplets trickled from the wound, sizzling upon the floor before hardening into flakes of crimson glass. Gluttony hissed. With every attempt to overpower the spider, its legs only burrowed deeper into the pseudo-limb.

“What are you?”

The spider could also speak words. Was it like the men in robes? It did not look like one. Could it be one of the men with spears? It did not look like those, either. If it knew words, perhaps it would know answers.

“I..was aether…

But now… I am cursed…”

The Scyon carefully centered itself over a single tendril, balancing both its own and the spider’s weight overtop. Its pupil narrowed to a slit, focusing on its prey. Stone underneath cracked and groaned as the Scyon shifted its weight all onto a single tendril.

“Tell me… spider…


Punctuating the final word, a third tendril rose from the ground and lashed out at the struggling prey, attempting to smash against its chest and pin it to the spiked pillar just behind.
DF  Post #: 14
2/7/2021 10:28:57   


Flaming talons clawed into the arena’s floor, cascades of sparks sputtering in their wake. Pendulum observed Adversary Blaze as she recovered from the blow: a suboptimal attack yet sufficient enough to drive her back. A critical weakness, logged his analytical system. The gesture was redundant: the bright light now beaming through the edges of her armor was more than enough to-


That did not make sense.

Pendulum stepped out of time to ponder the newly discovered inconsistency. The luminance from her chest acted as a beacon drawing the ire of all to it. Flaws so pertinent and obvious were not permitted by the Architects - other Chronomantic Engines of his generation had been scrapped for far less prominent inferiorities. Pendulum eyed the fatal glow with its stars of orange and yellow shooting out in every direction. If the Blinding Radiance was correct and the scions were dispatched to deal with rebellions, then such a deficiency would not be allowed to exist.

Before him, the frozen form of his enemy radiated with light.

If you are not a scion…

Pendulum struggled to focus on the shadowy forms of the two combatants behind Adversary Blaze. Bound by this time without time, his gaze could not shift to the shadowy figures hanging at the peripheral of his vision. The automaton absorbed what little information he could, their forms obscured by the flaming one’s radiance. Captured in this frozen portrait, they grappled together in a twisted dance, each with their own set of distinct appendages.

...then who is?

After an eternity or not of pondering, Pendulum instructed his systems to dismiss the thought process; the identity of his would-be foe did not matter if the Chronomantic Engine was destroyed by others first. Somewhere outside of his vision, Adversary Snake stalked him. He was outnumbered two to one, and his initial advantage of acting first had run its course. His logic system began relaying the order of commands to ensure survival. Defensive Stance. Locate Adversary Snake. Maintain pillar to the back to prevent flanking. Slow down the tempo-

Inaction begets nothing.

That same invasive message reverberated once more in his consciousness. Pendulum went to dismiss it and stopped himself. Inaction begets nothing. With the Architects, his design was used solely to improve the ones that would replace him. With the Blinding Radiance, his limits were retested and rediscovered. Always was he subjected to their whims and desires. Never could he act without some authority crashing down on his independent functions.

Inaction begets nothing.

After a moment or a millennia of contemplation, Pendulum cleared the order of commands. Conquer, his consciousness demanded.

And he embraced the flow of time.


Upon the world bursting into motion, the Chronomantic Engine hastened his pistons, the steel slamming up and down along their cables with heightened ferocity. Before him, Adversary Blaze reared back, spurts of flame emanating from her maw.


Pendulum charged forward, his head jerking to the temporal field to his right before completing his first step. He peered through the stormy hues of the anomaly, catching sight of the length of tail protruding from behind the pillar. Flanking.


The automaton’s blue eye swept across the column, its crystals glittering underneath its soft glow. It halted at the set of putrid yellow orbs, and the glint of silver flashing in the air above them.


Torso and limbs manifested from its break, creating-, logged the logic system before Pendulum cut its process short. The functions of his systems were inventions of others, but they were his and his alone - neither Architect nor Acolyte could take that from him. Your war is your worth. The automaton raised an arm to intercept the sharp steel as his foot fell onto the arena’s floor.


His head swiveled back to Adversary Blaze and her illuminating light in this dark chamber. A gout of flame erupted from her gaping mouth.


From his receptors came signals of not damage but distress. Adversary Snake’s blade was less a sword and more a whip, ensnaring his arm.


He detached the entangled limb, freeing himself from the trap. Pendulum dismissed the warning relays as he continued his charge straight into the flames.


Feet crashing against the floor with every step, the Chronomantic closed the distance between himself and the fire-breathing enemy. The flames licked and scorched his legs but they did not melt. Not yet.


Damage sensors relayed the deteriorating integrity of his legs. Warning systems flooded his system of the threat of continued exposure.


He did not slow, instead leaping forward to close the last distance between himself and Adversary Blaze. He raised his arms above his head, the missing limb rematerializing to mirror its twin.

AQ DF MQ  Post #: 15
2/7/2021 10:58:21   

The exhaustion of the limbs had always felt so… different. They always felt so real when he was with her, almost as if they weren’t spiritual at all. And yet it was so apparent they were ghosts.

Now they were this fleshy mess of blade, cuticle and soul, and everything they felt was so distant yet close.

Almost as if they tugged at whatever was left of his soul. It made him feel like there was something left, like there was a last bit of who his partner once was. Even as he felt it hunger for the scyon’s blood. He felt the taste of copper as his eyes couldn’t help but follow the dark crimson lifeblood, dripping and sizzling much like the acid of the pillar he was being forced onto.

His, or Arthra’s muscles screamed as they strained, but he had to know, he had to keep his focus on the other.


He hissed out, somehow understanding despite not knowing the word. The aether… the great black-white thing he felt, roiling between all of those specks that once were lives, refusing them and yet not being able to break free.


All of them. All of this thing.

And yet he felt… he felt nothing, no matter how much he tried to reach into his own depths for compassion.

“Then we’d be on the same boat.”

He frowned, straining to hold on to the tentacle and to hold off another, struggling to keep his eyes open, yet knowing that he had to. He could not allow himself to slip again, he could not lose control of his thoughts even for a second.

“Cursed with nothing. Nothing to curse anymore.”

Unwillingly, at least.

Keeping his eyes open even as tiny specks of black invaded his vision has proven as the right idea to have. A third tendril, closing in fast.

A toothy, desperate grin on the spider’s face.

And a claw, swiping forward with but a fraction of its tremendous power.

But if this being’s soul was as unstable and suffering, then there was no power needed to tip it off balance.

And tip myself off, as well. Equal footing, no?

“Show me this aether, show me this curse you bear, and I might be able to tell you!”
DF  Post #: 16
2/8/2021 2:44:19   

Her throat burned as flames leapt from her mouth, her eyes shining brighter from the heat. The dragon was more adamant to have the upper hand every time both seemed to disconnect from each other, in a reckless attempt to get back on their bearings. How this made sense only appealed towards Xylmaelyth’s intentions, and Eva felt the new growth of talons like barbs pressing hard against her fingertips as she attempted to rein the dragon back.

She felt the tremors first, her talons digging deeper into the ground. Contain yourself, she wanted to hiss at them, but she barely registered the edges of her lips starting to singe and sting.

The snake had a blade, but Eva wasn’t even sure if that would help, considering how steel against steel sometimes bounced against each other. There! The steel wrapped around the robot’s limb and held fast.

It disappears. It reattaches.


She almost wept in relief, her wings unfurling at her back, almost relaxing. Their coils were looser, and she didn’t feel like she wanted to claw her arms off again. The last of her flames burst out as she leaned back, clutching at her chest as if to hold her selves in the palm of her hand.

Focus, Eva. The dragon’s gruff voice grated into her and she shook her head in an attempt to anchor herself. Faster.

Eva and Xyl knew this body. They’ve never been apart, and that wasn’t happening any soon. They knew themselves. That was enough.

The robot loomed over her, over her flames, her hands scrabbling down on the ground as she reared back to move herself away from the incoming impact, no matter how little space there already was. Adrenaline spiked once more. What were they intending?!

She could hear another battle going on behind her.

Where could she even move?
Post #: 17
2/8/2021 20:55:04   
How We Roll Winner

“Knight of Hellfire. Chaos is naught without passion. Yours has not shown through. Dismissed.”
- the Grand Master’s journal

:::For that is our true failure. We forgot our origin, seeking ascension, and thus we lost our way.::: - the Epic of Yeukhaneu Shakti Sangharsha Hayua

Once upon a time, many many seasons ago, a Durdaunta Saupa slithered through the treetops, accompanied by a young human girl.

It said, :::Remember this feeling as the Priestess strides through the Jungle. Unafraid. Confident. Assured.:::

Just as the Shha’rarken of the sea pride themselves of their coldbloodedness, so do the Durdaunta Saupa eschew unnecessary mortal sensations far below us. Why should we experience them, when we stood in the apex of the Jungle’s hierarchy?

It was irrational. I was a god, beyond fear and anger--

And yet here, my vision went red as rage boiled my blood. A fury that roared red-hot as the flames I slithered through, in tandem with the agony of my burning scales. The fire licked at my unprotected underside, scoring my armored scales, and scorching swathes of Kousa tissue. The blaze and the heat combined into a shimmering haze not unlike the Cintau I was in not so long ago. The only difference here … there was only one message to be deciphered.


I had aimed for the automaton’s neck. Unfortunately, at exactly the time I swung the Twin, the automaton had raised its right arm, causing my blade to twirl around it. Just as I flexed my Kousa-limb to pull myself forward, its arm merely detached from its great frame, falling harmlessly into the inferno that raged around us.

--afraid of its own irrelevance--

No more. My prey, which was not even truly alive, had escaped me too many times now.

:::The Outsiders will come the Jungle will burn the Root will consume the Outsiders will come the Jungle will burn the Root willconsumetheOutsiderswillcometheJunglewillburtheRootwillconsume --:::

Then they will die, I thought with a vehemence that surprised even myself, beginning with this one.

The fallen arm vanished from the Twin’s snare, reappearing on the automaton’s elbow as it raised its arms and slammed the ground with an earthshaking impact, missing the female by a millimeter. She scrambled against the floor, retreating. But to where? Behind her, two monsters fought in a deadly dance, swinging their numerous limbs.

Trapped. Like me.

No. I was not trapped in this realm. The Darkness and the Sorcerer may have given their lives against the Root, but I, the Warrior, would not fall to these nameless enemies.

The pain that enveloped my body and seared my lungs produced bright spots in my vision. Not so different from a few weeks ago as the Root golems surrounded me and my predecessors, spraying their noxious fumes, the pain as it took hold--


I twisted my coils and sprang, lashing out with my left Kousa-limb, Twin snaking toward the bronze contraption.

This time, there would be no escape.

Back in the Dark Jungle, roughly 12 hours later.

Citaral stood stock still. Her blades remained sheathed. She did not so much as twitch a muscle. The reason became clear immediately; from the foliage, silent as a stalking jaguar, stepped soldiers dressed in sharp, high tech combat suits. Their peculiar, monocular visors glowed menacingly. A total of five, though who knew how many more were camouflaged -- cloaked or otherwise -- surrounded her, rifles raised. They knew just how dangerous she was, and wouldn’t hesitate to blow her apart if they thought they couldn’t contain her.

Carefully, she unhooked the scroll of the Epic of Yeukhaneu Shakti Sangharsha Hayua from her belt, raising it high. None of the soldiers fired. They did not make a sound, though Citaral was keenly aware that they were communicating through their audio mikes. She hoped they weren’t merely confirming their kill order, she had to buy the 499th some time--

The trees parted and Citaral found herself staring at a large bipedal mech, a rotating Gauss cannon leveled directly at her. From within, a silhouette of a great, shark-like creature could be seen.

<Citaral of Kihororu,> greeted Shinjri’shakraphrjat’shu’Sinaken. <We have been expecting you.>

AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 18
2/11/2021 0:12:01   


Pendulum’s heavy fists thundered against the ground. Adversary Blaze avoided the blow, scrambling back now that her flames were spent. Show of weakness, dictated the alien system. Punish.


The automaton moved to obey, metallic hands shooting out for her. They clasped around the scaled neck and lifted Adversary Blaze off her feet. Punish, Pendulum directed. His fingers squeezed around her throat.


Heat conduction alarms flashed through his systems as fire flared in his vision. Adversary Blaze’s talons burned bright as they clutched onto Pendulum’s hands, their ferocity searing into his mage iron. Structural intensity of both hands rapidly decreasing, detailed his analytical system. Recommendation: cease course of-


Denied, Pendulum commanded, his grip tightening. His systems must have sustained severe damage to be pursuing such a faulty course of action. Metal screeched and hissed as it gave way to the scorching talons.


Something large and heavy slammed into the automaton’s back. He lurched forward, struggling to regain his balance as hardened scales wrapped around his torso and limbs. Adversary Snake. His consciousness cast the alerts of the second foe aside. He needed to first eliminate Adversary Blaze in order to…



Pendulum willed his pistons to slow their onslaught, the heavy beating up and down the cables decelerating to a measured pace. What had happened? The warning signals resurfaced in full force, bombarding him with full damage reports and battle predictions. He had lost control over the rhythm of battle.

How had this escalated without his knowledge?



He had known. The thought pressed against the automaton’s mind as his torso jerked to rotate. The data had all still been stored into his various systems for monitoring and analyzation. It accounted for every detail in the ongoing fight: including each time his consciousness had willingly dismissed the alerts.

Once, twice Pendulum’s chest piece whirled around in place, the centripetal force lifting both enemies off the ground as they clung to him. Upon the third, the automaton detached both his arms at the elbows, sending Adversary Blaze hurtling through the air. Trails of crimson flickered in her wake as she barreled towards the two other monstrous combatants locked in battle.


Where had the fault in his processes originated? The thought persisted in his mind as he struggled against the snake behemoth. Pendulum’s head swiveled around to face his enemy, the blue glow of his visual panel illuminating its eyes in the dim of the chamber. Its yellow irises pulsed with a vivid red that communicated one command over and over: die, Die, DIE! The two lumbered in place as the automaton attempted to regain his footing. Are you the source?, he questioned as his legs adjusted themselves to face towards the crystal pillar.

If so…


...then you cannot be permitted to live.

What remained of his metal arms clamped around Adversary Snake’s bulky form, pinning the creature to his metal frame. The lumbering turned into a stagger before becoming a full-blown sprint as Pendulum charged the crystal pillar.

The unknown messages continued to barrage his systems.

His consciousness struggled to disobey.

AQ DF MQ  Post #: 19
2/11/2021 9:53:56   
Purple Armadillo

“It’s not something that you can forget, no matter how hard you try. That gigantic airship they flew overhead. The steel coffins they dropped right into the city square. Those… those things that crawled out of them… Or the fact that none of our spells and imbued weapons could hurt them…

But do you know what haunts me more than any of that? That feeling. Feeling so very angry... so hungry... So angry that I strangled my own commanding officer as it walked right past us…”

White hot. The spider’s claw harmlessly cleaved through the Scyon’s tendril. The sensation burned like lightning throughout the length of the pseudo-limb. Accompanying the lightning was absence. Something missing. Something stolen.

“Where…!?” The Scyon howled, voice now shaking.

What was missing? Where could it have been taken? Did the spider have it? The spider had it. The spider must have it. Cruel spider.

“Return… It…”

Consume the spider. Consume. So hungry…

Gluttony’s senses returned. Pain still seared at their tendril; their halo ached. The spider was grinning. A bright and flaming one had been thrown towards them-


“I think you fail to understand just what kind of monstrosities the Architects have created under your instruction”

“And I think you fail to understand to what degree we must defend our society, our empire, and our order from the chaos which threatens to consume it.”
DF  Post #: 20
2/11/2021 10:55:53   

It was on that fateful night that a beast crawled into Gabriel’s home. Rasping and clawing at the old oaken door with no way or focus to truly get in. With no way or focus to manage intricate silver keys and even more intricate keyhole, it tore in.

Crimson stained the flooring, little drips of essence it saw luminous even though the lanterns were not lit.

The only light was haunting and blue, too weak to echo off the walls more than just a simple ghost of something that was once vibrant with light.

It bounced off the framed insects on the walls, off the empty framework of their wings, their veins forming a cage.

He couldn’t look at them. He scrambled to the little table in the middle off the room and crashed into it, glass center regardless, sheets and pillows regardless. With a cough and a stain of black that left his lungs, with the snowstorm’s freezing chill crashing into the room.

The snow it swept in started to pile as the nights went.

How long can you live without a soul?

Being used to something horrible just because there is no other way can be deceptive. Used to isn’t the right word for this, and numbness can only work up to a certain extent.

Even as he couldn’t scream anymore when infecting the remains of his soul with this unknown, struggling essence that fought him every step of the way, even as he just grit his teeth in exhaustion at the sharp stinging of Arthra’s limbs breaking and the even sharper pain of her remains screaming, there was something else.

Aspen trees.

A soft snowfall and the gray sky.

The patterns of the bark made for nothing but black and white as he could see, like an ink smear on the canvas of a frustrated calligraphy student.


He was given only a bare second of his soul being whole once again as the alien power flooded his veins. A brief return to reality only to see the creature regaining its senses.

There was nothing to hold back the tentacles anymore and yet he felt as if he still had limbs, spreading out of his back and oozing crimson, even if he knew there was nothing there, nothing but white hot streams of light, curving into a harmless halo.

The black needles of Aspen trees and the gray sky blurred together into thick bars. A blurred, twitching silhouette whose words he could not hear over the buzz in the bars, over the confusion, and over the hunger heavier than the-

Anchor. Center.


Gabriel’s eyes opened again, no longer multiplied, shimmering a vibrant cyan. He grasped the air behind him as he exerted the borrowed power.

His new pupils narrowed into thin slits as he responded to the creature, feeling the emotions propelling it forward.


His fingers closed around Ascension’s hilt. He was almost himself. He was almost ready to put this creature to rest with the same weapon he had used so many times. Just with some borrowed power.

And then something else crashed into him, breaking his focus, breaking his exercise.

Gabriel was sent barreling backwards.

The collision, it felt… it felt like the zap of the bars, like the shuddering silhouette’s empty words.

It felt… lively. It felt like flame and heat, it felt golden and amber, it felt… whole.

Gabriel scrambled up, and his slits opened up to take in more of this light, more of this dance of two that was so cruelly familiar. He walked forward like a moth to a flame.

He couldn’t. He couldn’t-

And between the heavy dunes of snow and equally white trees there was a figure.

A small, young flame of light all alone in those woods.

The limbs urged forward, trying to convince the aching, hungering soul to feed.

We’ll… I’ll only take a little bit…

A jump. A high pitched scream, a slash of a talon.

A soft thump.

And an even softer thump of a bright red, plush songbird.

Gabriel lunged, and swept Ascension in a wide arc against the two-soul. Its blade shimmered with white and warped the surrounding air with nonexistent heat.

The hunger was too much. He needed this warmth. It was the only way to not freeze. To not starve.

DF  Post #: 21
2/11/2021 21:19:13   
How We Roll Winner


Mid-leap, I saw the automaton wrap its skeletal hands around the female’s neck. Such a primitive way to strangle an opponent. I would not use my Kousa-limbs for such a task. I landed on its back and swiftly coiled myself around it. Despite its great size, it staggered under my weight and strength. This is what it means to strangle, with one’s entire form, where there would be no escape. I would crush--


What was--? I was still turning, even though I was not moving. Too late, I realized what was happening. The automaton’s torso began to spin like a mechanical drill. Instinctively, I tightened my hold to prevent being thrown off, or worse, having my upper body used as a flail. The automaton detached its arms at the elbows, just like it had done not once, but twice now. The force of its spinning sent the female flying toward the spider and the thing ahead of us.

Which left only me and the machine.

My eyes met its blue panel. The rage still clouded my vision, but if it had any reaction, I could not decipher it.


The remnants of its arms pinned me to its frame.

Its legs turned.

It ran.

Through the Mauthau, I saw its destination. The pillar behind us. Closing in fast.

No time to break free. Nothing to do but brace--


Relatively speaking, it had not moved very fast, but together, our combined mass might as well have made us a charging rhino. It slammed me into the crystal pillar, crushing the air from my lungs. The shards cut painfully into my raw burns.

Behind the pain and the concussion though, I did not fail to detect the sound. The same sound that matched our welcome fanfare to this accursed pit of death. The nerves along my body came alive as drops of corroding liquid landed on my scorched scales.

Only one option left, one that stemmed from a source I did now know … or perhaps feared to discover. No choice.

Now. Take me.

And like magic, it did. I stiffened. If I could scream, perhaps I would have. It took me, a sensation far more terrible than a mere fire could ever be. It snaked through my veins, my scales, through every cell in my body, through the Kousa. It even reached beyond my flesh to ensnare my Mauthau and the Twins.

My vision seemed to darken, and my breath seemed to catch, although I could see, breathe, and feel just fine.

I became stone. Immovable. Indestructible. Frozen solid, like a fossil lost in the oceans of time.

With the Mauthau, I observed a single crystal on the pillar had shattered, spilling its foul liquid onto me and the entwined machine. Its touch had corroded my scales, the tang of acid cutting the air. But the stone shell I wrapped myself in was impervious.

Magic fizzled out in its presence and it seemed to defy the laws of nature, the saying went. Could it be--?

My vision darkened further. It tightened its hold, clawing at me. Hardening, freezing--

I couldn’t hold it anymore.


I hissed as it vanished. Fortunately, a large majority acid had evaporated as it failed to damage me further when I was in that form. The few droplets that remained burned pockmarks into my scales before disappearing.

I looked down on the machine’s blank visage. It had reacted quickly to every action its opponents had taken, but now it was finally in my grip. I was in control once again. Just as I would be once I returned. But now for the matter at hand …

I tightened my coils, the automaton’s great frame shuddering, the shimmering metal resisting the crushing embrace.

:::Die,::: I said, but this time with green calm in my eyes.

I raised my right Kousa-limb, scarred and clotted from the flames, and brought the Twin’s handle down towards the machine’s visual panel.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 22
2/12/2021 2:14:48   

Eva let out a choked gasp as cold metal fingers wrapped around her neck, steam rising into the air before she was held up high, her legs barely kicking at anything. Black and red spots danced in her vision as she barely rasped out the dragons name-- That before her talons burned brighter yet again.

Melt, you insipid robot- Even Xyl seemed to have some trouble controlling their body, now that their only airway was slowly being blocked by a robot of all things.

Eva’s own heart seemed to beat faster, prompting the dragon’s while her lips opened and closed like that of a dying fish, but she held on to those cold fingers like a morbid lifeline. She felt the metal give way, for it to melt into putty, to just melt already!

She felt a shudder, a pause and saw another figure rear behind— the snake! She tried to twist her body, her wings flapping furiously to give her some kind of leverage to wrench off the—

Eva shrieked as she hurtled into the air, the impetus of her wings and the weight of the automaton’s hands in a melting mess around her neck too heavy as she was thrown back further than she had intended.

She felt a snap in her right wing as she smashed into what felt like two bodies, one vaguely human and the other not— but with the extra weight, all three of them went down like bowling pins across the arena’s uneven floor, Eva only barely bouncing to a rough stop by some kind of cushion.

Bruised, with tiny pinpricks of pain racing up her arms and her wings.

Eva clawed off the rest of the automaton’s hands before a white-blue arc barely scraped against her cheek just as she looked up, making her jolt back, golden ichor slowly trailing down her face. Her gaze focused into an accusing glare at what looked like a glowing sword from the other pseudo-human.

“What… was that for?!” she almost retorted. Her wing didn’t look too good, it was hanging a bit limp as she tried to tuck it back close to her body. Was it going to be another opponent? She wasn’t too sure. And the other one—?!

Right behind you.

Now, Eva wasn’t even sure if Xylmaelyth was joking. Or not.
Post #: 23
2/14/2021 17:09:29   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

One sound pierced the lustrous cavern. A scream for the wrathful. A scream for the hungry. As one, the crystals fell from their perches, raining down in a storm of multicolored needles. The scream grew louder, encompassing each pawn as more and more gems cascaded down until there was naught but blackness.

And then, silence and sight once more. The fallen gemstones shuddered, building themselves into an empty gate, through it the spires of the Chequered City. A safe passage home for any that remained.

The Powers had chosen. The War had begun.
Post #: 24
4/19/2021 21:13:42   
How We Roll Winner

The chaos, the frenzy, the fire, all of it melded together into a crescendo.

Then it stopped.

They were gone.

It was over.

And I … had failed.

A slightly tinkling reverberated through the cavern. Before my eyes, I saw the crystals shape themselves into a gateway, leading--


Home? There would be no home left for me. Nothing left for anyone. The Root would spread and consume us all. Despite my greatest efforts--

The pain had not faded. As the adrenaline of battle, or as close as we could get to that state, wore off, in its place was the pulsing, raw pain of burns untreated, scarred by my anathema … and it.

I aimed my gaze skyward. No words passed through my eyes. There was nothing left to say.

<Marvelous architecture,> Shinjri’shakraphrjat’shu’Sinaken commented as Citaral led the Naluy Corps squadron into the now abandoned Kihororu.

“Indeed,” Citaral said, not without a tinge of bitterness. “And perhaps soon, there will be none left.”

Sinak considered his response, but replied simply, <We shall see.>

“There,” Citaral pointed. Sinak aimed his optical sensors. <The Cintau?>

“Yes.” Something made her left eye twitch. A slight movement, nothing more, but it set off alarm bells in her head. “Wait,” she called. The sense of urgency was escalating by the moment.

Sinak froze. <It is in there, no? Your master?> There was a faint whirr as his repeater powered up. As one, the Naluy soldiers raised their weapons, ready for anything.

“Yes.” Citaral’s mouth went dry. Sinak understood at once. Responsively, two Naluy soldiers aimed their rifles at the Cintau entrance. The others moved into position, creating a defensive circle.

<Lead,> Sinak commanded. Citaral slowly walked forward, with the entire party matching her every step. The urgency was turning into dread. Citaral’s mind raced. What could have possibly happened? If things proceeded according to the Epic, then was the 499th--?

They reached the entrance. Sinak’s mech’s headlights snapped on, illuminating the gloom. Citaral gasped.

“No!” she cried, rushing forward.

<Stop her!> Sinak snarled, also shaken but recovered faster. The Naluy guards grabbed Citaral and jerked her back.

The 499th was dead. Though he ran a vitals check with his sensors, Sinak’s enhanced brain detected no life signs from the creature he identified as a Durdaunta Saupa. But what made his skin crawl was the gray tone that enveloped the 499th.

It had turned to stone.

<Come to your senses!> Sinak hissed. Citaral stopped struggling; Sinak signaled and the soldiers released her. She dropped to her knees. “It is dead,” she said, her voice thick.

<We need to leave, now,> Sinak said. <It is Root infection.>

“Yes …” Citaral said, waving aside the Naluy soldier who offered his hand to her. “Let’s go.”

Just as Sinak was about to step aside so Citaral could exit, a sharp crack split the relative silence.

No one moved. <Did you hear that?>

“We all did,” Citaral whispered. Slowly, she turned back to the frozen effigy of the 499th.

Another crack made her wince. Then, before their eyes, webs of cracks enveloped the 499th, and it crumbled, dissolving as though it were made only of sand.

“There’s something there,” called one of the Naluy soldiers, switching to voice mode. He aimed a laser pointer into the pile of rubble.

There, glinting in the shattered pieces, was unmistakably, a hard, stone-like egg, covered in fluid.

<What is that?> Sinak hissed, even though he knew.

Citaral answered. “The next.”

A single shard rolled into one of the various drains lining the bottom of the walls of the Cintau. It rolled down the waterway, eventually falling into the groundwater below. It hit the surface with a splash and dissolved.

Almost two thousand miles away, far from the borders of the quarantine, a young tiger cub dipped his head into the river and drank.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 25
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