One by One

Kist
Citizen of the World
Joined: 3:16 AM - Jan 01, 2012

1:10 AM - May 23, 2017 #1

(OOC: Please read this post in the plot thread before replying!! The tl;dr below might help you because it is only slightly less atrociously long than the actual post! :D Puts all the important details at the forefront though.
Here is some music for you to enjoy while you read this post.)
[+] Spoiler
The Background
  • After Méadaigh’s besieging army was chased away from Reine, the Reinean army has been pursuing them. They are doing this because they don’t want Méadaigh’s army to return to Reine and because they want to follow them to the fae city of Nemetona to take down the Pale Tree, thus striking at the roots of Méadaigh’s power.
  • The march has lasted over a month. There has been some skirmishing on the way.
  • The forest is finally entering autumn, after the overly-extended summer, because Méadaigh’s powers are waning. The weather, however, is still typical of spring. The leaves are just falling.
  • There is still not much food to be had since the forest is entering autumn. A lot of their food comes from the port of Reine, which has been reopened.
  • All soldiers have a clear understanding of the plan.
  • Nemetona is a new city which sprung up around the Pale Tree when Méadaigh started gaining worshippers. It has a population of about 7,000 people. It consists of trees that have dwellings grown into them and sits atop a hill. Here is a map.
    The Battle
  • The time of day is MORNING and the weather is PARTLY CLOUDY – like big fluffy beautiful clouds.
  • Nemetona’s walls are made of honey locust trees. There is still space between the trees because their growth has been stunted by the failing of Méadaigh’s power. There are rooms grown into the tops of the trees that serve as watchtowers and the trees have branches that connect to form walkways.
  • The main force of the infantry (~2,400 people) is marching up to the city walls to break through and cause as much kerfuffle and distraction as possible, drawing enemy forces away from the Pale Tree.
    • At first, the front of the army is made up of archers, with ranged mages (mages employed to shoot ranged spells) right behind them. They are told when to fire by mental commands from the battalion leader, an NPC named Inadel Lyben. They focus their attacks on those guarding the walls.
    • The infantry is mixed with mages providing defensive magic and illusions of soldiers and champions (people with excessive combative and magical abilities that can kill lots of enemies).
    • A fire catches in the tops of the honey locust trees. The ranged fighters are told to focus their attacks on anyone trying to prevent the fire. Kist, who is in this part of the army, uses her complacency bomb ability effectively, making the people in the towers floaty and ignorant of their plight.
    • There are two airships travelling with the army: The Green Bird, which belongs to Alexandros Phloropoulos, and Finder, which belongs to Mairead de Latte. Both ships are protected from a lot of the ranged attacks by warding magic. The Green Bird uses grappling hooks to tear down two of the honey locust trees and move them out of the way, leaving a breach in the wall large enough for the army to pass through.
    • The ranged fighters are commanded to split up and move to either side. The infantry moves forward into the city with shields raised above their heads tetsudo style while ranged fighters continue to bombard those guarding the walls.
    • The city consists of supernaturally large trees that have been grown to accommodate dwellings. Some of the trees are connected by bridges (refer to the map). People – both civilians and soldiers – are flinging projectiles from the trees and bridges.
    • Once in the city, the infantry, which was previously about twenty columns wide, fans out to present a wider front, let’s say about seventy columns wide. They are met by a force of fae infantry. When Shrista starts doing her magic, everyone will put in their wax or cotton earplugs to prevent being driven insane. (:
    • The ranged fighters attach to the back of the army and march into the city. Their role is to attempt to shoot down ranged fighters, for the most part.
  • A group of about 100 people is being carried in the airships to go an sabotage the Pale Tree and hopefully capture the position at the top of the hill. Councillor Aniketos Hesperés is on The Green Bird. They have mechanical beetles on board that are made to burrow into the Pale Tree and ignite it with holy fire.
    • As the airships pass over the city, those onboard are throwing firepots onto the city, effectively bombing it. There is no need to light the firepots – they are enchanted to light a fuse when they fall.
    • Aniketos’ friend Xanthus alerts him that there is movement near the Pale Tree. There are treants guarding the area. Aniketos remarks that if their ships get taken down they will just explode, which would suck for the fae. Also, the mechanical beetles are programmed to find the Pale Tree no matter where they are dropped.
    • Aniketos determines that their best bet might be to program some of the mechanical beetles to burrow into the treants and set them on fire so the crew of the ships can get on the ground. This is probably what will happen if no one else intervenes with a better idea. Aniketos goes to talk to Alexandros – and I will let Dnan describe this conversation. (:
The army from Reine had marched in pursuit of Méadaigh’s forces for over a month, following them on the long road to Nemetona. As the fae retreated, Méadaigh’s powers were withdrawn from the land and the leaves died in her wake, the forest at last succumbing to the belated moribundity of autumn. There was not much food to be had on the road – some confused animals thin from the scarce spring, the fungi that sprouted up in response to temperature alone, seeds and fruits usually reserved for the onset of winter. Much had to be brought by supply chains or teleportation from the ports of Reine. The soldiers were still lean but their wills were all the stronger for their long suffering. When, after much marching and skirmishing, they met with the troops issued from Zauber Mansion, they found that contingent to be of the same spirit: though those at the mansion had not been stricken with famine, they had seen much fighting and had watched from afar as Madrid, the beloved city, succumbed to the forest.

The two groups banded together seamlessly. Though they had faced separate sufferings, they were united by the singular power of that ever-persistent Sotoan spirit. They all knew in their hearts that this battle, this fight for the fae city and the Pale Tree, would be the last of this war, whether it was won or lost.

Nemetona was nigh. Though it could not be seen through the trees, its presence was felt. It was felt in the rumours of its appearance, which had been brought back by scouts and coursed through the army with increasingly fantastical exaggerations. It was felt in the daily enumerations of the battle plan, which was drilled into every soldier’s head so it would become as fixed as their own names. It was seen in the increasing contortions of the now-naked trees, it was heard in the voices that stayed up through the tense nights in low conversation by the fire, it was sensed in the ineffable flavour of the air, which was fated to become lodged in so many minds as a fateful memory.

The night before they marched on the city, Aniketos tumbled into bed late, having stayed up in final discussions of the battle plans and the comforting of worried insomniacs. Exhausted from the days’ march, from the thought of an early rise in the morning, from so many nights of struggling towards this point, his last thought before he fell asleep was, “When this is over, I can finally rest.”
In the morning, augurs consulted the flights of birds from the decks of the airships and the haruspices read the entrails of chickens. Under a bright blue sky radiant with white clouds, the oracles pronounced that the auspices were favourable. Now was the time for war. They left behind the camp, they left behind the healers in the woods before they reached walls of the city, they marched forth and left behind the surety of ever returning home.

The army was constantly forced to break ranks by the impediment of the trees, but drumbeats united them in a march. This motley mass of soldiers, mages and civilians sang together as they approached Nemetona: their voices were raised in ballads about victory and glorious sacrifice, about heroes both fallen and triumphant, about the country and the people and the homes they were fighting to protect.

Not everyone sang, of course: Kist didn’t, partially because she didn’t know the words, partially because her mouth was locked up under the pressure of nerves.

When she had decided to fly out from Reine and catch up with the Sotoan army she had said to Reverie, “I am afraid.”

Reverie had smiled and said, “Then all is as it should be.”

It wasn’t until now, when she marched through the trees, through the gloaming air, surrounded by hopeful songs and solemn faces, that she understood what Reverie had meant.

It was not for fear of death that she trembled (though now the trees up ahead dwindled and a space could be seen between them, as well as a structure up ahead, still indistinct but nonetheless provoking her heart to racing) – she did not fear it but only hoped that any death given her would swift. Even then, all suffering is ephemeral and death its release: this she had learned (though the man to her left had his lip lifted in a frozen expression of anxiety, his dark eyes squinting, sweat gathering on his lanky red neck). No, it was because she loved life (yes, even the trees now aberrantly shedding spiced autumn leaves, even the voice of Méadaigh that had called upon her faery blood since she left Reine, conjuring up images of quiet groves, trickling brooks and jasmine flowers, saying, “See this beauty? Is this not what you want? Should I not reign supreme?”), she loved life again in all its hatefulness and, though she did not hate death, she did not want to see her beautiful life wasted, spilled out as a libation to Méadaigh’s victory.

Take my life, she thought (and the sounds of marching pounded in her ears like the beat of her own blood, and she began to see, between helmets and trees, the dark trunks of mighty, spiny honey locusts that surely extended all the way to the heavens), but let it not be in vain.

Kist was positioned towards the front of the army, having been classified as a ranged mage by the Sotoan recruiting officer. She and other “ranged mages” were stationed behind the archers, where they would try to incapacitate the guards on the “walls” while the “walls” were breached. Behind the armoured archers and variously-dressed mages were the several ranks of the infantry, streaming behind in a narrow file like mottled body of a snake. Studding the edges of this ribbon were mages and champions. The former conjured up defensive spells and the illusions of soldiers that inflated the apparent size of the army by about five hundred. These illusions were rudimentary, but detailed enough to seem real from a distance. Kist had observed one nearby – it did not blink, its face was blank, but it seemed as real as could be from a distance and was even advanced enough to prevent people from walking through it. The champions, of course, were there to leap to the defense of the infantry and do great damage to the enemy at whatever chance they got.

The goal here was to minimize losses. After all, the job of this portion of the infantry was to distract more than anything, and to make their way up to the peak of Nemetona if all else failed

Kist was carapaced in a shiny black shell: a moulded helmet with flexing mandibles and antennae protected her head, hard elytra lined with grooves lay over her back and the rectangular strips that covered her belly and were burnished with a slight bronze-ish fur. She had taken the essence for this armour from a black beetle she had found living in a decaying log just a few days before. She had a sword that had been given to her by the master of arms, a curved fae scimitar which had once been used by an enemy oread before she died in battle. It came with a round buckler and both were decorated with twining vines and blossoming flowers.

They had now reached the edge of the tree line. As the very front of the army stepped out into the open space before the city Kist said to the person to her right (whose face she had hardly registered), “Now it is time. Best of luck, comrade.” The bravery she forced into her voice made her feel just a little bit stronger; she just hoped it did the same for the one to whom she spoke.

A moment later they left the cover of the trees. The full appearance of Nemetona hit her like a physical force. Straight ahead, after a gap of a hundred feet or so, rose the imposing honey locust walls they had been told about. They were taller even than the walls of Reine and great spiny extensions grew from their trunks like terrible, clawed hands, reaching for each other from trunk to trunk. The thorns did not meet as they were supposed to; the wall was unfinished. Kist could tell before she even saw the yellowing of the trees’ leaves that something was wrong. She could feel, by virtue of her fae blood, the slow death creeping over these vast creations, the mycelium seeping into their weakened flesh. The trees had been grown too fast, their wood was soft and spongy and full of space for fungus to grow, and the wetness of the soil and the lessening of Méadaigh’s power had primed them for infection and destruction.

Behind the failed wall of honey locusts rose the city, scrambling up the sacred hill. The tops of the trees were verdant in places, balding in others, but the mighty Pale Tree remained as seemingly healthy as ever, its lavender crown towering up to the heavens.

Kist just had time to take all this in before she noticed that a cry was rising up from the walls. Grown into the structure of the honey locusts were watchtower rooms, which were held in the trunks of the trees like great pregnant bellies. Through the windows there could be seen archers and mages, already leaping to the attack and sounding out alarm cries. The branches of the trees were grown together into broad walkways, which also bristled with activity.

As the beating of Sotoan drums accelerated, the fae readied themselves and then loosed a round of spells and arrows. Kist heard something go whizzing by her head and then go tunk! into a shield behind her. At the mental command of their battalion leader, Inadel Lyben, the archers knocked their arrows and the mages drew up their power with a collective crackling of the air. Kist drew in a breath and summoned herself. Then, with a flick of her arm, in concert with the others, she released it. The silvery dart that flew from her fingertips was lost among the arrows and spells that flew forth.

That man who slumped down over the window of the watchtower and fell to the earth – was that her doing? There was no time to think of it, for another volley of arrows and spells came their way and the man to her left fell with a cry. No time to think about that either – another command came like clockwork and Kist flicked out another dart. All this while the army marched forward, parting slightly around the fallen, allowing space for the runners that came to take the wounded back to the healing tents.

Some spell took light in the branches of a honey locust tree and the drying leaves quickly caught alight. The fae strived to put it out with spells. A mental command drew the army’s attention to this occurrence. Stop them, it said. Obediently, Kist pushed the magic up from her guts, up her throat and into the air. A ball of blue light shot across the distance and, to her surprise, it hit, dousing the the fae in complacency. Many floated idly, dreamily, uncaring of the fire that ate its way through the branches above them.

But now a mighty shape passed across the morning sky in eerie silence: the airship of Alexandros Phloropoulos, The Green Bird. The sight of it was so improbable that for a moment she felt as if she was seeing a mountain in flight. A volley of arrows and spells was launched at the ship, but they were largely deflected. This was answered by a returning volley, mustered from the ground and from the decks of the ship. What glory! – and yet what horror! The fire had grown and people were trying to escape by the walkways, and Kist watched as some pushed each other off in their frenzy to get away,

The airship positioned itself above the tree directly before them – now but thirty feet away – and dropped grappling hooks into its branches. While they marched forth, while they shot out volley after volley, while Kist stumbled over one of the massive roots that dissected the ground, The Green Bird carefully positioned its hooks. Then it moved inwards towards the city. The ropes pulled taut, straining colossally. The ship was stuck in place for a moment. Then it lurched forward, the tree teetered, then all at once it tipped and fell with a CRASH! that shook the earth under Kist’s feet. A cheer rose from the Sotoan army; Kist joined, but raggedly. The tree was dragged out of the way, its broken roots mightily gouging the earth. No doubt a dozen souls had fallen with the tree. Have they died? Kist wondered, scraping together more magic at the behest of another command.

Before long another tree was felled, but this time the fae within had the werewithal to evacuate it quickly. With this work done, The Green Bird disengaged itself, rose imperiously above the level of the trees and abruptly sped off over the city. The silhouette of another ship passed above them shortly thereafter: a silently-sailing three-master that was captained by one Mairead de Latte. It flew far above the battle, deflecting a rain of arrows, and followed The Green Bird over the city without any further engagement.

The ships left behind a large gap in the wall – at least fifty feet wide, though lined on either side with dangerous spikes. The drums picked up their pace and the army surged towards the gap. At several terse commands, the battalion of archers and ranged mages split in two and peeled off to the sides, parting like curtains to allow the infantry to come through. Kist went with the battalion that veered to the right. While they concentrated their efforts on those in the watchtowers, the infantry poured through the breach in the wall, their various shields raised above their heads to provide a motley defense against the enemy’s projectiles.

Now that she was no longer marching, but standing in place and firing off spell after spell, Kist finally began to tremble at the knees. The fire had spread to another tree and the frenzied cries of those trying to escape or fight the fire could be heard even over the roar of the flames and the sounds of battle from within the city. Some mage was manipulating a thread of water – from who knew what source – into a shimmering snake that plunged its head into the flames. Kist caught sight of the mage leaning absurdly out of a window, twisted about and waving her arms, her face red from the flames. Just then announcement went out from the battalion commander: Stop her!

Kist drew on her magic. Another volley of arrows fell. When it hit the shields of the passing infantry it sounded almost like rain. The spell was forming in her throat and she wondered Will I live to hear the rain on a roof ever again, to be safe and cozy and well? If I live will I ever be able to enjoy anything again?

Even as she thought it, the woman next to her fell, struck by some spell that caused her to seize and convulse and spit, her eyes wide and unseeing with pain. Kist wished to speak but the spell ballooned from her lips instead. She pummeled it through the air with her mind, along with the host of spells and arrows all aimed for that one mage. Kist dropped to help the fallen woman, but even as she did the last motions left her and her glassy eyes reflected the sky.

Kist stood again, already frantically pawing at more magic. Then she saw the mage who had been fighting the fire. Kist’s spell had struck true and so had half a dozen arrows – the woman floated above the battle, her face dazed with a complacent smile, arrows bristling from her body and blood raining from her wounds onto the furor below.

Kist’s gaze travelled. She saw the back ranks of the infantry marching through the breach. In the spiny gaps between the honey locusts she saw the city of Nemetona: the dwellings grown elegantly into the trees, the twining branches that served as bridges between them and all those perched there, flinging whatever they had – spells, arrows, stones. She saw the disorder of falling soldiers, the ranks peppered with holes and the signs of a fight up ahead. As planned, the infantry had fanned out to present a wider front for the enemy, and from that wide front rose the sounds of clashing arms and shouting. The Sotoan banner waved in the gloom under the trees, the emblem of the golden oak shining like a beacon.

The command came; Kist obeyed. The archers and ranged mages fell in with the back of the infantry and, still firing away, they entered the city of Nemetona.
Far above, Councillor Aniketos Hesperés toiled with the rest of them. Crates were strewn across the deck of The Green Bird, and many of the fifty or so souls onboard were occupied with the task of bombing the city. They removed little clay balls from the crates and dropped them overboard. Each firepot ruptured into flame below. Both airships, which flew slightly divergent courses, left a trail of destruction behind them as they progressed towards the top of the hill.

There wasn’t much talking aboard; each person was caught up in their routine. Bend over the crate, carefully remove the firepot, hoist its weight and pitch it over the railing. Aniketos felt that he was in some sort of trance, which was only broken when he and the person next to him finished off their crate of firepots. Aniketos straightened up and stared towards the Pale Tree, which tossed its branches slightly in the wind. Now that he had a moment away from labour he had time to think, to truly feel.

His shadow shapes showed him the progress of the battle – the infantry fanning out to face the enemy, the fires lit across the tops of the trees, Shrista working her magic to turn still air into gales. They had tried to show him what dangers ringed the Pale Tree, but something had swatted them out of the air, leaving Aniketos in the blind.

He stared towards the top of the hill, trying to make something out, but the ship was still at a low altitude so he could not see over the tops of the rest of the trees. As he took it all in he felt as if a boot kicked him swiftly in the stomach. This is happening. Combined elation and terror made him feel ill, yet he smiled at the stiff slap of the wind, the reality of the forested air he breathed, the light tossing of the ship under his feet. After a year of this shit we’re finally here.

He turned to to the person nearest him, the one he had shared the crate of firepots with. He laughed – almost deliriously, for he was tired and heart-thuddingly nervous – and said, “Can you believe this?”

Even so, as he turned to face the Pale Tree once more, tucking a loose curl under his helmet to keep it out of his eyes, he felt a gloaming arise in his heart. Méadaigh was here somewhere, perhaps she even waited for them in the Pale Tree. Wherever she was, he could feel her call, floating to his mind like a scent on the breeze. She had met him once in the forests of his dreams, in another world where her reign made the earth beautiful. She had touched his face with her hand, she had demonstrated to him her love and longing. Even now, as he sailed forth to rain perdition upon her, he doubted that it was the right thing.

Why not invite her in? Why not let her win?

Another crate was thudded between them. Aniketos scolded those who carried it – “Be careful with, those things are dangerous you know!” – even as he bent down to grasp at a firepot.

Would the world not prosper with me at her side?

He pivoted to drop the firepot over the railing. He did as he always had when smitten with these pangs of longing: he brought to mind the dead left in the streets of Madrid, the gaunt faces staring up from Reinean alleyways, the fragile bodies hauled into mass graves, the famished digging roots out of Dramos Park and so on, and so on…

Several minutes later, Xanthus rushed across the deck and grabbed Aniketos’ shoulder. He pointed towards the crest of the hill. “What is happening over there?”

The treetops seemed to be moving around the peak of the hill. Yet Aniketos knew that no trees grew so close to the Pale Tree. “Treants,” he proclaimed grimly. A harsh laugh cut from his lungs. “Well, if they want to bring this ship down on their own heads be it. They’ll ignite a conflagration that’ll be seen from the moon. And the beetles…the beetles will know where to go.”

Even so, he dropped the firepot that was in his hand and told Xanthus, “We will have to divert some of our resources. The beetles can take down the treants as well, I am sure. I’ll go talk to Alexandros.” Then, as he walked off he added, “If they bring us down at least we’ll go out with a bang.” He laughed sardonically and went to tell Alexandros his plan.
[+] Spoiler
KIST
  • Magic: Carapace – With this spell Kist can generate insect-like plate armour over her body. To do this, Kist must have a source of "essence" (truly DNA) from any insect. The carapace thus generated will imitate the appearance of the insect – so if she uses a scarab beetle, she will be covered in iridescent plate, but if she uses a luna moth she will be covered in a warm fur. The susceptibility of this plate to attack is dependent on the type of insect she uses – so obviously the moth-based carapace will be flimsier than that of the scarab beetle – but at its strongest can be as resilient as chain mail. The carapace is generated from external sources of organic matter (e.g. leaves, twigs, dead animals) so Kist cannot use this spell if there is not enough organic matter within a fifty foot radius of herself, e.g. if she is in a bare stone room. She also obviously cannot do it without a source insect (which is completely consumed over the course of this spell.)
  • Magic: Dart – Kist generates a silvery dart, about five inches long, which will fly like an arrow at a target. These darts dissolve upon striking a physical object and are enchanted to home in on body heat. They are good at punching through armour, and even when presented with full plate armour they may at least go so far as to break skin. However, due to their short length, they do not penetrate far into the body and will not always kill their target unless they strike something important like an artery. Kist can generate about twenty of these every four hours.
  • Spell: Complacency Bomb – Kist has the ability to disgorge from her mouth a viscous/jelly-like glowing blue substance which originates from the Provider's magic. This can be flung mentally or physically at a person or group of close-standing people, whereupon it will suddenly dissolve into them before hitting them. The effect of this is sudden pacification and floatiness. The target will become suddenly calm and content and will also lose their ability to stay on the ground, leaving them to drift about complacently for up to 5 minutes. If she tries, Kist can reduce the complacency effect and simply gift a person the momentary ability to fly and a general mood lift. Targets that are very determined, very afraid or in a berserk-like state are harder to affect, as are those with abilities for mental defences. Wards/shields/defences/spells against magic will entirely block the substance. Using this ability significantly reduces her ability to use the Provider's Presence ability and anything else originating from the Provider's magic.
ANIKETOS
No active abilities yet, so here is a list of his passive abilities for future reference.
  • Magic: Ward II [Upgrade] – A magical shield surrounds Aniketos and can protect him from a fair bit of harm. This is accomplished by blocking objects moving at a certain speed towards Aniketos' body (anything above roughly 10 mph, which is about the speed of a punch)- objects/blows heading quickly towards his body will simply seem to bounce off without causing harm. It now takes about ~15 normal blows with a weapon/~10 powerful blows with a weapon to degrade his ward to the point where one can take shots at his body. It takes Aniketos up to 24 hours to fully recharge his ward (time depends on the amount of damage done).
    The ward does not defend against gusts of air, direct magical attacks, energy attacks (ie. fire, electricity) and objects enchanted to pass through down wards. There exist spells and enchantments that can break a ward, but as this is an advanced ability, simple-level enchantments will have no effect, intermediate-level enchantments will degrade it by 25-50% and advanced abilities will degrade it by 50-70%
    Since the wards protect against things moving at a certain speed, there are certain odd side effects. For example, heavy rain will slide harmlessly off the ward without touching Aniketos, keeping him looking nice and fresh in bad weather. If someone were to jump on him to hug him/fling themselves at him in a lustful frenzy, they might just bounce off awkwardly. If Aniketos falls off something and is going too fast, he will bounce a bit before making contact with the ground and thus be protected from harm.
  • Summon: Shadow Shapes – Aniketos can summon beings apparently formed of solid shadows. These beings take mental instructions from him and can last indefinitely, though with a minor energy drain from Aniketos (enough to make him a bit more tired than usual but not completely debilitating.) These creatures can take just about any shape and can shift, combine, split, etc. as necessary, though the total mass of the summoned creature(s) is limited to the mass of an average man.
    The shadow shapes can move through darkness undetected, they can carry things and engage in fighting to an extent. They take only a little damage before dissipating, usually about 3-5 blows, and so if Aniketos uses them for fighting, he tends to use them as ranged attackers. The shadow shapes can make weapons from their own bodies, including arrows, which dissipate in a minute (may be worrisome for those who have been struck as this allows for a free flow of blood). In the case of arrows, each arrow slightly diminishes the size of the shadow shape. Shadow shapes have no magical capabilities other than changing their form, and they don't think independently or make noise.
    More often, Aniketos uses these as spies or messengers, for they can move quickly and undetectably.
  • Inspiring Presence – Aniketos is, of course, a natural leader- there is something about his oratory abilities, his appearance, his fame and/or his confidence that tends to make people strive to perform better. Thus, when leading a group of people in an activity (such as a fight), Aniketos tends to increase their moral, upping each individual's efficiency and fighting strength by up to 25%, even up to 50% for those who like him or who are Sotoan patriots. Of course, if an individual doesn't like Aniketos or just doesn't have the kind of personality that's affected by the actions of others etc., they won't be affected as much.
  • Ward: Magic Resistance – Over time, Aniketos has improved his wards so that the help to protect him from magic as well. Thus, simple-level spells/enchantments will not affect him at all, intermediate-level spells/enchantments will be 50-25% less effective and advanced level spells/enchantments will be up to 25% less effective (though many are likely to bypass the ward entirely). Even so, as with his ward against physical attacks, this ward can be worn down over time and can be broken down by 10-15 hits from offensive simple level spells, 5-10 hits from intermediate ones and up to 5 hits from advanced ones. This ward is separate from the one against physical attacks, so some interesting situations may occur. For example, if his normal ward is broken but his magic one is not, an object that has been enchanted may still hit him but the magic won't affect him. These protections do not keep Aniketos safe from non-magical fire, lightning and other forms of energy but if these are magical, he will be safe. Normally, the ward will also hinder healing spells, but he can drop them at will if need be. When damaged, the ward will take up to a day to return to full strength.
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Mairead
Citizen of the World
Joined: 1:30 PM - Feb 10, 2017

2:56 PM - May 23, 2017 #2

[+] Spoiler
  • First Mate and former student of Mairead's, named Jari, steered Finder (the flying ship). Having a brief stint in Mairead's home world, where flying ships are commonplace, he is an apt human pilot of the ship.
  • Mairead played the piano in the ship's saloon. She was soon interrupted by the noise of melee in the upper deck.
  • Sprites had boarded Finder.
  • Mairead and her crew fended them off.
  • The crew had flying abilities when wearing the Winged Harness.
  • 9 of the 50 crew members were slain.
  • Some sprite casualties.
  • Mairead targeted non-vital areas, though some sprites may die from blood loss.
  • The ship stayed on course, and firepots were thrown from the portholes by a bunch of oompa loompas.
A wave of nostalgia filled Mairead. The sight of the familiar saloon of Finder, her old flying ship, had brought back memories of her days in Elshadel. Even the piano had been right where it was, with its quaint metronome glinting in the faint lighting. The woman lifted the lid. How many times she had entertained her friends with a score or two. She quickly suppressed the painful memories of long aching practice which had at the start bought stiffness to her fingers, where her tempo was on cue but her stamina was too unaccustomed to mad playings of the Moonlight Sonata Movement Three, a piece rumoured to be so furious it had destroyed the early pianos the composer had played on. She still had not played that piece from start to the finish. Not once. Rubbing her palms, she then flipped the music book, and soon the hyperactive tunes of Turkish March filled the saloon, which would emanate through the doors to the immediate corridor.

The rest of the saloon, however, had been filled with less familiar items, for large room had been converted into a storage for large mechanical beetles. For the moment, their eyes were unlit; asleep.

'Your time will come,' thought the enchanter.

Thud.

Something had struck the starboard of ship.

Thud, thud, thud.

Steel rang against steel was heard above.

The woman sprung to her feet, then took care to close the piano lid before racing up to the deck. She gazed around, quickly surveying the situation.

They had been boarded. By armed sprites.

Mairead surmised these green beings must have flown up from the forest, taking cover in the ample visual block afforded by the ship's hull, and boarded, taking the crew completely by surprise. In their ambush, five men laid slain close to the starboard side before the rest of the crew retaliated. The oompa loompas had avoided the mad rush of melee as they tossed the fire pots off the portholes from the side of the ship. Their bigger friends protected them by defending the entry stairwells leading to the ship's lower decks, keeping the sprites from reaching them. And the potholes were too small for a human-sized sprite to squeeze through. Mairead's First Mate and friend Jari stood at the ship's bridge, bravely controlling the steering wheel as his bodyguards defended him.

Her Blades extended, taking one sprite by surprise and downing him before he noticed. Mairead spun, a Blade pierced under her armpit, taking the next sprite from the unexpected angle, striking his shoulder. The woman pressed, slashing with her Blades in rapid succession, knocking at the flimsy spear that tried to deflect her swords. Her left Blade deflected a blow, and her right followed up to strike at the opening, cutting the sprite down a shoulder.

Soon, Mairead found herself facing two sprite soldiers. Her two Blades worked independently as each fought a spear. Another opening! One Blade reached under her elbow to stab her left sprite. But before she could turn to the other sprite, it had taken off, becoming airloft on his wings.

Could she pursue him? Would she?

The new Winged Harness was still little tested. But Mairead felt her inner grimness take over. She had long ceased to care a whit about her own Death. Her mind quickly made up, she leapt into action, folding her legs and springing into the air.

Too fast! Her body was propelling itself straight in the trajectory of the crow's nest. Quickly, she grabbed a taut mid-air rope and spun, bringing her momentum into a spin. However, a Brass Blade was dropped. She landed her feet hard onto a horizontal beam. The sprite, obviously so much more used to flying than she was, was right onto her.

Pure Instinct saved her, as a Blade deflected a sword blow that had aimed at her neck. Still gripping the rope like a vice, the swashbuckler battled, then ended in a kick, knocking the surprised sprite's sword off his hands. A followup slash cut horizontally on his chest. Like the others, the wound was shallow and he would live, though would be too decapitated to fight on for the next weeks.

Using her Blade's telekinesis, Mairead yanked her other Blade up, though not back to her hand, yet. Like a javelin, she made the Blade target the sprite sneaking up to Jari's back, where a guard had already been slain. A soundless stab, and the fall of a body on the wooden floor. The impaled Blade rested to an inch above this sprite's heart, as the sprite fell at Jari's feet, then the Blade was telekinetically yanked back into the air, this time to rejoin its Master's hand. Mairead let the Wings take her to another beam. Another engagement ... Daredevils handpicked by the Chancellor's commander had found their chops with the new Winged Harnesses and flipped acrobatically to and from the beams as they crossed swords with the sprites.

At long last, the melee was over. The Sotoan contingent of soldiers had done well. The bridge and the stairwell had been defended, so the ship sailed on course, and would wade onward to the inner depths of the forest.
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Qayin
Citizen of the World
Joined: 3:28 AM - Sep 02, 2016

5:00 PM - May 23, 2017 #3

[+] Spoiler
TL;DR;
Qayin comes out of hiding within the camp, (where he had disguised himself after killing the councillor Galena), then proceeds to do his work from the shadows, inciting fear in some parts of the army. Sabellius' body is made to scream at the top of the camp as a sort of psychological warfare.
Scream. Sabellius’ body did as Qayin commanded, shrieking and shuddering from its location displayed higher up in the trees. What had signaled the end for Galena now served as an omen of invasion. Adjusting the druid’s cloak he had taken when attempting to hide after assassinating the Councilor, he strode forward towards a smaller group of druids. They were younger than most who found themselves serving the queen, and a pale-faced boy turned to him with a look of slight relief. Qayin’s time disguised amongst the fae forces had not been spent idly, and these men considered him one of their own.

“Ah, Erakim, it is good to have you here! With your power with us-” The druid’s voice faltered as he noticed the harsh look on the mage’s face. Qayin slid his sleeve down his arm, unveiling the finger he had replaced his own with. With a fell motion, the necromancer motioned towards the boy, extending the feminine finger as though aiming a bow. Nothing happened.

“It requires more time for her power to bond with my flesh, I suppose.” It was said in the sort of voice one would use when discussing a broken toy or dropped plate of food, and that was what scared the druids the most.

Run. He had hoped to use these pawns of the forest queen as a testing ground for his newer abilities, but it seemed that he would need to fall back on his own skills. The small encampment ran off, scattering like beasts before their predator. The drow’s body still screamed in the distance, and Qayin slunk back through the camp. His work would be far more secretive, less visible to those who rallied against the woods. Some would notice mages slain by what seemed to be their own hands, throats slit with blades gripped tightly in their fists, but most would be too distracted to see.

Flee. Many of them would, engulfed in the waves of his mental power.
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Ylsa
Citizen of the World
Joined: 4:41 AM - Aug 22, 2014

7:53 PM - May 23, 2017 #4

((OOC: I am so, so sorry for the quality, self-contained nature, emotional voidness, and possible shakiness of the content of this post. I'm still absolutely terrified to write anything, my hands are shaking, I feel sick, but this is a very important plot point for both the Forest Plot as well as Khana and Ylsa. If anything needs to be adjusted or changed please let me know -- I'm having trouble absorbing details and I know I'm missing whole sentences and paragraphs as I read-- but please be gentle, as I'm already freaked, lol))
[+] Spoiler
Khana is mowing enemies down on the front lines, but has caught on the winds of the Aethyr that Ylsa has defied the doctor's orders and has projected herself as Jool behind enemy lines to help -- Khana receives a vision, and rushes to help her.
Back in Reine, Ylsa's body leaned over a bowl of burning sandalwood incense, her form covered by a sheet to allow the smoke to gather beneath it as she breathed it in. Behind enemy lines the spectre of Jool floated, incorporeal at this point and draped in her traditional funerary kimono, a thick stack of prayer slips held in her hands.

Up to this point she had managed to avoid being spotted -- being able to drift through inanimate objects had its distinct advantages -- but soon she would be forced to reveal herself, and the blood would spill. Perhaps she wouldn't make it to the Tree after all.

Her gaze drifted down to her prayer slips. Jool knew they possessed tremendous power, but in the shadow of the great mother tree they seemed so small, so feeble.

No. Holy Fire is never feeble.

Overhead and a little bit away there were airships, carrying reinforcements perhaps -- she was not an official part of the Sotoan forces and so she was not privy to the contents of the things, but she knew they were not enemies, and she had looked around enough to know that there were archers and ranged magic-users aplenty back here. Her form wafted as if in a breeze closer to the line of rangers and long-distance fighters and champions, and she faded out a little bit as she re-connected her essence with the pneuma of her body's breath.

In Reine, Ylsa breathed out, then breathed in lungfuls of smoke.

In Nematona, Jool exhaled, and smoke billowed from her lips tenfold.

She repeated the process several times, moving around to spread the spell, and the air began to thicken with smoke and the heavy scent of sandalwood around the archers. Their vision obscured to an arm's-length before them -- soon she began to hear the twanging of bows as many of them fired at false targets, faceless spectres wandering in and out of the fog only to vanish at odd places.

Without waiting to see how well it worked, and having some cover, Jool solidified, and began to make her way towards the Pale Tree.
**********************
In the midst of fighting, Khana faltered.

She had been doing her own job well enough, not that it was a hard one -- hacking and slashing was scary but it was easy as pie -- and had sustained minimal injuries herself, managing to keep enemies at bay with the length of her lance and the height and distance of her leaps. It was a foreign affair: Khana had never fought in a human war and it had taken some getting used to, but the last battle had gone well enough and she had come out victorious, so she figured now wouldn't be too much different.

But oh, how it was.

It seemed that fighting in a mortal war wasn't the only first: at some point her body continued to go through its own motions, but Khana was suddenly lost, her eyes seeing odd transparent shapes that faded in and out of the scene before her, and she shook her head to clear it.

Come on, now isn't the time to be tripping out..! I didn't drink anything today, did I?

Her lance skewered an enemy soldier and flung their body at another, but the other shapes persisted. Her hearing began to warble as though she was going underwater -- then, the entire battle disappeared, replaced with a series of other visuals.

A dark, yet bright garden--

--a temple at the top of a hill--

Daroan horns -- chanting, singing, the twang of a koto--

A woman in white and red, leaning over an altar, her face obscured by--

"How could she have--"

bells?

Khana clapped a hand over her eyes and the visions disappeared into blackness.

"It cannot be now." (who was that?!) "There is more work to be done."

When she lowered her hand, she was standing over Ylsa's bed in the hospital while the woman lay glassy-eyed, white-skinned, blood darkening the sheets while some young blonde girl wept by her side.

"What--?!" Khana tried again to cover her eyes, but this time when she removed her hands the same vision remained. The blonde girl kept sobbing, and the doctor and one of the nurses stood by watching sadly.

She gasped and stumbled back a step: there she herself was, standing by the mirror over the washbasin, her face streaming silently with tears; in the mirror's reflection, some white-haired woman stood, her face painted with crimson markings that Khana recognized, a sun-crown upon her head. When the dragoon glanced over her shoulder, she could see no sign of such a woman in the room with them.

"What... is happening? How did I get here? Hey!" She tried to catch the nurse's attention, though she had a feeling nothing would happen. Nothing did.

Her gaze flitted back to Ylsa's body, the weeping girl, the mirror--

But the reflection of the room was gone, replaced with the image of Jool, drifting calmly through enemy lines, narrowly avoiding harm and heading for the jaws of the lion -- for the Pale Tree.

Khana's blood ran cold.

"No..."

"There is more work to be done."

The image faded, and the room returned -- and so did the woman with the sun-crown, who turned her head to lock her golden eyes with Khana's.

"It cannot be now."

All at once, each of the visions came together into a coherent story, and the dragoon's eyes widened as understanding dawned upon her. The vision faded and she was back in the middle of the battle, still fighting, still mostly unharmed, but she stopped and allowed the ranks to swallow up her inactive form.

Suddenly, everything made sense.

Khana's body immolated and shrank to its dragon form and she shot up into the air, out of harm's way, and towards the Pale Tree.

She knew what she had to do -- but she had to hurry.

((OOC: Cue Mood music!))
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Phaedrus
Citizen of the World
Joined: 12:26 AM - Jan 19, 2014

11:24 PM - May 23, 2017 #5

[+] Spoiler

Above the divider line:
-Flavor, internal descriptions, etc. Not really a necessary read. Phaedrus befriends a soldier and they gripe about how much they hate Maedaigh.

Below the divider:

-Phaedrus summons Caulcis’ dragon form and wards his underbelly.

- He mounts him and flies around the watchtowers, acting as a distraction to help the infantry get by.

- Caulcis sets a watchtower on fire and takes it out.

- Caulcis/Phae are on the right side of the branching Sotoan infantry, with Kist.

“Lived in Madrid me whole life. That tree bitch took everything. My house. Brothers, sisters. My…”

The soldier’s lips ironed into a white line.

The fire crackled between them. There was a rustle as his large hand moved to wipe his mouth and beard. Phaedrus dropped his eyes down to the flames, allowing the man to compose himself. The soldier sniffed, straightened, all the hard edges carved into his face again.

Lover? Wife? the necromancer wondered. Daughter? Sons? Whom?

“Fuck her.” The wineskin sloshed as the grizzled man put it to his lips, taking a loud swallow.

The necromancer took it as the man handed it to him, its weight like a familiar friend. It was nearly empty now, passed between them like a family heirloom — precious, precious liquid, an elixir for the nerves.

He’d broken all his promises to himself. But then— why stop here? Why draw the line at liquor? He’d barreled through them in Orl’Kabbar, in the siege, and now the momentum had propelled him like a crashing boulder.

If it’s my last night alive, I’m going to have some bloody whisky.

The drink wasn't nearly enough to get to his head. But it lent a burning to his cheeks, igniting the furnace of his heart and sending its conflagration rolling through his veins. It eased the aching of his legs and rump, made the pain detach and float off. Walking or horseback made no difference. Some part of him always hurt these days.

All the other infantrymen had flinched away from him, terrified at the sight of him mounted atop Caulcis and the rumors of his devilry drifting from mouth to ear. For a long time he'd just sat in silence, eyes trained on the monotonous repetition of trees, bemoaning the crick in his arse. One time there’d been a skirmish, and he’d gouged the Fae’s eyes out with a flick of his hand before the elf even broke the treeline. That’d not won him any friends, either.

But this one hadn’t given the slightest shite.

“Don’t give a rat’s ass,” the soldier had declared loudly, scoffing at the cringing men. “We’re gonna see the inside of hell anyway. Best get used to it. Hoi, devil-boy, what’s your name? I'm Hadrian.”

And they’d made fast enough friends after that. Marching did get awfully boring without anyone to talk to.

The liquor burned as it went down his throat. The necromancer kept himself from chugging the lot, just barely seizing himself by the coattails and wrenching himself from the edge. Phaedrus swallowed and handed it back, wiping his mouth with the back of his pale hand.

“She’d best enjoy her night,” the necromancer sneered. “It’ll be her last upon this earth.”

“Aye.” Anger darkened the soldier’s eyes. The fire threw his eyes and cheeks into ghoulish shadow. A coldness entered his tone, every word falling like a guillotine. "Last thing that cunt'll see is my blade before I cut her ear to ear.” They shared a long, hard look, the anger palpable between them, their hate a dancing, lashing flame.

A hideous smile stretched across the necromancer’s face. It was like curdling milk, an unhinged thing that didn’t reach his eyes; they shone like a predator's, yellow and bright with the fire. Phaedrus loosed a peal of high-pitched laughter, handing the soldier the wineskin. For a moment their hands met on the leather, a mock toast. They locked eyes.

“We’ll give her hell.”
***
It was an eerily beautiful day for a battle. Picnic weather. Lazy white clouds rolled overhead, through the treetops; the air was calm, still, not too hot or too cold, the sun dappled and beautiful on the ground.

Perhaps the gods mocked them — or perhaps it was a show of favor, an omen of good tidings. Hadrian thought it to be the latter.

At dawn they’d risen, breakfasted on dried rations and sent their prayers up to their gods. The augurs had nodded. The generals muttered through the ranks. Every nerve strung as taut as an archer’s bow.

He dressed in light, mismatched armor. It felt so strange, so alien, cemented the reality of what was coming. A hauberk rustled under his Mystic Occult tunic, peeking just past the green fabric. Above that he had his ritual knife and dagger cinched to his waist, a third knife strapped to his thigh under his clothes. Caulcis’ prison throbbed by his empty chest, freezing against his skin, and he absently crept a gloved hand towards it.

Armor had been pilfered off the sick and deceased in the siege, cleaned and enchanted, and now he wore a dead man’s leather bracers and shinguards. Close-fitting pauldrons clasped his shoulders like unwanted hands, their straps digging into his chest with every movement.

How does anyone stand this?

That morning he scraped his hair back into a bun, sleepless eyes like pits in his narrow face. No one in the camp had gotten a wink, really. The lucky few drifted in and out. The rest had spent the night fletching arrows, practicing spells, scraping steel to a deadly edge. Everyone held their breath, awaiting the order that would unleash the avalanche of infantry.

“How’re yeh feeling?” Hadrian tightened his sword belt, glancing at him with his bronze eyes.

“Like I’m going to piss myself.”

The soldier barked a laugh.

“Good. Means you’re alive.”

Phaedrus smirked at that, scoffing under his breath. He adjusted the strap of his pauldron, scowling at it.

“And you?”

“Already pissed myself. Right in those bushes. Took a nice shit too. Now I’m ready.”

“Are you afraid?”

“Nah. Either way, I win. We lose and that bitch kills me, I get to see my little girl again. We win and she doesn’t, I get to see Madrid again. Follow me?”

Phaedrus nodded. “Always the optimist, aren’t you?"

The soldier snorted at him. “That’s one word for it, s’pose. And you? What do you want?”

“I want…” the necromancer trailed off. Nothing grand or heroic came to mind. No relatives or lovers to avenge. Nothing sweeping. No storybook glory, no battle-cry. Only the small, achingly nostalgic things, the scraps of paper that made up a greater picture. My red door. My petunias. My cats. The markets. Dinner at Ylsa’s. Normalcy.

I want normalcy.

I want my life back.


Phaedrus bit his lip. “…I just want my home back. I want freedom. I want… to open a bakery.”

Hadrian burst into laughter at that. The soldier shook his head, curls bouncing, and gave a great snort.

“Okay, devil-boy. I’ll be first in line.”

Shouts started. A psionic voice cut through their preparations, stopped everyone in their tracks.

Get into positions.

It had begun. They locked eyes, staring at each other in that brief moment of calm.

“I’ll be right there. They shan’t break past me.”

Hadrian nodded.

“Aye. And I’ll gut every fae that comes close.” People had begun to scramble. The man ripped his sword out of his scabbard, breaking into movement.

“Make me a croissant!” The soldier yelled over his shoulder. A grin tore across Phaedrus’ face, but the line of infantry had swallowed him — all around was the clanking of metal as soldiers snapped into position, the whetstone scrape of steel, boots hammering the earth. He found his way to the outermost edge of the infantry, smile gradually fading from his face. Reality began to seep into his chest, erased the final wisp of mirth. Nemetona loomed before them, a bristling citadel of thorns.

It was time.

The war horns blasted.



The battle plans had been hammered into their heads. He knew them as sure as breathing, had turned it over at every angle, planned for the worst.

The mages got into position. Phaedrus stood several paces away from them, muttering like a man possessed; he lofted his hands, feeling a freezing cold seep from his chest.

Darkness began to coalesce under him, threading out like black veins and reforming into a monstrous skeleton. He closed his eyes, focused — felt something freezing in his grip, launched upwards as his familiar swelled to a massive size.

Black ribs unfolded over Caulcis’ flaming heart; a pair of shadowy wings unfurled like tents, obsidian talons curling into the ground. His horsey skull elongated, skeletal jaw gaping open, blue fire erupting in the pits of his eye sockets.

Phaedrus opened his eyes and choked, disoriented by the sudden jump in height; he hugged Caulcis’ body harder with his legs, gasping out the last rite of the ward. A bit more of his familiar’s shadows crawled over him and crystallized to stone, ironing his legs in place. His head swam, nerves singing like struck glass.

Nailah’s teats. Khalid’s bollocks. Ma’at’s arse. All the jewels of the gods.

“Ready?” the demon slithered, turning its massive, draconic head to leer at him.

No.

“Yes,” Phaedrus hissed, knuckles white and popping on Caulcis’ spines. The demon’s bones felt glassy and cold to the touch, reflecting the garish blue of its core fire.

“Alright, Princess."

He launched off the ground.

The necromancer’s stomach flew to his throat; wind whipped violently at Phaedrus’ hair, choking off his gasp. Around him he could see nothing where Caulcis’ shadows churned the air, blotting out the light. The infantry shrank to children — to dolls— to ants; and yet they kept rising, rising — far above the walls of Nemetona, a tantalizing target for archers. The demon unfurled its wings, releasing an eldritch shriek.

Oh Nailah please oh Nailah oh---

Caulcis plunged.

The scream tore away from his mouth— Phaedrus buried his face into the dragon’s neck as arrows volleyed past them, peppered back by the ward. Several tore through Caulcis' illusory wingspan, lost somewhere to the treetops; one whizzed dangerously close to his ear, presence humming long after it was lost to the air. A fireball ricocheted off of the demon’s belly, exploding as it hit the wall and engulfed the thorns in flames. The demon continued to sail over the watchtowers, acting as a distraction while the infantry mages took out the rest.

The airships hurtled overhead like leviathans — there was a massive groan and crunch as Alexandros’ ship felled one of the great trees, allowing the Sotoans to pour through.

Now.

Caulcis' shadowy wings whipped heavily, lofting him further up into the trees and to a hard right. Phaedrus straightened and narrowed his eyes against the gale, fixing on the target. He could see the fae drawing their bows, mages lofting their hands in casting position.

Ready.

The demon’s maw gaped open, throat burning a glacial blue. Fear stirred the fae's faces -- some of them dropped their weapons, scrambling, pinned like insects to a board.

KiLl ThEm.

Fire blasted into the watchtower.

It raged up in a blue conflagration, engulfing the screaming fae. Several jumped out, falling like icy beacons; by the time they hit the ground, their faces were putrefied to the skull. Rot spread from their broken bodies, blackening the surrounding earth. Dying honey locust branches groaned and snapped in two, sailing to the ground like giant, flaming maces. One fell like a black guillotine, crushing a group of fae below.

"KH'UL BA’LAK KUL-KAZ,”* the demon thundered in its mother tongue, readying another gout of flame.

[+] Spoiler
* Suck my thorny cock.

Abilities:

Draconic Form: Caulcis can assume the form of a dragon that is physically (i.e. the components of his skeleton) about 25 feet long from the tip of his nose to tail, 15 feet tall, and has a wingspan of about 50 feet. However, he can project the shadows in his body to make his wingspan and length appear larger up to 2x longer (he cannot alter his height). This does not increase his base strength or defense in any way. The illusion is most effective looking up from the ground, because otherwise his height could look pretty goofy. His eyes and chest are lit with a putrid, ice-blue fire, and gouts of it can ripple around his mouth and through his ribs. It dims when he uses fire attacks.


As his form is naturally skeletal, in order to fly, Caulcis must relegate his energies to wings and readjust his mass to be capable of flight.


As a result, on ground, he is more physically substantial and difficult to bring down. But in flight he is physically less substantial, given he consists mostly of shadowy magics and the bare minimum to support riders (skeletal vertebrae, ribs and a skull, etc). While flying, he is more fragile, and physical attacks may be limited to swiping at enemies with talons and/or carrying them off (if they are light enough). The boundary of the Stone Heart still applies, so Caulcis cannot fly unless Phaedrus is atop him or someone else possesses the Stone Heart.


Caulcis can only effectively carry about 300 lb in this form. (Essentially, Phaedrus and a relatively skinny rider.) Anything over that will significantly slow him down, and carrying a weight over 350 lb will cause him to disintegrate. This applies on-ground, too. So if he tried to eat a very weighty knight, it might snap his neck, in which cause Caulcis’ form would disintegrate and he would be forced into a smaller form again, or retreat back to his prison.


Though his teeth and talons are extremely sharp (as they are jagged chunks of obsidian), they are also very fragile. They will shatter if he tries to bite metal or attack any surface that
is too hard. There is also the possibility that his teeth or talons will snap off in people’s flesh.

Void Fire:

A blast of pale blue, freezing fire that consumes and/or rots organic matter and corrodes/disentegrates non-living things, including ghosts. It spreads just like normal fire, and though it can't be put out with water, it can be extinguished by other means (quarantine, allowing it to run its course, smothering it with something non-flammable like sand). It can also be extinguished and contained by clerical magic.


Unlike normal fire, it has secondary putrefaction and corrosive qualities -- for example, it will rust armor and swords, decay rope/weaker or dying branches/etc, and so forth. The "core" of this flame acts like regular fire, but its secondary qualities come into play on the penumbra of the fire or when it consequently spreads. For example, a person hit directly with the blast may be consumed (like with regular fire), but when it spreads across the ground, it may cause putrefaction instead. When it hits inorganic material, the secondary properties apply. For instance, if Caulcis set an armory on fire, it would rust swords and armor, but it wouldn't necessarily burn the place down.


It spreads very quickly at the closest point of contact, then slows down at the rate of normal fire. The rate of spread depends on the material. The more decayed/fragile the material, the more “flammable” it is. For instance, if it was cast on dying branches, corpses, or rusty metal, it would spread fairly quickly. But if it was cast on bright and shiny armor or healthy trees, it would spread more slowly. Note that, since the “core” fire is what causes the decay, it can spread if it moves. For example, if an object that’s on fire (like a tree branch) falls on the ground, the putrefaction would spread from any additional points of contact.


Caulcis can consecutively fire flames for 5 seconds max. After that he must take a refractory period of a few seconds. This doesn't apply to fire that's used on his own body, as it can easily be withdrawn into his core. Because the fire draws on Caulcis' soul/core, he runs the risk of disintegrating or collapsing if it's overused. Generally speaking, without an external source of fuel, he can use 1 minute of fire every 30 minutes. That's about 24 5-second blasts of fire per hour, or 12 per half an hour.


Caulcis can use this fire in all his forms, or lend it to Phaedrus (so long as his master is in possession of the Stone Heart). The fire has a range of 100 feet, and can be blasted in projectiles, gouts of flame, create a wall, etc. When Caulcis breathes fire, it has a cone length of 100 ft and 4 feet wide, giving it a total secondary effect diameter of 8 feet. The flames can be used on his own body to create a flame cloak against attackers (restricted to Caulcis only). The flame cloak will last for 5 minutes before it has to be cast again.


Phaedrus can give a projectile a diameter of no more than 2 feet. The subsequent putrefaction/secondary effects would apply to a diameter of 4 feet. The larger the fireball, the more time it takes to cast. A 2 feet wide fireball takes 2 full seconds to generate. So he’d only be able to lob 2 of those at a time, but could fire off tiny, palm-size ones much more quickly. The secondary effect diameter of a fireball cannot exceed 2x its initial size. So for example, if Phae cast a fireball 2 feet across, the secondary area it affects would be 4 feet across.


The range of Void Fire depends on whether Caulcis or Phae is using it, and whether they are stationary or mobile.


For Caulcis’ dragon form:


Flying from above at top speed (let’s say 60 MPH, or 88 feet per second), he’d be able to theoretically spew a 440 ft long line from overhead, max. However, this is affected by air resistance, and as Caulcis would not be flying at top speed all the time, the range would vary.


On ground, let’s say Caulcis’ head/neck is 6 feet long total. So that’d give him a max radius of 6 feet to cast stuff. That would give him a max circumference of 37 feet to cast fire. However, he can only turn his neck/head while spewing a gout of fire, so it can’t go past half of that — so 18.5 feet. The “wall” of flame is not vertical at all — it acts as more of a ground barrier.


For Phaedrus:


Range is limited by his arm length, since he has to cast it from his palms. Average human arm length is 2 feet, so total circumference would be ~12 feet. He can realistically turn his body about 3/4s of that in 5 seconds (unless he spins around in a circle like an idiot ballerina), giving the attack a max circumference of 9 feet.


Note: the faster both turn while casting, the weaker/more scattered the fire will be. So if Phae/Caulcis want an “even coat” of fire, they’d have to slow down significantly. So while they could turn their heads/bodies fast enough to cast fire in the full range by 5 seconds, it might not be as effective as slowing down and maybe getting half that range in 5 seconds.


Warding III:

Phaedrus’ wards now have the max strength of a brick wall.


His wards can now be cast on a larger area than himself (max 15 x 15 feet) and a max distance of 30 ft away. They now repel projectiles and spells, causing them to fly back at his assailant. Physically attacking the ward with a sword/weapon will cause painful recoil.


He can also “shoot” forth a ward, effectively causing an invisible wall to slam into the target. At full strength it is—quite literally—like being hit by a ton of bricks, and can cause fractures, broken bones, whiplash, etc. It also does secondary damage in the form of recoil. For example, if a person is charging forth on a horse, the force of the gallop will be deflected back at them in addition to being hit by an invisible wall.


In this case, the ward will break upon hitting the target, and must be conjured again.


The ward can also be confined to a small area of space--for example, a body part or a weapon. Therefore Phaedrus' hand or forearm could be able to deflect a blade, or he could ward a pie and throw it with absurdly devastating results.


This ward can sustain up to 5 high intermediate hits, ~10 intermediate, and ~15 basic before it breaks and a new one must be generated. An advanced ability will shatter it completely and cause damage. As the ward is further damaged, its ability to reflect spells/blows will weaken, and eventually it will not reflect anything at all and simply act as a normal ward. At 30% strength the shield will stop reflecting blows. That would translate to about 3.5 intermediate hits, 7 intermediate, 10.5 basic.


* Note that each newly conjured ward will be weaker than the last. Phaedrus can only conjure 2wards in the strength tier of Warding III consecutively.


Each subsequent conjuration will produce a weakened ward. His third ward will have the strength of Warding II, and his fourth will have the strength of Warding I. To fully recharge his capabilities, it must occur 3 posts after conjuring the weakest tier of a ward, i.e. Warding I.

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Viktor
Citizen of the World
Viktor
Citizen of the World
Joined: 12:02 AM - Jul 06, 2012

8:35 PM - May 24, 2017 #6

Vik rode a short height above the main body and for now, watched. it felt weird, being put in command of such a body of people. He could tell that, in a way, leadership moulded him just as much as it allowed him in turn to shape those he commanded. Any doubts and thoughts however, could wait. Whatever he thought he now had to focus everything on making sure as few died as possible, and when it could not be avoided, make sure it meant as much as possible.

Before the fighting started he had made sure to use his magics to boost the armour of the infantry, and now the fighting had started he switched his attention to the main avenues of attack. The most obvious choice seemed to be the enemy archers, and so with a flick of his wand he called an invisible wall into being between them and the Sotoan's on the ground to limited the main body of their archery. Like his commanders were linked to the archers he was as well, and made ready to drop it as the Sotoans fired, ready to quickly recast it soon after.

Another flick of the wand and he began to use his magic on the enemy directly. In this case using his height to notice targets the Sotoan Champions should be aware of, and colouring them in garish pinks and yellows.


----


Now that the battle had been joined Morwenna Blackstaff let out a cry, raising the staff from which her surname derived high. With a roar the rest of the airbourne forces, mounted of magic carpets, broomsticks, pegasi, wyverns and griffins dived from out of the shadows of the airships and dropped down under the tree line, charging straight into the heart of the enemy to try and keep them off balance and unable to respond to either the airships or the infantry.
[+] Spoiler
  • Viktor is on a pegasus above the main force, who he has mostly prepared orders for, and trusts those under him to use their own initiative as the tides of battle shift
  • He has used his magic to increase the toughness of any Sotoans armour
  • He has created an invisible wall in front of the fae archers to block their shots. He has tied himself in to hear the mental commands for the Sotoan archers to fire, so he can selectively drop and recast the wall as needed
  • Finally, he has used his magic to mark anything he sees that the Sotoan champions may need to deal with.
  • Meanwhile, Morwenna Blackstaff has lead the aerial forces (outside of airships) into the middle of the forest, aiming to disrupt fae forces primarily so they cannot effectively respond to the attack.

    ABILITIES-

    Basic Transmutation A spell that changes the nature of the object it is cast upon. It may not be cast of any living organic material, but can be cast on anything dead (for example, wood). He may only change something in one way per casting. Alterations last up to an hour and a half after he stops maintaining them.

    Firstly Vic may use this to either make an object more solid or less so. With this spell he could change standard cloth to be about as tough as leather, or vice versa, or apply a roughly equal change. For example, he could make iron armour tougher, or leather armour twice as strong. Or he could make a door more brittle and easier to break down.

    Secondly, he may use this to affect the weight of an object. In which case he may add or subtract roughly half of the objects own weight again.

    Finally, he screw about with the colour of things pretty much as he wishes when casting this spell.


    Unsichtbarwand With a simple expenditure of will Vik creates a wall that is completely invisible. The wall is exactly as strong as the brick wall to a normal house and can be up to nine foot high, and up to fifteen foot long. It cannot be moved, and Viktor would need to cancel it and then cast it again if he wanted it in a different place. Only one may be in existence at any time. Other than its being completely invisible and appearing suddenly when conjured it has no other unusual properties.


    [/li]
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Mairead
Citizen of the World
Joined: 1:30 PM - Feb 10, 2017

2:49 PM - May 25, 2017 #7

[+] Spoiler
  • Mairead lays enchantments (Ward / Fire) and repairs broken gears, and sharpens weaponry.
  • Victor’s spell had marked Giant Workshops, buildings that makes artificial trolls. They are heading to the Sotoan frontlines.
  • Mairead jumps off her ship and engages a troll by blinding it then attacking it.
Casualties. Of course there would be. She stared blankly as the sprites' bodies were dragged and tossed overboard which, given the flying ship's high altitude, would plummet down to the trees below, if their retreating kin did not pull them out of the dive to save them. Medics tended to the wounded. The fallen were held in the saloon, alongside the beetles. Arrows and magic volleys had ceased hitting at her ship now, the fae folk learning the hard way as their own arrows and magic were deflected back onto them, causing fire spots created by their own flames to scorch their wooden dwellings, and arrows of their own crafting to find their own shooters.

"Miss Mairead?"

It was Jari. She gave a tired smile. Almost awkwardly, he said. "Could you enchant wards on our armours too?"

Without hesitation, she pulled out her Phaedrus Coin and sat on the bridge, as a line formed in front of her. She sang Warding spells onto all their clothes, including her own. She enchanted their blades with Fire element from the Khana Coin for warriors that had want of it. She fixed broken blades and sang enchantments of sharpening and durability with some beeswax as a catalyst. These enchantments were temporary and would fade with time, but they would suffice long enough for the war.

**********
A singular mage had marked targets in garish pink and yellow. She cast her gaze about, and found Giant Workshops, which would mean the opposing forces were making trolls. Eying them carefully, she noticed the lumbering things creep out of the buildings. One 15-footer troll had almost reached the direct underside of Finder. More would follow it, and they all moved unerringly toward to Sotoan frontline.

"Keep the others safe. Keep on course," said Mairead to her first mate. "I shall rejoin you later."

With that, she leapt off the airship, her Winged Harness taking her on a downward but controlled descent toward the troll. The eyes -- those were what she aimed for. She leaped lightly on its head, then crawled down the hill of a head down to its forehead, before plunging her Blades into the huge watery orbs. The troll thrashed. She held on for a moment, grasping its wispy hair, then sprung off the troll to fly to a high-hanging tree branch, before bouncing back to strike at a different angle, this time to glance at its torso with a Blade before landing on a tree opposite. The flailing arms of the blinded troll missed her. She figured with her Wards, she was good.
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Shrista
Citizen of the World
Joined: 8:30 PM - Aug 06, 2011

11:35 PM - May 27, 2017 #8

[+] Spoiler
Shrista picks up a fallen honey locust left behind the Green Bird with her sorcery, and Bast lights it on fire. She throws it into one of the neighboring trees to disrupt the archers and then runs to catch up with the rest of the army, where she incites her Maelstrom. This turns the wind to a hurricane force gale against the fae, preventing them from firing on the army in this vicinity, and throwing them from their perches should they not be hanging on tightly enough. Allies should plug their ears as the screeching and whispering of the wind causes temporary insanity.
Shrista is standing near the front of the infantry on the left side.

Bast heads off towards the left side of the army, lighting honey locusts on fire and generally being a nuisance.

The Green Bird pulls up two honey locusts and smashes through a connecting bridge as it seeks to avoid being boarded by the fae.
Alex passes the wheel over to Aniketos and drops into the hold to adjust the beetles so that some of them will aim for the treants -
if someone has a better idea to deal with this, he can smack his head or something and take a brief nap, therefore not adjusting them.
xD
However many treants/beetles to take them down and their release will be up to Ephie to describe in the next piece to keep things flowing. c:
It was an abomination, this ship that flew like a great fat-bellied goose through the sky. As if it was not bad enough when they were in the deep dark waters. Now they blotted out the precious winter sun, casting shadows that made her flinch as though a great and terrible beast loomed over them. People still craned and looked up as the pair of ships moved above their heads, marveled and dismissed as though it was in fact, not all that extraordinary. She shouldn't have been so worked up over it, she'd seen worse done before, but it was somehow...wrong. And her Aniketos was up there, while she was stuck down here.

What if it crashed? She had heard tales of ships blazing and cracking, shattering on rocks as they smashed into them in the night, a beach littered with bodies like so much trash. Trash that she had picked up on one occasion.

Pale eyes followed the abomination of science, narrowed with suspicion. Well, she had her own task to focus on. Frankly, Shrista was just glad to be doing something that wasn't mopping up vomit or tending to festering wounds. This is what she was born to do, and now she had to prove herself before these people. It was only right, when so many of her kind were on the other side. No words would assure them that there was no love lost. Everyone knew how quickly they might stick a blade between your shoulders, and she supposed, in some things she was no different. Later she might laugh at the absurdity of it all, when humans did just the same.

She wore the mail of House Hesperés, and while her skin prickled with cold, she was proud still to display it upon her flesh. A heavy flanged mace hung from her hip, and her scorpion whip upon the other, while an otherwise plain wooden shield was strapped to her back, laquered in purple with the star emblazoned bright upon it. A little to her side and behind was her companion for this fight, though she was far from happy with the arrangement. The elemental, such as she was, was loud, mouthy and had completely her own idea of how things should go. Not unlike herself, really. She might have made a good priestess once.

As they fell into position, she turned and signaled with one hand, pointedly ignoring the ships tearing up the honey locusts.
"Plug your ears now!"
The wind was low today, but as they stormed through the sudden breach in the wall of thorns, it began to gather, skirling along behind them and making pennants snap and crack in the breeze. She was not unaware of the archers as they slunk from their positions and began taking aim, some of the creatures running lightly across the sharp branches to drop onto the decks of the bigger of the two ships. Her lip curled, the sight of them and their pitiful selves causing her disgust. Still she swallowed most of her racial prejudice, as it only distracted from the focus. There would be time to enjoy when she had the flow of the magic in her palm.

Stepping aside from the main rush of men, she crouched and began gesturing rapidly, teasing the wind with her fingers, winding it into something greater. A smaller target would be easier to overlook in the great melee, though something needed to be done to distract the archers as they began their deadly rain upon the men of Soto.

Her eyes fell upon the uprooted honey locust, her face curiously blank as she considered it, felt the heady rush of power running through her body as she opened herself up to the channel...

-lounging in a woven chair and sipping wine as though he owned the place, burning gaze surveying the tiny toy soldiers from across the city-


The shock almost made her drop control. He couldn't be here. She banished him! How had this happened?
The anger, she could use it, had to use it. She'd find him again and stop him, pact or no pact. He shouldn't be here. She'd just have to banish him again.

Cords of wind wrapped the fallen honey locust and lifted it, arms trembling as she gestured it to rise, sweat popping out on her skin. It was far heavier than she'd initially thought, thorns leaving furrows in the earth as it dragged away from the ground. The archers were still raining arrows on the men, though some were now breaking off, searching for the source of the sorcery.
"Bastet! Show them how bright the spirit of Soto blazes!"
"Aye aye, like the fukken sun! Let's see how yeh like a taste o' this yeh tree-feckers!"
Bast balled her fist and gathered herself, flame curling from her skin as the constellations of circuitry within flared and winked. She turned, the muscles in her arm tight, and hurled the missile as hard as she could at the tree. It was a big target, and hard to miss; the fireball looked almost graceful, innocent, as it hurtled towards the target, and she seemed pleased with the result. That she should, for the drow woman had wrapped as much of the tree as she could with air, which immediately caught and fanned the flame.

The tree exploded into a blindingly brilliant white pillar. Shrista squinted her streaming eyes against it, bent her knees and mimicked the elemental's motion, swinging the bole of the honey locust at the one next to it with an ear splitting crackle, a thunderous crash as they connected. Screams could be heard as burning fae plummeted from the boughs, the trunk of the other locust cracking and toppling in slow motion. They stood there together panting, one wide eyed with awe and the other trying to stem the flow of tears from her near blindness.
"Go on, go. I must do something about those damned archers. This has given us only a little time, the army is moving."
"Right.."
Shrista followed the woman's gaze and swore under her breath as some sort of what she could only think of as a dragon, soared overhead, blue flame engulfing another tower.
"Go on. You must take the other side. This is what you wanted, to be useful, yes? I will keep the mage's attention from you...and you do this."
Bast's eyes narrowed at the mention of their tenuous deal, her mouth burning a doll's stitched hide into her face. Then she was gone, the robe discarded on the floor, her form engulfed in a comet's shroud as she took to the opposite direction of the branching army, hurling fireballs at the next watchtower.

Shrista didn't pay her a second thought, but jogged to catch up with the main body of the army until it began to split. There she stopped and began to work again. The wind began to scream, shaking the boughs til they rattled and hissed like a pit of furious snakes. The mace hung from a leather thong on the haft, heavy on her wrist as she held her arms before her and channeled the force, her hair blowing every which way like a dandelion puff. The noise rose to a crescendo, a terrifying, empty wailing, full of shrieking despair and maddening whispers, coercing, coaxing, spitting and cursing. A peculiar, lopsided smile twitched on her lips as she directed it, around and around, forcing those above to take cover. They were unable to shoot their arrows in this wind, or even keep footing on their precarious positions above. Those that cowered in the towers were covering their ears, their shrieks adding to the cacophony.
She watched as one woman threw herself out of the window of the watch tower, another drunkenly staggering out onto the bough, reaching fro something before the wind snatched him away, and dashed him mercilessly like a broken doll on the earth below.

She was a tide of power, ebbing and flowing, flowing, flowing. She was the wind, the storm, the maddening scream of Pandemonium. She was Cocytus.

~

Alex spat and pulled a winch hard, harder than he should have, but all the sounds of battle around them were rattling him. Any second now he expected those fiends to drop onto the deck of his beautiful girl. This was madness. What the fuck was he thinking, agreeing to this? His mother had been right, this wasn't his war, but here he was, because of his stubbornness, flying right into it and carrying the men to their probable deaths.

And maybe his too, if Leofric didn't have him executed for treason when he got back. If he got back. He was part of the army, and here he was possibly giving up secrets and collaborating without permission, with another country. He chuckled to himself over the situation, not because he thought that dying was funny, but that he simply couldn't work out why he got himself into these situations. Still, rather here than the political blowback afterwards.

One step at a time. Deal with the now.

"FIRE!"
A curl of satisfaction touched his lips as the grappling cannons clanked, the great claws finding purchase in the honey locusts and burying into their bark with ease. A signal from the deck and he pulled levers four and five, setting the chains to wind back in. His attention flicked briefly to the tailwind and he flicked the switch almost casually, the core brightening a little as the wind steadied behind them, bellying out the sails and giving them a turn of speed.
For a moment they held their breath, a few worried eyes turning towards his position at the helm. It would work, it had to, and he couldn't afford to show any weakness or lack of confidence on the issue. They were riding on a lot of hope, determination and desperation here.

A low groan trembled through the ship itself and he bit his lip beneath the thick scarf wrapped around his face. Well if the ship didn't come apart, he might still burn to death under the sun. One could only live and hope that wasn't the case.

Suddenly they jerked forward, creaking, popping noises as the roots snapped and came free, and the tree was dragged free from its mooring, and right through the city behind them.
"Release!"
The claws snapped back, leaving the trunk to fall with an earth-shuddering boom. The second didn't quite release correctly and they ended up dragging it along like an anchor on a sandbank, tearing up paving stones and shredding earth behind them. Eventually it worked itself loose and the chain rattled back up to the cannon again.

One thing...at a time...

Like the group of fae he could see waiting for them ahead, while those on the deck continued merrily dropping fire pots across Nemetona. And it all seemed to be going so well.
He turned to his man who was busily shouting orders about bringing up more fire pots from the hold; a bit backwards if he said so himself. Wouldn't drink water that wasn't from his roof and collected in the rain barrel. Said it was unclean, though from the state of him he drank other stuff often enough. His nose alone looked like two strawberries had crashed together, and the sway in his legs wasn't from the rolling deck.
Actually he was glad of the company of all these people, because when you were on your own with just the flap of canvas and the thrumming through your feet, it was all a bit..unnerving.

"Horace! ..HORACE. HORACE GODSDAMNIT!"
"AYE SIR!"
"Give the order to hold onto something, we need to make a sharp turn!"
"..Now?"
"Yes bloody now, when did you expect, next week? Hop to it man!"
"Only the commander-"
He half turned and frowned as Aniketos approached the helm, then waved Horace on all the same, and motioned to the approaching councillor to make haste.
"Grab that strut a second."
"GRAB A HOLD O' SOMETHIN' YOU MANGY CURS!"
"FOR THE LAST TIME, HORACE, WE ARE NOT IN THE NAVY. STOP WITH THE PIRATE TALK."

Alex grabbed the wheel and spun hard to the right, one rung after the other, and the ship leaned, further, further, plowed right through a hanging bridge in a cascade of wood, all gone like a house made of matchsticks. But, it had served a purpose. Two of the fae jumped, and missed entirely, a third scrabbled at the hull before he too vanished from view. A fourth clung doggedly to the guard rail on that side, at least until one of the men grimly peeled his fingers off of it. The hull scraped along the side of the locust, crunching as it took a few of the spines, and he was glad once again for the reinforced plating down there. He was starting to think it might even be as much of a boon as the ward that was currently still keeping the arrows clattering off of it before they reached the sails and the squishy bodies on his deck. The rest of the group that seemed to want to jump before were now hesitating as the ship scraped on by just out of reach, and the men began taking up bows to pick them off.

"Why, Councillor Hesperés, what a delight. We are just a touch busy on this end of the ship, but you look like a man with urgent business, so don't let me stand in your way." He grunted as he began swinging the wheel in the other direction once more, righting the ship with some difficulty and disengaging from the tree. Most of the paintwork had gone from the side now, the glorious green roc flashing over the ship's name now looked like some kind of old woman's head. He'd just have to call her the Sea Witch or something equally tart, now.
"Excuse me. If you look to your left, you'll see the city of Nemetona, wonderful holiday destination in the summer though I hear the locals are a touch prickly. On your right you'll see the tree we just crashed into, and directly ahead is the heart and soul of the city, standing proud and sucking the life out of the country. How are things looking down there?"
"Hot. We have something a bit more pressing to worry about right now. There are treants massing around the Pale Tree-"
"Oh wonderful, I got all dressed up for the occasion, I was hoping they'd send us a welcome wagon. How many treants are we talking?"
"Enough."
"Enough..to be a problem? I'm not sure we have fire pots enough for this..."
His eyes grew troubled behind his goggles as he turned towards Aniketos. They both knew that they didn't have the firepower to deal with the treants. What could they do? Stop hurling fire on the city below and divert the attention to them instead, or...well he didn't think the grappling canons would work in this instance. He'd have to get terribly close and that put everyone at risk. They were built for attaching to unmoving objects, really, and what would he do anyway? Drag them behind the ship until they were smashed to flinders? They'd only manage six a time, too, which probably wasn't much.

"You have an idea?"
"The beetles. You made them so they seek out the Pale tree, can't you adjust it so some of them will go after the treants?"
The engineer inclined his head slightly, thumb tapping one of the spokes of the wheel.
"Someone has to fly the ship." He paused, his gaze sliding sideways almost conspiratorially. "What about you? ...Find out how many of these things are coming for us, and we can at least try to lessen the number a bit. Which is to say, I'll go down into the hold and adjust them, and you...well, I'll leave you in charge of my girl. But by Vespasian's balls, if you crash her and send us all to a fiery death I'll come back from the grave to haunt you. To haunt your..ghost. But you'll probably survive, you know, because you're the hero. Someone has to be."
A sardonic smile flickered across his face as he teased the man, then motioned at the deck.
"Hurry now, we don't have much time Mister Hero."

He waited as his friend..dare he call the man that, rushed back to converse with one of the others, Xanthus he thought...or something...maybe...and returned again, before showing him exactly what not to press or pull, and striding to the hatch that lead down to the cargo hold. It was an effort to turn his back on Aniketos and leave him to see to the ship's direction, but someone had to make the adjustments and Mairead had her own ship to fly, and her own problems to deal with. It wasn't as though he could ask her to hop ship. That would have been terribly rude.
"Horace, keep an eye on things and help Lord Hesperés where needed. I need to sabotage a tree."
"Wouldn't be the first time m'lord!"
"What the hell is that meant to mean?"
"Absolutely nothing m'ord!"
He narrowed his eyes, then dropped off the ladder into the hold below, and loosened his scarf. Damned sunlight had never been such a pain in the arse til now. He hoped he had enough time...for all of them..."
"The pressure is real..."
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Calliope
Citizen of the World
Joined: 2:49 AM - Dec 14, 2012

8:40 AM - Jun 03, 2017 #9


"The Mother has awakened, and her cursed Children rise with the sound of her infernal Cry. Friend or foe... no one will be safe from her retribution."





She had become everything her Mother wanted her to be; strong, lethal, and one of the most powerful Archdruids of her time. She had obeyed every single time, without question... until the very end. Her whole life she had been trained to be her father's heir, to be his counterpart. But she was nothing more than his inferior, and Her henchwoman. She had become exactly the opposite of what her father had always dreamed about: a most competent and efficient weapon. But the moral voice in her head had only been the beginning of her own destruction. Her conscience had stopped her from doing something cruel, finally completing what it had been trying to do all along.

Archdruid Galloglaigh glanced down at Tlachtga, a young druid. A double agent working with the enemy. He had pulled a blade on her after they had bypassed the fighting at the front due to the fact that she had the area mapped in her head and knew of some of the secret tunnels that ran underneath the city. It was truly unfortunate, for she had thought him to be on her side. From the disturbing cant of his limbs and unnatural twisting of his neck, it was clear he would never rise again. She turned her back on him and walked away, leaving the dead drow behind forever. There was no time for pity or remorse.

Too many times the Archdruid had bent over people she had known; whose faces had been enlightened by a smile only a few hours prior. Soon after, they were dead and their blind eyes stared up to the sad, angered fae. The war had taken far too many.

Galloglaigh took a sharp inhale. The rush of battle was quickly draining away, and now she could feel her every injury--every mundane bruise, and every burn the bitter fire had scored into her flesh. She had barely taken a few limping steps out of the tunnels before collapsing. A large green shape came charging through the woods from the front of the battle, still far away, but quickly drawing closer--a baby wyrm wolf and extremely rare creature--and he stretched upright, losing an urgent bellow as he looked for the Archdruid. She had left him behind when they had marched to Madrid all those months ago.

"Taliesin," she called to him and mentally forced away from the tears that threatened to fall, although her cheeks still burned. He saw her, and as she gathered herself, she noticed a humanoid shape upon his back give a weak wave of his hand. Amergin. Galloglaigh smiled upon seeing a familiar and friendly face at last. He hurried over, and she did not object when he drew her arm over his shoulder and very carefully placed his arm around her back to support her. He had never known her to invite physical contact, but knowing what she was currently enduring and seeing her exhaustion, as well as the vivid burns, he was glad that she allowed him to help. "Gallo--."

"Cathbad," she said, voice tense with pain. "You must take me to the Pale Tree, at once."

"Yes," he agreed, pressing his lips together. As they looked into each other's eyes, he could tell that he had missed her, as she had missed him, but it was hardly the right time for a beautiful reunion. He moved Galloglaigh towards Taliesin. "Would you like for me to heal your wounds?" He asked. She tried to give him a reassuring smile but it turned into a wince. "I am-- I will be fine," Galloglaigh promised, "though it is likely to take a while." She gathered herself for a second, drooping with weariness. "We should take care of your injuries before we go. You look pale." Galloglaigh snorted. "We are druids of the pale. But no. We should not stay here."

"You need healing." He pressed as he leaned her against the wyrm wolf. "Let me help you."

The feeling of eyes on her back followed Galloglaigh, making the hairs on the back of her neck rise and her mouth turn dry, and yet every time she turned there was nothing but shadows to meet her gaze. She surveyed the darkness of the forest in silence, her eyes narrowed. The fighting could be heard some miles away, but anyone could be lurking about.

"Then we should rest somewhere up ahead, further away from danger."

"There is danger everywhere. This will only take a moment."

Galloglaigh closed her eyes as her companion worked over her, and listened. For a few moments, there was nothing. Then she became aware of a soft thumping, almost a drum beat... footsteps? Yes, footsteps, heavy and thundering.

"They're headed this way!"

He pulled her to her feet, and they quickly mounted Taliesin together. They braced themselves as the wyrm wolf shot forth towards the heart of the city, taking the normally silent route she had discussed with him prior to the beginning of the battle. Now, they could hear their pursuers breathing, running, fighting, heard the crash of steel against steel. Taliesin moved faster, feeling the fear of his master. Up ahead, they saw the break in the winding paths that indicated they were close to the heart of Nemetona. Galloglaigh looked up as the trees whispered to her, her eyes fixing at once on the small group of fae higher on the hill. She knew that they had realized Aniketos' army would be a lot more difficult to defeat than they thought, but this was their last stand. They had nothing left to lose after this. The enemy was willing to do whatever it took... yet, so were they.

When they reached the break, a terrible sight met their eyes.

Treants, dozens of them, surrounding the Pale Tree. It was like nothing she had ever seen before. Somehow the Goddess had influenced them to protect Her as she hibernated. And she had once thought the creatures to be too old and wise to be so corruptible. Meadaigh's power was still somehow growing, even as she slept, and the thought sent a shiver down her spine.

"This was not a part of the plan," she muttered. "Neither was that," her companion pointed up at the clouds, a look of terror in his eyes. She followed his finger and looked to the sky. They watched, horrified, awe-struck for minutes while the sun slowly died, suffocated by the oncoming moon-rock.
Her senses froze in place as a shrill shriek shook her soul to the very core. What the hell was happening?! As the shadow of the Blood Red Moon passed over her tortured face she spied Alexandros' airship in position, headed straight towards the Pale Tree. The treants moved offensively and in sync, their branches reaching towards the flying mechanism. At the same time, she noticed the clouds above the ship shifting and twisting downwards.

Nephelae....Not good...

Some of the frightened druids of Nemetona had remained out of sight all this time, but whispers rustled back and forth of the Archdruid's return.

"She's alive. She's come back."

"She's returned to us. She is whole."

There was trepidation, but more than that, the whispers asked, "What comes next?" It was clear they did not know what to do, and they had clearly somehow avoided Meadaigh's corruption. As for the illness, however, Galloglaigh had yet to say if any members of her Circle were affected. The only one to approach them openly was Cathbad, the Tree Weaver, a removed and neutral Teacher. The old druid watched the trials of the winter and spring, and, in the early summer, weaved the stories and dreams of the people into the branches of trees.

Silently, Cathbad sank to their knees before Galloglaigh and made obeisance.

"Rise, Tree Weaver," she commanded. "You have no need to kneel to me."

Cathbad stood but kept their head bowed, a pointed show of respect whose meaning was understood. The Pale Druids that had not been corrupted had remained steadfast to the Archdruid. Many had fled in fear and vanished. Others obeyed grudgingly, feeling they had no other choice if they were to remain safe from the human world. Very few of them actively disapproved of Galloglaigh's actions, however. The Archdruid was never certain as to why they had remained so loyal but had she ever asked, they would have told her without hesitation that she was deserving of their faith. No one else had followed her nor borne such witness to her courage and determination when fighting for the integrity of the druids and most of the ones that once did were now dead.

"Our Lady is well come," they said.

"And we are well met," she returned. She marshaled her tired thoughts into some semblance of order as she considered what would have to be done next. "Cathbad," she said, "I need you to spread the word to those we trust--."

"It will be done," Cathbad replied as if they knew exactly what she wanted from them.

******************

Their fire, sharp and refined, licked at the trees and choked the lives out of those that dwelled above them. Defined, uniform, raging, passionate, purifying. The soul of Aniketos echoed through the roots of the forest, and his unrelenting aura was delivered to her Mistress, singing a vengeful sonnet. He who was taking a chance against all odds was coming for her. Intertwined, they had continued to burn each other. For each other. And she would awaken to see him destroyed from the shadows of their blaze.

A resounding crack slapped the air and echoed through the Pale Tree's branches. The vessels that branched out over the service of the cocoon cracked into crevices that bubbled and bled. A red, fiery aura poured out from and flooded the surface of the crown. The beads of her soul had slowly fed on the tree's forceful, static aura, whose nourishment had been the Erth'Netora for twelve unrelenting seasons. The embers of the cocoon smoldered until the last orange glow faded into smoke, unfurling into the cloudy sky from the tops of the Pale Tree's branches....

The aura flickered and wavered, then, the walls of the cocoon broke apart, and from the oozing liquid, a squirming bloody sac plopped out. Its claws lacerated the sac from the inside out with a mere swipe, and when the black creature emerged, it released an earth shattering shriek that pierced through the veil and echoed far out into the distance. As it stretched, it scanned the world with new, burning eyes that could turn skin cold with a simple glance.

There was a dull, nagging, persistent pain constricting her head. Its lips curled and nostrils flared. Lashing out, it whipped its tail and sliced through the source, silencing it once and for all. With the claws of her hands, it reached down and held the source of the sound with her palms on his cheeks, his mouth still open from the scream. Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap. Its head whipped at the sound of two hands clapping. Another creature like herself. A fiend. Upturning of the corners of his mouth. His eyes bore into hers; amused, and deeply satisfied. She held the severed head down at her side by the hair. She knew his name.

"Kaahn," she breathed, remembering.

The lust that made the sun and moon light up the sky with envy and oceans evaporate into nothing. How they had lit the ground with bolts of lightning and caught fire to the parched earth. She remembered her skin melting with rapture as they descended into a distant dimension; a void of his creation. It was there that their unity had roared with a passion never felt before. Through his power, she had ripped through forests, fields, meadows, and he had been summoned, just so he could scorch her heart once more.

"Kali," he purred. How could he forget?



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Rhia
Citizen of the World
Rhia
Citizen of the World
Joined: 7:38 PM - Jun 05, 2011

11:42 PM - Jun 21, 2017 #10

There was a lump in the Councilor's throat. Combat, serious combat, and preparing for it always left her feeling overly anxious. She knew how to keep her emotions in check, any distractions now would get in the way of their achieving their objective: victory. She was not a soldier but in more recent times she found herself playing the part. She felt she was performing admirably, but she did not come from a military background. More often than not it was akin to testing the waters and then plunging in and hoping she did not sink. Once Méadaigh was dead, perhaps she could get back to what she wanted most. Running her damned country without having to take to the field.

Armored and saddled up upon a majestic steed, one she hoped would continue to remain in the air, she took position in the air along side Viktor. They'd collaborated together in trying to organize a proper way to fight back and now they commanded together. Rhia felt she wouldn't be able to do much of anything on the front, she had a handful of alchemical concoctions and potions on hand and had already administered some to herself to bolster her physical abilities for the time being. For now, she watched, waited and advised.

Things would go wrong here, they usually did. Rhia was waiting for whatever cruel surprises were lurking and only once she saw them could she go about figuring out what to do about them.
[+] Spoiler
  • Rhia has taken to the air alongside Viktor Zauber.
  • Rhia has administered several potions to herself in advanced to make her more keenly aware of her surroundings and to bolster her physical abilities

    Abilities
  • Devotion to Potions – Rhia’s specialization in potions has improved to the point where she can make more complex potions without fail that may require several days preparation with the right circumstances and ingredients and has a mastery over simpler ones.
    More obscure potions and uncommon knowledge has become easier to come by for one reason or another. Usually this is because she’s encountered the information previously or knows who or where to find it from and most potions and oils that mages or adventurers would come by would be known to her as well as how to make them. Very powerful or rare potions and ingredients would escape her grasp.
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