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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:16 am

    And so the story goes:
    Let's talk, shall we?

    I'm sure you could imagine why I haven't been back here. I've talked about this over the years but it seems that things have only gotten increasingly worse for me. I'm not averse to change. I have...constantly. I still do to this day just so I can meet the ever increasingly difficult criteria thrust upon me. My entire life's work has pointed to this. If I've learned anything, it's that there's something inhuman...or at least different about me and that very fact causes a silent discord between me and other people. My presence is a toxin to them and that fact cannot, under any circumstances, be changed.
    I've taken preventive measures over the past four years but we've hit a brick wall. Up to this point, I've made a home nestled in the bones of those who would house me and moved on the breaths of those who believed in my potential. That cannot be the case any longer, however; there is no shortage of people acting as gatekeepers to the places I would once go. Even more so to the places where I am now.
    All of my research has taught me that my presence can only be withstood for a very brief period of time and too much of it is unwanted. It's nothing short of being as oppressive as the desert sun. But even a few minutes under it is too much, now.

    This is the dilemma. My dilemma. Your dilemma. Ideally, we could work out some way for co-existing, but our world isn't ready for such a dramatic change. We're steeped in tradition that goes back to the beginning of time, whether we realize it or not. In order to continue that tradition and usher in the beginning anew, sacrifices must be made. In so doing, the gatekeepers need to stand down.
    I'm not even angry, or sad, or worried. I know my fate and what it entails. Wordlessly people have told me what it is, every single day for the past two years. If that's what it is, then so be it. But I'm well aware that my life is hardly my own anymore--that it rests within the hands of the people who want to control my fate. And so they have. Every day, new rules have been imposed upon me that have limited me so much that I can hardly exist without interfering with someone else in a negative way.
    To that illness...there is but one cure.

    And so? I ask this of you. Entrust my fate to me. Let me be the one that holds the cards and should I see it fit, be the cure to what ails us all. Rather then no choice, there should be at least two. Your ultimatum, from me to you. A cure to our dilemma, or the slow deconstruction of what once was.
    In all honesty, it hardly makes a difference to me. The way things are headed, I don't see much change in the future--that is, for the better. We'll regress, more and more. If not that, then we'll remain stuck where we are, just like I've been for all these years. Together, we'll create my ideal ice world.

    On a more related note, that is, to my works, as you could imagine progress has been slow, at best. My muse ran screaming nearly a year ago and has been reluctant to return since. That still remains the case. Just as it was in 2013, I feel I've hit a brick wall but can continue through sheer force of will. For whatever it's worth.
    I have done some writing. Just short chapters that I call interludes that happen between the main story's events. Things that bridge the gap between scene changes. The last one I did however, was actually an idea I had for chapter 9 that I scrapped. Still a little awkward-it didn't likely fit the tone for the chapter anyway. Whether they're canon or not, I leave that up for debate. They're good practice nonetheless and rather self-gratifying.
    Nonetheless, in order to grant the wish of some, I'll move this perpetual storm I call my presence...for now. For a time. I hope soon, to quell it, but for the time being I'll try to have something to show. So for whatever it's worth, lie to me, won't you? We'll just pretend the hedgehog dilemma doesn't exist.

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:50 am

    I've got nothing clever to post here:
    Guess Who's back?
    My man Ko Kapches! Love that guy. Also me. For reasons I'll kinda elaborate on.

    So, some quick housekeeping. Had to make a topi'co account or whatever the hell it is to log in? I'm kinda surprised forumotion still exists, tbh. That aside...well, I'm kinda surprised I still exist. It's 2018. The hell am I doing here? Since I haven't died a horrible, gruesome death yet, it's safe to assume that I'm not dead, but potentially a ghost. That writes blog articles. That's not important though.
    A word to the wise, you can outrun death, but he'll get his due eventually. Life is a slow, miserable burn after all. First your body breaks, then your spirits, and eventually the last remnants of who you are, or were, are slowly eroded away. In a sense, I suspect that defines my life really well. I think my physical and mental faculties are failing me, and given maybe 5 or so more years I'll just become a ragdoll. I can still pass off as a functioning human being right now though!
    I promise, I'm not being over-dramatic for the sake of it. There's always gonna be things that we can fight against--we have the power to choose, at times. There are some things we can combat but can never truly rid ourselves of, so we spend all of our lives fighting them. The various mental ills that ail humanity are a perfect example of that. You can choose--in most cases, there are people who will fight that fight with you. If you can, you should. That was something I had learned from someone in 2012 and that was what began my journey to recovery in 2013. I do realize it's a never-ending battle. Everyday I still remind myself that one misstep and I'll fall off the face of the earth again, into a spiral of negativity, of self-doubt, of loathing within and without. But it isn't all that ails me. There are other things that lurked within my genetics, waiting to fester like a sleeping cancer. As I've gotten older, they've begun to take root and claim what's left of my self, slowly eroding my persona and eating away at my conscious mind. I wasn't the first, I might not be the last, and seeing it through the eyes of another allows me to clearly see where it begins and where it will lead. I just want my ending to be different. Hence, the ragdoll statement. I don't want to reach that point. It's times like these that have me asking two questions: What do I live for? What would I die for?
    Nonetheless, this isn't really a PSA or something for mental illness, but you can take it that way if you want. It's all fun and games until you really get fucked up, so it's best to do something about it if you suspect something might be happening. IMHO, if you're afraid of the stigma, just say fuck it and take the leap. You can change your life for the better if you act while there's still time. Just as everything else has changed over these years, that can too, and it will and should. We need to give a voice to those who may have lived through such experiences and will fight for change so others aren't afraid to face the stigma.

    That went on longer than I intended. My once-in-a-lifetime hopeful speech ends there. Back on topic, the main reason I'm here is because...well, there's something I love happening right now. What inspired me when I was a boy, partially what had inspired me to write Frequency in the first place and also influences my work to this very day is here. It reminded me of where I had begun, where I am now and where I'll go in the near future. It reminded me of who I am, what I can do and what I should do. What only I can do...for better or worse. And to that end, I want to lend a hand. It's the least I could do, in one of the few ways I know how.
    It's probably lost somewhere among all these blog posts, but I once said that you should never forget where you came from. Our origins define us and if we shy away from that truth, be it bad or good, the crucial lessons imparted on us by our history might be forgotten and repeated.
    As for me? I realized the world will continue to turn and the hands of the clock will move regardless of what I do. It's just...for now, at least, I'll move with it. I can affect my world. Something I once feared, but realized may be at times necessary, or even good. For the time being, I will.

    So in short, I'm back for now. It's nearly been a full year and there's one post I still need to get back to, which I will. That aside, I'll continue where I left off writing about Sanc, bringing back my own brand of dank(more like rustic and shitty) memes, clever(unintelligent and unfunny) jokes and punny(they actually are, still not funny) puns. Along with the usual trivia and whatnot. So get happy!

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:58 am

    Pages 527-535:
    Velvet took a deep breath before preparing her stances. She used Bravery Shout, Chivalry and Warden’s Emissary respectively before looking to the statue with renewed resolve.
    “Here goes nothin’…” Velvet muttered as she approached.
    “More like everything. Don’t die in that body, alright?”
    She could not help but laugh and offer the Governor of Fire a thumbs-up at her concern.
    As she grew ever closer to the stone statue, it too rumbled as it came to life and brandished its weapon.
    Velvet brandished her club in turn and slammed the weapon against her shield twice.
    “I’m ready for you! Come,” She roared.
    The statue’s head tilted slightly as it took two slow steps and paused but for a moment. Without another moment’s hesitation it broke out into a sprint that ended with it putting the weight of its whole body into a fell swing. The earth shattered as Velvet leapt aside and skidded to a halt. She stormed back into the fray and took a swing at the wrist of the axeman as it withdrew its weapon.
    It had been quite some time since TJ last fought in Velvet’s body so he would need to adapt once more. She was slower, but stronger. The weight of the weapon differed, and the speed and strength at which she could swing it was much better than his. He could use his shield to defend against most attacks and should push come to shove, he could use Perfect Shield. More importantly than everything else, he needed to ensure that he protected Amata.
    As the eyes turned to him after he put a dent in the arm a small flame rushed toward its face and burst, throwing it off guard which gave Velvet the opportunity to reposition herself. As the flames and smoke dispersed it turned its focus to the Governor of Fire and she knew she had to act.
    “Guard Impact!”
    As it took its first step towards the Governor of Fire Velvet lunged at its left ankle with her shield and collided with it, staggering the statue and drawing its attention back to her. It seemed that attempting to stun a golem of that size was not possible for her, but at the very least she succeeded at her initial goal.
    “There’s more where that came from! Helm Splitter!”
    She leapt from where she stood, mace raised and shield withdrawn to land a leaping strike. As she did so she noted that there were two potential ways to follow up the attack: the first would be to perform a mid-high shield bash, dissimilar to Guard Impact in that the user shoved the shield forward rather than using their entire body to shoulder-tackle the target and daze them. The other was to raise the shield and bring it down upon the target, in essence, leaving the wielder open but dealing a more fatal blow. She was beginning to understand the small differences stances could use to confuse opponents, such as those Peorth used.
    Putting the thought aside she raised her shield and brought it down with a powerful strike that cracked the stone. She only had a couple of seconds before it completed its turn and attacked. She stepped forward to ground herself and brought the mace upon the leg in a right hook, cracking the leg further and chipping a few pieces off the rock.
    Without another moment to waste the statue reeled its axe back and brought it down with both arms. Velvet raised her shield to meet the weapon and the two found themselves in a deadlock. She could hold it back but not for long. The strength of both arms and its size advantage would overpower her eventually.
    “Repel,” she shouted.
    Her shield gained a bright glow that pulsed outwards like after-images and forced the axeman back with incredible force.
    Velvet clasped her hands together, lowered her head and closed her eyes. Following that she looked skyward as she raised her mace.
    “Blessed Strikes!”
    The weapon gained a powerful glow while she charged back at the axeman. The first swing was aimed at the right leg, the sound of steel colliding with stone echoed throughout the chamber with incredible force and velocity. The leg she hit collided with the other and caused the golem to collapse to the ground.
    “Good one TJ,” Amata shouted from nearby.
    She took to the arm that held it up and also carried its weapon and aimed her second strike at its hand. She broke two of the fingers and knocked the arm out from under it, causing it to collapse to the ground once more. She wanted to strike again but recognized the risk in going the distance, then opted out to strike the head instead. The final devastating blow was aimed at the side of the head and shattered a large portion of the helmet chiseled into it, leaving portions of the stone face crumbling away as it rose to its feet once more.
    “Tough guy, huh?” Velvet asked with a dry chuckle, as she took a breath. “Think I made him mad.”
    TJ had forgotten one important thing about Temple Knights. They expend quite a bit more mana from a much smaller pool. He would have to choose when to use stances wisely.
    As it rose to its full height once more the eyes glistened in and it seemed to focus itself on Velvet. Without another moment to spare it drew its axe back and took a mighty horizontal swing towards the ground. Too high to jump but too low to crouch underneath she opted out for defending herself with her shield. Both hands tucked tightly behind the arm she took the blow head on and the sheer force caused her to slide back a fair distance before she was lifted from her feet in a rising arc.
    “TJ! Hang on!” Amata shouted a she rushed towards her.
    “Don’t worry! I’ve got it,” Velvet vouched.
    She spread her wings and awkwardly flitted about until she could regain her balance. The moment she did so, however, the axeman had already recovered from his last swing and brought his weapon around with another.
    “Oh crap!”
    Velvet stopped beating her wings and fell slightly before rising up once more in a vain attempt to get back to the landing. As she attempted to do so the weapon came around in a rising arc, followed by a falling arc in a series of attempts to predict where she would be next.
    “You don’t have this at all, do you?! You really need to learn to ask for help, dummy,” Amata scolded.
    She ran back to their things and rummaged through her pack drawing a dagger. She tossed it up and down a few times to test the weight of the weapon before she pointed it at the golem.
    “Hey asshole! Look alive! Sacrificial Arm!”
    She hurled the weapon with the force of her entire body behind it and as the weapon took flight it combusted and exploded upon contact with the statue’s face.
    “Now’s your chance TJ! I’ll keep it busy so get back over here!”
    “One more!”
    The Governor of Fire spun her staff above her head before she slammed it into the ground. A whirlwind of fire surrounded her body for a couple of moments before she reeled a hand back. A flame crackled in it as sparks clicked to life at her heels. She broke into a sprint leaving a trail of flames in her wake as she rushed towards the statue. The eyes shone through the cloud of smoke left in her spell’s wake and the axe soon parted them. Before it could crush her, Amata fire hopped from where she was about to step and launched herself towards the statue, soaring between its legs and skidding to a halt behind it. She hopped once more and flew through the air, towards the back of its head. Her flaming hand was put forward as she lunged toward the axeman and let loose a series of explosions.
    “Salamander Bombardment!”
    The force of the explosion forced her back and she managed to touch down, albeit by taking a knee, however, safely nonetheless. In the wake of her attack a series of explosions followed and she outstretched both hands. As she did so, plumes of fire seperated from the explosions and formed a series of six orbs that surrounded her adversary.
    She clapped the two together as she roared, “Elemental Sigma!” The spheres began to spin around the statue before they converged upon it in a massive explosion.
    “That good enough for you?” Amata asked as a multitude of beads of sweat ran down her face and neck.
    “That’ll do perfectly!” Velvet answered, now flying just above the face of the right arm of their enemy.
    “What the hell’re you doing there?! I thought I told you to land!”
    “I’ve got a plan!”
    “Another plan? At this point I’m kinda hard pressed to tell you not to follow through with them…” She grumbled under her breath.
    TJ lacked the ability of flight and by extension struggled to do so as Velvet. However! There was a loophole in this scenario. Velvet’s knowledge of stances allowed him to perform maneuvers he could not do in his own body. In her repertoire there was one that was somewhat reminiscent of Peorth’s use of Broken Wings while under the effect of Valkyrie Stance. With it, he could potentially perform a finishing blow while meeting the statue in strength, should push come to shove. All the while, his lack of flying skill would be set aside to meet the stance’s requirement. A good plan, if he did say so himself.
    Velvet placed both hands to her mace and held it before her as a pair of golden rings took form around her, spinning around her while moving in rising and falling arcs. Once they vanished beads of light like sparkles surrounded her as she took a battle stance.
    “Heavenly Sunder!”
    She immediately took flight and rushed toward the statue with a sweeping strike. As she flew by she bashed it across the face and staggered it once. Before she flew into the ground her body turned the dive into an ascent and circled back around to hit it where the helmet was once shattered. Once more as she drifted past, she turned around to take point before it. She raised the mace skyward and a beam of light came down from the heavens and enhanced her weapon. It gave the weapon the shape and form of a a large hammer that she wielded with both hands. As she prepared to deal the final blow the statue regained its balance and prepared its axe to cut her down.
    Velvet took off and the statue brought its axe directly down upon her. The two clashed in a match of braun. At first Velvet found herself being pushed back but she focused on fighting back and she began to regain control of their deadlock. Sparks flew from their respective weapons until with one final push Velvet forced the axeman back and broke free of the lock. Without a moment of hesitation she dashed forward and smashed her hammer into the statue’s chest with an overhand swing. Following it she brought her weapon around with a right hook and blew the statue back with the force of the blow. It’s feet skidded across the floor after she hit it until it crashed into the wall.
    The eyes dimmed, the statue crouched down and the battle came to a close.
    “Wow…that was kinda scary!” Velvet blurted as she touched down and let out a sigh of relief.
    “You just love to put yourself in the most dangerous of situations don’t you? Honestly…” Amata articulated as she shrugged.
    She tossed her staff away and it vanished in a series of embers.
    “What can I say?” She asked as he rubbed the back of her neck. “Old habits die hard.”
    The Governor of Fire let out a gentle chuckle as her lips curled into a grin.
    “Yeah, and so do you.”

    Velvet rolled her shoulders as she inspected the statue.
    “Let’s give this a whirl, Amata,” she said enthusiastically.
    The Governor of Fire, however, did not share in her enthusiasm.
    “I won’t deny your strength or anything but…are you sure you can move that thing?”
    She offered her a puzzled head tilt.
    “Me? We! We can do this, together!”
    At her smile Amata blew her bangs from her face and let out a light chuckle.
    “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
    She inspected it from front to back and crossed her arms.
    “But how do you plan to push it? You launched it into the wall and we can’t get back there.”
    A couple of beads of sweat ran down the back of her neck as she too, inspected her handiwork. She raised a finger to make a counterpoint but lowered it with a defeated expression.
    “I’ll figure something out.”
    Velvet attempted to pull it from the front but could not muster the strength required for it. She let out an upset huff before she walked past it and climbed the legs to put herself between its waist and the wall. With a grunt of effort she used her body to push the two apart and much to her fortune and dismay, it did indeed slide forward. This resulted in her falling to the ground.
    “Ow ow ow!” She cried as she rolled over and rubbed her bottom.
    “There’s a lot I can say about that, but hey, you did it. Good thinking. Albeit somewhat flawed.” She told her with a chuckle. “I can see the difference in strength, though.”
    “That makes two of us,” Velvet answered somewhat sulkily.
    Amata grinned as she leaned against the statue.
    “Don’t let it get to you. I think you’re alright just the way you are. Rather, trying to imagine you with bulging muscles is a little…disturbing. I think I prefer your pre-pubescent, girly figure.”
    “That’s not a compliment.” She muttered as she pouted.
    “Good one.” Su said from within the gem.
    “Right?” Amata smirked.
    “Why is it at times like these that you guys actually agree with each other?” Velvet asked as she placed her hands to the statue and began to push it herself.
    “Hang on, I know it isn’t much but I can still offer my help.” The Governor of Fire said with a snicker.
    The two pushed it to the landing and upon doing so a bright beam of light pulsed outwards from it and the other three buttons.
    “Think that did it?” Velvet asked.
    “Must have. We should go check out the exit again,” Amata answered.
    “Alright, let’s go!”
    Without another moment to spare Velvet swept her up once more and spread her wings to descend to the lower floor.
    Amata closed her eyes and her lips curled into a frown.
    “Nope. Still not ready for this.”
    The pair landed and upon letting the Governor of Fire stand Velvet began to fade away. TJ opened his eyes and stopped playing his guitar before he regrouped with his companion.
    She eyed him from head to toe before nodding with approval.
    “None the worse for wear. That’s pretty handy.” She said with a grin.
    “Exhausting though…” He sighed before he smiled slightly.
    “Well, nothing for it then, let’s get a move on!”
    At her behest the two proceeded past the statue they defeated and to the next room. At Amata’s gesture the door slid open and offered them access to the next place in their journey.

    The following room was one that was similar, but also eerily different to its predecessor. To their left was what seemed to be an empty abyss. It was darkness as far as the eye could see. There was no railing nor walls that would prevent challengers from falling into it, and as one would expect, to find out what awaited at the bottom was not a welcome prospect. To their right was what seemed to be an ascending ramp towards a higher level. Directly ahead were a pair of holes accompanied by a single landing with another button upon it.
    TJ swallowed hard as he glimpsed into the abyss.
    “It’s uhh…pretty dark down there. I’d hate to fall in it.” He said awkwardly as he inched himself towards the wall.
    The Governor of Fire cocked an eyebrow at his statement.
    “Hasn’t anyone ever told you, ‘don’t look down’?” She asked.
    “Probably. But I mean, not looking at it doesn’t mean it’s not there, you know.”
    She chuckled. “Yeah, yeah I know.
    “At the very least, there aren’t any giant statues around here that we’ll need to beat up to put on those buttons.”
    She approached the nearest button and crouched down to get a better look at the distance of it.
    “Though it’s hard to tell when standing, this gap is pretty huge. If we’re gonna try and get across, either we’ll need to fly or use an ability I-”
    “Look out!” TJ shouted as he ran to her side and held out a hand. “Frozen Buckler!”
    At those words a sphere of water took form before his hand before he clenched a fist and moved it inwards, a short stream emerged for him to grab hold as it froze and spread out, forming a buckler.
    Almost immediately after it took shape a fireball collided with it and melted the shield, causing the Abellan to hurriedly shake his hand off.
    “Ooh that’s hot!”
    “T-thanks,” Amata said.
    She whirled on the balls of her heels as she rose to her full height and caught a glimpse of a robed and hooded humanoid figure. It wore a tattered, crimson robe with gold embroidering and carried a gnarled wooden staff in skeletal hands. The edges of the bottom of the robe were frayed and looked as if they were burned away, still alight to that very moment. From within the hood the duo could only make out a deep darkness.
    “I hate fuckers who fight dirty!” She snarled as she raised a hand skyward and manifested her staff in a series of flames.
    She fire hopped over TJ and used the wall as a jumping point to perform a second. As she flipped through the air she outstretched one foot as a flaming aura surrounded her body.
    “Salamander Dive!” She roared as she soared towards it.
    Though no legs to speak of it leapt from where it stood and avoided her attack. She skidded to a halt and turned around as the aura diminished only to catch a glimpse of the spirit drifting down.
    “Flame Shaman or not, you’re not gonna get away from me!”
    “I’ll back you up!” TJ shouted as he outstretched a hand. “Hailstone!”
    “Mortar!” Amata snarled as she placed a hand to her side and a flame crackled to life in it.
    She hurled it into the air above the Shaman and detonated it, causing fire to rain like bombs on the surrounding area.
    TJ formed another buckler and took cover under it as the flames nearly fell on him too.
    Much to the dismay of the two, from beneath the Shaman’s robe a burst of flames would occasionally be emitted, allowing it to maneuver the barrage of attacks.
    Amata looked furious, yet envious. “Bastard! …I need to learn to do that…” She muttered as she watched it drifting to the ground.
    Shortly after it touched down near the door and aimed its staff at TJ.
    “Get out of there TJ!”
    He swallowed hard as he dropped the shield and pressed himself against the wall to avoid the launching of three fireballs at him.
    “Close call there…” He muttered as he wiped his brow.
    He stole a glimpse at them as they all came to a halt and amalgamated into one ball, then launched themselves back at him. Without a moment to spare he immediately dashed up the ramp and nearly bumped into Amata as she took off up the second flight upon it. The spell continued its pursuit and the latter soon found herself at a dead end.
    There were stones in front of her that seemed to have some unusual markings and grooves in it that may have meant they served a secondary purpose. However, given the current circumstances, they were nothing more than an unneeded extension to their current vantage point.
    She turned to him with a panicked expression.
    “You willing to block it again?” She asked with her voice edging on desperation.
    “No way! It’s huge!” He answered glancing back uneasily.
    “No choice then!”
    Without another word she walked past him and leapt off the ledge to the lower section.
    “You’re kidding!”
    He glimpsed the fireball coming to a halt once more before it neared him. He took a deep breath, leapt down and landed hard. He let out a pained and muffled groan before rising to his full height.
    “Here it comes again!” Amata said to him as the two glimpsed the Shaman ascending and aiming its staff at them.
    A small flame crackled to life before it and moments later it unleashed a torrent that threatened to engulf them. The Governor of Fire held her staff out with one outstretched hand and met its onslaught with her Flamethrower spell. The two remained in a deadlock for a time, their flames collided and fanning out, draining the oxygen in the surrounding area.
    “Persistent bastard…” Amata muttered as beads of sweat ran down her cheek. “Now’s your chance TJ, see if you can catch it off guard!”
    “I’m on it!”
    He stepped out from behind her but backed away slightly so as not to be caught by the flames.
    Though it seemed that he was just taking cover, which was not entirely untrue, he was counting the seconds that the Shaman had remained airborne. Just as a Cerebian can only remain in flight for so long due to stamina, he was willing to bet that Shaman had a limit to how long it could do so also. This could lead to two potential ways they could defeat it.
    TJ placed a hand to the top of his right wrist and aimed it directly at the Shaman.
    “Freezing Wave!”
    The moment he spoke the spell it seemed to shift its head in his direction moments before the spell reached it. It broke away from the deadlock with Amata and drifted aside as TJ struggled with all his might to follow after it with his spell. Amata managed to catch it off guard and set the weapon hand aflame.
    The two ended their casts as the Shaman fell towards the landing in a heap.
    “Thirteen seconds!” TJ cried out excitedly as his right arm fell limp.
    He learned something new about the spell today—the first thing, being that it takes a lot of mana to maintain it for a prolonged period and the second, it is a great strain on the body.
    “What’s with the timer?” Amata asked as she glanced over her shoulder but for a moment.
    “I’ll explain later!”
    “Make sure you do.”
    Without another word her body moved in the opposite direction, leading her down the ramp towards the seperated landings. As she did so small chunks of molten rock rained down on her like artillery.
    “Hit the floor, Amata!” TJ shouted as he glimpsed over the edge.
    At his request she performed a short hop and skidded against the ground before planting her staff in the stone. As she swung around the weapon, three fireballs drifted over her head. She rose to her feet and withdrew the weapon, dragging it behind her moments before she transitioned into a fire hop. The fireballs that were launched reversed and followed in her wake.
    “You’re mine now! Explosion!”
    She spun her staff over her head once and pointed it down at her target causing a couple of bursts of fire before a single massive conflagaration blasted them both. The brunt of the spell hit the shaman while the force of it blew her away, up towards the higher landings.
    “H-hang on! I gotcha!” TJ shouted as he ran back and forth to predict where she would land.
    She collapsed upon him and they both groaned.
    “Well…I appreciate the effort…” Amata muttered as she rubbed her buttocks.
    “Just…doing what I do best…” TJ uttered as he arose to his knees.
    The Governor of Fire looked alarmed as she caught a glimpse of the shaman returning from the flames and smoke beneath them. After her attack the robes it wore were heavily damaged as was its weapon, but it persisted in flight. As it aimed its staff down at them what seemed like a cackle sounded from it as it prepared another spell.
    A magic circle with the herald of fire took form behind it as it raised its staff skyward, both hands tightly clapsed around it.
    “What the—this is bad! Stay behind me TJ!” Amata said as she outstretched a hand.
    “Something big is coming, isn’t it? Are you sure about this? Will you be alright?” He asked, fear edging his voice this time around.
    “It’ll be fine. I told you already didn’t I? I’m not just God’s Governor for show.”
    Flame spheres began to appear in the general vicinity of the caster as the channel continued.
    Was it using the same Ten Flames spell Amata used in the past? There was something different about it though—rather there were several, which made TJ both unsure of what it was and fearful for Amata’s well-being.
    In spite of this, he kept a close eye on how long the shaman had remained airborne. If there was an opening at the end of the spellcast, it would be his chance to strike.
    As the spheres continued to increase to upwards of ten, almost fifteen, the magic circle disappeared and the shaman began to cackle again before it pointed its staff at the two. The flames before them crackled to life before they exploded in succession, each in a solid line directed at Amata.
    “Flame Eater!”
    She put her right hand forward and just as she had before, created a vacuum that pulled the spell to her one after the other. She gripped her wrist with her free hand as she grit her teeth, struggling to maintain the spell as more and more joined in the first few. The effect waned somewhat but she still persisted.
    With a couple seconds left on the clock, the Abellan saw his chance and stepped out from behind his companion.
    “TJ what’re you—ngh!” Before she could ask she was met with another blast from the spell and turned her concentration back to the other incoming shots.
    “I’m gonna put this plan to the test!” TJ shouted as he drew his guitar but held it with the base skyward. “Here goes…Broken Wings!”
    He hurled the weapon through one of the fireballs and the moment it collided with the shaman he vanished. He reappeared upon it, the two both airborne above the abyss. Just as he appeared, the shaman’s flight ability began to give way and they began their descent. Before it could retaliate, TJ pulled his weapon into an overhand swing and bashed its face, causing it to plummet downwards before he spread his wings. With a single beat he brought himself into a backwards ascent, flipped through the air once and touched down on the second section of the landing near the Governor of Fire.
    “H-hey, I stuck the landing!”
    A fuming Amata stomped over before she bashed him over the head with her staff. With a quiet whimper he crouched down and rubbed his head.
    “TJ you idiot! What do you think you’re doing, doing something that dangerous?! Do you know what could’ve happened if you botched that?! You could’ve died! And with the way I am now, I couldn’t have helped you! Jeez!”
    Without another word, she pouted, tossed her staff away and stormed off.
    “You totally deserved that,” Su said.
    “D-don’t rub it in…” he muttered under his breath.
    Since Amata went up the ramp, it was safe to assume that she would stand on the button there, so the one on the lower platform was up to him. He was thankful that she stormed off the way she did or she may have insisted on taking the more dangerous route of the two. If her wings had healed, she may have been able to handle it with ease, but as that was not yet the case, he felt better about going himself.
    When he approached he got a better look of the situation at hand. There were two landings and the second had the button upon it. They were rather small at that, so to jump too far or not far enough would result in him falling into the abyss. Judging by the fact that the shaman the two had just fought had not come back out, it likely went much deeper than he could and would like to know.
    He let out a nervous chuckle before he steeled his resolve. Without another moment of hesitation he backed up and got a running start before he leapt towards the first landing. As Amata had said, even with a broad jump he could not make the distance. He flapped his wings once and touched down on the platform safely, using the wall to steady himself.
    From his current location, it seemed the gap was about the same distance, but this time he would not be able to get a running start so he would need to use his double jump ability to make up the momentum he lacked to make the distance.
    He took a deep breath. It was true that one wrong move and he would fall to his death. It was also true that he promised Peorth he would see Amata through this trial, that the Governor of Fire herself was waiting on him and Peorth was at home also, waiting for him to return safely. His burning desire banished his fears and he decided to go forward with a strengthened conviction.
    He leapt from where he stood, flapped his wings once and safely landed atop the button on the second landing. The moment he touched down, it sunk beneath his weight and a green light pulsed from beneath it, through a series of veins in the wall and up towards where Amata stood.
    The sound of stone shifting and grinding after eons of a lack of use sounded through the room and the two platforms near the Govenor of Fire began to rise and fall in succession.
    TJ made his way back across to the ramp and once he touched down he collapsed to his knees.
    “Thank God Ah that’s over! Can’t stand heights!” He uttered with a relieved chuckle.
    He was not sure if he was thankful or even more terrified of the abyss in comparison to knowing exactly where he would fall and upon what.
    “Heeeeey! TJ, the lifts are working now. You coming or what?” Amata asked as she leaned over the landing.
    Her bangs fell into her face and she blew them away before she blinked. It seems that she was not as angry as she was but a few minutes ago.
    “Yeah, I’ll be right there.”
    He made his way up the ramps and waited with her for the nearest landing to descend.
    “You know, while I was flying through the air, I saw another Flame Shaman up there. Are you ready for another fight?” She asked as she cocked an eyebrow.
    “There’s not any holes up there, are there? Or another abyss or something?”
    “Nah, just solid ground and a wall. You’re gonna have to change your stra—huh?!”
    TJ fist pumped with both fists at her words.
    The Governor of Fire chuckled and shook her head as she shrugged.
    “Well, I guess judging by that it doesn’t bother you any huh? We’ll just have to beat it down the regular way.”
    Moments after she said that the landing neared and stopped next to them, allowing them to board.
    “We should be fine,” he said. “As long as we can keep the fight up here, it’s our advantage. A Flame Shaman has some decent aerial movement, but nothing like yours.”
    She smiled slightly. “Y-you think so?”
    He nodded proudly. “Definitely. If we can keep it airborne for the maximum length of time, we’ll be able to get a free shot on it when it lands, so long as we can avoid any spells. This’ll be an easy fight.”
    “I’ll take your word for it then.” Amata said as she turned to the landing they arrived at.
    Upon it they caught a glimpse of another Flame Shaman drifting back and forth before it turned to them with a screech.
    “You ready? Let’s show it who’s boss!”
    Without a moment to spare Amata fire hopped from where stood to draw the attention of the Flame Shaman. She hopped again as she placed her left hand to her right and pointed a finger.
    A flame was ignited on the tip of her finger and launched towards the shaman, igniting its robes and causing it to fall away.
    “You’re up, TJ!”
    “I’m on it! Five Arrows of Light!” TJ shouted as with each sturm of his guitar the arrows took form.
    He launched three in succession as he stormed towards the shaman. It retaliated by pointing its staff at him, unleashing a torrent of fireballs. As he caught a glimpse of the incoming spells he dashed to and fro while continuing his approach, finding it more difficult to avoid as he got nearer.
    He stole a glimpse back fearing that the spells would circle around for him, but at his glimpse he noted that they were ordinary fireballs, ones that only moved forward. As he turned his focus back to his enemy he only glimpsed a fireball and was blasted back by it, tumbling away after it burst upon him.
    Amata got within the maximum range of her next spell and summoned her staff, then slammed it down before her.
    “Illusion Fire,” she snarled.
    A series of rising flames arose before her as she rose to her full height and glimpsed TJ rising to his feet again.
    “You alright?”
    “Yeah, I’m okay!” He answered as he dusted himself off. “It wasn’t a strong spell but it caught me off guard.”
    “Alright, let’s keep the onslaught going!”
    As Amata approached it turned its staff on her and unleashed a torrent of flames.
    She stepped aside and aimed her staff at it with a single outstretched hand as she shouted, “Flame Burst!”
    A small trail of fire shot forwards before it burst where the shaman had been a moment before.
    “Shadow Dive!” TJ shouted as he leapt on the spot and vanished in the shadows.
    He leapt out of the shaman’s shadow as it retreated and placed a hand to its back.
    He reeled his hand back as the spell took form and pounded his fists together.
    He held his guitar out with both hands and a bright glow overtook the entirety of it due to his augment.
    As the Hailstorm spell came to an end he fired two more Arrows of Light, following in their wake with an overhand bash of his guitar and a horizontal swing to knock the shaman towards Amata.
    “Good one TJ!” She shouted to him as she fire hopped over it and placed both hands downwards.
    “Falcon Torrent!”
    Once she touched down both prepared to continue their attack but found themselves retreating when the shaman screeched and circled around as it levitated again. As it moved, a bouquet of flames was spread in its wake, making it near impossible to get in from any angle, save for directly above it. It ascended into the air and performed the same spell the last had, magic circle and all.
    “We’ve gotta cancel the channeling!” Amata said to him hurriedly, her gaze darting in his direction also.
    “Leave it to me!” TJ said as he prepared his guitar once more. “Broken Wings!”
    He hurled the weapon but as it soared through the air, one of the flames suddenly burst and launched it away from him and across the room. At first he watched in shock, then came disbelief.
    “I’ll put a stop to it!” Amata said as she held a hand to her side and a flame took form. “Lion’s Dance!”
    She hurled the ball towards the spirit and as it bounced through the air a shower of spark and flames rained down upon it, but despite the fact the spirit was not deterred and accepted any pain that would come from the spell.
    “This bastard is even more persistent than the last…” she muttered in disbelief also.
    TJ clenched his fists tightly. They had one chance at hitting its weakness, but they would need to get past the onslaught of fire blasts it was preparing. To add insult to injury, he was disarmed and without his weapon he could not perform some of his best spells. That aside, Amata could not use Flame Eater a second time, or she would have likely suggested it already.
    What were his options? To use Frozen Buckler against a spell with that much momentum and general force behind it would likely harm him. It offered him mobility, but he could not rely on it here. Perhaps his best bet would be to use its vision against it? If it could not hit what it could not see…
    “Amata, I’ve got a plan!” TJ shouted to her as she gave him an ‘OK’ sign from afar. “I just need you to bring me my guitar!”
    Without another word she dashed away to reclaim the weapon.
    TJ cracked his knuckles as he took a deep breath.
    “Here goes! Ice Storm!”
    He raised a hand skyward and three massive chunks of ice surrounded him before they shattered and he began to spin. As they rained down around him, the area was covered in an icy mist. Step one was complete.
    “Ice Fear!”
    One after the next he created a series of icicles that created a sort of labyrinth upon where they fought.
    Amata stopped after she reclaimed the guitar and looked on in disbelief.
    “What the hell is this?! Do you know how hard it is to get over these things?!” She complained.
    “I’ve got it! I just need you to throw me my—whoa!”
    TJ dove aside as a line of flames rushed past him and hit one of the icicles, followed by a second before it eventually fizzled out. It seemed to some degree, his plan had worked.
    Amata threw his guitar to him before she took cover and waited for his next order. He was thankful for this.
    It was not long before another fireball was launched towards him. He was running out of time before his spells wore off, and the upkeep of the mist was rapidly draining his Special Power.
    He broke out into a sprint and two fireballs were launched at him, causing him to slide on the ground and pound his fists together as he whispered, “Frequency!”
    As his eyes flickered to green he oustretched a hand and caused some of the stones nearby to shift, drawing the shaman’s attention to them. Once it did so, he gauged the distance between him and the wall by memory before he planted his hand to the ground.
    “Spell Suspension!”
    At his words a small magic circle took form above his hand and solemnly turned.
    “Iron Maiden!”
    The magic circle dissipated, becoming a thin green streak of pure energy that surged into his hand, entered the stone and made its way to the far wall where the magic circle took form again.
    As the sound of another fireball erupted he dove into the stone to avoid the spell and emerged once more before preparing his next cast.
    “Venus Fly Cannon!”
    He outstretched his hand at there different locations, each cracking the stone and releasing a plant in the shape of a massive venus fly trap. Fireballs were launched in succession and as they were, he created one more next to him.
    The moment it arose from the earth, it opened its maw and swallowed him whole before closing back and pointing toward the shaman. Without another moment to spare he was launched at it, moving at incredible speeds. He drew his weapon and once in range performed a takedown, their collision slowing his momentum as the two began their sudden descent.
    The moment they hit the ground TJ bashed its weapon off of the landing with his own and raised the shaman to his height by shifting the stone beneath it. Before it could retaliate he slammed the base of his guitar into its chest and dragged it along with him towards the spell he had delayed.
    The magic circle dissipated and the earth shuddered as a stone iron maiden took form and opened up as the two approached. With the momentum of his dash he hurled the spirit into the device and outstretched a hand to slam it shut.
    A series of sparkles along with a trail of blue mana emerged from the iron maiden before it dissipated, leaving nothing in its wake.
    TJ huffed a couple times, sat back down and let out a long sigh.
    “That’s that!”
    The mist faded, the icicles shattered and Amata approached looking rather impressed.
    “That was pretty cool. But I can’t help but wonder why you have a torture device turned spell…” She muttered as she eyed him warily.
    “Torture device? Which one?”
    Amata cocked an eyebrow but shook her head.
    “You know, maybe it’s better that you don’t know. Just…don’t ever use that on me okay? I’ll die too, F.Y.I.”
    “Eh? I wouldn’t do that! I’m not some psycho killer!”
    She grinned as she laughed.
    “Sure, sure. So you got any more torture devices hidden you’d like to share, Mr. Not psycho?”
    He pouted at her words.
    “I think that’s enough teasing you for now. Too much and I might actually make you mad.”
    She grinned impishly as she gave him a gentle pat on the back and went on ahead.
    “Let’s go find out what’s waiting for us just past this door.”

    Last edited by TJ on Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:41 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Wrong page numbers)

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:40 pm

    Innocent is the Dark Souls of Frequency:
    So with the arrival of Monster Hunter World and Valentine's Day right around the corner, I've thought up some great card ideas for your significant hunter buddy. Here's a few:
    I'd take you over a palico any day, Valentine.
    You're the honey to my bitterbug, Valentine.
    I'd give you four carves, Valentine.
    Let's make like bizzy bees on Valentine's Day.
    I'll spit-roast you like a well-done steak, Valentine.
    I've studied the Qurupeco to summon just you, Valentine.
    I want to mount you, Valentine.
    I want to carve your skin and wear it like armour this Valentine's Day.

    This is good stuff, Capcom! I can't be slain, repelled or captured, but I can sure as hell be hired! Now's your chance!
    It's gonna be and my right hand this Valentine's Day too, but that's A-OK! So let's get down to it!

    Now you're probably wondering, why are the pages in the 500s? The reason for that is I botched the formatting ages ago so I've been going back and editing, little by little. QoL changes, really. Sometimes slight changes to dialogue and whatnot. What's here is the rough draft after all. They're probably gonna be wonky for a while longer since I made major changes starting here also--in that I separated the dialogue, actions and thoughts into their own paragraphs. In some cases, actions follow dialogue, but not vice versa. There are still some mistakes I haven't gotten yet, but it's tough to get 'em all when you do your own corrections.
    Back to the matter at hand, well, leaving the obvious stuff aside, Velvet's buffs are mostly created by me. Bravery Shout is from LT--I think Vincent used it too during USSR, so you don't need mana to do it, FYI. Same with Guard Impact. I was gonna mention the effect(though explained before) but I covered my ass there! Heck yeah! As for Helm Splitter, it's not a stance chain. It just has a secondary attack that TKs can use. Repel and Blessed Strikes are two new skills she hasn't used yet. The first isn't strength based. Rather, it's based on the velocity and strength of the attacker, rather than the defender. The harder they hit the defender, the greater the effect of repel. It does have a base effect, though, and it works with magic! As for BS, it's a three-hit buff that gives a weapon a light effect that also increases the damage the user puts out. The third strike is the strongest among them, hence how Velvet broke off so much of the face.
    If the reason TJ was struggling to fly wasn't obvious, it's because he doesn't know how and of course, the differences between each person. The amount of energy he'd expend moving himself with his double jump in his own body isn't too high, since he's light and lightly dressed. Since Velvet has armour and a different shape to her wings, the how of it changes drastically.
    So Amata's got a new spell! Salamander Bombardment. As you've seen and will continue to throughout the chapter, most of those attacks are a precursor to her other spells. Like the Arrows/Spirits of Light, the spells can be upgraded and gain new effects as a Mage gains mastery over their element. You don't see that as often with TJ or Su because the two still have a lot of growing to do, but you can get a good idea of it with her. That aside, all the jumping around wasn't necessary lol. She's just a show-off.
    As for Elemental Sigma, it's an attack that can typically follow up any large-scale fire spell. The stronger the spell, the greater the effect of elemental sigma, as she can get more power out of it.
    One of the things I love about this chapter is that both in and out of battle, you can see their relationship slowly developing. It's mostly one-sided, but Amata's becoming something of a softy. It's nice.
    The last stance introduced is Heavenly Sunder, alike to Blessed Strikes, it gains strength after a certain amount of hits. Unlike it, however, is that it has a duration once the spell activates.
    One of the things I like about Temple Knights is that they use a mix of magic and stances, both in-game and in Sanc. For example, Runic Blade, their ability to heal and a few other skills showcase that. I'd like to be able to display that also as TJ occasionally summons Velvet to fight. They use Mp in game also!

    Moving on to the next room! This one was a little inspired by Ys. Origins, I think. Used to play that game because I'm a masochist. There was this weird desert area dungeon??? Adnt his one enemy that was RIDICULOUSLY hard to kill! It'd take me like 5 minutes to kill it everytime, but the worst part was it respawned if I left the room! And it was super friggin' fast too! Also it'd fuck me up if it touched me. It was seriously maddening. But back to the matter at hand, there were lifts like the one here in that game. There might have been a gaping abyss? I don't think you could fall in it and die. I remember the quicksand though...pretty sure that could kill you.
    So! TJ used a new spell called Frozen Buckler. The effects of it are obvious. In truth, it's more or less part and parcel to Caster's Workshop, but in this case the spell forms itself over a short period of time, rather than having him do it. Thus, though pre-defined in design, it can allow him to do other things while it takes shape.
    As for Amata, she can't use Dragon Dive without her wings. Since it requires her to take flight and literally dive at her enemies, she has to settle for a spell with a lesser effect.
    Now here's a little piece about spirits! I wanted to make the spirits somewhat different from your typical Agasura or beast. Agasuras in most cases will use everything they have at their disposal to take out their enemies as quickly as they can. They don't particularly fear death, so they'll fight until they can't anymore. Beasts, or animals, don't usually have spells or stances, so they use what evolution offers them. As you might see in Inno, however, is that when close to death they consider retreating, and more often than not take on a defensive stance. In the case of spirits, they have spells and stances that they'll use as a last resort. Typically much more destructive and time-consuming in comparison to the others that they use. It's not just a last resort to defend themselves--it's also to ensure that the challenger can't proceed any further if they're not worth their salt. In the case of the God's Governors, chances are they could get past that defense mechanism. As for others, they would likely not have a means around the attack and would find their battle party wiped out. The shaman's spell is one example of this, as is the exploding Will o' Wisp.
    I realized this chapter that Amata rarely, if ever, keeps her staff. There wasn't a particular reason as to why initially, it was just her thing. I considered the possibility that she doesn't like to bear the weight of it so she manifests it as the need arises. However, I think the origin of this was USSR and how when she summoned Bharva, he brought it with him.
    Also TJ's fear of heights remains unchanged. Continuity. In spite of that, he's coming up with plans during battle regularly and he's willing himself to overcome his fears, via the power of friendship. Little by little, he's growing a spine. Hopefully by the end he'll become a really good heroic figure, and one that the development warranted. My biggest fear is that the change is jarring to readers.
    In that same vein, I wanted to show how the two improved as a team steadily throughout the dungeon. Though they don't have any tactics planned beforehand, the synergy between the two improves as the battles plays out, and their trust in each other grows. Through this, they can chain spells and stances between each other to keep their enemy at bay and prevent it from retaliating. The following fight shows this as the two use offensive spells and movement abilities to make short work of the flame shaman. Of course, it's not always the case lol. When TJ creates the labyrinth, it does deter Amata but it allows him to put his plans into action. I personally love how she gets mad at him for it. It's really in line with her character.
    Following the rest, two new spells are introduced. Spell Suspension and Iron Maiden. Spell Suspension is best used on spells that don't require any further input from the caster. For example, if he used Five Arrows of Light, the spell would manifest but would have no direction, so they would remain where they were summoned. If summoned to him, they'd follow him and be launched upon his command. Iron Maiden was perfect for this because it's a stationary spell that activates upon being summoned. Spell Suspension could work with things like Hailstone or Warden's Wrath, though!
    The last spell re-introduced is Venus Fly Cannon. Something he originally used in the battle against Pandora(Chapter 3). When he used it then, it was enhanced by the Frequency so he was able to create a plant big enough to consume all of his allies.
    Here's some trivia for you! That spell is actually based around the boko baba plant from the Windwaker. I personally loved the Korok Forest and Deku Leaf, so it's a real throwback for me. Something I suppose I remembered back in 2013 I think? I can't remember if I wrote that chapter in 13 or 14.

    Anyway, that's all for now! More eventually, probably. I find myself hard-pressed for time these days as I balance school, writing and work. I have a job now, btw. I wash dishes. It's not the most glamorous job, but the pay is good and I have some great co-workers. For once, I don't hate my job.
    That aside, I've gotten into GranWaifu Fantasy. It's a slippery slope lol. 50% of the reason I play is the waifus, the other 50% is Elysian Gran. He's just...really handsome, alright?! Fight me IRL. Started in September I think, been playing since. It hits that nice little spot that keeps me busy and keeps my thoughts out of the gutter that is negativity. It's nice. It also allows me to multitask, reading tweets, listening to podcasts and occasionally surfing the web. Given that there's so little time to do all these things in a day, I have to try and cram it all in at once wherever and whenever I can. Also, it's pretty meaty for a mobage! Seriously!
    ...I've become mobage shill trash. There's no going back for me. Send cats.

    Story-wise, I've been writing 3 simultaneously. Sanc, Inno, and the next iteration for Another, Pomf and Circumstance. In spite of the name, it's probably gonna be the most serious of the bunch so far, and from there will continue to escalate. People didn't like the episodic and casual nature of the earlier ones so I decided to run with some old ideas to spice things up and change the dynamic. Also there's gonna be sexy time. Cause I need practice.
    Everything else aside, I'm going back to HF14. My body is ready for more hot samurai boys...and uhh, furries I guess. I'll wait for my bunny girls, Yoshi P. I'll wait, Fantasia in hand.
    Anyway, I've said my piece for today! At some point I'll probably go on a tirade my tin foil theories for some of the games i played lately, but I should show some restraint. There's plenty to talk about regarding Sanc, though! Soon! Probably. If I have time?
    Until next time!

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:56 pm

    Pages 537-546:
    Without further ado the two moved on ahead towards the door and Amata reached out to it. At her touch the door opened up and gave way to what seemed to be a long corridor. It went on a downward slope and was much lengthier than the two initially suspected.
    “The other doors typically didn’t have corridors like this. What do you think is down there?” TJ asked as he looked around warily.
    “I dunno. A boss maybe?
    “I mean, we definitely have to backtrack with that suspicious door waiting for us at the entrance. Maybe there’s just a bunch of traps waiting down there for us like that other room? Either way, I’m willing to bet whatever goes into that door is near here,” Amata answered.
    “If we are going to get into another fight, we should probably prepare. Are your wings okay? I can play you a song again if need be.”
    The Governor of Fire stopped to ponder the matter a moment. She spread her wings, flapped them a couple of times and nodded with confidence.
    “I’m good to go! Whatever’s waiting down there for us, I can take it on with all my strength.”
    “No heroics this time though, okay?”
    “Hmm?” She asked with a devilish grin half-visible over her shoulder. “I could say the same to you. You’re the king of heroics, after all.”
    He rubbed his neck sheepishly.
    “Well let’s both try and be safe. Sound fair?”
    The two reached the end of the corridor and found themselves at another door. Amata reached out to it and it opened without issue, leading the two to a room that was nearly pitch black.
    “This is… familiar,” the Governor of Fire muttered.
    “We… we can use our mana, right?” TJ asked.
    He clenched a fist and a bright light took form before he hurled it into the center of the room.
    “Sunlight,” he shouted.
    It grew in size over the course of travelling and finally stopped in the center.
    The room lit up due to his spell and revealed a mural that spanned the entirety of the circular area. In the middle, encased in a prism of glass was a small spherical object, likely that which they needed to open the door. The roof was high, allowing for a series of landings to line the walls nearly an entire floor above them, each with a stone wall brazier. In between each of these were a series of age-old weapons that were hung on the wall—most rusted and likely unusuable now, but some still maintaining their shape and original design.
    Much to TJ’s surprise, it was not those which drew Amata’s attention but the mural on the wall. Like a child in a candy store, she let out a cry of pure joy as she examined the markings on it that told of a story likely familiar to her.
    His shock at the sight caused him to break concentration and his spell burst, leaving the two in an encroaching darkness.
    “S-sorry! Hang on a sec I’ll create another,” he shouted hurriedly.
    “It’s alright. Here,” Amata answered.
    A flame crackled to life, revealing her face, a small portion of her torso and the hand that created it.
    “It’s a lot easier for me to maintain a flame like this than for you to maintain that spell right? Saves mana too.
    “More importantly! You’ve got to get over here and see this!”
    TJ chuckled as he acknowledged the request.
    He was glad that for one thing, there was no Apep hidden in the darkness, or any other Agasura for that matter. It also made him happy to see Amata so enthused. In this regard, she reminded him of his other companions who had a distinct love of history.
    As he neared he glimpsed the mural himself and felt rather baffled at the sight. If he was to hazard a guess, it seemed to depict people—humans, possibly. They were armed like humans, with bows, swords, spears and other such weapons. The same as those that were used currently. There was however, one thing that threw him off.
    “Why are they all… purple? They’re humans right? Or are they Cerebians?” TJ asked as he tilted his head quizzically.
    Amata blinked in disbelief.
    “You don’t know?” She asked in turn.
    “Know what?”
    She laughed.
    “Those aren’t humans or Cerebians. They’re Svartálfar.”
    “Dark Elves. I’m surprised Peorth never taught you about that, considering how much she knows about the history of the Asgardians and the nine worlds. Like the Jotun, they have a world of their own called Svartálfheim.”
    “So why are they here? And all of them armed? Were they adventurers that lived on Midgard too?”
    TJ’s memories did not mention nor show any such beings. Was it possible that they were a type of Agasura he had never seen? Though he could not recall any that used conventional weapons, except for Choen Palm. Did she count as an Agasura?
    “It’s… hard to say. I mean, maybe they were adventurers on their world but they certainly weren’t here.”
    For some reason both the Jotun and Svartálfar decided to side with the Agasura. If they had a world of their own, they weren’t likely Agasura but… it raised some questions. If there were nine worlds, four of them TJ knew, five he did not, was it possible the other five might side with the Agasura also? Would he have to fight them in the future?
    As Amata walked along TJ began to see more and more of them, both men and women, some armoured heavily and lightly, all of them surrounded by a strange mist. Further on, he began to see strange things that accompanied them. What seemed to be ghosts of sorts the same colour as the mist that surrounded the Svartálfar. He began to feel a sense of doubt with dread that tinged the edges of it.
    “They were…” Amata continued, “… well, I had read they were the enemies of our ancestors. That they fought alongside Asmodeus against Lady Amae, God Ah and her saints.”
    TJ grit his teeth.
    So it was true? Though it may have been eons ago, the fact that they were so alike to Humans may have meant that their futures could have been different. To add insult to injury, the fact that there were none upon Midgard now, may have meant that they were completely wiped out in that battle. The weight of that truth alongside his own duty weighed heavily upon him. Would he too, have to commit the genocide of the Agasura as God Ah’s Right Hand? What proof did he have that his path was truly just?
    As Amata continued along TJ glimpsed some creatures that were not the Svartálfar, but rather actual Agasura. Those he had recognized from his journey. Though the drawing was unusual and perhaps did not capture the essence of it entirely, he glimpsed a dragon. That which he had fought in one of the earliest memories he had found, Invoke, alongside Iris and her companions.
    “Isn’t that…?” He asked as he stopped to look at it.
    “Hm? Oh! Yeah, that’s Invoke. Bet’cha didn’t know that it’s actually been around since then! Legend has it that when Asmodeus was defeated along with the Seven Sinners, the Saints went on to create the Instance Dungeons to seal away all of the guardians. That way, no matter how many times they were defeated and resurrected, they’d remain locked away.”
    As she proceeded along the wall, TJ glimpsed another Agasura, but one that he was not as familiar with.
    It seemed to be a turtle of sorts, one with a shell as massive and with similar characteristics to that of a mountain.
    Upon seeing it, a searing pain was inflicted upon his eye and he tightly gripped his face until it subsided.
    For the brief period it was there, however, he recalled a memory.
    He saw himself, Iris, Muwen and his strange flying companion along with one other person, all fighting against that very Agasura. A woman with long, straight scarlet hair and sea blue eyes. She wore a black cheongsam with a flower print, crimson cuffs and collar-line, with a red skirt. She carried what seemed to be a two-string instrument with a long neck, and a stout base. In her other hand she held a bow to accompany it.
    Was she possibly a bard of sorts? TJ had never seen a weapon like it.
    Once the feeling had subsided he shook the feeling off, yet the memory remained.
    “Hey, you alright?” Amata asked with a fearful expression.
    “It’s okay, I’m good. I just remembered something.” He answered with a sheepish grin.
    “Something to do with Hyunmu?”
    He looked back to the mural.
    “Is that what that thing is called?”
    She nodded.
    “Yeah…it was that. A memory of my time with Iris. Though there was someone I can’t quite remember. A girl with scarlet hair…she must’ve been one of Iris’ party members at the time.”
    “Sounds like Shaowee.”
    “You know her?”
    “I don’t know her but I know about her. If she’s a part of your past, it might be a good idea to seek her out. Unlike most of Iris’ party members she’s one of the few who actually settled down. The last I had heard of her, she lived somewhere in Yong Gyoung.
    “I heard she was pretty strong, but wasn’t much of an adventurer anyway, which is probably why she isn’t pursuing Iris like the others are.”
    A possible clue to Iris. When he acquired time to search for her again, it would be a good idea to follow up on that.
    Amata went on and he glimpsed what seemed like a sort of dragon.
    Unlike Invoke, it had a different shape. Rather, it was more reminiscent to Amata’s own spirit. While Invoke and Sorvir had some similarities, it was closer to Bharva and Grislan. Oddly enough, TJ could not recall anything upon seeing it, but he could not help but feel that there was certainly something there.
    “This one’s the Ocean King. I…find it kinda hard to believe that he would side with Asmodeus, all things considered. Maybe he was brainwashed?”
    She looked to him.
    “Nothing come to mind when you see this?”
    He shook his head.
    “That Iris visual I saw mentioned him, but I don’t remember a thing about him. There’s something there, though. I’m sure she met him… she must have. But my memory isn’t resurfacing.”
    “Hmm…well, I guess there’s some complications to your amnesia huh? Well let’s keep moving. There’s still a lot to see.”
    As they proceeded to the next one Amata stopped and looked at it with a befuddled expression.
    What confused her seemed to be a flaming bird of sorts. TJ could not recall seeing or hearing anything about it, so he found himself just as confused as her.
    “The hell is this…? A phoenix? Did he have something like that? I haven’t seen one since… hey, Su.”
    “Whaddya want?” Su asked.
    “This familiar to you at all?”
    “Hell no! If I’d fought that thing before I’m sure he’d have recognized it.”
    “I guess some spells don’t have backgrounds. Man, that trail went cold fast,” Amata muttered under her breath.
    Invoke, Hyunmu, the Ocean King and now a phoenix. It seemed that these were the guardians Asmodeus had brought to destroy Midgard in the past. If three of the four were known to TJ in the present, was it possible that the phoenix among them was also somewhere on Midgard? Had he fought it with Iris? Or had she gone on to do that following their separation?
    There had to be more Iris Stones that contained the truth he sought, but in order to find the answers to that he would have to go beyond the Abyss Ruins. So long as the Sinners were about, he could not devote himself to such a grand task. Unlike the early stages of his journey, he had promised himself to Peorth and his co-operation with it. Now, unlike then, he was duty bound. To find Iris and to save Midgard… the two were not mutually exclusive… right? One had to happen for the other to come to be, according to Peorth.
    “Hey,” Amata’s voice snapped him from his reverie. “Don’t think too hard about it. There might only be four here, but that might not be all of them. There are other guardians out there. We haven’t seen nor fought them all, but I’m sure the artists just didn’t depict all of them.”
    “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”
    He smiled bitterly.
    It would likely be best if he did not let his thoughts get mired in memories of Iris and his concern for her whereabouts. He had chosen his path. Had he pursued Iris, he may have never come to know that he was the Abellan and come to terms with his relation to the Asgardians, the Agasura and his part to play in their battle.
    Moving on he glimpsed what was without a doubt, Rabana. It seemed that the Rabana he had come to know was not as menacing as that of the past version. Here, he was more muscular and the flower that grew from his head was much larger and more intimidating. Accompanying him was the Malign Shroud, and to some degree, it fit the name quite clearly. Something about it was reminiscent of those strange ghosts TJ had seen prior, but it too, was different from the present Malign Shroud. Did integrating him change something about it also?
    The two pressed on and it seemed they were reaching the halfway point. As they did so, they came across what seemed like a winding shadow that spanned a fair portion, around it were strange ghosts, each marked with a differing set of characters and with some kind of… face. The Abellan had found it hard to describe, but even more so to make out because of how disfigured and unusual they looked. Upon reaching the end of the shadow, he found something that took up the entire mural from top to bottom, and he could not help but feel that it was indeed Agasura King Asmodeus, the disfigured ghosts that accompanied him his seven children.
    “That’s him, huh?” Amata asked as she furrowed her brows.
    TJ’s face was hard, contemplative.
    What he saw before him was not the Asmodeus he knew. It raised several questions. The man he saw in the memory, Adonai, may or may not have been Asmodeus, but he felt almost certain that the two were one. There was also no denying that the man who lovingly spoke to Avaritia was the same Asmodeus she held so dearly. So what was this beast that they deemed to be him, along with those strange beings that followed him?
    Even more so…what was this feeling he had at the sight? For what reason, would he feel insulted on Asmodeus’ behalf?
    He placed a hand to his face and shook it gently. So much was happening in such a short time it was confusing him. At the same time, it made him fearful of the truth. If this was any indication, he was seeing the battle and Asmodeus’ family depicted in the eyes of the common Cerebian—those who built Rayinth’s Vestibule. Perhaps they did not know him like TJ had. Yet...he hardly knew him.
    Amata looked even more concerned than before.
    “You holding up okay? I guess seeing all of this is taking a huge toll on you mentally, huh? Sorry about that. We can leave the rest and move on.”
    The Abellan shook his head.
    “No, let’s go on. I want to… no, I feel I have to see it. I don’t wanna look away from the truth that I’ve searched for.”
    Her expression lightened up slightly. The Governor’s look something that edged the brink of disbelief, but it was soon followed by a bright smile.
    “Yeah, I guess that’s just like you, huh? You’ve got guts. I like that about you.
    “Well, come on then. The other side should be some of the Cerebians from then.”
    As they continued on towards the center, what the two came across shocked them both. What was there seemed almost like a tear. It was akin to a black hole that seemed to separate the Asgardians and the Agasura, but rather than just sucking everything in it seemed to be spreading outwards.
    If TJ recalled correctly, Curt had said that a war broke out and tore the world asunder. It was the battle between gods that had blighted the land and created the Jienda that he knows today. Magic made most of the land levitate in the air and created all sorts of strange landforms. This mural depicted that very event, it appeared. It seemed though, that it was not just the gods battling, but also a variety of others. The guardians, the Dark Elves, perhaps Lady Amae and everyone who followed in her wake. What of Kera? What of all the humans who armed themselves, learned to utilize the Frequency and decided to go to war?
    It was both incredible and unbelievable that TJ could see the world’s history chronicled upon a single wall. It supplemented what he knew, but it did not provide enough information to draw a concrete conclusion.
    “The hell is this thing?” Amata asked as she raised her hand in an attempt to make it out.
    “Hard to say. A clash?” TJ asked as he scratched his cheek.
    Perhaps this was one of those times he could not speak the truth. With his own personal feelings about Asmodeus, what he knew about this entire scenario and Amata’s own fervor spurring her on, he was hard pressed to confide those concerns in her. The best thing he could do, would be to seek out his remaining memories through Memorius Sanctum to find the truth.
    “Let’s keep going.” Amata said as she made her way over.
    As she did so the sight of a masterfully painted woman came into his view. The flowing dress, the radiant aura, all save for her features seemed to say that it was Lady Amae. Unlike the real one, her hair was white, she wore a veil and a billowing white dress adorned with all sorts of ornaments.
    As TJ had initially thought, perhaps those who painted the mural had not seen Asmodeus or Lady Amae herself, and depicted what they imagined the two to be like. However, most of it was so detailed it was hard to believe that the two most prominent figures were unknown to them. Did Lady Amae not reveal herself to them? Or was she like God Ah, in that one could not so easily look upon her and see her as she is? Was what TJ saw of her and Adonai their true forms? Even more so, if he existed during that time, what was his?
    “I’ve seen all sorts of depictions of Lady Amae. Some people have seen visions of her and glimpsed her magnificence in their dreams.” Amata knit her eyebrows. “I guess it’d be kinda presumptuous of me to think that I could meet her if I went to Hanamah but… even now, I still believe it.
    “I’m willing to bet that those that have seen her really did. But maybe they saw her in different forms because that’s how she chose to appear to them. It’s not a bad hypothesis, right, TJ?”
    He remained completely appalled by her speculation before he realized she was indeed, talking to him.
    “Huh? Oh yeah, definitely!”
    Leaving aside how close to the truth she was, she may have just imparted some new knowledge upon him about her. It seemed that Lady Amae had reached out to various Cerebians. For what, and if, remained a mystery, but such a possibility was one he would like to keep in mind going forward.
    As she moved forward she let out a light shriek of excitement. “TJ look! It’s Valkyrie Leigha!”
    It…actually looked exactly like her. Armor and all—the bushy eyebrows, the icy blue hair. This one was mounted on a horse. He himself, had never seen a horse, but he recognized one somehow.
    “Ooh! Ohh! They even have the Saints following her! Look, here’s Dolce the Maven, and Fahim the Kindred and-”
    “H-hold on a second, Dolce is here?!”
    TJ hurried over and looked on in disbelief.
    As Amata had said, she was there too. Appearance wise, she was the same, outfit wise she was different, but it was without a doubt her. It felt rather surreal seeing her there. He had seen her in Amae’s memory, heard her voice, held her hand even… seeing her here made his heart ache. It meant that at some point, her time had come. That she had passed on to the other side, along with all of the other Keruz. Though he himself did not know her, he felt as if he had.
    “You know her TJ? Didn’t think you were interested in Cerebian heroes!” She puffed out her chest proudly. “Well you’re in luck! You won’t find anyone more knowledgeable about the heroes from that age than yours truly!”
    He was thankful for her assumption. He nearly gave himself away.
    “Yeah, I’ve heard a bit. What about the others?”
    “Well this girl over here is Miha the Matriarch, and that there is Tiramin the Clairvoyant—ooh there’s Revai the Warden and Sola the Spine!”
    TJ blinked. “Are those their titles?”
    “Yeah. Most people don’t know them, but it’s what a lot of spells and stances have their basis in.
    TJ placed a fist in an open palm at the realization. There were spells that he used that often mentioned the Warden. To think that he knew the Warden himself brought him a bit of pride…and yet more sorrow. The Keruz of the past and present, most had already gone.
    If what she said was true, there were others he was as of yet to come to know. If he collected the other pages of Memorius Sanctum, would he meet them? Here they may have just been a memory immortalized, but then, they were people. Just like he and Amata.
    “Hm? Isn’t there only six of them? Where’s the seventh?” He asked with a puzzled glance.
    What followed after, judging by the appearance, was God’s Governor Rayinth. The flaming mantle and hair, the fiery wings, he was unmistakable. Amata likely donned that appearance as his descendant.
    “I…I dunno. I’ve spent years trying to find out who the seventh Keruz was. Let alone if there even was one, but there’s no proof of it. All the scholars say that it was just the six. Some think that they kept the seventh spot for you, TJ.”
    He pointed to himself in disbelief.
    “M-me? Leigha’s Keruz? No way!”
    The Abellan did not know Leigha. At least, he did not think he knew Leigha. Let alone the six saints.
    He rubbed his neck uneasily.
    It was speculation…just speculation. Amata herself said the scholars and others could be wrong. The truth could only be found by him and the Chief. But…that was the closest he had ever gotten to the truth about himself regarding that.
    She did say that she found herself fortunate that she was the one to have formed a contract with him. Leigha being her ancestor, it was possible they could have also. If she had, what would the world have been like today?
    “Yeah, that’d be kinda crazy huh? But who knows? Maybe you’ll become one of Peorth’s!” Amata suggested with a teasing grin.
    “I’ve got a long way to go before that happens.”
    As Amata went forward TJ glimpsed God’s Governors Undine and Dione. One beautifully wrapped in a deep sea blue dress and the other an ice blue, their hands joined. Though they took different forms, the other aspects of them were exactly alike, just as it was with Peorth and Freya. It seemed the two were twins also.
    Following them was God’s Governor of Earth Terramane. TJ had never seen his look before, and found himself rather surprised at the sight. The mantle of leaves accompanied by wings that were reminiscent of Sellistar’s. Even upon his green hair were tiny flowers spread throughout.
    “Is that what I’m gonna look like when I transform? That’s fuckin’ lame,” Su hissed.
    Amata snickered under her breath. “I guess you got the short end of the stick huh?”
    Without a moment to spare Su began cursing at her.
    The last of them was God’s Governor of Wind. Despite knowing two of them, he seemed to be an enigma that evaded any knowledge TJ had of him. Even his name. He had silver hair, along with a white tunic and pants. Unlike the others however, he seemed to be levitating—almost sitting in the air. Yet he had no wings to speak of. The sight left the Abellan baffled.
    “Amata, do you know the name of God’s Governor of Wind?”
    She blinked.
    “You don’t? Man, you’re a real oddball.” She laughed as she grinned. “That’s God’s Governor Arafaar. Now you know!”
    He could not resist smiling at her cheeriness.
    It seemed this really was something she loved. Upon glimpsing these things with her, he could not help but feel a little closer to her than before.
    “Of all of them, I stand by my belief that Rayinth has the best design by far,” she remarked.
    As she moved further along the wall, TJ glimpsed a variety of Cerebians, but none that particularly stood out to him and perhaps Amata also.
    Perhaps they were heroes in their own right, but not those that had such a distinct place in history like those that preceded them. Still, to have been immortalized here, there must have been people that recognized their heroism.
    “You know, I recognize every one of these guys,” Amata began.
    TJ squinted in disbelief.
    “I could tell you all of their names and what they did.”
    She grinned as her eyes crinkled.
    “But…those are stories for another time. If you’re ever interested, don’t be afraid to ask, okay? Being able to talk about all of this stuff with you is fun.
    “But the time for that stuff isn’t now. We’re here to beat Rayinth and that’s what I wanna set my sights on. However I can, I wanna help you to find the truth. To find out just who you are. And I guess, to help you be the Abellan you were meant to be. Maybe Rayinth couldn’t, but I sure as hell will!”
    He beamed.
    “Without a doubt. Let’s show ‘em this generation’s Governor of Fire is not to be underestimated.”
    “Uh huh!” She said as she placed a hand to a curled arm.

    The two made their way to the center of the room and stopped at the glass case.
    “This is it huh? With this we should be able to open that door.” Amata said as she inspected the small spherical object.
    “Nothing’s happened yet, but I can’t help but feel that there’s a trap waiting for us. Prepare yourself, okay?” TJ suggested as he knit his brows.
    “Oh I’m expecting a battle alright. So you better be ready too!”
    Amata reached out to the glass and the moment she did, it cracked. She leapt back as TJ retreated also and further cracks were made in the glass. From within, four streams of fire surged and curled around into the air before they gathered upon the case.
    “Here it comes TJ!” Amata shouted as she manifested her staff.
    Once the flames had gathered, a surge of wind was released carrying the remnants of the flames with it. Amata took to the Abellan and blocked the two with her barrier as a blinding light followed in the wake of the gust.
    “You who would trample upon this sacred place…” A powerful, androgynous voice spoke, “… know the full weight of your actions and the price to be paid! Prove you are worthy of the seat of God’s Governor of Fire, or your life shall be forfeit!”
    As the light dimmed the two glimpsed the being that spoke to them in the now lit room. Two rings that rapidly spun levitated in the air. Six wings emerged from them and connected to the spokes in the inner ring was the same gem the two had their eye on. Upon both rings, a series of eyes appeared and seemed to focus upon the two.
    “Ophanim!” Amata said as she armed her staff.
    “Ophanim? W-wow…that thing’s creepy!” TJ said as he armed his guitar also.
    “This is our chance! Let’s get the first strike, TJ!”
    Without another word Amata spread her wings and rushed to the spirit. Upon reaching it she outstretched a hand and a ring of fire surrounded Ophanim.
    The ring closed in on it as she backed away and it blew up in a massive conflagaration.
    As the smoke began to part she glimpsed the being, completely unharmed.
    “You’ve got to be shitting me!”
    The rings of the spirit began to turn faster and the eyes opened wide. Upon glimpsing that, Amata noticed the ground beneath her began to heat up and she immediately retreated from the spot as a pillar of flames arose from where she once was. Upon touching down, it was followed by a second, third and continued on as she immediately took flight and rushed around the area.
    “I’ve got your back!” TJ shouted as with a single strum of his guitar he summoned an iceberg. “Here goes!”
    He outstretched a hand and it cracked.
    “Shattered Berg!”
    The iceberg shattered to pieces and the chunks immediately flew towards Orphanim. Despite each of them hitting it directly, it seemed to ward off every single blow without taking any action at all. The pieces shattered on contact and dispersed.
    “Huh?! It didn’t affect it at all!”
    “Well this is getting a little ridiculous.” Amata hissed as she finally was able to come to a rest. “Let’s try some other things, TJ!”
    She flew up into the air and held a palm skyward as a flame crackled to life in it.
    “I’ll destroy you! Scorn!”
    She closed her fist on the flame before she hurled it to the ground beneath the spirit. Despite witnessing the spell however, it did not move in the slightest. Where the flame had touched down, it sparked to life once more in an explosion.
    “That do it?” Amata asked as she caught her breath.
    Suddenly a piercing red laser cleaved the smoke and flames in two and drew a line across the wall and through Amata. Moments after it passed a line of explosions followed in its wake and downed the Governor of Fire.
    She let out a short cry as she was shot down and quickly descended to the ground. The Abellan rushed after her and dove with his arms outstrectched to catch her before the two hit the ground in succession.
    “Thanks… and sorry.” She said as she urged herself to her feet and patted out the embers on her singed coat.
    As TJ did so also, the two glimpsed Orphanim once more, completely unharmed. Even more so, it seemed that despite Scorn being placed directly beneath it, the explosion only occurred around it.
    Amata squinted at the sight before she shook her head in disbelief.
    “Did it…did it absorb my attack? What the hell is this thing?”
    “Let’s try changing tactics. We’ve only used magic thus far, so maybe we’ll have better luck with physical attacks?” TJ asked with a shrug.
    “You’re not gonna… just hit it with your guitar, are you? I mean, I get that it’s kinda standard fare for you, but I don’t imagine that’ll end well.”
    … It may have been an idea that crossed his mind.
    “I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve! Let’s do it, Su!”
    “I won’t expect much, but I’ll help you out,” the Governor of Earth answered.
    He placed his guitar to his back and pounded his fists together.
    His eyes flickered to crimson and he quickly dashed away as Ophanim launched a series of fireballs directly at them.
    Without another moment to spare he held out his guitar with a single hand.
    “Demon’s Armoury!”
    A crimson energy surged around him before gathering to his weapon and giving it the form of a sabre.
    Without a moment to spare he rushed to Ophanim with the momentum of his sprint leading his stab. As the weapon neared the spirit, it came to a sudden halt and nearly threw the Bard off balance. However, in those moments he glimpsed what seemed like a grid that surrounded it.
    “One more!” He shouted as his body twisted and he performed a wide cleave.
    Once more he glimpsed the grid and noted that it seemed to have a barrier protecting it. As he prepared to retreat Ophanim opened all of its eyes and a sphere of flames took form before it burst in TJ’s direction. Caught in the blast he was thrown backwards in a ball of fire before he skidded to a halt on all fours; his weapon had returned to normal and his eyes did also.
    He got to his feet and removed his hood as Amata regrouped with him.
    “What happened? Your blade couldn’t reach it at all!” She said with a baffled gaze.
    “It has a barrier. It reminded me of ours but… I can’t think of any that block physical attacks too.”
    “A barrier?”
    She placed a fist into an open palm.
    “It makes so much sense! Hang on TJ!”
    Amata took a deep breath before she closed her eyes. Upon opening them, her pupils had shifted into triangles. She seemed to be scanning the spirit before shifting her gaze higher and around the room.
    “That’s it! That barrier it has must’ve been erected by whatever these tethers lead to.”
    TJ squinted with a puzzled expression, not having the foggiest as to what she saw. To be able to see a barrier manifested though, she likely had used the Mana Sensory ability. Something he, as of yet, could not do.
    He felt a hint of shame at the prospect.
    “I’m gonna go check this out. Think you can keep it busy for a while?”
    “That, I can do.”
    At those words Amata spread her wings and took off to one of the landings that were attached to the walls of the room.
    “Alright, let’s shake things up, Su! I’m gonna borrow one of your spells!”
    “Are you now? Heh, let’s see it,” the Governor of Earth answered.
    TJ pounded his fists together.
    As his eyes flickered to a jade green he slammed a fist into the ground.
    “Elemental Dominion!”
    The moment his fist touched the ground an icy aura surrounded him before the entire arena was bathed in a coating of ice.
    Despite the change Ophanim seemed unaffected. While the two had spoken it had prepared a series of fireballs that it launched in succession at the Abellan.
    He immediately dashed aside before transitioning into a skating form. As he skated around the spirit and avoided the spells he began to strum his guitar. With each pluck of the strings a series of icicles would take form and be launched at the spirit. Though the spells did not make contact, their collision against the barrier and subsequent melting from the fire spells casted by Ophanim created a field of mist, allowing Amata to work unhindered.
    Ophanim began to shine brightly as it levitated higher for a time.
    “Oh…this is bad.” TJ said as he skated closer to the wall.
    It began to lower itself and upon doing so, a ring of flames surrounded it before it began to expand slowly. It was followed by a second, third and fourth.
    “You’ve gotta get outta there TJ,” Amata shouted to him.
    The landings that lined the massive room were high enough to evade the attacks but they were far too high for him to jump.
    “I-I can’t reach,” he cried out.
    “This way!”
    She waved him over and he skated around the outskirts of the room, the rings enclosing on him.
    Amata leapt off and held her position in the air for a time as he neared. He skated over, spread his wings and leapt towards her. With a boost from them he managed to place his hand in hers and she barely managed to haul him up on to one of the landings.
    “Man that really takes a lot out of a girl…” she huffed as she edged her way over to a torch and lit it.
    As she did so, the Abellan watched as the barrier that surrounded Ophanim became visible and melted away.
    “All of the tethers are taken care of. I can’t sense the barrier anymore either.”
    TJ nodded.
    “Yeah, I think that did it! You ready to strike back?”
    “Oh I’ve been waiting for this!”
    She spread her wings before a flame crackled to life and spun around her body.
    “Dragon Dive!”
    At those words what once surrounded her burst and enveloped her in flames as she shot directly at Ophanim. She hit it head-on and it was launched through the air.
    “TJ, can you hit it with Freezing Wave?” She asked as she took flight in pursuit of it.
    “Y-yeah! I’m on it!”
    He leapt down to the lower floor and angled himself to meet its descent. He placed his left hand to his right wrist.
    “Freezing Wave!”
    It took a couple seconds to steady himself but he managed to focus it on the falling spirit.
    “Chew on this! Falcon Torrent!”
    Amata met his beam with one of her own and the clash of spells caused a series of rapid pulses of searing winds before they were followed by a single outward burst.
    Ophanim came crashing to the ground and rolled away as Amata landed and took a breath.
    “Quit standing around and follow it up, idiot! Beat the shit out of it while it’s guard is down,” Su urged him.
    He glimpsed across the arena and saw that the spirit was still recovering from the last attack. He could use a spell, but would that suffice? It’d probably be best to hit it fast and hard with a chain of stances.
    “Yeah. Alright, here goes.”
    He took a deep breath as he raised a hand skyward and clenched a fist.
    “Sloth, Wrath! Inertia!”
    As he lowered his fist a surge of energy surrounded him and shifted the gravity around him, causing the ground beneath him to crack. He armed his guitar and dashed forward without a moment’s hesitation.
    Once Ophanim glimpsed his approach it opened some of the eyes on the outer ring and a series of fireballs were launched at him. With the increased speed from his stance he narrowly avoided them both as he ran headlong towards it. The final sphere was launched directly at him and despite it bursting upon him he shrugged it off and continued his sprint. The moment he was within melee range he leapt as his body turned once and he bashed it with enough force to throw it into the wall.
    He hauled his guitar over his shoulder before he flipped through the air twice and slammed it down, shattering the earth beneath them.
    He raised a hand and waved it in what seemed like a beckoning motion before he placed the weapon down by his side, the neck held by both hands.
    “Fury Chute!”
    Wind gathered above it in the moments he hauled the weapon over his shoulder once more and as he brought it down, it surged forth upon the spirit with severe intensity. Following the first, another series of blasts followed suit, hammering Ophanim without mercy.
    The spirit did arise again as TJ backed off to recover, however unlike before, it was heavily damaged. The feathers upon its wings were damaged and loose, many of the eyes had closed and pieces of the rings had fallen off or were dented. As it took flight again it repulsed the Abellan and regenerated its barrier.
    “Did you notice?” Amata asked as she ran over. “It seems that it’s a lot weaker when the barrier is down. The effects of its spells weren’t half as strong as they were with it up.
    “Still, judging by the shape its in, we’ve got the bastard on the ropes. Same plan?”
    “Same plan.” He grinned.
    She offered him a confident grin back before she took off.
    “You feel that? I dunno what it’s doing, but I get the feeling something big’s coming. It’s probably getting desperate.
    “Don’t you go dying to some mid-boss, you hear?” Su asked him.
    The Flame Shamans also used stronger spells when they were weakened. Like an animal cornered, what kind of tactic would it use to defeat them?
    Some of the eyes opened and a red glow took form upon the pupils. Suspecting it was the laser, TJ spread his wings and leapt through the air the moment he glimpsed the beam being released. It cut a swath across the wall and was followed by a series of explosions in its wake. However, the onslaught had not ended. It followed with another set as TJ began his descent and followed him as he made his way around the room.
    He found himself in a bad way. If he was to create a mist to hide himself, Amata would likely be targeted. If he was to try and blind the spirit, he would need to do so from a close proximity to lower the risk of it changing targets.
    He began his approach anew, avoiding the lasers by skillfully using his wings to change direction upon jumping and weaving his way through the air. Ophanim seemed to notice this and opted out for using homing fireballs instead. As he approached, TJ noted that they were much harder to dodge and the rate at which it could create and fire them was incredible. Luckily for him, it seemed that all of his training had borne fruit and he managed to approach with only minor burns from a few grazes. Nothing that could pierce the cloak he was gifted with.
    As he neared, Ophanim began to levitate higher as the eyes all faced skyward. TJ outstretched a hand to create a mist around the area but quickly found himself forced back by the spirit. A shield of flames surrounded it and pulsed outwards, blasting the Abellan back and singing his dominant hand in the process.
    He grit his teeth and hid his hand within his cloak as he further pondered his options and his next course of action.
    “TJ! Something big is coming! Brace yourself” Amata shouted as she leaned over one of the landings.
    “What?! Where?”
    He could sense that Ophanim was expending a lot of mana over the period of time since it regenerated its shield, but it did not seem to be on any of the attacks it used against him.
    He glimpsed directly above him and as she had told him, it was there. A massive magic circle with the herald of flames loomed over the two. From within it, a series of spheres of fire took form before they shot down at the ground with immense force. Upon hitting the ground they burst into a halo of flames and spread outwards across the arena.
    Despite being out of the immediate range of the blast, the searing wind alone burned the flesh on his face slightly. Much to his dismay, it was not a spell that ended with just one blast. They continued to rain down in succession, whittling his ability to resist the attacks and draining his stamina. With each blast the heat and pain that accompanied it became more intense, even through the cloak.
    “Hang in there a little longer TJ, I almost have it!” Amata assured him as he glimpsed her flying from one platform to the next briefly.
    He would have to hold on until she could finish… but would that bring the spell to an end?
    With a wave of his off-hand he created a shield of water around him that he froze. A shield similar to that which Kooh had formed but one that also did not have the thickness of it. The fire bombs continued to rain down and though he was safe inside of his shield for a time, he could tell it would not last. The heat from the spells was steadily melting the shield. The straw that broke the camel’s back was one of the bombs collapsing directly on top of him and raining scalding hot water upon his head.
    With a pained cry the spell dissipated and he fell away desperately wiping the water from his body with the cloak.
    “Are you alright?!” Amata asked in a panic.
    Her fear soon turned to anger as her hair lit up and the flaming manacles took form around her arms and legs. She took flight and landed next to him before she held a hand skyward.
    “I can’t summon Bharva in here but there is something I can do!
    “Ardent Keeper!”
    She outstretched her hand and as she did so the roar of the dragon pierced the battlefield as its golden form appeared and surrounded them. Judging by the shape and size, it was indeed Bharva, but it seemed he had taken on a spiritual form. Now coiled around the two, the flames that once surrounded them seemed to have no effect upon them.
    “Eye of the Storm!”
    At her words three pillars of flame shot up from the ground as a magic circle featuring the herald of flames took form.
    Ophanim, completely drained from using it’s ultimate spell and having its defenses lowered once more weakly watched as Amata prepared her own.
    As the flames circled back around and gathered upon her weapon she held it out, the fury in her eyes evident. She rapidly spun the weapon and unleashed a tornado of flames upon the spirit.
    “This is the end for you! Passage of the Keeper!”
    Bharva’s eyes opened before he uncoiled from around Amata and as if in pursuit of the flames themselves, he shot towards Ophanim and coiled around it before emitting a powerful glow. In a matter of moments both dragon and spirit blew up in a massive conflagaration.
    The stone the two sought out flew through the air and bounced a couple times before stopping at Amata’s feet. She bent over and picked it up before tossing it through the air and catching it.
    “Game, set and match! This one’s ours!” She said with a bright grin.

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:25 pm

    What's In the Box?:
    So, I originally wrote a long post here, but my lovely cat(If I haven't mentioned him before, his name is Toby) decided it was time for bed, and to that end, jumped on my computer's power button. Lost everything I was going to post. He does it typically at least once a day. Went on some spiel about my past and Persona. It was pretty good! I don't think too many people liked that, though. Nor did they like my comment about a certain Eternal with a great booty. Regarding him, I'd be okay with him giving my Gran a spider-man kiss. ...What?
    The worst part is, I didn't get to the best part! My level 100 autism. I have some brilliant(read as 'ridiculous') theories about various games I played, such as P4G and it's relation to P5, all of the Supergiant games, GBF, and some about FF but those ones are a little too austistic to be spoken of here. Do
    Now before anyone gets mad, I know that's not how you should use that word and I do so full-well knowing this. Nonetheless, if I intended to offend, I would use it on someone else.
    Anyway, not the time or the place!
    So? Let's get down to it!

    This'll probably be shorter than last time since I have to cover all the stuff I already did.
    Since most of it is thoroughly explained by Amata, I'm gonna jump ahead to the vision with Hyunmu. Before that though! One of the things I'd like to talk about is TJ's inner monologue about the Svartalfar. I guess the thing I like about it is that, you know, it adds a real sense of...gravitas? To the whole thing. I mean, it's not everyday you have to think about the genocide of a whole race you never met before, amirite? I guess the big thing for him is one day, he'll have to see it as it plays out and what his role was in that war. To hear about it is one thing, to live it, another. What makes it interesting is his perspective on it, given that he doesn't particularly have the same background as others do, he has a different perspective on the whole matter. Compare this to Amata, who knows the stories, who grew up with a more black/white perspective on the matter due to her upbringing. It was something better explored in USSR, but the effects of having those experiences really show how much she's grown.

    Moving on! What Amata explained about Invoke and the others was also mentioned in USSR! The History Nerd Trio shares a lot of info, but to some degree some of it would be obvious. Nonetheless! Shaowee, as mentioned here, IS in Innocent. She had an appearance back during when I was working on it in 2013. She might not be there anymore though, since it took place roughly 11 or so years ago, that is, before she joined Iris. The weapon she wielded...wasn't actually a weapon. It was an instrument called an erhu, but the way she wielded it in game, you'd think the bow was a goddamn sword. As for TJ's eye, it appears again! Finally, after a long ass time. You'll be seeing it more often and getting an idea of what it does. For now, a blast from the past.
    You know, I had thought about the characters from Sanc fighting some of those Agasura. Back when I planned to branch the story out into the 3 different paths, that would have likely followed if TJ decided to pursue Iris. It'd probably have been what gave him the clues towards finding her. Since Sanc has it's seven Sinners, it's more focused around them and their dungeons instead.

    Going back to the point before, TJ has a unique take on who and what Asmodeus is. Since he saw the visions through the Sinners' eyes, alongside Amae's, he sees the god for what it might be, not what he was taught he was. To that end, seeing him depicted there gives him conflicting feelings. However, in spite of that his loyalty still lays with the Cerebians. It might raise the question of: would he betray them if he met the man himself? Would his siblings aid their father in changing his mind? And if he did, how would that change their world?
    I don't want it to be as black and white as it seems to most characters. Hence, allowing readers to see the world through TJ's eyes gives them another perspective on the world and how events had played out. Formulate your opinions while you can! ...Then find out you're wrong! Get Happy!
    I like that TJ doesn't mention what he knows about the past. In a sense, he kept his promise to Peorth. In the other, he's protecting Amata from what could be considered a harsh truth. A reversal of sorts, to how things were in Frequency. Then, he was the character who didn't know anything while everyone else knew everything. On the other hand, it'd be like trying to convince an angel that satan's actually a good guy. This isn't that kind of story(I rather like such stories, though. They're usually pretty wholesome).

    So! About the Saints! When I was writing this scene I realized I hadn't actually named all of them, let alone decided on their titles. So the other 5 4 had to be decided on. Right then and there. I feel like I wanna change Fahim but at the same time, I think I peaked with my creativity there. Forever a peak too sooner. Each of them has a unique weapon. Once the others are introduced, you'll see what they wield but until then, you'll have to make do with Dolce and Revai. More soon? Maybe!

    So about Ophanim. It really isn't a name per se. It's a different name for a Throne. Those being, the wheels of God's chariot. Or something like that. I wikipedia's that shit, baby! I think that might be the Hebrew name? Could be wrong. In the case of Sanc, I used that name to make it stand out from the others that might appear later. In both name and appearance, it differs, along with some unique skills. Also it uhh...talks. The rest don't.
    Before I went on this giant spiel about Persona and Devil Survivor Overcooked, but this time I'll cut it short.
    So! I was raised Catholic, yeah? So before you can scold me for the blasphemous and awful jokes I make about them, know I'm one of them. Strayed away from god's light, though, after discovering the internet. Anyway, I've given the bible a once-over or two. Learned a few things, speculated on a few too. Angels, though? Sweet baby jesus that shit is nothing like I pictured them to be. They're goddamn terrifying, the whole lot of them. Hadn't realized until I played DS. Thankfully they're portrayed differently there, in some cases, but the real things are horrifying. Though I suppose my feeble human mind can't comprehend their greatness and beauty or something. Still, my opinion of them is reflected through TJ, somewhat lol. It's the kind of reaction he'd have and I made it so. You agree, right? Just look them up. These things will give you nightmares!
    Back to the matter at hand, those games are where I developed the idea that they would have an affinity for fire. Though after reading about them, I can see why. It was mentioned that they'd appear in a wreath of flames or something along those lines, so...it's likely that the creators knew and applied that knowledge. It makes me think that in many and more cases, it's the same for other personas/demons. To that end also, it drains fire attacks, hence why Amata's spells had no effect. In this case though, as the fight shows it was the barrier's effect.

    Anyway, that's enough about that. Other things!
    I couldn't help but think of Sonic and Tails when Amata lent TJ a hand getting up to that platform. Maybe I had Sonic Mania on my mind at the time? It was probably around the time the hype train was picking up speed. I promise Amata's quote wasn't a reference to Akihiko! Purely coincidence!
    Moving on to TJ's stances, Inertia was one that was tricky to come up with. I always thought it meant something different, like making something too heavy or just immovable. In a sense, it does mean that also, but it can mean that something would keep moving until stopped by an external force. Thus, it gave the effect of allowing him to shrug off blows so long as he kept his forward momentum. It would take something with more impact to break the stance, though!
    I think this was the first time he used Sledgehammer, but it's a pretty straight-forward stance. It's just a heavy hitting downward strike. Nothing else to it! Fury Chute isn't exactly a Wind based spell. It's a stance, but it does require the user's own strength to increase the intensity of it. It's short-ranged, so if the enemy can escape the gathering point for the wind, they can avoid the brunt of the attack. The outward gusts however, still pack a punch and could blow away enemies light enough.
    I'd like to work more on status effects. I did give it a whirl here--Ophanim's last resort is a spell that reduces fire resistance the more its enemies are caught in the blasts. Of course, catching the blasts will have a much greater impact. Though I have to admit, when I think of it like that, it feels more like a game. However, when I write it, I have to go further into detail on the impact it has, from the singed clothes to the flesh that's burned away on impact...and that...makes it a little difficult, you know? I mean, these are my characters and I do terrible things to them all the time but...they're my characters. Even if TJ can take it, it feels bad! But even so, I want readers to feel the pressure, feel the impact of the scene and the struggle the character's go through. I want each and every battle, every scrape, cut, burn or fracture to be a lesson. If an appendage is lost in the fight, I want it to have consequences. I wanna take this story even further--to give it those elements that make it feel alive. The soul-crushing defeats, short moments of respite, cathartic victories and reunions, everything. I want to go beyond what I've accomplished thus far. If I have to go so far as to hurt my characters to do so, so be it. But I feel that they'll be closer to being alive, and memorable to those who read about their journey.
    Ah...anyway, leaving aside my spiel, Amata's got a new spell! Ardent Keeper! As the story implied, fire attacks launched while the keeper is in effect are nullified by its aura. It only lasts a few seconds though. If Amata uses another fire based spell, the keeper will follow and converge upon its stopping point, before blowing up. Nice, isn't it?

    So that's it for the update. I'm still on my shit, playing GBF. I got Forte, thinking she was Grea. Then I got Grea. I also got Jeanne D'ark, though I've been holding out for Jeanne D'arc. Now there's a Summer version and I just...I have conflicting feelings. Been saving up for best girl Sturm, but then this?!? True travesty. Also P5 collab! Yay! I've been speculating on who's gonna be the collab charas and I'm thinking if Mona happens to make it in, he absolutely NEEDS to have unique lines with Joker! You can't not have the cat and not have him say, "Looking cool Joker!" Though I'm expecting Ryuji and Anne. If there's no Futaba support summon at least, I'll cry. Seriously. The last thing I wanted to say regarding that, is that for the longest time I thought you could recruit Kirari, but she was just a support summon too. Who would do such a thing?!

    That aside, The Spaghetti Samurai and the Moonlighting Shinobi(Read as Innocent) is progressing pretty smoothly. I'm finally getting into the final part of act 2 in a 4 act story. It was originally 3, but then with a little help I had a brilliant idea and decided to break up the final act. Not that it's a secret what that act is, really lol. We've all read USSR right? If you haven't, I will find you. I'll sit you down and read it to you until you fall asleep. Then I'll tuck you in and climb out your window.
    P&C is progressing also. I wanna get to the ending quickly, but I feel if I skip the fight I had in mind I'll miss out on an important opportunity for Taliah's characterization. At the same time, I'm really pressed for time these days and because of that, Sanc has been on the backburner. The storyboarding has been going well at least, so I'm a bit ahead and can make changes as necessary. I'd like a few more appearances for a certain girl with a horny aura but I don't know where to fit them yet. But soon! Just gotta make sure it doesn't feel wonky.

    All jokes aside, I was thinking maybe I'd keep the more personal stuff to Twitter. That, and the lvl 100 autism. The two typically go hand in hand, considering who I am. It's not typically wanted here, and that's fair. People come for the story analysis. Or they don't come, I dunno. A small part of me fears the fact that the internet never forgets, while the other...I guess it's a burgeoning hope of some sort. Tried something I wouldn't have dared to do but weeks ago. To be...acknowledged(?) after all this time, made me a little happy, I think. It's an unusual feeling.
    It's been maybe...5 or so years but...I'm wondering if I should have an online presence. Outside of here. Out there, y'know? Where everyone else is. In truth, a part of me is afraid to go out there because once you do, it's hard to slink back into the shadows. On the other hand, my lack of a presence since 2013 or so might scare people away. I'll give it some thought.

    Anyway, more soon? Perhaps! Until next time!

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu May 03, 2018 2:15 pm

    Pages 546-556:
    With the battle at a close Amata turned to TJ and crouched down.
    “Hey, are you alright? It must’ve been tough for you, being caught in that. I should’ve came down to help you but…the idiot that I am, I thought if I dropped the barrier the spell would be cancelled. Took longer than it should’ve.” She said with a dejected expression.
    “Don’t worry about it. The coat took most of the brunt of the spell anyway, so I’m alright.” He said gesturing that he was fine.
    At the sight of his hand she looked mortified.
    “Y-your hand…did it do that? Are you sure you’re okay?!”
    She took it in her own and looked from it to him.
    He blinked in disbelief before his gaze softened.
    He could not shake the feeling that there was something about his burns that caused her to react that way. He wanted to ask but more than that, he felt he should reassure her.
    “It’s okay. It’s just a light burn from getting blasted back. By the time we get back to the entrance my hand’ll be as good as new.”
    She opened her mouth to speak but bit her lip. Following that, she smiled, but it was only a thin mask hiding the agony beneath.
    “Y-yeah. Of course. You’re a healer, durr. I’ll leave it to you, then.”
    As she got up and placed her staff to her back TJ placed his off-hand to his dominant and healed it over the next few moments.
    Even so, he could not help but worry about her.
    She solemnly looked about the room as if to take her mind off of it, but it was clear there was something else that bothered her.
    Once he had felt he recovered as much as he could, he decided he would leave the rest to regenerate over time. Both his healing ability as an Agasura and the passive healing from his spell would help him to recover fully over a given period of time.
    He got to his feet and the two began walking back. Though it seemed she was still trying to hide it, the regret was still evident in her expression.
    Perhaps there was something TJ could do to help her feel better? He could get her to talk, for a start.
    “Hey, Amata,” he began.
    “Hm?” She asked absent-mindedly.
    “You said you can’t use Bharva in here right? Why is that?”
    She crossed her arms as she uttered a quiet but prolonged ‘hmm’.
    The two exited the mural room and made their way back through the tunnel.
    “If I was to hazard a guess, it’d probably be that it would make my trial too easy.”
    She paused as she pursed her lips.
    “Maybe not that. Actually maybe! Though then again, there’s an abundance of mana circulating all of Rayinth’s Vestibule. If I was to summon Bharva, I’d probably to keep him with me through the entirety of the dungeon.
    “I’d bet that they could make it more challenging by limiting the amount of mana we could utilize, but I can’t say if those old guys would be able to maintain their spirits and deny us mana at the same time.”
    The two boarded the lift and began their descent to the massive ramp in the next room.
    TJ felt a bit at ease. It seemed that having something else to mull over had taken Amata’s mind off of whatever bothered her before. To see her thoughtful expression was a nice change. He considered encouraging her further, both for her sake and to sate his curiosity.
    “Though then again, it is a trial. In that, it’s meant to be a test of my strength and resourcefulness.
    “Makes you wonder though, doesn’t it?”
    “About?” He asked as he tilted his head quizzically.
    “They were wise enough to prevent people like Su from sneaking in, but they allowed you to take the trial with me.”
    She laughed heartily.
    “Those old guys really didn’t think that through, huh? You’re the best companion a girl could ask for!”
    He felt a little bashful at her words. It was nice to be recognized once in a while. It was also the proof that he was improving slowly, but surely.
    “Still, I’m glad you’re here. Now more than ever, I feel our bond is strong. Not even Rayinth could scare me so long as you’re with me.”
    “We’re getting there, and we’ll beat him when we get to him too.”
    “Without a doubt!”
    The two had already made their way down the ramps and exited through the doors to the room that was once inhabited by the statues.
    TJ rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment as another thought came to mind.
    “There’s something else I was wondering about though.”
    “Whaddya wanna know? I might have an answer for you.”
    She smiled.
    “Why is it that only the God’s Governors can summon spirits? Are there, or were there, other Cerebians who could in the past?”
    His and Su’s talk with Vanir came to mind. If Bharva grew and changed as Amata did, was it possible that he came from the same place as Skuld? It also raised the question of how Vanir went there and just who Vanir is.
    “Duh! The first Cerebian to form a contract was actually Fahim! That’s how he obtained the title The Kindred. He formed contracts with all manner of spirits and he would summon them into battle to fight alongside him. A lot of the records say that he had used cards and some of the ones that we use today, for divination and other stuff have some basis in that.
    “He wasn’t the only summoner though! There were plenty of others throughout history, but none like Fahim. I don’t know when but… somewhere along the way I guess wherever it is that we would form contracts with spirits was closed off to us. Or maybe the way to get there was lost to time.
    “One thing that did survive though, is our ability to summon spirits to us. Something that’s unique to the God’s Governors now.”
    “Why is that?” TJ asked with a quizzical expression.
    “Probably something to do with mana? I mean, most Cerebians don’t have access to theirs. But not only that, a summoned spirit requires a lot of mana from their summoner. Cerebians like you and I have a really large mana pool so we can summon our spirits and still fight alongside them. But both summoning and maintaining a spirit is a taxing thing to do.
    “By the by, a contract is permanent. Once you summon the spirit, the contract is forged. To do so carelessly could permanently cripple a Cerebian. Perhaps for that reason they decided to keep it a secret shared only with the God’s Governors.
    “But there is something that bothers me…”
    TJ hiked an eyebrow as she rubbed her chin thoughtfully.
    The two made their way from one room to the next as she mulled the matter over solemnly.
    “Did you notice? In the mural room, the mural was not only on the walls, but the floor itself?”
    He nearly leapt on the spot at her revelation. She nodded in turn.
    “When I traversed the landings I saw the final piece of it from above. It depicted the dragon that gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, Nidhogg. Not just that but…the human who tamed it.”
    TJ squinted in disbelief.
    If there was a dragon who was eating Yggdrasil, that human would likely have to be something special to have tamed it. Was it possible it was someone from the Derr Clan?!
    “I guess tamed might be a bit much. More like…controlled? It might just be an overblown myth or something, but supposedly there was a Human who had forced Nidhogg into a contract and sealed it away in the weapon he wielded. I can’t really imagine a Human being able to control a spirit, let alone one that strong, but the Age of Heroes certainly lived up to its name more than I know, if so.
    “Though there aren’t any shortage of accounts that say that Asmodeus freed him from his trapping. That mural depicted the battle so… I’ve little reason to doubt the legitimacy of it.
    “Anyway, these days since most people can’t have spirits, instead they have pets. There are some that have their origins as spirits though! Like naiads, dryads, brownies and yambi… the list goes on.
    At the sound of ‘brownies’ TJ felt his heart swell with envy for Vanir. If Vanir could summon spirits and he had a brownie, that may have explained how the two had come together.
    His train of envy came to a screeching halt as he glimpsed the dried trail of blood from their encounter with the traps. The envy subsided and his heart was struck with a pang of guilt. To hear Amata enthusiastically talking about historical figures took her mind off of other things. This was one thing she definitely did not need to remember.
    “So of Amae’s Saints, who would you say your favourite is, Amata?” TJ asked with a slight nervousness.
    “Sola, hands down!” She excitedly answered with clenched fists as she exhaled proudly.
    “Did you know? The path that most people take across Jienda was traversed by her first! During and after the war ended, she took some of Asgard’s strongest Cerebians and began a campaign that spanned from the Forest in the North all the way to Ktuka in the South! She and her men cleared the Agasura out everywhere they went, and at the end of her journey they named the path she walked Midgard’s Spine. It’s how she got her title too!
    “Isn’t she just the coolest?! I’ve always aspired to be just like her since I was a little girl.”
    TJ could not help but laugh gently at her enthusiasm. At the sight of it her cheeks flushed red and she began to pout.
    “Hey, I was being serious, jerk!”
    She pummeled him with her fists and he raised his hands both in surrender and to protect himself.
    “Sorry, sorry! I didn’t mean to laugh! I didn’t because it was funny, it was just the natural reaction because I thought it was cute.”
    She stopped hitting him and furrowed her brows.
    “You just say whatever, don’t you? Jeez.
    “Still…now you know something else about me. Better not tell anybody.”
    “It’ll be our secret.” He answered with a grin.

    The two finally arrived back at the entrance and stopped at the sealed door.
    “Here we are. You ready, TJ?” Amata asked as she looked to him.
    “Yeah. Let’s keep going. I feel like we’re getting a lot closer.” He answered with a confident nod.
    She placed the stone into the slot and backed away cautiously as the runic markings upon it lit up. The sound of stone shifted across the chamber and shortly after the door did also.
    “That was it,” Amata said somewhat in disbelief.
    “Let’s keep going,” TJ suggested.
    The two stepped inside into the next room and found their path blocked by a series of vines. The wild growth over centuries created an impenetrable wall of flora that seemed to dissuade travelers from attempting to get through.
    “That’s…that’s a lot of vines.” TJ said as he knit his brows.
    “I can clear a path.” Amata said as she held out a hand and a flame crackled to life in it.
    “H-hold on! If you do that there’s gonna be a lot of fire in a small proximity! We might just get smoked out. Let me do it.”
    She clenched her fist and outed the flames before she shrugged.
    TJ held out his dominant hand, now fully healed and with a flick of his wrist casted his next spell.
    “Elemental Mastery!”
    At his words his hand was coated in ice and five frozen claws took form.
    He took a step forward and cleaved the vines before him. He took a few more steps and with each swiped at the plants before him to clear a path for the two to walk. After going from one end to the other he returned halfway and smiled proudly.
    “How was that? Not bad, eh?”
    The Governor of Fire grinned slightly.
    “You’ve got something for every situation don’t you? Not bad at all.”
    Her grin subsided and was quickly replaced by apprehension as she noticed the vines seemed to be moving of their own accord.
    “Something’s not right here. TJ, get out of there!”
    As he took a couple of steps forward the vines sprung to life and connected where they had been cut, trapping the Abellan in.
    “W-whoa! What is this?! I-I’m stuck!”
    He struggled with all his might but could not budge in the slightest.
    “Well…I suppose this is a pretty good counter measure against anyone trying to break in with normal methods.” Amata said as she crossed her arms.
    “Speculate later, help me out of this first,” he complained.
    She laughed lightly.
    “Alright, alright I’m coming. It’ll take a bit though, I’d rather not burn you alive in there.”
    “That’d be ideal!”
    She had a good laugh about that.
    The Governor of Fire reached out to the vines and at her touch the sound of the plants being seared filled the room. Upon a group of them being burned they fell limp and remained that way. She waited to see if they would recover but did no such thing following the event. Following that she continued onwards until she could reach her companion and freed him from his binding.
    “Thanks for that. I should probably assume that most things in here, I can’t do. Save for fighting.”
    “You make for pretty good moral support too,” she chuckled.
    He pursed his lips at her words.
    “That didn’t sound like a compliment.”
    “Take it as you will!”
    With Amata leading the way the two made their way through the room right to the next door and proceeded into the subsequent area.

    They found themselves in a wide room with a set of landings connected by bridges. They were far and few between, and rather small at that. Their location was leagues above what seemed to be a basement sector to the Vestibule. From above they could see a thin strip of stone surrounded by magma.
    TJ remained frozen in place the moment they entered the room.
    “I know you don’t like heights but we can’t avoid this. You were able to get through the first set, weren’t you? This one isn’t all that different! You can do this,” Amata assured him.
    “Oh but it is. This time we can see the bottom.”
    “You and your semantics.”
    She knit her brows and he chuckled lightly at her response.
    She was right, though. Despite his reluctance, he did not forget the conviction he had resolved himself to prior. To face his fears would serve as a stepping stone towards a greater goal. Assuming that this was the only room of its type he would overcome it. A small step, one that was not easy, but one that he would see himself through.
    “Alright, I’m in. Thankfully the exit’s not far, so I’ll stick with you ‘till the end.”
    “That’s more like it!”
    Amata led the way up until the two reached one of the two bridges. She took hold of the rope and tested the sturdiness of it.
    “Should be fine, I’d say. The wood’s in good shape, the bridge itself hardly budges when I try to rock it too. We should be able to get across no problem!
    “Our main concern is that spirit over there.”
    Where Amata pointed a single spirit wandered. It seemed to be a humanoid figure made solely of flames. Alike to many of the others, it was the first time TJ had seen anything of the sort. Given that, to underestimate it and its abilities would be a grave error.
    “It hasn’t noticed us yet. Let’s get a first strike!” Amata enthusiastically said as she took off.
    TJ watched her with a hint of envy at the prospect she need not use the bridge.
    She came to a halt behind it and held out a hand where a flame took form. She gripped it and reeled her fist back.
    “Flame burst!”
    As the spell was let loose the force of it pushed her back through the air while forcing the spirit forward slightly.
    “Seems the Straw Men are pretty fire-resistant. Looks like this one’s gonna be right up your alley TJ!”
    She was as enthusiastic as ever, while he found himself in a bind. So long as he did not look down, he would be able to get across. There were no holes between the planks of wood so he set his eyes forward.
    Much to his fortune, it seemed the straw man had turned its focus to the governor in flight. It took a couple swings at her and with each strike a small burst of flames was released.
    TJ noted this, thankful that he used a fairly long weapon. That and he had an elemental advantage.
    He took a deep breath and drew his weapon before he ran his hand across it.
    “Elemental Augmentation!”
    His weapon was coated in a thick layer of ice following the action and once more he took the neck in both hands.
    He dashed forward across the last few steps on the bridge and his feet pounded against stone before he neared his target. As he skidded to a halt he took a wide, spinning swing at it and followed the attack up with Hailstorm. As the spell came to an end it was followed by a stream of fire from Amata’s Falcon Torrent.
    “Nice!” TJ said with a thumbs-up.
    “Don’t let your guard down yet! This guy’s still got a lot of fight left in him,” she answered.
    It staggered two and fro from the chained spells but regained its balance and decided to attack the Abellan. It took two wide swings as it did with Amata but the third nearly caught him off guard. It outstretched both arms before it and seemingly fired them forward with incredible momentum. TJ leapt aside to avoid the attack and swayed as he stopped on the edge of the landing.
    “Too close! Way too close!”
    The straw man seemed to regenerate its arms almost immediately after and took a couple steps forward before it leapt towards him. He dove aside and scrambled to his feet as a wave of fire followed in the wake of the spirit landing.
    Amata twirled her staff above her head before she slammed it down with incredible impact.
    “Illusion Fire!” She shouted as she withdrew the weapon and five pillars of fire arose before her, walling the spirit off.
    “Do you know any water spells TJ? High impact spells can force it back. Enough force and I’d bet we can push it off the landing. Fire is okay, water is even better.”
    “I can’t really recall any water-specific spells I knew in the past, but if it’s just basic water attacks I think I can do that.
    “Suppose there’s a lot I can still learn from Freya.” He chuckled lightly as he knit his brows.
    “N-never mind that!
    “Anyway do you think you could buy me a little time? I’m gonna prepare something with enough force to take this spirit down.”
    “Easy!” She grinned.
    As the fires of Amata’s spell died down she prepared the next.
    “Lion’s Dance!”
    She hurled a flaming ball and sparks rained down upon the spirit. In reaction it swatted at the fireball in what seemed to be an attempt to grab it, likely in an attempt to absorb the spell.
    “Wrong move! Ten Flames!”
    At those words ten massive fireballs took form and surrounded the spirit before exploding in succession.
    All the while TJ had been gently strumming his guitar to create an ever-growing sphere of water.
    “I’m ready!” He said as he raised his head yet continued moving his hand.
    As the smoke cleared from Ten Flames Amata landed by his side and pointed at it.
    “Blow ‘em away!”
    TJ outstretched the hand that strummed the strings and a torrent of water was unleashed upon the spirit. It attempted to block the onslaught but found itself being put out nonetheless. The sheer force of the water caused it to slide back steadily due to its resistance, all the while causing the body to diminish. Suddenly, the body started to swell all over despite it shrinking. This gave Amata pause.
    “…Something isn’t right here. I dunno what it’s doing, but it’s doing something! TJ, run!” She took to the air at those words.
    TJ squinted for a moment to glimpse what was happening and ended the spell almost immediately after.
    “No, no, no!” He cried out as he began to run.
    Moments after he did so the spirit lurched forward and back before it rose from the ground and exploded. The sheer force of it caught the Abellan and propelled him forward onto the second bridge. He came to a skidding halt against the wood as the ropes upon it were ignited.
    Amata landed before him and helped him to his feet.
    “This is no time to be laying about! You have to hurry before this thing collapses!” She ushered him as she helped him along a few steps.
    He shook his head gently to remove the rest of his dizziness.
    “What? Did it…?” He looked back and saw the result of the last battle.
    In a matter of moments the ropes tied to the post keeping the bridge suspended would burn away and he would fall. He had to escape and quickly!
    As TJ took a couple of steps forward another straw man appeared before him and blocked the path across. It continued forward, taking a couple steps on the bridge and slowly but surely, set them aflame also.
    “Oh no you don-” Amata ignited a flame in the palm of her hand but froze in place. “I…there’s nothing I can do here…”
    The look in her eyes was the proof of her crippling realization. She seemed even more fragile and vulnerable than the Abellan was in this scenario.
    “I’ll…I’ll figure something out, TJ! Just hang on!”
    She took flight moments before the ropes burned away and the bridge began to collapse. In a moment of desperation and reckless abandon the Abellan decided he would run forward and through the spirit if he had to. As the steps fell away from his feet and he found himself stepping on nothing, he grabbed hold of the rope and swayed with it before he and it crashed into the stone. As that moment came to pass he glimpsed the straw man falling through the air to its demise.
    “You have to keep climbing! It’s still alight on both sides,” Amata cried.
    He wanted to look down to see how much time he had before the flames caught up to him, but could not bring himself to do so. The ashes of wood and singed planks fell past him as he desperately began to climb up towards the landing. The heat from the rope burned his hands but he still persisted. Suddenly the rope he held on to jerked as the sound of it tearing drew his attention above him.
    “I have an idea! Just hang in there a little longer!”
    What choice did he have in the matter? He wanted to make a witty remark but he was so terrified he thought the only thing that would come out are desperate shrieks.
    He opted for nodding solemnly.
    The sound of tearing rope continued and TJ held on for dear life as he ran through a myriad of possibilities to get himself out of his predicament. His best plan, relying on acrobatics and his double jump ability to close the gap between where he was and wanted to be, was flawed. To jump off of the rock would be difficult because of how smooth it was, and to create too much force might cause him to tear the rope and fall.
    To his surprise Amata dove from where she stood and took flight nearby with a rope in hand.
    “Here, take this!”
    Somewhat afraid to let go of what he held on to now and yet also afraid to subsequently fall to his demise, he decided he would accept her offer. He took the rope in hand and swallowed hard. He raised it to meet his right hand and once close enough he kicked off the bridge and took the rope in both hands. As his body neared the stone again he brought his momentum to a halt with both feet and grit his teeth as the vibration from the collision rattled him.
    With a sigh of relief he began to climb up to the top accompanied by Amata who assured him that she would be nearby in case anything happened. Soon after, he reached the landing once more and managed to safely climb up before he exhaled deeply and lay on his back.
    She touched down and leaned over him with an expression that he had not seen before. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes crinkled and she had a wide smile.
    “You know, I…I’m glad you’re safe. That entire course of events was way, waaaaay too scary for me. But we made it.”
    He sat up and beamed.
    “It was thanks to you and your quick thinking. Alone, I don’t think I’d have gotten out of that in one piece. So..thanks for saving me.”
    “It was the natural thing to do, wasn’t it? Anyway, here.”
    She handed him a canteen brimming with water.
    “You’re sweating bullets. After an event like that, though, I can’t blame you.” She grinned. “Let’s take a breather so you can recollect yourself.”
    “I’d like that.” He added with a smile.

    Amata sat with him in the fettle position while he took a drink of water.
    “That hit the spot!” He said with a sigh of relief.
    Shortly after he glimpsed the grappling hook and rope tied around the bridge’s singed post.
    “Looks like those things your mom gave us really came in handy. Thank goodness for that.”
    Amata chuckled gently.
    “I guess that’s just a ‘mom thing’ huh? Meeting those needs you never know you might have,” she suggested.
    “Alvaro seemed worried about you too though, don’t you think?”
    She pursed her lips at his words.
    “If he wasn’t so over-bearing all the time it probably wouldn’t be so bad! If I was older I’d have left home already, but I’m stuck with…”
    She paused and furrowed her brows as she looked at her shoes.
    “That’s…not a very fair thing to say, is it? Our families are so radically different. I should probably consider myself lucky, shouldn’t I?
    “I have normal parents. Two of them, in fact. Your only parent is Asmodeus and he’s…” She huffed gently. “Sorry for saying something so selfish.”
    “Isn’t it fine? Having moments like those is what makes you realize how important the things around you are to you. That aside, despite how much you fight with Alvaro, I think deep down you really love him.”
    “L-love? Him?! That’s…no way! He’s just a big, hairy old man!”
    She furrowed her brows as she pressed her fingers together.
    “But I guess…he’s my hairy old man. I’m thankful for what both he and mom did for us.”
    TJ smiled.
    “Make sure to tell them before you change your mind.”
    “I…I’ll get to that! Eventually.”

    After packing up their things, the Abellan did a couple light stretches before he let out a sigh of relief.
    “Alright, I’m all limbered up and ready to go,” he said.
    “Good. It’s not gonna get an easier, so you’re gonna need that.” Amata said with a teasing grin.
    “How reassuring,” he chuckled dryly.
    She placed her hand to the door and it slid out of their vision into the stone.
    As they took a few steps in they found themselves atop what seemed to be a descending ramp. It spiralled down an incredible distance towards what seemed to be the lower section of the Vestibule they had glimpsed in the previous room. Along the walls that lined the ramp, it seemed there were a variety of traps that waited for challengers to attempt to bypass them before they activated.
    TJ grit his teeth at the sight.
    “More traps? At this juncture I think I’d take the spirits over them,” he muttered.
    Amata hiked her eyebrows mischievously.
    “But you know, the good thing about traps is you can get around them. A spirit would follow you until you take it down.”
    She seemed to have some sort of an idea and TJ could not help his own curiosity.
    “What do you suggest?”
    “You should create a ramp or something! Or a slide to get to the bottom!”
    He chuckled lightly at her comment.
    “That’s a good idea but…I’m not that good with my magic. I’d bet Su could do something like that though. Kooh likely could too.”
    “Damn right I could,” Su remarked.
    Amata squinted suspiciously at the suggestion.
    “Su, I could see doing that, but Kooh? I mean, I guess she is God’s Governor of Ice but she doesn’t seem serious enough to be that competent.”
    The thoughts of the battle with Choen Palm in Elias were proof enough for TJ. Though Amata’s response reminded him that she had never seen Kooh in action. In her defense also, even in action Kooh seemed rather free-spirited. Given the experiences of the two God’s Governors together, alongside Kooh’s natural demeanor, proving she was capable would be rather difficult.
    “I can see why you feel that way.
    “Nonetheless, I’ll just take the regular way. I’ll be a bit more careful this time, though. I’d rather not fall from here. Or get burned. Again.”
    “I couldn’t ask for more.” Amata said with a teasing grin.
    “As far as I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be any anti-air traps so I think I’ll fly down there and investigate a bit. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something off around here, so I wanna see for myself.”
    “Like the presence of a spirit? I don’t see any around here though. There might be some in the room next to this one though.”
    “Something like that…” She muttered as she furrowed her brows. “But it’s close.
    “Still, if you find yourself in trouble, scream for help. I might be able to do something.”
    She grinned at him and he could not help but smile back.
    “Alright, I’ll be counting on you then.”
    “Aye-aye sir!”
    She saluted him as her wings took form and spread out. She leapt from the landing and soared down to the bottom without a moment’s hesitation.
    “Well? You done beating around the bush? Get on with it already,” Su said.
    “You know, if I get impaled I’m gonna hold you responsible.”
    “Blame those old guys for using these tricks to trap me in this rock. Would that I could haul your sorry ass through this trial.”
    The fact that he had, as of yet, needed to be rescued by Su since they began the trial was a pretty incredible feat in and of itself. He felt a bit of pride at the prospect and found some newborn confidence.
    He pounded an open palm with his fist and decided to press on.
    He began to make his way downwards and the first thing that caught his eye was a series of totems stacked atop one another inside a depression in the wall. As he neared he stopped and waited but nothing seemed to happen. He took a stone and tossed it across and the moment it passed by one of the statues unleashed a torrent of flames. He swallowed hard before he took a sprinting stance after backing up somewhat. He ran full speed ahead before he dove through the air and transitioned into a somersault before coming to a halt. As he glimpsed back he noticed the flames of the totems coming to a rest in his wake.
    A success, if he did say so himself.
    He got to his feet and took a couple steps forward before coming to a halt. One of the stones he stepped on sunk beneath the weight of his foot and the shift made him suspicious. The sound of stone grinding as some of the bricks in the wall fell to the floor made him realize he was in danger. A series of arrows cut through the air like blades as he broke out into a desperate sprint to avoid being impaled. The sound of metal meeting stone time and again reverberated in the wake of every step TJ took down the landing before finally coming to a halt at a series of totems lined up in succession. They would breathe fire in turn from first to last and such a sight gave the Abellan pause. As he prepared to dash following the end of the first totem’s flames, he noted the last one began.
    “What the—there’s no way through! What the hell is this?!” He complained.
    “You’re not a Human, idiot. Use your brain,” Su suggested.
    At those words he clued in what he could do.
    He spread his wings as he took a few steps back and got a running start. He leapt from a greater height and used his ability to propel himself forward and past the totems. Due to the nature of the ramp the height he fell at had increased substantially, causing his landing to be rather rough. He stumbled a few steps before he crashed into the wall, finally coming to a halt. As he peeled himself from the stone and attempted to rub the engraving from his cheek the sound of stone grinding again caught his attention; this time, it seemed to be coming from above. Much to his dismay, a massive stone totem fell from the roof and landed on the ramp behind him and cracked the stone beaneath it. The impact of its touchdown caused severe vibrations through the stone and nearly brought the Abellan to his knees.
    “Now what?” He asked as he turned his eyes to the totem.
    From within the gaping mouth, a fireball began to take form. If the size of the mouth was any indication, it being as wide as the ramp and taller than him, the fireball would grow to immense sizes. Further to his dismay, it did exactly as what he suspected it would. After a prolonged period of development, the totem unleashed the fireball and it surged forward down the ramp in pursuit of him.
    He was only about halfway to the bottom and he found himself in danger of being cooked alive. As he ran, he glimpsed a series of holes in the wall, which he suspected would contain more arrows. He lowered his head as he ran past and nearly found it taken off by the spears that emerged from the holes. The three, however, were only the beginning. As he proceeded further down he found another set but at a lower height this time around. He bent his torso and lowered his head as much as he possibly could to avoid being impaled once more. The feeling of running in such awkward positions made his stomach churn, but he knew that it was a much easier fate to embrace than death by fire.
    Two more sets followed the first two. The following was much too low for him to crouch under, but too high for him to easily jump over. He took a deep breath as he neared and opted out for an act of desperation. He hopped during his sprint and outstretched his legs to slide beneath them. He scrambled to his feet as the lost time allowed the fireball to grow ever closer.
    He glimpsed down to the bottom where Amata walked about as she seemed to be inspecting the ramp’s end. Despite his thoughts about not needing to be rescued, he found himself in a predicament he would likely need to be rescued from. Setting his pride aside, he decided to ask for help.
    “Amata! Help!” He screamed at the top of his lungs as he continued his descent.
    He ripped his eyes from her figure as he barely caught a glimpse of three more spikes that were lower than the others, but high enough to impale both his ankles. He narrowly avoided them with a last-moment jump but failed to land properly and tripped over his own feet. His body lurched forward and he fell on both his hands, scraping them in the process of his entire body crashing down. He urged himself to his feet once more and continued on, realizing that time was running out. He wanted to check if Amata heard him but the next trap loomed ahead and he needed to ascertain what it did and when.
    As he neared he glimpsed what seemed to be massive sections of stone cut into cubes that would lunge forward at certain intervals before returning to their original position. Had he stepped in at the wrong time, they would not just shove him off, but likely break his bones in the process. The moment he neared the first he noted that the time it would be released was coming and he had to stop before it. It shot forward, but it took time for it to return and he knew it was time he did not have. He looked back and glimpsed the fireball barreling toward him and realized he was trapped.
    At that moment Amata’s figure appeared before his eyes and stood down the spell without hesitation. She held out an outstretched hand as it neared and challenged it head on.
    “Flame Eater!”
    At those words the fireball collided with her hand but came to a halt as little by little, the spell drained away its size and threatening presence, leaving nothing but the remnants of heat in its wake.
    Her wings came to a rest as she touched down and turned to him.
    “I’m not an Einherjar, you know.” She said as she began to pout.
    “I promise, I didn’t think that for a moment and I’m thankful you saved me again,” TJ said hurriedly.
    “Yeah, yeah.” She said with a much more amicable grin. “Not like I could leave you to be cooked to a crisp anyway.”
    It was then that he noticed her pupils had changed shape. It seemed she was using the Mana Sensory ability. For what, he did not know, but it likely explained why she seemed to be studying something intensely at the base.
    “Anyway, I’ve almost figured out what’s up with this room so I’m gonna head back down and see if I can. Just be careful when you get near the base. I dunno what it is, but it’d be best if we didn’t have to find out the hard way.”
    “Got it. Be careful down there.”
    She grinned teasingly.
    “You worried about me? I think you should be more concerned for yourself. Still, makes me a little happy nonetheless!”
    At those words she fluffed her wings but once and shot off. TJ could not help but think that she was a little free-spirited also.
    With the threat of the fireball behind him, he could proceed with more caution going forward.
    After watching the strange shoving mechanics of the stones before him, he had noted the times for when they would appear. It took about four seconds for each of them to return after being thrust forward and about two for the thrust. There was a six second delay between one beginning and the following starting afterwards. The order of them was the third first, the first second and the second last. The Abellan watched carefully as the third came forward and he waited out the second. As it returned he side-stepped his way around it and watched as the second was thrust out. He stepped past it following it and once the third had began the rotation anew and finished, he made his way past.
    He wiped his brow with a sigh of relief. It seemed he was getting closer steadily. The end was near and given a few more minutes at the pace he was going, he could reach Amata. He cautiously took a few steps forward before the stone beneath him began to rumble. Struggling to keep his balance, he decided to break out into another sprint moments before the stones beneath him crumbled and dragged him down. Despite his desperate sprint, this seemed to happen continuously and each time quicker than the last. He leapt from where he stood and used the wall to slide down to a lower section of the ramp in a desperate bid to avoid a direct collision.
    He continued his sprint until he glimpsed a a small hole in between some of the stones that seemed to release a gas as he neared. He looked back at the direction he had come in and indeed, a large part of the ramp had crumbled and fell away where he would have walked. It was a wise choice to take the jump. The most recent trap however, had seemed pretty simple. There was nothing more to it. Like the totems at the top, it only seemed to activate when he came within its proximity. What effect did the smoke have, he could not fathom, but pink smoke only held ill omens. He covered his face as he crouched underneath the location it was sprayed from and made his way further down.
    Amata was not far from him and neither was the end of the ramp. It seemed he had made it safely. He raised a hand as he decided to greet her.
    “Hey, Ama-”
    Before he could finish his sentence Amata held out a hand to stop him.
    “Hold it right there!” She said with a look of urgency.
    He froze in place, greeting and all as he waited for further instruction. At the sight she snickered quietly before she approached.
    “You can lower your hand, you know.
    “But more importantly, the reason I stopped you is because this whole area is trapped. Just the ramp parts, that is. The end of it too, actually. Right over…there.”
    With a flick of her wrist she created a small fireball she hurled to that specific location. It burst upon landing but nothing seemed to happen. Perhaps given that, only a person stepping within the range of it would activate the trap.
    “If you jump down from this height though, chances are you’d hurt yourself. I mean, I imagine you’re pretty durable, especially if you use the contemptuous arts, but I’d rather you…not…do…that.”
    Her cheeks flushed pink as she scratched one of the two gently with her index finger.
    “S-so…I’ll help. Just this once.”
    She flew away from him towards the exit but a fair height that he could likely reach with a jump.
    “Alright, come on. I’ll catch you.”
    They had done many things similar to this, but actually doing it himself was a little embarrassing. He was beginning to understand how Amata felt when he had to carry her. His clipped wings were seeming to be more often than not, the bane of his pride and on too many occasions, nearly his existence.
    “A-alright. Here I go!” He said with nervousness edging his tone.
    He got a running start before he leapt from the ramp to the Governor of Fire and as promised, she caught him. He held on tightly as his face rested against hers and his arms draped over her back. She gasped before she began a solemn descent, slowly, carefully. Once the two touched down he let her go and she turned away before she hid her wings.
    “You know, doing that kinda felt like a hug.” TJ said with a laugh. “Under very unusual circumstances I guess. Hopefully next time it’ll be a little more normal.”
    Hugs were nice. He did not quite understand the significance of them, but he enjoyed them all the same. They were comforting. A little like his past selves’ tendency to pat someone on the head.
    “N-next time? What, are you offering?”
    “Yeah, of course! Hugs are okay with me.”
    “I-I might take you up on that.
    “More importantly! We avoided that trap.”
    TJ looked but as he suspected, he could not see anything.
    “What did it do anyway?”
    Amata pursed her lips.
    “If I was to hazard a guess, it summoned something. If it was a spirit, they probably could have just summoned it themselves, but this one was more like…a ritual. A summoning ritual, but laid out like a trap. Whatever it summons was already decided, it would just bring it here. It might not have even been a spirit… more like an Agasura.”
    “Don’t you think that this was a little…you know, bad?”
    Amata shrugged before she crossed her arms.
    “Like my Dad had said, they probably have these as a defense against intruding Humans. Most things can be bypassed through flight, like you saw with me. Some sections can’t be bypassed without it.
    “Even Ophanim said that if its attackers weren’t worthy, it’d kill them. But it’d kill me too…despite being the God’s Governor. Bastard!”
    TJ rubbed his neck uneasily.
    “It does make me wonder though…if this is just the first of the four or five dungeons we need to enter, will the others be like this?”
    Amata shook her head gently.
    “I don’t think so, TJ. I’d bet if the dungeons were designed as the original God’s Governors wished, each was built to test what they believed their descendants would need. Rayinth believed a strong body and mind are crucial to being considered a warrior. If this dungeon is any indication, that speaks for itself. It’s really pushed us to our limits, hasn’t it? There’s no shortage of traps and enemies to fight and all of them are powerful in their own right. We both know that overcoming a powerful enemy is proof that you yourself, are strong.”
    She furrowed her brows as she looked at her open palm. Then closed it as she looked to TJ.
    “Beating my dad was what I saw as the proof of my strength. There might have been better ways to go about it, but he was the goal post I had set for myself. I always believed overcoming him would be the proof that I need to know that I’m strong enough to face God’s Governor Rayinth. But had I…had I done so…had I not met you…I’m sure my beliefs would be misguided.
    “I realize that sure, I could challenge Rayinth’s Vestibule alone. I might even get to Rayinth himself, too. But alone? There’s a damn good chance he would kick my ass. Even so, blinded by my own confidence I would attempt it anyway.
    “This…would be the biggest mistake of my life. What we’re doing isn’t called a ‘trial’ just for show. There’s a lot of reasons my dad and his dad and all those before them didn’t attempt this, but I know for a fact that there’s something to lose here, should I fail. If he chooses not to kill me, it makes you wonder what he would do, doesn’t it? Just like all other things, I don’t think I’d get a second chance at it.
    “Now more than ever, I realize that we can’t, nor need to be strong alone. Just as Lady Amae fought alongside her Saints, how my dad has my mom and how Rayinth too, found someone strong enough to stand beside him…I have you. You’re my equal, and so much more. With you, I can defeat Rayinth. I’ll take a major step to becoming God’s Governor of Fire. The real deal. And I…can go home to my parents’ smiling faces with my head held high.
    “I can and will be that beacon of hope for Mezzalone, for Ves and for the Cerebians. I am the only who can be, after all.”
    She chuckled sheepishly after her speech and TJ could feel his heart swell with pride.
    She had changed so much since their first meeting. He still remembered their talk after their fight with Avaritia and her fear that she lacked the mental fortitude to be what she was meant to be. Her burgeoning strength was always there, she just had not realized it herself. However, Alvaro had always known, Kavitala likely did also, and now TJ was seeing it clearly for himself. Just as he had, she came to realize how important the bonds between people could be. She had done so all on her own, at that.
    “You can do it, Amata! Definitely!”
    He took her hands in his own and she nearly stepped back, eyes wide and cheeks flushed.
    “Y-yeah. Of course! A-anyway, let’s not get too sentimental yet! We can…do that after we defeat Rayinth.
    “Come on, there’s still more to do.”

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu May 03, 2018 3:59 pm

    Tiddies out for Chrom:
    Before you can say that the title for this is old news, trust me, I know. Was supposed to write this weeks ago but that didn't happen(by that, I mean when Grima set the whole FE fandom on fire). For now, though, I was gonna make a dragon energy joke. There were better ones, though. But still, since I have the energy I decided to stop draggin' my feet to come here and update.
    ...You can get all 1001 of my dad jokes and more with marriage! Put a ring on it while you can!
    So? Let's get down to it!

    Before I really get into the meat and lore in this update, I guess I just wanna remark about the characterization here. In Amata's case, what she talks about and her unease is meant to foreshadow something, but also serves as a callback to some of her other dialogues. She and burns have a history together and it's shown clearly here. So much so that she forgot that TJ can heal most wounds. As for TJ, he shows his occasional thoughtfulness. Moments like these are typically between he and Su, though he did have a few with Amata, both in this chapter and earlier ones. Their relationship is one that steadily grows and hopefully by this juncture if it hasn't happened already, readers can see how she came to develop her feelings. He's a pretty good guy if you can look past the perma-loli status. Nonetheless! There's always more to tell than what meets the eye!

    First things first! I will not tell you why TJ is allowed to accompany the God's Governors. You've gotta wait to find that out. So! Fahim was mentioned before obviously, and he's gonna appear in the Larghissimos later. Though there is no Summoner class amid the Cerebians, there were summoners during the Age of Heroes. Wherever it is that the spirits came from was a place that the Cerebians could go to, once upon a time. As she said, they can't go there now. However! The God's Governors are able to summon and contract a creature of their element to them. They grow along with their summoner, obtaining new abilities and forms as the Governor's reach higher tiers. In most cases, that would go like so: Summoning(Small)->Trial(Medium)->Awakening(Large). In some cases, this can be overwritten by the God's Governor learning to awaken ahead of their time. Julius and Amata are cases of this. As mentioned before, their ability to awaken allows them to use their full strength, but because they lack mastery and haven't undergone the trial, in most cases they'd expend their entire mana reserve in a matter of minutes. As they have a large pool, they can last for some time, but chances are they wouldn't be able to continue a fight if they were to awaken.
    There's some shenanigans going on with the title for God's Governors who had taken the trial because I realized there wasn't a male equivalent of the word I chose. Freakin' english pisses me off. I should've went the HF14 route and went with Lord/Lady but with how much I played it, it'd feel bad. Might change it in the future. We'll see about that.

    This next part is a biggy. So Amata mentions the mural of Nidhogg. Both it, and the part about its master are important. I can't say too much about the symbol itself, but the human I can...just a bit, though! If you've read USSR, you know by now Vanir's dialogue about managing spirits. If you haven't, I'll give you a quick crash course. There are two ways to do it: form a contract through mutual trust and understanding, or form a contract through the summoner's will. Not all spirits needed to be summoned to be used. At one point, both monsters and spirits could be put into a contract if the summoner had the strength to do so. What Amata hinted at was a myth that there was a Human strong enough to seal Nidhogg itself into his weapon during that time. Regarding that, I may have actually mentioned him before. Or at least, his present incarnation. There was a bit about a Ship of Theseus. If you can find that, you can probably put the clues together. I won't say any more than that, since I don't wanna spoil too much of the Larghissimos lol.
    On the topic of Nidhogg itself, it did exist in LT...in a sense. Though I can't say for certain, I think Nidhogg was the Behemoth that appeared in the plains near Elias. If you dig in the area, a giant hole would open up, the Behemoth would pop out and swallow any adventurer unfortunate enough to be in the radius. It was a quest area, so you'd go through it, fight mobs and gather things. Truthfully, I didn't think much of it until Peorth(the real one) shared her theory about LT's relation to Norse mythology. As much as one would expect, it dabbles in a few types but there are plenty of names and places that have their basis in it, so it's become something of the central focus surrounding Frequency. Supposedly the roots of Yggdrasil are what kept Nidhogg trapped(does that concept sound familiar also?) so his breaking free/being released to aid the Agasura is fitting for it. I'd read that as Yggdrasil is what keeps the cosmos in place, for it to aid the giants would be what would plunge the cosmos into chaos during Ragnarok. I'd post a link, but that might seem kinda shady so the truth of the matter is I read it on a website. Seemed to be from the excerpt of a book called 'The Viking Spirit". It also mentions a place called the Shore of Corpses, which might just explain LT's "Wailing Coast". There, it and the Tower of...something? Ruin or Destruction or something along those lines, were all a part of Vanaheim. I'd like to do something with those, but they won't likely be in Sanc. The whole timeline happens before the traveler from Preios arrives.

    Now, the section about pets! All of those mentioned are actual pets in game. I always think that I should have adventurers with pets in the story, but I dunno how much it would add if they were mentioned off-hand. The only one with any real importance(currently) is Vanir. For those who haven't seen a yambi before, though, they're uhh...flower snakes. Like how Brownies start out as rabbits, when they reach a certain level(or adulthood, in a sense) they take on a humanoid form. They're cute. Used to have one before OGP LT shut down.

    Now a quick mention for the Saints. Each of them were given their title for the feats(or a major one) that they had performed during their time. These were given to them by the people--not all of them would know what the Saints had accomplished during the war, so such is the case. You know what they say: if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?
    It was always a little weird to consider how La Tale's continent was more...vertical, in a sense. If you see a map of it, Belos and everything around it are high in the North and as you go further down South and to the east, you start to get to the other cities. Near Orca Beach the path breaks off and goes into the ocean, leading to Atlantis. Somewhere in the West is the Big Apple and the City of Iron, on a separate smaller continent. Seeing the introduction of it, along with the Engineers was pretty exciting way back when.

    So that's enough about the lore! For now, at least. The next room was tricky to do, because on one hand I wanted to showcase the trap and how to get through it without it seeming too...campy. It turned out kinda hammy, though. The fact that TJ went to the end and back while Amata waited is where the fault lies. However, if she went with him, the only way it would make sense would be if the vines almost immediately reconnected after being cut. If so, either the two would run through or they'd both be caught in it because TJ would be caught off-guard. It'd uhh...be a pretty pathetic end for the God's Governor and Abellan, I feel. Now after reading this part, or maybe when you got to it you were thinking, "I've seen enough h***** to know where this is going". To that I say, get your mind out of the gutter! My intentions were pure! Pure as the driven snow!

    For the next room, I really wanted the place to have...well, multiple floors. That's something I barely did, if at all for the others. I mean, the first technically did and the Gourmet's Valley had higher elevations but I felt I could and should do more here. Being able to see the bottom made it even better. Moving on, I also wanted to work a bit more with different types of enemies and the ways they could affect the terrain. I really wanted to capture that 'adventure' feel, you know? Like an Indiana Jones film. In truth, I've never actually seen any of them, but by now running away from giant boulders and stuff is so iconic I'm hard-pressed to say I haven't seen it. Although, I heard 'Where's my Crystal Skull' jumped the shark, big time. Perhaps I didn't miss out entirely. Back on topic, the reason TJ can't use water spells is because he doesn't know any. I mean there are some contained within his memories, but he can't access them yet and throughout his years he only obtained mastery over ice spells, but not any with a water basis.
    Here's a little tidbit of trivia. Originally in the room with the statues, the two were supposed to use a grappling hook provided to them by the Seitz to ascend to the higher platforms. Had that planned out since I storyboarded the dungeon, but as I always say, when you let the characters tell the story you never know what might happen. Truth be told, I had no plan for the dungeon! By that I mean storyboards for events, save for the end. I just went by the design and let what happened, happen. It turned out really well, IMO. It did see some use here, though! I was afraid that the two carrying all that stuff would have gone to waste but things turned out even better than expected.
    There's even a heart-to-heart afterwards. Short and sweet and perfectly timed.

    The next part doesn't really require much explanation. It's just traps, after all. Instead, here's a piece of trivia for you! The spell 'flame eater''s name actually comes from something I read. Something you shouldn't read if you're a babby. It's called ***** Eater. It was a good read. That's all I'll say on the matter lol. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
    The last trap there was in essence, a summoning circle. The point of it was to summon an Imp(they appeared in the last side-story I did. They're Agasura from the game also!) that would attack any challengers upon it being summoned. It's not a spirit that can be controlled or anything--just a creature.

    The next part is kinda important, 'cause it echoed my thought process that perhaps the trials should differ from each other. I haven't decided it for certain yet. Leaving that aside though, here it felt like Amata had...mm what's the word? Like she had an epiphany. Like Peorth had said earlier in the chapter, to be too headstrong is the folly of youth. Or something like that, I can't be bothered to check. Anyway! That describes Amata pre-everything up until now pretty aptly, doesn't it? She's always been the type to crash her way through life doing what she saw as best. After a lot of trial and error, along with meeting Su and seeing how she changed, Amata herself did also. As we are able to glimpse at the world through TJ's eyes here too, seeing his talk with Alvaro gives us another glimpse at her past and what makes her who she is. As for a time, we saw things through her perspective also, we got to see a small bit of Kavitala's mentality, at least regarding things like Alvaro. The two in a sense are what make each other. The two halves of a whole. Even Alvaro himself said it, that without Kavi he wouldn't be able to keep his head on his shoulders.
    I hadn't realized it then, but I like that Alvaro/Kavi are reflected through the two here. Both know the side of the parent they spoke with and came together to see the trial through. The same could be said for their positions--Kavi is the one who supports the God's Governor while the current generation has TJ. Good stuff.

    So that's all for this update! I stopped playing GBF for a while and tried another game. It didn't scratch the itch. There's a laundry list of reasons why, but...well it's a laundry list. It had some good ideas though. Back to the matter at hand, I wound up getting Jeanne b'kini. She's a core part of my non-existent wind team cause a certain glass cannon(Levi) can't refrain from blowing up every time something sneezes on him. Also Alexiel...appeared. A small part of me wanted to dump my whole spark fund to get her, even if she wouldn't work with my team. I LOVE HER, OKAY?! She's just so...good. One of my crewmates got her so I tried to salt pull with some tickets and crystals. I got gun Zooey so I decided to settle, but this isn't over! I now have 3/4 Zooeys.

    Grindblue Fantasia aside, my stories are progressing steadily. The last week of school was bullshit and I didn't get as far in Inno as I'd have liked. I went on a rampage with P&C and so I've hit a wall. That wall being sexy time and my lack of experience writing it. It's time to study up! In the meantime though, Sanc will start moving again. I'm like...80% through chapter 11. It's a pretty wild ride. Nonetheless, things are...tricky, so we'll see what the future holds. It's never good news, though. But that's life, eh? If anything was good...then that means something terrible is lurking over the horizon. At least for me, that's usually how it goes. So if everything sucks, it's normal! Normal is good and by that I mean, it's bad. It's always bad. Such is life.

    More soon? There's a chance! Until next time!

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:34 pm

    Pages 556-568:
    The two peered through the doorframe to the next room and noted there were a few spirits that inhabited it. As they had seen from the upper floor, it was indeed a limited fight space. One surrounded by magma.
    What caught TJ’s attention were the worm-like creatures that would burrow into the ground They left a series of holes where they went, some in walls and some on the landing.
    Even more so was the spirit that resided over them. It looked eerily similar to Ophanim, but it had fewer eyes, lacked the stone that held the spokes together and only four wings to the previous spirit’s six.
    “You see that?” Amata asked.
    “Yeah. That thing looks a lot like Ophanim,” TJ added.
    “Not that! But it does, doesn’t it? It’s not it, though. It’s a regular Throne. I’m glad we didn’t see more of them to be honest, but I don’t think this is a good place to fight one.
    “More importantly, it’s the cavern worms. Have you noticed that they avoid the magma? They can only dig into the stone. I think if we can knock them into the magma we can take ‘em out. The same can probably be said for that throne, but it can fly so we’re gonna have a hard time with it.
    “Most importantly though, you need to be careful so you don’t get knocked in. I can’t save you from that.”
    He almost knit his brows but he rebuked the thought.
    He did not want to show weakness after all that Amata had said. She had faith he could stand side by side with her and to fear the elements would undermine that belief.
    “It’ll be fine. I’ve spent a long time working on my acrobatics. I might not be able to fly, but I do know how to use the things around me to my advantage.”
    She grinned devilishly at those words, her eyes shuttered.
    “Don’t have to tell me. I’d seen it first-hand against those statues. You’re pretty scary when you’re resourceful.”
    Compliment? Insult? He decided he would take it as a compliment.
    “Still, my advice to you is to watch those potholes. If you’re not careful your foot might get stuck in them, so be careful where you land and walk, alright? This is gonna be a really technical fight, but if we play our cards right, a quick one.”
    “Right. I might be able to find a way around it with magic.”
    She nodded as she grinned.
    “If it’s you, I’ve little doubt.
    “Now then, you ready? Let’s show ‘em what we’ve got!”
    A flame crackled to life and surrounded Amata before it shrouded her entire body.
    “Dragon Dive!”
    She shot towards Ophanim and collided with the spirit with the sheer intensity of her flight.
    “I’m just getting started!”
    She raised a hand and her staff manifested in flames before she twirled it around. The moment she pointed it at the throne a series of sparks crackled to life around where it had crashed into and an explosion followed suit. The earth it had rested upon cracked apart and the spirit nearly sunk into the magma until it narrowly avoided death through flight.
    “Oh…I might have overdone it a bit…” She muttered as she grit her teeth.
    TJ awkwardly made his way over, keeping his eyes on the ground to avoid stepping in the potholes that lined the area.
    “It’ll be a little difficult getting to the exit but I think we can still manage it! I mean, thankfully the stuff its made of is somewhat resistant to explosive attacks, right? It’s still intact.”
    “Small consolation,” she chuckled dryly.
    Her eyes darted to the western wall as the sound of one of the worms chewing through it drew their attention.
    “TJ your left!”
    His eyes quickly followed where she pointed and he drew his guitar just in time to bash the creature back. It collided with a portion of the wall but narrowly managed to slither into one of the other holes.
    “These spirits are really unlike the others. They seem to be a little too…normal? I guess?”
    “They’re not spirits.” Amata answered as she set her eyes back on the throne. “They’re just these weird bug things. I guess things like these inhabit the deeper parts of Midgard. Some of them just found their way into here.”
    The throne recovered completely during their conversation and took the time to prepare a series of fireballs. Six of them surrounded it and the moment its eyes opened they shot toward them in succession. With one hand outstretched and her weapon hand resting behind her, Amata’s barrier became visible and absorbed the spells that surrounded them.
    “This thing is nothing compared to Ophanim! We should be able to crush it easily!”
    “Good, let’s,” TJ said excitedly.
    He leapt aside as one of the cavern worms leapt out from one of the holes upon the landing they stood on. He took a swing at it but it vanished into another and did not return.
    Amata took off to engage the throne once more. As she neared it looked to her and fired a single beam that cut a swath through the wall and left a trail of fire in its wake, but failed to catch the Governor in flight. She retaliated with Flamethrower for a brief couple of seconds before cancelling the spell to avoid another laser. She flew above it and immediately rained fire upon it with Falcon Torrent, causing the creature to shudder and collapse under the weight of the spell.
    “Behind you Amata!” TJ cried out as he glimpsed one of the cavern worms once more.
    This time it came from the southern portion of the wall. Unlike the previous worm however, it remained within the wall and reeled its head back before spitting an unusual green liquid at the Governor of Fire. It landed upon her right wing and she let out a cry before she fell away from the throne and touched down.
    “I-it…burns…” She uttered as she placed a hand to her shoulder.
    “Hold still and I’ll heal you!”
    As he reached out to her she shook her head.
    “Now’s not the time! It’s coming again!”
    She lunged forward with her free hand and pushed him back, causing his foot to get caught in a pothole and for him to fall backwards. As he did so, he glimpsed one of the two worms jumping from beneath his raised arm towards the Governor of Fire. It barely drifted over her lowered shoulder and dug its teeth into her wing where the other had laid its acidic secretion, and following the event, Amata flew into a panic.
    She screamed and thrashed about while swinging at it before she took flight. She careened to the ground and off of it, flying in every which direction while crying out about the pain.
    TJ could not help but wonder if it had a secondary effect. By this juncture, her wounds would have healed, so the only thing that damaged her wings were those two attacks. Was it possible that liquid actually made her much more vulnerable?
    “I can try and hit it but you’re moving too much!”
    Leaving that aside, what could he do to help her? The thoughts of using Frozen Blitz danced in his mind for a couple of moments, but to do so would be a dangerous move indeed. He lacked Kooh’s hand-eye coordination and to use it on an ally was something that could easily end in their demise. Especially given that they were surrounded by magma. However, if he used the contemptuous arts he could make up for what he lacked. If for a short time, he could manage…right?
    “Now’s now the time for doubts, idiot!” He said to himself as he slapped both his cheeks.
    He had a plan. A tricky one, a double-edged sword perhaps, but one that might be his best bet.
    “Su, lend me your strength!”
    “It was only a matter of time huh? Better rescue that idiot before she seriously hurts herself. That’s too pathetic, especially for her,” Su answered, her usual sharp tone absent.
    “Here I come! Frequency!”
    He felt a presence followed by a killing intent behind him the moment the Chaos Frequency came into effect. He crouched down moments before the acidic saliva was launched at him and it drifted over his shoulder, landing upon the rock and corroding it slowly.
    The time to turn on the worm would come, but for the time being his target was the throne. It seemed to carefully watch Amata as it prepared another group of fireballs to launch now that her guard was down and in that he saw his opportunity.
    “Shadow Dive!”
    TJ hopped on the spot and slipped into the shadows before arising from within the throne’s. The eyes looked startled as he grabbed hold of it and drew it towards him, the spell dissipated in the wake of his action. He placed one foot on the inside of the ring to hold it down and gripped one of the spokes while he smashed one of them with his fist.
    “This’ll do.”
    He stepped out from within the spirit and kicked it into the magma before he drew his guitar.
    “Demon’s Armoury!”
    A crimson energy surrounded him before gathering to his weapon, this time taking the form of a mallet.
    “I’ll crush you!” He snarled as he leapt in the air and pounded the throne further into the magma.
    Halfway-sunken into the magma he used its remains to leap back on to the platform, narrowly avoiding where magma had splashed. He placed his weapon on his back and picked up the broken spoke. His eyes darted to Amata in flight and he weighed the weapon in his hand before he armed it. He glimpsed her sudden descent and moments after it began he hurled the spoke and caught the worm on it, dragging the creature in its flight and pinning it to the wall.
    He caught the Governor of Fire and held her so that she would remain still.
    “Collector’s Bounty,” he muttered.
    The Abellan’s shadow arose from the ground like a specter that loomed over the two. Eyes and a mouth took form upon it as the figure seemingly spiked temporarily and cackled hautily. It pored over her body and upon doing so the acidic saliva was removed. Following the event, it returned to the ground and became his shadow once more.
    “It’s alright now, I’ve removed the spit. As I am, I can’t heal the wound, so this’ll have to suffice. Have you calmed down?”
    She opened her eyes half-way and nodded glumly.
    “Yeah. I’m sorry you had to see me in such a sorry state,” she answered.
    “Don’t worry about it. I think I was able to piece together why you acted the way you did there. I would’ve too, except it would’ve ended on a much worse note.” He smiled amicably.
    “I do have a plan to finish this battle though. The worm doesn’t stay out for long, as you’ve seen. Seems they only attack once they’ve got one of us covered in saliva. So instead of waiting for it to strike, we smoke it out.
    TJ let her go and she placed a fist into an open-palm.
    “I get it! All the tunnels are connected so if we can hit ‘em all, we can take it out, right?”
    He nodded.
    “Leave it to me!”
    Amata moved to the middle of the room and with a wave of her hand, summoned a series of tiny fireballs over each hole. The moment she slammed her staff down they flitted inside of them and at her command, exploded all at once. The cry of the worm drew their attention to a hole in front of Amata as in a puff of fire it was launched from the tunnels and into the air.
    “You’re mine now!”
    With a wide swing from her staff she bashed the creature into the wall. It collided with it and fell into the magma with a final dying cry before it curled up and sunk solemnly.
    She let out an exhausted groan as she sat down while his eyes returned to their natural brown.
    “Man that was brutal. As if the corrosive spit wasn’t enough, having that thing gnawing away at my wing was a nightmare.”
    “Take a load off. I’ll patch you up.” TJ said with a grin as he drew his guitar.

    As TJ gently strummed his guitar Amata let out a sigh of relief.
    “Thanks for this, TJ. This turned out tougher than I’d have expected. Having a healer nearby though, is a must. I really should listen to Nia more often,” the Governor of Fire chuckled dryly.
    “Listening to your guild master is always a good idea,” he added knowingly.
    “If my guild master was the princess too, I’d be hard-pressed to tell her she’s wrong.”
    She pursed her lips.
    “But this and that are two different things! Regular Agasuras aren’t usually this tricky. Save the effects of the dominion…they’ve become rather clever of late.
    “Though after fighting all these spirits going back to Agasura would be a really huge change.”
    “I bet it won’t take long to get used to it.”
    “Yeah, probably!” She laughed as she leaned back.
    TJ’s song came to an end and he placed his guitar on his back.
    “How are you feeling? Do you wanna take some more time to rest?”
    She shook her head as she got to her feet and stretched.
    “No way. You’ve done plenty for me already. That aside, I imagine the heat in here must be unbearable for you. I wanna get to Rayinth as quickly as possible so I can get you out of here in one piece.”
    He grinned at her words.
    “Thanks for looking out for me.”
    She knit her brows as she looked over her shoulder.
    “I-isn’t it obvious? I did bring you here, so the least I could do is make sure to get you back home safely.
    “By the way, I’m only sensing spirits nearby in the next room. Past that, I can’t really sense anymore so…either we’re getting close to Rayinth or the next few rooms are traps galore.”
    “Is…is this one of those good news/bad news scenarios? ‘Cause the bad news is really bad news. But the good news is also kinda bad news? Knowing that we’re so close makes me a little nervous.”
    She laughed heartily at his words.
    “You talk like you’re scared but knowing you, you’ll still fight him head on!”
    There was no denying TJ was scared. To fight a God’s Governor head-on, especially the first of his lineage would be an overstatement. His conviction was there, but not in this moment. When it came down to it, perhaps it would find its way to him again.
    He could not forget however, that though his main priority was seeing Amata through her trial, he came to discover things about himself. From Amata, he learned much and more about the Seven Saints and Asgard’s history. From Alvaro he had learned some things about himself in the near past. The chance to meet with a being who lived that age, who knew of God Ah’s family and by extension, him, was right around the corner. There may be answers he would get in talking to him, but some may be only given upon defeating him.
    “You look awfully tense. Are you mentally preparing yourself?”
    She asked and the tension in him and his expression faded almost instantly.
    “Ah! There’s the goofy expression I know and love! Relax! We’ll be fine, guaranteed.”
    She flicked his forehead lightly.
    “D-don’t let what happened in this battle fool you! I’m tough right to my very core, you know!”
    He rubbed the spot she flicked and smiled slightly.
    “I’ve not a doubt in my mind.
    “So, shall we go on?”
    “You bet! Follow my lead!”

    With Amata leading the charge the two made their way into the next room and found themselves at a standstill. Where they stood was stone hewn into a fine shape and a great length away from them was another such landing with the exit. Between there and where they stood however, was a lengthy pool of magma and nothing but.
    “What the—it’s huge,” TJ cried out in disbelief.
    “Okay…wow. In truth I’m surprised they didn’t try this sooner. Simple, but effective.” Amata muttered as she crossed her arms. “I… uhh… can’t get you across this. If I was my dad I might be able to carry you, but no way I could manage this distance. Sorry.”
    TJ scratched his cheek gently.
    “No, that’s okay. I wouldn’t expect you to carry me across. If I could summon Velvet may… no that won’t work either.
    “Didn’t you say there were spirits in here though, Amata?”
    “T-there are! I can still sense them! I just don’t know where.”
    “You think it’s another trap?”
    “Not like the last one, but maybe?
    “Still, our main concern is how we’re gonna get you across this. It’s way too long to jump and there’s nothing I can tie a rope to for you to cross.”
    “A rope?! Just warning you now, there’s no way I can walk across a rope! My balance isn’t that good!”
    Amata could not hide her laughter.
    “Well our choices are pretty limited, after all. I could use an explosion spell on you if you like.”
    He made an ‘x’ with his arms and she laughed again.
    “Jokes aside, it is magma we’re working with, so if we can make it harden we can walk across it. You’re pretty good with water aren’t you? Why not use that Elemental Dominion spell you used earlier, but a water version?”
    He knit his brows as he mulled over the possibility of it.
    “I dunno if that exists. Or how it’d work, really.”
    He imagined it and saw the entire room being filled with water. At the thought, he realized that he could not swim, let alone breathe underwater. Diving into the sphere he created during the Gourmet’s Valley was risky as is. If the spell was as he imagined, that would be too much to attempt.
    “That might be a bad idea. I can’t swim.”
    “There’d be that much water? Definitely a bad idea. Still, I don’t think we need enough to fill the room. Just enough to create a bridge across, I’d say. Kinda like that last room. Think you can do that?”
    “I think so. Let’s give it a shot.”
    He pressed his hands together and as he pulled them apart a sphere of water took form, ever growing in size. Rather than going for sheer volume alone, his intent was to create and maintain it to release a steady amount. Upon reaching a decent size he took a step back and outstretched his hands before the sphere began to gurgle. Following the evnt it released a steady torrent of water that shot towards the magma. Upon the two liquids meeting steam surged upwards as the crimson liquid began to turn dark shades of brown and harden.
    “Hey, it’s working! Keep going TJ!” Amata said with clenched fists.
    He pushed the stream to unleash a greater force and cover more distance, creating a strip of land wide enough for both of them to walk from one side nearly three-quarters to the other. It was then that the spirits Amata had mentioned prior came into the vision. Two mounds of magma began to arise suddenly, one of the two directly caught in TJ’s stream while the other emerged beside it.
    “Magma Golems! S-spray it TJ! Spray it down and make sure it stays down!”
    “I-I’m doing it!” The Abellan cried frantically as he increased the output of mana and increased the force at which he fired water from his sphere.
    The spirit let out a garbled cry as the stream of steam came to an eventual halt. Much to their dismay the other spirit continued its steady approach. Though it was difficult to make out the shape with magma dripping from its body, what seemed to approach was a humanoid shape.
    A golem of sorts?
    The second that accompanied it was easier to see due to it’s body being put out and becoming nothing more than stone, frozen in place by the hardened magma that made it up and that which kept it pinned from the front.
    “Looks like you’ve got one of them! I think we can take it out while it’s stuck there. Can you keep the other one busy while I do?” Amata asked as she spread her wings.
    “Umm… no?”
    “There you go again.” She laughed as she gave him a rough pat on the back. “I’ll be right back, so just do what you do best!”
    At those words she took off and the Abellan found himself with the golem still approaching. He dissipated the spell as it climbed on to the stone before him and he drew his guitar. Once again, he found himself in quite the predicament and had not the foggiest how to get himself out of it.
    “I feel it’s only fair I warn you, if you hit that thing with your guitar, it’ll melt.” Su said with a light snicker.
    “Yeah, that sounds about right. Got any good suggestions?”
    “Blast it with water?”
    It climbed on to the platform and lumbered towards him, giving him two very small openings to escape it.
    “I figured that much but there’s not enough time to prepare another spell! Not only that, I have to keep it trained on it and it’s huge!”
    When in the magma it did not reach its full height, proving how deep it was. Most of it’s torso was within it, thus when out of the liquid it towered over the Abellan but still left a fair height between it and the roof. However, to attempt to jump over it would be too high a hurdle for him to overcome—a hurdle that would likely result in him losing one or both feet in the process.
    “You’re hopeless without me aren’t you? Fine, I’ll guide you.
    “First things first. Watch its movement. Pretty slow isn’t it? Judging by the way it walks, it likely attacks just as slowly. If you try and run now, it’s gonna catch you with your pants down. Instead, let it make the first move and evade.”
    TJ looked down at his gem in absolute horror.
    “You do realize if that thing hits me, I’ll die right? No ifs, ands or buts about it. It’ll melt me.”
    “Got a better idea?!”
    “Not a one.” He chuckled sheepishly with a wry smile.
    “Then you follow my tactics. Now wait for that meathead to get over here and I’ll tell you when.”
    TJ held his guitar close to his chest as he watched the golem stagger ever closer. He pressed himself against the closed door as his eyes remained trained on his approaching adversary. With every step it took it would leave a melting puddle in its wake while his breathing would grow ever more brisk.
    When it came close enough it raised both arms and let out a garbled cry before pointing them at him.
    “Crouch, now!”
    At her call TJ immediately dropped to the floor. Much to his surprise, the golem’s arms extended and collided with the door, remaining there for the period he used to dash aside. He narrowly avoided the magma running down the door and made a desperate dash past the golem. Given the opportunity, he decided it would be best if he regrouped with Amata.
    He leapt from the landing onto the hardened magma he created and nearly stumbled as the rock seemed to shift and break apart under his weight. The longer he stood on it the further it would sink and in a desperate bid to prevent that he cautiously, but hurriedly made his way closer to the Governor of Fire before coming to a sudden halt. He glimpsed her flying towards him and at the sight she looked rather surprised.
    “TJ! How are things on your…wah…looks like he’s not through with you yet.” She said as she came to a halt near him.
    “By the way, you might wanna cover your ears.” She turned around and held out a hand. “Gambit!”
    The golem she was in combat with merely moments ago had proven to be covered in the signs of Amata’s spell and at her words each marking began to emit a bright glow. In a matter of seconds they exploded in succession and rocks were flung across the room in every direction. Some landed in the magma and caused the Abellan to frantically hop around in a desperate bid to avoid getting splashed.
    “Truth be told, I don’t think my spells will be very effective against them alone. Fire wouldn’t do much but heat ‘em up more.” She chuckled sheepishly as she rubbed the back of her neck. “So long as you can cool them off I can take them out.”
    “I need time to do that,” TJ answered uneasily. “Su taught me the basics of manipulating water and its temperature, and creating it is something I just sorta…knew. Making spells of it is still beyond me. But you already know that.
    “The main issue here is that it takes a long time to prepare the most basic of water attacks.”
    TJ had a very vague understanding of the use of water spells thanks to Su, and it seemed to some degree, her teaching jogged his memory. However, what bothered him was that he felt he knew more and could understand it on a deeper level, yet could not recall that knowledge. Hence, the possibility of him having some skill in using water itself was there, but until he gathered more of his memories it would likely remain unbeknownst to him.
    If it was like creating ice or earth spells, it would be as simple as using his mana to shape it. He could not shake the feeling that despite having that understanding of magic, he could not skillfully shape the spell. When doing so to freeze it, it came naturally and could maintain the form. Could he not just skip the final step? Or was now too dangerous a time to attempt it?
    The current scenario required him to prepare the spell without breaking concentration. Standing still too long would mean that he would eventually sink into the magma. That, and the magma golem had already begun its pursuit of them. He did not have many options.
    “I can stall for you. I mean, I won’t be able to damage this thing for the life of me, but I could probably get its attention.
    “Prepare a big one, alright? If we’re gonna kill it, we’re probably gonna have to blow up most of it. Torso and up, I’d say, and that should keep it from regenerating like its buddy over there.”
    They could regenerate?! He could not help but wish that she had mentioned that sooner, but the fact that she knew, let alone recognized the spirit was impressive. He would have to ask where she gleaned her knowledge.
    She pointed her thumb in the direction of where the previous golem had been and it seemed that it and most of the bridge TJ had created were destroyed.
    “Ah…I uhh…oops?” She smiled guiltily.
    “This is bad, you know.” TJ said matter-of-factly.
    “I-I know! I’ll figure something out, don’t worry!”
    He was worrying. He would not admit to it, but he could not avoid it.
    “Hey,” Su said.
    Su’s voice snapped him from his worrying and drew his attention to the gem. He decided it prudent to get as far away from the golem as he could to prevent it from reaching him. As he did so a fireball flew through the air like a mortar and burst into a halo of flames upon narrowly missing the Abellan.
    “That thing breathes fire too?!”
    He glimpsed it crossing the bridge he created and returning the stone to magma in the process. As it approached, what seemed to be a mouth steadily closed. At the same time, Amata flew over to it and openly mocked it to draw its attention.
    “Forget about that! I mean, don’t get hit with it, but listen, ‘cause this is important!”
    “Alright, alright, you’ve got my attention.”
    “If you’re gonna fight this thing, try to hold back on the Contemptuous Arts. You’ve overdone it today. If you keep using it you’re gonna hit your limit and then you’re gonna start borrowing power from that shitbag Adonis. Let’s not.”
    Borrowing power…from Adonis?
    TJ furrowed his brows as the thought sunk in for a couple of moments.
    It seemed that Adonis was, more than he would have liked, his connection to the Agasura. To some extent he had Agasuric mana of his own but their connection allowed him to go beyond his own limits. He could recall the first time he had heard Adonis’ voice—that ghastly hand that reached out to him and offered him power beyond what he could muster. The same hand that would choke the life from him if given the opportunity.
    “Y-you’re right.”
    “We’re still good for a while, but if you’re cutting it close I’ll give you shit. Save it for the next fight, ‘cause chances are that Rayinth bastard is gonna knock your fuckin’ lights out. If you become the Molly or use your Arcane powers, you won’t last too long against him in a battle of endurance.
    “But that’s beside the point. What you need to know is that we can’t get Agasuric mana in here. The good thing about Humans though, is the mana they use is interchangeable. You can use Divine mana for the Arcane Arts without any side effects, and there’s no shortage of it in here. Use the Neutrality Frequency to cut down your casting time and up the output. Make enough space to move and then help the bitch put that fucker down.”
    “That sounds like a solid plan.”
    “Of course it is! I made it! Now get on it!”
    “Frequency!” TJ pounded his fists together and his eyes flickered to jade green.
    With a wave of his hand he created a stream of water.
    “Caster’s Workshop!”
    At those words the stream froze into the shape of a bow that he took hold of.
    With a second wave he created a series of slivers of water before he placed a hand to his lips.
    “Frozen Caress.” He said as he blew an icy kiss and froze them all in succession.
    As he nocked the first the other several followed and waited for him to fire them. He fired the first into the magma and continued to do so for the others leaving a series of stone patches in their wake. With that completed he jumped from where he stood to one of the newly created spots.
    He turned his eyes to Amata who flitted around the golem firing down upon it with Flashfire. As she did so it took a couple swings at her splashing magma around in the wake of the attacks. After a few vain attempts it folded its arms into its body before it began to rumble violently. Before TJ could shout to her she shot in his direction. After a couple of moments the golem seemed to burst, flinging magma all around it. However, unlike the straw men it retained its form, while the attack proved deadly to a lesser degree.
    “How’s that spell coming along TJ?” She asked with a hint of nervousness in her voice.
    It seemed even with flight on her side, she still had a lot to fear. Useful, but not almighty. He felt a bit better about his inability.
    “Incoming!” TJ shouted as he glimpsed another fireball being launched at them.
    He drew a ring with his finger and an icy shield took form in the air to block the attack. Amata held her hand out moments before the two collided and let out a sigh of relief.
    “Thanks for that. Ready to do your thing?”
    “Yep! Cover me just a little longer!”
    “I’m on it.”
    Amata reached into her pocket and drew a spare dagger.
    “Two can play that game, dick! Sacrificial Arm!”
    She hurled the weapon and the moment it entered the golem’s chest it exploded, creating a cavity in the chest that was soon covered up. Amata used the chance to close the gap and blast it two more times with her Ember spell.
    “Alright, my time to shine.”
    He took a deep breath as he threw his bow to the magma and drew his guitar. He closed his eyes and began to strum the strings, time and again to create a growing sphere of water above him.
    Amata flew behind the golem as it fired a wave of magma directly before it and into the remnants of the stone bridge. As she landed behind it and razzed it, it reached behind it while looking over its shoulder to fire another wave. She flew above it and laughed, causing it to look up to open its maw and unleash a fireball. It dispersed against the stone as she flew in front of it once more. It let out a low groan before retracting its arm and taking a couple steps forward. The Governor of Fire flew out of its path as much to her dismay, she realized it was ignoring her.
    “Looks like the bastard has me figured out…” she muttered under her breath. “All I can do now is keep it back.”
    She touched down on one part of the bridge and twirled her staff over her head.
    “Illusion Fire!”
    The moment the weapon touched down the stone split and an ongoing tower of flames arose before it. The spell staggered the golem for a couple of moments but did not deter it for long. She placed her staff on her back and held her right hand to her left wrist once more.
    The sheer force of the spell staggered it once more, the second blast less so, but it continued on nonetheless. It opened it’s maw once more and a fireball began to take form. Moments before it launched Amata took to the skies to meet its trajectory.
    “Oh no you don’t! Flame Eater!”
    She held out a hand and seconds after the spell took flight it met her appendage and came to a screeching halt before being drained away into nothing.
    “Amata, I’m ready,” TJ’s voice soon rang out.
    “Are you? Good! Hit i—n-never mind, I’m coming over there!”
    Amata zipped over to his location and touched down behind him and the massive sphere of water he created.
    “You know, seeing this is pretty nostalgic.”
    “Makes me realize I haven’t improved much.” TJ said with a gentle laugh.
    She shook her head as she grinned.
    “I’m glad you did this. It gave me a good idea.
    “More importantly, less talking, more splashing!”
    “Right, here goes!”
    He outstretched his right hand and the sphere almost seemed to leap through the air towards the golem. Upon crashing down directly upon it, water spread across the entire field and caused steam to rise all over, coating the battlefield in a dense, hot air. The golem, alike to its counterpart was already steeped in the magma and in the process found itself trapped upon the top layer becoming stone.
    “I’ll blow this bastard up in one go!
    “Inner Flame!”
    Amata held a hand out as a fire was lit in her eyes. The moment she clenched her first an aura like embers surrounded her and dispersed shortly after. She drew her staff and armed it as if she was going to lunge forward and much to TJ’s surprise, she did just that.
    From where the two stood she soared towards the golem and plunged the base of her staff into it.
    “Hollow Pulse!”
    Following her words a bright crimson glow emanated from the hole she created three times in succession before she ripped the weapon out. Following the event there was a single, final pulse before the golem itself seemed to detonate, leaving a smoking crafter where it once was.
    “That’s it!” Amata said as she dusted her hands off.
    “Made it.” TJ said with a sigh of relief. “Thanks, Su.”
    “Yeah yeah, whatever,” so she said, but to him she sounded rather happy.
    “Let’s shake a leg before all this stuff turns back to liquid, TJ!” Amata said as she ran over to him.
    “Right behind you!”
    At that the two hurried over to the other side and stopped at the next door. At Amata’s touch the door opened and the two nodded to each before pressing onward.

    The duo made their way into the next room with much less caution and found themselves to be in what seemed to be a library of sorts. It was a round room, the walls of it lined with stone bookcases, each with several shelves. The two looked on in awe at the sheer amount of scrolls that made up the Vestibule’s collection.
    “No way!” Amata said excitedly as she hurried over to one of the bookcases. “Can you believe this TJ?! This stuff must be ancient! What do you think is in them? Records of battles?! Tales of heroes?!”
    She removed the thin crimson ribbon that tied it shut and unfurled the scroll, releasing a cloud of dust in the process. After coughing violently for nearly fifteen seconds the dust parted and the Governor of Fire exhaled.
    “This entire place seems to have collected quite a bit of dust over all these years.” TJ said as he approached, following the storm.
    “Should’ve came sooner!” The Governor of Fire coughed one last time. “So you could get blasted by this thing with me!”
    He grinned as he laughed.
    “Better luck next time!
    “So, what’s it say?”
    Amata looked at it, squinted, hiked her eyebrows and finally shook her head.
    “Can’t read a lick of it.”
    That single word made her pout.
    “Who do you think I am?! Reina? You’re the Abellan, aren’t you? You read it!”
    She thrusted it at him and in doing so, it seemed to crumble due to the force.
    The sudden action staggered TJ, but what surprised him was the Amata seemed to imply that Reina knew how to read an ancient language. He would have to ask her more about that the next time he saw her. Whenever that would be.
    “Man, you’re really tearing this place up,” Su snickered.
    “Sh-shut up! It was an accident! The things in here are just old and crumbling.”
    TJ looked over the scroll but knew full well that he too, could not read any of it. Despite this fact, he recognized the text and the characters that lined the paper. They seemed to be in the same language as that which was in Memorius Sanctum. If Peorth was here, would it be possible that she could translate them? He could not help but wonder if that if she was to read them, he might be able to glimpse a memory of the past.
    He laughed under his breath to set the thought aside.
    “I’m as lost as you are with this, Amata,” he said.
    “Well that sucks. Guess we’ll need to bring these to the others sometime. But there’s too many to carry out and I’d rather not break any more of them. I just hope we can come back.” She knit her brows, genuinely disappointed at the end result.
    “I’d bet there’s a way around it. Maybe we could ask Rayinth after this is all over.”
    She smiled upon hearing that.
    “Ever the voice of optimism, aren’t you? I don’t think I’ll grow tired of that anytime soon.
    “With that thought in mind, let’s keep going! If there’s a safe place like this holding information, we’ve gotta be getting close!”

    Amata had gone on ahead and opened the next door, opening the way to what seemed to be another tunnel. Unlike the corridor that lead to the mural room housing Ophanim, this one was merely carved in stone. It was a stark change from much of what they had seen, save for the entrance and some of the rooms but it made them curious nonetheless.
    As they walked, TJ decided to ask what was on his mind a short time ago.
    “Say, Amata, how did you learn all that info about the spirits in here? You really knew your stuff.” He said with an amicable grin.
    She looked at him through her peripherals, flushed cheeks and eyebrows hiked.
    “Y-you think so? I just studied some old texts. Some of them featured the spirits that the God’s Governors and their acolytes could create, and how. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but translated texts were often far and few between when I was growing up. Never thought that knowledge would come in handy!”
    “Translated…from what?”
    She shrugged.
    “Ancient Cerebian, probably. There’s this wack job that goes around collecting old texts and translating them. Then there’s this guild called Historia I think? They somehow get their hands on that stuff and release it in collections. I met some of them at one of the summits Nia made me attend, but I didn’t meet their leader. Apparently nobody knows who he is! Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Honestly!
    “But yeah…it’s thanks to those guys that I know as much as I do. When the nomadic Cerebians would arrive in Mezzalone there’d always be a group bringing new books in, some from the Human cities and some of those translated works I love.”
    Was that ‘wack job’ Amata mentioned and Historia’s guild master the same person? If so, one would expect that the guild would, sooner or later, introduce their guild master. Was it possible that he had some reason for keeping his indentity a secret? It also raised the possibility that he was a she.
    TJ felt a hint of excitement at the prospect and at solving the mystery.
    After a couple of moments, he realized the situation was not dissimilar to Peorth’s case. Did that make her a wack job too?
    The two came across a small clearing. Far below them, there was a pool of lava. The light from it crawled up the wall and gave the area a crimson glow. In spite of the pit, there was another simple rope bridge allowing for the two to traverse the hole without any undue effort.
    Much to TJ’s peace of mind, there were no straw men in the area that threatened them.
    “You know, in some of them they mentioned a lot of things that we don’t have anymore. Different breeds of Agasura and animals I’d never heard of, save for those. Maybe they evolved over the years or just went extinct or something but…it really puts our world into perspective.”
    “Like horses!” TJ said with a sudden realization.
    “Wha?” She gave him a dubious look.
    “You know that thing that Valkyrie Leigha was riding? That!”
    Amata grinned.
    “I guess you’re pretty well informed yourself. Though…I didn’t know that, actually. I can’t help but feel that there’s so much more to discover.”
    Discovery was exactly what awaited them. The two found themselves at a short stairwell, and as they proceeded to the bottom step by step, they came across a single crimson door emblazoned with the herald of flames, the door accompanied by two tall pillars.
    “This…must be it. This must be the door to the sanctum!” Amata said as she reached out and touched the door.
    As if it woke from a long slumber, light traced all the crevices in the door and upon filling all of them, the door burned away in a series of flames, revealing the sanctum.

    The Vestibule’s sanctum had a muted red tint to the stone. As they took a couple of steps inside TJ noted the statues that lined the walls. Each a man or a woman, bearing a variety of weapons and differing appearances. He had a suspicion at who they could have been, yet it raised the question, who built them?
    “Are these…?” He asked solemnly as he glimpsed a couple more further in.
    “You noticed huh?” Amata asked as she grinned back at him. “All of these old guys and gals… these are my ancestors.”
    It was as he had suspected. Though to glimpse upon the governors of ages past was still rather intimidating. It was even harder to imagine that they were all people who lived between the current period and that of Rayinth’s. The last link in the chain walked side-by-side with him now. Judging by the look on her face, there were none who held such a fascination for them as she.
    The two found themselves in the deeper section of the sanctum where three pedestals were laid out forming a triad.
    The pedestal to their left was a sword still in its scabbard. Amata took the weapon in hand and unsheathed the blade. The two glimpsed upon the magnificent weapon, the blade in almost perfect condition despite centuries of being within the sanctum. A series of small rubies lined the hilt with a single large piece placed within the pommel.
    “This is nice. I don’t recognize it, but I feel stronger just wielding it.” Amata said before she placed it back in the scabbard. “Better not to mess around with these things though. Unless…”
    She looked to TJ with a curious gaze.
    “Hm? What?” He asked.
    “Maybe you should take it. I mean, they put it here for a reason, right? They wanted someone to find it. Better you than some grave robbers.
    I’ve heard of too many cases where tombs were pillaged before we found them. I’d rather not see my ancestors’ artifacts fall into the wrong hands.”
    “M-me? I don’t think I can wield that, though.”
    It would not be the first time he attempted to wield a sword. Demon’s Armoury was an exception to this fact, but there was no way he would attempt to wield a real sword again.
    “Though…I might be able to hold on to it. I could probably keep it in Memorius Sanctum with the other artifacts.”
    Just as Peorth had tied Pandora’s Box to him, could he not tie Memorius Sanctum and the sword before him together? He did not know the requirements for the ritual but perhaps he would remember upon attempting it? Or succeed by sheer luck—either or would be ideal.
    “To me, Memorius Sanctum!”
    As he outstretched a hand and spoke those words, the gilded tome took form before him and opened before flicking through the pages. It gained a bright glow, one that was unfamiliar to the Abellan. Both pages shone brilliantly, almost seeming to invite him to make an addition to its collection.
    “Here goes nothing…”
    He took the hilt of the sword in both hands and plunged it into the book. The moment the scabbard touched the pages the weapon’s descent came to a sudden halt before proceeding slowly, right from the tip of the blade to the edge of the hilt. The light from the pages faded and in place of it was a new passage to the book. An illustration of the sword and text to accompany it were now featured.
    “That…that works,” Amata said in disbelief. “You never cease to amaze, you know that?”
    “Honestly,” he laughed, “everything I know I learned from what the Chief did. This, though…I can’t help but think Memorius Sanctum sensed my intentions. I mean, whenever I summon it, it always knows exactly what I intend to do.”
    From the times he intended to transform, to summoning Garfitua’s Hourglass in order to meet with Freya and now for adding relics. It truly was an incredible tome, and an artifact that befit the queen and proxy to Lady Amae.
    “Do you wanna do that for the others too? This cloak probably won’t be of much use to you, but maybe this ring can be?”
    She held two items in hand—the first being a cloak somewhat similar in design to his own, but unlike his, it contained fibers that were a much deeper shade of scarlet and was emblazoned with the herald of flames. The other item seemed to be a rather ornate silver ring with a ruby embedded in it. It was not solid all the way through—it seemed to have a pattern to it, one that formed a sort of zig-zag shape, in TJ’s opinion.
    “You don’t think it’ll be bound to me if I put it on first, do you?” He asked as he knit his eyebrows.
    “Dunno. I’m no relic expert. You’re gonna have to be the one to teach me about that.” Amata answered with a laugh.
    “Better to be safe than sorry.”
    He recorded the cloak and ring in the tome and withdrew the ring.
    He could not help but notice that the fibers in the cloak were much coarser than that of which he currently wore. Perhaps that saying, ‘to each his own’ applied? In this case, it might be more fitting to say, ‘to each dragon his own’.
    He chuckled gently at what he believed to be a clever joke, to Amata’s confusion.
    Following that, he dismissed the tome and it disappeared in a series of beads of light.
    TJ placed the ring on one finger after the next until he could find one where it fit.
    Much to his dismay, it seemed it was made for an adult. Or someone with bigger fingers that was clearly not him.
    As he took a closer glance, he glimpsed what seemed to be a small fire within the ruby. It formed a ball before circling around the entirety of the accessory, then came to a rest and performed the action once more.
    “What a weird set of items. You’d think that they’d put the cloak at the entrance of the dungeon. You’d have gotten fried before you made it here.”
    “It’s really handy that your mom knew how to sew one, then. I guess you might not have needed one, but it did prove to be helpful. It’d be useful even now, especially for fighting Rayinth. I’ve little doubt that he’ll use a lot of fire attacks.”
    She closed her eyes thoughtfully for a moment.
    “I guess they were doing something to prepare my partner for the upcoming fight. I might not be giving these old guys enough credit.”
    “Well, I’m ready as I’ll ever be. But I mean…where do we go from here? It’s a dead end, isn’t it?”
    “Hm? Oh that? It’s a fake out.”
    Amata made her way over to the far wall and stopped at it. To TJ’s eyes, it was indeed a dead end. There was a wall with a stone dragon forged into it, it’s imposing eyes solemnly looked at them from the time they entered to now. After seeing its visage on multiple occasions, he quickly recognized the creature to indeed be Grislan.
    The Abellan could not help but wonder if the dragon would take form to protect its master as Lady Hug did Pandora.
    Amata ran her hand over the muzzle of the dragon before she closed her eyes. When she opened them, her hair burst into flames and a severe outward pressure nearly knocked TJ off of his feet. Following that, the stone Grislan’s eyes lit up a powerful crimson before the herald of flames appeared between it and Amata’s hand. Moments later, a long slit formed right down the center and creaked open, revealing the inner sanctum to Rayinth’s Vestibule.
    “I’d only read stories about it but…it really is here. The fact that I was able to get in must mean that Grislan deemed me worthy.” Amata said as she lowered her hand.
    Her expression was hard, pensive and her tone conveyed this fact without fail. Yet, all the while there was a sense of awe to it all…of masked disbelief and burgeoning conviction.
    Her hair died down and she took a couple steps inside, closely followed by TJ.
    The two found themselves in a wide room with a high roof. In the center of it was a small pool of water. Along the walls were several pillars accompanied by a set of six braziers that lit themselves in succession upon the Governor of Fire entering the area. At the far side of the room was a massive statue of who TJ suspected, was the original Governor of Fire Rayinth in all his glory. His looming figure seemed to be the last judge of his descendant’s character and her worthiness to succeed him.
    “This is the place. Being here after all these years feels so…surreal!” Amata said with a hint of excitement.
    “Is there another hidden door here?” TJ asked.
    “Nope. This is it. This is where Rayinth is waiting for us.”
    “He’s here?! Is that him?! He’s huge!”
    “What? No!” She laughed as she gestured for him to calm down.
    “To summon him I have to perform a ritual. A really…embarrassing…ritual. You can’t look though, okay? You definitely can’t look! So cover your eyes!”
    He did as she requested.
    “Close them too! A-and turn around!”
    Was this part of the ritual? He had never been in one that required him to do something like this before. He would keep it in mind for next time.
    “Cover your ears too!”
    “Wait, I only have two hands!”
    “’S fine then…”
    He could not help but think that over the period of time this ritual had started, Amata’s voice began to sound more and more subdued. It was a little unlike her. Though it did happen on occasion, this did not seem warranted like the others. However, he did not want to press her for his curiosity, nor ruin the ritual.
    At that, he heard the sound of what he suspected to be clothes rustling. Did she have to take some things off because they would get in the way? He felt more and more unsure as the sound continued, accompanied by Amata’s grunts of effort and muttered complaints about perverted old men.
    Finally it came to an end and the sound of bare feet quietly rang out across the stone. They came to an abrupt and sudden halt as the Governor of Fire sighed.
    “I can’t believe this,” Amata muttered.
    The sound of something touching the water in the basin brought TJ’s senses to the fore and nearly made him jump as Amata shrieked.
    “You’d think with how deep in Midgard we are the water would at least be lukewarm! Geez!”
    “Y-you alright?” TJ asked nervously.
    “I’m f-fine. You’re not looking right?”
    He could feel her gaze trained on his back.
    “You’re…you’re pretty pure, aren’t you?”
    “I dunno what that means, to be honest.”
    “That’s fine. Just…keep doing that.
    “Moving on…”
    The sound of water being splashed accompanied by Amata shuddering was what TJ had heard next. The more he heard, the more baffled he became by this ritual, but he would not break the rules of them.
    “Okay, now just for the prayer.”
    Amata took a deep breath and took some time to exhale, seemingly steeling her resolve.
    “I stand before you now as the bearer of the torch. Nurturing this tiny fire in my bosom into the raging inferno that is my spirit, my conviction, my reason! Look upon me now, not as a child born of the flames but a battle-bred warrior forged by them!
    “Let the past, present and future be mended by these hands! We shall see the prophecies fulfilled and be the keys that will open a path so that the rightful king may claim his throne. I, Amata Seitz shall ascend to bring about the unity of the five Governors in this time, to strike down evil in all its forms! Hearken to me, brave hero of eld and grace me with your presence and the right to your glory through this divine challenge! Here and now, I shall prove myself worthy!”
    In a matter of moments the flames that crackled to life within the braziers burst into massive conflagarations that threatened to engulf the entire room. In a panic TJ opened his eyes and had half a mind to shout Amata’s name in a desperate bid to protect her from what was to come, but despite being surrounded by the flames he felt nothing. In all of the flames however, he could not see a thing. The crimson blossom that paraded around him was nigh blinding and in a desperate attempt to protect his eyes he covered them with his sleeve.


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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:45 pm

    You won't find Izmir if you search for Linara:

    Broke: Ridley is in smash
    Woke: Neku should be in(or at least DLC)
    Snoke: "There has been an awakening, have you felt it? The dark side and the light."

    Mr. A said it won't happen but I'll wait. He's a freebie. His attacks design themselves! ...I'm not salty, you're salty!
    So? Let's get down to it!

    It's been more than a month so I'm a little rusty so bear with me here. In spite of it, though, I DID finish Pomf and Circumstance! Get happy! I'll post it here when I can be bothered, but if you haven't read anything about me talking about it, there's SEXY TIME involved. So if you're not into that or not old enough, skip over it. That's all I'll say on it right now.
    So continuing from where I left off! Next room! Sorta. The two are talking and making a bit of a plan. What I like about this part is the way their banter is. In truth, a small part of me feared that it would get a little old since it was just the two and no one else to spice it up a little, excluding Su's occasional interjection. It's very rarely that I work without an ensemble cast, I've realized. There are some cases, like Kana/Talin and Salem/Reina but they usually have someone else to compliment their shenanigans like Vanir or Faust. Having TJ here though makes Amata's explanations feel less...explainy. By that I mean the exposition doesn't come off as being told to the reader, per se. Adding a little humour and personality through the two really helps it feel like it belongs there. It also allows Amata to flex her knowledge guns. All the while, we get TJ's mental monologues giving us a glimpse into his thoughts, concerns and actions that are or aren't taken.
    Anyway! Here too, you can see I tried experimenting with changing terrain. Since the two are surrounded by magma, the only thing between them and it being the rock beneath their feet, they have to choose their tactics accordingly. When Amata makes the first move and damages it, she realizes that what she can do is somewhat limited there. Meanwhile, TJ who can't fly has to awkwardly make his way forward to avoid getting stuck in a pothole. Though there are only 3 enemies in total, the lay of the land makes it extremely hazardous.
    Here's a bit of trivia for you! The cavern worms were originally supposed to be lava dwellers. They'd swim through it and occasionally come out to spit fireballs at any unfortunate souls to be within their territory. They were supposed to be spirits also. That's why the room has the lava in it--it added both atmosphere and allowed for them to dwell in it. To add to that, though, it certainly gave the temple that sort of fire temple feeling, didn't it? As I designed it, I thought back to those from the zelda games i played--mainly Windwaker and Ocarina of Time. The first for WW was the one from the Rito's roost and the other was that one part in Ganon's lair? Or something. As for OoT, it was the Fire Temple, obviously. Those were a major part of my childhood! Back to the topic at hand, I've no idea how the cavern worms became the way they did, but it was an interesting change of pace. Rather than digging through stone and swimming in lava, they melt stone with acid and dig through the earth. A little reminiscent of the behemoth...though I think that thing just eats stone.
    Now about the acid, the liquid itself isn't all that powerful. It's extremely effective against stone but against flesh and living creatures, less so. However! Rather than melting through flesh, it weakens the constitution of whatever it touches. In other words, it lowers defense. That, in conjunction with having like a hundred tiny sharp teeth digging into wherever the secretion landed results in immense amounts of pain. For that reason, Amata flies into a panic and winds up thrashing about. In truth, writing that part was a little hard because I felt extremely bad for her! I had to play the scene out in my head over and over and hoo boy...that was an experience.
    Moving on! Something that stands out here is TJ's plan to remedy the situation. He mentions off-hand Kooh, who has great hand-eye coordination. This is true for all intents and purposes and important. Kooh isn't only great close-range, her long range skills are well honed. When it comes to throwing objects or ranged spells, she's very accurate. It's like comparing your accuracy with a gun and a bow. A bullet travels a lot faster so the bow requires you to predict where your enemy will be. Frozen Blitz and other spells require that sort of coordination. Using the Chaos Frequency hones the senses and to that end, it can also help TJ in what he lacks. The thing I love about his character is that it has a lot of places where he can grow--he has main character plot armour and abilities but his basic abilities need to be honed over the course of the novel. Though he has the Frequency, how he uses it will affect him, so he 1)has to use it wisely and 2)needs to hone his other skills outside of battle. This way, I can develop the other characters who are masters of these arts while making the main character feel more...rounded! You can clap now.
    Regarding his uses of the Contemptuous Arts, I really wanted to capture the feeling of brutality that it offers him here. I think a part of me thought of everyone's favourite not-as-brutal-but-still-kinda-brutal Dad of Boy. This of course, was before Dad of Boy, so it was Kratos, yes. His brutality is on another level, but when you try to turn a cinnamon roll into a destroyer of worlds, sometimes you have to only settle for going halfway. Collector's Bounty is a spell that removes ailments. It's a Contemptuous Art, though, so if the Collector doesn't get its bounty, the user gets punished. Use wisely. As TJ said, his healing is weak if not non-existent when he uses that Frequency. So, despite his ridiculously OP powers, he has to give up some things to gain others.
    The final plan? I think when I designed that the thing that came to mind was bomberman. I used to play the DS version all the time with a friend back in the day. It was tons of fun. Anyway, you know how when you get near the end of a game and you get these ridiculously powerful bombs? It's sorta like that. The explosions start to take up the whole stage and sometimes you can only pray that you don't get boxed in with a bomb or two. Or that you don't blow yourself up in the process. I typically did the latter. Freakin' terrorist man. If violent video games make people do violent things, why haven't I tried to blow up a place in search of power ups, huh?

    Thankfully during this dungeon, I remembered TJ was a Bard, so he heals every now and again. As for the discussion and inner monologues following it, I have to admit, through TJ i feel like I had to hype myself up too. There've been a lot of tough enemies TJ fought throughout Frequency like Peorth, Choen Palm, the Sins, etc. In this case, though, I had to write the strongest character he's faced to date. A part of me feared that I couldn't give it the due respect deserved. We're almost there, so you can be the judge, but to some degree I feel that I managed to capture the tension and raise the stakes enough make it feel like the two really had to give it their all, not only to win but to prove their strength. 'Til then, though, there's plenty of cute banter between these friends becoming thick as thieves.

    What I like here is how the two run through a series of possibilities to get across. They look at their strengths and weaknesses and give the readers a better idea of what they're capable of. In spite of this, they come up with some wild ideas. I don't say it often but to put it bluntly, they're both kind of idiots and I love that about them. Amata also had a 'kill it with fire' moment. There's a lot of good back and forths with Su along with Amata here too.
    There's something important here! TJ's recollection at having some understanding of using water magic is what you should pay attention to. Think about it this way--in TJ's past, he was able to open the light core on command and use some non-lethal spells. This was of course before he had all of his memories wiped. As he recollected some of his memories, the light and dark magics he knew along with the ice spells he had in his repertoire were recovered. Of course, Peorth taught him the basics of light magic, but you should ask yourself, where did he learn it originally? You can do the same for dark, ice and potentially water. Should he recover more memories, it's possible his mastery could extend to it. Also Molly is, if I haven't said it before, completely, 100% official courtesy of Su. I gave Frozen Caress a knew action that was more befitting of the name. He uses it a couple times in this chapter and it'll remain that way going forward. There's another statement here that can be seen as foreshadowing. When the two prepare to end the battle with the giant water sphere, Amata's 'idea' comes up again later, though not directly mentioned. As for Hollow Pulse, it's a spell that's like a series of short bursts in a set location. They're very compact so the bursts would be small but powerful. If contained, even more so! Amata herself can create a field to use it, but since the golem had a body she could use it within, she was able to do just that.

    Next room! In a sense, it's a sort of library. It may not have always been that way--the possibility it was once higher does exist but who could say for certain? As you can imagine, though, all the scrolls are written in ancient Cerebian. I'll make a name for it someday. Somedaaaaaay. Reina could read it, but she can't read it. She can only read braille. Did someone say it's time to shill?! You can read Reina's story, RIGHT NOW! Not only can you read the whole first act, but you can also read like...80% of act two! What an opportunity! Where, you ask?! Well first you'll have to hop into an interdimensional rift that will take you to my room. Then you need to hack into my laptop to read the most up-to-date version. Following this, you'll have to enter the matrix to host it to a website where the rest of the internet can read it. Following this, you upload your mind to the mainframe and become the all-knowing and all-powerful technological god emperor of the internet so that you can rule over the puny humans that aren't you. Or I could just upload it here. But where's the fun in that, am I right?!
    ...I've been playing a lot of Monster Prom with Mr. A and B respectively. More on that later!
    Back to the topic at hand, someday I'd like to do more with this. Though in truth, it feels like to try to fit them into the story somewhere would be...weird, you know? Like, those scrolls are just exposition in a written format. Unless someone in the story could make a tldr version, it would be hard to find a use for them. Either that, or they would be A) mentioned off-hand at having some use in an epilogue courtesy of a narrator or B)written into a side-story or something, to give deeper insight into the Age of Heroes and that which followed it.

    Next room! Amata actually does a fair amount of studying amidst her practice. Never forget: a fire mage has incredibly powerful magic but at a much higher mana cost. Her practices are short and intense and she studies between breaks. We also get a glimpse into how Havens get their books. All 3 stories look at nomadic Cerebians and one of the things they do is bring goods wherever they go. Weapons, armor, books, food, the whole shebang. Also news! The Havens hardly have an idea what's going on in the outside world so visitors bring information.
    As for Historia, guess what?! They appear in a certain little novel called Innocent. Idk if you've heard of it, but you can totally meet someone from the guild there! It hasn't actually happened yet, though. There's plenty of fun stuff, though! We'll see characters from Sanc, but younger. Also there's plenty of fluffy shenanigans and brutal murder and political intrigue...boy, if only you could read it.
    I'll stop screwing around soon, I promise lol.
    Anyway, for some reason or another horses don't exist. They did, now they don't. Where'd they all go? Why do people have Prirings pull their carts? What do people ride in LT, anyway? Mounts never were all that big a deal in game (thank god. Unlike a certain Mounts Online that I could think of. I thumb my nose at that dreadful game and my wasted years on it. Mostly wasted. Partially sorrowful. Partially joyful. What is life, without shitty games and memories, I ask?) leaving aside the few like the dragon poe and...an eagle? I mean, you just upgrade your boots to go faster. Or use that weird guild item thingy? That acts like a weapon that does noooooooooo damage. Probably changed now. I think there was a UFO too. LT was weird and I loved it. Anyway, horses. I for one, welcome our new horse girl overlords.

    So we finally get to the sanctum! This was very important for me because as I looked back on 'A Moment in Time' I wanted it to have the feeling of...how do I put it, importance. Like a sacred place, untouched by time. Somewhere that contained the God's Governors' history but also had a sense of mystery to it. What I love about it is how TJ questions who built the statues. They all exist up until the most recent God's Governors, those being Alvaro and Amata. If the two had passed away, who would build their statue? Where would they fit it? I hope that as you read this chapter, you asked questions like this. Leaving that aside, I want it to serve as a stark contrast to what we Saw in Su's temple--the entire place destroyed, defiled and pillaged. It casts such a dark shadow over Su's story, giving reason for her anger and anguish and her disdain for Humanity. Not only that, though, but it shows that there are people who would go out of their way to disrespect those of the past and the things erected to remember them. This isn't me being woke, I promise. It's just a story block.
    As much flak as FE:F gets, I really liked that it had the Yato hidden within the statue in chapter 5. Say what you will about the story, but you gotta give credit where it's due, it had some good symbolism. I'm still kinda bad at it, but I've been getting better at noticing the little things. This is one of the many and I appreciate it.
    Now a bit about the artifacts within! The sword there is a weapon designed to counteract fire mages, essentially. Not only does the sword absorb fire attacks(to a certain degree) it stores them and unleashes them with every swing. Depending on the wielder's will, it can either unleash them as a ranged attack or can coat the blade to sear with every cut. I dunno why, but whenever I see rubies I think they'd be elementally-aspected towards fire. Or I played too much HF14 and it bled into my work. BUT THAT'S JUST A THEORY. A GAAAAAAAAAME THEORY. TJ can't wield it, btw. Both because he's untrained and because he's kinda weak. Anyway, the reason Demon's Armoury is an exception(if I haven't explained it before) is because the weapons he makes aren't made of a physical material. They're formed from his mana. To this end, the shape and strength of it are enhanced but the weight of it still remains within his capabilities. Of course, depending on how unwieldy they are, he'll have a hard time moving them about. It's not like comparing a mallet to a rubber mallet. They still have weight, but they aren't as difficult to wield as the real thing. Caster's Workshop not only requires the wielder to know the weapon they're designing, they're made of ice. Ice is heavy as sin and for that reason, TJ struggles if the weapons are too much to wield.
    We all know what a dragonsmane cloak does, right? As for that specific cloak, it was made of Grislan's mane. Not kidding. The architects used Grislan's mane to make the original cloaks so they could build the temple.
    The ruby ring that he acquires doesn't have any special abilities, per se. It's use is for reducing damage taken from fire based attacks and magic. It's a sturdy item that isn't too in the way and can find a lot of use in the future.
    On the topic of making additions to the tome, it's something that TJ and Peorth can do. Peorth's predecessors had done so also, which would explain why there are and she can summon artifacts from the tome, such as Renda's Mirror. How useful these artifacts are or what it takes to use them varies. Nonetheless, as more artifacts are located and returned to the tome, more of them can be accessed and utilized.
    On that note, I feel like though I didn't think of it at the time, but to me it's really reminiscent of a feature you'd find in Supergiant games. I'll be the first to admit it, I'm a total fanboy for the company, but a reason I enjoy it so much is it's like...the sort of thing...you know Metroid? A part of what most people(including me) enjoy about it is that the story is there, you just have to look for it. If you're there for Samus and the shooty-pows, you can still enjoy the game. But if you're a completionist or a story hunter, you can scan everything to see how the story unfolds. Bastion, Transistor and Pyre all had similar things. As the story progresses you collect things about people, about the world and about your ragtag band of friends. Unless you're Red, then you don't get a ragtag bunch. But you DO get a hot mystery guy in a sword(yes pls. Hell, double the yes). Anyway, if Frequency was a game, I'd love to do something similar. It'd be kinda weird because the items you collect would be like equipment in an RPG but it'd be cool to have a tome with all sorts of info in it that would elaborate on the world from the far past! Like who wielded what, the names and what the items were renown for.
    Ah...anyway, that's enough about that.

    The fake out wall was a callback to AMiT. I think there was one. In this case, however, it's Grislan's face. If this was Resident Evil it'd probably poison you or something and give you a key. Or bite your hand off. No, better, snakes would come out. I have a history with that series. Never was good at puzzles, sadly.
    All my terrible jokes aside, I really do hope that these sections contained the sense of awe that I attempted to portray. Something like...facing off with a giant. As if you were gonna take on something greater than words could portray, Rayinth may have been just a man but the power contained within him and the legend he had forged with his fists carried the weight of the world within them. The shenanigans between TJ and Amata doesn't always portray that but it's that...innocence that really provides such a stark difference between the past and the present. Who TJ was and who he is now, who Rayinth was and what his descendant Amata is like, those parallels are very important. When you read the rest of the chapter, you'll be able to see the conflict these parallels draw.
    The last thing I wanted to say about this update is that I did indeed look back to AMiT before writing her prayer. I wanted to capture the essence of the original one while giving it a more modern take. Also, for each God's Governor, the first part will be aligned to their element and what they've obtained and plan to prove by taking the trial. There's a bit of foreshadowing there too, that if you look back in the chapter you might be able to discover something for a future event.

    And that's it for this update!

    So what have I been doing lately? The usual, mostly.
    I've been playing Fantasytical Granbeasts and Where to Find Them. Currently, I'm hunting the illusive S. Diantha. A Water Memer's best friend. I play all the colours of the rainbow, babyyyy. I've got my bait(tix) my tranqs(crystals) and a trap(300 Cerulean sparks) ready for that banner. DELIVER HER UNTO ME, KMR. My body is ready. Also the P5 collab is coming and Futaba didn't make it in. I mean, I knew but I'm still gonna cry into my pillow at it and scream to the ocean all of my unspoken sorrows. Is this what Rise fans felt like with the fighting game? Patience is a virtue, they say. However, I am a vice-lord. It's a shame GBF players will never know why best girl is best girl but...you know, at least the church of Futaba exists, right? I should go door-to-door to spread the good word of our lord and saviour. Lest these heathens be damned to know the name of any other not-as-good characters.

    Anyway, enough about that. I'm back on my shit, in HF14. I fought the tiger-man-tiger. Him and his hard-on for Tenzen. Idk if he's the only one who's got the hots for a human, but fingers crossed the other four guardians don't want a piece of that ass or we're gonna have a Byakko extreme+ on our hands. Primal Royal?! This one's a freebie Yoshi P! Take it or leave it! Uwu is old news, now. It's all about the booty battle now, baby!
    That aside, I'm hoping that this is the patch where I get to punch Asahi in his stupid face. I'm also looking forward to more {Golfer Daddy}. I've been itching to listen to Tsukuyomi's theme 'cause I tend to listen to a lot of the vocal FF14 songs on YT while writing but I wanna experience it with the fight first. I personally love Sephi, Lakshmi, Sophie, Ramuh and everything sung by Susan Calloway(I think she did Revolutions, Answers and Dragonsong) personally!

    Lastly, as mentioned before, me and Mr. A and Mr. B started playing Monster Prom. It's fun and frustrating and hilarious. There are so many things I want to try and see. As much as I hate to admit it, I've grown rather attached to one of the characters and have been struggling to pursue others. I will! Eventually! Hopefully. Maybe...or not. I'll report my findings and potential failures later.

    My antics aside, Pomf and Circumstance is complete! 100%! Two new characters have joined the mix but I can't tell you who they are. There's a lot of interesting stuff there and sexy time. I did it! I wrote it! As I wrote it, I awakened a portion of my dark past and unlocked a special ability "Horny on main". With a lot of help from the master, that is. Godspeed. It was tough but I think my author level has increased by 1. I do have one more occasion for me to reawaken that skill, but it's a fair distance in the future. Whether or not I'll do it again before then, I can't say, but we'll see how it all shakes out!
    Another going forward? I...I dunno. I know what I want to do but it's a matter of when. For the time being, I'll probably show Inno some love. Act 2 is almost done and I'd like to wrap it up in the near future.

    Ahh before I forget, the new WTNV podcast with the crew is suuuper good! I talked about the original before..and probably the books. I highly recommend it! Having the team talk about each episode will really give you a lot of good insight about the podcast and the people who make it. I learned things about them I never knew, despite having listened since like...2013? I think? Word of mouth is powerful and by word of mouth I mean a few reblogs. Never know where you'll find yourself.

    Ah...anyway, I'm not paid to shill. It's a labor of love, I suppose lol. If you'd like to hear more of my terrible author's commentary, just scream into the void and I will appear. Unless I die a horrible, gruesome death. Then I won't appear. But I mean, a 50/50 chance ain't bad, right?
    Until next time!


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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:49 am

    Pages 568-574:
    When the effect came to an end he found himself in what seemed to be an arena of sorts. The walls were pristine and stone, a gentle tan lined with weapons and markings in the ancient Cerebian language. The floor was marked with the herald of flames. In the heart of it stood Amata, clad in a crimson cape and before her stood God’s Governor of Fire Rayinth, likely closer to the end of his life.
    “Hm? What’s this?” Amata asked as she brushed the cape aside to get a closer look at the outfit.
    It featured a crimson sleeveless tunic with a gold embroidery, a knee-length pleated skirt, brown gladiator sandals and gold bangles on her wrists. It had a long cape lined with fur around the neckline and the herald of flames emblazoned upon the back. It even came with a golden hair clip in the shape of a dragon’s head.
    “Must be ritual garb. It’s nice. I’m not that big on skirts, though…”
    She turned her focus to Rayinth as she was joined by TJ.
    “It’s…a pleasure to finally meet you, honored ancestor,” Amata said.
    There was a fire in her eyes. It seemed that the ritual that she spoke was not just something she said in order to begin her trial, but something she felt and believed with all of her being. The conviction she showed up to this point and now, face-to-face with Rayinth was the proof that she was ready and did not fear what was to come.
    Rayinth was a withered man, his beard and hair now snow white. The wrinkles on his bronzed skin, face, hands and perhaps in other places beyond their vision were proof of the time he had spent on Midgard, time he spent until there likely was none left. He wore a simple black robe with long sleeves. Upon his head was a wreath of cyclamen.
    He opened his mouth to speak and upon doing so, spoke in tongues neither could understand.
    “F-forgive me…I don’t…speak the ancient Cerebian language.” Amata muttered under her breath, her expression showing her resignation.
    Rayinth hiked a brow at her words. Following the event, he pointed to TJ and gestured for him to come over. At the action, TJ sent a baffled gaze to Amata who, despite her confusion, only nodded a single time.
    He could not fathom what Rayinth wanted from him, but if it could help Amata he had no reason to refuse.
    Rayinth reached out to his chest and with two fingers, gently tapped the location of the Heart of Yggdrasil. At his touch, the gem reacted and began to emanate as if the Abellan himself had activated the Frequency. TJ blinked in disbelief before he turned his gaze to the Governor of Fire before him.
    “How did you…?”
    Before he could finish his question Rayinth placed the same two fingers to his forehead.
    Suddenly TJ felt the strength leaving his body as the memories of his adventure flooded back to him. From his time in Rayinth’s Vestibule back to the time he awoke in Belos. Even the events that preceeded it all flooded back to him with an excruciating pain. He saw brief flashes of events he could not recall: his endeavours with Choen Palm and adventures with Iris, his brief journeys to the castle and the few but precious times spent with Peorth. Eventually going even further back to the time of God Ah’s family, soon ending with a single glimpse of Amae’s smiling face…and finally, the sound of her song.
    When the moments had passed TJ broke away from Rayinth desperately gasping. He gripped his right eye as he gazed, terrified, through his left. The God’s Governor’s touch had done something to him—it felt like something was pulling his eye right out of its socket and yet the sound of the song had eased the pain somewhat.
    “What…did you do to me?” TJ uttered as he struggled to stay on his feet.
    “T-TJ! Are you alright?! ”
    Amata hurried over and placed one of his arms over her shoulder before she looked shocked once more.
    “Y-your eye…what happened to it?”
    Her shock quickly became fury and she directed it at the Governor before her.
    “What have you done to him?!”
    Once again, it had taken up the golden appearance. Something that happened very rarely, but a sign that seemed to reek of ill omens.
    “So it seems…” Rayinth began, speaking in the common modern language, “…that you have developed in a variety of unexpected ways.”
    Both challengers looked on him in disbelief.
    “’Me’…hmm? Never had I dreamed that I would see the day where you had developed an identity of your own…become more Human, in a sense. I cannot help but wonder if it was Her Grace’s design, or nothing more than a by-product of their binding.
    “But I digress. Tell me, Child, was that young girl in your memories Leigha? Has she reincarnated?”
    “Leigha…?” TJ asked, searching his memories of one such person.
    Had Rayinth thought Peorth to be her? There were similarities, and it certainly was not the first occurrence, but she and Peorth were and always would be two separate people.
    “She isn’t Leigha…that’s the Chief. My guild master.” He said through his breaths.
    “Is that so? A shame, that. A foolish hope that she lived to the day, one also that she had reincarnated into her descendant. Alas, she still awaits us on the other side.”
    The pain yet lingered, his vision was still lost to him, but he believed it would return in time. He could see a correlation between what Rayinth had done to him and what he had gained in so doing and yet…he could not shake the feeling that was all.
    “But if you know that I lacked an identity in the past…is it true you know who I am?”
    This brought a smile to the old Governor’s face.
    “Indeed. You are a product of our time. As such, we know of you, of your origins and your purpose. Now but once more, I shall have you serve it.”
    TJ let out an agonizing scream as he collapsed to his knees. The Heart of Yggdrasil seemed to respond when Rayinth held out his hand, energy pulsing from it and swirling around the battlefield.
    “M-my eye…I can’t…” TJ uttered.
    When he blinked and opened it again, there was nothing in its place save for an empty socket. Amata was absolutely mortified at the sight and could hardly utter a word as she turned her eyes back to Rayinth, who held his hand skyward. Towering above them was a massive golden magic circle that spanned the entirety of the battlefield.
    Within it, there were three heralds forming the triad. Asmodeus’, the Ouroboros, the dragon’s scales like thorns being devoured by the owner itself. Amae’s herald, a watchful and merciful eye over a sunburst. Finally the magic circle, the mark of Humanity, much of what they owe their ability to survive and thrive to. In the center of them all was one Amata had never glimpsed before, however.
    It was, what seemed to be the World Tree. Upon it’s crown, flowers bloomed and to its side petals rained down like tears. The roots of the tree were dying and decaying as Nidhogg feasted upon them.
    It was from this, that a set of three smaller magic circles took form above Rayinth. What once started as a bead of light became an ever growing sphere before taking form as a pillar of light that surrounded the Governor of Fire. Upon the light dispersing, Rayinth was born anew.
    His white and receeding hair had become a deep shade of crimson, its wild shape flowing from the top of his head down his shoulders and back. His beard had grown shorter but it also, seemed to be brimming with life. His dark brown eyes had a jubilant fire to them that matched the bold grin he wore. His body had become all around muscular, from his toned arms and legs to the pectoral and abdominal regions.
    He wore a sleeveless, open black vest with a white and red pattern adorning it from the front to the back. Upon the back, alike to Amata’s ritual garb, it featured the herald of flames, likely proving to be something belonging to Rayinth specifically. He wore red harem pants with a mandala design in white and black, along with a pair of open-toe sandals. Upon his wrists were a set of beads forming bracelets and his fists were closed upon what seemed to be a metal gauntlet. Like flames that extended from his fist to his forearm, his gauntlets proved to be as daunting as their wielder. With a flick of his wrist the weapon would bring the fire to life and claws would emerge after the flames died down revealing that which was masked.
    “To be young again…what an excellent feeling.”
    “Hey bastard! The fuck you think you’re doing, huh?! Let me out of here so I can tune you up before your great grandchildren,” Su roared from within the gem.
    “Disgruntled, aren’t you? Be silent.”
    He pointed at the Heart of Yggdrasil and it lit up but once before dimming. In so doing, Su said no more.
    “I won’t threaten you like she had, but I need to know. Why would you do all of this? First glimpsing his memories and then using his powers to your own ends? Don’t you find any of that wrong?!” Amata asked.
    As the seals faded away, TJ’s eye returned to him but the shock of the event still left him in awe and unable to act.
    Rayinth crossed his arms as he grinned.
    “Should I? For eons Cerebians have used the Heart of Yggdrasil to glean the knowledge of their predecessors. It is to this, we rally to, we seek our power and we are able to become one with our goddess. Just as our successors have contained their memories here too, I, Undine and Dione, Arafaar and Terramane have also contributed. There is little that we know that this child does not. However, as we have bodies that are, in some respects similar to Humans, there is deterioration, including that of memories. The Heart of Yggdrasil keeps all things in pristine condition, exactly as the child saw them and knew them, as we did. The matter of…his being the conduit, was something that was nothing more than a matter of course. As it was in the past, I act upon the same beliefs now.”
    At this juncture Amata was on the verge of boiling over with rage.
    She clenched her fists and her eyes before she took a deep breath and exhaled.
    “I have the utmost respect for you, Honoured Ancestor, but I don’t—I can’t accept your way of life! It’s been too many a millennia since your time!
    “Maybe then, TJ was something or someone else, but not here! What he is to you, isn’t what he is to us! He’s a person who thinks, feels and experiences life just as we do! Even more so! More than you’ll ever know by just skimming through his memories! I respect you, I do, but if you treat him like shit, I will not forgive you!”
    Rayinth blinked solemnly, placed his hands to his hips and let out a mighty laugh.
    “Is that so? I’ve waited to hear your heart’s true voice! Even without looking into the Heart of Yggdrasil, I found it unusual that a descendant of mine would speak so formally. But indeed, you are the blood of my blood and a descendant of mine.
    “Now then, far you have walked and hard you have fought to challenge me. You have proven yourself worthy of that right. Even before me you have shown that your conviction is not trite in the slightest and that you find yourself sworn to a cause. Magnificent! Let that be the sword you wield and strike me down with all your might! Just as I will fight you without restraint, I wish you to fight me with every fiber of your being!”
    He crossed his arms and nodded solemnly.
    “Alas, so as you do not have a handicap, I shall give you and your companion some time to gather yourselves. Make your preparations and once ready, I shall instruct you on the path this trial shall take.”
    “I-I’m fine…” TJ uttered as he staggered to his feet with the aid of his guitar.
    The young Governor of Fire sighed as she helped him right himself.
    “You’re not fine. Like, not at all. I told you didn’t I? You don’t need to put on the tough guy act with me. Even here, that still applies.”
    He laughed mirthlessly as she sat him down.
    “Since we have this chance, why don’t you prepare some buffs for the upcoming fight, hm? Maybe we can formulate a plan.”
    Amata raised a good point. It would have done them well if he had done it on a more regular basis, but for the time being he would not reflect on past mistakes. What mattered was what he could do now.
    Amata squatted next to him and looked at Rayinth as he took a few practice punches and kicks.
    “In truth, of all things I didn’t think he would be a Guardian. Not many stories spoke of what weapons the God’s Governors wielded, but this is both underwhelming…and helpful, I guess. All those sparring matches against my dad might serve some use here.”
    “But I shouldn’t let you take the front line.” TJ said as he gently strummed out the first song. “I know it’d be better if we had someone like Alvaro or Velvet to fill that gap but…the problem with using Einherjar to battle is that I’m wide open. Against a Cerebian enemy, it won’t take him long to target me and dispel my Synergism. Still, even if I’m a Bard, with the Frequency on my side I should be able to hold him off and hold my own.”
    Amata knit her eyebrows but eventually let them come to a rest as she chuckled gently.
    “I guess coming up with elaborate strategies never really was our strong suit, huh? We’ve always just done whatever worked. But you know…in spite of that I feel a sense of synergy with you. Somehow we just always know when to come to each other’s aid and do so with enough care for each other. One way or another, I’m sure we’ll work this out too.
    “But that aside, don’t feel for a moment that we all think of you as a thing TJ. If I have to beat that fact into Rayinth with my bare hands, I’ll do it. Now more than ever, I know I need to win this fight to prove that me and my beliefs aren’t just hot air. If I defeat him here, I’m willing to bet he’ll see things my way.”
    “Well, this is it, isn’t it? We’ve come this far together, we’ll clear it together.
    “Still, knowing that you and the others see me the way you do is good enough for me. I know I don’t really qualify as a Cerebian and I don’t really understand the world we live in but...I want these fun days to continue. That, and I want to go on more adventures with you.”
    She smiled sheepishly at his words.
    “Y-yeah, me too.”
    When TJ finished all of his songs he got to his feet and put his guitar on his back.
    “Alright, I’m ready.”
    “I am too. Ho-” before Amata could speak she was cut off by Rayinth.
    “Hold! Did we not discuss this, Amata? I have no desire for your formalities. Address me as you truly would.” Rayinth said, holding his hand out.
    “Huh? Seriously?” She rubbed the back of her neck. “Rayinth?”
    “Try again.”
    “…Old man?”
    He nodded with approval.
    “Yes, that sounds correct.”
    “Wah…busted…” Amata muttered under her breath as she shifted her eyes to her shoes.
    “That is enough of that, for the time being. Come, children. As you are now, you are in no state to be fighting.”
    TJ sent Amata a skeptical glance but she looked to him with confidence in her eyes. She nodded but once and led the approach, he closely following behind. Rayinth placed a hand to both of their heads and moments after doing so, it felt as if they were blasted with a wave of heat.
    “What was that?” Amata asked as she looked to him curiously.
    “I have pulled your souls from your corporeal forms in order to create an astral body,” he answered matter-of-factly.
    “You what?!”
    TJ turned around and as Rayinth had said, their bodies were indeed separated. The two leaned against the far wall in sitting positions, gently resting against each other. He could only laugh dryly at the occurrence.
    It was nothing new for him, that being, an out-of-body experience, but for Amata it was likely a first.
    “Allow me to explain. For this trial, there will be no rules, to complicate the matter. However, there is but one requirement: defeat me before both of you become unable to battle.
    “The reason I have separated you from your bodies is so that in the course of our battle, they do not come to harm. As I had told you, I will be fighting you with all my might. To fatally wound you may be the catalyst towards your defeat, whether in this trial or following it. It is my duty to decide whether you are capable enough to protect Midgard in my stead, not to be your downfall.
    “Alas, do not think for a moment that is reason to be careless in your actions. You will hurt and you will bleed as if they were your real bodies. It will serve as a good experience for future reference, as this may be the first time you experience such an event, but it will not be the last. Of that, I can assure you.
    “Now then. These-”
    He held out both hands and two flames crackled to life above them. The two floated over to the challengers respectively and stopped before their chests.
    “-will be the proof of your willpower. So long as your ability to fight remains, they will not diminish. However, should your ability to fight be snuffed out, so will your flame and you will be unable to battle any longer. Should both of your flames be put out, I shall consider the trial a failure and you shall be punished.”
    “Punishment…” Amata muttered weakly.
    Rayinth nodded solemnly in response.
    “Fail, and you shall be stripped of your title. You will be ejected from this hallowed location. Your candidacy will be revoked and you and the rest of your lineage shall be branded so that never again shall you have the opportunity to become a God’s Governor. You will be unable to enter this location. You will no longer be able to commune with your ancestors. Lastly, your powers shall be stripped from you.”
    For a moment she looked mortified, vulnerable at the information imparted upon her. But only moments later she furrowed her brows and clenched her fists, renewing her resolve.
    “I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s just more reason for me not to lose.”
    This made the God’s Governor of Fire grin boldly.
    “You have confidence. I respect that. Alas, you must prove to me that your confidence is more than empty bravado!”
    He backflipped away from the two three times before taking up a battle stance.
    “The time for talk has ended! Come, children! Your trial begins now!”
    “Let’s show ‘em how we get things done TJ!” Amata said as she reached out a hand and manifested her staff.
    TJ drew his guitar and nodded to her, steeling his own conviction all the while. Su could not aid him in this fight so he would have to rely on his and Amata’s strength alone.
    “I’ve got your back!” He said as he armed his weapon.

    With a strum of his guitar and an outstretched hand an icy ring took form.
    At his behest a series of icicles were fired from the ring at the God’s Governor of Fire. For but a moment TJ glimpsed him grinning and within moments he dashed out of the radius of TJ’s spell and weaved his way over to the Abellan.
    “He’s fast!”
    He reeled a fist back and TJ desperately raised his guitar to block the attack. The sheer force of his blow forced the Abellan back and required him to right himself. Rayinth’s onslaught had only begun, as he immediately followed the attack with a mid-air axe kick. TJ blocked the attack but did not suspect that his adversary would perform a second. At that moment Amata appeared by his side in flight and grabbed Rayinth’s foot.
    “I won’t let you!” She roared as a glowing ring surrounded her hand and his foot. “Combust!”
    The ring blew up and forced Rayinth back along with the duo.
    “Don’t let your guard dow-”
    Moments away from finishing her sentence Rayinth flew throught he cloud of smoke and kicked her across the face. Her body twisted through the air before she crashed against the stone.
    “Amata!” TJ shouted as he soon found Rayinth upon him once more.
    The first punch he managed to parry with the neck of his guitar. The second he knocked aside and upon the third he managed to guard. The two found themselves in a deadlock of pure strength.
    “You would do well not to take your eyes away from your opponent, Child.” Rayinth said to him.
    Without any prior warning, an explosion occurred right upon their deadlock and TJ’s guard came undone as he struggled to keep his footing once more. Rayinth closed the gap again following with two rapid punches to the stomach and a single bolley kick across the side of his head.
    The world seemed to spin as his body hurtled to the stone and he collapsed, temporarily dazed.
    Rayinth, however, was not finished with him yet. The sound of his sandals storming across the stone seemed to prove he had all the intention to follow up the last set of attacks.
    “I’m not done with you yet,” Amata roared from nearby.
    TJ found it rather incredible how quick she was to recover after getting kicked with such ferocity. He decided now was not the time to admire her and that he should focus on recovering.
    The sound of a burst of fire signalled Amata’s fire hop and following it TJ glimpsed her figure drifting over him for but a moment. She met Rayinth’s punch head-on with an open palm. The collision was met with an outward explosion in Amata’s favour, causing Rayinth to retreat slightly. She twisted as she jumped through the air and brought her hand down to meet his fist. Again, the blast forced him to stand his ground. The third and final time they clashed proved to be the biggest of all three explosions and caused Rayinth to skid backwards.
    She twirled her staff above her head before two flaming spheres took form above it. The moment she slammed it into the stone they both burst and shot forward, continuing to do so as they headed towards their target.
    As Rayinth prepared to lunge at her she did so also with the effect of Dragon Dive backing her. The two clashed, her staff versus his fist and remained in a flaming deadlock for a few moments.
    “You can’t challenge him in brute force Amata!” TJ warned her as he rose to his feet and found himself back to his full strength.
    As he had warned her, despite the effect of her spell Rayinth was pushing her back, unaffected by the fire.
    “Alright then! Dragon Fang!”
    The fire that once surrounded her seemed to surge forward and gather at a point, that single space where they clashed. Beads of light surrounded her body before shooting forward to that spot and taking the form of a dragon’s head that launched the two back in their respective directions. Upon the spell’s effect waning, the Tombstone spell reached its maximum distance and exploded downwards like a hammer falling upon its target.
    As Amata touched down near the Abellan she gently shook her hands, the burns evident upon them.
    “You alright?” He asked.
    It was unusual to see her, of all people, get burned by anything.
    “Yeah. The reason I don’t often use Dragon Fang is because of the backlash. Really strong, though.”
    She placed a fist into an open palm.
    “If we can’t beat him in strength or speed, we just need to hold him down. I know it’s kinda short notice, but I’ve come up with something the two of us can do together. Wanna give it a try?”
    TJ sent her a puzzled glance as she hurried over and whispered in his ear.
    “Oh! I like the sound of that. Let’s give it a shot!”
    Through the clouds the two glimpsed Rayinth jumping out, his wrists crossed, still in the guard stance following the end of their clash.
    TJ noted that if he did not act the orginal Governor of Fire would take the offensive once more and put them at a disadvantage.
    “Ice Fear!”
    He outstretched both hands and a series of six icicles formed in the general radius where Rayinth was to land. Noticing this he outstretched a single fist and changed his landing to a descent. The first icicle he touched, shattered beneath the weight of his fist and a wave of magma surrounded him and splashed down melting the rest. In spite of this, the grin on his face seemed to imply he was impressed. Without further ado, he fire hopped into the air and used a hand to create a blast to propel him toward Amata. She raised her staff to parry the blow and followed his punch through to the end of his arm, placing herself behind him.
    “Fire Blaster!” She roared as with a spin she created a sphere of flames.
    The initial blast forced him back but suspecting the end of it, he clapped his hands down upon it and negated the burst.
    TJ was waiting at the end of the radius, his eyes lit a jade green and his hand outstretched.
    “Shattered Berg!”
    Rather than shattering and hurling the chunks of ice at his adversary he brought down the iceberg as is. Rayinth did not attempt to escape it. Rather, he stood his ground, raised a single fist skyward and shattered it into nothing more than dust with a single punch.
    “Wrong move! Falcon Torrent!”
    Amata drifted above where the iceberg had come down and outstretched both hands to unleash a stream of flames upon their shared adversary. For but a brief few moments the spell caught Rayinth off guard but once they were up he raised a hand to part the blast. His weapon gained an intense glow and upon the effect ending he performed an uppercut that released a torrent of flames back at the young Governor of Fire. While Amata found herself needing to block her returned attack, TJ took the opportunity to hurry over to Rayinth and perform his next spell.
    “Frozen Caress!”
    TJ blew a gentle kiss that, enhanced by the Frequency allowed for him to quickly freeze Rayinth’s feet and thighs in a thick casing of ice.
    “Oh? It seems I underestimated your teamwork,” he remarked.
    He pounded his fists together and his body began to emit an intense heat that steadily began to melt the ice.
    Moments before the effect ended, Rayinth was surrounded by Amata’s Ten Flames spell. One after the next they began to burst and for the most part, he skillfully avoided them. Upon breaking free of the mass of conflagarations, he found the earth beneath him shatter and take to the skies.
    “Mother Gaia!” TJ roared as with an outstretched hand they took flight.
    As the two suspected, Rayinth bobbed and weaved his way around most of the stones and punched those he could not avoid, shattering them on impact.
    “There’s more where that came from! Mortar!”
    Amata hurled the flaming ball through the sky before it rained down fire like bombs.
    “Oh?” Was all the Governor of Fire had said to this.
    Despite his skill, there were some attacks that had gotten through and grazed him.
    “Hit it TJ!”
    TJ raised a hand skyward and spun his wrist in a circle, index finger outwards. Upon doing so, he finished the gesture by outstretching his hand and the stones came to a halt before instantly closing in on his target.
    “Gaia Burial!”
    The rocks converged on Rayinth and trapped him in.
    “You’re up, Amata!”
    Amata soared over where the spell took form and armed her staff. She reeled the weapon back and as she did, fire surged around the weapon.
    “Hollow Javelin!”
    She hurled the weapon at the stone and it pierced through, the fire gathering around the weapon before shooting downwards to where it landed.
    “Together, TJ! Now!”
    At those words Amata shot down towards the spell and landed with incredible force, taking hold of her staff all the while.
    “Molten Tomb,” the two shouted.
    The stones clenched together ever tighter and magma seeped through the cracks after filling the entire enclosure. As Amata withdrew her weapon the stones began to rumble and she noticed something was off. She immediately took flight and manifested her barrier moments before the enclosure exploded, flinging molten stone and magma all over the arena. In the wake of it Rayinth stood tall and proud, his clothes somewhat tattered but he, otherwise unharmed. However, his hair was alight alike to Amata’s, likely by his own doing.
    “Excellent, warriors! More! Continue your offensive! We have only begun,” he roared with delight.
    “Huh?! We barely even scratched him!” Amata cried out in disbelief.

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:26 pm

    Surgeons hate him for using this one simple trick:
    From the grave, I am returned! Actually, I'd be pretty mad if some necro dragged my corpse from 6 feet under. On the other hand, if it came with a sick theme song like one that the punisher has(no not that punisher, I mean the one from Uh-oh) I'd accept it. Not only was he scary looking, he was a master of terrible puns! I love that guy!
    Send me coffee over ko-fi and I'll send you a message of me saying "You lose in the ooze" in my best punisher voice! Good deal? Great deal!
    So? Let's get down to it!

    So the first big thing is new clothes for Amata! I've always had a weird relationship with armour and Frequency. I mean, it exists. Everyone wears some, but as is the case with the game, certain clothes mask the appearance of them. It was mentioned during USSR when the GMA came to Hanamah. For those who don't know, any items bought from the Fashion Shop(LT's in-game paid item shop) would mask the appearance of equipment like armor and accessories. If you had a Toma's fashion coupon you could get a similar effect. There were outfits you could buy with ely too that did this. Can't say how they do it now but I assume there's still plenty of similarities.
    Nonetheless, her ritual garb does serve the purpose of armor. It's kinda weird that she has it before she's ejected from her body and loses it after but...magic! What more explanation is needed? I'd like to do one for each of the God's Governors. It's not a one-off thing, mind. They'll need it again during the Xenadia arc when they take the second half of the trial. I'm sure there's more to it than what meets the eye!
    Moving on, Amata really isn't good with formalities. Most of the time she doesn't show it at all, as you can see through her relationship with her parents. The only other occasion was with Peorth, I think? I tried to capture some of that inherent and subdued awkwardness she shows in such cases.
    Here's a bit about the God's Governors and the HoY. As mentioned in the story, they can activate the Frequency. Their powers and knowledge allow them to activate the stone, draw mana and various other things from it. TJ's never had anyone utilize it before so he freaks out, of course. In his and Su's case, the two work in conjunction to activate and maintain the amount of mana flowing through it. As for the song, at its core, that is the Frequency. Those that can hear it can utilize the magic from within the stone. It's something important, so take note of that. As Amae has her song, Asmodeus does also. We were introduced to it on three separate occasions, I believe--the first being after the battle in Elfa. The second was TJ's dream and meeting with Asmodeus and the third when TJ met Adonis within the Heart of Yggdrasil. Just as each represents their respective god and their alignment, they have differing effects on TJ.

    One of the important things about what occurs here is that it introduces the clash of ideals between Amata and Rayinth. The young God's Governor shakes off her initial awe and it's quickly replaced by her usual fervor and fury. It also gives readers a look into the shift in TJ's personality. From the emotionless child on the other side of the gate to who he became now--a stark difference from the way he refers to people to the fact he wants to know the truth about himself. Rayinth's statement 'As such, we know of you, of your origins and your purpose.' holds a lot of importance--heck, just the word purpose alone does. The concept of it is important to TJ's story and might turn up every now and again, so if you see other characters from the far past like him, it would be a good idea to keep in mind. It's gonna be addressed again in the future to paint a picture of his relationship with the Cerebians of eld, a sharp contrast to those of the present.
    A little further back, Rayinth mentions Leigha, suspecting that she reincarnated. Not all those that reincarnate look similar to their past selves but it's easy to make that mistake. Unlike most other Cerebians, the Saints and their leader did not undergo reincarnation. Where they are, I can't say yet but they'll appear again eventually. While many others, those who chose to are awaiting the final battle, those who chose not to or were non-combatants undergo the cycle when they die. The Saints are a unique case.
    Next, we get the introduction of a new herald! I'm sure you could tell but this one is both important and unique to the Abellan. Featuring the 3 heralds that form the triad, it manifests as the conduit that binds them together. You might've guessed already but that is his eye. That's what it actually is. The organ is there to house it. At some point he'll probably learn to manifest both at once but since he can't, they can't exist at the same time. I can't say too much about this one yet but it'll be turning up again in the future and then you'll see what its purpose is. This, is one of them.
    So? Amata gets pissed. Moreso than she had before. Rightfully so? Perhaps! Also Su does too. She doesn't like people fucking with her host. Only she gets to fuck with him.

    So here's a question for you, dear reader: Do you agree with Amata? Or Rayinth? When Rayinth and the others existed, TJ didn't have sentience. He was, in essence, a doll. Within that doll they stored their memories, their spells and their knowledge. As it saw them, it recorded what it saw and those memories were stored away within the Heart of Yggdrasil for all Cerebians to gain access to. A few millenia later and that doll changed--gained sentience, began to communicate with others and develop a sense of self. Amata knew him as that. She saw the humanity in him, a being that thinks, feels and acts on emotions just as anyone else would. Someone she came to understand and who sought to understand her in turn. The time she spent with him reinforced that resolve.
    So which side do you stand on? Do you agree with Rayinth? That a doll for storage would remain as such, regardless of how it develops? Or Amata? That if it looks like a human and acts like a human, that it's a human?

    Back to the matter at hand, Rayinth knows his descendants pretty well. All of them could commune with him and their ancestors via the temple. Perhaps not all of them, but most of them have a fiery nature like Amata. Alvaro seems like an awkward dad but he was that way too, once upon a time. As for what Amata would refer to him as, Old man is it. Hence why she says busted. She was forcing herself to be formal and that's as informal as she possibly can be.
    So for the trial! As Rayinth says, there'd be little point to him beating them within an inch of their lives. Should he, they could easily die following the fight which would defeat the whole purpose of it. For the record, the astral bodies are similar to Su's avatar form. Typically, corporeal beings wouldn't be able to touch them but in this case, the situation is special. Rather, the destination is. As you're already aware, when they entered the sanctuary and Amata performed her ritual they shifted from there to a domain created by Rayinth. The rules outside of it don't apply inside.
    I spent a lot of time thinking about what the cost of losing would be. Obviously, death would be the easiest solution but it really doesn't fit the Cerebians. The punishment needed to carry weight but not be so brutal. I figured this was the best way to accomplish that--it really has the impact of a trial. She's got one chance at it and to fail is to risk everything both for herself and everyone else in her lineage.

    The fight finally begins! Writing Rayinth was difficult because he unlike most of the people they fought is...well, a God's Governor. Not only is he incredibly durable, but he has strength and speed that goes beyond what most can accomplish. I knew from the get-go that the challengers were gonna get brutalized by him and making the course of events seem logical proved to be difficult. On top of that, the only Guardian I've actually written is Alvaro lol. Though in that case, Alvaro fought a bit like a melee caster. He was more stance-heavy than Rayinth is and to that end, I had to do a lot of studying on various forms of CQC. I'd never heard of a bolley kick prior to writing this, for example.
    Though that very fact is important here. When the battle starts, Rayinth holds back on the stances. He was testing the two. As the name implies, it is a trial and to that end, he wants to see how capable the two are. If they fell to him when he was holding back a majority of his true strength, they wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance against Asmodeus. Even without his abilities though, he proves to a be a tough opponent. It's one of the things, I think, that makes it a pretty good fight. Through this, I can display his strength and skill without having him crush TJ and Amata. If he beat them up too quickly, the only logical explanation for a comeback would be that TJ used the Chaos Frequency to turn things around. Amata doesn't gain strength as her stamina diminishes and TJ only does in those circumstances.

    Next, we get three new spells from Amata. The first being Tri-bomber is as the name implies. It's a close range set of explosions that grow in strength with each subsequent use. As is the case with most fire spells, the closer she is to the target the stronger it is. It doesn't have too much force incoming so she can typically advance with each blast. The second, Tombstone, is a delayed spell that moves to a set location. It could be used on flying enemies of course, but much of the strength is in the final blasts at the set destination. Finally, Dragon Fang is a chain spell linked with Dragon Dive. As Amata mentions, it has recoil so if she does use it, she'll get burned. Being the God's Governor of Fire however, it doesn't do that much to her.
    I did things a little differently with Ice Fear here. In game, a Wizard can typically use Ice Fear I, Bards/Sorcerors can use Ice Fear II. The difference being that 1 has two icicles in front and 2 has four in front and behind. TJ does 6 in the front. This...isn't based on the game but it was implied earlier that SP skills can be manipulated to have differing effects! Sue me.
    As for Rayinth, his gauntlets not only reduce incoming fire damage, they absorb it also. He can use it to strengthen his attacks or just unleash fiery attacks. By strengthen, i mean enhance his punches or make them more explosive.
    To finish off this update, the two use a series of spells in conjunction with their teamwork and kick it off with a joint spell. Amata mentioned it during the fight when she said she had an idea. This is basically the start of round 2. I mean, Rayinth was hardly scratched but now he holds back less. It's like a countdown until team Amata gets their asses handed to them on a silver platter. The fight will pick up in intensity for sure, but I won't be covering it today.
    One last thought to end this on is that here, Rayinth stops calling them children, rather calling them warriors. It's the proof that he acknowledges their strength and teamwork and that he's going to stop toying with them. How? Find out in the next update! Which will probably be next month, following this pattern! Har!

    So. Off-topic conversation.
    Mr. A and Mr. B and I watched all of RWBY. I fell in love with Pyrrha. Now I'm heartbroken. It's tough being best girl. It's a pretty good show, definitely worth watching for the cool fights. That seems to be the general consensus and I agree.
    In other news, I got a Nantendo Swatch. Currently playing my bro's splatoon 2 cause I don't have any games. Should play some more zelda too. Started on his, have it here now. Got a hot date with stupid-sexy Link and a certain princess in Hyrulian yoga pants. My body is ready.
    Of course, I'm still playing Granbikini Fashionista. I'm running out of clever names for that game. I already had Carren, but IMO I think the event did a great job of helping her characterization. At first she seemed like a bratty kid but my opinion changed. She's a good kid. Guess I'll board the 'new version when?' train. I won't mention what I actually want or i'll jinx it lol. New event soon, too. I'm looking forward to DBO(Dark Bikini Olivia) and friends. I've only seen Scathacha once or twice but all I know is she's cute and I wanna take her home. That is all. I lied. Naoise is niiiice.

    I've said my piece. More soon? Meeeeeh. 'Til next time.

    Posts : 895
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 26
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:12 am

    Page 574-583:
    In a matter of moments Rayinth shot from where he stood to face off with the young Governor of Fire. His right fist was already reeled back and the sheer force of his blow to her stomach seemed to bring his forward momentum to a halt. Moments after she was thrown through the air, he shot after her to follow up with two more.
    “Hang on Amata! I’m coming!” TJ roared as he ran closer to their location.
    With a flick of his wrist a set of three frozen needles took form in between each of his fingers. As he prepared to hurl them into Rayinth’s back he shot forward towards Amata once more and grabbed her foot before she hit the ground. With one hand to her leg and the other rapidly shooting out small bursts of flames he propelled himself, gaining momentum as he spun her around.
    TJ watched cautiously but knew that there was no good opportunity for him to strike without harming her in the process. He grit his teeth, knowing full well his best bet would be to strike the moment she was out of his radius.
    Without another moment to spare Rayinth hurled the Sorceror and she bolted through the air before colliding with one of the walls, leaving a crater in the wake of her collision. TJ wanted to check on her but knew the moment he took his eyes off Rayinth he would be struck down. Setting the thought aside, he saw his opening. He hurled the three needles and prepared a set of six more. At the sight of the spell incoming, Rayinth looked to him with a glint in his eye for a moment before he fire hopped from the spot and performed the action in mid-air. Befuddled and in disbelief for a moment he attempted to follow his trajectory. He threw the first set and missed all of them as Rayinth bounded off the ground and in mid-air once more. He threw the second set and found himself in the same situation, the Governor of Fire rising ever higher before shooting down towards the Abellan, the gap between them now non-existant.
    In an act of desperation, TJ drew his guitar as he glimpsed his adversary’s foot descending upon him. However, he had done so too late. Before he could properly grip the guitar, Rayinth struck. The blow broke the hold of his left hand on the guitar’s base and the weight of the weapon along with Rayinth’s momentum and sheer force collapsed upon him. Moments after he touched down, he hit him directly in the chin, followed it with a right and left hook leaving the Bard punch drunk. With a wind-up, he landed one last blow to the stomach and enhanced the strength of it with a set of blasts that propelled his arm forward three times, culminating in a fiery thrust that flung the Abellan into the roof.
    The force of the blows already had him coughing up blood. The two-way collision from the roof to the ground left his body battered and unable to rise.
    An infuriated Amata with flaming manacles on her wrists and ankles shot towards the Governor of Fire both in body and with a series of fireballs backing her. Each one he easily dispersed with a single hand until she closed in on him with a single hand reeled back. As he met hers with his own, she was thrusted back as a torrent of flames overtook Rayinth. Even so he pushed through the flames and came at her a second time with a flaming haymaker. She stood her ground, one hand out before her and the other holding her staff behind her back, the top facing the ground—her hair alight all the while. Just as his blow was about to connect he was blasted back by a massive explosion from her Retribution spell.
    She twirled her staff above her head before she pointed it at where she suspected Rayinth to be.
    “Reckoning,” she snarled.
    The cloud of smoke seemed to be gathering in one location as the air currents changed. At the location sparks of fire began to arise before another explosion emerged. Rayinth shot out from it and at the sight of him, Amata’s staff followed and created another blast to meet his escape. Every direction he moved in, she followed and left destruction in her wake, but could not be the bane of their enemy. After evading her attacks two more times, he shot towards her, causing her to flinch before he leapt above her head and shot towards her blind side.
    At that moment TJ took to her and blocked the blow with an elementally augmented guitar. He deflected the blow and as Rayinth touched down he lifted the guitar over his head into an overhand swing.
    “Rampart!” He roared, smashing the weapon into the ground.
    The stone sundered as massive icicles sprang up in the wake of the blow. Rayinth noted this and jumped back a couple times before changing direction. To his chagrin, they followed him for a time before finally coming to a halt. Noting the end of the spell, he took to the offensive again and TJ glimpsed this from the distance he created.
    Once more he wound up his weapon and Rayinth drew his fist back—at the action a flame took form and enveloped his arm as he prepared to take on the Bard’s spell head on.
    TJ slammed the weapon down again and once more the earth was sundered, but in place of a series of icicles massive stalagmites arose. These proved to be substantially larger than their counterparts and caught the Governor of Fire off guard. His blow connected with the stone and to some degree shattered it but the flames he unleashed upon it had little effect and dispersed. Moments afterwards another stalagmite arose and forced him into the air.

    Amata spread her wings as she spun her staff above her head and a flame crackled to life around her.
    “Draconic Bombardment!” At those words she shot after him.
    As she neared her wings closed around her until she was within melee range. Upon reaching him she spread her wings and upon doing so unleashed a bouquet of flames. Rayinth guarded but the initial attack hardly seemed to faze him. With a beat of her wings a series of explosions took form exactly where he was and launched him into the ground. Despite the attack being in her favour, he still landed on his feet and skidded backwards in a guard stance. However, her onslaught had only begun. With each beat of her wings a series of explosions would go off where he stood and around him, keeping him on the defensive despite his incredible mobility.
    As TJ glimpsed the occurrence, he decided it would be prudent to aid Amata and increase the chances that the two could land a clean hit on Rayinth.
    “Elemental Dominion!”
    He slammed a fist to the ground and the entire battlefield became an icy ring. Upon doing so he skated around the outskirts of Amata’s spell and drew his guitar in preparation to fire at the God’s Governor on sight.
    “You have done me a service,” Rayinth said.
    At those words he glimpsed the Governor of Fire leaping through the smoke of an explosion as he slammed his fist down. The domain had shifted from one of ice to fire in a matter of moments. The sudden change caused the Abellan’s momentum to come to a sudden halt and for him to trip. His body collapsed to the ground and into one of the fires. The feeling of the heat caused him to scramble to his feet and quickly pat down the spots that were burned. Much to his relief, the coat did not catch fire nor get burned in the process.
    However, his carelessness did not prepare him for Rayinth’s next move. From the very same flame TJ just fell into, the Governor of Fire exited, using it as an emergence point through a skill similar to Shadow Dive. Upon his arrival he dragon punched the Abellan in the back and staggered him. Following it, he grabbed him by the back of his head and slammed him face-first into the stone. He picked TJ up by his ponytail and held him for a couple of moments before tossing him into the air. As his descent began he increased the aerial time with a flash kick. Once more, as TJ’s descent began he put a single foot back in preparation for a charge. The Guardian shoulder tackled the Bard and pulled him across the battlefield with the Sorceror in tow, unbridled fury in her eyes.
    “You’ve got some fuckin’ nerve!” She roared as she chased after the two, her hair ablaze.
    In the middle of her pursuit she pointed her staff to the ground below and a wave of flames swept over the battlefield, clearing it of the fires Rayinth left.
    Rayinth looked back at her for a moment and grinned, a sign of how smug he was that victory would be his or perhaps…something more.
    As he gained momentum a flaming aura surrounded him up until the point his forward momentum slowed down, pulling the aura into his gauntlets. As TJ collapsed to the ground Rayinth reeled his fist back and slammed it into the small of his back. The sounds of bones cracking followed and was immediately subdued by the torrent of flames that surged forth upon the two. A single agonizing scream pierced the sound of the fire tornado that surrounded the two. His diminishing fire began to peter out even further.
    “I’ll kill you!” Amata snarled as she attempted to force her way through the fire and winds.
    Despite her best efforts however, the sheer force of the elements at work proved to be too strong for her to break through. As Rayinth stepped out of the flames and they began to die down, an enraged Amata awaited him with a flame in hand. She clenched her fist on it and it lit up a series of runes in her left hand before she used that very same hand to hit her own chest, placing the mark on her torso.
    “Rage Embryo,” she said, in a mutter.
    At her words the rune lit up and a small pulse of fire was emitted from her body. The rune however, remained.
    “You let your anger cloud your senses. Like an untamed flame, it will eventually consume you. Do you dare continue?” Rayinth asked as he crossed his arms.
    “I’m not here to talk! I won’t forgive your words, nor your actions! Astral bodies or not, I won’t forgive anyone who dares to hurt those I love!”
    “Inner Flame!”
    She outstretched a hand and once more upon clenching it embers surrounded her and strengthened her.
    “Hell Slinger! Hinder!”
    With a flick of her wrist a fire crackled to life in her right hand. Following that she pointed a finger at Rayinth and a transparent reticle appeared over him before disappearing shortly after.
    Without another moment to spare she charged directly at him and threw a left hook. Somewhat surprised by this, but not enough to take the attack he leaned out of the way of her strike and followed up with one of his own. Despite being punched across the face she stood her ground and placed her right hand to his chest causing a wave of fire to be launched at and through him. As he reeled his fist back to punch her again Amata’s Rage Embryo came into effect, releasing a pulse of fire. Though the blast itself was not particularly strong, the effect of Hinder caused Rayinth to flinch and lose the momentum of his attack. In that moment she punched him in the nose and hit him across the face with Hell Slinger.
    Their fight seemed to devolve into nothing more than a fire imbued brawl. Time and again, the two would trade blows, Amata’s though light often left burns in the wake of her attacks. Rayinth’s carried much more strength but often found themselves cancelled out whenever Hinder would come into effect, allowing for the young Sorceror to get in more strikes than he could.
    The Abellan, meanwhile, struggled to his knees as the sheer pain of Rayinth’s kinetic blows left him reeling. He disabled the Neutrality Frequency, well aware that enhanced Arcane abilities would do him little good in the situation he found himself in. He looked to the two fighting and noted that Amata was not acting like herself at all.
    It seemed that his weakness had lead to her being consumed by her own anger. Thankfully, it was not the manifestation of an Agasura. However Cerebians, like he, seemed to be able to lose themselves to their emotions.
    Despite being bloody and bruised, she continued the fight and it pained him to see her doing that to herself.
    “Amata… Amata you can’t let your anger get the better of you! Don’t make the same mistakes I have!” TJ cried out, but the two seemed to be in a world of their own.
    He clenched his fists and bit down on his bloody lip as he cursed his weakness.
    He had to get back in the fight and soon. Su’s warning reminded him that if he was to use his Messenger of Light form, despite the enhanced abilities, it would not improve his defensive parameters. To bring out his wings would raise the risk that Rayinth could wound them, but at this juncture he had little choice. He could not bring himself to stand, let alone to play his guitar, but if he could heal himself with just his magic alone, he could fight again.
    “Abide by the words of my contract and give me the strength to become the hope of this world,” he uttered weakly.
    Memorius Sanctum took form before him and its emergence offered him his hidden potential once more. His wings took form, eyes changed colour and his hair changed to a snow white. He weakly reached to his back as he grit his teeth and shut his eyes tightly. The pain was excruciating, but as the healing energies from his magic trickled over his battered body it began to ease.
    Given more time, he was able to rise to his feet again. He rolled his shoulders and took a deep breath as he looked upon the two God’s Governors still duking it out. It seemed that Amata was wearing herself out trying to fight Rayinth head-on, but in spite of this, Rayinth expended an incredible amount of stamina in dueling her through such a means. What really caught TJ’s attention however, was the mark from Amata’s Rage Embryo. The pulse of it had grown massive, though the duration between each blast became longer each time—even more so, the mark on her had grown blinding. What concerned him most, however, was that each time it came into effect she seemed to hurt herself more and more. The spell was a double-edged sword and she used it full-well knowing the consequences of it. To fight Rayinth directly all the while was nothing short of suicide.
    TJ gripped his guitar in hand as he swallowed hard. What he was about to do, she would not likely forgive him for it, but if what he suspected was going to occur, he had to stop her before she could do it. He armed his weapon and threw it with all his might.
    “Broken Wings!”
    The guitar soared through the air, past Amata and to Rayinth, who deftly blocked the weapon. The moment it made contact TJ manifested upon it and backflipped away with the aid of his wings.
    He outstretched a single hand and a bolt of thunder struck down where Rayinth stood but seconds ago, the spell deftly evaded once more.
    “TJ…? What are you…?” As Amata weakly uttered those words her arms fell to her side.
    He glimpsed her but for a moment. The lovely girl with the impish smile he had seen so many times now looked back at him, her face bruised and bloody. Her arms were covered in welts and burns and the sight made his heart ache. He solemnly turned his eyes back to Rayinth who awaited a follow-up attack and the Abellan obliged. With a wave of his hand fifteen Arrows of Light surrounded him before he shot towards the God’s Governor.
    As the two got within melee range of each other TJ took a couple swings with his guitar all while launching the arrows. Rayinth dodged the weapon and repelled the spells with his fists alone. Suddenly TJ put the weapon away and placed one outstretched arm beneath another.
    “Radiant Blast!”
    A powerful jet of light forced the Governor of Fire back and in that moment TJ retreated to get back to the young Governor.
    “Huh? TJ no! G-get away!” She cried as she backed away from him.
    “I can’t just stand idly by while you hurt yourself!” TJ shouted as he wrapped his arms around her and held her still.
    “No you don’t…you don’t understand! You’re gonna get hurt!”
    She tried to remove his grip on him but could not muster the strength no matter how hard she tried.
    “Isn’t it fine? You got angry for my sake. You suffered for it too. So let me make it up to you.
    “No… what? TJ, stop!”
    “Barrier Release!”
    At his words his barrier took on a corporeal form before vanishing. Moments after it did, it reappeared and surrounded the Governor of Fire.
    “It’s just like Alvaro told me. Sometimes you just need a hardy ally by your side to make up for what you lack. If you can’t control your powers, isn’t that fine?”
    Amata kept muttering, ‘no’ time and again as she tried to get away. The mark grew brighter, and within moments would detonate.
    “To win this fight…we’re gonna do this together. So even if you’re afraid for me, don’t be. I promise you, I can take it. If you have to eliminate me from the match to defeat Rayinth, then do it! If you have to burn the very flesh from my skeleton in order to pass this trial, then do it! I believe in you, so believe in me too!”
    “TJ…” She said as she looked to him and blinked slowly.
    She stopped fighting and resigned herself to his wish. Only moments later, the mark’s light became nigh blinding and as Amata had warned him, it went off. A powerful flame pulse was emitted from her body and the sheer strength of it nearly threw TJ off of his feet—the only thing keeping him grounded was his hold on the young Governor. The intense heat did indeed, burn him severely. Even with the protection of the dragonsmane cloak his arms were still set alight for a time and lightly burned. His face, being the main part of his body that remained unguarded had received the brunt of the spell and suffered the most for it, but all the while he retained his smile.
    Throughout the whole thing, she could feel his healing touch. The burns from Rage Embryo had proved to be nothing that he could not recover in the Messenger of Light form—all the while, most of the bruises she received receded and the pain that accompanied them subsided.
    “I’m going to fight, Amata,” he said.
    “TJ, you’re badly hurt, let me go instead.”
    Taking that last attack had diminished his flame substantially and the fact she seemed to have her eyes on it likely solidified she was thinking the same thing.
    In spite of this, he shook his head gently.
    “Scars and stuff…they matter a lot more to girls than to guys, don’t they? It’d be pretty uncool if I let you get more than you needed.” He chuckled sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. “No wait, that’s not it! You should use this chance to prepare! Let’s not hold anything back!”
    “You’re not suggesting I awaken, are you?”
    She looked bewildered at his suggestion.
    “Yeah. I’ll give you all the time you need.”
    He shuffled the coat slightly as he crouched down and placed both hands to the ground.
    “Fount of Life!”
    At his touch a glowing green tree emerged from the ground behind the Governor of Fire. Beads of light fell away from it’s splendor. After a couple of seconds being underneath it, Amata noted that it seemed to have a regenerative effect on any who stood under it.
    “Take as much time as you need to awaken and recover. I’ll keep him busy.”

    “I commend your strength of heart and spirit, warrior. Even a fool would know to run at the sight of growing flames. You are the greatest of them, to challenge it. But you are the bravest, to do so in order to bring your ally to her senses.
    “However! Bravery and foolishness are not so different! One must know when he has gone beyond his capabilities! To challenge me alone, I shall show you the difference!”
    “I take pride in my foolishness.” TJ said with a light chuckle and a smile. “It’s…one of my good points, I think.
    “So? We’re not gonna hold anything back against you, God’s Governor! Hit me with everything you’ve got!”
    “A challenge, is it? I accept!”
    God’s Governor Rayinth glimpsed Amata briefly before he rose to his full height. He crossed his arms over for but a moment before lowering them to his sides. At that moment, TJ glimpsed the original God’s Governor of Fire in all his glory.
    The mighty fiery wings that emerged from him spread out like a phoenix taking flight. His wild hair had become even grander, embers rising from it like a bonfire. As the Abellan suspected, he donned the same coat and fiery manacles that Amata wore when she transformed. His pupils and irises had been enveloped in the powerful crimson orange light from his eyes. Lastly, across his muscular body a series of runes took form. The moment he unleashed his powers he created a powerful outward pulse of fire not dissimilar to Amata’s own, accompanied by searing winds.
    TJ took up his battle stance solemnly at the sight.
    He was going to face a powerful opponent. One of the greatest mages Midgard had ever seen. Someone who became a living legend, who bards sung stories of and created a legacy during and in the wake of his life. His power dwarfed TJ’s own substantially and deep down he knew, that one wrong move and Rayinth would eradicate him. Yet…he felt no fear. He would not cower under the pressure of what was to come. He would not look away, doubt himself or fear the consequence of his actions. He knew that he would see Amata through this trial. It was all he knew, but all that he needed.
    He raised a hand skyward before he gently lowered it, then clasped his hands together as he lowered his head.
    “Deliverance!” He cried out as he opened his eyes.
    A powerful glow surrounded his body and remained that way.
    Rayinth seemed to meet TJ’s desire to an even greater degree. He held out both hands before he pounded his fists together, and much to the Abellan’s surprise, he actually grew more muscular.
    “Inhibitor Release!” At those words a golden afterimage of his body followed the change.
    “Come! Sacred Guardian!”
    A spell that at first, seemed eerily similar to Amata’s Ardent Keeper happened before the two. Unlike it, however, Grislan appeared with a crimson hue and upon his arrival, he seemed to shrink down and remain as an aura that surrounded Rayinth. What it did, TJ could not say but he decided he would not let his guard down.
    “We begin, warrior!”
    At those words Rayinth stretched out a single hand and upon doing so, magma sprung up from the ground like molten plumes all over the battlefield. At the sight of it, TJ lost his vision on Rayinth. From one of those very plumes he emerged and immediately threw a haymaker at the Abellan. TJ narrowly glimpsed this as it happened and glimpsed the two-pronged attack. Though Rayinth’s punch hardly extended past where he once stood, the aura that surrounded him manifested as Grislan’s spirit once more and shot forward a greater distance. The aura returned shortly after, but it remained transparent.
    It seemed it would be down for a time. If he was to strike, now would be the time.
    “Twenty Arrows of Light!”
    At his behest forty Arrows of Light took form due to the influence of Deliverance.
    Rayinth decided to press the attack, flying after the Abellan who desperately flitted through the air and across the ground as he fired arrows. Though he was slowly closing the gap, the Governor of Fire began to throw punches and as he did so, powerful and quick torrents of fire would rush to where the Abellan was and would be. After catching one of the blasts, TJ had to stop in order to defend himself and found Rayinth upon him. He guarded with his guitar but the strength of the Governor seemed to have increased substantially. Every blow felt like someone had taken a hammer to his weapon and the vibrations rattled him to his very core.
    “Divine Intervention!”
    TJ cried out outstretching both arms and wings. Four transparent shields surrounded him the moment he casted the spell and each time Rayinth attempted to strike him, the blows were blocked. With each blow also, a sphere of light would take form upon the attack being blocked and weaken the attacker.
    “It has been some time since I last saw a master of the Divine Arts. It seems to some degree, you have a grasp of it. However, it shall not protect you for long,” Rayinth told him.
    After the fourth strike, the shields lost their effect. The Governor of Fire lunged at the Abellan through the Arrows of Light he launched at him and placed a hand to his chest. At his touch, a massive explosion went off and flung TJ backwards through the air. Rayinth shot after him, beating his flight speed all the while and turning around with a flaming kick. It was not the initial blow that flung him, however. He used TJ’s momentum against him to bring him to a full stop before twisting his body 360 degrees to pull the Abellan through the fire and send him hurtling right back to where he came from.
    Before he crashed into the ground he found himself in the arms of the young Governor of Fire. She raised her staff and slammed it down, quelling the magma plumes and revealing Rayinth at his distance.
    “Thanks TJ, for doing all of that junk for me. Your words removed the scales from my eyes. I’m gonna turn this on that old man’s head.” Amata said as she let him down. “I just need five minutes. Technically.
    “This time, I’ve got a plan. I’ll fight with you while I charge up for my spell. After that I… I’ll need you to keep him in place, whatever it takes. Buy me a few more minutes and I’ll show him the power of a God’s Governor.”
    TJ nodded as he grinned slightly.
    “No problem. So…let’s do this together.”
    “Aye aye!”
    As Rayinth shot toward the two TJ began to strum his guitar.
    Bolts of thunder rained down as clouds gathered turning the battlefield into a deathtrap.
    The governors met in a battle of braun, Rayinth fighting her head on with flaming strikes while Amata challenged him with hands of molten magma and rock that emerged from her back as a second pair of arms. The first wielded her staff all while casting using the free hand.
    “I’ll support you!
    “Matriarch Protector!”
    TJ clapsed his hands together and a pillar of light opened above Amata before raining sparkles down upon her. Through it, her magical defense was improved substantially.
    “Come and get in on this TJ!” Amata shouted excitedly as she blocked one of Alvaro’s punches and blasted his arm with an explosion from her staff.
    She spun backwards away from him and her arms slammed into the ground before taking the form of two magma golems. Rayinth laughed as he pounded his way through them and found himself caught in a series of explosions. Following it lightning sparks surged around him courtesy of TJ’s Lucent Dissonance. He clenched both his fists and lowered them to his side, creating a massive wind pressure that dispelled all spells. He turned to TJ and as he outstretched his hand the spirit Grislan emerged and shot towards him.
    “Spirit Whisper!” Amata shouted as she took to the vanguard and blocked the dragon.
    The two clashed for a couple moments before the dragon dissipated and Amata took the effect as her own.
    Moments afterwards Rayinth flew at her with a flying kick but found his body stopped and reeled back as TJ flew past him, Gleipnir in hand. The governor of Fire touched down and focused for a couple moments to break TJ’s hold on him. All the while Amata flew above him and rained fire down upon him with Hellzone Torrent. The first Governor of Fire performed an overhand punch and as if he was up there a flaming hand swatted Amata and sent her hurtling into the ground.
    TJ strummed his guitar and four electric spheres took form across the battlefield. He raised a hand and ran it across the strings.
    “Ward of the Kindred!”
    A magic circle featuring four different spirits each taking a fourth of the circle took form. Those spirits being a dryad, naiad, salamander and sylph. One appeared beneath Rayinth and the other TJ. Rayinth’s closed in on him and in doing so, moments before he could throw fire at TJ he found the spell cancelled. As the Abellan began his next spell the mark was consumed and the effect was enhanced.
    “Chain Lightning!”
    TJ began to rapidly strum his guitar and upon doing so created an electric current. It shot from the weapon to the first sphere and bounced between each, strengthening the effect upon each sphere being added. Moments later the chain surged towards Rayinth and struck him also for the duration of the spell. As TJ removed his hand, he glimpsed Rayinth shooting towards him but for a moment until he was upon him. He slammed both of his knuckles over the Bard’s shoulders and brought him to his knees, then prepared a single charged punch.
    “You will have to forgive me, Warrior. Alas, to be cursed with a weakness and have it exploited is not the warrior’s way, but I trust you will understand, once this is all over.”
    With his punch prepared he lunged towards the Abellan at full force and slammed his fist into the Heart of Yggdrasil. The force of the blow pulled him from the ground and into the air as the fire from the strike blasted through him and surged forth from the other side of his body. TJ’s eyes became dilated as they returned to their regular colour, as did his hair.
    “TJ, that’s enough! I’m ready,” Amata shouted from across the field.
    “Alas, your words will not reach him. Henceforth, it shall just be you and I, descendant of mine.”
    The sound of electricity crackling caused the Governor of Fire to turn around and glimpse TJ staggering to his feet, a crimson glint in his visible eye.
    “That’s where…you’re wrong…Rayinth.” He uttered as he laughed weakly.
    All around him, a ring was drawn in blood.
    “To stand after having your weakness struck? What incredible tenacity you have, Warrior.”
    “You haven’t seen the best of it yet.
    “Wrath, Pride, Sloth! Punishments of the Sinner! Let none escape from my iron grip! Let none come between mine enemy and I ‘till death do us part! Gauntlet!”
    TJ clenched a fist and a dark aura like miasma poured out from it and filled the ring that surrounded him. Moments after it did, the ring expanded and enveloped both he and Rayinth within. Upon doing so, a grid-like glass pillar took form and upon reaching the roof solidified completely and became transparent.
    “Thank you, TJ. I promise, I won’t let you down,” Amata said.
    She raised a hand skyward and as she did so, an ever-growing sphere of fire took form.
    “Hearken to me, ye gods who reside in the heavens above! I dare to walk where angels fear to tread! I am the one who dares to rise above all else, to claim what rightfully belongs to me! My burning passion, my indomitable spirit will be the container for the fire you wield! I shall rise above, turning the sword of your own keeping against you so that you may know the clemency of those you dare look down upon! Prometheus!”
    “You would trap yourself in with me? Does your foolishness know no end?”
    The Abellan grinned weakly.
    “I’m not trapped in here with you. You’re trapped in here with me.”
    TJ removed his guitar and let it sink into the swirling vortex of Gambler’s Quasar before integrating it into himself, then following up with the Indomitability stance.
    “There’s only one way out of my trapping, Rayinth.”
    The Governor roared with laughter in turn.
    “An ultimatum, is it? And not just that, a threat! How amusing!”
    He cracked his knuckes before he took a battle stance.
    “Then let us see how long your willpower will hold, warrior.”
    Without any more words to exchange, the two rushed at each other. Rayinth landed the first blow, hitting TJ across the face with a right hook. TJ took the blow and met his with two punches to the stomach. The Abellan was grabbed by the cloak and had his nose broken by Rayinth’s headbutt, but persisted nonetheless. TJ followed up with a punch to the chin followed by a tornado kick to the side of his face only to find his foot grabbed afterwards and his body turned over. As his body turned in the air Rayinth grabbed him by the arm and let his legs fall to the ground.
    “I learned from the best villains to be the best. Hit me and I’ll grow tougher. Break my bones and I’ll only grow stronger.
    “…Serrated Will.”
    At those words Rayinth broke his main arm and a crimson aura surged around him for a couple moments.
    What Rayinth did not notice, however, was all the while their battle went on Amata drained the fire away from him. Each strike he made further added to this.
    TJ staggered to his feet, one arm limp, blood dripping from his nose and in spite of it all, a smug grin on his face. His flame was diminishing and yet it still flickered proudly.
    The Abellan threw a punch that was almost immediately swatted away by the Governor of Fire. The sheer force of the blow nearly dislocated his arm. Following it, Rayinth threw a series of rapid punches, each creating a puff of flames that quickly started to burn away at the dragonsmane cloak. After another flash kick he took flight and pointed a single hand down, firing a beam with as much force and firepower, if not more than Amata’s Hellzone Torrent.
    Barely able to rise to his feet and with his flame on the verge of petering out, TJ got to his knees and laughed weakly.
    “A-as I thought…you’re..beyond me…in strength…” He coughed up blood and grinned. “But…you’re not… foolish enough…to make my…mistakes.”
    As TJ’s flame flickered out and his astral body began to fade, Rayinth then felt the pressure of Amata’s spell. Towering over the two, a massive flaming sphere loomed and threatened to consume the entire battlefield in a sea of flames once unleashed.
    “End of the line, Old Man!” Amata roared as she brought both her hands down and Prometheus with it.
    Rayinth watched solemnly for a few moments before with two words, the battle came to an end.
    “That’s enough.”

    Suddenly Amata came to in her body alongside TJ. She glimpsed around the battlefield only to find that all of the destruction they caused was undone, the spell she had just created was gone and her awakening no longer in effect.
    “H-huh? What do you…what do you mean ‘that’s enough’?! How was the battle decided?! I couldn’t have failed…no, there’s no way…!”
    Rayinth turned to the two, most of the marks of the battle still present upon his body.
    “That’s correct. You have done well, descendant of mine. The trial is over. Victory is yours.” He told the two as he crossed his arms.
    Amata gasped with delight before she took TJ’s hands in hers and jumped for joy time and again and excitedly chanted, ‘We did it!’
    “Y-yeah! I guess we did!” TJ said with a nervous chuckle. “But I can’t help but wonder, why did you end the trial there, God’s Governor?”
    He chuckled under his breath.
    “I realize, that to take a spell of such magnitude would, undoubtedly destroy my astral body. Unlike the two of you, I am an Einherjar. My astral body is as much my real body as the flesh and bones you inhabit now.”
    TJ blinked slowly.
    So in short, if he took that attack he would die?
    The Abellan could not help but laugh at the absurdity of the entire scenario.
    “Nonetheless, I must ask for your forgiveness, Warriors. ‘Tis true, that I did not warn you of my intentions. As a part of your trial, I tested your mental fortitude. To achieve these ends, I had gone above and beyond the call of duty in order to antagonize you both.
    “I am sure you are both well aware by now, but the element of fire is not one to be taken lightly at any time. Wielded by even the most masterful of hands, it can be dangerous to friend and foe alike. At times, often times, it can demand sacrifice.”
    The Governor of Fire closed his eyes solemnly, thoughtfully. In it, the duo before him could see the wisdom that accompanied the power he wielded. A true master of the art, who knew both the boons and banes of wielding such power.
    “I wished to see if the two of you would fall to such a means. On more occasions than one, I had seen you both consumed by your anger.” He closed his eyes as he smiled. “It seems that, of course, one of you would aid the other. Neither feared the intensity of the other…and in that, you found your strength. In each other, you found solace. To take the wisdom of those that came before you and use them as your sword and shield, you are wise. Far beyond your years, I believe. For that, I am grateful.
    “Nonetheless, ‘tis true I never could have imagined that you would be the shoulder that the God’s Governors would come to entrust themselves to, young TJ. Had I the foresight of Her Grace, Leigha or Tiramin perhaps I would have had some semblance of an idea, but I confess, seeing it first hand was truly splendid. Good show, young warrior. I salute you.”
    “T-thank you…” TJ said as he rubbed his neck bashfully.
    Amata gave him a gentle pat on the back as she grinned.
    “Now then, congratulations on your victory, Amata. Your teamwork, courage and strength have surpassed my expectations. It is time for you to receive the proof that you have overcome my trial.”
    The young Governor of Fire stepped up to her ancestor and lowered her head as he placed a hand to it.
    “What once stood before me a child, now becomes a warrior tall and true. Under the merciful eyes of all those who came before her, she shines brightest, the scars she bears and the title she wears, as such as she is wisest. Raise your head and receive of me now, the title of ‘Maiden of Flames’ as such you have proven worthy. Go forth, Amata Seitz and be the guiding star in this time of need!”
    Once Rayinth began his prayer, the herald of flames manifested beneath the two and an incredible outward wind pressure was unleashed at every word. Upon finishing it, the light it created became nigh unyielding and in the following moments, runes began to form all across Amata’s arms. Upon their completion, the runes lost their orange glow but remained in a solid black. For a time also, the mark of a Cerebian who opened the fire core was visible upon her but it too, faded once the ritual was completed.
    “Maiden of Flames…huh?” Amata answered as she placed her hands to her chest. “I guess I really made it, then?”
    Rayinth nodded solemnly.
    “When next we meet, it shall be at Xenadia. It is there, that you shall have your opportunity to claim the God’s Governor of Fire title.”
    She squinted at him suspiciously.
    “Wait so… I’m not the Governor of Fire yet?”
    The first Governor roared with laughter at the prospect.
    “Absolutely not! Those who inherited the lineage are nothing more than a chosen candidate for the title! You must prove yourself worthy beneath the watchful eyes of God Ah’s family before you can be acknowledged as God’s Governor.
    “Alas, to prove you have the strength of heart to face an opponent greater than you is but one step towards achieving this goal. The second, is to face yourself. I could tell the event that set you on the path to becoming God’s Governor still haunts you. In time, you will have to overcome this. But let not this knowledge quell your celebration now. You are worthy, Amata. Let none tell you otherwise.”
    Amata clenched her fists at the Governor’s words.
    TJ did not quite know what the event Rayinth spoke of was, or what effect it had on her, but it seemed that her journey still had much and more to do. If the two were to meet again at Xenadia, then perhaps he would find out more there, especially with God’s Governor Obermas awaiting their arrival.
    “TJ, step forward.”
    At those words the Abellan looked like he had seen a ghost.
    Was he to receive a new title too? Or those strange runic markings that Amata had?
    He stepped forward and as he did so, the Governor of Fire held out a single hand. Upon doing so, Memorius Sanctum manifested before him.
    “T-that’s…!” TJ uttered in disbelief.
    The Governor of Fire grinned gently.
    “There are none who can utilize it like the royal family, however, we God’s Governors do understand how to summon it, and how to make additions. As I had told you, we had chronicled our memories within you, but we also have chronicled our creations here. What is ours is to be that of those who follow in our wake for eons to come. To see these spells wielded so skillfully and those that followed was truly a spectacular sight.”
    He looked to Amata and gave her an approving nod.
    With his free hand, he manifested a page and handed off the tome to TJ.
    “TJ, there will come a time to return to Xenadia. It is there, that you too, shall be tested by the gods in many ways. It is there, also, that I am led to believe that you shall reunite with something precious to you and reclaim the time you have lost.
    “However, this page is what I wish to speak to you about. This is but one portion of a song that you will need to have mastered for when the time to return is nigh. Perform for the gods, as was Her Grace’s design, and they shall heed your call. Xenadia will be returned to the surface in so doing. Know that you cannot perform the song alone. You must form a quintet with the five God’s Governors and have them perform alongside you.”
    “Eh… us too?” Amata asked.
    “That is correct.”
    Rayinth produced another page and handed it off to the Governor of Fire.
    “You, my descendant, have proven yourself a splendid warrior. In our age, even the greatest of warriors knew how to perform also—it was through this, that we came to give our magic form. I am positive you are well aware, however, as you are quite knowledgeable in those respects, are you not?”
    He smiled at her and she grinned sheepishly.
    “Just a bit…” she said. “But I… can’t read our ancient language yet. Let alone speak it.”
    “Ah… yes, of course. Allow me.”
    He pointed a finger and a small series of flames ran across the page, allowing for Amata and TJ to read the notes and lyrics to the song.
    “Thanks old man!” Amata said as she beamed.
    “’Tis nothing but a duty.
    “Nevertheless, my time here is almost up. Before I leave, I shall create a means for both of you to exit safely.”
    “W-wait! Before you go, there’s something I need to ask you!”
    The Governor of Fire blinked before he smiled gently.
    “Yes, I imagine you would have questions about your origins. I do not have all the answers, but I am sure I could give you some clemency to your ends.”
    TJ swallowed hard.
    If he could ask one question, what would he want to know most? About himself? About Adonai? His relationship with Adonis? His purpose?
    “I need to know…what do Lady Amae and I have to do with each other? What exactly is my relation to her? Why did she choose me?”
    The Governor smiled as he closed his eyes.
    “TJ, I am sure you are well aware, but you are unlike both Cerebians and Agasuras in several ways. The reason for that is because the means to your birth differed greatly from our own. To Her grace, you were a very unique and special existence. One that words could not begin to describe. However, one thing that we all knew, is that she loved you with all of her heart.
    “To that end, to have your body used for evil broke her heart to an unfathomable degree. To have had Leigha strike you down, or rather Adonis, pained her even more so. Alas, to have merged the Heart of Yggdrasil to you, I believe she felt was an act of mercy.”
    He paused for a moment, seemingly thinking over what he would say next, or perhaps whether he should.
    “Alas, it was not until after that battle that you were removed from Midgard. Be it for safekeeping, or solely to serve your other purpose, I cannot say. However, if the you that stands before me now is any indication of what Her Grace’s final actions were meant to be…but…if it is her, I am almost certain she did so thinking of you all the while.
    “Perhaps there will come a time where you are faced with the truth of your origins. The shadows of doubt will assault you once more, but know that the truth still awaits to be discovered by you. Let not darkness cloud your sight.”
    TJ’s lips were pursed and his brow furrowed as he heard the knowledge imparted upon him.
    How long had he spent pursuing the truth about Adonai and the Seven Sinners only to blind himself to a love that had been with him all along? Even now, after being with the Cerebians, he could not quite put into words exactly what love is, but…to allow him to see into her memories, to live her experiences, to see and know all the people that she had, was that not it also? The time and care that she, her Keruz and the God’s Governors put into forging Memorius Sanctum into what it is today, was that not love also?
    Someone, or something had chronicled both Amae and TJ’s own memories within the tome. In so doing, little by little, he was able to grasp just what made him who he was. It seemed that everything pointed back to God Ah’s family. The care that Amae had shown for him indirectly through all these means must have meant that his being was something deeply related to her. What that was, sooner or later, he felt certain he would find out.
    In spite of all that, hearing those words from God’s Governor Rayinth brought him unspeakable catharsis. Though the Sinners claimed Asmodeus was their sole parent, maybe, just maybe, TJ had another in that time. Someone who truly cared for him with all her heart.
    A warm embrace snapped the Abellan out of his reverie as he soon found Amata’s arms gently wrapped around him, her head resting against his back.
    “TJ, just as you came to my aid when I needed it most, know that I’ll be there for you. If the burden is too much for you to carry alone, then we’ll do it together. You don’t even have to think twice about asking me for help. I…really care about you, you know! So rather than making that scrunched-up face because you’re thinking too hard about stuff, just talk to me.”
    He placed a hand to hers as he closed his eyes. He had a warm feeling in his chest and a strange, fluttering sensations. Like having butterflies in his body.
    “Thanks a bunch, Amata.” TJ said as he smiled gently.
    Rayinth nodded wisely.
    “That too, is a form of strength. The strength to aid your allies’ and the courage to entrust yourself to them.
    “Good show, warriors. My time has come, but when next we meet, I look forward to seeing what enlightenment you have gleaned in the time leading up to our reunion.”
    The two watched in awe for a couple of moments as Rayinth began to dissipate, fading away in a series of sparkles.
    “Goodbye, old man! And thank you!” Amata said as she waved to him.
    “It was nice meeting you Rayinth! Thanks for sharing a part of my past with me!” TJ said as he gently waved him off also.
    The Governor of Fire raised a hand moments before his entire upper body disappeared entirely. As his legs faded away, in place of them a pillar of light remained, rising from the ground up.
    “I…guess that’s our exit? Shall we, TJ?”
    He nodded as she took his hand and the two stepped into the pillar of light.

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:06 pm

    YWN have your cornerman jump in for a 2v1:

    If this were real life, it'd make a pretty sick pay-per-view fight, wouldn't it? I could see this lot being wrestlers or luchadors. Couldn't think of a good name for them, though. TJ might be easy, though! Something like...Big A. Or Abel. The two of them could be T&A. I bet Luxuria would like that.
    So? Let's get down to it!

    After glancing over the fight again, I've realized that Rayinth uses hardly, if any stances/spells. You can consider his usage of fire-propelled attacks an example of one but other than that he uses  maybe 2 or 3 other stances? It's kind of incredible, really, that with just those alone that he did as much as he had to the two. Looking back on it now, I think it really does serve as a testament to his strength.
    Strange as it may sound, a lot my knowledge for the flow of battle, especially this one comes from fighting games. I don't say it much but that's a fact of the matter. Mr. A loves fighting games and ahas a whole host of them so as we play or if I watch matches he's in, I always keep a close eye out. It's fascinating, really! Depending on the game and it's type, the way the battles play out vary greatly. How the characters move, their stances and abilities and just the speed and flow of battles differs. Something that really stands out to me and that I wanted to capture is...well, how attacks connect. As you've seen by now, most characters use a more stance-based fighting style. Very rarely is one attack followed up with another almost immediately. On one hand, if such a thing were to occur the battles would end very quickly. I suppose you could say that the basis for that comes from LT itself--I think I talked about it before, a long looooooong time ago, but the main classes and sub-classes exhibit this fact. It wasn't until S2 I believe that some classes got a chain of basic attacks that would connect like knight. They went from a 1-2 hit combo too a 3 hit combo. The one Samson showed Su in USSR was something I think you get when you become a Treasure Hunter. The sub-classes however, specialized in such a fighting style--their stances had a longer cooldown but typically were very strong and could clear out waves of enemies easily. Part of building one, often required that the player put a lot of skill points into reducing cooldowns so they could become a more stance-heavy fighter. As cool as they were, the basic attacks just weren't that ideal. On the other hand, you had classes like Blader(Main class) and it's sub Sword Dancer, Saint's sub class Psy-kicker and Elemental Master's sub Phantom Mage that still specialized in this nonetheless, enhancing their basic abilities and combos.
    But I digress lol. By learning the types of characters and their strengths and weaknesses, it gave me a better idea of what the situations would be like. I mentioned it before when I introduced the concepts of TJ/Su's transformations. Most of TJ's strengths lay in mid-long range combat. He's weak in close-range combat and it shows in his fighting style throughout both novels. Peorth attempted to remedy that fact somewhat by helping him to train through Velvet but he still has a long way to go. To add insult to injury, he's a Bard. (Though less so) A support class that has long cast times would be crushed by a close-range fighter like Rayinth. Amata fares better because of the nature of fire spells. Their close-range effectiveness makes it the ideal mage for dealing with Guardians and other melee fighters and to that end, she acts as the vanguard in their two-man cell. Since TJ can attack from afar, he's less likely to be in range of any of her spells.
    There's plenty that I could talk about regarding what I learned from fighting games(I could write an essay called what I learned by getting my ass kicked in fighting games but this isn't the time or place for that. FYI, I'm bad at those too, so don't @ me.) but that's a whole different can of worms lol. If anyone was interested in that I could do it some other time but it'll likely pop up every now and again later.

    So! We get a new spell from Amata which is Reckoning. It's got a bit of a start-up time but after the initial casting, she can use the spell in succession. It's like a Neo-tri Beam, except it doesn't kill you!
    As for TJ, he's got a new spell...or stance? Spell. Definitely a spell. Which is Rampart. For the record, it doesn't have any limitations regarding elements. You can use it in any of the four but the effects of it vary depending on which you use. Earth and Ice differ in that the former can come in the form of sand, stone or plants/wood. Ice can take the form of water/ice and will remain for a set period, same thing with wind. Anything more than that depends on the caster and their desire to maintain it. Using it in fire isn't very useful as regardless of type, it doesn't remain. Who'd want to create a magma wall anyway??? It'd just be a crappy eruption. I do like how TJ used it, here. He managed to catch the Governor of Fire off guard and put the flow of battle in their favour.
    Speaking of flow of battle...I played Mario Tennis with Mr. A and Mr. B and it has that. I'd never thought I'd have to try and play mind games with my opponents in a tennis game, especially that one but...that's some real shit right there. Also I got my ass beat real bad. It's really good, albeit a little unbalanced. I'm great at Mario Tennis for the N64, or so I believe. Feel free to come at me, bros.
    Next spell! Draconic Bombardment is actually an improved version of Dragon Dive. It incorporates the initial effect while adding a new set of effects. The collision isn't as strong but the subsequent attacks more than make up for it in terms of power. The 'flame bouquet' has a powerful outward pressure so it's good for resetting a scenario and putting enemies on the defensive. Those caught off guard by the spell likely won't be able to recover before being hit with the explosions. Still...there's something about it that makes me think of HF14's Bahamut. I think it's the way she attacks? I'm almost certain it has some basis in it but it's been so long I can't quite put my finger on it anymore.

    So let's get back to it. Elemental Dominion is a very strong spell for a variety of reasons. Not only does it change the field to that of the caster's choosing, the element in play is enhanced substantially by the effect. In TJ's case, he uses it to change his movement options, allowing him to get around the battlefield faster while hindering his enemies' movement. ...I think I messed up. I never really addressed where he learned to skate. It's an easy fix though! It is! Rayinth uses this to his advantage, though, changing the domain from ice to fire. In most cases, a fire field effect would be something akin to being in the vicinity of a volcano. To that end, there might be a few small flames, charred and cracked earth and a few spots where plumes of fire might arise. Rayinth's mastery allowed him to give it that effect but also maintain a series of towers of fire which he used as emergence points, allowing him to effectively teleport around the battlefield wherever there is a tower. This dominion change is one of the first stances he uses and probably one of the first counter spells I've written in a while.
    Amata's Minesweeper is a new spell also with a dispelling effect. It doesn't work on people, mind. It's meant to reset the status of the battlefield. For example, if TJ set up a series of icy towers all over the arena, minesweeper would remove them and any other traps/effects cast. This only works on physical things, mind. Effects like stronger sunlight or something would remain. Thus, despite it having a fiery effect it really is mostly for show. It does some damage to enemies within the radius but against Rayinth it'd at best, tickle him.
    Next? Something I like about this part is that it's probably one of the few times you get to see Rayinth purposely antagonizing Amata in the fight. Despite getting beat up, she gets twice as agitated when her partner gets hurt throughout the fight and he knows this all too well, so he exploits it. At the same time, I wanted to emphasize two things: the first is that though he might not have gone all out against them, that he's not going easy on them either, so much so that the following stance would typically be strong enough to cause the victim to submit, if not outright disqualify them. The second was where the characters are wounded. It is looked at on occasion but here especially we see that every wound has consequence. Since none of them use bladed or weapons with a deadly impact, the chances that someone would be disqualified quickly are unlikely. To add to that, due to all three of them being Cerebians in their own respects, their barriers offer them some protection, atop their own varying stats. Armour of otherwise. The blow TJ takes there leaves him unable to fight, let alone get on his feet. More on that soon! Still, I'd like to do more with that concept going forward. It can be tricky at times or matter little in the long run since TJ is a healer. Unless the battles were long/rapid, it would only matter within the context of that fight. There are, however, things that he can't heal. I didn't forget!
    The next new spell we see from Amata is Rage Embryo, something I put a lot of thought into lol. If you're wondering where she put it, it was right beneath her throat on her chest. Oddly enough, I always thought that was where the solar plexus was but apparently it's a lot lower??? Thanks google. Now I feel dumb and probably need to make a lot of edits. Back to the spell, you could probably figure out why and how it got its name lol. Nonetheless, the caster herself need not be the container for the spell. She can use it on anything, really. It's just that to use it on an enemy would cause more self-damage than it would to use it on oneself. There's a bit of self-damage with every pulse but the outward effects hurt a lot more, making it a useful spell when surrounded. It's just that it basically turns the target into a ticking time bomb. It grows in power as the effect continues before finally blowing up in one powerful explosion.
    Following that, there's three more spells she uses so it's time for rapid fire facts! Inner Flame is a self-buff that boosts the effectiveness of any fire-based attacks, spell or stances. Hell Slinger is a spell that allows the caster to...basically add a fire effect to their basic attacks. Punches? Shoot fire. Kicks? Fire. Ever been clothes-lined? You'll need ice for that burn. Hinder is a spell that causes every other attack to have a flinch effect. Stance, spell, basic attack, block, the attacker will flinch. In that, you can probably find that you can probably counter it rather easily. However, it all depends on how the battle is playing out. At no point can the target keep their offensive ongoing, while if put on the defensive will have glaring openings for the duration of the spell.

    So the next part we get some introspection from TJ. I felt it was important for him to have this moment not just for the sake of his characterization but also hers. After going through what he had and watching her damage her wings to protect him, he realizes that he needs to go above and beyond to help her. A lot of Amata's story revolves around sacrifice. In many and more situations, those involved don't come out of battles unscathed. For the sake of protecting the things they care about, those involved constantly have to make difficult choices for better or worse. In spite of being beaten to a bloody pup, TJ gets up just to do it all again so he could protect his companion.
    You've heard me say it plenty of times before but I want TJ to grow into his character--to become a hero, or at least, heroic. What happens here is one of the major steps towards that goal. We've seen his fear, his cowardice and his traumas. Despite knowing how brutal the wounds he would suffer are, he decides to continue the fight for her sake and does. Little by little, I want to develop this further. His introspection gives voice to his doubts and subsequently his conviction. It's a stark contrast to the TJ from Frequency. Then, he refused the help and burden of responsibility for their well-being. Now, they take that on for his help and he's coming to understand that he can aid them in several ways, opening a path to him achieving his goal of being that which they need him to be. A thing I like about this is that he takes solace in the belief that he would see Amata through her trial. Despite having no guarantee, he believes that and it banishes any fear from his heart. It lends credence to the fact that he is in fact, a bit of an idiot but one with his heart in the right place.
    Back to it, TJ releases his barrier here. Typically they would break it, or in a sense, unleash it for a certain effect. What he does here is remove it from himself, sacrificing his protection going forward to offer it to Amata. It might only be enough to defend her from Rage Embryo but that's plenty for him. In sacrificing that, his ability to withstand Rayinth's attacks is severely diminished and you can see what effect that has going forward.

    Here's some trivia for you! Strength of Heart/Spirit are actually the names of Bard buffs! Rayinth wasn't making a pun here, I promise.
    Anyway, he finally awakens! It's kinda surreal to think that we'd finally see the original God's Governor rocking his...well...his outfit. Amata introducing it in Frequency and it appearing now is so weird lol. We've come a long way, huh? I think Terramane and Undine's were introduced via Julius and Freya but if not, when I go over those stories I'll update it accordingly.
    There's some new spells/stances so allow me! Deliverance is a self-buff that has the effect of doubling a spell's number. As it suggests, when TJ used Twenty Arrows of Light it became forty. If he was to use a single spell like Radiant Blast, rather than creating a second beam it would instead allow him to follow it up with a second. It'd be like an EX-version of the spell.
    Rayinth uses Inhibitor Release, a stance that allows one to break their limits, in a sense. Their body is all around enhanced by it. Their strength and speed exceeds the body's capability and their hand-eye coordination is enhanced substantially, allowing them to see and react much quicker. Similar to the Chaos Frequency, however, it does have the effect of putting a strain on the body. A master of the arts could diminish that recoil substantially but those using it could only get so much out of it before either having to dispel it or suffer severe recoil when the effect ends.
    The next stance he uses isn't called Sacred Guardian. As I'm sure you're well aware by now, masters of magic don't need to perform incantations. Sometimes they're shorter or become something akin to what he said there. What he did there was a prayer that he created and as such, mastered the technique. TJ and co. have a long way to go before they can catch up with their predecessors.

    Now then, as mentioned before TJ becomes a mid-long range fighter when he becomes the Molly. In this situation, that fact is on display. TJ used it for the increased healing abilities and mobility and to some degree it works out for him but realistically speaking, his arrows would tickle the Governor. That and he can't run away from him even if his life depended on it. He's too fast! He does have some great defensive abilities, though!
    Divine Intervention is pretty thoroughly explained in-story. A quick bit of trivia about it is that though the initial effect surrounds the caster, that's just for appearance. They'll manifest wherever the target is attacked, blocking up to four hits and no more.
    There's an Alvaro somewhere within this update. That's a typo. Not one that I'll correct here, mind.
    The next spell I'd like to take a look at is Spirit Whisper. Amata's uses this--it's effect is that it cancels out any spirit-based spells and allows for the caster to use it. Rayinth's spell relying on Grislan or Amata's Ardent Keeper are perfect examples of what it could work on. Of course, the user would have to be a master of spirits and well-versed in them enough to conquer the spell. There was a temporary clash between the two--had Amata not been strong enough, the spell would continue on and take her with it. It's more or less an all-or-nothing counterattack.
    Also if you're wondering why Rayinth starts, laughing, it's because he's enjoying himself. When Amata gets back into the fight with her true strength on display, the two prove how capable they are together and that's what Rayinth wanted to see. Strong alone, stupid dangerous together. It's a dance of fire and ice. Steamy.
    So Mark of the Kindred has two effects. The first is that it silences a target. It only lasts a couple of seconds, mind you. I say 'silence' but it acts more like a seal, so even those who can cast without incantation can be affected by it. The second part is a self-buff that enhances the next magic-based attack, which TJ used for his chain lightning spell.

    With that said, we get into the finale of the fight. Before TJ got his heart punched, he extended the effect of chain lightning to himself. Though Rayinth didn't feel the shock, it did course through TJ's body and brought him back. By that, I mean the punch literally KO'd him. Though their plan was flawed, he was only stalling for time so Amata could allocate mana into Prometheus. The two had bet it all on that one final spell and to that end, TJ gave his ability to fight in the battle up.
    To that end, we see two new spells from him. Gauntlet and Serrated Will. Gauntlet, as the incantation suggests, traps fighters in an arena. None can escape until the chosen adversary(ies) is killed. In a 1v1, it becomes a duel to the death. I found it rather fitting for a Contemptuous Art--had it been Divine, it would likely end once one of the two could no longer fight. As for Serrated Will, it's more or less a pain-based revenge mechanic. The worse for wear TJ is, the stronger he becomes. Unlike Vengeance, it isn't dependent on how hard he gets hit. His overall status increases the strength of it. On the other hand, if his arms and legs are broken, how useful that could be will vary. I mean...I guess he could like...tear someone's throat out? Violent, yes...but also effective.
    And finally, we have Amata's trump card Prometheus. I know it has its basis in Greek Mythology but they don't need to know that! Jokes aside, I wanted to capture the essence of the myth in the prayer and the effects of it, in the same vein as Reina's Yamata-no-Orochi. I'd like to continue doing that going forward for spells and stances of such power. It might be tough, but I'll do my best.
    As for how I came up with that crackpot idea? I can't tell you all the details but let's just say it was something that reminded me of a certain girl that inspired me. No not that girl!

    Some of the things Rayinth says doesn't need to be unpacked by me. It brings things full circle, really. What stood out to me among some of it, for example though, is his mention of Tiramin. Among all of the Cerebians, though Peorth's lineage are the only clairvoyants, Tiramin is the oddity. He's...a strange case, though. Rather than it being inherently a part of him, it's kinda like the item he wields allows him to do it...in a sense. Anyone could wield the item but none would be able to utilize it like he can, unless he taught them how. As for his abilities? Can't tell you that! You'll find out in...maybe 5 years? Har!
    Anyway, now you can see my mistake. I named her the maiden of flames. There's no male equivalent to a maiden. I regret everything and might have to change that. Rather, will. Not right now, though, because writing this took 4 hours already and I can't be bothered lol.
    Though I suppose it's pretty self-explanatory, all of the current God's Governors are not technically God's Governor yet. It's like...they're the chosen candidates but can still lose their right to that claim. They're God's Governors[Provisional] or [Temp.]. Surprised?
    Argh...there's so much I wanna say about what Rayinth tells them but it's kinda a spoiler? So I can't??? I mean, I intentionally wrote him to be somewhat cryptic but even I'm frustrated by it and I know exactly what he's talking about! As for the song, reading about it now really takes me back. It makes me think back to playing Stella Glow and Tokyo Weeb Sessions. People hated the latter and I can see why but...it's a guilty pleasure! Sue me! I got made fun of a lot for being the proud owner of that game lol. Past tense, mind.
    On the topic of the song itself, TJ has the notes to the song as he has to play it on his guitar. The God's Governors will each get a page that contains lyrics to the verse(s) they need to sing to complete the quintet. As Rayinth suggests, it's part and parcel to restoring Xenadia.
    I wanted to add that when Rayinth mentions...to hell with it, here's the quote. "As I had told you, we had chronicled our memories within you, but we also have chronicled our creations here. What is ours is to be that of those who follow in our wake for eons to come." I coan't help but think of Answers. The one from FF14, of course. Then too, I'm certain that I had listened to it a good few times to evoke those feelings...the impact it had, in a sense. What it represented and what ti spoke of. I love the idea of it and this quote reminds me of one of the lyrics, "Look to those who walked before to lead those who walk after". It's a great song, even if you haven't played the game, I highly recommend it. To that end, I've heard a lot of good inspiring songs from games but my crackpot theories and speculations can be a tad out there sometimes so...I don't often mention them. I can't do this one justice either but I can suggest you give it a listen!
    Now then, before you can say, "TJ said he had one question but he asked seventeen!" Trust me, I know. It'd be easy to correct it but I kept it as is because it's a character trait for him. The muddled thoughts all kind of spill out as he tries to ask all the questions he seeks the answers to. In truth, I can't help but feel that for all the trouble he went through, he didn't get as much as he could've out of Rayinth. On the other hand, the journey was fruitful both to him and Amata--the two had grown stronger and closer over it and to that end, took a step towards becoming a guiding light for the Cerebians.
    In that same vein, I suppose that it's good that TJ has Memorius Sanctum both for readers and the story alike. Here too, we can see how he reflects on the memories of the world he saw through the tome, revealing Amae's memories. We get to see first-hand what she said, felt and did in those times rather than hearing it second hand from the God's Governors. In a sense, not even they knew her plans. She worked in mysterious ways but what they all know is that she was in essence, a mother to all. Talk about taking team mom to the next level.

    And that's it for this update! It took a long time.
    As for me? For the most part, it's the same as usual. These days, since I spend more time in transit I've finally been able to catch up on some of the LNs I have sitting around my room. Too small for a bookshelf, really, so instead I just have piles of books on my drawers, in boxes, beneath my bed. It's magnificent and by magnificent I mean terrifying because I have a cat. I'm not worried about the books falling, really, but about them falling on said cat. Now before you can tell me to clean my room, I have something important to say: I refuse. My idiot oldest brother is compelled to make a mess everytime I clean it and it's a pain in the ass finding things once they're put away.
    Back to the matter at hand, it's nice to read the stories for things you watched, sometimes. There are always little details that didn't make the cut or stuff that was added for better or worse so often times you get something new. Sometimes you get interesting monologues that you wouldn't get in a show. I for one, love konoSuba and in the novel Kazuma has a lot of great quips and inner monologues that weren't in the anime and I can dig it. Didn't need 'em, really and it added a lot of good stuff anyway! Worth a buy, though!
    Also purely by chance I went to the bookstore the other day and SukaSuka juuuuuuuust went on sale so I copped a copy. I watched that too. If I haven't said it before, I think I might have a soft spot for old songs that are covered. Yamada Tamaru's cover for Scarborough Fair was super good! I mean, it has nothing to do with the book but...I like it. It certainly is memorable, though. Sadly the whole story wasn't covered but apparently there's a second series to follow up the first? Probably won't get licensed until like...2020, if even. But I have hope.
    There are others I'm reading but I'll talk about them another time. Looking back on it now, when I was just a teen there was like...2 novels that were licensed lol. At least, that I read. Those being Spicy Wolf and Book Girl, both of which I have. Having options is nice. Not having to order them is also nice.

    So! I learned to play BBCTB with Mr. A. Also Under Night in Birth. It's weird hearing the JAP>ENG voice transition from the respective original games but I think I've gotten used to it. Anyway, this resulted in me using Linne on my team lol. Truth be told, I've always been garbage at tag team games, let alone fighting games. First time I played MVC I was dazzled. I mean, in what ass-backwards universe could Wolverine and Ryu be duking it out? My 9-year old mind couldn't fathom that shit. It was amazing and also extremely hard. Now I think I kinda get it. I'm still garbage at MVC though, so don't even look at me for that lol. I've learned a lot, as mentioned previously. There might be more I can ascertain going forward, so I'll keep a close eye out.

    As for Granblue? No, no bad puns this time. I recently got JK and bodice-ripper Naoise thanks to the free draws. I fear that I'll be consumed by salt when I hear about what others got but...I'm trying not to salt pull. My drive is waning but I'm hanging in there.
    I played Hero's Return before the new event started to get more familiar with the Irestill crew. I had some of them already but it was nice to get to know the others. My intuition with Scathacha wasn't wrong! Hopefully I pull her one day.
    I guess the last thing I wanted to say is that I noticed depending on who you have, the dialogue changes. Didn't get Esser until after I finished the event but reviewed it in the journal. It got even better. Those little details are fantastic.

    Anyway, I think I've said all that needs to be said on this update. More soon? Could be! Until next time!

    Posts : 895
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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:26 am

    Pages 584-593:
    Much to their surprise, the duo found themselves back at the entrance to Mezzalone. Unlike the lively place it was during the day, it was quite docile at night. There were still people joyously strolling through the streets, friends loudly chatting and playing games and a variety of travellers that came and went. Across the city, there was no shortage of light, however. Though it was peaceful in comparison to the day, the night life of Mezzalone was nothing to underestimate either.
    Amata let out a sigh of relief before she stretched.
    “It really is over, isn’t it? I’ve got the proof that I’ve completed the trial too. Pretty cool huh?” She asked as she glanced at her arms.
    “Definitely!” TJ added with a grin.
    “Though Mom’s gonna kill me when she sees this.” She laughed under her breath at the prospect.
    “Leaving that aside…TJ, I can’t thank you enough. In spite of everything, you really pulled through for me. Thanks to you, I can proudly call myself the Maiden of Flames.”
    He laughed and smiled.
    “Just doing what I do best.”
    At his words Bharva manifested in a short series of flames that seemed to coil around the Maiden’s shoulders.
    “You have done my master a great service in seeing her through this trial, Exalted One. There is no end to the gratitude that I have for you,” the dragon said.
    As he spoke, though his mouth did not particularly open, a long, thin, forked tongue would emerge on occasion.
    At his words however, both Abellan and Maiden alike looked on in disbelief. One of the two surprise, the other the lack thereof.
    “Are you serious, Bharva? You know he can’t understand anything you say, right?” Amata asked.
    “Y-you’re welcome,” TJ answered sheepishly.
    At that, Amata looked to him, then back to her companion.
    “It seems you have not realized it yet, Master, but what God’s Governor Rayinth bestowed upon you was not just an interim title, but his blessing. As you have grown further, I have done so alongside you.”
    “Eh? Seriously?” She asked as she squinted.
    He nodded.
    “Indeed. He has enhanced your abilities in several ways. I highly recommend setting some time aside in order to come to understand in which ways this has come about.”
    TJ’s stomach growled loudly and he covered it while he averted his eyes.
    “However, this time is not now. You have duties as of yet to be seen through. Until next we meet, Exalted One.”
    Without another word, Bharva came to a rest on her shoulder and emitted a powerful light before fading away in a series of crimson spheres.
    “Guess you did work up an appetite huh? Well, I did promise, so let’s go get some food!”
    Amata led TJ through the streets of Mezzalone and as the two walked, once more she found herself bombarded by people who recognized her, commended her and at times, wanted autographs. After a while she eventually got sick of it and started exploding on anyone who came near, but in spite of the fact none seemed to take it to heart. It seemed that, that too, was one of her traits that people enjoyed. Some came up to her for that express purpose, leaving happily.
    “Geez! These guys!” She huffed as she stomped her way through an alleyway.
    “You’re really well-liked around these parts.” TJ said with a laugh.
    “I dunno why my popularity got turned up to eleven, though! I bet it’s my stupid dad’s doing! He’s always rampaging over the place and solving problems and making himself famous and then I have to deal with this nonsense!”
    The two were more similar than she knew but he would not tell her that.
    That matter aside, he noticed that both following the start of the battle and the end of it, Amata was dressed in her regular clothes.
    “What happened to your ritual clothes, Amata?”
    “Huh? I…I dunno. I didn’t even realize I was out of them with all the stuff that happened.”
    She examined herself, realizing there were no signs of it left. As she rummaged through her bag, she took out the top and cape before smiling mirthlessly.
    “That old guy folded ‘em up all nicely and stuffed ‘em in my bag. When did he even find the time to do this?”
    “I guess it’s just more proof of your victory.” TJ said with a grin.
    She knit her brows.
    “When would I ever willingly wear this?”
    After walking for a time, the two eventually came to another alleyway and in it, there was a single brown door featuring a teacup with a leaf lifted by the steam from the cup.
    “This is the place.” Amata said as she reached out and rapped on the door three times. “Mama, you in?”
    After a brief delay the door opened up and a middle-aged woman answered. She was average in both size and shape. She had long, untamed curly hair tied in a low ponytail. She wore a white long-sleeve blouse, a matching apron, black dress pants with rolled-up cuffs and a pair of black slip-ons. Her shoes had a mandala sunflower design and her apron the logo and name of her restaurant, Escalier vers la Lune.
    “Hey Mama. Sorry for coming so suddenly but we just got back from an expedition and well…nothing beats a meal here after one.”
    “Don’t worry about it Amata, you’re always welcome here. So, who’s your cute new friend?” Mama asked as she smiled kindly at the two.
    TJ’s eyes seemed to bug out as he solemnly looked at the woman before him.
    “…Yuna?” He asked in disbelief.
    Without another moment to spare he leapt into her arms.
    “Yuna! It’s really you! Yuna,” he cried out.
    Yuna looked on in shock, but held him nonetheless. She traded baffled glances with Amata who shrugged in turn.
    “Have we met before?” She asked as TJ pulled away from her.
    “It’s me, TJ! I mean…it’s probably been a few years but it really is me!”
    At his name her gaze softened.
    “That you, Sweetpea?”
    She had to hold back her tears as she collapsed to her knees and showered him with kisses.
    “I don’t believe it! It really is you! It’s been too long! Far too long!”
    She held him tightly after his silent protests.
    “Yuna! Kisses are for lovers!” He complained, resigning himself to her hug.
    “You two know each other?” Amata asked as she looked nonplussed.
    “Yeah, the two of us go way back.” She said as she let him go and rose to her feet. “Back when I still lived on Asgard I found TJ in the forest near my home, collapsed and with an empty stomach. The guards came looking for him and I hid him and well…after that he came to live with me. He livened up those normal days.”
    She smiled with an air of motherly grace about her and he beamed back in turn.
    “Who would have thought an empty stomach would bring you back to me?
    “Even so, you’ve changed so much over that time. Looking at you now, I guess you’ve been working on fitting in with some of the kids on Midgard, hm?”
    “Eh? Oh…no it’s just…well a lot of things happened and so I wound up looking like this,” he chuckled sheepishly.
    “But more importantly! Yuna, what happened to your funny way of talking?”
    She looked nonplussed for a moment before she rapped him on the head gently with the side of her hand.
    “It’s rude to call a lady’s accent a ‘funny way of talking’, Sweetheart.”
    Her pursed lips eased up and she smiled at the kids.
    “After travelling the world for a time, I eventually broke the habit of speaking in that way. That’s all!
    “Anyway, I shouldn’t have you two just standing in the doorway. Come in and have a seat. I’ll whip something up for you.”
    At her behest the two entered the shop and TJ could not help but look around.
    The restaurant was a small, homely place. At the moment, likely because it was closed, the lights were dimmed and the restaurant was silent, giving it a mature, after-hours feeling. There were two rows of tables and chairs along each side of the wall, leading to a counter. Above the counter was a greenboard that had recently been cleaned off and washed. Between some of the tables and in the corners of the room were a myriad of colourful plants that were likely native to the Ves region.
    After the two sat down Yuna made her way toward the kitchen.
    “TJ, you’ve gotta try Mama’s curry. There isn’t a restaurant in all of Mezzalone that can make it like she does!” Amata said enthusiastically clenching her fists.
    He grinned.
    “I’ll take your suggestion, then.”
    The sound of running water drew their attention towards the kitchen in the back as Yuna emerged, drying her hands with a hand towel.
    “I take it your tastes haven’t changed? I can make yours mild if you like, Sweetheart.”
    She really was Yuna. There was not a shred of doubt in his heart.
    “Yeah, please!”
    ‘Comin’ right up.” At that, she disappeared into the kitchen.
    Amata rested her head on her intertwined fingers.
    “You really are full of surprises, aren’t you TJ? You seem to be acquainted with everybody.” The Maiden of Flames said as she grinned.
    “I don’t know everybody it’s just…well, everybody seems to know me.”
    “You are the Abellan. Though this and that are two different things!
    “Still, it does make me wonder…where exactly did you live before you met Mama? You…didn’t live on the streets, did you?”
    He crossed his arms and closed his eyes as he mulled it over.
    “I…I don’t think so? There’s a bit of a gap in my memories regarding that. The earliest memory I can remember is the time where I lived on the other side of the gate…and I met the Chief there for the first time. After that the next memory I saw, I was in the dungeons of Asgard’s castle.”
    Amata blinked in disbelief.
    “The other side of the gate…? I’d heard the stories but hearing it first hand from you makes it all the weirder.”
    “Huh? You know something about it?”
    “Yeah? Doesn’t everybody?”
    He gave her a sullen glance and she smiled guiltily.
    “Remember that talk we had about the Artimen Clan, back in the Gourmet’s Valley?”
    He nodded.
    “In essence, you’re the other piece of the puzzle. The Artimen Clan would go to that place, you called it the ‘gate’ right? It’s there that the souls of the dead were purified and released to the other side. There were no shortage of legends that said you were its gatekeeper, but since nobody had been able to follow the Artimen Clan there, nobody could say for certain.
    “But to think you met Peorth there…the royal family really is something else, aren’t they?”
    TJ nodded slowly, thoughtfully.
    “I think she was the one who brought me to your world. It’s…kinda hard to believe, even knowing that all of that happened, but…it’s no less true.
    “Still, knowing that I existed during the time of Rayinth and Lady Amae, it makes me wonder how long I had been on the other side of the gate.”
    “Must mean you’re a few thousand years old!” The Sorceror burst out into laughter.
    “Well I certainly don’t feel like it.” TJ muttered as he knit his brows.
    Yuna soon returned with an amicable smile on her face. She took a seat next to the Abellan.
    “You two seem to be having quite the fun chat. Did I miss something?”
    “We were just talking about the place TJ came from.
    “But leaving that aside, I wanna hear more about your relationship, Mama.”
    “What’s there to say?” She laughed gently.
    “I’d like to know too!” TJ said as he exhaled willfully. “I…well I lost a lot of my memories and I found some, but a lot of the time we spent together is still missing. I have to defeat the other Sinners before I can see those memories again.
    “Though one thing I do remember is the last time I was on Asgard was during the war. Was that the time when we were separated?”
    Yuna nodded wistfully.
    “Yeah, I’d say that was it. I remember it well. When those Agasura came, you packed up your things and said you were going to fight.”
    She closed her eyes for a couple of moments. Upon opening them there was a sadness beyond words within.
    “I’d heard about parents sending their kids to war before but actually doing it was harder than I could’ve imagined. But I couldn’t tell you not to go, could I? By then I had known you weren’t just any average child but… even so, to me, you were. Still…I wanted you to stay by me, escape with me…but I knew Asgard needed you…the world needed you. And I let you go.”
    TJ’s heart ached at her words. After all his adventures he knew he was many things to many people but…after coming to understand what made a family, he could only imagine what Yuna’s loneliness at his departure felt like.
    “Yuna…” he whispered glumly.
    “In truth, at first I’d spent all of my time worrying about what had happened to you. After I touched down in Lemanin I’d spent some time asking around for any clues to your whereabouts. Not too many people knew, though.
    “So, with a little help I started up my business. I ran a travelling cart selling food across Jienda. As I made stops in the cities and Havens, I asked around about you. It wasn’t until the second time I visited Aoich that I had heard you had stopped there, taking up quests with your friends from Yggdrasil. For a time, it felt as if I was walking in your footsteps, going to all the places you had once been.”
    At the thought, she smiled and laughed gently. There were still hints of the wistfulness in her yard-long gaze, but her joy made up for it substantially.
    “When I reached Ves I thought about it for a while, wondered what I would do if I did find you. After thinking it over, I decided it’d be best if I let you leave the nest. You found your calling, friends to see it through with and the strength to succeed. That journey you’d take is one that I couldn’t do with you. I’d only be a liability, after all. I can’t wield a sword or a staff. I wasn’t raised to wield a ladle, but I guess you could say it was my weapon of choice.”
    She laughed mirthfully and the two did also.
    “So after a few years of travelling and saving up, I decided to settle down in Mezzalone. I couldn’t afford my own storefront but I managed to get this little place on the cheap, and so I built it to what it is today. I suppose at the end of it all, my mentality was that…when your adventure ends, you could come here and just have a nice meal, a roof over your head and…a warm embrace waiting for you.”
    Without a moment to think it over TJ embraced her and buried his face in her flank. She laughed as she gently stroked his hair.
    “I’m sorry for being gone so long, Yuna. If I’d known sooner I’d have come to visit.”
    “You were busy saving the world, weren’t you? You don’t need to come all the way to Mezzalone to visit me!”
    The chef’s eyes flickered to the young girl across the table, beaming at the two with a look unbeknownst to either of them.
    “Why the smug grin, Amata?”
    “Oh it’s nothing…” She said as she cackled quietly. “Though seeing TJ like this after all that we’d been through is quite a refreshing change. After all the heroics and showing off he’s done, seeing that he has a cute side is a big shock for me. Is this that thing…what’d they call it? Gap?”
    “You’re really making me feel my age with that slang of yours.” Yuna said as she chuckled under her breath.
    “Though I’d never have thought that you of all people were his mom, Mama. I’d have to say that was the biggest surprise today.”
    “D-don’t call me a mom. I’m not even married yet.”
    “I’ll marry you, Yuna!” TJ said with a twinkle in his eye.
    She began to sweat as she squinted at him suspiciously.
    “I can’t help but sense a misunderstanding here.”
    “Happens all the time,” Amata laughed.
    “There’s no misunderstanding. I’d heard that lovers get married, and kissing is something that lovers do, right?”
    “Ah, there it is.” His guardian said as she smiled wryly.
    She placed her hands to his shoulders as she looked him in the eyes.
    “Sweetheart, you and I are gonna need to have a long talk about what a lover is. If you’re not careful, you’re going to make a lot of girls cry in the future.”
    “R-really? That’d be kinda bad huh?” He asked as he knit his brows.
    The chef could not help but smile at his response.
    “I know you wouldn’t do it on purpose. With youth comes innocence, after all. That innocence will lead to you making mistakes, but that’s all part of growing up. Even so, I guess it’s times like these where your guardians might be able to intervene. We’ll get you back on the right track in good time.”
    To that end, she explained the different ways of expressing love for families, friends and lovers for a brief period.

    While Yuna finished cooking TJ and Amata chatted for a while. Soon after she returned with two plates and served them.
    After a taste, TJ smiled with delight. He could not recall having tasted curry before, but he was thankful it was the first. It was not too spicy, had a bit of a sweetness to it and the taste reminded him of his time on Asgard. It was reminiscent of one of the places he could call home.
    “Thanks for the meal, Mama.” Amata said as she patted her stomach. “If you two’ll excuse me, I need to run to the little ladies’ room.”
    TJ blinked thoughtfully at her words.
    Who, or what, were the little ladies? Were there other places they resided in?
    “Sweetheart, it’s just another term for the girls’ bathroom,” Yuna told him.
    “Oho!” He said with a look of realization.
    Was there anything she didn’t know?
    She smiled but her eyebrows remained knit.
    “You must have had a difficult time getting along with people, didn’t you? I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a normal upbringing. When I found you, I should’ve studied more, but I didn’t exactly do things by the book for most of my life. Treated parenting the same way. That was unfair to you.”
    He looked at her earnestly, solemnly for a time. Finally, he shook his head.
    “That’s not it. I…I don’t remember much of our time together but…the time we did spend together that I do know, I’m super thankful for! You didn’t know me but you gave me a home, clothes and you fed me too. You didn’t chase me away or lock me up. You treated me really kindly. I wish I could tell you how glad I am that I met you, but…well, I’m kinda bad with my words. But I really, really love you!”
    She ruffled his hair and kissed him gently on the forehead.
    “I love you too, Sweetpea.
    “Still, you might have lost some of your memories, but I’d bet you made plenty of fun ones along your journey. Why not share some with me?”
    “I’d be glad to!”
    For a time he talked animatedly about his adventures with Yggdrasil, the things he learned about its members and himself. Stories of the places he’d seen, the Agasuras he fought and of course, the foods he ate.
    “So you wound up shopping with the girls? They’re really full of surprises, aren’t they?”
    TJ nodded as he chuckled.
    Moments later Su’s question about his quest to become more masculine resurfaced in his mind. Perhaps Yuna knew something about it?
    “Yuna, when we lived together was being…well, manly a big thing for me? Do you remember anything like that?”
    She rubbed her chin thoughtfully for a couple of moments before she raised a finger.
    “Actually, I do! It was around the same time Princess Freya passed away. Shortly after that, if I’m remembering right. You’d started studying under some strange masked fellow. You said he was teaching you some magic and close-combat. That and he’d often mention something about becoming a man of high caliber? I never quite understood that, but if I was to take a swing at a guess, it meant something like being strong—strong enough to protect those you cared about. He said he wanted you to prove that you could best him.”
    She crossed her arms.
    “He was a strange one. I met him once, but never saw him take off that mask.
    “Still, I think that was only half of the dilemma.” She smiled guiltily. “I was probably the other.”
    TJ blinked.
    “You were?”
    She nodded in turn.
    “Yeah. Around the time you were learning to talk, I figured it’d be best if I taught you to read too. Had some old picture books lying around that I used to read with you. A series called ‘The Little Knight’. Used to love it when I was your age. …However old you are.
    “I used to talk endlessly about knights in shining armour and whatnot. I’m sure a part of it was all the heroism and flights of fancy, but the other was based on my memories. Used to admire them ‘cause my family took a lot of pride in their knighthood. Most of the men in my family picked up the sword and took the oath. Might be all my yappin’ put some crazy ideas in that pretty little head of yours.”
    She paused for a moment as she closed her eyes, her brows furrowed.
    “I need to be more careful. The more I think about the past the more my accent slips into my speech.
    “Back to the topic at hand, a small part of me believed you could be that person for the princess. I shouldn’t have put so much pressure on you like that. You’ll have to forgive me for that too, Sweetpea.”
    She laughed gently.
    “I’ve got a lot to apologize for, don’t I?”
    TJ grinned as he laughed also.
    “That’s okay. I’m not mad about any of it. To be honest, that’s what I wanted too. Both then and now. I want to see the Chief smiling even if things get difficult.”
    She tilted her head when he referred to her by her nickname, but the moment quickly passed.
    “I’ve no doubt you’ll manage somehow. But you need to think about you, too. It’s important to consider how you want people to see you. It’s a really simple thing, but being a boy or a girl is something that’s both important to the person themselves and those around them, especially when it comes to love.”
    TJ nodded, listening intently.
    “What you need to understand is, in most cases, girls will like boys and boys will like girls. Sometimes boys will like boys and girls will like girls. It’s different for everyone, Sweetheart. How you carry yourself, the way you dress and talk, these can all be things that will help others to tell what kind of person you are. From what you told me, there’s a lot that you like about Queen Peorth, isn’t there? The same could be said for you, in her case. Maybe you look cute in a quipao or have a certain charm when you’re eating your favourite food. All of those little things you love in others, they can find similar things in you.
    “But this isn’t just about everyone else. You’ve been pretty worried about the matter too, haven’t you? My advice is to be what you feel most comfortable being. You don’t have to be a boy to be someone’s knight in shining armour. You don’t have to be a girl to feel cute in a dress either. Regardless of what you choose to be, you should feel happy being it. And whatever you choose, I’ll be happy with too, because you’re happy. I won’t love you any less for being either, or choosing neither. If you find someone that can accept that about you too, then you’ll know that they’re definitely someone you won’t want to lose.”
    She chuckled gently at the prospect.
    “So I say, but it seems there are a few girls that already are looking to get their hooks in you. I won’t judge, but try to narrow it down to one, okay?”
    “Got it.” TJ said with a grin.
    She smiled with a smug look in her eyes.
    “You’ve no idea. That one might have to be a life lesson.”

    After Amata rejoined them, TJ decided to ask about how the two had become acquainted.
    “If it wasn’t for you, I might not have met Yuna again…ever! You must have had a pretty exciting meeting too!” He said with a twinkle in his eyes.
    “Not all meetings are fantastic adventures. Some are, but this one was normal…but rather pleasant! It’s a short story though,” Yuna began.
    “A few years ago Amata and a friend came by. Don’t know what brought them to a hole-in-the-wall shop like mine, but I was glad to have them nonetheless. They ate, chatted for a while and left. Few days later and they were back. Next thing I knew, they’d become regulars. When people caught word that the daughter of the God’s Governor of Fire was eating here, they started to flock to my store by the dozens. Still do.”
    “S-sorry…” Amata said as she hid her face.
    “Ha! I should thank you! Business has been great because of it. Heck, even Alvaro dropped by once or twice in a blue moon.”
    “Eating at the same restaurant as my dad is painfully lame.”
    “You’re at that age, huh?” Yuna asked as she smiled and placed her chin in her hands.
    “But now that we’re on the topic, I haven’t seen you around much. It was Meena who gave me the nickname Mama because she said my food reminded her of her own mom’s—just that it’d be weird if she called me Mom too. Although, Meena still drops by every now and again, yet I haven’t seen you two together in years. Did you have a falling out?”
    “Say no more. I won’t press you for answers. Whatever happened, I’ll be here, hoping the two of you can sort it out, and when you do, be sure to come back. I’ll have a meal ready for you.” She grinned amicably.
    Amata looked to the chef before she looked down at her shoes for a few solemn moments. When they had passed, she clenched a fist to her chest with a look of resolve in her eyes.
    “Mama, we should get going. Thanks so much for having us and cooking too, even though it’s so late.”
    “Think nothing of it, kids. My door’s always open for you, so if you ever need a place to stay and a warm meal, just come on over.”
    “Thanks a ton Yuna. For everything.” TJ said as he beamed, cheeks flushed.
    “Thank you, kiddo, for looking after all of us. I dunno what the Cerebians would do without you.
    “And hey, you should bring the Queen by sometime. It might be a little shabby for her high-class tastebuds, but I’ll prepare you two a nice candlelit dinner. That is, if the two of you aren’t already an item.”
    “Yuna!” Amata complained as she clenched her fists.
    “I’m just teasing!”
    She saw the two to the door and gave the Abellan a warm hug.
    “Take care of yourself, Sweetpea. It’s a hell of a world out there, but I’d bet there’s no one who can navigate it like you can.”
    “I will, Yuna! You be sure to take care too. As soon as I can, I’ll be sure to come back and visit!” The Abellan said as he grinned a toothy grin.
    “I bet you will.”
    “I’ll try to come by once in a while too. I’ll probably be in the Haven more often now so I don’t have a reason not to.”
    “Good. I’m looking forward to it, Kiddo. Also be sure to think long and hard before you get any more tattoos.”
    “I-it’s not like that!”
    Yuna laughed as she waved the two off. As they said one more goodbye, their journey began anew.

    “As they walked through the streets of Mezzalone Amata wore a pensive expression.
    “Hey…TJ,” she began.
    “Mm hmm?” He asked in turn, looking to her.
    “I…I’ve been thinking… w-well..I uhh…” She rubbed her arm uneasily. “You remember how I told you about that friend of mine, way back when? W-well she lives near here. Like Mama had said...it’s been a while since the two of us had been together…’cause I was avoiding her. S-so I wanna go see her. But I can’t do it alone. If I do, I might chicken out and just go back home. No matter what I say, don’t let me quit, alright? Make sure I see this through to the end.”
    “Well we did agree to stick things out until the end right? If you can face God’s Governor Rayinth, I’d bet you could face Meena too.” TJ said with a grin.
    “This and that are two different things, though!”
    “Though I can’t help but wonder, would she be awake at this time?”
    Amata shook her head as she shrugged.
    “Oh definitely. That girl always was a night owl. Hell, it was her idea for us to go to Mama’s after-hours because of the crowds during the day.”
    The two walked through the marketplace to a small district rife with houses. It seemed to be closer to one of the more mountainous areas in Mezzalone, but leading to what seemed to be nothing more than an uphill path. There were no houses or shops.
    “You know, I’m starting to think this might be a bad idea. I mean, really, just showing up out of the blue like that? Terrible idea.” Amata said as she shook her head.
    “I dunno what you’re talking about.” TJ said with a mirthful grin.
    “Let’s be honest with ourselves, there’s no way she’d wanna see me after all these years! Like really, better to just let sleeping dogs lie. Come on TJ, let’s head back.”
    He grabbed her by the hem of her jacket as she tried to turn around and walk back.
    “D-don’t stop me, TJ! This is a bad idea and you know it!”
    “I said I’d stop you, so we’re going. No way out of it now, Amata.”
    After struggling for a time, she sighed, relented and started walking with him again.
    As they neared their destination, Amata pointed at the house near the end of the street. As they drew closer, she began to sweat and immediately turned around to break into a dash, only to be grabbed by the Abellan once more.
    “You can’t run away Amata! You’re braver than that!” TJ said as his feet began to slide across the concrete.
    “I don’t know…what you’re…talking…about!” The Maiden of Flames uttered as she walked with all her might.
    “Can’t let you do that!”
    TJ opted out for grabbing her waist and hauling her over his shoulder.
    “You’re…you’re stronger than you look.
    “Wait, that’s not the point! P-put me down! I changed my mind! I don’t wanna do this! I refuse to go! No! Absolutely not! TJ you idiot!”
    She kicked and punched all while protesting. He expected it to be a lot worse, but after getting a beatdown courtesy of Rayinth and his metal gauntlets, Amata’s fists were easy to handle.
    Once the two arrived at the house TJ removed a hand from the Governor of Fire to knock on the door three times.
    “I’ve calmed down. You can put me down now,” Amata said in a defeated tone.
    After a short period a young girl came to the door.
    She seemed to be around the same age as Amata. She had bronzed skin, jade green eyes and shoulder-length violet hair. She wore a celeste sari with gold hemming. What caught TJ’s eye, however, were the aged burn scars that covered most of her right side.
    Though he looked only for a moment, he felt he could understand the scenario entirely. To that end, he dared not speak a word of it.
    Meena looked at the two with a baffled expression for a moment before she clasped her hands to her face. Tears began to stream from her eyes while her old friend rubbed her neck.
    “Ama? You came to visit…” Meena said through her tears.
    “Y-yeah…it’s been a while, huh, Mee-mrghph-” Before she could finish her question she was suddenly embraced by her friend.
    “All this time I thought you hated me! I’ve wanted to see you for all these years but whenever I went to visit your parents told me you were away on expeditions!”
    “H-hate you? No! You didn’t even do anything! I-it was my fault…after all. I should’ve stayed, but I ran away…”
    “That’s fine. I’m just glad you’re back. But since you’re here…does that mean we can start over?”
    “Forget that! Instead of starting over, let’s just pick up where we left off. Except his time…I’ll do better.”
    Meena invited the two in and let them sit down in her living room. It was a homely little space with a television, a group of couches, a dining table and various pictures on the wall. There were plants scattered along the window sill and a grandfather clock rested against one of the walls.
    She soon returned with tea and biscuits to accompany them before she sat down beside Amata.
    “Sorry for not introducing myself sooner. My name is Meena Patil, a really good friend of Ama’s,” Meena told TJ.
    “Yeah…we go way back.” Amata added with a light chuckle. “Meena, this is TJ, the Abellan.”
    “That’s me, yeah.” TJ said with a grin.
    “Oh stop!” Meena said as she jokingly slapped Amata’s arm.
    “No I’m serious! He really is!” Amata remarked as she laughed.
    “It’s true.” He added, soon looking rather startled.
    Meena seemed to be practically brimming with excitement. She bit down her lip in an attempt to hide her grin. Following that, she got to her feet and held out a hand for him to shake it.
    “I can’t believe I’m meeting the Abellan in the flesh! I’d heard that you appeared at the summit in Lemanin but I didn’t think you’d be coming to Mezzalone!”
    “Me either,” he laughed.
    “Yeeeeeah…that was kinda my fault. Asked him to take Rayinth’s trial on a whim, but he was pretty good about it. Thanks to him, we cleared it. It’s also thanks to him that I actually came here and didn’t run away.” She muttered under her breath, cheeks flushed.
    “You did it?” Meena asked with a surprised look.
    “Check ‘em out!”
    Amata raised her tattooed arms for her companion to see and she examined them thoroughly while expressing her amazement.
    “That’s super cool, Ama! Is it permanent?”
    “Probably?” She shrugged.
    “How will you have mehndi applied if you have those, though?”
    The Maiden of Flames reeled back in shock at the question, her cheeks flushed.
    “I…I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it! I mean, it’s n-not like I’m thinking about stuff like that right now! S-saving the world comes first! That can wait, can’t it?”
    “You’re the same old Ama, huh?” Meena laughed.
    TJ did not quite understand what they were talking about, but he was just happy to see them getting along so well.
    “Yeah, a nervous wreck when it counts.” Amata said with knit brows.
    She took Meena’s hands in her own.
    “Really though, I can’t apologize enough for what I’d done. After the incident, I did go to see you in the hospital but at the time you were unconscious. When I saw you like that I just couldn’t…couldn’t take the guilt. I should’ve been there for you but instead I went to Hanamah to run away from it all. Even after all that, I just wound up causing more trouble in another Haven. Even then, throughout the whole ordeal and my journey up to now, I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”
    Meena beamed at her sullen companion.
    “I forgive you. You didn’t think I’d hold a grudge against my best friend did you? I love you too much for that!
    “Besides, it was thanks to you that the two of us came out alive at all. I’d take this over dying there, any day. Both Mom and Dad were thankful that you saved me too.
    “All in all though, I’m just glad you came back. I dunno what I’d do if I never saw you again. But to know that you were thinking of me all this time too, makes me super happy!”
    The two girls hugged, each smiling from the bottom of their hearts.
    “Let’s swear not to let anything get between us again.” Amata said as she held out a pinky.
    “Agreed.” Meena answered as she locked hers with her friend’s.
    As the two gently shook fingers and smiled at each other, the night passed.

    The duo made their way back to the Seitz manor in relative silence.
    TJ thought to speak to her, but since they had left Amata had been positively fuming with what he thought to be embarrassment. He decided it best to give her some time to mull her thoughts over.
    He chuckled gently under his breath.
    Yuna had told him there were many forms of love. It seemed to him, that there were many forms of courage too. Fighting might not be the hardest thing for some people to do—a truth he had seen first-hand. He felt proud of Amata who, though reluctant to go through with it, faced her fears and made-up with her longtime friend. To have been a part of her journey brought him a joy he could not put to words. Even more so, he was thankful that it all worked out in the end.
    As the two arrived at Amata’s home she snapped out of her flustered reverie and turned her gaze to the Abellan. She pressed her fingers together for a couple of moments before she decided to speak.
    “H-hey…it’s a little late and all so…do you wanna stay over another night? You can have breakfast and leave in the morning…if you want…” she muttered in a subdued tone.
    TJ grinned slightly, his eyes crinkled.
    “Thanks for the offer, but I’ll pass this time. I don’t want to be any more of a burden on your family than I already have been. They’ve already done plenty for me, so this is enough,” he answered.
    “That so?”
    It was only ever so slightly, but he could hear the disappointment in her voice at his response.
    “W-well…still…um…TJ, thank you.” She looked him in the eyes. “For everything. I was able to do all of this because you were with me every step of the way. Even when I turned into a quivering pile of jelly, you still stayed with me.”
    She pressed her fingers together again and lowered her gaze, her cheeks flushed a deeper shade of red.
    “You really are just like one of the heroes of eld. Makes me glad that I was the candidate for Governor of Fire when you came from beyond the gate.
    “I…well…would you close your eyes? Just for a sec’.”
    He tilted his head quizzically for a moment before he did as she requested. The Maiden of Flames leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek before taking a couple steps back. He opened his eyes and placed a hand to the place her lips touched, looking bewildered.
    “I’ve never felt this way about a boy before…nor did I think I’d feel this way about a modern-day hero.”
    She hurried over to the gates to the manor and opened them before glancing back one last time.
    “Thank you, TJ! I’ll see you again soon!”
    As she waved the gates closed and she turned to walk away with a bit of a spring to her step.

    TJ soon arrived at his home in Belos and as he did so, collapsed in the doorway.
    “What a day!” He said with a sigh of relief.
    Su emerged from the gem and crossed her arms as she grinned.
    “Well lookit’ you, lover boy! Looks like you somehow won the bitch over.” She said with a teasing grin. “Good luck with that.”
    “I’m sure it’ll be fine. In truth, I’m just glad I was able to do what I promised I would.”
    He had never seen Amata smile so much and in such a way. It seemed that he had the power to not only change fate, but people also. The other four Governors who were struggling in their own ways, there likely was something that he could do for them. Eventually, he would find out what that is, and together they would go on to accomplish great things. For now, he was just satisfied at having been of use to the Governor of Fire to-be.

    Posts : 895
    Join date : 2009-03-29
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    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:47 am

    Yuna, Cooks up a storm!:
    I've been thinking lately. GBF has done a collab with IdolMaster and Side M and now Love Live. Where do they go from there? I've been thinking the next option has to be Sekko Boys! The female fans get a bunch of hot guys, I get a dragonslayer on my team(Step aside Siegfried, St. George is the original hotness) so everybody wins!
    ...I know they're statues! It'll work out somehow!
    So? Let's get down to it!

    I didn't make any edits yet but I'll probably change it to Lord/Lady instead of Maiden/???. I'm accepting all suggestions! I hate English. I really, really do. I've been on this earth for 20+ years, can only speak english (I can recite the days of the week in French, though!) and I still don't understand how commas work! Are you allowed to use them before you use 'and' or 'but' to continue a sentence or is that like...? Taboo??? Language sucks, a love story.
    So Bharva appears. He was supposed to originally but when I wrote it, I forgot him. This is what happens when you don't storyboard the little details. I somehow managed to fit it in the scene without it feeling janky, imo. Did you notice? If you did, we're gonna have to fight. You won't remember that when I hit you with my memory erasing apparatus(hammer) so it'll all be gravy!
    Despite how much Amata's grown though, at her core she's still the same. She has a pretty short fuse and a pride all her own. Thus, she hates it when people approach her for what Alvaro does. Being his daughter and God's Governor of Fire, she's pretty famous around Mezzalone so people come to her with their thanks, well wishes and to...well to piss her off. Have you ever met somebody you just wanted to get a rise out of? It's like one of those characters you want to bully, but instead they get mad. It can be refreshing sometimes! Give it a try with your friends, your family, your S.O!

    So after...gods know how long, we get the return of Yuna! Present!Yuna, that is. She owns a restaurant now called Escalier vers la Lune, which roughly translates to Stairwell to the Moon. Considering that he hasn't grown much since the last two met, I felt it'd be kinda weird if she didn't recognize him but his appearance is so starkly different from what she remembered, on top of the fact he actually shows emotion now it felt more fitting this way. Anyway, I wanted to give her a way to address him that'd be unique to her, yet felt fitting considering her accent soo she calls him Sweetpea on occasion now. That aside, being...you know, an adult and not one that has a specific interest in him or Kooh, she actually acts like a voice of reason to him, explaining the things he doesn't understand. On the other hand, I suppose that's just a parent's duty, huh?
    I do wish that I made TJ's dislike of spicy food a thing known before chapter 10 but it's something that might appear again later. Small character traits add up eventually. For a main character though, I'm sure he isn't short on those, though! It's a good way to show a relationship between two characters, almost like a secret shared between them. They just know each other that well.
    I still think about it a lot--that is, TJ's relationship with the gods during the Age of Heroes and the way things are now. It's strange to think that while he was on the other side of the gate, the whole world just seemed to pass him by. Heroes fought for the sake of the world, nations rose and fall and the lineages of the people that he knew and knew him extended like a link in a chain, one by one up until this point. I suppose the strangest thing is that...at any point in time, his story could have taken place. Like Peorth said, she considers herself fortunate that she was the one to lead the Cerebians in their battle. Any of the previous women in her family could've taken up the mantle and if they did so, the whole story would take place during a different age...perhaps before the end of the Derr Clan and even before Iris' time. I do wish that I knew the whole story. It'd be nice if someone did an in-depth look at it! Though I imagine if the game did cover it, that would mean either it's nearing the end of its life cycle or...there's something more important? Though Iris was the big mystery of LT. Then again, there was also that weird kid Genepe? i dunno what his deal was but the two of them had something going on.
    In truth, I don't have too much to say about this part. Yuna sums things up pretty nicely without leaving out anything. I've gotta admit, though, I do enjoy how she sometimes switches between her motherly aura to her 'I'm too young to be married with kids' personality.
    There is something important here, though! Yuna actually clears up TJ's misunderstandings. I know you're probably thinking, 'so what?' but the thing is, those misunderstandings have a much greater impact on him than anything else because he doesn't have the knowledge most people would. When he puts two and two together, that becomes his belief. That naiveté of his does have its origins in him being an ethereal being but also that he found himself in a world with little knowledge of it. The only person who could and would teach him(the role of a parent, typically, if not a series of teachers) was Yuna. She acknowledges this fact a little later on and takes the onus upon herself. More on that soon! Still, unlike most characters, she can tell at a glance when he's developing strange ideas. She knows him all too well and so when she suspects something, she quickly remedies it before he forms an opinion.
    I personally, really loved the apology. I spend a lot of time thinking about how the actions of the parent can affect the child. The upbringing can determine personality, physical and other mental traits and in time, how the child would raise their own children. Not much is said about Yuna's parents but we can glean a lot about her from her words, her stories and actions. Though she might not have done everything correctly, her heart was always in the right place. She brought him up in the best way she knew how and love him as if he were her own. Even after years of separation, that remained the case.
    So! That strange masked fellow? Not actually a guy. Might be the same strange masked fellow that appeared in TEAL. What are they doing on Asgard? Good question! The truth is [redacted] and then [redacted] and because he [redacted] she wound up [redacted] and finally, TJ started studying under them. Fascinating, isn't it? Believe it or not, this was all planned out! Since 2011 babyyyy! I could write a goddamn bible. Too bad I'm a blasphemous piece of shit.

    The next part is...interesting. I suppose I should give it some background. I've decided against...you know, sticking my neck into movements cause it doesn't typically pan out, so bear with me here. Spoilers, maybe?
    Frequency, TJ and being transgender:
    So here's a story for you!
    You've probably heard me say it before but originally TJ's gender being a mystery was a bad joke based around the fact that my in-game character was male but was often mistaken for being female. In all honesty, it was probably the waiter outfit but because I decided to run with it, getting the pink shaggy prince cut it got worse. Anyway, I decided to make it a character trait of his for shits and giggles.
    ...I know, you don't have to tell me. I was a stupid teenager. This story really is a relic of its time and it shows sometimes.
    As I got older, I decided to develop the concept further. Because at my core I'm a contrarian, I decided I would make him canonically female, all the while being a character suffering from GID, which is short for gender identity disorder. Somewhere along the way, I had become enamored with the idea that he would secretly be the heroine of a novel. At the time, there were very few, if any stand-out female heroines within the media. My tendency to against the grain made me want to change that fact and so I did. As Sanctuary began to come to fruition, I had decided that at the end, the very end, right after the final battle it'd be revealed that he wasn't a guy. Why? Because! What a twist, you know! M. Night in this bitch or something, I dunno. It was kinda dumb and pointless, really. That'd been done already by Samus. (You won the battle, Miyamoto, but I've won the war since TJ can crawl! Ha! Ha ha!) Anyway, few years passed, things changed, you know? I learned a little later on that having GID was actually considered part and parcel to being transgender and so...well, using that as a concept went out the window.
    Anyway, since I'm not a stupid teen anymore I decided to shelve the idea of it being a joke and actually treat it as a character trait and something for him to work out. Now that there's a whole movement, it being part and parcel to the LGBTQ+ movement that's constantly growing and changing, I can't help but feel I'm in over my head. However, to back out now would be...wrong. I'd have to scrap a large part of his character arc and in the same vein, shy away from something that's considered important to a lot of people.
    Why would I consider that option? Not everyone will feel comfortable having a story like that written by someone like me. Am I transgender? Nope. Have I ever had experiences related to it? ...I'll leave that up to your imagination. My point is, it'd be better told by someone who's well versed in all that it comes with. As I always say, though, the experience varies from person to person. The concept may be the same but the journey will differ. If there are stories out there to be told, I hope that they will be. It's one way for those who are ignorant to the experience, curious or afraid to take the step to see first-hand. As all movements before it, the story needs to be told for people to rally to it. Both those within and without.
    Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I can't tell the story as well as you could. You know who you are! You tell your story. If people could somehow relate to this, good. It's a bit of a touchy subject but if you could accept this work among the others, bad as it might be, you have my appreciation. I might make more shitty jokes in the future but I wouldn't do it with bad intentions. As you've seen plenty of times here before, I tend to make shitty jokes about the things I like or am interested in. And myself...because we all need to laugh at ourselves once in a while, right?
    But I digress. Being serious isn't really my strong suit.
    What I really want to say is, we as a species, have ascended. To think that we've reached a point where we could have cute boys and handsome girls is important. Also, I don't care if you're LGBTQ+everything else under the sun. You're welcome here. You're valid. If anyone tells you otherwise, they can go fuck themselves. This has been a friendly neighborhood PSA.

    There's so much I want to say about this part but I feel I could never truly put it to words. So let me at least say this: I hope that going forward, we can have parents like Yuna. To be able to sit down with your parents and tell that you might be LGBT+ is horrifying for many of those that are. This isn't me speaking from my experience but of those I've read. There's no shortage of stories. As one would imagine, though, most of our parents come from a completely different time. Our normal is weird to them and people are often reluctant to change. I don't mind it too much but boy, things happen quickly. My hope is that things...you know, progress smoothly. The SJW movement turned into a beast in its own right and I dunno how to feel about that. What some terms mean now, they might not mean the same thing tomorrow. I don't know what the future holds for the movements of today but one thing I know will never change is the importance of acceptance. No matter how many decades pass, that will always be relevant.
    Some might say I'm trying to move my agenda or something with my work and that's fine. Maybe I am! ...I'm not entirely sure what it means to have an agenda, to be completely honest. But I do realize how much it sucks to be an outcast, so I'll stand by those who might have to go through that slog. That, is reason enough for me. That's my 2 cents on the matter.

    Anyway, as I mentioned before most of the dialogue here is pretty self-explanatory. As for Yuna? I'd like for her to appear again, in the present of course. I'm sure she will in the future. I've gotta admit, writing some parts for her here even got me a little choked up. I guess I'd forgotten how easy it is to get invested in the characters' stories. As they unfold, people coming and going, it starts to feel as if they were people you yourself knew, I suppose.

    Hey kids! Remember how I wrote this stupid-long post about future story events in one of these magical threads?! I sure do! Wow! Looks like I didn't completely forget it and actually included the events I had mentioned in it!
    Re-reading the course of events leading up to the reunion with Meena, I still have mixed feelings. Amata getting picked up seems kinda bad...I mean, when you understand the context it's actually not all that bad, especially considering that she asked TJ not to let her chicken out but still! I don't wanna change it but if this was actually published, I get the feeling there'd be a lot of angry people. I won't go too deeply into that, since it could start an argument between people with differing beliefs. I'm not about that.
    Moving on! Meena answers the door! Cue smash theme! Jokes aside, I felt this was a powerful moment. Amata never specifically says why she avoided Meena, though it is foreshadowed on a few occasions. I feel that TJ's response to what he saw, his silence and understanding convey his feelings so well and the import that dawns upon him at the sight. Despite being a naive character, he understands and for him, that understanding is crucial. As for Amata, we see one of her core character traits at play here. Her reason for finding herself in Hanamah during USSR is that she threw herself into the role and her work to escape the things she could not face. It's what she's always done because it's what she knows best. It's why Alvaro feels like he had let her down as a parent and why she has a hard time getting along with people--she's awkward, yes but she also doesn't know how to go about getting along with her peers, especially given her position.
    Something I love about this part is that again, we get to see characters being...you know, themselves. Meena and Amata are around the same age(and best friends...which is...you know, important here. Yup.) so her demeanor around her differs greatly in comparison to others. But also! Their reactions, the way the banter between them unfolds so organically and the sense of physical distance they have explores their relationship. All those little details can be so crucial. As the relationships develop more throughout Sanc, I'd like to explore that a little more 'cause right now, for some characters it's really hard to imagine, while others they do it so naturally you hardly notice it.
    Meena's a good girl and by no stretch of the imagination not a fighter. Will she appear again? Maybe!
    So to kick off Amata's arc, we get a kinda-sorta-is it really(?) confession! If you're wondering why she said, "I've never felt this way about a boy before..." (She doesn't know) it's literally because...well she's being literal. I mean, if it wasn't obvious already, she's one of the few canonically gay characters. The other being Kooh. By that, I mean that they don't swing both ways or all ways or what have you. After all was said and done, she joined the running. She's got a lot of stiff competition, though. Godspeed, Amata.

    And so the chapter ends on a surprisingly good note. Su's pretty indifferent to his love interests, after having seen the others for so long. Perhaps there's a reason she feels that way, or something she knows. Only time will tell!

    That's all for Young Dragons. It was challenging in all sorts of ways, but it's done as are the reviews. Nice. I wrote an Interlude for it that bridges the gap between chapter 10 and 11. The gap is pretty small, though. It's like a couple hours. I have a good idea for one for chapter 11 but in all honesty, after Reina's chapter 10 interlude I can't help but think it's more like short side stories rather than interludes lol. The one I had planned would be as long, if not longer.

    So, what's new with me? I've been playing a lot more Zelda lately. I feel like the Link in BotW gets a lot of shit. By that, I mean he gets it a lot worse than the others have. Everything kills him. I feel like everything's a hazard lol. A bokoblin might shoot your horse and it'd trample and murder him in a panic or something. Sometimes you get crushed. Sometimes you fall into a swamp and die. Sometimes you get ass-blasted off a mountain and roll to your demise. It's not easy being the hero of the wild. Also Zelda is a broody girl! No wonder she didn't make it into smash. I like their relationship, though! Save for the Minish Cap, a lot of the time it felt like she was always suuuuuuuuper far away. Like the two come from different worlds, you know? I mean one of them's a princess and the other is...something else every time he comes into existence but still!
    The last thing I wanted to say is, i feel like it was a bit of a love letter to those that came before it. There are a lot of places and things that reference past things like Lake Saria, Mido Swap or I think the Minshi Woods? Heck, they even mentioned Link's other incarnations. Anyway, I'm glad to finally have had a chance to play it and I think it's safe to say I'm addicted.

    In GBF related news, I got a loooot of new characters. And yet...and yet I couldn't draw Almeida. 300 draws, no Almeida. I got Alexiel, btw. She and her justice boner give me strength. Nonetheless, I somehow managed to pull both Arulu and Siegfried with my free draws in the same day and still couldn't get Almeida. I ain't even mad about that lol. If you're wondering why I'm so adamant on that, it's because she was one of my first SRs. It's tough being a scrub and fighting primals and she had some really good skills lol. Also...her *ahem* skills are...good.
    That aside, I got the new Grea and her fate episode was gay as heck. Whoever wrote it, I salute you. They truly are the hero we need in these trying times. Of course, nothing is explicitly said but there's no way in hell that can be misunderstood lol. My FillexTherese ship is sailing on questionable waters, though. Couldn't pull either version of best gem queen either. Feels bad man.

    I was thinking the other day: What would I do if I wasn't writing Sanc? I realized that I could, in fact, write other fanfiction. It's a scary thought, you know! I could write slashfics! It's scary to think that one man could wield so much power! Alas, I realize that my favourite girl's speech patterns would translate poorly into english. That, is a fate worse than death. As such, I'll stay in my lane.
    Joke? Maybe!
    More soon? Maybe!


    Posts : 895
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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:16 pm

    Young Dragons Overview:

    It only took 2+ years to arrive at this destination. I'd say it's a shame but...is it? Nonetheless, I'm here. In truth I'd rather not be. I'd rather stew in the mire that makes up my existence but apparently I can't do that in peace so here I am. It'll be a regular overview...mostly. I imagine that at some point it's gonna devolve into an angry rant that boils down to 'I hate humanity for (x) reasons' but I mean, realistically, we all expect this right? I expect afterwards there'll be multiple occasions that say 'nice blog post' or something. Every time I see those three words I die a little more on the inside. There's not much left to kill, though, so take it while you can! It's free real estate!
    ...I'm not actually here to make jokes, this time. I don't usually with the overviews anyway. So then...

    About Young Dragons:

    You've probably been wondering for these past 2 years, why did this mad man give the chapter such a weird title? I suppose you could say it was hinted at with the small talk betwen Alvaro and Sorvir, given form when she says, “Alas, you have as of yet to tame your own dragon". So if you haven't guessed already, the title refers to TJ and Amata respectively.
    In truth, I wouldn't say it was based on something...in a sense. IIIRC, I mentioned something about the yin/yang symbol and of course, made the title drop joke. Always relevant. Back to the topic at hand, looking at the title through a more symbolic lens, you could see the 'dragons' part in 2 ways. Or at least, as I did.
    Firstly, you have those that see the dragon as a symbol of luck or good fortune. Secondly, you could see it as a harbinger of destruction.
    The most important thing about this, especially to these two characters is how these facts can be applied to both of them respectively. Thus, you could see TJ/Amata as one or the other.
    In TJ's case, it's much more fitting as he is slated to be the next Agasura King, but even if you set that aside, he has his origins as the Calamity Trigger. On the flip side, he represents the hope of both Cerebians and Humanity. Even in this chapter, you can see that Amata sees him as a blessing to have as a member of her battle party. That aside, he considers continuing the work of Amae and Seres.
    In Amata's case, you could probably see it more through her element. She constantly struggles with finding opportunities where it can be useful, fearing the effects of it on those around her. If there is one thing that fire does well, it's to destroy. More literally, to burn and consume everything around it to grow stronger and spread further. When you think dragons, you also think of fire too, don't you? If you're to reverse this, you would likely think of her and he role as God's Governor. The five of them hailed as heroes in the past and immortalized legends in the present, stopped Agasura King Asmodeus once and are slated to do so again. In them, the world would be saved. Also, fire not need be seen for its destructive properties. It's often considered a form of light and to Humanity and the Cerebians, something to counteract the encroaching darkness.

    Characters aside, I think in most cases it could be seen also as a clash of cultures. Having lived in the same place all my life, my image of a dragon has always been those of the wyvern. You know, the type that would hoard treasure, sleep in a cave and burn your village down. Wasn't until later that I became more aware of the types that look more the part of a serpent and what they represented. Luck aside, they also present power and strength. Should've added that sooner. Nonetheless, it's no less fitting, don't you think?

    Aberrant Agasura:

    It's been some time since I last took a crack at writing an Aberrant. The first one having appeared in the Pharaoh's Chambers I believe. This time around, I decided to create the Kuri Chieftain. In truth, I could create new Agasura but since I already do that for the Sinners' Induns, I don't want to do that for the overworld. Also, in keeping in line with the game, I don't want to change anything too dramatically. I keep the world as is, adding to it but keeping what made it what it was. Yes, that includes the floating landforms. Looking back on it now, I realize how unusual it was a decision but we're too deep now to take that back.
    Nonetheless, I do find myself rather taken with the concept of having higher-ranking Agasuras amidst the fodder. It reminds me a little bit of an old game i used to play back before I started LT. I won't go into that because it was a bad game with bitter memories...and yet...well, that's not important. You know how in action RPGs you'll have a bunch of fodder with a boss monster among them? It might just be sized up with a different colour palette, given a few unique skills and called a boss but it's still a boss. I think when I designed that I went for something along the same lines. It doesn't have the strength and skill of a Guardian, the size, let alone the character but it can give the characters a run for their money.
    A part of why this is important is because it gives more weight to the existence of Asmodeus' Dominion. In the Prologue, we were introduced to the concept through the existence of Agasura from the Indun the Frozen Labyrinth leaking into the overworld, in that case, the Snowfields. To non-players, I don't think this would mean as much because they wouldn't be aware of the differences in strength of Agasura. Agasura from Induns are typically, in MMO fashion, a lot stronger than the regular counterparts. While outside of an Indun, one player could typically take on 2-3 enemies with relative ease. Inside of one, they would struggle to take down even one of them, let alone 2-3 at a time. They hit harder and can get hit a lot harder. Hence why Peorth and co. were so concerned about the enemies they were facing off with. That aside, there's nothing like the minotauros in the Snowfields. Though not a sub-boss per se, they're considered beneath them in terms of rank in-game. The actual sub-bosses are Selki, topped only by the actual boss, Vintor. The Selki that appeared in the Snowfields was also extremely strong. As you'd expect, though, this strength was often determined through level. Though the Indun levels differed of course, the stats of monsters always varied too.
    So with that said, the Kuri Chieftain was indeed the first among the aberrants. I would like to do more but whether or not they would be bosses depends. The introduction of such a thing means that a fight is inevitable and one that won't be something the characters can knock off in a page or two. There will be others and sometimes it might be changes to already established Agasura. We saw a case of this in this chapter, in fact. Though it wasn't addressed in the story, the Hummingbirds don't appear in the Jungle. They only appear in the Ktuka Ruins. ...They also don't reside within Trents.

    So this next part is something i've been thinking a lot about since I started working on Innocent more regularly. However! It's not...anything new, per se. If you'd like to hear someone more charismatic and more well-versed than I am talking about this very thing through his discussion about Gurren Lagann from 3 years ago, you can do so here. He talks about a variety of other things of course, but I can assure you it's in there. If you haven't watched the show, you should. By all means.
    I know I don't usually post things because rules but pretending I never saw it is honestly worse in my opinion. Sue me.

    Now you get to hear my take through my work on Frequency. How fortunate for you. Light spoilers within, read at your own discretion.
    The Ideology of the Savior and the Sovereign:

    This is gonna get weird. Brace yourself.
    So, when I was a kid, I loved super heroes. I know what you're thinking: 'You? Superheroes? No way!' It's true. I mean, I watched my fair share of cartoons. I remember having a superman VHS and some other junk lying around, leaving aside what I saw on TV like spider-man and X-men and what have you. It was great. I was absolutely taken with the idea. Less so with the spandex tights but the concept of heroes was everything to me. If it wasn't obvious already, you can see the influence in my own work.
    If you're wondering how I didn't get into comic books, given my history, it was because I didn't have any. Nobody in my family really owned any, let alone were big fans so...finding anything was next to impossible for me. That aside, my parents weren't too gung-ho about comic books. Hell, they didn't even like Archie. I loved me some Archie. If you were wondering how I got so into anime, you can thank TV and the advent of Youtube for that. Digimon, Pokemon, Dragonball Z? It was inevitable. That aside, I was the youngest of 3 brothers so...yeah. We all grew up on the same things.
    But that's not here nor there. I was gonna do a spiel on representation in media but do you need to hear it from me? At least, not a long-winded explanation. It does have some importance in my case, though.

    So with the long introduction out of the way, let me tell you something about me. When I was a kid, the first super hero I identified with was Static Shock. I mean, Storm existed but I was a boy and she was an enigma to me. Didn't know where she was from until just now, btw. Anyway, by no surprise to anybody, weren't a whole lot of black super heroes. Especially on television in the 90s/early 00's. I realize now how much the things we see shape us. My imagination went as far as what I could see and the television let me see a world outside of my own. It was because of that I had become so taken with fantasy, let alone games. Back to the topic at hand, it was a Saturday morning cartoon with a character that I wanted to be like. Not only did he have cool electric powers, he beat-up villains and
    still made it on time to school. It was television that helped me to shape my idea of good and evil and what it meant to be a hero, in the various forms they took.
    Of course, games had their effect too. From rescuing princesses to defeating demon kings and whatnot, there was a lot to choose from. Sometimes it was questionable, like slapping guys off their bikes with crow bars but...you know? It's what it is. You wanna win that race? Brutalize the competition.
    But I'm straying a little. As I got older, I came to see that sometimes you don't have to be a paragon of justice. My first introduction to this, being Fable, had changed what I saw. While my oldest brother was busy eating crunchy chicks, I was...I dunno, eating tofu or something? Few years later and we got games like Mass Effect and what have you, for better or worse.

    Now to the meat of the matter. I'd seen many and more stories where the hero would fight and grow and go on to take on the big bad. Sometimes he'd come home victorious to fanfare and song and be hailed as a hero. Sometimes he'd bet it all in that fight, the memories and wishes of the people like flagging hands, spurring him on to finish what he started. Though he might not come back from that fight, peace would come to the land he saved and he'd be remembered for generations to come. My whole life, I had been enamored with the idea. There was something so satisfying and touching about the hero's rise to power, his determination and yet, his unshakable will to serve as a paragon of justice. I wanted to be like that, as a boy. I'm sure many others had, too. Realistically speaking of course, I knew the world didn't need actual superheroes but I was oft reminded that there were everyday heroes--firefighters, doctors, astronauts, policemen. I'd had my fair share of saying, I want to be this or that!

    Nonetheless, I got older. Reality began to weigh upon me and I came to see that it wasn't all guts and glory. I came to understand that there's always two sides to every story and I began to explore that, especially through my work. As I mentioned before, Frequency became my sandbox. It became a place and a thing where I could explore concepts and give form to all the ideas I had but had little value in the real world. I wanted to tell a story. A story of heroes and villains, of friendship and growing up and all sorts of other things. As I grew older, it grew in complexity, looking at things from many sides, changing as I did. For a time, it took a turn as I did too, disillusioned as I was with the world and it shows, clearly. That shift was both an important growth for me and for the novel as a whole. It gave me a new perspective on things and the way they could and perhaps should be. "What if," I asked myself, "the main character wasn't the hero?" I'd explored such concepts since as far back as the turn of the decade. I mean, there's literally a chapter called The True Hero. It was...not subtle...and perhaps that earnest innocence was better than what I've achieved in present time.

    So? Let's go back a few years once more.
    Why would I be so taken with this concept in the first place? Let's face it, I'm black. Stereotypes still run rampant to this very day, but from a young age I learned to hate myself. I was well aware of how people felt towards me because of the colour of my skin. I hated it. I hated getting funny looks when I went into convenience stores. I hated having to deal with racism. Heck, to this day I still worry about how people view me when I pass them on the streets, especially at night. I've been wary of myself all my life. I'm so tired of it but...I can't just pretend it doesn't exist. Some will say the beliefs of people don't define you but...we can't just pretend that isn't the case. Doors open and close depending on who you are and what you look like. That's just the reality of it and we all know it. We acknowledge it, sometimes act to change it but how willing are we, to tear down the foundations of our society to make the world better for our children?
    Anyway...it was things like this, that made me the way I am. It was why that one silly cartoon meant the world to me. It was as if, someone was saying, it's okay to be you. You can be one of the good guys too, you know? The reality was much crueler than that but for 30 or so mins a week, I could feel that way.

    By now, I'm sure you're wondering what the Savior and the Sovereign means to me. To put it bluntly, one is the hero to the people, one is the leader of them. In the case of Frequency, we can see many varieties of this. In Sanctuary, the most obvious would be TJ and Peorth. In that same vein, those two are what make up the respective endings to the novel. Though it's not the names of the epilogues, it is how I refer too them. In the case of USSR, you could see that through Julius and Samson, later on the torch being passed on to Kasumi. While one could wield the power and turn the tides of battle, one is a prominent figure to the people, someone they could rally and fight behind. The last case, though she does not have anyone that fits the role of 'Savior' in her story, is Reina. She herself admits that she could never be like such a figure, that she has no power nor a sign of her fate or destiny that would lead her down the path of a hero. In spite of that, she goes from common village girl to guild master and renown swordswoman.
    The thing about the savior is that...they do what nobody else can do. They accomplish things that others could never imagine. Think of it this way: in superhero movies, in most cases the people can only stand by and watch as the hero comes in to save the day. Of course, you'll always have some people like policemen and whatnot doing what they can but that catharsis is found both for viewer and character alike when the hero shows up to save the day. By now, that...might be outdated, somewhat. Maybe not, it's hard to say. Nonetheless, don't let my speculation be the be-all-end-all. I'm going by knowledge from quite some time ago. As one would expect, it runs much deeper than what I speak about. I'm just scratching the surface.
    Nonetheless, on the other hand you have the sovereign who is a leader of the people. The thing about these characters are that they're a bit more grounded in reality. They might be a general or a king or a politician or something. They're someone the everyday man could get behind, could work alongside. In a sense, the person that children could actually say, I want to be like that.
    As I write more of Innocent, this rings true more and more. The same could be said for Sanctuary. I often find myself comparing TJ's meteoric rise to be the next Agasura King and Reina's steady stride towards becoming a guild master and it reminds me of all that I've been through and seen. Those wishes of the past made manifest as characters with very different goals and beliefs.
    Even so...the one thing I never want to forget is that they're both flawed. Be it the mistakes of TJ's past and the things out of his control or Reina's weakness and seeing remnants of her past self in the people around her, they spur the two on to be better.

    Something I neglected to mention before is that this is, at least, considered in part by TJ. He wonders what Peorth will do once the fighting is over, since she is the queen. On that topic, this very thing is explored in Pomf and Circumstance. In spite of the ridiculous name, I did take it quite seriously. As one would expect, it's an alternate universe from Sanctuary's but it does show the butterfly effect in full force. If you haven't read it yet, again, light spoilers, but it does take a glimpse at what things could've been like post-Sanctuary. There aren't major spoilers to anything, unless you really like to speculate. You could find a few interesting tidbits here and there, but it's definitely worth a read.

    Still, as it is, these are just remnants of my past. I could never hold that belief as I had in the past. The fool that I was, I turned over my whole world in the search for something greater. I always felt that there was something off about me and i thought that if I knew what it was, I would be able to fix it, to be better. How vain of me, that was. I'd known all my life how hard it was to be the hero, but how easy it was to be a villain. I tried the former and failed spectacularly so I've decided to settle on the latter. I haven't done much in the way of that, really. I've considered walking a certain path and letting myself fall into depravity but it's not a life worth living, really. It would just be wasting time.
    I'm not usually this honest but...who cares, really? I spent years trying to learn to be more subtle and in my opinion, to some success but only to fail in what I wished to convey. So? In truth, my dream is to break this world in two. To rip out the foundations of it and see what it is that people do--who and what cause they choose to rally to. After all, if there's a villain, there has to be a hero, right? Heroes exist because villains do. If they were a person, I want to find them. Humanity's passive-aggresive disdain for my existence is painfully tiresome. It sounds edgy in text form but it really is a lot worse than I can explain.
    Just thinking about it is exhausting. If there is a hero, I'd ask them to kill me. I want to die unceremoniously. That's all. I'd take that over people telling me about all of the 'opportunities' I have at my fingertips. Would that I could, I would have stayed ignorant in that year and lived happier now. However, vanity compels me. It was those mistakes that led me to this point and still keeps me here. It really is ironic, isn't it? But we wouldn't trade that for the world, would we?

    The Trials of the God's Governors:

    You know, I spend a lot of time thinking about the god's Governors, both past and present. Their trials most of all, because of how important they are both to their descendants and TJ. I thought long and hard about what they represent and what the trial itself should be, but in the end I feel like the most basic premise would be the most ideal.
    I guess it doesn't really need to be a surprise now, since I've made up my mind. For a time, I was thinking that each trial should be different from the others, reflecting a lot of the aspects in the temple. This idea was reinforced by Amata who mentioned it in the following paragraph:
    “I don’t think so, TJ. I’d bet if the dungeons were designed as the original God’s Governors wished, each was built to test what they believed their descendants would need. Rayinth believed a strong body and mind are crucial to being considered a warrior. If this dungeon is any indication, that speaks for itself. It’s really pushed us to our limits, hasn’t it? There’s no shortage of traps and enemies to fight and all of them are powerful in their own right. We both know that overcoming a powerful enemy is proof that you yourself, are strong.”
    I'd considered the trials being like so: Rayinth-a battle. Terramane-a survival test. Arafaar-A race(think more race to the finish than a direct race. A la smash). Undine/Dione-a series of puzzles.
    The idea has merit, sure, but it feels like it'd be missing the point. The skills are valuable but the truth at the heart of the matter is that all five God's Governors will need to fight. They'll have to fight the greatest Agasura the world has ever seen and in that vein, the God's Governors, the originals, need to ascertain their strength with their own eyes. I had mentioned it before but I realized how important it is that characters fight with a certain style. I won't talk about it too much in this tagged thread, but I do realize that in battle I can express so much about the characters through their movements alone. This is crucial both to reflect the mentality of the God's Governors and TJ's changes over the course of the novel.

    Battle: Stance, Rhythm, Style:

    Mr. A, Mr. B and I spent a lot of time talking about RWBY. That's just a thing that happens sometimes. This lead to talks about characters, the shift following Monty Oum's passing and what it pertained to. If you're a fan, or not, it's definitely worth looking into, especially if you're into animation.
    Nonetheless, I digress. People typically aren't big fans of CG. It can be jarring and I confess that was my take on the show prior to watching it. Now, it's not so bad, but you don't need to hear it from me. I'm far from being an expert on animation and the like.
    So? There's no denying that the battles throughout...at least the first two seasons are striking, due to the skills of the animators. The way the characters carry themselves, their choice of action given the scenarios they find themselves in and how they handle themselves against differing opponents alone tells a story. The attention to detail in every movement and how characters respond when hit or blocking speaks volumes. We watched one of the trailers and Mr. A was able to name off every attack that his favourite character used, as it was in BBCTB. it was impressive, to say the least. Both his recognition and ArcSys' eye for detail.

    But I've gone on long enough about that. I do realize how starkly different animation and writing are. It's difficult to convey such things in writing and then you have to ask yourself, how much information is too much? A small part of me wants to capture those movements so that readers can see clearly how each motion changes the shape of the battle, offering advantage and disadvantage to each fighter respectively. Considering that most characters fight with weapons, this could mean life-or-death for some. It's funny to think about, but in this case it would be pretty anti-climactic. Of course, a properly foreshadowed death with the appropriate weight to it would not be so bad.
    Leaving that aside, I want to consider this further. Take what I've learned and apply it to my own work. Refine it to a fine point to allow readers to envision the characters in their mind's eye as each battle plays out. Alike to outfits and places, I want their battle stances to become something inherently ingrained into their memory after reading it once. In so doing, when characters change their stance or battle style it'll have much more impact and allow readers to tell at a glance that everything's changed.
    As for rhythm, to some degree it exists. For most characters, it does. Ironically enough, TJ lacks that, especially in close-combat but I'm sure everyone knows that it's intentional. He's garbage at it and has room to improve and steadily does. Still, while writing Inno I've recently had to consider this much more heavily. With the lack of, in most cases, spells and stances it all boils down to how well I can portray fights without any of the things I typically would use in Sanc. In place of that, I have Reina and Salem using each other like they would terrain at times. They move as one, plan around each other and use their coordination to strike their targets when they least expect it. Unlike Reina, however, Salem is a master of his art. His movements are much more fluid and have way less unnecessary movement involved. Given the circumstances, things I need to consider are the weapons they wield, respective strengths and weaknesses and who and what their opponents are. The long and short of it is that it has a very different feel than Sanc, but it does give me a lot to work with.


    That was, in essence the theme of this chapter. Amata damaging her wings, her departure to Hanamah and the fall of it, Alvaro giving up his title, TJ falling in battle and finally, Meena's wounds from the past.
    I've thought long and hard about Amata's character. I wanted her to be more than 'her element is fire so she's hot-headed'. Starting out, that was probably the extent of her character. This chapter, we got to see and learn a lot more about her. The talk with the girls of Devotion expounded on her character and her nature as an outcast. Her being one of her own volition. Strange, I know. But it's fitting, isn't it? She does so out of fear of a repeat of the past. She had hurt Meena and had never come to terms with it. If it happened a second time, chances are that it would break her spirit. After all, what good would a God's Governor who hurts their comrades be?
    Like a fire, if left uncontrolled it only grows into a raging inferno. When stoked, it grows stronger and bigger. Rayinth understood that all too well and understood her, so he did just that. He fanned the flames of her anger and she almost found herself completely consumed by it, hurting herself in the process to get at him. A part of the reason this is important is because it shows that she still has more growing to do. Setting aside the fact she's a young adult, she still has growing to do as a character.
    "I'm sure the symbolism isn't anything to write home about but...an attempt was made, I suppose. It can be better. I know it can and with that in mind, I'll aim higher too. Su aside, how I can apply this knowledge to the others is a challenge I'm willing to take up.

    Sanctuary Going Forward:

    Next chapter is a return to form, new Indun, new party make-up and a new addition to Yggdrasil. Said character isn't...new, per se, but they're definitely unique. It's a very heavy chapter. A lot of things happen in a short amount of time but I feel that it really helps the characters move along. It's also almost finished.
    I suppose it's made some headway but...at the speed I'm going at, it might not be done until 2019. Rather, the speed I'm allowed to write at...it...hm. It's not worth talking about, is it? I'll only be indirectly panned for it, after all. It could be done quicker, however, rules are rules. Realistically speaking, I don't think I'll finish the novel before I die. All things considered, though, it doesn't matter as much as I thought it did. Given that things are the way they are, it's fine, isn't it? Once we come to accept that me doing this, at all, really any of this is absurd I think we'll all be better off. Inanity and loathing go hand-in-hand, after all. When one is implied not to be, however, the other only becomes that much more prominent. Such is reality.

    But nobody wants such depressing thoughts, right? So let's kick this off with a joke.

    Look forward to chapter 11, Rusty Key or as I like to call it, Thee on the Street.


    Posts : 895
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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:18 am

    Ch.11 Pages 597-607:
    The Eleventh Harmony: Rusty Key
    “Someday you’ll find the key to open that door and when you do, you’ll find your heart’s deepest desire within. Take hold of it and never let it go.” (Gail Rockman)

    Su sat on the windowsill of one of the windows to TJ’s room, looking out upon the darkened sky thoughtfully. A crescent moon lit up the night sky as the clouds passed over it, and following it a cold but gentle wind began to blow.
    The Governor of Earth closed her eyes and grit her teeth as the sound of Asmodeus calling the Abellan through his song grew louder.
    “This impatient old bastard...” she muttered under her breath.
    She stuck a finger in her ear, tweaked it a couple of times and looked to it before frowning.
    As the Abellan arose from his bed in a daze, he turned to her, two crimson irises glinted in the moonlight.
    “Literally just got back and he’s sending us on another one of his stupid errands. I swear if it wasn’t a bigger pain not to do it I’d…”
    She shook her head as she hopped down from the window. She turned away from him, her matching crimson eyes seemingly sweeping the walls of the room before she set them back on him.
    “Looks like there’s nobody around here. Too many amateur adventurers to have anybody wandering around at night. Or they’re aware of us and scared.”
    She sighed as she rolled her shoulders.
    “Nothing for it then. Let’s transform and scout out the forest. I can sense Humans within it. We’re just gonna have to get closer so I can pinpoint their exact location.”
    The Abellan held out a hand in response and to it, a dark energy formed. Beneath both, a pitch black darkness took form. From within it crimson tendrils emerged and enveloped their bodies. TJ grew in size, the darkness becoming skin and muscle and his eyes changing form and shape. Su’s skin took the colour save for the neck and above, her hair changing to a dull silver. Upon the transformation reaching its final stages, crimson veins ran through their bodies before fading away as quickly as they appeared.
    “Right then, let’s move.”
    Su dove out the window and somersaulted silently before dusting her body off. TJ fell from the window with a loud thud, kicking up a cloud of dust in the wake of his landing.
    “You’re awful at this, you know that?”
    He growled quietly and she grinned at him.
    “Just tellin’ it like it is.
    “Anyway, let’s get out of here before someone sees us. It’d be a pain in the ass if it turned out like last time.”
    The two stealthily made their way across the verdant hills of Belos before reaching a thicket of bushes, marking the line between the Forest and the village. Su hopped over it and the Abellan charged through—the two quickly took to the trees and made their way from one branch to the next.
    “I’m sensing some presences nearby. Five of them, it looks like. We’ve got more than enough to meet the quota.”
    Su leapt from one branch to the next, over prirings and beetle gs without much regard for the creatures.
    It was useful that for once they would not need to fight within the city. To have to kill, sacrifice and fend off their adversaries was far more work than she bargained for. That aside, if any human would do, why go through all the trouble to fight their elites? Asmodeus only wanted fodder, and what better place to find it than in the Belos region?
    As they made their way through the Forest they glimpsed a campfire in the distance. A short distance from it, a tent was set up. At the campfire, a lone figure sat on a log and solemnly stared into the flames, occasionally stealing a glimpse or two in case of any approaching Agasura.
    “He doesn’t suspect a thing. Kill him.”
    If her eyes served her, the boy at the campfire was some amateur Explorer. His lack of training, let alone distance would make his bow completely ineffective against the Abellan. The two could make short work of him and then the rest of the group.
    Su sensed four other presences within the tent, but no Humans save for the five in a 100 meter radius. Even if someone was to hear their screams, it would be much too difficult to traverse the forest and stop the two. Though, it would be amusing to see them try…to kill the duo, that is.
    TJ sat silently, staring at the tent, seemingly trying to discern what kind of adversaries he would be up agasinst. At this, her expression immediately soured as she grew annoyed.
    “The fuck’re you waiting for, dumbass? If Yuta couldn’t kill you, you think some kids with toys could? Get over there!”
    She grabbed him by the arm, spun him around once and hurled him towards the Explorer. He soared with incredible speed and crashed into the ground with even greater force, causing the two to collide and skid against the grass before coming to a sudden halt. The fire was put out, darkness surrounded them and the boy had fallen into the hands of the beast.
    Su sat back down on the branch as she crossed her legs.
    “If that idiot somehow gets into trouble I’ll bail him out, but this should be an easy fight for him.”
    “What the hell was that? A meteor?” The boy groaned as he attempted to rise from the ground. “But I’m still alive so it can’t…be…?”
    His confusion turned to unbridled horror as he looked into the face of the transformed Abellan. The creature’s jagged maw opened before it let out a low hiss, miasma ran down its jaws and threatened to suffocate the inferior being before it. The boy thought to scream but found his entire body petrified at the sight. In what proved to be his final moments, the only sounds he made were the pained gasps as the creature tore into his chest with its claws.
    “Lucas? What happened? Why’s the fire out?” A Knight stepped out from the tent, shouting for his silent comrade.
    The Abellan turned to him with a hiss before he leapt at him and slammed his face into the ground. He hurled the knight like a ragdoll before he turned his eyes to the tent. With a single swipe he tore the cloth of the shelter, that thin fabric being all that separated the Abellan from his targets.
    Three people remained within: the first being a young girl holding a spear tightly to her chest. The second, another young girl holding a gnarled wooden staff. The third was the only adult, a well-dressed man who likely was a merchant.
    The Wizard among them pointed her staff at the Abellan and a sphere of light took form at the tip of it. She fired the shot off and though the blow made contact, it merely glanced off of his skin. He charged at her and she swung the weapon, hitting him across the face but the attack too, proved to be a glancing blow. As she took another swing he bit the tip of the weapon off and dragged her over before he bit into her neck and tossed her aside.
    The warrior girl lunged at him with her spear but upon the weapon colliding with him, the head of it snapped off and left her reeling in disbelief.
    “N-no… wait, please don’t…!” She uttered as his eyes turned to her.
    He lunged at her, claws first and each, a sharpened weapon no less deadly than the other, pierced through her. Her body hung limply against his hand before he ripped his claws out and turned his eyes to the merchant.
    “What are you?! G-get back! Monster! S-somebody! Somebody help!” He cried out before his words became meaningless shrieks.
    The Abellan dove at him and stabbed him time and again with his claws until he was left with naught but a massive chest cavity.
    Noting that he had killed enough people to meet the quota, he cleared away the remnants of the tent with a single wide cleave from his claws and began drawing the rune to commence the rite. Upon completing the first, he made his way over to the explorer’s corpse and drew one more before letting out a satisfied grumble.
    As the ritual began and the bodies and souls were sacrificed to Asmodeus, the Abellan glimpsed the knight from before staggering his way back over to the campground.
    “You may have killed all my friends…but I won’t let you just walk away! Even if I have to do it alone, I’ll defeat you! To give their souls peace!” He said, the determination evident in his eyes and straight mouth.
    He pointed his sword at the Abellan before taking a battle stance. His adversary, however, hardly seemed to register his presence. He turned to the burning corpses, raised his head skyward to sniff a couple times and finally made his way up the nearest tree.
    “The fuck you think you’re doing?” Su asked as she touched down on the branch of the tree he climbed. “Kill him, too. We can’t have any survivors, you idiot.”
    He looked to her, growled something and leapt from the tree into another, before perching there silently.
    “Whaddya mean, ‘you’re not interested’?! You wanna blow our cover?! Dumbass!”
    She sighed as her shoulders slumped.
    “I swear, I have to do everything.”
    She leapt from the tree and landed before the Knight who watched her solemnly.
    “You’ve got balls, to come back and face us after we killed your friends. I’ll at least give you that much. Had your circumstances been different, we’d probably see you again on the other side. But you’re not that lucky. I’m not heartless though, so I’ll let you reunite you with your friends.”
    She raised her head and from within her bangs a single crimson eye became visible. Upon the sight of it, the Knight’s body froze up completely. She sauntered over to him before circling around him a couple times.
    “How brave! How heroic you would’ve been if only you lived to tell your tale!”
    She stopped in front of him, placed her fingers to his chin and smiled at him.
    “Here’s some words of advice to take with you on the path to reincarnation. Tell your friends and your friends’ friends, don’t fuck with us. They’ll get hurt.”
    With her thumb to his chin, she used her other four fingers to pierce his throat and dispelled her spell. His corpse silently fell to the ground and she sighed as she licked her fingers.
    “Chalk up one more quota for us. Now it’s only a matter of which clown is gonna appear next and where.”
    Su made her way into the trees before reuniting with her companion. She frowned at his appearance, his body and face stained in blood.
    “You’re fucking messy, you know that? One time! Just one time, try and not get soaked in somebody’s blood.”
    She sighed and shrugged then finally snapped her fingers. A deluge of water poured from a thin ring of mist above him and washed the blood away.
    “That skin might come off but we can’t have you trailing the stink of blood back to Belos.
    “Anyway, our work here is done. Let’s go.”
    Without another word the two made their way back to their home in Belos before the sun could rise.

    The following afternoon TJ awoke to his guild badge signalling an incoming message. He groggily turned over, rubbed the sleep from his eyes and glimpsed around.
    He was back in his bed, in his own home.
    He tapped the badge twice and activated the guild chat feature.

    [Guild]Peorth: TJ? Forgive my abrupt summoning at this time. If I woke you, I must ask your forgiveness once more.
    [Guild]TJ: Hm? Chief? Oh no…no you didn’t wake me. Is everything alright?
    [Guild]Peorth: To some extent, yes. I would not call it an emergency by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a matter I would like to draw to your attention.
    [Guild]Peorth: If possible, I would like to meet you at Verun’s restaurant. There is an important matter that needs be discussed, but not one that we can do through these channels.
    [Guild]TJ: Sure thing, Chief. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
    [Guild]Peorth: Your diligence is duly appreciated.

    TJ tapped his guild badge before he sat up and looked himself in the mirror.
    It was…odd. He felt odd. He had a terrible nightmare that night. He dreamt he was in the body of an Agasura, rampaging through the night and attacking innocent adventurers. In spite of it all, it felt so real…the textures of the various places he had been, from the grass beneath his feet to the rough bark of trees in his hands. Worst of all…the feeling of the flesh of Humans tearing at his fingertips…their blood splashing against his skin and their dying cries ringing in his ears long after they had succumbed to his brutish strength.
    Just the thought of it made his entire body shiver.
    “Hey…Su.” TJ muttered as he looked down to the gem.
    “What is it? If it’s not important, I ain’t coming out.” The Heart of Yggdrasil responded, glowing all the while.
    “I had a nightmare…one where I kill¬-”
    “Hold it. Take a few steps back to the word nightmare and stop right there. Think about it for a minute. Go about your business.”
    She was not convinced in the slightest, yet he could not shake the sense of foreboding that lingered in that dream. It felt far too real, similar even, to the times where he had become his past self in his memories.
    “But it felt so…real. It couldn’t have just been some lucid dream!”
    “Isn’t that all it was? A lucid dream? Let’s be honest here, if it was worth getting so worked up over I’m sure it’d have some merit in your waking life. But dreams are dreams. Even if you’re the Abellan, that isn’t gonna change anytime soon. Long story short, worry about what you can change. Not what you can’t.”
    He downcast his eyes, brows knit.
    There was no denying that she raised a good point about the scenario before him. It was indeed likely nothing more than a bad dream. He knew his Agasuric power had some sway over him, even when he was awake. It was not the first time something of the sort happened anyway—if there came a time where that turned out to be something he could face, he would overcome it. For the time being, he needed to join Peorth in Elias to find out what he could do to forward their cause.

    TJ arrived in the city to find it bustling as it once did. As he expected, there were more guards stationed throughout the city, especially the main streets, but for the most part things seemed relatively normal. Some time had passed since the murders in the city had occurred and after the merchants set up shop in Belos for a time, it seemed that they had all returned.
    He made his way down the streets, taking in some of the sights. Some places were still seeing repairs since their battle against Choen Palm took place in Elias, but many of them had new life breathed into them in the process. On occasion, he glimpsed builders of all shapes and sizes working away at rebuilding the city while some passing merchants and adventurers attempted to hawk their wares in hopes to gain from the extra hands.
    As he neared Club Abio and Verun’s restaurant, he glimpsed Peorth standing outside of it. Her hands were neatly tucked behind her back and a single foot rested against the wall of the restaurant. Her head was tilted slightly skyward, a pensive look shone in her sapphire eyes.
    It had been some time since they last met like this, and at the sight he felt a warm feeling spread throughout his chest.
    “Hey, Chief!” TJ said as he waved and ran towards her.
    “TJ.” She said as she waved back and soon found her hands in his. “Full glad am I to see you returned, hale and hearty. My heart swells with joy.”
    At her words he blinked, knit his brows and squeezed her hands gently.
    “Does it hurt? Do you wanna see a doctor?”
    She closed her eyes as a small smile crept onto her lips.
    “It is not actually that way, TJ. Therefore you need not fear for my well-being. Although, I confess, to hear your usual innocuous quips leads me to believe that you are of sound body and mind also.
    “I take it that you and Amata were successful in completing God’s Governor Rayinth’s trial?”
    He exhaled proudly as he beamed, then raised two fingers to make a ‘V’.
    “Yep! It was a tough battle but we beat him together!
    “Ah! Sorry I didn’t report to you sooner Chief! As soon as I got home I collapsed! But there’s a bunch of things that happened I need to tell you ab-”
    She placed a finger to his lips as she closed her eyes.
    “There will come a time, TJ. Of that, I assure you. But for now, we must hurry inside. Zosia has come from the City of Iron to share her findings with us and we must not keep her waiting.”
    His cheeks flushed gently as he solemnly nodded.

    The two entered the restaurant and the receptionist at the counter gestured to the table where Zosia and Peorth sat. They quickly made their way over and joined the guild master.
    “TJ! Good to know that Peorth will have you on the case!” Zosia said with an amicable grin.
    “Hi Z. It’s good to see you too!” TJ said as he smiled back at her.
    Verun emerged from the staff-only table before he stopped at their table and took a bow, an extra menu in hand for the Abellan.
    “It is a pleasure to see you again, Mr. TJ. It has been quite some time since you last visited!” He said as he smiled with his usual charm.
    “It has, hasn’t it Verun?” TJ asked. “You look like you’ve been doing well!”
    “Indeed I have. In spite of the recent events that took place in our very city, business has been excellent. In fact, people have come across the continent to get a glimpse at what may soon become a historic site. Many of them have become our patrons in the process.”
    TJ could not help but smile wryly at the thought.
    It seemed that to some degree, Humans were a fearful sort, but to venture to a place once rife with danger for the sheer thrill of it was beyond his expectations. Though Alvaro did mention that Humans were a curious bunch, his words pertained to knowledge to be gained and moreso, treasure to be taken. What had they to gain in coming to see Elias after Choen Palm came through?
    “Nevertheless, a certain little birdy had informed me that you were prominent in repelling the threat to our fair city, Mr. TJ.” Verun whispered into his ear after bending over to reach his current height.
    “A…a little birdy…you say?”
    Assuming that Verun could not talk to birds, had he heard from Peorth?
    The Abellan glimpsed her in the corner of his eye. She solemnly took a drink of water from her glass.
    “Yes. In the process of that, you defended my shop. Thanks to you, it has been business per usual. There is little that I can do for you, but at the very least, allow me to waive your bill today. Order anything you like, no cost.”
    “Eh? I-is that okay?”
    “Yes. Accept this with my gratitude.”
    He looked to the guild master who nodded approvingly.
    “You did risk your life to protect Elias, TJ. You have earned it,” she said.
    “Lucky you!” Zosia said as she grinned.
    TJ opened his menu excitedly and noticed some new additions.
    “What should I get? What should I get?” He asked in a sing-song voice.
    “You should probably eat more meat. You’re always gonna be a scrawny kid if you keep eating the way you do,” Su said to him alone.
    He began to pout at her words.
    “I’ll show you.”
    At that, he decided to order a boar steak.
    “How do you like your steak?” Verun asked.
    “I’ll mark that down as medium-rare.
    “Do you have any preference for desert and drinks?” He asked.
    “The strawberry cheesecake was recently added to the menu, TJ,” Peorth suggested. “I highly believe it would be to your liking.”
    “Ch-cheesecake?!” He asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
    He could not quite remember why, but he distinctly remembered that word. Somewhere in his memories, the fluffy and sweet sensation lingered. To have another chance at tasting that glory was a blessing in disguise.
    “I’ll definitely have some! As far as drinks go, anything sweet will do.”
    “Yes, right away.” Verun accepted the menu and made his way back to the staff hallway.
    As TJ watched him go, he noticed a wall that was labelled with the words ‘Employee of the month’ which featured pictures of various employees that worked at the store. Many of them featured Salem, and at the sight TJ performed a double-take.
    At what point did Salem work for Verun? Was that before or after TJ met him?
    “Let us begin,” Peorth said calmly.
    “Right! So the reason I called you two is because there’s been some strange happenings around Scrap Valley lately. Heck, it’s not just there, the whole City of Iron is in an uproar! The robots of Scrap Valley suddenly became way more aggressive, and there have been incidents of machinery going haywire in the city. There’s been no shortage of injuries because of this and the city put in an official request to have it investigated.
    “Rufus and I did a little investigating of our own, and we’ve found out that there’s some kind of radio signal that appeared that’s stirring everything up. I don’t know how exactly it’s affecting all types of machinery, but it sure as hell can.”
    “Chief, do you think it might be another Sinner?” The Abellan whispered to her.
    “It is a possibility, but we are as of yet to see any with power over machinery. To that end, even Agasura King Asmodeus has no such power, as far as we are aware,” she answered.
    “Something of that magnitude, though? Can’t be normal. That aside, the most likely person to be able of creating something like that, is Berkhart, and even she’s found herself rather troubled by the sudden change. Nobody knew about it, there were no reports or papers that covered it, it’s just too abrupt! Unless someone decided to create a pirate radio frequency while avoiding the law, it has to be one of those guys. But if it isn’t…” Zosia suggested.
    She clapped her hands together before her face.
    “You’ve gotta help us! That radio signal is making it impossible to work! Since it started, Cor’s been on the fritz and he’s got the workshop on lockdown!”
    Her expression immediately changed to one that seemed to signify a realization, which quickly deviated to a sly grin and a matching look in her eyes.
    “You know, if we can clear this, we can get in Berkhart’s good books. You do that, and she might be willing to help us cobble together a ship that can get that stone you guys wanted!”
    Peorth had a couple fingers placed to her chin as she seemingly mulled over the case.
    “In lieu of the incentive you offer us, I would like to have my guild investigate the matter because it may pertain to our duty. However, should Berkhart be willing to lend us her aid following this—rather, to have her aid would be ideal. I realize we cannot be particular in our means as time is of the essence, and for the sake of our world, we must act.
    “Alas, I digress. In spite of my earlier suspicions, I am reluctant to rule out the possibility that a Sinner is able to take control of machinery. As we have seen thus far, the Sinners seem to have a unique power that they utilize which can be utilized by you, TJ. It is possible that what we have heard of from Zosia is another Sinner’s ability made manifest. However, unlike the others, it seems to have affected the world outside their Instance Dungeon. For that reason alone, I bel-”
    Peorth stopped mid-sentence as her guild badge signalled an incoming message.
    “Forgive the interruption. I shall excuse myself to answer this.”
    Peorth gracefully moved her seat back before she arose, then strode out of the store and the sights of the two.
    One of the waiters arrived shortly after with TJ’s steak and Zosia’s salmon and quinoa burgers along with a side of avocado. The two immediately began their meal following his departure.
    As TJ took his first bite into the steak he could not describe the sensation and taste as his teeth sunk into the chewy meat.
    There was something indescribably satisfying about it. Boar meat was a little tough, but he did not mind any.
    “So, I heard you and Amata went to Mezzalone to fight a God’s Governor or something?” Zosia asked with her cheeks stuffed. “How’d that go for you?”
    “Oh yeah! We went to take God’s Governor Rayinth’s trial. At first he was really scary, but he turned out to be really nice! He was crazy strong too! Though getting to him was also a huge challenge.”
    The guild master smiled wryly at the prospect.
    “You kids are nuts, you know that? You couldn’t pay me enough to step foot in some ancient temple. Risking life and limb for some ancient ritual? Nope! No way!”
    “It can be kinda tough yeah…” The Abellan said thoughtfully as he closed his eyes. “But I was given this power for a reason. There isn’t much I can do, outside of fighting. I don’t really understand the world I live in either. But I love it here. I’ve met lots of nice people and made life-long friends and… I want to protect them! I want to protect them and this world they’re all fighting for! With this power, it’s something I can do!”
    He clenched his fist with a burning resolve while Zosia held a hand over her eyes.
    “Alright, cool your jets, Kiddo. You’re blinding me with that passionate youth of yours.”
    Peorth soon returned to the table and to the surprise of the duo at it, with Axle in tow.
    “I have returned,” she said.
    “Hey guys, sorry to interrupt your meeting like this.” Axle began as he took a seat. “Had a matter to talk over with the Chief and she told me to meet her here. Guess I can see why.”
    He knit his brows and smiled, but his expression was clearly pained.
    “It’s good that you’re here too, TJ. You’d probably wanna hear this.”
    “I would?” TJ asked as he tilted his head quizzically.
    “Yeah. Take a look at this. It arrived today.”
    Axle reached into his pocket and drew a folded piece of paper. He unfolded it and held it out for all to see.
    It was a letter of challenge directed to Axle. The sender was anonymous, but they seemed to imply that they had something Axle wanted, and if he wanted it back he would have to go to the City of Iron. Attached to it with a paper clip was a picture of a young girl tied to a chair in a darkened room.
    “Bastard didn’t even specify a time or a place. Seems he’s confident that he can find me there.”
    He grit his teeth, the fury evident in his eyes.
    “He knows I can’t pass up this opportunity. Motherfucker’s playing me like a fiddle.”
    TJ could not fathom how long the Blader had waited for an opportunity to reunite with his family. To have the chance at reclaiming her dangling before him, how could he turn it down?
    The Abellan placed a hand to his mouth right before he gasped and closed his eyes.
    Was it not through such a means that Isidro was killed? If Axle was to go to that meeting, would he not be ambushed and forced into a battle to the death like Peorth’s Keruz? TJ’s heart ached at the prospect. What would he tell his companion? Go and take the risk to have a chance at saving his sister? Or stay and await another opportunity, lest it prove to be a trap?
    Verun soon returned with a platter, carrying a bottle of wine, pop, two glasses and another menu. He solemnly poured some wine into the glass for Peorth, for TJ orange soda and offered the menu to Axle but was turned down. As he left, the three offered him their thanks.
    Peorth took a sip of her drink solemnly and dabbed at her lips with a handkerchief afterwards.
    “You had told me this letter arrived today, correct?” She asked.
    Axle nodded grimly in turn.
    “It is possible that the sender may have done so, full-well knowing of the uproar in the City of Iron. Why else, would they pick such a conspicuous time and location? However, this does raise the question, exactly who are we dealing with? There is a possibility that they have some ties to the Agasura and in so doing, planned things around this exact date so as to disrupt the flow of our actions.
    “Choen Palm had struck following our return, or rather during our venture into The Gourmet’s Valley. It is possible that they seek to interrupt our party before we investigate the disruption in the City of Iron. In so doing, the wasted mana in battle will require that we either shuffle our investigation party or return, risking the strength of our adversary increasing while chaos runs rampant across the area.
    “To that end, I recommend that we form and send a small militia in order to investigate this matter. To send too few members would risk your group falling into a trap. I cannot allow that, as guild master.”
    TJ could tell by the look in her eyes she thought back to that event too, and was reluctant to let a repeat of it happen. He wished with all his might that at the time he could have been stronger to prevent it…to be the one saving instead of being saved. Now that he had come this far, he wanted to change that.
    “I can’t do that, Peorth!” Axle snarled as he slammed his fists down on the table.
    At the sight and sound glances from around the restaurant turned to them and he quickly apologized.
    “If we have a militia, there’s no way in hell he’d show his face! If this bastard really does have my sister…if he does have Roll, I can’t pass up this opportunity. I promised Mom and Dad I’d bring her home. I promised her that the two of us would always be together. I swore that I’d protect her! It may have been years since then, we might not have been on Midgard then, but I’ve never forgotten that promise. She’s been scared and alone all these years. I can’t spend another year waiting for an opportunity for me to take her back!
    “I can handle whatever they throw at me, Peorth. So please! Trust me and authorize the mission!”
    Peorth intertwined her fingers as she let out a gentle sigh. As she opened her eyes a wistful gaze met Axle’s fierce stare.
    “I confess, even now I am still reluctant to authorize such a mission. Alas, I had once denied you this opportunity, but it has been some time since then. I am certain that you, along with many of our members have grown stronger since. I will authorize the mission under these circumstances: the first, is that you bring at the very least, a regular sized party. I would recommend that you bring TJ, Kooh and I. The second is that in the field you follow my instructions to the letter. Even if that means we must retreat.”
    “You got it!” Axle said as he clenched a fist.
    The guild master nodded solemnly.
    “We know not what or who our enemy is, so we must not be careless. The possibility that your younger sister may not actually be among them is something we must not ignore.
    “Nevertheless, I must cancel my meeting with Nia. We were to discuss the matter of those her guild had apprehended, but it shall have to wait for a time. My leadership is needed here.
    “Chief,” TJ began, “I think you should go to that meeting.”
    She looked nonplussed by his words, but he clenched his fists and steeled his resolve.
    “You’re not just our guild master, but everyone’s queen. I realize we’re not the only ones who need you. You should attend that meeting because there might be other fanatics out there, and I’d bet Devotion could use your leadership.
    “In your stead, let me lead the expedition to the City of Iron. I might not be a Keruz like Kooh or able to lead like you can, but I can fight! If it’s protecting our guild mates, I won’t hold back anything! Please, entrust this to me!”
    She closed her eyes as she let out a gentle chuckle.
    “You have grown to be so reliable in such a short time, TJ. I am proud to call myself your guild master.
    “As such, I shall respect your wish. In my stead I will have Thee complete your party. I shall brief the two on your duties prior to your departure and mine. As your journey progresses, please report to me any notable events. I shall instruct you further then.”
    “Got it!”
    “As for transportation…”
    “I’ve gotcha’ covered, Your Highness!” Zosia said excitedly as she drew five plane tickets. “I was able to file these as a necessary expense with the guild!”
    “Oh!” Axle said as he clapped.
    “Then our plan is set. Once we are finished here I will get in contact with the others.” Peorth said with a nod.

    TJ sat in the fettle position at the gates to the Elias Airport.
    His mind was filled with thoughts of what might occur when they made their way through Scrap Valley, yet he was plagued by his memories of the City of Iron. Just as it was with much of Jienda, if TJ was to go through there he would need to keep a low profile so as not to draw attention. He only had vague memories of the battle they engaged in there but unlike in Elias, he was the enemy.
    He could not help but wonder where Yuta was now. Amata had told him that he had gone on to continue adventuring, but if they were to run into each other again, what would happen? After all they had been through, would he have forgiven him by now? Or would his grudge carry on? Would the two have to fight him to the death?
    TJ found himself picked up by the arms and suddenly nuzzled by God’s Governor of Water.
    “Can’t have my cute little Abellan looking all sulky!” She said as she grinned impishly.
    “K-Kooh! What’re you—mmph…doing?” He asked as his cheeks flushed and he knit his brows.
    She put him down and smiled.
    “Feeling better?”
    He raised a hand to protest but lowered it.
    “K-kinda…yeah. Thanks.”
    Her unexpected show of affection and usual cheerfulness was contagious.
    Following her arrival, the rest of the group accompanied by Peorth made their way to that location.
    “Everyone is clear on what the objectives of the mission are, correct?” Peorth asked.
    Kooh saluted her.
    “Of course, Princess! First we head to Scrap Valley, rummage around for a while and see if that kidnapper jerk turns up. After that, we meet up with Rufus in Scrap Valley and spelunk the dungeon. We beat up the Sinner, get another page for the tome and come home. No problem!”
    “Excellent. TJ, I shall be entrusting the completion of this mission to your capable hands. You must not forget your enemy is an unknown entity, so you cannot let your guard down at any time. I have little doubt that you can protect our comrades, but you must also ensure your own well-being.
    “That matter aside, this will be an escort mission. I expect all of you to see to it that Rufus and Zosia do not come to harm in the process of reaching your destination and eliminating it. If you must retreat from your adversaries, know there is no shame in doing so. Your survival is paramount to our cause.”
    “Right.” Axle said as he pounded an open palm.
    “You can count on us, Princess!” Kooh said as she clenched a fist.
    “This’ll be my first time fighting a Sinner, but I won’t let you guys down.” Thee said as he crossed his arms confidently.
    “I’ll be in your care, guys. Don’t let me die, alright?” Zosia asked with a teasing grin.
    “I’ll bring everyone back safely Chief, I promise.” TJ said with a fiery resolve in his eyes.
    “I look forward to your triumphant return,” Peorth said. “Yggdrasil, dismissed!”
    Without further ado, the group set out into the Airport.

    The four made their way over to the attendant standing by the stairwell and handed over their tickets.
    It had been some time since TJ had last come to this location, let alone rode an aircraft but he recognized both it and its attendant. Pinned to her top was a small name tag that read ‘Janet’. Perhaps then, he did not think much of it, but now he came to understand that she was indeed pretty. Yet, looking at her did not give him the same warm feeling in him that he got when he looked at other girls, like Peorth.
    Yuna had told him that it was often described as having ‘butterflies in your stomach’. It meant that you felt love towards that person. The opposite, that murky feeling he had become acquainted with was envy. After her explanation, he finally came to understand how marriage worked and how the marriage contract applied. The thought that his guild master was to be married to Aurelius often made that feeling return, so he tried not to think too much about it. In spite of it, he wanted to better understand how he felt to convey those feelings to her. Yuna insisted that he take his time to think things over and be sure about what he feels before blurting out something carelessly, especially to the wrong person or at the wrong time.
    The group ascended the steps and made their way inside before they headed down the aisle and took their seats. Thee and Kooh talked excitedly, especially since it was the first time visiting the City of Iron for the former. Zosia seemed to be speaking with Rufus through guild chat while Axle sat solemnly, a focused and determined look in his eyes. TJ looked out the window and pressed his fingers to it solemnly as his thoughts began to wander further.
    Amata mustered her courage and confessed that she had taken a liking to him. The kiss she planted on his cheek, he remembered that feeling even now. He was almost certain that she did not see him as family…which meant that she really did see him as a romantic interest. Not as the Abellan, but as TJ…as a man. Yuna had told him if such a case was to come to be, it would be best to not keep them waiting too long to hear his response—how he felt towards them. To return that love would be the start to dating. To marry that person meant that you wanted to be with them forever, to be bound by the Pledger’s Rite. Was it possible that she felt that way? His face felt hot at the thought.
    Janet stood in the middle of the aisle and put on a demonstration for necessary safety measures, from buckling up to finding life jackets in case of emergency. After a brief period, the plane started to move. It circled around the airport as it picked up speed and eventually took off, setting a course for the Big Apple.
    For a time, TJ dreamt of himself flying through the air with his own wings. Through the clouds, high over Jienda he soared freely. In his vision he could see migrating birds and flew alongside them for a time before ascending above the clouds. After doing so he passed through the clouds and upon doing so found himself above a sea of them, the moon so close and so large he could reach out and touch it.
    Moments before doing so, he woke from his dream and looked around frantically before realizing it really was just a dream. To some degree, it felt real. Or at least, he wanted it to be. However, like Su said, the Abellan dreamed just like everyone else and to that end, could not change anything through them. His wings would remain clipped and he, unlike the Cerebians, forever grounded.
    Kooh squished his cheeks together and smiled at him.
    “What’s wrong Little Lamb? Since the Princess isn’t here, you can confide in me if you like.” She said, her eyes smiling gently.
    He was thankful she was so thoughtful towards him. She always lent him an ear when he needed one.
    “Kooh, do you think I’ll ever be able to fly?” He asked earnestly.
    To ride a plane was like simulating it. But unlike actually doing it, he did not feel the wind in his hair or the excitement from every movement. To be able to double-jump was close, but it was just not the same. To that end, perhaps his inability proved to be a liability. If it was not for Amata’s quick thinking in Rayinth’s Vestibule he could have died on several occasions.
    “Of course you will! You’re still little, Little Lamb. Didn’t Princess tell you? You won’t grow with time, but rather when you transform. Like a caterpillar!”
    “A caterpillar?”
    Kooh nodded excitedly as she clenched her fists.
    “We’ll do our best to help you put your heart back together and then you’ll definitely change!”
    TJ grinned at her enthusiasm.
    He did not quite understand what she meant, but maybe, just maybe, if he grew up in body, he would have the strength to fly too. Peorth said he needed to find Iris to use Metamorphosis so it would remain something he would aim to accomplish in time. It would be a dream that he would hold on to and work towards as he took steps to get closer to defeating Asmodeus.
    “Thanks Kooh.”
    She ruffled his hair.
    “We’re friends, aren’t we? I’ll stick it out with you through thick and thin.”

    TJ awoke with jolt as Kooh gently tapped him on the shoulder.
    “We’re here, Little Lamb.” She told him as she got up from her seat.
    He blinked before he looked around and out the window. As Kooh had told him, the plane had come to a halt in the Big Apple and the airport there came into view. He scrambled to his feet and joined up with his comrades outside of the plane.
    The Big Apple was exactly as he remembered it, from the Monster Tower looming down the street to the cityscape just over the horizon. The weather in the area was similar to Elias’, albeit somewhat hotter and with less shade given their current position, but it was nothing they could not handle. In the distance the dark clouds and smog from the City of Iron seemed to create an artificial divide between the two areas.
    The Abellan did not have fond memories of that grim place. He could tell what was to come would not bring any either, but destiny called to him and to his comrade. For the sake of Axle and for the future of Midgard, he would steel his resolve and face forward.
    “We’ll be following your lead, Z,” Kooh said.
    “Truth be told, I can lead you guys through Scrap Valley’s Entrance but that guy you’re looking for? I dunno where he is, so you best hope he turns up.” Zosia added as she knit her brows.
    Without wasting anymore time the group set out towards Scrap Valley Entrance.
    “I’d heard the gist of the case from Peorth, but therer’s something about it that bugs me,” Thee said. “This guy called you out but…why? I mean, what does he want from you, exactly? Didn’t sound like a ransom note to me.”
    At that Su emerged from the Heart of Yggdrasil, much to Zosia’s alarm.
    “If he doesn’t want money, obviously he wants blood.” The Sorceror said as she crossed her arms.
    “H-hold on a minute there. Where exactly did you come from?”
    TJ quickly explained their unusual relationship and what it entailed.
    In response, Zosia pinched the bridge of her nose silently for a couple of moments.
    “A-alright. I get that. It’s weird as all get-out but I understand, so let’s get back on to the main topic.”
    “So the question at hand is, ‘why does he want Axle dead?’” Thee asked.
    “What’d you do, Ax?” Kooh asked in a mock-angry tone.
    “I didn’t do anything! I don’t even know…” The Blader paused as the realization dawned upon him. “It was that wacky doctor! It has to be! From the Dark Moon!”
    “Wacky doctor?” TJ asked as he tilted his head quizzically.
    Axle nodded grimly.
    “Back before I joined Yggdrasil, when I was still a part of Bastion, we raided the Dark Moon. Among the captives we rescued, I found my mom. Both she and my sister Roll were separated from me when we touched down on Jienda. The fact that they had my mom captive there must’ve meant that they had Roll too, just in a different location.
    “That bastard of a doctor and his cronies used Cerebians as living experiments! They turned them into Agasura…Agasura we had to kill.”
    The pained expression of his was one that was shared by the entire group, save for Kooh. Her expression was hard, knowing.
    At this juncture the group was leaving the Big Apple and found themselves on a long, cracked road of sorts that lead to Scrap Valley. The closer they got to it, the greater the amount of smog and the more difficult it became to see. Until their eyes adjusted, they only had Zosia and the signs that marked the distance to the city to go on.
    “I was lucky to have rescued Mom, but I’d spent all these years chasing the clues that proved Roll was taken by them. If that picture was real…if that was really her…”
    He shook his head.
    “No, that was definitely her. No matter how many years pass, I could recognize my sister’s face. If that was any indication, he hasn’t used her as an experiment. There’s still hope we can save her from that fate.
    “The others had become these monsters…nothing like the people they once were, but she still has a humanoid form. If he wants blood, he’ll get it, but I’ll be reclaiming my sister!”
    “Saying he wanted blood was an understatement, you know,” Su began. “If that psycho doctor is transforming Cerebians into Agasura, clearly he won’t settle for just any. Neither will he settle for little from you. That fucker’s coming here to get his pound of flesh and I’d bet that pound of flesh will be you. Alive. If not you, he wants TJ.
    “Though if he’s got the balls to try and get his grubby hands on him, he’ll be lucky if he walks away with his body in one piece.”
    Axle’s expression was hard, pensive.
    “TJ, sorry for bringing you into this…and thanks. You’re in as much danger as I am, if not more, but I promise I won’t let him do anything to you. I’ll cut him down before he can get his hands on you,” he said.
    TJ grinned slightly.
    “Hey, hey, I’m here to protect you, remember? I’m not just the Abellan for show.”
    His comrade’s expression lightened up at the sight and sound.
    “Yeah, of course. Thanks man.”
    After a time their eyes began to adjust and the surrounding area became visible to them. What they traversed was what seemed to be a single, winding highway surrounded by nothing but cracked earth. Ahead, Scrap Valley Entrance was within their reach and far behind them was the Big Apple. Over the horizon, the City of Iron awaited, just barely in their vision.
    “Home sweet home.” Zosia said with a light chuckle.
    “I dunno how you could call this place home, Zosia. It’s kinda…you know.” Thee said with a wry smile.
    “It’s an acquired taste.”
    TJ knit his brows as he looked upon Scrap Valley.
    “I don’t really…I feel weird, being here. It makes me feel…sad.” He said, his eyes shuttered.
    “Happens to all of us. Sucking up all this smog makes my stomach do backflips.” Axle said as he patted TJ on the back.
    “That too, but…it’s different.”
    “It’s probably because of your connection to Yggdrasil, Little Lamb,” Kooh suggested.
    At her words, his eyes turned to her with a hint of curiosity to them.
    “All worlds are connected to the roots of the World Tree. The lifeblood of the worlds are bound to affect it, and by extension, you. You’re a part of it, after all.
    “A part of our duty is to make sure Midgard can continue to sustain Humanity. It’s why we have guild crops, after all! Places like this are proof that the world suffers too. Although, unless we fought Humanity over their desire and perhaps need for certain conveniences, we have to make exceptions and sacrifices.”
    “That’s some heavy stuff,” Zosia chuckled dryly.
    She sighed as she shrugged.
    “But that’s something Rufus and I have thought about also. We are Cerebians, after all.
    “’Sustainability through technology!’ It’s by that principle that our guild, Foundation, was built. The scientific revolution brought so much to enrich the lives of Humanity, but the time it would take them to realize that they’re slowly killing Midgard is too long. We can do something about that, though.
    “Perhaps what the world needs is a figure like you, TJ. A literal force of nature.”
    She grinned at the thought.
    “It’d probably help more if you were a talking tree, but looking like a Human is something easier to understand.”
    Kooh shrugged as she sighed gently.
    “But there’s no easy way to prove that what we say and do is for the best. Humans are scared easily, you know. So the best path for us is probably to continue as we have. Unless Princess wants to follow in her mom’s footsteps, I don’t think we’ll see any dramatic changes in Humanity’s way of life.”
    “Isn’t it fine?” Su asked. “We beat up some Sinners, kick Asmodeus’ ass and save Christmas. If that doesn’t make ‘em realize how important their world is, I dunno what will.”
    “How will they know that it was us, though? Other than through announcing it?” Zosia asked as she knit her brows.
    “The world is gonna be shrouded in darkness for sixteen days straight.” Kooh said as she grinned. “Until we put a stop to Asmodeus, the eclipse won’t end. If we fail well…”
    “I won’t let that happen,” TJ said.
    “That’s what I’m here for.” Su said with an impish smile. “If I have to drag you, kicking and screaming to get my good end, I will. That aside, you’ve got promises to keep. Including one to me.”
    “I’d rather not, you know, blow up with Midgard. So let’s do our best guys!” Zosia said with a reluctant raised fist.
    “One battle at a time. Slowly, but surely we’ll get to that bastard. I want to see the day we can all fight him, side-by-side. I’m looking forward to the day where Roll can stand beside us too, as we take the fight to the Agasura.” Axle said, clenching a fist.
    “Is this what I get for not studying harder? I’m hearing a lot of this for the first time and it’s making me question exactly what I got myself into.” Thee said with a nervous chuckle.
    “Oh you!” Kooh said as she ruffled his hair. “You’re just being modest! I remember when you came to take on Pandora with us, you were barely quivering in your boots! This is nothing new for you!”
    He chuckled nervously as she put an arm around his shoulders.
    “This and that are super different, in my opinion.”
    The group finally arrived at a sign that read ‘Welcome to Scrap Valley Entrance’, damaged and barely legible as it was. It too, was as TJ had remembered it. However, as Zosia had warned them the robots of the area were all on the fritz. The cordless ran around with lightning crackling from the loose wires and a danger sign flashing on their screens. The eyes of the diodes were dilated and their LED lights flashed vigorously as they drifted hither and thither.
    “There’s…there’s definitely a lot of things wrong with these robots. I dunno what they’re gonna do anymore.” TJ said as he squinted in disbelief.
    “Just treat them like the Agasura under Asmodeus’ Dominion! You’ll be fiiiiiine,” Kooh said.
    “I got tricked by an ice lady once. Just hearing that makes me uneasy.” Axle said as he sighed.
    “Well, nothing for it right?” Thee said as he drew his sword and rested it over his shoulder. “This is what we trained for. Let’s crush ‘em and go find that psycho doctor.”
    At those words Axle drew his swords while his unease was replaced with determination.
    “You’re right. These guys are nothing but obstacles before our real goal.”
    “That said, I’m gonna take cover over here. You guys do your thing.” Zosia said as she hurried over to a lump of metal and hid.
    Kooh spread her wings and drew her dagger.
    “Alright guys, let’s get to work, shall we?” She asked.
    “I’ve been waiting for this!” Su said as she unsheathed her dagger.
    “Here goes!” TJ said as he too, armed his guitar.

    The group split up in all directions, some taking the high ground and others jumping down.
    TJ landed hard before he came face-to-face with a diode. It eyed him for a moment before it opened its mouth and launched a firecracker at him.
    “W-what the?!”
    He stepped aside as the cracker burst into sparks and left a shower of flames in its wake. Su’s dagger pierced its head and she appeared upon it before she stomped it into the ground. Immediately following that, she touched down and punted it into the distance. The LED lights began to rapidly flash before it exploded into spare parts.
    “Don’t get careless!” She snarled as she scaled the nearest platform and climbed out of sight.
    “Right…thanks.” He said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
    Thee hurled his sword and it spun through the air, splitting a cordless in two before returning to him. The halved remnants unleashed a burst of lightning before completely coming to a rest. After reclaiming his sword he leapt to where it was felled and spun around twice before cleaving a diode. Just as he began his sprint to continue on Kooh swooped in and lifted him from the ground to avoid the explosion.
    “Huh?! Kooh?” He cried out.
    He glimpsed back and noticed the cloud of fire before he squinted in disbelief.
    “…Nice save.”
    “No problem!” She said as she smiled amicably.
    She let him down on a higher platform and remained in flight to outstretch a hand. An icy wind gathered around a nearby cordless and froze it in a massive casing of ice. Beneath them Axle used the Blader’s jump to leap above a small hole between landings and behind one of the cordless. He slashed it once with each sword before cleaving it two more times with both swords at once. As he turned around he glimpsed another cordless and dashed towards it before coming to a sudden halt. The screen changed and instead showed a monochrome spiral. After a couple of moments he turned away from it and leapt backwards towards where the Abellan was climbing up.
    “I really should use my wings here.” He muttered as he sighed. “Rayinth’s Vestibule must have come after the battle between the gods, considering it wasn’t affected like this place. Guess they turned all the land to metal around here, for some reason or another.”
    At the sight of his approaching comrade he blinked.
    “Hm? Axle? What’s wrong?”
    The moment Axle touched down before him he attempted to eviscerate him with his blades.
    “A-Axle?!” TJ cried out as he leapt back.
    Without a moment’s hesitation he ran towards his ally and rapidly took swings at him. With every swing of his blades the edge got ever nearer and the wall that TJ would pin himself against approached. Before he reached it however, Axle dived at him in a single-minded attempt to pierce through. TJ drew his guitar and stepped aside, holding off the Blader for a time. Once Axle’s onslaught began anew, Su descended upon him and tripped him up.
    “Snap out of it, jackass!” She snarled as she grabbed his top by the neckline.
    She spun him around once before she hurled him into the air and leapt after him, pulling him into an izuna drop. TJ waved away the dust as he coughed gently, while Su took to his side, her dagger armed and ready.
    “Urgh…what was I…?” Axle picked himself up from the ground and wiped the blood from his nose.
    “You just tried to make swiss cheese out of the Abellan, dumbass.”
    Axle blinked in disbelief.
    “I did…?”
    He shook his head.
    “TJ, sorry. I dunno what came over me. I was going to fight a cordless and it had this weird swirling thing on its screen and then…I blacked out.”
    “Looks like a good blow or two knocked some sense back into that thick skull of yours.” Su said as she crossed her arms.
    “But if that’s any indication, we have to watch out for that. If they do that, we’ll get confused and turn on each other,” TJ said.
    “Won’t fool me twice.” Axle said as he closed his eyes.
    “Guys, the way is clear,” Kooh shouted from nearby.
    She flew over to them and touched down before hiding her wings.
    “You can come out now, Z!”
    At her words Zosia peered from where she was hiding and regrouped with the four. Following it, they proceeded onwards until they regrouped with Thee.
    “Which way do we go from here?” TJ asked as he glimpsed two separate paths for them to take.
    One seemed to lead into a lower area, while the other lead higher.
    “The last time we came here, we kinda went off the path to find somewhere to take shelter. Honestly, it’s a miracle we found the City of Iron from there.”
    “We should take the path on the left.” Zosia suggested, pointing in that direction. “If we go right, we’ll come across less robots but we’ll be further from the city. That aside, we’ll still be in Scrap Valley, but off of the beaten path. I dunno what’s out there, and I’d rather not find out.
    “You guys seem to be able to handle these robots with relative ease, so why not?”
    “Yep! I think we’ll be fine fighting a few more, right guys?” Kooh asked.
    Thee rolled his shoulder at the prospect.
    “I’ve still got plenty of fight left in me. No complaints here,” he said.
    “I think we should too.” Axle said with a nod. “If that bastard is waiting for me here, I don’t want to miss him.”
    “Then let’s keep going. How many of these areas do we need to get through to reach the city?” Su asked.
    “There are about three sectors between the Big Apple and the City of Iron. This is the first, so two more?” Zosia explained.
    “Right then, let’s keep this train rolling!” Kooh said as she lead the group forward.

    The group moved into Scrap Valley’s second sector and armed themselves. Upon their arrival, TJ stopped them all.
    “Hold on a sec’ guys, I should prepare some songs now before we continue fighting. If we do run into that doctor, I might not have the chance to later.” He said as he began to play.
    “Good thinking,” Thee said.
    “You better watch yourself.” Su said to TJ specifically, moments after taking a seat. “Those diodes or whatever are gonna explode regardless of whether they do their thing or not. Don’t be fooled.”
    He smiled slightly.
    “Thanks for worrying about me. I’ll be okay,” he said.
    Kooh placed a hand to her mouth, a playful look in her eyes.
    “Shut up!” Su snarled before she got up and leapt from where they stood, then stormed off.
    “I guess that’s youth, huh?” She asked as she watched her run off. “Well, I can’t let my cute little juniors show me up! Here I come!”
    Kooh took off and moments after she did, chunks of ice from Shattered Berg rained down on the battlefield.
    “Let’s get to it Thee, TJ!” Axle said as he leapt away with his blades, soon followed by Thee.
    “Good luck everyone. I’ll be here.” Zosia said as she waved them off.
    After finishing his songs, TJ spread his wings and jumped into the fray, coming across some of the cordless Su left in her wake. He continued on, jumping to a higher platform where he reunited with Thee. The Warlord brought his blade down with Meteor Wave, leaving a trail of fire before the weapon. Behind him a cordless ran over and brought its wires forward to electrocute him.
    “Frozen Blitz,” TJ said as he outstretched a hand.
    Three frozen needles formed between his fingers and he hurled them at the robot. Two made contact, damaging the screen and causing it to flicker as sparks emerged from it. The Bard slammed his guitar into it and bashed it off the platform immediately after.
    “Glad you’ve got my back!” Thee said with a grin.
    With a wave of Kooh’s hand, five icy javelins took form and shot forwards in a line, piercing through a diode and dragging it through the air into a nearby cordless. Once they traversed a certain distance, she snapped her fingers and they burst into a series of small icicles that fired out in all directions, freezing anything they came in contact with. In the wake of it Axle emerged and cut down any Agasura frozen by her spell. He plunged his swords through the first diode he was close enough to and turned around to cut a cordless into four pieces. He leapt over it and jumped again to touch down behind another approaching diode. Before it could turn around he flipped his swords over and plunged both through it before cutting outwards.
    Su formed a spare dagger from stone and hurled it at a diode, dragging it forward and into a small pit where a single cordless patrolled. Using Gleipnir, she dragged another cordless back into a second and finally into the pit. Before either could chase after her, she used Ice Fear to trap them in. Moments later a single explosion followed and metal was flung from within as she dusted her hands off.
    “Only two left,” TJ shouted to his comrades.
    Thee jumped down before a cordless as it attempted to confuse him too. He closed his eyes as he raised his blade and leapt forward.
    “Triple Crashes!” He shouted as he brought the blade down, three times in succession.
    Each swing changed the colour and intensity of the blur the weapon left in its wake along with the power of the attack.
    “One more!” He shouted as he raised a thumb skyward.
    Kooh held out her free hand and an icicle took form. She threw it at the final diode and it pierced it, yet remained lodged within its head. The moment it made contact however, the front of it shattered, sending pieces flying from within as fire blossomed forth from within the hole.
    “That’s it! We’re all clear here guys!” She said with a wide grin.

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:25 am

    Come get some hot stuff:
    You know, I ain't even mad Neku wasn't announced for Smash U. I kinda get how Sakurai feels, after all is said and done. I'm honestly surprised he hasn't killed someone yet. So, for shits and gigs, here's a not patented suggestion of mine: take Rosalina's final smash, whatever it is, and turn one of her Luma's into a big muscular man. Like a stand right out of Jojo. It can just go around punching everyone else out! I'd buy two copies for it!
    So? Shall we?

    Truth be told, I don't know why anyone would clamor for this after last time. Things haven't gotten better, only worse. I've gotten worse and it's going to continue on this path. What do we stand to gain, really, in having me do this? If it isn't clear already, I failed, miserably. I couldn't change the world. I couldn't make it better. The fact that it's gotten worse, year after year weighs upon me. The way people look at me, even more so. I still don't even know what it is that I'm supposed to do, or if this is it. If this is it, it was all worthless in the end. I couldn't even change my situation, let alone find a good paralell to draw a logical conclusion to make heads or tails of any of this. No I'm not vain enough to compare myself to...that ideal. Might have grown up with it but the only thing that connects us is the shittiness of humanity.
    Anyway...I...I'm here, now. At the very least, I'll make some effort to at least do a proper review. It won't be good, but it'll be done.

    So, time to sacrifice some souls. If it isn't clear already, the blood bond for the two has grown stronger so their Agasuric nature has grown enough for either to develop a sense for presences, even relatively far away ones. Of course, their basic five senses are improved to help them track their targets, so if one is dulled, they still have others. In the same vein, even at the start it becomes clear that TJ is developing more of a sense of self in this form to properly foreshadow that his nature is growing and in so doing, he's becoming the creature, or rather it is becoming him. As ever, their growth dulls Su's humanity further, making her care less for who or what has to die to meet the quota.
    I think...with parts like these I tried to give the writing and wording a different feel. What might be used to describe an ordinary battle would hardly suffice, since that often implies, typically to some degree a battle on even footing. In this case, it looks at it more in a prey vs. predator scenario. It shows the difference in strength, I suppose.
    Su as ever serves to keep from their plans falling to pieces, per usual. No survivors. Nobody lives, nobody tells. Her monologue there was more her playing up her villainy than actually being that sort of character. After fighting Choen Palm on several occasions, its easy to pick up a few tips from her book.

    Next morning. I should've wrote somewhere that there's a small hole in the wall 'cause Su threw her dagger at it during the chapter 10 interlude. Maybe I'll post those here. If I feel like it.
    Return of the Queen. For a very short period. More importantly, TJ is starting to remember how the two worked towards their quotas. Of course, Su doesn't tell him about it. He's a bleeding heart, after all. Even if it was necessary, it's never easy to convince someone to kill a person, especially one who has fears of doing it again. That is...a recurring theme throughout the chapter and I do wonder if it might be too much but...ignoring it is even worse to me. The emphasis works for his character, less so for readers. Standard fare.

    This part was a bit of a throwback to Frequency's final chapters, the two meeting in the city like that. It's kinda weird, looking at it now. Back then, it was just for training purposes but now he's become a full-fledged member of the team and the leader of his party for the upcoming mission. He's grown. I'm glad that it feels right.
    Moving on, the idea that people would come to a dilapidated Elias just for thrills disgusts me. It reminds me of that tone-deaf facebook thing, letting you look at places hit by natural disasters or whatever, using those ugly as sin avatars. Who thought that was a good idea? I could care less about being woke but honestly, that isn't what a guilty pleasure is. Apathy runs rampant in our societies, doesn't it? It's so fitting it's almost poetic. Centuries of strife can't change human nature, after all.
    So, cake and stuff. Saving the city pays in delicious food. Also Salem cameo. He never did mention that he moonlighted as a waiter, but that would've been out of place during the first Sinner arc anyway.
    In truth, I'm kinda glad I didn't kill off Berkhart during the CoI arc. I do regret killing MD though. I mean, there's a very slim chance Starry Cats would be a thing in this novel since it's an extension to the Monster Tower but...missed opportunity, I guess. Berkhart at least became somewhat story important later, appearing during the Xenadia update. She mostly gave quests but...she was there!
    It does make me wonder what the story is like now. I've little doubt Papaya Play's done a better job with the translations, one of the things that OGP had done poorly. Apparently Iris...exists, in the story. By that I mean somewhere in there, you meet her. That update came out earlier this year too. I talked about it before, but it makes me curious, still. Truth be told, I can't imagine an MMO having an ending per se, but given the content of the game, I wonder if it's near there. They could always do a post-story update with other adventures but...hearing it is rather surreal. I mean, I spent like 5-6 years looking at Iris visuals wondering what the deal was lol. It's a happy thing but also one that's a little bittersweet. A part of me wants to go back, start over and take the journey. The other part of me knows that things can never be like they were. The people I knew are gone. The world I knew is too. I can't find somewhere to belong there, either. The painful reality of the game is that you can only get so far alone, also. At the very least, I still have those memories of better days. They're bittersweet also, because I know I can only hold to them, never wish for them.

    Back to the story, these millenials and their avocado toast or whatever. Also Axle appears. Did someone say loyalty mission? In truth, I probably should've addressed this more throughout the novel, but at the same time, readers would likely figure things are happening in the background. Getting too many status reports would make it feel like something completely different. I do wonder if the concept of having the group travel in a regular sized party seems convoluted in this context. Due to LT's origins as an MMO and it originally only having party makeups of 4 or less, later becoming 8, I typically keep it to that number. I suppose, in a sense, if the story followed the game's rules and logic it would be easier to explain why it works. However, there's no denying that spells have a limit to how many people they can affect, so to surpass that...forgot what I was saying. Point is, nothing happens if you do...to some of your party members.
    So, an escort mission. Haven't done one before, so this is a first both for the party and me. Interesting idea.

    So there are some things Yuna explained that weren't mentioned in the last chapter. Honestly, I could've included it but it's better off as it is now. I know the usual random banter and whatnot allows for character development but if she's teaching something, especially obvious like that I figured better to skip it and save it for later. Just as is the case with TJ's tales of derring-do, it's something readers know and don't need to have told to them.
    As for TJ's dreams and hope...it did develop his character. It's something I understand. I know it all to well, to want a slice of that pie that everyone else has. But it just isn't meant to be, sometimes. That's all.

    Arrival in the Big Apple. I do like that Axle doesn't know who was sending him the ransom letters but he clued it in. It serves as a stark reminder that I should show what the villains are up to more often but most of the time, those clowns aren't doing much. It's weird because there's a trifecta of villains throughout the series. The Sinners, Choen Palm and friends and Asmodeus. Two of that trifecta are hard to follow because they're sealed 90% of the time. The other is biding its time, until now, more or less.
    ...After reading some more I...I remembered. These feelings I hold, manifested in my work. This was from months ago and yet...nothing changed. People still react with fear and anger towards me. What do I have to do or say to make it any clearer than I have? What is it, that I'm supposed to do? I just...this is my life's work. What did it amount to? What did all these years of trial and error serve? Why do I have to suffer?
    I just...I'll...wrap this up. There's only a bit more, after all.

    So, as is the case with the Agasura, I tried to find a reason for the robots to start acting out of line. Thus, the reason being is the pirate radio frequency the new sinner created with the appearance of their dungeon. It's both in line with the events of the story and it gives old readers something new. Since TJ and co. had already traversed this part of the City of Iron once, it adds some new challenges.
    Diodes have firecrackers now and Cordless can confuse their targets. Axle gets it. Symbolism, you know how it is.

    So...that's it. I uhh...well, this will probably be the last one. I don't really like...you know, saying that. I've done it a bunch of times for varying reasons but...at the core of it all, the cause was the same. It's just that I never solved it. I didn't know how...or maybe I did, tried, and failed. As is wont of me to do. There's only one solution to this dilemma. I've spent most of my life trying to find another but I was being unrealistic and the responses I received for...being...made it clear what I did wouldn't suffice.
    Nonetheless, if history hasn't changed much, then we just need to do what we always had done. Hang the tyrant from the gallows both to put an end to his reign and have it serve as a sign of new days to come. Like being freed from the pall of their presence, the dark omens will pass and people will live freely again.

    I'll try to do things right, this time. It's all that I can promise, sadly.

    So, with that said, I'm gonna go.


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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:21 am

    Pages 607-618:
    “I take it it’s safe to come out, then?” Zosia asked as she emerged nearby.
    “Don’t yet, something isn’t right here.” Su said as she held a hand out to Zosia.
    “Do you feel that? That energy…? I feel like an Agasura is coming. A strong one.” TJ muttered uneasily as he jumped to regroup with Su nearby. “It feels similar to… Choen Palm? I-it couldn’t be…”
    “Everyone, regroup!” Kooh shouted to them before joining her juniors.
    Directly ahead of them a dark energy took form and from within it, two people and a single creature emerged. To their surprise, it was indeed Dr. Truong, accompanied by Mk. II and one of his abominations.
    Truong and Mk. II wore their signature white labcoats. Truong in work boots and Mk. II in shoes, both wearing black pants beneath their coats.
    The abomination that accompanied them was a bloodthirsty creature with what seemed to be a humanoid upper half, but the lower half consisting of eight tentacles. From it’s back, massive spines protruded. Within its maw were hundreds of tiny, sharp teeth that looked as if they could easily tear through flesh. It had sunken eye sockets with three eyes on each side and fingers sharpened into deadly claws.
    “Ah…excellent. It seems you have heeded my summoning, this time.” Truong said with a malevolent grin.
    “Bastard!” Axle snarled as he armed his blades. “Return my sister to me before I gut you!”
    “How fearsome you savages are. To think, I came all this way to honor you with my presence and this is how you respond? A shame, truly.”
    In spite of Truong, Axle’s focus was soon locked on his younger sibling.
    “Roll! It’s me, Axle! We’re here to take you back! You can leave that asshole’s side!” The Blader desperately cried out, lowering his weapons. “It’s alright now…big bro’s here for you!”
    Despite his words, his sister did not respond. Her yard-long gaze seemed to look through him rather than at him. Every moment that passed, the look on Axle’s face became more disillusioned.
    Truong chuckled as he shrugged his shoulders.
    “It is time you face the truth, Boy. The one you know as Roll exists no longer. Nonetheless, let us skip the formalities. Your time together shall be brief but meaningful. Mk. II! Let us begin the exercise! You know what you must do!”
    At those words Mk. II raised a hand and it formed a sort of blade, just as Choen Palm could.
    “A transformation?!” Su asked in disbelief. “She really is just like Choen Palm!”
    At the sight Axle stood completely appalled. His pupils shrunk as his body seemed to tremble, his shock soon turning to unbridled fury.
    “You motherfucker! I’ll tear you apart for what you’ve done!
    Axle swiped each of his blades against the other once before he lowered them to his side, a crimson aura surrounded his body. A look of bloodlust filled his eyes as he gnashed his teeth.
    “E-everyone! At all costs, protect Axle! Do whatever you need to do to hold off that Agasura and the doctor and no matter what, don’t hurt Roll!” TJ cried out as his companions nodded in turn.
    Axle got a running start before he leapt from the platform he and his allies inhabited. The Blader performed a mid-air jump to close in on Truong and attempted to cut him down but found his blade met by Mk. II’s. He had but a moment to recover from his surprise as she turned her left hand into a spear and attempted to impale her brother with it.
    “Snap out of it Roll! That bastard’s deceiving y-”
    Before he could finish his sentence Truong’s abomination wrapped one of its tentacles around his neck and dragged him back.
    “Hang on Axle!” TJ cried out as he armed his guitar.
    “Broken Wings!”
    He hurled the weapon and it collided with the abomination, causing it to release its grasp moments before Mk. II could successfully impale her brother. Kooh came to Axle’s aid and defended him while he caught his breath. While she did so, Thee assaulted the abomination with Triple Crashes and Su took to Truong.
    Before TJ could be grabbed, Thee’s blade cut one of the tentacles and the creature reeled back, letting out an agonized cry. As it did so, a series of thin tentacles like feelers emerged from its mouth while a torrent of violet blood leaked from the wound following those events.

    Su descended upon Truong and in spite of her advantage, he drew a dagger from beneath his coat and met hers.
    “Why don’t you skip the formalities and die, Old Man?!” She asked as she forced him back.
    She began her offensive with two vertical swipes, the first down then up.
    “You do not honestly believe that you will be able to best me with simple strikes from a dagger, do you? God’s Governor Suuba.” He grinned maliciously as he spoke.
    His smug attitude agitated her, but her careful onslaught of attacks continued nonetheless.
    “So you know me, big deal. It’s not like we’re not already acquainted.
    “I remember you well. Didn’t know what you did back then, couldn’t have cared less either! But tearing up my village? Capturing my people just to turn them into monsters?! Death’s the least of your worries!”
    After taking three rapid stabs at him, each dodged, she conjured a boulder into existance with her free hand and hurled it at him. He backflipped away from it and upon the collision with the ground, it shattered to pieces, firing a series of stone shards toward him. In turn he jumped backwards and descended to one of the lower landings in Scrap Valley.
    “For one of Midgard’s greatest Mages, you seem to be lacking in understanding!
    “However, know this, God’s Governor. I am one of my world’s greatest minds! I have fought the Usurper Heinrichter and other heroes of eld, reincarnate! That which you have achieved in your short life span is nothing in comparison! To be deceived by my looks alone shows how green you are!”
    An angry vein began protruding from Su’s cheek as she cracked her left hand’s knuckles.
    “Oh you are asking for it!”

    Mk. II transformed her spear into a blade and both skillfully and swiftly met her brother in both strength and speed. After a couple of clashes, she seemed to be overtaking him as his conviction wavered in the face of his entire journey’s objective.
    “We don’t have to do this, Roll! Put away your weapons and let’s just go home!”
    In spite of his words, Mk. II’s expression neither changed nor showed any signs of being affected by his statement at all. As his willpower diminished further she increased the intensity of her offensive. After overpowering Axle and forcing him back a couple of meters, he found himself forced to the edge of their landing. In doing so, the edge of one of the blades cut his cheek and left a bloody gash in its wake. Following this, he barely managed to regain his footing. Mk. II reshaped her blades into pendulum blades and lunged at the Blader.
    “I won’t let you!” TJ roared as he dragged Mk. II back by her coat and threw her to the ground.
    He fired a barrage of icicles at her and she blocked her body with her blades. Axle quickly regrouped with the Abellan as he dropped a wall of ice before them.
    “Axle, it can’t go on like this! I know you don’t want to fight her and neither do I but she’s definitely, definitely trying to kill you! If Reina was here I could ask her to use Exhaust but she’s not and I don’t think that’s a stance I can use!”
    Axle clenched his fists around the handles of his swords. Teeth grit, eyes tightly shut and his expression pained.
    “So what do you suggest we do?!” He roared in his frustration.
    TJ watched him solemnly for a moment.
    His heart ached both for Axle’s pain and the fact that he was the target of it now. He swallowed the pain, scrunched his face somewhat and pushed forward, as best as he could. Just as Peorth would.
    “At the very least, we’ll have to tire her out. At most, we have to knock her unconsci-”
    “Get down!”
    TJ turned around to glimpse the wall of ice he created being split in two by Mk. II’s blade. Moments after the second followed it and nearly grazed his headphones. As the top half of the wall nearly fell upon the Abellan, his companion raised his blades and cut it into four pieces that collapsed around him.
    His resolve renewed, Axle looked and seemed a man born anew.
    “TJ, if that’s what you’ve decided, I’ll follow through. I believe in you and I believe in your way, so…I’ll be counting on you.”
    Mk. II kicked the bottom half of the wall at them and Axle rushed to TJ’s blind side to split it in half before taking his battle stance.
    “I didn’t want to have to do this, Roll, but you’re not giving me much choice here! For your sake and for our family’s, I’ll take you on!”

    “Atomic Break!” Thee shouted as he raised his broadsword above his head, the weapon gaining a powerful glow.
    When he brought it down, a powerful pillar of light arose from its location and wounded the aberration. As a portion of its tentacle was separated from its body the creature flew into a fury and lashed out against the recovering Thee. It bashed him aside and he skidded to a halt on the ground before it slithered over and grabbed him by the leg. Kooh armed another icicle but as she armed it the creature used Thee, hung by a leg to block its torso.
    “As I’d thought, these are nothing like the others…” Kooh muttered.
    The Agasura slammed him into the ground before hurling him at Kooh, who dropped her icicle and caught her comrade.
    “You okay, Thee?”
    He shook off his dizziness and nodded once while Kooh let him down.
    “Yeah. I’ll have to be a bit more careful, but I should be fine. Any parts you freeze, I’ll break them and block in case it lashes out again.
    The creature let out a low growling noise before a gurgling sound was emitted froom its mouth. It reeled its head back before it discharged a purple substance at the two. They seperated and dodged aside before looking to what it left behind.
    “Poison. Don’t let it get on you, or inhale the fumes,” the Governor of Ice said.
    “Got it!” Her companion answered as he rolled his shoulder and took up his battle stance.
    Kooh immediately turned around with an alarmed and alert expression on her face. Her body tensed up and she seemed to be searching the surrounding area for an unknown enemy.
    “Another Agasura’s coming and fast too! But where…and what?
    “Thee! Keep your guard up! I don’t mean to leave you alone, but I need you to keep that thing busy while I tend to whatever that incoming threat is!”
    Thee chuckled lightly.
    “Better you than me. I should be fine on my own, but gimme some support whenever you’ve got the chance, Kooh.”
    He armed his weapon and charged back in to keep the aberration at bay. Kooh looked over as he did and smiled slightly, though wistfully.
    She looked around the surrounding area, feeling the presence of the Agasura growing ever stronger and ever more suffocating.
    “I can’t hold back. I have to protect all of my cute little juniors!”
    She placed a hand to her chest as she closed her eyes and lowered her head. As she pulled it away a light took form in her clenched fist and became a sphere as she opened it. When she opened her eyes, the sphere grew before releasing the light and taking the form of a Keruz’ tome. Upon doing so, her hair turned snow white and her pupils a sapphire blue. Moments afterwards she took the tome in hand, her dagger in the other as she awaited her next enemy.
    Moments later, just as Truong and his comrades appeared, another creature did so, accompanied by a smaller being, the two shrouded in shadows.
    “I-it couldn’t be!” TJ said with a look of disbelief.
    Following their arrival, the eyes of the larger of the two seemed to focus on Truong before the beast let out a long, somewhat enraged and agonizing cry. The sound of it had all the combatants, save for Truong’s abomination covering their ears.
    “Y-you know the wacky doctor?!”
    “Another Agasura? We’re completely outnumbered!” Axle hissed, currently in a deadlock with Mk. II.
    “It’s alright Axle, they’re on our side,” Kooh shouted.
    “Vanir…that form…” TJ said quietly.

    The Abellan was at a loss. Despite his prior reaction, he was unsure on whether he should feel thankful or terrified. The Vanir he had become familiar with of late was indeed the same person he saw standing before him now, but that look of bloodlust in his eyes was something he had never come to know. There was a substantial difference between his and Axle’s also.
    The rage, sorrow and bloodlust of an Agasura, especially one that could take the form of the Tyrant of the Maelstrom was one he felt too. Their last meeting chilled him to the bone but Vanir had done what he needed to in order to keep his secret. Given that TJ and Su were now privy to that secret, perhaps they would be safe, but like all others, could he not be consumed by his own fury? For the time being, it seemed that fury was directed at Truong, considering that but moments ago the tyrant was screaming his name, but what of after?
    “I’ve waited years for this, Truong! I bided my time, full-well knowing that the temptation of discovery would lure you out of hiding! Not a day’s gone by where I haven’t thought of avenging my mother or Kana and now your time’s come. Time to join your accomplice on the other side!” The beast snarled as it lurched forward.
    Vanir leapt from where he stood and the moment he touched down, he lunged toward Truong. As he did so, Mk. II broke away from her deadlock and vanished in a puff of smoke. As the barista closed in on the doctor, the young girl came between the two. She morphed her blades into claws that matched Vanir’s and the two grappled in a contest of pure strength.
    “So you’ve come, Usurper! Had I known you’d be paying me another visit I’d have brought more playthings to keep you at bay,” Truong chuckled.
    “Usurper?! Truong you bastard!”
    Vanir tightened his grip on Mk. II before he pulled her towards him and attempted to hurl her away. Her claws dug into his arm and she barely managed to get a grip on his shoulders before he began to turn hither and thither in a desperate attempt to shake her off.
    “You aided my father in usurping the throne! You tortured my mother, stole her research and perverted it! You and him even had your men try to capture and murder my best friend! You’ve even come to this world and slandered my name!”
    He grabbed Mk. II by her arms, slammed her into the ground and hurled her into the distance. Following it, his mouth opened and a cloud of miasma was released as his eyes sharpened.
    “And? What of it? Just because you have the power of the Animus Legio on your side, you think you can best me?”
    “Get out of the way, shitty barista! I’ve got a score to settle with this asshole!” Su said as she touched down next to him.
    “To you, this might just be useless exposition but for me it’s just one more chance to gain some important allies.”
    Su lunged forward from where she stood and clashed daggers with Truong once more. She seemed to be overpowering him, but he was also rummaging through his coat.
    “Allies? There are none who can understand your grievances save for me, Usurper.”
    “That’s where you’re wrong, you old bastard,” Su muttered.
    She forced him back and stepped forward with him to take two swipes. The first missed as he stumbled back but the second caught his off-hand. In the process, she glimpsed a vial in his hand and the moment his arm was cut he dropped it. While her forward momentum just barely continued, he stepped away and the green vial fell to the ground, shattering on impact.
    “Damn it! Poison?!”
    The God’s Governor covered her face before falling away.
    “Now, Mk. II!”
    From beyond the cloud of poisonous gas Mk. II leapt over and came down with her claw coming down on the unguarded Su. Kooh’s dagger clashed with the claw and the God’s Governor of Ice appeared to stop her. She stabbed her weapon through the hand, ripped it out and turned as she backed away.
    “Radiant Blast,” she shouted.
    She let go of her book and it levitated as from her off-hand a jet of light was released, pushing Mk. II away from the duo.
    “Did you inhale the poison, Su? I can cure it if need be.”
    Her companion’s gaze sharpened.
    “I didn’t ask for, nor do I need your help.”
    At this, Kooh smiled before she spread her wings once more.
    “That’s the reaction I expected. I can’t stay too long anyway, I need to back up Thee.”
    At that she flew off. In her place, TJ, Axle and Skuld regrouped with Su and Vanir.
    “Is all of that true, Vanir?” TJ asked, a worried look in his eyes.
    In turn, Vanir’s vicious glare seemed to let up somewhat.
    “Do these pearly whites lie?”
    He opened his mouth as if he was going to grin, however, as was the case with the Tyrant of the Maelstrom, he had no teeth to speak of. Only the jagged edges of a mouth that were there in place of them.
    “But never mind that, Pinky. Your friend there isn’t gonna like what I have to say, but thankfully he can’t understand me. I’m gonna need help from you and Succubas to settle the score with Truong.”
    “Care to translate, TJ?” Axle asked as he took to the fore when Mk. II returned with a vengeance.
    “It’s…a little complicated…” TJ muttered uneasily.
    Was he to tell Axle the truth? Or keep to Vanir’s desire for the others to not know what he planned to do?
    “As he is now, Truong has no powers of his own. All he’s got is a dagger and a couple vials filled to the brim with some vile shit. Don’t let it get on you.
    “Back on topic, if I’m to kill Truong, I need Mk. II out of the way. I mean, regardless, she has to die.”
    “I know it’s hard to accept, but there’s no two ways about it. A corrupted Cerebian, especially one to that degree, is beyond saving. It’s something that can’t be undone once it’s been done. Such is the cost of dabbling in the dark arts. Even more so when you try to combine it with technology. The two were never meant to mix.”
    Su crossed her arms impatiently.
    “Can we skip the long explanation and get to the point already? How does killing her help us take down the asshole doctor?” She asked.
    “What did you say?!” Axle snarled as he looked back to the group.
    “Now you’ve done it,” Vanir sighed.
    “Let’s be honest here. How long do you think keeping your plan hush-hush would work out for you? One way or another, this wasn’t gonna have a happy ending. He’s got eyes and I sure as hell bet he can tell when someone’s fighting with the sole purpose of murder.”
    “Can’t you…you know, sugar coat that, just a bit?”
    “Master, behind you,” Skuld shouted.
    Axle soared towards the barista, both blades bared at him and a look of fury in his eyes.
    “Confidant or not, I will not allow you to kill my sister! If that makes us enemies, so be it!” The Blader roared as he took to the barista once more.
    “Don’t be so reckless, idiot! Just because you’re not fighting her doesn’t mean she’s gonna give up on killing you!”
    As Su took to Axle’s blindside, TJ joined her there and drew his guitar.
    “I dunno what we should do, but we can settle this if we take down Truong, right? He’s the source of all this strife,” he suggested.
    He gripped his guitar tighter as he steeled his resolve.
    “Su, if you can, take him down. Maybe if we can get him first, there’s still a possibility for all of us to get what we want!”
    She seemed to eye him with a slight sense of disbelief before it was banished. Her lips curled into a small smile before she brushed her braid over her shoulder.
    “You’ve got a good look in those eyes of yours. I guess I’ll follow your lead, just this once.”
    At that, Su made her way to Truong wh0 remained idle on the sidelines of the battle, just barely in the peripherals of Mk. II. While the aberrant Cerebian took to her companion, he defended with all his might, reluctant to take his eyes off of his allies facing off against each other.
    There had to be a way to save everyone. He would not give up on it.

    Thee dashed across the landing as the abomination spit acid at him three times in succession. The fourth time, he hopped before skidding across the ground to avoid the attack. He got to his feet and blocked one of the tentacles that lashed at him. As it pulled back he readied his blade for a stance.
    “Twin Blade,” he shouted.
    He took a wide horizontal swing, grazing the tentacle that pulled away. Following that, he lowered the weapon as the creature brought another down on him. He brought the blade upwards and cut the tentacle causing it to reel away as he jumped forward. Once more, he brought the blade down and split the same appendage in two, causing blood to pour out from the open wound. The creature tumbled away before writhing in pain, slamming its tentacles down viciously and kicking up a storm of dust. Thee blocked his face with his arm, holding his blade in a defensive stance. Moments later, gobs of poison were launched in greater sums, one of the many narrowly blocked by his blade.
    To his surprise, the creature lunged from within the dust and thrusted its claws into his chest. The claws failed to pierce the armour but the sheer force of the attack forced him off of his feet while the aberration dragged him forward. When their momentum came to a halt, he tumbled across the metal floor and struggled to his feet while it prepared to spit poison on him.
    A small cloud took form high above it before a single bolt of lightning crashed down upon it and sent a powerful jolt through its body, causing it to reel away. Thee got to his feet and dashed over before transitioning into his next stance.
    “Double Blade!”
    He turned his whole body as he brought his sword around two times, landing a single cut upon the chest while the creature slithered away. In doing so, for but a moment he glimpsed a glint in its chest, but he thought it nothing more than a trick of the light.
    “Sorry for keeping you waiting!” Kooh said as she touched down. “Things got a little hectic over there, but I think they should be able to handle it.
    “As for this guy, it’ll be up to us to take him down. So that it doesn’t interfere with their fight, I’m gonna create a designated consecration field. Can you buy me a bit more time?”
    Thee grinned slightly.
    “Good to have you back. Also yeah, I can do that for you. Keeping this thing at bay a little longer is within my power.”
    Kooh undid her twin-tails and sighed as she closed her eyes.
    “Forgive me Princess, Freya. But for the sake of everyone, I’m going to borrow your identities.”
    Without another moment to spare, the Governor of Ice clapped her hands together. She invoked the name of the Seven Saints in succession and upon each being spoken, a golden, glowing rune would take form and circle around her for a time; at the same time, a pulse of wind would surge outwards, accompanying each invocation. Upon speaking the name of all seven, a magic circle took form beneath her, featuring the herald of the Asgardians. She knelt down, clasped her hands together and lowered her head to begin her prayer.
    “Heroes of the past, turn your watchful eyes to this young woman who seeks your guidance. I, the chosen of the Asgardians offer myself whole-heartedly to this unending endeavour. So that this world shall know peace, so that the wishes of those in the past and present may be upheld! I shall don the mantle of my ancestors and banish the darkness! Rightful Queen!”
    The runes stopped circling the Governor and stopped in place before emitting a nigh unyielding light. The seven converged upon her and her body was lifted from the ground. Her head thrown back and her body hanging limply in the air for a couple of moments. Moments later, she opened her eyes as her wings spread out and she touched down. A nimbus surrounded her head while her body emitted a powerful glow of its own.
    She watched as Thee engaged the creature alone for a time before she exhaled once more and looked to the sky. Her glow became more intense and she vanished from where she stood and reappeared in the sky. Her tome levitating before her and her dagger in her off-hand, she held a single hand skyward.
    “You who have strayed from the path of light! You who would brazenly deny your maker! Upon this battlefield your corrupted soul shall be tested! Under my jurisdiction shall you be judged! Repent, sinner! Or face purification by the exalted! Trial of the Wicked!”
    Lightning roared and thunder rolled as storm clouds gathered. After a couple of discharges became visible, a single bolt came down upon Kooh herself. Moments afterwards it took form, her hand tightly gripping it, her face clenched, eyebrows furrowed.
    “We begin!”
    She hurled it at the creature and it impaled one of the tentacles, dismembering it and emitting a pulse of lightning that travelled across the ground in the direction it landed. The creature lashed out as it fell away from the spell while Kooh prepared another and hurled it. One after another, she hurled them and created a battlefield riddled with bolts.
    Upon throwing several in various locations, she clapped her hands together and they burst, creating a series of spheres of light. She outstretched a hand and slowly raised it, causing a barrier to be erected and for the spheres to seep into the ground, forming a magic circle that contained the Matriarch’s herald. It featured the torso of a woman, her hair hiding her eyes and a single hand raised with a finger out, a butterfly perched on it.
    Thee pursued the creature as it hesitantly retreated, all while keeping its eyes focused on its assailant. Upon nearing the edge of the barrier, it collided with it and was electrocuted the moment it touched it, causing it to fall away. In those moments Thee was able to get a strike in with Double Blade. Following this, in a flash of light, Kooh appeared and plunged her dagger into the creature’s back. Before it could retaliate, she turned into a sphere of light that instantly drifted out of the range of the attack and appeared on the other side of it. She cut a cross into its back and upon doing so, four spheres of light surrounded it and converged upon it, causing a small star to manifest above the creature.
    “Thee, when it comes to creatures like these, there’s only one way that we can kill them—we have to find their cistern and destroy it.” Kooh said as she raised her dagger in a battle stance.
    Thee looked to her in disbelief solemnly for a couple of moments.
    The happy-go-lucky Kooh he had come to know was clearly not this person. From the fierce glare in her blue eyes, to the unbound snow white locks and her stance—a Keruz’ tome in her off-hand, crossed over with her dominant, dagger-wielding hand.
    “There’s a lot of things I’d like to comment on but…that can wait. What the hell’s a cistern?” He asked.
    “I’ll explain everything later. As for the cistern, it’s a small gem within the Agasura that contains the impure mana. Somewhere within the body of it, it’s hidden and we need to find it and break it.”
    “I think I saw that somewhere near it’s stomach? Worth a shot.
    “Still, with all that teleporting around you’ve been doing, you seem like a one-woman-army to me.”
    She smiled sheepishly at his praise.
    “It’s a really useful spell, something I can only do in this form. But using it really drains me, so I can’t do it too much or I’ll have to retreat after this battle. So I’ll be counting on you again, Thee.”
    He sighed and knit his brows, yet smiled nonetheless.
    “After seeing what you can do, I honestly think you guys expect too much out of a regular guy like me.”
    “It’s all love here!” She said with a cheerful smile.
    “Mmkay, the time for talk’s over! You ready?”
    He raised his sword as he took to the vanguard, alongside Kooh.
    “Yeah, let’s take care of this thing.”

    In spite of her insistence on fighting him, it seemed as if Mk. II had little, if any interest at all in TJ.
    She began an onslaught with her pendulum blades, each attack closer to gutting him than the last and all the while, her eyes remained focus on Axle. He blocked a diagonal swing and managed to force her back before leaping away.
    He outstretched a hand and fired a series of icicles at her, causing her to fall away. Noticing that she was open, he raised his guitar over his shoulder before winding up for his next attack.
    He slammed the weapon into the ground and icicles arose in a line, causing Mk. II to jump into the air to avoid them. Moments later, she touched down upon the tip of one of them and changed one of her blades to a spear. While he recovered from the spell, she lunged forward, directly through his previous spell and shattered the icicles one after the next before skidding towards him. He leapt backwards and broke out into a desperate sprint before being bombarded with shards of ice. As Mk. II’s momentum came to an end, she just barely pierced his chest with her spear, causing him to lose his balance and fall.
    Though just a touch, the pain echoed through his body from the Heart of Yggdrasil.
    He was thankful she did not him as hard as Rayinth had in their fight, but the moment made him realize that at all costs, he needed to protect it.
    But seconds later, Mk. II was upon him with her blade drawn. The weapon cut across the ground into a rising arc that threatened to decapitate him in a matter of moments. TJ’s entire body trembled from the last attack and in a last ditch attempt to protect his neck, he raised an arm to block the blow. The blade tore through his flesh and blood was splattered across the ground. Though just barely, he managed to prevent his untimely end at the cost of his non-dominant arm.
    As Mk. II pointed her spear at him, shade wrapped around her like a straitjacket and bound her arms to her body. The shadow that Skuld had become charged towards the Aberrant Cerebian before she tackled her. With the impact of the blow forcing her back, Skuld extended her arms and released her grip on Mk. II, causing her to tumble away.
    “Thanks, Skuld.” TJ said as he staggered to his feet.
    He winced, yearning to staunch the bleeding but knowing that he could not wield his weapon in the state he was in.
    “You’re welcome, TJ. However, I cannot stay and talk. I have to protect Master, regardless of who becomes his enemy. …Forgive me.” She answered as she turned away and ran to Vanir.
    TJ tightly gripped his guitar as he lowered his head.
    That short statement, though indirect, was clear to him. It was a declaration of war. Skuld was loyal to Vanir before all else and should Axle threaten him, he would become an enemy that must be stopped. Should TJ side with Axle against Vanir, he would be marked as their enemy also. Was his conviction enough to see him through this endeavour? Or would he falter again, at a crucial moment?
    His body ached, but he pressed on back to the battlefield that was his comrades fighting.
    Meanwhile, the battle between the four had turned into an all-out brawl. Mk. II attempted to re-engage Axle while Skuld tried to hold her off. At the same time, Vanir attempted to strike her down, only for his claws to be met with Axle’s blades. Using one blade per person, the Blader fended off both Vanir and Mk. II, only one of the two hindered.
    “There’s no way in hell we can talk this out. Especially since he can’t speak Agasuric.” Vanir grumbled as he leapt over Axle.
    He lunged at Mk. II’s blindside, only for Axle to Blader Step in the way and deflect his strike. He turned his body to take two swings and meet the Cerebian’s sword.
    “Is there no other way, Master? Should we kill her here…Axle…he…” Skuld muttered.
    She used her arms to pin down and hinder all of Mk. II’s attacks. At times, she directly deflected blows that could wound Axle.
    “As much as I hate to say it, no matter how we spin it, there’s no way there’s gonna be a happy ending for this kid. If she dies, chances are he does. If she lives, they both die. The only solution to this would be to end his suffering here and spare him a world of heartache-”
    Vanir’s eyes darted in the direction of a powerful, watchful gaze and his onslaught came to an abrupt halt. There, but a few meters from him stood an appalled looking Abellan. At the sight, the barista froze up completely until he sighed.
    “Me and my big mouth.”
    TJ’s guitar fell out of his hand as he solemnly stood. Though the battle raged on, it felt as if time had stopped for him as his thoughts ran rampant.
    Did I…hear him right? TJ thought to himself. He said he would ‘end Axle’s suffering’. He’s going to kill him. Am I going to let this happen? …No! I won’t let anymore of my friends die like this! I’ll do whatever it takes to protect them! I’d give my life for this!
    The Abellan clenched a fist as a dark energy surged around him. He lowered his head and grit his teeth as it became stronger, creating an outward pulse of wind.
    “If you want to hurt my friends! You’ll have to get through me first!” He snarled, raising his head.
    A crimson glint took form in one of his eyes, but in the other a bright glow was emitted.
    “Break my body, break my spirit, but know that I won’t end my pursuit until there’s nothing left of me!”
    But moments later, the glow faded and the seal took form upon his right eye. As it did, a multitude of voices began to resonate within TJ’s mind, each belonging to a different person, age, gender and perhaps even race. What stood out among them, were the few voices that TJ could recognize: Dolce, Revai, Amae, Leigha, Adonai and even Adonis. Each voice spoke without breaks, each one reciting the names of spells like mantras.
    The sheer intensity of wielding that power caused TJ’s head, right eye and hand to twitch, but he still persisted. His body began to suffer from tremors, but even so he reached out into the confines of his mind and listened, grasping at the knowledge of the ancients. In that moment, he managed to recall one of the spells.
    “Hand of the Heathen!” He snarled as he reeled a fist back.
    What seemed to be a portal took form behind Vanir and a massive, clawed purple hand reached out, grabbing hold of the transformed barista. The hand seemed to follow the same gestures that TJ made and the binding proved to be too strong for the barista to break free.
    “Master!” Skuld cried out, thinking to rush to his side.
    “Gods! Pinky, that ain’t how you use that power! But seriously, you’ve gotta let me go. If that abomination kills that kid we’re gonna be knee-deep in shit!” Vanir hissed as he wriggled desperately.
    “I won’t let you go,” TJ roared.
    The barista eyed the two battling and let out an audible sigh.
    “Who the hell thought it was a good idea to make talking a free action?
    “But seriously, you’re not gonna do me like this, are you Pinky? We’re in a bad situation, you know.”
    He managed to turn his head towards TJ and upon doing so, the Abellan found himself entranced with the single crimson eye that glinted in the shade that Vanir had become.
    “What’re you looking at me like that fo-….shit.”
    The voices were instantly quelled. The Abellan felt as if he was being sucked into Vanir’s eye. Everything around him became quiet, was enveloped in darkness and faded away as the eye became the only thing he could see. As his vision faded to black, everything as far as the eye could see was shrouded in darkness.

    In a flash of light, he could see again. However, he was no longer in Scrap Valley, but an unfamiliar location.
    The sun was shining, the ocean breeze blew his silver locks and the salty scent of the sea tickled his nose. These sensations were accompanied by the dying cries of men and women and were soon accompanied by his own tears.
    He looked down and his hands were covered in blood. Not his own, but that of the girl beneath him. However, TJ had not seen anything or anyone like her.
    A young girl with long silver hair, wilting ears and eyes that lacked both pupils and irises. Her clothes were that of a regular girl’s—a purple blouse, a black skirt. Both stained in blood. Her body was riddled with bullet holes, blood dripped from her smiling mouth, and every moment he spent looking at her felt like an eternity of agony.
    “You’ll be alright, Kana…we have some amazing doctors on the ship. One of them can definitely fix you up, so don’t you go dying on me now, y’hear?! We’re gonna get through this!” TJ said, taking her bleeding body in his arms.
    However, it was not his voice. It seemed to be that of Vanir’s, from a time that they did not know of each other. His voice here was much younger, less jaded, yet severely pained.
    “You’re always so kind…” She uttered as she placed a hand to his. “…Comrade…”
    She coughed and her arm was stained in blood.
    “What’re you speaking for, idiot?! Save your breath, why don’t you? It’s not like…”
    The young barista sniffed as more tears streamed down his face.
    “It’s not like…you’re gonna say anything worthwhile…anyway…”
    She closed her eyes slowly, opened them and smiled once more.
    “Comrade…promise me one thing, okay?”
    “I’m not promising you anything! That’s just a death flag, dumbass!”
    She chuckled weakly as her grip on his hand weakened and her eyes slowly closed.
    “You…idiot! Is now the time for your perverted jokes?!”
    He pulled her closer to his torso as he began to sob into her limp body.
    After a few moments, he sniffed hard and shook his head.
    “If this is how it has to be, then so be it. I’ll play the gods’ game again and again and again…as many times as it takes!
    “Layla. Bring me that gun.”
    He did not look to her, but he could feel her presence nearby.
    “…As you wish, Master,” a woman responded.
    After a brief period her footfalls drew his attention and he held out a hand. In it, she placed the weapon.
    “Kana…I’ve killed your attackers, but I couldn’t kill those who started this all. I’ll find a way. I’ll get the best ending for us, I promise. If I fail, I know the others will find a way. So…”
    He cocked the gun and placed the barrel to the side of his skull.
    “Let me be together with you in this life.”
    Though his vision was blurry, a figure stepped into his sight and pointed a gun at him.
    “Put down the gun,” he said.
    “What’s my life to you, Captain? Whether you blow my brains out or I do, does it matter?”
    “Put the gun down, Lad. Do not force my hand.”
    “Try it!”
    As his finger began to pull the trigger, the sound of a gun going off was the final piece of the memory before everything turned black once more.

    TJ found himself back in his own body and the whole memory seemed to happen all at once, or rather, flow backwards in an instant. After all that happened, he felt dizzy, confused and all-around ill. The sight of Kana’s bullet-riddled corpse came flashing back and the sight made his stomach churn.
    He released the spell as he fell to his knees and threw up. He gasped for air before another torrent of bile was discharged. He dug his fingers into the ground and broke the nails on most of them as he cursed his vulnerability.
    After all the gruesome things he had seen, why did that sight bring him to his knees? Would such sights forever be a weakness?
    That matter aside, he had tapped into a power that he did not yet understand, used it and further extracted a new ability from it, but one he could not fathom. It seemed more and more, he was proving Asmodeus’ words true and he hated every moment of it.
    He clenched his fists as tears began to well up in his eyes. A quiet whimper escaped his lips while his body came to rest on his elbows.
    Of all things, his conviction was shaken. He glimpsed the memories of his enemy, he saw his pain and suffering made manifest and experienced it himself. Knowing what Vanir went through, seeing why he fought and how he had lost what he treasured most, could he continue this fight? Could he side with him, or against him, knowing exactly what he, Axle, or Skuld would experience upon one of the combatants being felled?
    “Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it!” TJ snarled through his tears.
    He slammed his fists down each time, splashing his own blood on his cheeks.
    “Why am I so weak?! Is this the best that I can do?!”
    He closed his right eye as he looked to his bloody hands.
    To bear the burden of sin, to fight for those he loved, to take the lives of his enemies…they were all things he had done in the past. More and more, he came to understand that it was something he would need to continue to do.
    But to take the life of Vanir or Skuld to protect Axle, could he do it?
    The heartbroken expression Peorth wore when she saw what had happened to him flashed in his mind for but a few moments. The agony she had suffered thinking that the two would be separated was unforgettable. All that the two had lost, especially in this place reminded him that he had much and more to lose now. The friends of his past, gone, the friends of his present, still in danger.
    To add to that fact, he was also. Unlike his battle with Rayinth, he very well could die in this fight. Considering that Mk. II had no qualms with piercing the Heart of Yggdrasil with her arm, she would and could easily smash the gem and take his life if she so desired.
    For something like that to happen…would mean his adventure would be over. His promises to Peorth, broken. His duty failed. Lastly…the world he loved and swore to protect, lost. Fear surrounded him like a teeming darkness as the realization dawned upon him.
    Whatever it took, he had to win this battle. For all that he loved and could not bear to lose, he had to break his limits and overcome anything and anyone that dared to attempt to lay claim to his life.
    He staggered to his feet, his hands and legs trembling as his eye opened slowly, the seal still present upon it.
    “I…I won’t die…not here…” he uttered.
    Vanir broke away from the other combatants and squinted suspiciously at the Abellan who lumbered towards him. His single visible eye became shuttered as he let out a pained sigh.
    “Kana…did you feel this way too, once upon a time…?” He asked himself.

    Su dove at Truong, dagger first and cut only air before she transitioned into a spinning strike.
    In spite of his age, he seemed to be awfully agile and being locked in combat with him was quickly getting on her nerves.
    “Why don’t you just give up and die, you old bag?” Su hissed as she stabbed at him.
    “There is purpose in my existence but my potential is far too great for your mediocre intelligence to comprehend.” Truong retorted as he met her dagger with his own.
    The two continued to meet in rapid clashes of steel. Su’s onslaught did not end and in spite of her superior speed, he was able to meet her blows, even if just barely, off-setting their trajectory.
    She could not help but think there was something off about the way he was fighting. Though she gave him little opportunity to counterattack, he seemed to focus solely on his defense. If he was confident that he could hold her off without the help of Mk. II, it meant that there was likely more to his goal than what met the eye.
    She felt almost certain that Mk. II’s goal was to kill Axle, but against the four of them, there was almost no way she would win the battle. Considering that Kooh was aiding Thee, there was little doubt in her mind that the two would fail to defeat his aberration. If it was to be sacrificed and Mk. II unable to kill her mark, what had he to gain? Knowledge, most likely.
    When the two clashed again, they remained in a deadlock for a time. After a couple of seconds, Su managed to force the weapon away and brought her dagger towards him in a descending strike. But for a moment she glimpsed a vial released from his free hand and she instinctively cut it in two before it could hit her directly. Much to her dismay, however, in cutting it a portion of the liquid touched her hand and foot.
    “Goddamn it!” She snarled as she backed away from him.
    It had only been a couple of seconds but the paralysis agent in the potion was rapidly spreading through any places it had touched. Though only a couple drops had landed on her hand, three of five of her fingers had gone numb, along with a portion of her palm.
    She growled before she kicked her right shoe off in Truong’s direction and ripped the soaking wet sock off of her foot.
    “I’m getting sick and tired of your fucking tricks, you dirty bastard. Just get it over with and get impaled!”
    He was playing the long game with her. The fact that she had inhaled the poison previously was a sure sign that he knew he had the advantage over her. She had some resistance to poison, but it was only a matter of time before she was too worn out to continue fighting him.
    That matter aside, he was expecting something. She could not help but suspect that he came not with the entirety of his intentions revolving around the idea of routing them, let alone killing their party or he likely would have brought more allies, including the bitch. It was highly likely that he came to gauge their strength, learn about their techniques and weaknesses and upon their next meeting, exploit them for an overwhelming victory.
    Given that knowledge, should she run the risk and go all in? If she killed him now, that issue could be avoided. On the other hand, if he got away or they were forced to retreat like last time, she would have shown him her entire hand and have no techniques to catch him off guard with.
    “You’re not one for conversation, are you? You savages are all the same.” Truong laughed as he shrugged.
    “Savages, huh? I’d rather be a savage than sacrifice my humanity like you did, shitty doctor.”
    “Sacrifice must be made for the good of all Humanity. Such has been the truth since time immemorial, and will continue to be as we reach ever closer to the gods!”
    Without a doubt, he was batshit crazy. Humans reaching for the heavens was what sundered their world in the first place. What he was doing was playing at being god, using Cerebians as his toys. She would not forgive him for it, but she would not let her anger cloud her judgement either.
    Nonetheless, trying to beat him in speed alone would not suffice. It was time for a change of tactics.
    Su hopped on the spot a couple times and shook off her hand in a last bid to test the feeling in it.
    It was weakened, but still functional. She could work with that.
    She rushed Truong before skidding to a halt a couple of meters away from him. With her free hand she conjured an azure stone and threw her weapon hand at it.
    “Earth Dragon,” she snarled.
    The moment her fist collided with the stone it shattered and a jade green dragon surged forth towards her adversary. In response he leapt aside and skidded to a halt as her body spun horizontally through the air and descended upon him. Their daggers crashed against each other and in a shower of sparks, Su landed behind Truong. As he retreated she began her pursuit anew, following after him with a downward swing. She took two more horizontal swings at him as he fell away but none made contact. She clenched a fist and a green glow took form in it before she thrust it forward.
    “Twin Dragons!”
    From within her hand the dragons emerged and grew in size before coiling around each other and lunging towards the doctor. He sidestepped the attack also, but in that moment she saw her opportunity.
    The unmistakable power of the Chaos Frequency surged through her veins and though reluctant to display the true strength of it, she felt that some punishment was in order.
    Just as he touched down, she dove into the shadows and leapt out from his.
    “What…?” He asked as he turned around to meet her glare.
    Before he could escape she wrapped her arm around his neck and pulled him close to her. Within that same movement she thrust her dagger into his ribs and followed it with a knee to his back. As he staggered forward, she followed after him as her body turned, her left fist placed in her right palm. She thrusted her elbow into the hilt of the dagger and ripped it out, leaving a bloody gash and a cut in Truong’s coat.
    “So this…is the power of the Calamity Trigger, is it?” He laughed weakly and coughed up blood.
    “Scared?” Su asked.
    She cut through the air with her dagger to clean the weapon.
    Their battle was just becoming fun.

    Mk. II fell upon Axle with both her hands now in the form of claws. He found himself retreating as one attack after the next struck his blades and wore down his stamina. In an attempt to break her advantage he parried the next blow as he lunged forward. He landed a clean hit with the broad side of one of his swords and forced her back where Skuld waited.
    For but a moment, he looked on in horror as Skuld placed both her arms to the ground and a series of dark spikes rose in succession towards his sister. As if she sensed danger itself, she leapt into the air over Axle and morphed her weapons into a lance and shield.
    Axle grit his teeth as he took the first move, striking at her but only meeting the shield with his blades.
    Though he hit her directly with his weapons, it felt as if he was hitting solid rock. To add insult to injury, despite the force behind his previous blow, she was not winded in the slightest. Every slash to her shield seemed not to have an effect either, in spite of it being made of her flesh.
    The Blader could not help but wonder if his lack of resolve to hurt her was the reason his attacks had little effect, or if her defense truly was that impenetrable.
    “Come on Roll, snap out of it! Don’t you recognize me?” Axle desperately asked.
    His sister wordlessly raised her shield and took two stabs at her elder sibling, her strikes met with his blades. He parried her blows and closed the distance between them to slam his head into hers. Much to his surprise, the blow actually caused her to stagger back and reaffirm her battle stance.
    Was it possible that certain parts of her body were not protected? Perhaps a non-lethal blow to the head would be able to bring her back to her senses. If not that, at least successfully knock her out.
    As the moment passed, Skuld leapt over the two and outstretched her arms. They split apart and rained down upon the Cerebian like javelins. Mk. II morphed her hands back to normal and backflipped away from the strikes twice. The moment Skuld touched down and retracted her arms, Mk. II rushed at her. Somewhat reluctant to aid an enemy, Axle took action.
    She was still one of their allies, just not under these circumstances. Given that, he could not leave her to that fate.
    He blader-stepped over the brownie and skidded to a halt before Mk. II, her claws meeting his blade.
    “I’m the one you want, right?! Leave her and fight me! I’ll prove to you that I can save you, even if you won’t accept it!”
    With that, he forced her hand away and lunged after her with the hilt of his second weapon. In spite of being pushed back and being at a disadvantage, Mk. II threw herself at him and directly into the hilt of the weapon. The two made contact, the blow hitting her harder than Axle intended, but all the while her claw reaching out and plunging itself into his ribs.
    As their engagement came to a close, Skuld dashed out from Axle’s right flank and bared her claws at their assailant. Mk. II withdrew and the two clashed with their shared weapons. Meanwhile, the Blader took a knee as he hacked up a stream of blood. He placed a hand to the wound and grit his teeth as he got to his feet once more.
    “This isn’t enough to stop me…Roll! I’ll take all your hatred, all your pain and your loneliness! I’ll take all of it for leaving you alone all these years! And I’ll make it up to you, no matter how long it takes!”
    He removed his hand from the wound and tightly gripped both his blades before he sprinted back into action.

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:22 pm

    The Dimension Jumper's Waifu:
    Where were you when the Supreme Primarch gave us his only begotten son so we could learn the impeccable charm of kopi luwak?
    ...I'm going straight to the crimson horizon for that one.
    But that hasn't happened yet, so let's get down to it!

    (Note: Apparently jokes are hard, so to give the title of this update context, it was a pun based on the movie The Time Traveller's Wife. There. That's it. Don't misunderstand.)

    Truthfully, I was supposed to update the blog yesterday but I was working. Given that, I wasn't going to have to say this but...*ahem* it's 2019 and I'm not dead yet. So here I am. Now, for your viewing pleasure, me rambling about why I'm here.
    Your displeasure is fine too:
    I've been thinking about a lot of things. I mean, it's been a couple of months since I've been here, but Sanc has been occasionally ongoing. I haven't returned because everything's gravy, rather, it's far from it. However, I realize that it isn't just me, that pays the price. Do you know who carries the burden of sin? It's something I think about often and occasionally discuss with my friends. One generation after the next carries the sins of their forefathers with them. It's a weight that is only passed on but never removed, as we often say we can't solve it but the next generation will. Our children will be better, do better than we could. Maybe not all feel that. Some choose not to think about it at all...and maybe that's for the best.
    To me...I...well, I've done my fair share of bad things. Nothing worth writing home about, but I've made some mistakes. I've spent quite a few years trying to figure out how I could be better and I'm sure that's evident here. Not just as an author, but as a person. As I said a few months ago, I'd failed miserably. I couldn't improve myself nor the world around me. Have you ever heard the line, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown"?
    I won't go into detail about my circumstances--I'm sure at this juncture everyone is well aware what they are, without being told. Me, most of all. I realize a lot of the things I can't stand to see are things that were likely brought about by my own hand. Looking through the archives of my own posts, drawing parallels is a simple matter. I understand that the meaning of words and terms will change given time--it just...frustrates me that my own work is constantly turned against me, in a sense. Something I might say is suddenly used to oust me, without rhyme or reason and often without prior warning. Alas, this is the deepest pit of my struggle. I don't know the reason people react to me the way that they do. I don't know if it's something I started, I can fix or whether such a thing is even possible. But due to the sheer nature of it, what I saw as the resolution...rather, what I still see as the resolution to it isn't something everyone agrees to. Despite all my searching, I've found nothing that could point me towards another solution and so I hold tightly to that one. Now, if only I had a spine we could resolve it sooner, but I'm in the process of assessing my feelings about that.

    So, why am i back? I suppose, the same reason as before. There are people out there who see merit in me doing this. I had held my breath, waiting to see if they shared the same outlook on me as many others had but...days, weeks, perhaps even a month or two passed without the signs of it showing. Then the guilt settled in.
    The other day I was talking with Mr. A and Mr. B about characters and other things. Something that stood out to me was the idea of a character being true to him/herself. It made me consider my situation and whether I was being true to myself. I confess, I was running away, as I'm wont to do. When faced with a situation where both choices are some degree of wrong, I find it better to stand back and assess the situation than to act carelessly. However, at times in my frustration I become indifferent. I and many others, were warned by a survivor of world war II--indifference is one of humanity's greatest poisons. This and that differ substantially, however...
    Putting that aside, we talked about a variety of things, among them novels, shows, games, etc. Usual banter. We talked about persona, it's origins in jungian psychology and the existence that constitutes the Fool. That, will always be something I relate to. After all, the concept of becoming the World is something we see in a variety of things. I do wonder, what my life would be like if I was in such a situation--where my journey would begin and end and how it could help me in understanding myself.
    The hardest part about all of this is that I don't...well, I don't have conclusive evidence to base my thoughts on. Due to the unscientific nature of all of this, I can't thoroughly describe anything without basing it in something some would understand, many wouldn't. The significance and understanding of it would sooner border of religion and philosophy rather than science or logic. Few would agree. I most of all, given that...you know, religious figures are way, way beyond me. The lessons the stories of them impart might be a clue but I've little proof to back up such a claim.
    It's true I'm pursuing the truth, whatever it may be. However, I'm afraid to know it, too. It will change how I view myself and how I believe I should be seen. I fear that in knowing, I'll have to find a way to safely straddle the line that borders confidence and narcissism, fact and myth and all that it pertains to.I don't know if I can.

    I don't know what awaits me at the end of the journey, to be honest. Until I find my way there, though, or follow my ideal of becoming a door, I suppose I'll continue as I have. Whether I'll return here again soon, I can't say yet. Anything and everything can change suddenly, so I won't make any promises. I'll do what I do best today, at least, for those who would have me. You know who you are!
    Going forward, perhaps I'll pursue my dream, for whatever it's worth. If I had a patreon, would you support it? I probably can't offer much, but it'd definitely allow me to focus on my writing. Being whatever I am doesn't pay bills, sadly! Though in all fairness, I wouldn't expect it to succeed because I'm too reluctant to advertise myself, given the way I'm seen already.

    Anyway, I'm sure I've said plenty, let's get back to the story.

    For the first time, the gang meets Truong and the silent #2. As for that abomination, it wasn't too tricky to design. My goal was to create an Agasura that had the feeling of an eldritch horror, both in design and in combat capabilities. The latter, I'm nooooooooooot entirely sure about, but I put 110% into it! That, I can assure you!
    The first skill we see in the battle is Rage, a Warrior's skill, I believe. It's an active skill from the game IIRC. I can't say for certain if Bladers had it, since it fell under the class' type skill tree rather than Blader's unique skill tree. Thus, it might not carry over when upgrading classes and be limited to the Warlord path, but nonetheless, it's here! Though then again, they might share some passive/active skills. Hard to say for certain.
    Moving on, Su's discussion with Truong has some nuance to it. The text makes it obvious why she has it out for him specifically but some things aren't given away immediately. The quote's here are what drew my attention, “So you know me, big deal. It’s not like we’re not already acquainted. “I remember you well. Didn’t know what you did back then, couldn’t have cared less either!" What this is referring to is that she knew he was around due to her time in the Dark Moon/Owl Castle. She didn't know exactly what he did or what reason they had a researcher like him but she knew he existed.
    I paired off most of the characters into balanced teams, each taking on one enemy. I mean, that gets shaken up when Vanir/Skuld appear to get a piece of the action, but it works until then! A part of the reason I did it this way is because both Thee and Kooh are much deadlier than TJ is. As we know, Kooh serves as Peorth's shadow and as her personal assassin. Her talents in that regard aren't often seen or utilized but they do exist. As for Thee, he's a Warlord and of course, that comes with incredible strength. Given that their goal is to bring Roll back, not take her out, the two might be too good at the latter to do that properly. I suppose the irony there is that as Vanir says, only an Agasura could kill another, however, given that Roll is not a born but made one, the circumstances are unique. Everything else aside Kooh's no stranger to Agasura extermination. As for Axle, well, that speaks for itself, right? Whether or not he chose to fight her, she would pursue him. Their belief is that he's the only one that could snap her out of her trance, leaving aside the realization that she is, in fact, trying to kill him.

    Next! For the first time we see Kooh fighting in her awakened form. It does give the feeling that she hasn't done it before, doesn't it? The novel, that is. The possibility that she used it against Choen Palm during the battle in Elias isn't nil, but given that there were adventurers on the scene the opportunities for her to do it would be few and far between.
    As for Vanir's appearance, the fact that TJ can understand Agasuric comes into play. He can understand it, but he can't speak it. At least, not in his base form. It...does feel a little jarring, that he went from what seemed to be surprise/bewilderment to melancholy but...well I feel a little conflicted about it. His question is, what throws it off tbh. Perhaps the way he phrases it is what makes it weird but that's just his dialogue. The melancholy is likely the realization and remembering of their first encounter. Readers might have a different opinion of it and him, at least, those who read USSR but in TJ's case he doesn't know the circumstances of Vanir, hence the concern.
    As for his diatribe, that is partially a throwback to USSR. As we know then, he had the opportunity to settle the score with Truong but gave it up. Even before that, however, we know he's been pursuing the doctor. It's a part of the reason he came to this world. The other? It's hinted at in his chapter's quote and explained in the Another series!
    Mk. II uses an unnamed skill here. It's not teleportation, mind you. It gives the user a stealth effect and increases their speed over the following seconds, but it has a very brief active time. If the user attacks, the spell will come undone. In truth, I do think the initial concept likely was based around Nightcrawler's teleportation ability...or FF14's Shukuchi. Maybe a bit of both! Still, I'm glad to have made it unique to both. As for her grappling with him, she didn't match his claws in size but just the design concept.
    Back to the dialogue, Vanir was given the title 'Usurper' because...well, the concept I had for Hero included that in that timeline, Vanir uses the Animus Legio to wage war against the realm and with the four other heroes of it, slay the king. That king, being Heinrichter I of course. Heinrichter is also the accomplice to which Vanir refers to. If you've read V2 I think it was? It mentioned that Heinrichter was complicit in the disappearance of Mercielda(Think it was Mercilda there. Never did say for certain which it was)Sylvasten(Later becoming Orhmir) and a bunch of other things. That were scrapped! Because it was poorly written! By yours truly! I really do need someone to critique my shitty novels so I can make them less shitty. Apply now!
    In that form, Vanir's fighting style also becomes a lot more brutal. That, and his anger contributes to the fact. However, unlike the other two he's well aware that Roll can take a beating so he shows little, if any restraint. On top of that, he's an abomination killer. She isn't an exception.
    Following this, however, he takes on his more light-hearted tone. Even more so when TJ gets involved and the two talk. I think a part of the reason is the relationship between the two and how they get along--as we saw in previous chapters, he has a bit of a soft spot for him. There are several reasons why, but I'll leave that to your imagination, you smart cookie you! And no one of them is not due to my statement about my crack ships!
    I think...well, one of the things I like most about this part is the way the two look at the situation. Vanir has no qualms with killing Mk. II. He has none with enlisting the aid of Axle's companions to do it either. It's a sign of how far he's come but also, what he'd lost. The world he had lived in hardened him. As bad as the original iterations of Hero were, I do feel that the differences between those who lived in Azenham and Talin who hadn't been raised in it were well done. As we saw with Bruce, he wouldn't blink an eye if he had to shoot somebody. He had long since embraced the life and requirements of a pirate and so he took action without hesitation. Initially, Talin couldn't do that. Heck, he couldn't even stand the thought of looking at a corpse. The man we see before us now has none of that. His murder cherry got popped a loooooong time ago. In TJ, Vanir sees a lot of his younger self. That innocence and fear of doing dark work is evident, but the Abellan doesn't realize he already is involved in it and that he's long since dirtied his hands.
    Also! Important statement courtesy of Vanir! It's here: "Such is the cost of dabbling in the dark arts. Even more so when you try to combine it with technology. The two were never meant to mix.” Assuming that you read Chapter 10, you saw it, right? The...Demon...King? I forgot what he was called in LT but the Malign Shroud, the form he was in there. Ring a bell? Consider this: who else combines magic and technology with ill intent? You might not get the conclusion right off the bat but it'll give you a clue. Happy hunting!
    Anyway, Su doesn't hide Vanir's plans. Of course, she's no stranger to secrecy but trying to mask it might only cause trouble later on, really. If Axle was constantly checking on Vanir during his battle with Roll, it'd be easy for her to kill him.
    Finally, we get TJ...doing what he does best! Being optimistic. It's both his curse and blessing to him and his team. True, to hope for something to be different would be the best way to go about things. A lot of the members of his battle parties are often more realistic and at times, jaded. In this case, though he might not like it or agree with it, but the barista might be on to something. I mean, he is the expert, amirite? Ahh youth! That optimism will lead to soul-crushing defeat when the reality brick hits him.

    So the next part is important! We see Kooh use a transformation of sorts. Rightful Queen is, in essence, a means for those in Leigha's lineage to tap into their latent abilities. As they are, in essence, the daughters of Amae, they can use powers similar to her own. Of course, they can't use her spells with the same mastery but they can get close. The purpose of Rightful Queen is to allow them to transcend a Cerebian's limits. That is, to surpass even that of those who have awakened and become a demi-goddess of sorts. As one would expect, it takes an incredible toll on the body and consumes mana like it's going out of style, but it can be done. Typically it'd belong to Peorth alone, since she inherited Remedi's role. However, due to the shenanigans with Freya, it got botched. Since Freya(technically) still exists inside of Kooh, she can use Rightful Queen, as can Peorth. Though Peorth lost a lot of her magical ability in the process of losing her status as God's Governor of Ice, so the chance that she would use Rightful Queen is pretty slim also. Anyway, the reason she names the Seven Saints(and that I didn't, because spoilers) is because in Leigha's time, the seven offered their blessings and their support to the queen. Of course, each had incredible power all their own and could aid her in bringing out hers. Now? They're all dead.
    As for the designated consecration field, that's part and parcel to Trial of the Wicked. The spell itself doesn't require Kooh to use RQ, but it makes using powerful prayers like that much easier for her. Also, there is no friendly fire with that spell. Depending on who Kooh sees as an enemy, they'll be affected by it. Anyone else will be affected by the pulses and bolts. However, the field effect can only trap Agasura within its walls. Humans and Cerebians will remain unaffected.

    Next? More chaos! TJ turns on Vanir and a whole new battle erupts. I think that having him have this moment is fitting for him and it does a good job of mirroring Axle's feelings in this chapter. Both have sworn to protect the people they care about and chose to turn against those that they consider allies to do so. However, in TJ's case, he initially questions who he should side with. What makes him turn on Vanir is the threat to Axle's life, which he treats as one to his own as well. In a sense, rather than thinking he'll be killed defending Axle, he sees it instead as that he would do whatever it takes, even giving his own life to protect his comrades'.
    Thus, he awakens his power once more. As I said before, we would see the eye again and we do here. However, rather than seeing his memories in reverse, we see exactly what the Frequency is. I dunno if it can be considered a spoiler rather than proof of the concept, but what it is, is essentially those memories made manifest. The people who placed their memories within the Heart of Yggdrasil are the 'frequencies' TJ can tap into. In so doing, he can recall what they saw and knew, what they created and replicate that power through the Heart of Yggdrasil. The three types, being Order, Neutrality and Chaos are an amalgamation of that knowledge, split up among the types of magic available to him. He doesn't witness any specific memories but the spells come as second nature to him due to all of that which is readily available. In this case, among them are the saints he recalls and the two Agasura.
    And so? Through that he recalls a spell, which is, as you'd expect, a greater form of Gauntlet of the Heathen. What is the heathen you ask? Hell if I know, I didn't think that far ahead when I came up with the concept. At this rate, though? It's gonna sound like a two-bit knock-off of Exodia. I've made some poor life choices, to be honest.
    Now then! The second effect of the eye. Or at least, one way to use it--alike to Vanir, if TJ locks gazes with someone else he can use a clairvoyance of sorts, in this case, glimpsing Vanir's memories. As one would expect, the reason it happens without his willingness of it is his lack of mastery. If you've read the Another series, you know about Vanir's case and why he wears the wrap(it's a scarf, or at least, Kana said it was. As one would expect, you should take that pervert's words with a grain of salt)
    Anyway, I won't keep saying if you've read [x] because I think you get it, but this part did in fact reference that series. I'm glad that I wrote this after I finished TEAL because it made it easier to envision the situation at hand and where and when it happened. The occurrence then, or rather, something similar had been addressed and gives more insight into this.
    Thanks to this, we see what Vanir valued and lost, including who he spoke of in the Tyrant's Mad Dance. It was hinted at in Chapter 10 also, but I hope going forward I can help develop his feelings toward her more so that readers of just Sanc can understand him a little better.
    As for TJ, he breaks down. Questions his actions, his motives and what he would do going forward. Whether his resolve is strong enough to finish what was started or whether he would hesitate at a crucial moment. All of the questions, the self-doubt and desires create a downward spiral that leads to him entrancing himself and hinting at a battle between the two, but also, perhaps, what Kana had wished for.

    So some quick facts about Truong/Su's battle! We get a lot of insight from Su. She often comes off a punch first, ask questions later kind of girl but she's just really brusque. One would think that she might be brash when it comes to fighting but she considers her options and what will happen depending on what actions she takes during the fight. Knowing that the shitty doctor isn't one to take lightly and gauging his plans by his battle tactics, she tests the water with SP skills. I don't emphasize it as much as I used to, but her battle prowess is nothing to sneeze at!

    Anyway, final part for this update. There isn't too much that needs to be said here. As mentioned prior, Agasura have incredibly tough bodies. At least, the strongest of them do. In USSR, the group fighting abominations had to find weaknesses in their armor and exploit them to defeat the creatures. This fact can be easily remedied by Agasura like Vanir who can change their shape to meet the situation. Axle is familiar with this, having been a part of the expedition. However, what it taught him was how to kill an Agasura like that, not how to subdue them. Thus, his knowledge has little use in battling Mk. II. In spite of it all though, he still believes he can get through to her and would risk it all for her. He's headstrong, but a very caring character and I think this really showcases that about him.

    So that's all for today! As for me? Still doing what I do. I play GBF, I got back into FF14 and well...decided to follow a different path. Journalism was not for me. There are cracks in the system, I believe, but I realize I lacked some crucial things to be a journalist. Prior to 2013, I might've still had the resolve to be more insistent but I can't convince myself to be that anymore. But enough about that depressing stuff!
    Cygames has been throwing crystals at the fanbase and it's great. Surprisingly happens often and given that, I have little to complain about. I had some bad luck with the free roulette draws at first but as soon as the gala came, my luck turned around. I confess, it was what I looked forward to most with the new year. There's plenty of good stuff, but you don't need to hear it from me when you can try it for yourself.
    As for FF14, I missed a lot over the months. I originally took a "break" because...reasons but I was convinced to come back so I did. In truth, I still do hold a bit of reluctance. If I become complacent, things get complicated, after all. Nonetheless, it's still good. Shadowbringers will be great too and I have the sneaking suspicion Y'shtola will be our resident geomancer. If that's a thing. Originally thought it'd be Alphi with his rainbow of carbuncles but she fits much better. The biggest loss, though, is that I won't be able to make the 'burn and bleed in a bloodstorm' joke anymore.
    Also! TWEWY for switch came out! I wouldn't say it got rave reviews, but I'm glad to be able to play it again. I know what you're thinking, "why not play it on the DS if you liked it on the DS so much?" is it, right? Well let me tell you, smart ass, I played that game so hard I tore my screen up. Not literally. That, I did with Elite Beat Agents. It's scratched to shit but still works! ...Mostly? Still, it's been maybe...9 years? Playing it again, I feel that I can understand the more subtle nuances of the characters and the story much more than I could've then. I took everything as is back then but...I realize it was exactly what I needed at the time. Now a little older, a little wiser I can appreciate the symbolism, the actions and all of the little secrets and nods hidden throughout. It's a brilliant game with a lot of thought put into it and one I think everyone should play at least once.
    As for the re-release...I could be wrong or just optimistic, but wouldn't everyone want the chance to perfect their creation? We all want to release the best thing we can. At the time, it might be the best we could do. As an aspiring author, I understand that all too well. I'm ashamed of how bad Frequency/Hero were, but at the time, I did give it my all and I was proud of what I did. In the case of games stuff, most would likely see it as a business venture before all else and maybe that's exactly what it is. Maybe that's all it is. I get that. But I can't help but think, you know, maybe it's not all bad.
    TWEWY FR came with a lot of songs originally, all by different artists. I mean, the composer was the same but it had different vocalists. (Idk how they did it, really. I imagine it'd cost an arm and a leg to get them all in for one game) But the remixed versions, sometimes bringing them back dazzled me, to be honest. Maybe my standards aren't high enough, I dunno. But in truth, it's something I appreciate.
    I talked about this before--like how you grow up with something you love and when you see it return, it's exciting and you're glad to see it. I feel the same way about the Persona series--game and symbolism aside, the music, yes! I mentioned it a long, long time ago but I was introduced to 3's music through a bad joke. When I saw 4 for the first time, I recognized the vocalists from 3. It struck a chord in me and it stuck with me. I got into it with 4, but I've played most of the later ones. I know the spin-offs get a lot of shit cause people describe it as the series being milked, but to be honest, I got excited when I heard about PQ2. The artists from both 3/4 and 5 would be collaborating on tracks for it. It was like, idk, one of those 'getting the band back together' moments, you know? +1. Or something.
    Realistically speaking, I think that's just how the industry is but I can't speak on that because I dunno enough about it to be a reliable source. I just have trashy opinions. Wanna hear one? I rather like PQ. FIGHT ME ABOUT IT.

    Anyway, that's it! Byyyyyyyyyyye!

    Posts : 895
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 26
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:28 pm

    Pages 618-629:
    “Now how am I gonna deal with this…?” Vanir asked himself as he rolled his shoulder.
    TJ heaved a heavy breath before he outstretched a hand.
    “To me…Memorius Sanctum,” he snarled.
    The barista raised a brow at the Abellan’s sudden action.
    There was hardly a doubt in his mind that he was still using the Chaos Frequency. To do both was not impossible by any stretch of the imagination but that hardly made it a good idea. In that state however…could he?
    A multitude of gusts were issued forth from where the Abellan stood as a sphere of light took form. As it did so, lightning crackled from within it and jumped in all directions.
    “That’s what I thought!” The barista cried out as he covered his face.
    Half of it was to block out the lashing winds, the other half was to protect his eyes from the blinding bolts.
    “Abide by the words of my contract…and give me the strength…to become the hope of this world!”
    “Kid, you dunno what you’re doing! You’re pushing it too far!”
    The light the tome emitted had grown nigh blinding as it took form and extended its effect to its master. Upon doing so, lightning crackled from his body as it began to levitate, his head thrown back as he let out an agonized cry. Vanir could hardly hold his ground due to the sheer force emitted. When the effect finally waned, the Abellan stood, black lightning bolts crackled from around him as his hunched body seemed to crack its knuckles. His hair was a dull grey and his once crimson eye was now dilated and a dim golden.
    “Okay…that’s definitely new.”
    The Abellan turned his gaze to the barista and pointed a single finger. From the tip of it, a small sphere of light took form before it steadily grew in size. Within moments, it became massive and fired a white beam. The barista dove aside and narrowly avoided it as the remnants of it left bolts of lightning trailing the ground in its wake.
    “Kid! Hasn’t anyone taught you not to mix arts?! Gods!”
    He got to his feet and dusted himself off.
    “It wasn’t supposed to be like this…not yet.”
    Vanir scratched the back of his neck as he let out an audible sigh.
    “You can still be saved, Kid. But you can’t be saved unless you want to be. If things stay this way, however…I guess both our fates will be sealed.”
    He cracked his neck before he took a battle stance.
    “Whether it’s me or you who will have a chance at their golden ending though…that, I can’t say. But in all fairness, if you give me an opportunity like this, I won’t hesitate to take it.”
    TJ tilted his head suspiciously before he seemed to lurch forward. In those few moments following it, his body morphed into a stream of lightning that sprang from the spot and bounced towards the barista. The second that he came into range, his body took form again and he jabbed at his target, his strike quick as lightning and shooting a bolt forward the moment it was unleashed. Vanir tilted his head and avoided the strike, narrowly avoiding losing half of his skull to a single blow. Without a moment’s hesitation, TJ began an onslaught of strikes that had Vanir constantly dodging.
    He began with two strikes to the head from his respective hands, both avoided with a shift from Vanir’s head. He attempted an uppercut but Vanir backstepped the strike. He leapt toward him with an overhand swing but missed once more as his target backflipped away. As he touched down he slammed both fists into the ground and a pulse of black lightning surged forth. Vanir leapt over his head and crouched as he touched down. In the following moments he wrapped his right hand around TJ’s neck and dragged him across the ground as he broke into a sprint.
    While doing so, lightning crackled forth from the Abellan’s body and seemed to increase the further he was pulled. As the effect began to reach and prickle the barista, he pulled him from the ground and hurled him into the sky. After travelling a fair distance, a burst of lightning surged from around him and fizzled out briefly after before his body touched down.
    “You’re serious about this, aren’t you, Kid?”
    He paused.
    “Good. You should be. I won’t fight you half-heartedly either.”
    Though it seemed to be a part of his skin, Vanir reached to the left side of his face and pulled a piece of it away from him. In so doing, the effect of the shroud upon it came undone and the headdress he typically wore became visible before he wrapped it around his arm. His eye was now revealed and the intensity of the shroud grew upon its release.
    The Abellan raised a hand to the sky and lightning crackled to life in the palm of his hand.
    “Jurisdiction of Thunder!” He roared, unleashing the spell.
    The bolts took the form of a series of spheres that shot up into the sky and disappeared amidst the clouds. After firing several spheres, he joined them as thunder rolled through the skies. Suddenly they rained down upon the battlefield and electrocuted the grounds upon which they struck. Vanir transformed his shroud into a gargoyle-like form and took flight, flying hither and thither avoiding each bolt as if he could predict their destination before they struck.
    A single bolt, much unlike the others came down diagonally from the sky with a greater intensity and speed, cleaving the clouds as it did. Though he only glimpsed it for but a moment, it seemed to have the Abellan’s appearance, his wings spread and his features somewhat faded due to the loss of his colours and finer details. Following the moment it touched down, it zipped through the sky in a zig-zag form before shooting directly for Vanir. They clashed but for a moment and after it passed he shot away from him before coming to a temporary halt, his body taking form again before starting anew.
    In that moment, Vanir discovered the weakness within the spell.
    TJ bolted back towards him in the same formation and they clashed again, the Abellan’s forward momentum leading him back to the ground where he touched down and began his attack anew. The moment he came by Vanir dodged the blow and pursued him. When he stopped in mid-air the barista wrapped his massive claw around his face and pulled him into a pelican dive. The two crashed into the ground and Vanir peeled his body up from the metal and over his shoulder before he grabbed him by the legs, cracked his back and hurled him against the ground with as much force as he could muster.
    Had it been a regular human, it would certainly break most of, if not nearly all of their bones. However what he was trying to break was an Agasura who had gone above and beyond its known limits. To kill him outright, he would have to shatter the Heart of Yggdrasil. However, to attempt to do so carelessly would stir his survival instincts and cause him to enter his berserk state.
    Bloody and battered, TJ got to his knees before he staggered to his feet.
    “I will not…die here…” He uttered as he wiped the blood from his mouth. “I will…go beyond…”
    As he raised his head, his eyes became visible from within his bangs. Tears streaked down his cheeks and affirmed the fury visible in his expression. However, it was not that which drew the barista’s attention. It was the Mark of Fire that formed upon his forehead.
    “I will…protect those that I love!”
    Upon those words black fire crackled to life at his fingertips and coated his wrists.
    “That…I expected.” Vanir said with a wry chuckle.
    In spite of his use of opening the core, lightning still crackled around his body and left marks in the wake of their passing. Whether it was what he had willed, something he could utilize or was more proof that he blended the arts, it was hard to say. However the lightning was not the biggest of his concerns.
    The Abellan took a knee as his golden eye shuttered and he let out a pained groan as he struggled to maintain his form. Vanir cracked his knuckles and let out a slight sigh as he shrugged.
    It seemed that the Abellan tried too hard and inflicted himself with a state of weakness. This would be his best chance to take him down safely. To strike the Heart of Yggdrasil first would be the quickest way to bring him down, but to damage it would ignite the Abellan’s inner fire and cause him to not only become stronger, but likely ease the path to opening the core. This, resulting in Vanir’s likely demise. The best way to deal with him would be to decapitate him and shatter the gem before the body could repair itself. Without the head, even if Adonis was to take over, he would have little, if any control over the remains.
    He glanced around the surrounding area to make sure none of his allies were watching, cleared his throat and checked his claws. Following this, he performed some quick leg stretches, got into a sprinter’s position and prepared to strike.
    As Vanir prepared to lunge at him Skuld touched down and stood in his way.
    “Hold it right there, Master!” She cried as she outstretched her arms.
    He saw this coming, but it did not make it any less disappointing…and yet…
    “…Why?” He asked.
    “He might be fighting you seriously but he’s not himself! You can tell, can’t you? He’s scared!”
    “He’s scared? You know what that fire does to Agasura, right? It burns them. For all eternity.”
    “I won’t let you bully the Abellan!”
    He furrowed his brows.
    “But…burning. For all eternity.”
    “Don’t! Bully! TJ!”
    The barista let out an audible sigh.
    “Are you sure about this, Skuld? You know this is our ticket out of this infinite loop, right? We won’t get a golden opportunity like this again.”
    She pursed her lips, her eyes downcast.
    “I know. But I don’t want it to end like this. If we have to fight, I don’t want it to be under these circumstances. He still has so much to live for and people he loves and I want him to be happy with them…if even just a little longer. So…that’s why…please, Master!”
    If anyone else heard their conversation, they would likely call them both hypocrites for extending that possibility to the Abellan but not to Mk. II. However, their circumstances were very, very different. One of the two had fallen to the depths of darkness and the other…was striving towards strength on par with the gods themselves. One of them had a choice.
    “Look, Skuld.” Vanir said as he crouched down to meet her gaze. “I can’t make any promises. Pinky over there tapped into his latent powers and he just wasn’t ready for it. He’s in a complete trance. I can try and talk him out of it, but I’ve little doubt it won’t come to us trading blows until one of us gives in.”
    He furrowed his brows as he smiled wryly.
    “He might be fighting me, but he has to beat his own destiny. It’s forged upon his very sub-conscious, whether he knows it or not. Unlike us, he wasn’t born with a choice. We forged our destiny—he has paths that he can walk. If he can’t break free of it now, then it’ll be as God Ah intended. That’s just how it is. The gods might be bastards but we can only deny them so much, whether we like it or not.”
    He got to his feet and looked over his small companion. In the distance he could see TJ rising to his feet also, his fervor renewed.
    “I’ll try and knock some sense back into that kid. If he meant what he said, he’ll snap out of his trance.
    “Now you run along. We might have had a nice little chat like that, but for those siblings, fate won’t be so kind. I know you have your reservations, but you seriously have to kill her. You remember what happened back in the Old World? We can’t let that happen again.”
    Skuld clasped her hands behind her back as she downcast her eyes once more.
    “Yes, Master. I understand.”
    It hurt him to see her like that. She was a good girl, one who was not jaded like he was. However, that was her biggest weakness and would certainly harm her if push came to shove.
    “Good. Off you go.”
    She nodded solemnly once before she rushed off, to jump back into the fight with Axle and Mk. II.
    “Alright Pinky, you’re lucky Skuld is such a softy or this would’ve ended differently! I’m gonna beat you! With the power of…friendship, I guess. Now, c’mere and give Uncle Vanir a scalding hot hug, why don’t you?”

    “Paradigm Drive,” Kooh shouted.
    She spun her dagger twice before she pointed it outwards. A golden flame-like energy surged forth from the blade and remained there.
    “I’ll do my best to make an opening for you, Thee. I do have something I need you to do, though.”
    “That so?” He asked with a slight grin. “That’s fine. Gimme an order.”
    “Jeez, when you put it like that it sounds so bad!”
    She gently hit him with her fist and he laughed.
    “I want you to make your main goal landing four stances on that Agasura. If you can do that within the next five minutes, it’ll activate my Judgement Blade. If all things go according to plan, that should deal a strong enough blow to create an opening for you. When that happens, hit its cistern with your strongest attack.”
    “Leave it to me.”
    She grinned.
    “Great! Let’s go!”
    She sheathed her dagger and clasped her hands together as she lowered her head.
    “Maiden’s Veil!”
    The specter of a woman in a billowing dress took form behind Thee for a couple of moments. She gently wrapped her arms around him and following it, she faded away, leaving a transparent veil-like substance in her wake.
    “This should keep you safe from some of its attacks.”
    Kooh said before she armed her dagger once more.
    “Now then…
    “Saint’s Cross!”
    She took a step forward and vanished on the spot before she appeared before the aberrant Agasura. Once she touched down she cut two swaths into its chest before turning into a sphere of light and reappearing behind it. The flame upon her dagger was fiercely ignited as she flew, weapon first into the back of the creature.
    “Celestial Bloom!”
    She thrust her dagger into the Agasura’s back. What seemed like a single strike continued over several seconds as jets of light were emitted with every passing second. When Kooh had completed the spell and circled around it, the streaks of light left in the wake of her initial stance grew brighter and seemed to inflict further damage upon the Agasura.
    Thee rushed over as the creature was recovering and leapt into the air as he brought his sword around with the weight of his body. He dragged the weapon across its chest and landed a clean cut upon one of the damaged tentacles, cutting off a majority of the remnants.
    “Triple Crashes!”
    He transitioned into his next attack, full-well knowing the risks behind it but taking the chance nonetheless. As he leapt forward, he avoided the creature’s first counterattack, was grazed by the second upon the following jump and landed a clean cut on the third as it raised a tentacle to protect itself. It clawed at him as he recovered from the stance but the attack seemed to drift by in spite of him being wide open.
    Though in shock himself, he used the opportunity to retreat and regroup with Kooh as the strikes from Celestial Bloom were dealt once more through Paradigm Drive. The blows caused the creature to slink to the ground for a time, but in spite of its weakness it closed its mouth before unleashing a cloud of poisonous gas.
    “We can’t get in like this,” Thee said.
    While the cloud continued to spread the two retreated a safe distance.
    “I should be able to clear it out. I just need to get in there first,” Kooh suggested.
    “H-hang on a sec’, Kooh.” Thee said, grabbing her shoulder. “You’re not just gonna throw yourself in there, are you? You’re gonna inhale the poison if you’re gonna cast in the midst of it!”
    “It’s fine, I know how to cure it. It’s one of a water Mage’s specialties, after all!”
    She smiled as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
    “I’m not really one to talk, but if you’re gonna have to do something dangerous then it’s better we find another way around it. It’s just a gas, right? I could probably clear it out with Double Blade.”
    She grinned and ruffled his hair.
    “You’d just surround yourself with it, silly!
    “Anyway, I’ll be fine. Princess entrusted you guys to me so I don’t mind taking a risk or two. Now you wait here while I clean this mess up, okay?”
    “I still don’-”
    “Broken Wings!” With that, Kooh hurled her dagger and vanished.
    Thee let out a sigh as he furrowed his brows.
    “She’s way too gung-ho about her heroics. She might protect us, but not herself.”
    He lowered his blade to his side as he began his approach to the cloud of poison.
    “I need to do as much as I can to end this battle before she or the others find themselves in serious danger.”
    Kooh’s dagger lodged itself in the abomination’s chest and she appeared upon it briefly after. She pulled the weapon out and quickly scaled the body, noting the poison was being released from tiny holes in the feelers inside its mouth. She grabbed hold of them and cut them all in half before leaping away from it. She backflipped twice to avoid it lashing out and hurled the appendages away before raising her tome skyward.
    “Purification Rite!”
    A magic circle formed beneath her and spread out over a wide radius before releasing an outward pulse of light, removing the poison in the area.
    “Heal up, Kooh!” Thee shouted as he bolted past her. “I’ll take it from here!”
    As he neared the abomination he hurled his blade with both hands.
    “Blade Thrower!”
    It spun through the air and dug through the Agasura’s chest over the next couple of seconds. As it did so, Thee continued his sprint and performed a slide to avoid being clothes-lined by a rampaging tentacle. When the blade began to return to him he caught it with one hand and flipped over another tentacle as he transitioned into his next stance.
    “Meteor Wave!”
    He brought the broadsword down with both hands and slammed it into the Agasura, leaving a trail of fire ahead of where it struck.
    The creature let out a vicious snarl as a pulse of dark energy was emitted from it. It clawed at Thee, cleaving his neck before grabbing him by the top of his chest plate and hurling him away. He attempted to protect his body as he tumbled across the ground and fell from the landing they fought on. As he desperately reached out to hold on, Kooh appeared before him and took his hand.
    “I gotcha’!” She said as she began to pull him up.
    Though thankful for her aid, he could not ease the concern in his heart seeing that she seemed rather pallid and her cheeks were somewhat flushed green.
    As she helped him up he saw the aberration reel its head back.
    “Kooh, incoming!”
    It spat a glob of poison at her, but rather than letting him go, she spread her wings and protected him from the attack. Narrowly splashed with it, Thee looked on in horror at his companion who took the brunt of it.
    “Are you okay, Thee?” She asked as she smiled sheepishly.
    “I’m fine, but you’re not!”
    His neck was bleeding and all four of her wings were coated in poisonous goop. She attempted to shake it off but they were too heavy and could barely move.
    “It’s no problem. I can’t fly like this, but I’m okay!”
    She was trying too hard to be strong. Peorth had once expressed it was one of her concerns for her cousin, but Thee never would have thought that she would go that far save for anyone but her. To be on the receiving end of that kindness, it made him realize that he had to be stronger, so as not to have to be protected, but to be the protector. Even if his abilities were limited in comparison to theirs, he was still a Warlord and a part of Yggdrasil. To defend those who could not defend themselves, within and without was one of their duties.
    “Take it easy for now. One more stance should proc your spell, right? Leave the rest to me.”
    His eyes darted to the creature as the dark energy it emitted increased substantially. It lowered its arms to its side and raised its tentacles before plunging them into the ground. However, though they should have hit metal, they entered a series of small whirlpool-like shadows. Thee turned his eyes back to Kooh and noticed one of those very whirpools beneath her.
    “Sorry about this!” He said as he scooped her up into his arms and began a desperate dash away from where they stood.
    In the wake of his footsteps the dismembered and damaged tentacles emerged, coated in shadows making them sharp as a blade. It seemed that those which were cut were shorter, yet still as sharp as the others. Upon all of them appearing, the whirpools began to close one by one, leaving a moment of respite for the two challengers.
    Thee put Kooh down and looked to the creature. The star that once lingered above its head had taken the form of a small regal sword. It seemed that was the sign that the spell was almost complete.
    “I’m gonna go finish this, Kooh. Will you be alright on your own?” He asked as he looked to her.
    “Yeah, I’ll be okay. I can still move, just not as quickly as I’d like.” She answered, eyebrows knit.
    Thee nodded once before he turned his eyes back to the creature. Without another moment to spare he began his offensive anew, charging directly towards it. The moment it glimpsed him approaching, a whirpool took form where he was running and cut him off. He diverted himself away from it, but as he changed direction he found himself cut off once more. Changing direction once more, he found himself blocked off and realized that it was predicting his movements. Before he found himself boxed in, he made a swift retreat and found it following his every step. After moving back a certain distance, it stopped attempting to impale him but opted out for spitting poison like artillery.
    “Damn it!”
    The weight of his weapon made his movements too sluggish to compete with the Agasura’s skill at covering ground. Given the circumstances, he had no means to get in like Kooh had. However, she lacked the strength to pierce its body and reveal the cistern. He was the only one that could manage the task.
    Kooh arose to her feet and sheathed her dagger before clasping her hands together.
    “Heed me hero! Stand tall in the face of adversity that threatens to break your will! Let my words galvanize your spirit so that you may overcome any trial with courage, with might and dexterity! I shall open the path so that you may strike at the heart of our shared enemy! Rise to the challenge, hero, and let your deeds ring out through heaven and earth! Nibelungenlied!”
    Once Kooh finished her prayer, a magic circle with the Asgardian’s herald took form beneath Thee as a blinding light was released from it. As it dimmed, a spirit in the form of a man wearing a fur tunic draped over one shoulder took form. A horn upon his left flank and a sword his right, he walked over to Thee before draping a cloak over him. He gave him a gentle pat on the shoulders, walked past him and vanished.
    Thee looked down to his hands and realized he could not see any part of his body below his shoulders.
    “An invisibility cloak? This is just what I need!”
    “You can do it, Thee!”
    He looked to his companion and nodded once before he threw the hood of the cloak on and sheathed his sword. He started his final assault, rushing towards the aberrant Agasura with a renewed determination. As he approached the creature seemed baffled for a period, carefully searching its surroundings but not finding him. After a time, however, it seemed to catch the sound of his greaves as they pounded the ground and attacked based on that alone. The first strike was exactly where Thee was headed, but after diverting from his straight dash, its sluggish responses to his approach allowed him to quickly close the distance. It began to desperately and randomly attack the surrounding area, allowing for Thee to get within melee range.
    “Twin Blade!”
    He unleashed his stance upon it and each blow weakened the creature further. Upon doing so, the blade that formed above it emitted a powerful light.
    “Strike fiercely and true! Sunder the evils that plague the world beneath that which we are sworn to! Judgement Blade,” Kooh cried out.
    Upon her words, Thee backed away as the blade took form, growing massive and corporeal. The creature looked up to see the blade rising like a guillotine above it, before it finally collapsed upon it. It tore through the Agasura, splitting it in two from its head to its base and unleashing a series of jets of light in its wake.
    “Finish it, Thee!”
    “I’m on it!”
    The Warlord rushed back to the creature before he skidded to a halt and raised his blade above his head. Within the torn creature, he glimpsed what seemed to be a small gem with a dark gas within it.
    “Atomic Blade!”
    His weapon gained a powerful glow over the following seconds and created a pillar of light as he cleaved through the cistern of the Agasura. Upon doing so, the Agasura let out a pained cry in its dying throes as its body began to crumble into a black goo while the aura from within the gem arose to the sky and dissipated.
    “It’s finally over.” Thee said as he wiped his brow.
    “You were pretty cool!” Kooh said as she grinned.
    He hurried back over to her and helped her stand.
    “You can compliment me later. Let’s get you healed first and then we’ll go join the others.”

    Axle and Mk. II remained in a deadlock for a couple of moments until the Blader broke it with a powerful lunge. The moment she broke away from him and staggered back, Skuld descended upon her with both claws drawn for a vicious strike. In spite of it, Mk. II managed to defend against the attack with blades of her own. The moment Skuld touched the ground, she leapt from where she stood and her body turned as she struck the guardian Cerebian with both claws in succession. As she hit the ground she finished her assault with a spinning attack. Mk. II leapt into the air to avoid the strike and Axle followed after her with a Blader Step. His sister, keeping her eyes on Skuld up until the last moment, was caught off guard by a powerful axe kick.
    Her body collapsed to the ground and for a moment, she seemed to have been knocked out, however, the moment passed quickly. She scrambled to her feet and Axle continued his offensive. As he stormed towards her, she retreated a few steps before breaking away from him. He continued his pursuit and the two began to clash as they ran side-by-side. Skuld persistently followed after them as they leapt from one landing to the next, trading blows all the while. Their constant clashing was wearing their counterparts down and as they did so, a couple of blows got past the other’s guard. Though Mk. II did not bleed, her body had a series of scratches across it and the more she was wounded, the slower her own attacks became in time with Axle’s.
    The two jumped down to a lower section and continued their fight, only to find themselves at a dead end. In response to this, they stopped running and began to duke it out there and then, mercilessly trading one slash after the next. Skuld stood on the landing they once jumped off of and outstretched one of the arms from her shroud to grab hold of the distracted assailant. She reeled Mk. II up from Axle’s grasp and pulled her into the air as she shaped her other arm into a spear. Moments before she could launch it, the Blader leapt from where he stood to where she was and jumped from her shoulders towards his sibling. His action caused the brownie to break focus and allowed for Mk. II to free herself from her binding. As she began her descent, Axle launched himself towards her with another Blader Step and spun through the air, swords first upon his sibling.
    The two clashed and fell from the sky, only to continue their battle on the ground. Mk. II moved away from her sibling and fashioned one of her swords into a lance before she re-engaged him. Axle’s eyes darted to Skuld for but a moment as she drifted over the two and his sister used this chance to turn the tables on him and have him defend. Skuld threw her spear forward and though aimed at Mk. II, the aberrant Cerebian dashed towards Axle’s flank and skidded to a halt before preparing to attack again. The spear narrowly stopped before it pierced the Blader’s neck—a single drop of sweat ran down his face and fell on the weapon before it was retracted and he was able to give his attention back to his sibling.
    The dead look in her eyes met his fierce glare as he lunged at her once more, having her block with sword and spear. As she attempted to jab at him he overpowered her at the shaft and hit her across the face with his dominant hand once. The blow staggered her and opened her up for consecutive attacks. He leapt from where he stood to headbutt her once more and upon touching down, he backflipped once and kicked her in the chin. She stumbled backwards before she affirmed herself. A thin trail of blood ran down her lip, though the look in her eyes did not convey any sign of weakness.
    “I can do this,” Axle said as he clenched a fist. “I’ll bring you back with me, Roll.”
    As both he and Skuld prepared to launch another offensive, the dying cries of an Agasura rang out across the battlefield. Both siblings turned their eyes in the direction of it while Skuld seemed to cover her ears, hidden beneath the shroud.
    “Was that…? Thee and Kooh must have done it…”
    As if a signal to retreat, Mk. II immediately broke away from the two and shot off in the direction where Su and Truong’s fight raged on.
    “Roll! Don’t run away!”
    “This is bad!” Skuld cried out.
    Without another word, the two broke out into a desperate sprint to take down their shared mark.

    “Hell Slinger,” TJ snarled.
    With a flick of his wrist the flames upon both his hands grew in size and ferocity.
    “So I guess we’re just gonna have to punch each other until we’re friends again?” Vanir chuckled dryly until he sighed. “I’ve gotta say, this is kinda, just a little really unfair, don’t you think? I mean one of us is gonna-”
    Before he could finish the Abellan rushed him and threw a right hook. In the wake of his fist a puff of fire was released and surged past the barista who narrowly dodged the attack.
    “Nope, not liking where this is going one bit.”
    It would help if he thought of some non-lethal transformations but he did not. Nor could he likely perform them successfully.
    TJ took two swipes at the barista and it offered him a wider range on his attack, though much less accurate and focused. The barista crouched down to avoid the strikes and tackled the Abellan to the ground before he grabbed his feet and began to spin him around. Upon doing so, he hurled him into the distance before he dusted his hands off.
    “Now really isn’t the time for jokes, is it? A guy in a state like his can’t appreciate my genius.”
    Vanir could see himself in TJ. They were different, yet oddly similar. They both had things they held dearly and wanted to protect. It was just that the barista was much more selfish about his wish. To see that truth, would likely be the knowledge that breaks the gods’ hold on the Abellan. After all, knowledge was Humanity’s poison. As they gained more, they lost more at the same time. In this realm, the Old World and the Earth Realm, there would always be stories. Of men who believed they were greater than their fellow men. That felt they had a divine mission from the gods and in so doing, passed judgement on those they deemed unworthy or deserving. He had not become one, but there was no denying that he had murdered those who stood before him. Those who stood between him and a man who wanted to awaken that realization in all of mankind.
    It was not long before TJ had returned with a vengeance. With every wave of his hand, fire was launched in Vanir’s direction and he found himself side-stepping, backflliping and somersaulting in various directions to avoid being caught by the blasts. When TJ had closed the distance Vanir stopped his direct hits by hitting him in his triceps and shoulders to neutralize his attacks before he could finish the movement.
    There was no doubt he was strong, but his movement was slow, especially due to the wounds he had suffered. His lack of mastery at using both Divine and Contemptuous Arts at once had diminished the benefits he would see of using them one at a time.
    “Look, Kid,” Vanir began.
    He grabbed the Abellan by the wrist, twisted it behind his back and knocked one of his feet out from him before holding him down.
    “We’re not so different, you and I.”
    He had always wanted to say that.
    “Exorcism Fallout,” TJ muttered into the ground.
    At that, Vanir let him go and immediately retreated. From the Abellan’s body, a fiery sphere took form before expanding and blowing up. In the wake of it, embers danced through the air and remained as he got to his feet and came after Vanir once more.
    The fact that the spell remained in effect was the proof that to go into that area would likely set him ablaze, even if they were just embers. In spite of his lack of mastery, he seemed to be a force to be reckoned with.
    As TJ began his onslaught anew, Vanir decided not to fight him directly. He dodged his attacks, his eyes more concerned about the extended reach due to Hell Slinger rather than the punches and kicks themselves.
    “Listen, I know you’re doing what you do because you’re afraid to die. What’s happening right now is your fear getting your survival instincts all jacked up over nothing. Your life isn’t in danger, though I can’t say the same for your friends so cool it, would ya’?”
    “Wrath, Pride, Sloth! Punishments of the Sinner! Chalice of the Sabbath!”
    Vanir squinted suspiciously.
    “That’s a Divine healing spell, isn’t it? But…invoking the sins?”
    He looked up to the sky and past the darkening clouds, an angry crimson glow shone through. Black beams like rays of light shone down upon the battlefield and with each one that did, the air itself and everywhere they touched seemed to spontaneously combust, raining fire across their portion of the area.
    “You really wanna set me on fire, don’t you?! This is a bit much though, don’t you think?!”
    That vicious golden eye of his did not relent in its unwavering gaze. His steely, determined expression did not either and even Vanir could feel the gravitas of the situation weighing upon him.
    “Fine, fine! I’ll be serious about this! Gods! I’m really gonna lay into you though!”
    Vanir seemingly rolled up his sleeves before he took a battle stance. As he did so, the Abellan leaped at him with one hand drawn back. The barista weaved his way forward before he brought his right fist up into an uppercut. The blow connected with the Abellan’s stomach and offset his forward momentum. As he descended the barista leapt into the air and kicked him aside.
    “Take it from me. If you want the power of the gods so badly, then keep doing what you’re doing! But! Know this: there’s no going back for you!”
    As TJ staggered to his feet Vanir ran past him and dragged him down by the throat using his forearm.
    “You’ll get power immeasurable. The Agasura will drop like flies before your raw strength. But they’re not the only ones you’ll wipe off the face of Midgard.”
    He prepared to get to his feet and Vanir came again. Before he could, TJ began a new spell.
    “Wrath! Spirit Cull!”
    Both arms fell to his sides, palms skyward. A pulse of dark energy surrounded and swirled around him towards the sky. He turned his gaze to Vanir as he arose to his full height and held out a hand. At his command, another pulse was released and shot forward toward the barista, the spell now covering a much wider radius. Vanir flipped to the side to avoid the spell and had to do so two more times before it came to an end.
    “That’s it. That’s the stuff. Is that what you like? The power to crush your enemies? Like I said before, its not just your enemies. Everything else around will be destroyed. The environment, the innocent people, even the friends you swore to protect. Do you have the courage? To look at the corpses of your friends and step over them to continue your crusade?”
    The Abellan placed a hand behind him and one in front as he seemed to steady himself. Following this, he pounded his fists together.
    “Veneration Foundry!”
    A flame swirled around him before turning to embers and fading away.
    After the spell concluded he threw himself at Vanir again. The barista narrowly avoided his punch and hit his target across the face with one of his own, however the blow did not flinch him in the slightest. As TJ attempted to grab him he sidestepped the hold and kicked him in the ribs, launching him a short distance away.
    “Do you want to be like me? I destroyed everything so I could hold on to what I loved. I desired the power of gods because I wasn’t strong enough. I had slain one and amalgamated it, all for the sake of ‘saving’ the realm. What once was heroism became terrorism. People were terrified of me, terrified of my name. They dared not speak it out of fear I’d come and claim the lives of their loved ones as many others had been before them. Tell me, TJ, is that justice?! Is that the justice that you aspire to?! Live by the whims of the gods or walk your own path! Which will you choose?!”
    TJ spread his wings and gnashed his teeth as he leapt into the air and launched himself at the barista. With a single hand, he stopped him mid-kick and hurled him to the ground. He stepped on both of his arms, crouched down and dislocated them in succession. TJ let out an agonized cry as he thrashed about, cursing and fighting with all his might but to no avail.
    “Is that your answer?” Vanir asked as he stepped off of the Abellan’s arms and grabbed his cheeks with a single hand.
    “Is this all you were? All that you were cracked up to be? Hope of this world? Don’t make me laugh. You’ve chosen to walk the path of a destroyer. If that’s all there is to you, so be it. This may have been the second time we met on the battlefield, but I should warn you, if you’re walking this path you’ll become an enemy of mine.
    “Know this, Abellan. I will see you again. Engorged on souls and on a throne of bones we’ll meet and if it comes to that, I’ll be the one to take you down. I want to hear your answer. Will you be a puppet of the gods? Or will you fight for your fate and desire to actually save this world?”
    At those words, TJ seemed to come to his senses. The seal on his eye faded and both returned to normal, his hair turned pink once more as tears welled up in his eyes.
    “Oh…God Ah…what have I become?”
    Vanir let him go and arose to his full height before he tied his cloth back over his face.
    “Glad we had this nice little chat.”
    Pinky was not a bad kid, just misguided. He needed an elder brother figure like Vanir in his life.
    Following that thought, the barista looked down upon his defeated opponent and at that moment had a moment of realization. There was a hungry look in his eye and a thin trail of saliva running down his mouth for a couple of seconds.
    The sight of the crying Abellan before him gave him an inexplicable thrill.
    Immediately afterwards he wiped his mouth and cleared his throat.
    He was never the type to go out of his way to make lolis cry. That was for degenerates, and he was a gentleman and a scholar to his very core. However, perhaps that Maya was on to something. He would never give her the satisfaction of knowing that such a thought had passed his mind for even a moment, but there was some truth in the knowledge she imparted upon them that day. In spite of her, however, this event made his heart skip a beat. Perhaps he had awakened to something he did not know he had within.
    Nonetheless, now was not the time to be embracing his latent sadistic tendencies. Skuld had her wish and he had a mission to complete.
    As if that thought had given way to the following events, he glimpsed a locomotive of people in pursuit of each other. Mk. II led the charge with Skuld and Axle in pursuit. Behind those two were Kooh and Thee.
    At the sight, Vanir squinted in annoyance.
    Did his battle with the Abellan really take that long?
    “Gods!” He groaned as he broke away from the Abellan and pursued the Cerebians.

    “Dance, Old Man!” Su roared as she raised a hand skyward.
    In her palm a dark sphere took form before she launched it into the air. The sheer force of it threw her arm back, down to her thighs. She outstretched that very same hand before pointing at Dr. Truong. One hand to his blade wound and his eyes to the sky, a wry smile crept on to his face. A portion of the sphere closest to the doctor began to bubble before unleashing a torrent of rain with incredible velocity.
    Truong desperately broke out into a sprint as the raindrops continued to fall and dent the metal beneath them with the sheer impact of their landing. Su followed him with her finger, suspecting where he would go but having the spell be hot on his heels for the fun of it.
    Tormenting him with Red Rain was pretty enjoyable, but she would not stop there. Killing him using any of the Contemptuous Arts would be easy, but if he had the balls to show his face after Hanamah she would need to teach him a lesson. One that would be permanently engraved upon his flesh and mind.
    To think that the slaughter of his liege would not deter him was laughable. However, it was not entirely likely that he was working alone. The raid on the Dark Moon led by Reina and friends might have weakened them but it was without a doubt, not the end of their tyranny. Her own slaughter of their king was merely salting the wound. It was only a matter of time before they would strike again, the damage left by the Asgardians healed. Before that could happen, Su would need to crush them under her heel. Should Truong go running back to them with his tail between his legs, she would make sure that he does so with a message: that she would be coming for them and that she had no mercy for any who dared to stand by the kingdom.
    With a flick of her wrist the sphere’s line of fire shifted and fell upon Truong in his flight. The droplets touched his heels and tore through his pants and punctured his flesh. Swiftly as it had begun, it ended in such a manner.
    “What, time’s up already? Lame.”
    She glimpsed Truong as he leapt down from the platform he stood on to catch his breath.
    “You didn’t think you could hide from me, did you? I can smell your fear.”
    The heightened senses of an Agasura allowed her to sense his presence. Though she did not quite understand it herself, it seemed that her senses were sharpened even more than they typically would have been. Through the metal groundwork laid out before them, she could see the silhouette of a person and the thin amount of mana that constituted his existence.
    She placed a hand to her chin as a grin crept on to her lips.
    What fun she would have with him.
    She raised a hand to the sky before twisting her wrist around in a circle a couple of times. Upon doing so, a dark vortex took form above the palm of her hand. She inspected it, performed the action a few more times and turned to where she glimpsed Truong. With her finger she drew a circle and pointed at him.
    “Displacement Tycoon,” she said.
    At her behest another whirlpool appeared beneath him and dragged him into it before releasing him where she stood. The moment he touched down she withdrew her dagger from its sheath and plunged it into his stomach.
    “Guh…!” He let out a pained groan and looked into her eyes for but a moment.
    The look of terror in his expression sent shivers down her spine.
    “Oh I’m gonna enjoy this.”
    She ripped the dagger from his flesh and hopped backwards a short distance. Following that, her body whirled on the ball of her left heel for her to roundhouse kick him across one of his temples. His body was flung through the air before it crashed into the ground. She walked over to him and pressed her foot to his face before kneading her toes into his cheek.
    “I could have killed you several times over, you know.” She said with a devilish grin.
    She shrugged as she let out a light cackle.
    “But where’s the fun in that, right? Bastards like you don’t deserve a swift death. I wanna take my time, breaking your body, your spirit and subjecting you to horrors worse than anything you’ve made my people see.
    “Then I’ll let you go home. Return like the filthy animal you are to your masters, tell them who sent you. Tell them that their best student Setsuna is coming for them and that I’m gonna destroy every. Single. One of them. I’ll burn that castle to the ground and salt the earth that the survivors walk.”
    She pressed her foot harder into his face as she leaned on her knee, whispering in a malicious, silky tone.
    “There’s nowhere in this world for bastards like you. Whatever plans you had, whatever experiments you created, destroy them. Fork over anything useful to us, unless you’d rather have me pry that information from your lips in whatever means I please.
    “Oh, by the way, we’re taking back that girl. She’s not yours.”
    Su kicked him in the ribs, stepped on his weapon hand with her shoe and claimed his dagger. Following that, she hurled it as far as she could and dusted her hands off.
    “Now then, just need a spell to tie this fu-”
    She paused as the Sound of Frequency suddenly overwhelmed her.
    “W-what the hell…is this…?”
    She gripped her ears as she staggered away and collapsed to her knees.
    Suddenly an intense amount of mana began flowing into her body accompanied by the sound. Something must have happened that broke the limiter on TJ’s power and the effect seemed to be disarming or rejecting her, in a sense. What had happened in the battle against Mk. II? Barring that question, exactly what power did he use that had such an effect?
    Truong staggered to his feet and wiped the blood from his mouth before he grinned. His teeth were soaked scarlet and his face was bruised, yet he still wore that expression as if the advantage was his.
    “It seems your weakness has shown itself, Setsuna,” he chuckled mirthlessly.
    “You’re noisy. Shut up.”
    “It will not matter for long, as your mistake was not to kill me while you had the chance.”
    She removed her hands from her ears but clenched her fists instead.
    The ringing did not stop, but she was loathe to show him any further weakness. That stupid grin on his face made her want to break his nose. That would give him something to smile about.
    “Now I shall be the one to take your life.”
    “What’re you gonna do? You’re harmless.”
    She grinned impishly at the prospect.
    He reached into his coat and brought out a vial with a scarlet liquid, laced with streaks of black. At the sight, Su squinted suspiciously.
    Should he throw it at her, she would still be able to avoid it, weakened or not.
    He removed the cork in it before raising it to his mouth. Without a moment’s hesitation he downed the entire vial and hurled it aside.
    “The fuck…?” Su asked herself.
    Truong began to laugh maniacally as he doubled over. His body seemed to grow somewhat, becoming more muscular and emitting a dark aura during the transformation. His nails became sharp like claws and within his eyes a crimson glint took form. The wounds Su had given him stopped bleeding and seemingly healed to some degree over the course of his transformation.
    “Yes! Yes! Long have I yearned to put my experiment to the test and it seems it was a smashing success!”
    Su drew her dagger and took a battle stance.
    The Sound of Frequency was not all that ailed her. Her power was diminished, making her weaker than she would be without the Frequency. To battle an enhanced Truong would be to fight a losing battle.
    What concerned her even more was that the symptoms he had shown were the most common signs of a Human becoming an Agasura. What that liquid was, she had not the slightest clue, but to straddle the line between the two races through such a means was something she had never seen. Mk. II may have been a more extreme case, but if his effect was temporary, unlike hers, it meant that he may have been taking steps towards perfecting such a science. She could not allow that.
    “So you’ve gotten a little stronger. Oh I’m so scared! I think I peed a little!”
    She waved her hands about to drive her point home.
    “Your bluster is meaningless before my might, Governor. Behold!”
    He leapt from where he stood at her and slammed down as she backflipped away from him. Where he landed was dented by his might.
    It was definitely an effect similar to that of Agasuric blood. He was stronger, faster and recovered much more quickly. His senses had likely been enhanced also. How she would overcome this, she did not know, but she would not die to some Human with a few potions under his belt. She had bigger fish to fry and a bone to pick with Asmodeus. To die here was not something she would allow.
    He rushed her in a flurry of claws that she successfully deflected time and again, but the blows themselves were wearing her down rather quickly. Each strike he threw at her, she was not quick enough to dodge, nor strong enough to block head-on. He threw an overhand swing and she parried four of his claws as she stepped back. A right hook had her parry with both hands but the sheer force of the strike sent vibrations through her body.
    The strength of his blows made her feel as if her weapon hand would dislocate from her wrists if she continued to take them.
    He lunged at her with an overhand swing and she used that opportunity to dash past him and cast a spell.
    “Shadow Envoys!”
    In spite of her words, the spell did not come to be. His body whirled around before she could retreat and he successfully clawed her face. The blow threw her back and she skidded to a halt before placing a hand to the bloody gashes.
    She could feel the effect of the Frequency and the overwhelming flow of mana surging through her body, but it was far too wild for her to get an accurate grasp on. Due to that fact, it seemed that she did not have access to her mana. To rely on SP skills in this scenario might prove to be her bane, as to rely upon it against greater Agasura would likely have little, if not diminished effects. They would only leave her open. Loathe as she was to admit it, she would likely have to stall him out.
    Su took a couple of steps back before she broke out into a sprint.
    “Why do you run, Setsuna? Is that your response to overwhelming strength?!” Truong called out to her as he pursued her. “Where is the bravado you had shown me prior? Are you truly this weak?!”
    He was goading her. She would be damned if she gave in to his shenanigans, but to think that a mere Human would have the nerve to get so haughty with her was beyond insulting.
    “Come! Let me enjoy the thrill of bringing you to your knees longer!”
    Su touched down on a thin strip of landing before she looked at him, fury in her eyes.
    Whether it was her own annoyance or the rage of an Agasura being made manifest, she could not say. However, Agasuric blood or not, she would crush that bastard. If his experiments proved fruitless against her skill, he would have nothing left to him, save for suicide. She would give him a taste of true strength.
    “You want me? Let’s go!”
    As he touched down, the two lunged at each other. Though Su reeled her arm back as if she was going to stab him and he met that notion with his own, she feinted. Before he could tear through her with his claws she dropped to the ground and skidded between his legs. Using her hand to stop and shift the direction of her body, she cut a swath through both of his legs, stabbed him in the back three times and climbed his arm as he attempted to crush her. She cut a line through it and thrusted her dagger into his neck before she jumped away from him.
    “I’m just getting started!” She snarled as she took her stance.
    Her speed was her advantage, but a single strike in the state she was in and he would likely put her down for the count. In spite of her blows, however, his skin had become tougher also. The blows pierced the skin but did not cut deep enough to weaken him sufficiently.
    “How amusing. Your efforts are vain but I will allow you to continue.” He said as he rolled his shoulder.
    “Pfft. Allow he says.”
    He took a stance to prepare to jump and as she suspected, he did so. However he did not jump the full distance to her, but leapt short of her and slammed his hands down. The force of the blow caused the metal flooring to sunder, bringing his side of it down and hers up, flinging her towards him. As she soared through the air she looked down upon him, his arm preparing to thrust the claws through her. In turn and preparation for his strike, she leaned in towards him, allowing him to think her open. Moments before she fell upon his claw she plunged her dagger into his hand and hung from it. She pulled the weapon out and backflipped to kick him in the chin before assuming her stance.
    At that moment Mk. II took to the fore and drew her blades on the Governor of Earth. In response, all of her allies, save for the Abellan himself, surrounded the duo and drew their blades.
    “Still alive, Succubas? We’re here to wrap things up.” Vanir said as he stepped out from behind her.
    “Piss off. This is my fight.” She hissed as she glared at him.
    “I never get tired of being talked down to by you, you know that?”
    “It seems we’re outnumbered, Mk. II. This is not the time for us to fight.” Truong said as he lowered his claws. “We have gathered a sufficient amount of information. Let us return.”
    At his behest, Mk. II outstretched a hand behind her and a portal opened up.
    “Until next we meet, Usurper and friends.” Truong said as he stepped back into it.
    “Truong you fucker! We’re not through yet!” Vanir hissed as he lunged forward.
    “Roll, no!” Axle cried out as he dropped his swords.
    He desperately broke out into a sprint and blader stepped in a last ditch attempt to grab his sister’s hand, but moments before he could, she stepped through the portal and it closed upon their exit. Neither he nor Vanir could get to those they sought out. As the moment passed, Axle’s hands trembled and he collapsed to his knees before he slammed his fist against the ground.
    “I was so close…and yet…!”

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    [solved]Sanctuary - Page 13 Empty Re: [solved]Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:03 pm

    You get an L and you get an L and you get an L:

    What would you do if you got jumped? What would you do if the guy who jumped you said, "my darkness is darker than yours"? Question your life choices. How did you get to this point? Where did you go wrong?
    Have you done it yet? Let's get down to it!

    So, because this is important, this comes first!
    Right this way to give me money
    Housekeeping. Or quite the opposite of it, really:
    I know what you're thinking. "Could've worded that better." "MFer sold out." "I ain't paying this clown for his party tricks." Look, I'm gonna be real with you here/ I've been writing for 10 years. That's just the Frequency series. I'm also doing this. Point is, I'm only getting older and, as much as I hate to admit it, well...society isn't made to bend. Even if my existence was a fallacy, I still have to earn my keep, pay my bills and somehow survive. I'd rather not resort to turning tricks to earn a buck, you know?
    Jokes aside, over a month ago I asked about a patreon. Obviously, a patreon would be a good idea if I HAD supporters. Or heck, even followers. The thing about writing fanfiction is that if you're good at it and pick a popular series, you might get some. I can't say I'm good at it, but I picked an unpopular series. I hardly exist in the public sphere. For me to expect this to succeed is, in and of itself, a fallacy. I know that all too well. So why am I doing it? To say and know that I tried. That again, since 2013, I put my heart and soul into playing the game, and by that I mean that which is the path of a modern author...somewhat. Of course, this is one of two(there are likely more, but I'm looking at the possibilities from my current standpoint) paths that I could walk. Those being, to crowdfund my work and make a living like that or to get it published and try to sell it, either traditionally or digitally.

    So why is this important? I'm an adult now. More and more, I need to earn my keep to take care of myself. I don't want to depend on or be beholden to anyone. I can't let that be the case even if it was what I truly wanted. If something should happen to my benefactor, I'd be in a bad way.
    Anyway, lemme get on with it. We all know how harsh reality is. I've tasted the bitter draught of defeat more than I'd like to say. What I do now is hard on me--I'll admit it here, but not openly. I'm thankful for the opportunities I was given. They say being born in a country is the key to opportunities but my life proved otherwise. Heck, my being here proves otherwise. I'm universally rejected, both online and off of it and I've accepted that. I've spoken of it here and I'll say it now, in case I don't again. It will not change. I can't change it, and I've accepted that. Instead, I'm going to change myself--I'm going to strive to succeed in a world that rejects me for as long as I have the drive. And if I lose it, then...I'll walk another path. Succeed or fail, I know happiness waits for me at the end of the path. What that happiness is varies, but I can assure you that I've given it more than enough thought.

    So! Kofi. It's a way you can give me money. It's just like it is with everyone else, you know. Give me money, I can stop working full-time and actually write full-time. Wow! Everybody wins!
    You're probably wondering why you should. Sanc is free. My shitty analyses and even shittier jokes are too. All here for your reading pleasure! That's...the case for now. Working, my imminent return to school and the rest of life that is rapidly approaching will nip that in the bud. I mean, I come here once a month and I don't even wanna do that.
    Now don't get me wrong--I love Sanc. It's why I write it. It's both my playground and my passion. But it has to be a hobby and hobbies come second to everything else. Unlike gaming, reading or whatever else I do, it requires a lot of concentration, time and of course, drive. So does working, studying and homework. We only have so much to give. The things we do to recharge are of course, different.
    If I was to stop writing Sanctuary, I'd go back to writing an original creation. Be it Hero or Gravitation, though they might be passion projects, they're my creations. Worlds that I had built from scratch. If you know LT, you'll have a general schema about what the fanfiction would be about. An original novel makes you want to read it to see what's in it. Also...it can't be you know...liable to copyright claims.

    Long and short of it? Reality sucks and I can't run away from it, thus we suffer together.

    Now here's the optimistic route. Say the ko-fi works somehow. I'd of course, work my ass off to get people interested in whatever it is I'm doing. Followers appear. I make a patreon. Patreon, of course, has tiers. Tiers means rewards for backers. Backers buy things, I produce more, I earn more, everybody wins!
    What would I offer? Of course, the analyses and story itself would likely still remain free. Webcomics are the same, right? I can't think of too many crowdfunded novels though...
    Anyway, for the most part, it'd probably be commissions that vary in length. If people were interested in the universe, there'd certainly be plenty of stories to tell. Events that preceded the novels like Samson's teaching days or the childhood of characters like Reina and co. or any of the Saints. Stories from the Larghissimos or the Duets. Heck, I could even do things from Another's universe. Length would likely vary--some as short as the initial interludes or as long as Reina's featuring the fall of Asgard. And if that isn't up someone's alley, there would always be 'what-if' scenarios, dialogues between characters and...smut. Because that is a thing that I can do, now. I'll just have to allocate some more skill points into my horny on main skill. If it pays the bills, I won't complain.

    Nevertheless, I dare not hope that much. Dreaming is fun but I know all too well at times it's best that they remain just that. Society is wont to beat those out of you, sooner rather than later. However, I suppose the fact that I'm still willing to try is all the proof I need to know I still have a fragment of that hope left. Prove me wrong if you value this, don't if you prefer not to.
    However, let it not be said that I didn't make a concerted effort.

    The use of money aside, I think it as a symbolic show of support is something crucial to the pride of a writer. Sales figures are important to investors of course, but knowing that there are readers and buyers around the world is proof that you've made it, I think. I want to reach that milestone--I don't want to sit on my haunches convinced that I made it without having gone through the struggle. Even if I have struggled thus far, that of those who have achieved success and me is so substantially different I can't believe that I've done enough. So for now...for the time being, let's dream together a little longer. Then, wake up and step back into the harsh reality that awaits.

    That's all for now.

    Man, after looking through the USSR threads, I wound up becoming pretty pessimistic, huh? A shame, that. Also after re-reading everything I wrote before I got embarassed! It's been like an hour! Not important, though.

    So! I was thinking of titling this update 'Your doctor is in another laboratory' but I feel like I used it before and at the same I rather liked the current one. Choices! They're hard!
    So uhh...on with the story.
    First things first, we see TJ use the tome. Nobody's tried using both Frequencies at once since Su did back in the original CoI arc. In that case, she was summoning Nerine and wound up getting shocked for it. Speaking of, no I didn't forget that summons exist in this world. However! TJ isn't going to learn(and by learn I mean remember) any of the Cerebians who underwent apotheosis until he [Spoilers] of course! That doesn't happen until chapter 22! Your patience is much appreciated. Vanir saying "Okay's, that's definitely new" again, implied that it's something he didn't expect. By that, I mean it didn't happen to the other Vanirs.
    As for the spell? It was a combination of Divine and Contemptuous Arts. Those being, Levin Cannon and Unleash. The movement sskill that gave him the lightning enhanced attacks is Thunder Ascension and the AOE he used was Static Pulse.
    Spells aside, Vanir's monologues of course, imply he knows a lot about this but that things went awry. I didn't explicitly have him say it, but as we can see here, TJ is fighting with the intent or lack of knowing it is, to kill Vanir. He expects it. Knows it's coming and has some reservations about it. Until he totally changes his mind and goes all out!
    I think one of the interesting things about this fight is that despite using Memorius Sanctum, TJ still fights in close combat. A lot of the spells he uses are better as stances, typically more likely to be used by fighters rather than casters. As you see throughout the fight, many bring him into close quarters with Vanir, who, has an advantage due to sheer skill. The barista might not fight hand-to-hand very often but he certainly can. If you've read TEAL, I think, he did mention that Harlin taught him self-defense. Prior to going to the Earth Realm, Harlin was a pugilist. Leaving aside the other people Vanir knew during his journey, he has experience and muscle memory on his side on top of the enhanced senses of the Animus Legio.

    Moving on! This part follows Vanir's perspective because of the state TJ is in. He's still conscious so Su can still remain in her form but he's not thinking straight enough for the story to stick with him. I think...that kinda helps to paint a picture, in a sense. It almost feels as if in this case, he has become the enemy that needs to be overcome whereas Vanir is initially painted as that by his actions. Neither are in the wrong--they're all doing things that suit them, that they see as for the best. It's those inclinations that make the group butt heads the way that they do.
    Even so, I love the merciless style of fighting Vanir has. The lack of hesitation, the force and the indifference are all crucial things in really building up the scene. It shows how powerful TJ is and can become but also that the barista isn't an enemy that could be overcome through brute force. In the past, a lot of TJ's battles were won like that--the interesting thing here is that he's facing someone who can stand on even if not greater footing using a power similar to his own. All the while, Vanir is strategizing how best to kill the Abellan without further drawing out his power.
    And so! TJ opens another core, temporarily. Originally Vanir was supposed to make a joke about him going 'full avatar' but I decided to scrap it. To be honest, I originally forgot to put it in and thought of doing it, but I felt his statement “That…I expected.” held much more weight, given what we know about him.
    We do learn something valuable about TJ here, from Vanir. Conventional means of murder are, for the most part, ineffective. You can cut his head off, stab him through the heart(Not Yggdrasil, the regular human heart) suffocate him, poison him, chop his body off, doesn't matter. So long as the Heart of Yggdrasil is attached and/or intact, the body will repair itself. So to his question, "Will I die if it breaks?" the answer is a resounding yes! It's the only way to kill him, really. I hope this knowledge doesn't make it feel like there are no stakes to him fighting in battle. As we saw with Mk. II, just lightly tapping the gem with a spear is enough to throw him off his feet. Of course, breaking bones and other body parts is still a viable way to weaken him and from there, well...
    Anyway, I really enjoyed the next part because it's clear as day Vanir could kill him but he makes a show of it, just waiting for Skuld to come in and stop him. If she didn't show then, I dunno what he'd do but that's a question for another time and another place! Now then, of course and as always, Skuld is the voice of reason. The one line He saw this coming, but it did not make it any less disappointing…and yet… really spoke to me cause that's a major part of his character. The outer conflict is real. He's tsundere in every iteration of story he exists in but he really and truly does want to break the cycle and if that means TJ has to die to do it, it has to be. On the other hand, he's reluctant to kill him, too. Of course, this is an extreme case of his usual attitude! I mean, throughout Innocent he berates Reina and Salem so this is on a whole different level. Murder's bad, mmkay?
    Anyway, as Vanir said, Sanctuary is an on-rails adventure, so ya'll are just gonna have to live with that. God...there's so much foreshadowing here it's amazing. I can't talk about it without spoiling major plot points but I imagine you can see where they might lead.

    So! New stance for Kooh, which is Paradigm Drive. It causes her next offensive stance to proc twice, the second proc being stronger than the first. Judgement Blade is explained by Kooh, but in all cases, it does require an ally to utilize. It's an incredibly powerful spell, but as the name suggests, passing judgement is something that isn't done lightly. Can't always be judge, jury and executioner! Call up a trusty friend and let them join in the fun! Celestial Bloom is a stance that creates a set of jets of light with enough intensity to cut right through most things. Flesh is easy. And finally, the return of Saint's Cross! A dagger-specific art introduced in USSR. Maiden's Veil as seen in the story let's allies 'dodge' attacks occasionally. In short, sometimes they'll drift right past, if not through them. Handy!
    I think one of the things I really like about this fight is, like USSR, it relies on the character's classes/specialties. Kooh is fast and can land a lot of hits but not enough telling blows. Most are glancing, at best. Thee on the other land lacks her speed but carries immense power and uses that to dismember the Agasura. It's like a battle right out of Monhun lol. Just without the...carving in the middle of the fight. It really sucks when you chop the tail off and leave the area and forget to carve it, you know? Or when your brother starts carving it only to catch a fireball right in the middle of doing so.
    So uhh...yeah! I tried to give the Agasura some unique traits and abilities in accordance with its design. It's one of Truong's better creations but not enough to avoid being bested by the two. I think...given that, it might serve as proof of what Mk II or Choen Palm could become--of course, maintaining their forms but acquiring some interesting abilities. In the same vein, a part of the way the battle played out was in fact, designed with Nibelunglied in mind. The prayer aside, I read about it and tried to apply that to here. It's been some time so I can't give you a play-by-play of it, but if you read it you might be able to spot the similarities! As for the person in the tunic, he's a character from that. In this story, he was a person that existed.
    Obligatory yer a wizard HarryThee!

    There isn't too much for me to say about the Mk II/Axle/Skuld clash. What I would like to, is that when I wrote it, I wanted to give the battle a sense of both speed and intensity. Axle being a Blader, it fits his style and Mk II matches him blow for blow. While Thee and Kooh's had the two landing the occasional powerful strike, these three are locked in a battle where the opportunities to do so are far and few between. However, it also has a startling amount of movement to it! Running side by side, fighting on ground and in the air, there's a constant sense of pressure as the battle carries on. I think that Axle's silence throughout most of it really helps to portray that. Of course, Mk II doesn't talk at all and Skuld avoids it. Also Mk II got a Zidane special. And so, the battle ends as swiftly as it begun.

    Back to Vanir and TJ! After his nice little chat with Skuld, the barista is back to his unusual unpredictable self and attitude.
    His inner monologues are interesting, though. In the eyes of Vanir, TJ is a puppet of the gods. Whether he knows it or not, the barista sees what he does as him doing their bidding. I can't help but think his talk about knowledge being man's poison could be linked back to the apple on the tree of knowledge. It would certainly serve as good symbolism, but to have it written as it is would seem too...haughty, I suppose. Not for Vanir, but me, really. It would sound as if I was inserting my beliefs through him. To...clear up that misunderstanding, no, that wasn't my intention. Re-reading it made me realize that parallel does seem like a viable possibility, though. Knowledge is fine. Knowledge of certain things, can be bad! In Vanir's case...I dunno if I should consider it knowledge, wisdom or just experience. In the case of it mentioning a realization, that was King Heinrichter's goal. In short, to shatter the fragile bond between the Azen and their gods and lead them in a revolutionary campaign spanning worlds. He was a little...how do I put it? Cray-cray.
    So! New spells! One's old! TJ did in fact, learn Hell Slinger by witnessing Amata use it. Excorcism Fallout is pretty self-explanatory! Creates a field of embers that sets stuff ablaze. Chalice of the Sabbath does not require invoking the sins to use. It's actual use is to heal allies and remove negative status effects. It uhh...does the opposite when you use it like that. However, it introduces something very important! Spell/stance corruption! This is foreshadowing! Take notes!
    Moving on! Vanir uses Talk-no-Jutsu! It's not very effective...
    TJ introduces a new spell. It could be a stance too. Despite the name, it doesn't reduce MP, no. It literally just does damage. Powerful spell with multiple uses! Can't use it on the go. Similar to Malignant Spitfire, but slower with a bigger radius. MS can be used while moving, though and over a longer period of time.
    Vanir's question about stepping over the corpses of friends was not an in-story reference to Oreshika. That was just me, 'cause I love that game. However, the reason I chose it was for the symbolic value it held. It was in fact, something he had to do multiple times to get to where he was. His posing the question to TJ adds to his notion that the two are similar and that TJ could easily fall into the same trappings. Hiss desire to save him from it is real.
    *ahem* Another one! Veneration Foundry makes every other hit TJ take...well it gives him armour. You play fighting games, don't you?! You know what I mean!
    Back to talks of justice. What Vanir says here is a very crucial part of his story, because we find out how his journey ended. At least, hiss journey in Azenham. He had slain the leader of the Animus Legio and amalgamated it into himself(As we know from P&C, this is in fact, Ter Hallen Sin) because it was the only way he could stop Heinrichter and whatever other issue would arise. He needed and yearned for greater strength. The most valuable part about this, is the implication of it. The one who made him yearn for that strength was Heinrichter himself. He issued the challenge, gave him the warning, gave him the option and for all intents and purposes, succeeded at his goal. He gave mankind a way to surpass the gods and though it was not all of mankind, the realization was out there and would continue to live on through Vanir.
    Whether you believe it or not, that was one of my main intentions for Hero. A major part of it, was that it was a story about dramatic irony. Heinrichter was being led to his fall. In succeeding in all those aspects, he had lost to Heinrichter, though the king was slain. Throughout Sanctuary and the Another series, we see how he agonizes over the existence of Ter Hallen Sin and the calamity that existence would wreak on the worlds in Sanctuary. Of course, it wasn't just Heinrichter. All of the characters who were to be heroes of the realm were on the path to becoming its terrors. If I ever do re-write it, I'm sure much of this will carry over. Though uhh...I dunno if people would feel satisfied reading a story with that kind of ending. Getting Macbeth'd is...you know. I should just call it getting Shakespeare'd.
    So Vanir does eventually snap him out of his trance...only to ruin his moment of looking impressive with his typical stupidity. I wrote it so that in him putting the wrap back on, it felt as if that served as the transition. Almost as if Kana had enchanted it with just a little bit of herself...or at least him.

    Back to Su's battle, she opens the fight with a Contemptuous Art called Red Rain. Imagine getting stabbed by rain drops. That's what it's like.
    I often felt like it seemed out of character for her not to kill him outright, or just plain dumb, to be honest. Hopefully, the reasons outlined here feel solid enough. My thinking was that, as she monologued, Reina and co. raided the Dark Moon. She killed the DMK but the Dark Moon persisted in its efforts, as we saw with the return of Truong and his baiting Axle out. The past events did not deter them. So? Rather than kill another one of their influential members, use him as a warning sign. There's also the fact that if he died, anyone who knew him might do away with the information he kept. After her years at DMC, she knows how valuable information, let alone a source of it is.
    The interesting thing about the reversal is that when TJ enters his trance state, Su can no longer regulate the mana flowing within the Heart of Yggdrasil and that messes with her casting, but also she's inflicted with the Sound of Frequency and that in and of itself carries a weakness. Of course, neither of these can diminish her snark. That's second nature. The latent sadism is something else in its own right lol.
    What makes this fight different is that...well, it has the same kind of feeling others like it would. The sense of overwhelming strength in one party and the lackthereof in the other. In the first half, Su makes an example out of Truong using superior speed, senses and spellwork. As she had suspected though, he gauged her and when he saw the opportunity attempted to turn the tables and take her out. In so doing, he became an abomination himself.

    And so, the end result! Everyone's miserable! Su didn't get to kill Truong, let alone make him want to die, Vanir didn't get to kill Truong or Mk II, Axle didn't get his sister back and TJ got his arms dislocated. I know, I know what you're thinking. 'Kooh and Thee still killed that abomination though!' right? You're right! However! That abomination was once a person! Just like all the others! So they killed someone! The collective misery only increased!

    That's all for this update!
    I don't have too much to say. I'm looking forward to the GBF anniversary more than everything else in March. Don't be surprised. I could lament the lack of my girl getting the attention she deserves but I do that on a regular. Who, you ask? Just look at my twitter. My lack of a drive to clean it up speaks volumes. Also I remembered Bridgette exists and she's a gem in the rough and by the rough I mean the R. I said I'd git gud in GBFVS and kick Mr. A's ass so...you'll hear the results of my struggles if I can be bothered to post here after that happens.
    In other news, my SB predictions were off...so far! Everyone's favourite cat waifu isn't gonna be a geomancer, but I still think they'll be a class! I know without a doubt that there's always a hint to major things before they happen and there's too many to count! I also have some crackpot theories about shadowbringers, some things I can't mention because spoilers, Matoya and Plato's Cave(?) but uhh...it's still in the rough stages and I'm too busy to refine it. If it ever became public, I'd recommend wearing a tin foil hat before reading! ...If you want actual good theories, try the reddit instead.
    In other news? I'm at the finale of chapter 11! Yay! Don't really have much time to work on it, though. Leaving aside the other complications.

    Anyway, I sacrificed all my game time for this, so now the time has come. Time for Odinsleep, I mean.


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      Current date/time is Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:38 am