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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Digit v2
    Digit v2

    Player 
    Lineage : Buccaneer’s Bounty
    Position : None
    Posts : 316
    Guild : None
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Mentor : None
    Experience : 1,012,320

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Augur Concordia
    Second Magic: ???
    Third Magic: ???

    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 24th September 2021, 10:24 am

    Continued from here...

    There were many philosophical questions that would probably never be answered until the entire universe was dropped into a washbasin of cosmic proportions and washed intensively. Existential questions were a good example, the questioning of who one was, and why, and even how. In grief, these questions tended to present themselves, boggling down the tormented soul more, birthing more questions and offering no explanations for why things had turned out the way they had. For Goethe, however, this was not the case, although there was one question that just refused to go away and leave his numb mind in whatever state it was, because "peace" was very far from it.

    Is everything predetermined?

    Goethe had gone to great lengths to ensure that the dark premonitions he had had about the deaths of friends would not come to pass, but it seemed like the more he tried to avert disaster, the more doors were opened through which said disaster could dance its way into his life. The worst part of it was that he  had been offered hope to cling onto, but it had been violently torn from his hands and dashed to pieces. In one fell blow, he  had lost two of his friends. He considered that it would have been better had he been the one who died, but that would still plunge his friends into sorrow. Maybe humans were just created to suffer sorrow, so why hide from it? Why bother with anything in this world at all?

    Goethe stared at Suzhen as she cried. Everything was wrong with this picture. Granted, she was his good friend, and from what he knew about the woman, she had a big heart. Still, it was the ones closest to him who had died, and he could not even bring himself to shed a tear for them. Honestly, he wanted to cry, he wanted to scream, to vent, to rage, strike his fists against the ground, inflict injury upon himself, anything that could grant him even a modicum of catharsis. But no, there was no emotion to fuel it. The realization of loss was there, but unlike having  a semblance of pent up feelings that cried to express themselves, all Goethe felt was one abysmal void, which swallowed thought and reason and logic.

    Everything was wrong with this. Suzhen wasn't supposed to be crying.

    Slowly, Goethe stood up. Being robbed of his emotions did not mean that he was also robbed of will... but emotions really helped to fuel one's passions, desires or determinations. He would have liked to stand here in the lava plains and allow the world and time to sweep by, until he remained a skeleton, his bones the only proof that a person named Goethe Ackermann had existed.

    If he did that, though, of what use would he have been to anyone?

    Suzhen's words stirred the very first sparks of feeling he had experienced after the Imbalance of Despair had been created. He couldn't understand it at first; it felt like a dark, hot thing in his heart. As she continued speaking, it became stronger, until he suddenly understood what it was:

    Contempt.

    A part of him was instantly appalled; why would he feel this way towards a friend who had done nothing else than look out for him constantly, placing herself in the way of danger time and again, just to secure his peace? He reviled himself for even considering such ingratitude, and it was then he realized that the revulsion was not aimed at his friend. That gave his turbulent heart a little more respite. It was aimed at him. Goethe realized that he was thoroughly pissed with himself. It was like an itch at first, but was slowly building in intensity.

    He had been such a fool. Instead of trusting in the strength of his friends, all his life he had run away from asking for their help. Was he trying to protect them? He couldn't even  protect himself. No, perhaps it was more some sort of stupid pride than it was consideration. Perhaps if he had acted more like he had people looking out for him, ambushing the Devil Butcher back in the Cursed Village would have yielded better results. He had wanted to be a good friend, but he had blown it. And now, what was this? He was still trying to feel sorry for himself, when Suzhen was planning  on going into that foreboding portal alone? Everything was very wrong with that.

    And he felt the next emotion return: pure, unbridled indignation.

    The anger he felt was good. It was like a fire... no, more accurately like a welder's cutting flame. He would channel it into a weapon. If he had lost his magic, he would use this building rage as fuel to burn everything to cinders at the other side of the portal. He had no powers, perhaps, but as long as he was alive, he would see this to the end.

    And maybe this time, his remaining friend would not die because of him.

    "No, Suzhen; that is utterly unacceptable."

    Goethe couldn't remember if he had ever had a temper tantrum before. He wasn't the kind of person given to temperamental bursts of fury. His anger was calm and usually laser focused. He looked her straight in the eye, his voice even. "I will not allow you to go in there alone to fix what I involuntarily caused. To be honest, I would have preferred it if you did not risk yourself further, and let me go in alone, but I know you wouldn't even hear of it. Besides, no amount of self sacrifice will solve this, if I cannot close the gate. And that is a feat made less possible with the eclipse of my powers."

    He looked up at the black sky, at the stars twinkling so far away. He had never been an expert at judging the time of night by the position of the moon, but he was sure that the night had been far spent. "It's ironic, you know: my life of magic started with a great sin, and now it ends with another great sin. The very first time I activated my magic, I couldn't control it, and I wiped out an entire village of people. Arnoba always told me that it was the Diophage and the Devil butcher who caused it, but still, it was my Oblivion Bomb. And now, in the presence of my two catalysts, the same Diophage and Devil Butcher, Arnie and Bayne die on my watch, and this Imbalance of Despair is built." He hung his head. "So much for my happy ending."

    So saying, he turned and walked away from Suzhen for a bit, then stooped and picked something in the dark. When he turned to face her, she would realize (most likely to her concern) that in his right hand, he held the Black Tooth.

    "Fancy Uncle Ivan dropped this. Perhaps he didn't need it anymore. Or, he knew I would seek vengeance, but lacking any powers, I might be a little more prudent, and so he dropped this in the hopes that I would pick it. I hope he's happy."

    His tone became softer, more pleading. "I'm afraid I know the answer to my request, but I don't want you to follow me into this strange place, Suzhen. I am aware that you want to do all in your power to help me, but I've lost too many friends in one day. So, please, Suzhen, I'm begging you: please stay here in Hosenka." His voice picked a hopeful tone. "You've still got a lot to live for, you could find that special someone, do great things; I think you're strong enough to be a hero, and you've got a bright future. But if you're not going to listen to me, then at least, promise me just one thing, even if it's unreasonable:

    "Promise me you're not going to die in there."


    WC: 1337 (Is this symbolic? Hehehe...)


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Fraag
    Fraag

    Player 
    Lineage : The World Serpent
    Position : None
    Posts : 639
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 2,093,395

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Yoza Kengen
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag 27th September 2021, 10:56 am

    The feeling of despair that hung in the air outside Hosenka, on the west side of the flashy town, seemed to seep into every pore owned by the Dongxian scholar, as she surveyed the otherworldly rift in space that she had determined in her heart to venture into and set right, even if it meant her demise. However, she had decided, and she was not going to go back on her word now. For all Bai Suzhen knew, she was the only thing standing between Earthland and the destruction of many lives and livelihoods. A part of her sneered at the possibility that she was just trying to feel overdramatic, and create a sort of hero position for herself, in order to feel important. But as she reflected on this, the Dongxian realized that no one else, except herself and Goethe, would know what had happened here. No one that mattered, that is. If she and Goethe failed to bring an end to the threat posed by the strange being only known to her as the Metropolitan King, she was quite certain that neither Ivan the Devil Butcher, nor his wife, Luna the Diophage, would go round telling the tales of a group of intrepid, though hapless, warriors, who had fought in vain to prevent the Metropolitan King from doing whatever it was that Metropolitan kings did to dimensions that did not belong to them. Even if she and Goethe managed to succeed against all the outstanding odds, it was very likely that still very few people, if any at all, would be made aware of their altruism and valor, the sacrifices made and the friends lost, the blood spilt and the tears shed. Goethe did not seem to be the boastful sort, and Suzhen knew that she would not speak of it, unless she felt it was under the most vital of circumstances to do so. She remembered an old Dongxian maxim which went, “when the deed will be hard, and there is no one to clap for you if you succeed, it is most likely that there is some measure of virtue in the task at hand.” If that proverb was anything to go by, then this was most likely the right thing to do, and even though Suzhen was frightened of whatever was waiting beyond the unnatural dimensional portal, she steeled herself for whatever was to come, and took a step forward.

    Goethe’s voice stopped her from taking the next. She turned and looked at her friend. His voice was calm and apparently unperturbed, but beneath the ice smooth surface, Suzhen could sense the roiling of some more primal, more forceful emotion, most likely anger. Suzhen studied Goethe’s face. It was calm, which she found to make the unexpressed anger apparently even more potent. It was funny how she found herself remembering so many of the words of wisdom spoken by her people, and one of them talked about how one of the greatest things to fear, perhaps after the wrath of an emperor, was the anger of a quiet person, especially when it was not channeled outward in an explosive rage. There was this mild feeling of comfort that the anger was not particularly aimed at her; Suzhen suspected that Goethe was angry with himself, and the helplessness which had always seemed to beset him at every turn. And he seemed set to rebel against the helplessness, even though he seemed at this moment to never have been more helpless than he presently was now. That, in Suzhen’s opinion, was true bravery. Sure, there was a very thin line between bravery and stupidity, but most of the stupids thought they were brave because they underestimated the danger, overestimated their own agencies, or simply did not have enough brain power to correlate danger with something to be avoided, if it were possible to do so. Goethe, of all people, knew just what sort of danger he would be getting himself into, going into a hostile place with no apparent means with which he could defend himself, so he wasn’t underestimating the peril. He could not be overestimating his abilities, because he was painfully aware of the fact that he had no particularly powerful ones at the moment. And having interacted with him long enough, Suzhen was sure that he was not stupid, or lacking in mental capacity. So, in her opinion, he was brave. And this was a thing to be most commended, even if others would think him a fool for walking headlong into the jaws of danger. But Suzhen said nothing, she just watched him quietly, noting every word he said.

    The Dongxian had a moment of fear when she realized that Goethe was picking the Devil Butcher’s ruinous tool, the Black Tooth, but the young man did not seem to suffer any untoward penalties. Besides, it was better that he had something with which to defend himself, and if Goethe could get to figure out the workings of this weapon, it could serve him well in the battle that was to come. Suzhen hoped it wasn’t cursed, in any case. Finally, Goethe asked a favor of her, one she wasn’t sure she herself was capable of doing. She sighed with a smile and shook her head slowly. ”You ask a most difficult thing, Mr. Ackermann,” she replied, ”and your tone is rather unreasonable. Why tell me I’ve still got a lot to live for, as though you don’t, as though you’re of no value, and the only worth you have is to die to correct your mistakes. I’ve made mistakes too… I’ve done things I’m not proud of, and while from my deductions, your crimes were not particularly intentional, mine were. But I learned that if one really desires restitution, one can take the steps forward towards a better future, and such a person deserves, as much as any other, to live. So, no, I am not going to stay in Hosenka, knowing that I left a friend, whom I could help, in the face of danger, to face death alone. I’m not that kind of friend. And no, I am also not going to accept that I have a lot to live for and you don’t. Truth is, one of my motivations is to be a hero, someone people can be able to trust to save them, but that’s only because I have power that’s been forcefully thrust on me. I’d rather have lived a life carrying out my research, documenting things, making knowledge available, knowledge that will help people. But I’ve found myself a warrior, so I try to take every opportunity I can get to use my power to help others, and enjoy myself doing so. You also have a lot to live for, so don’t talk to me like my life has value and yours doesn’t.”

    Suzhen paused, allowing him to let her words sink in, then she said more gently now, ”I’m afraid I cannot promise you what you desire. I have not the strength to do it. But I’m going to say this much: we’re friends, and I intend to protect you and have your back as best as I can. And I’m going into that hellish looking portal with the confidence that you’re also going to be vigorously looking out for me.” She unslung the Kraken’s Lament from off her back, and held it out to Goethe. ”I’m sure you’ll need this more than I presently do. Take care of it, use it well, and return it to me when we’re done kicking Metropolitan King butt.”


    WC: 1269
    TWC: 2606


    _____________________________________________________________________________________


    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
    Golden Lacrima in effect till 11th July 2022
    Digit v2
    Digit v2

    Player 
    Lineage : Buccaneer’s Bounty
    Position : None
    Posts : 316
    Guild : None
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Mentor : None
    Experience : 1,012,320

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Augur Concordia
    Second Magic: ???
    Third Magic: ???

    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 27th September 2021, 1:31 pm

    Goethe smiled wistfully when he heard her reply. "Huh. I was afraid you would say that. You know, earlier today, I convinced Baynard to help me plot against Arnie and have her knocked out... in a non-violent manner, of course, just to protect her from being killed when I went to battle against the Devil Butcher. Bayne thought we would fight Ivan together, but I double crossed him too, at the last moment. I don't know how things would have turned out if I had let them stick with me. All I know is that I tried so hard, yet they still died. Makes me wonder, then: if I don't try to hoodwink you into staying behind, are we both going to survive?" He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. What was he even saying? It logically did not make any sense.

    He considered the kite shaped shield which she presented to him. He had no reason to refuse it, unless he wanted to hold onto some stupid sense of pride that had no reason to exist, a pride that would end up making him the fool, in contrast to the brave person Suzhen thought him to be. Having lost his magic, he needed all the help he could get, if he wanted to come out of this alive. Normally, he would have felt very suicidal if he was going into the Imbalance of Despair alone, but now that Suzhen was with him, he owed it to her, if anything, to try to make it out of there alive. He may have thought it fitting to perform some sort of mutual suicide with the Metropolitan King, if that were possible, but that would only add another tragic twist to an already sad story. If the both of them could return to Hosenka in each of them one piece, that would be closest to any happy ending he would be able to get out of this story. It was best to have that in mind, but steel his heart for the opposite.

    "Well, like people say, I may as well hope for the best, but prepare for the worst."

    Thinking to himself like this made him realize how "empty" his head felt. Not that he had become stupid or an imbecile, as the the statement would suggest, but he had been so much used to the psychic bond he shared with Arnoba that it felt like his mind was now like the home of a soldier, who had  gone away for the war. No, more accurately, it felt more like the loved one who dwelt alone in the house of the soldier who had gone off to war. He sighed involuntarily, realized that he had not accepted the Kraken's Lament from his friend, and quickly rectified the situation. He hoped his unintended hesitation would not be taken wrongly by Suzhen.

    "Thank you," he said softly. "I'm looking forward to  giving this back to you."

    The Kraken's Lament was heavier than he had expected. Normally, his body tended to enjoy various physical boosts to his output, so he would have to learn to do without them. Fleetingly, he thought of how he had often considered how he was sure he could go toe to toe with Suzhen's uncanny strength, but now? She would probably miss the blow and he would still get squashed. Chuckling grimly to himself, he slung the armor on his back. There it would stay, until he had need for it. And speaking of weapons...

    He looked down at the Black Tooth in his hands. It seemed to vibrate softly, now that he thought about it, and the more he focused on it, the stronger it quivered, like it was somehow seeking to, or perhaps had already found a way to resonate with him. He was suddenly aware of his heart humming within his chest, in tune with the Black Tooth. Normally, he should have panicked, but he remained unnaturally calm. He had always known that whatever it was that beat within his chest, where his heart was supposed to be, was not a human heart. He had not really tried to find out, because it would have killed him, but putting two and two together, it made sense that he probably shared some characteristics with the Great Old Ones, which would explain why the Black Tooth reverberated with him. Otherwise, how else would he have served as a proper vessel for the Metropolitan King? Perhaps his greatest thorn would now serve to be of some use to him tonight; what with all the ways things had gone south throughout today, he hoped it would be a stroke of good fortune that would endure till it was needed no more.

    He held out the sword and pointed it into the night, then willed it to extend, like he had seen the Devil Butcher wield it. Nothing happened. Frowning slightly, he tried again. Still nothing. Focusing on the vibrations it gave off, he gently nudged at it, once again pushing, nay, coaxing, more than commanding it to extend. Without warning, he felt as though a bolt of electricity shot from the organ palpitating within his chest, streaking into his shoulder, down his arm and into the Black Tooth. In a fluid move devoid of resistance, the blade of the strange weapon extended to the length of a longsword. And in that moment, whatever resistance he felt in the Black Tooth vanished. He retracted the blade until it had completely disappeared into the hilt, then extended it until it stretched into the darkness. He drew it back to himself, settling for a dagger-length blade. Without anyone telling him, he knew.

    The Black Tooth had accepted him.

    Thinking about the awful abilities Ivan had used it to accomplish, Goethe considered trying to cut space like he had seen done before, but when he remembered what might be lurking at the other side, he thought against it. Such endeavors would be best carried out in more controlled environments. Perhaps when this was over, the two of them could study the weapon and learn its secrets.

    Yes, that would be nice.

    Goethe turned to Suzhen. He was as ready as he could be. It was not like any other amount of preparation could equip him for what waited for them on the other side. It was time to step into the unknown from which they might never return.

    There was that question, though.

    "Before we go, do you mind if I ask you a question? Or, rather, two? You mentioned that you committed a crime intentionally, and you said something about your power being thrust forcibly on you. Dongxians don't usually come to Ishgar's continent, or stay for too
    long, but you're obviously a permanent resident here. Were you exiled for something you did back then?"
    He added quickly, "You don't have to tell me if it's too personal, or you don't want to, but the reason I'm asking is not because of some idle curiosity. I want to have a goal to focus on in there, and a goal to return to. So, since you're helping me clean up my mess, I'll help you with yours, whatever it is, when we get back. Please, don't refuse. I seriously dislike being a freeloader."

    WC: 1222
    TWC: 3828


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Fraag
    Fraag

    Player 
    Lineage : The World Serpent
    Position : None
    Posts : 639
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 2,093,395

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Yoza Kengen
    Second Magic:
    Third Magic:

    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag 28th September 2021, 1:32 pm

    Suzhen really felt sorry for her friend as he speculated on how he had tried to save his friends by preventing them from following him into danger, only for his intentions to backfire, as both of them had ended up getting killed, the actions of the dark haired man apparently all for naught. While it was really heart wrenching, it seemed he had learned a sort of lesson from this unfortunate circumstance. Now Goethe seemed much less reluctant to let his friends join him in shouldering his burdens. Suzhen was not sure she could say for certain though, that if he had willingly allowed his friends to have joined him when he decided to face the Devil Butcher and the Diophage for the first time this evening, they would still be alive today. One of the most difficult questions to answer, and one that a lot of the wise from every heretofore existent time, race and clime, had contemplated, was the question that sought the answer of whether all things had been scripted by some strange force, or deity, of fate, and if yes, just what sort of thing fate was, and if it could be controlled, or appeased. Suzhen, for her part, was more inclined to hope that fate was a very plastic thing, easily twisted to the decisions of those over which it held sway. But one thing she was certain of was that the strong often tended to hold some control over their destinies, although she had seen cases and heard stories of those who, no matter how strong they had striven to be, could not escape the heavy hand of fate. Perhaps that was nature’s own way of reminding humans that no matter how high they aspired, there would still be ones much stronger than they were.

    There had seemed to be some sort of delay; Suzhen could not tell whether it had been distraction or reluctance, but eventually, Goethe received the shield she had proffered him. Suzhen nodded with a smile at his vociferated hope. She herself was looking forward to collecting it back from his own outstretched hands. Despite that fact that Suzhen felt afraid of what was to come; they were less in number now, and Goethe had lost his powers, which placed the two mages at a rather more precarious position than they had been when they had teleported to the lava flats outside Hosenka; there was nothing to be gained by giving in to despair. If anything, despair would only end up making it easier for their enemies beyond the portal to defeat them. Although it was not certainly able to substitute for tried battle prowess, the will of a person was often understated, and if one’s will was broken, no matter how powerful they were, the battle was all but lost. Unfortunately, that did not mean that if someone was graced with an undauntable will, that they would prevail against an enemy who was much stronger than they were, unless they were able to cow their enemy into submission. In this scenario, Suzhen was almost certain that this would not be the case. The Metropolitan King seemed to be a rather powerful being, and the two eldritch servants of this otherworldly creature seemed to place absolute confidence in this strange king. Though they could not expect to win by intimidation, Suzhen could bet all her savings on the expectation that the Metropolitan King and his subjects would try to use the age old tactic of eroding their opponents’ wills. Hence the need for hope, hope that they could survive this. If there was only the expectation of death, Suzhen and Goethe could be suicidal, which could lead to unnecessary injuries and worse things.

    Suzhen watched as Goethe studied the Black Tooth for a moment, and then pointed it outwards, as though he was challenging an enemy. Involuntarily, she followed the pointing of the weapon, looking to see if there was some target he had seen and was menacing with that gesture. There was nothing, just the quiet night. And then Suzhen realized that Goethe was actually trying to use the Black Tooth. Panic initially clutched at her, but she calmed herself. Although the Dongxian had a lot of reservations about this weapon, she was sure that if Goethe could use it half as well as Ivan had, when fighting them some minutes ago, it would be a rather notable advantage to be had, and they both needed all the advantages they could get. Goethe had arrived at this realization before her, it seemed. For the moment, nothing happened, but just when Suzhen was about to admit that she thought the Black Tooth could only be used by the Devil Butcher, the weapon extended to the length of a longsword. She stared at the weapon, eyes wide and mouth slightly ajar in shock. The Black Tooth changed dimensions effortlessly, and then settled on the size of a dagger, something similar to what it had been when the Dongxian scholar had first laid eyes on it. It seemed the Black Tooth had a new master. They were ready to go…

    …or not. Perhaps Suzhen should have expected the questions Goethe asked her, since she had mentioned things that would most likely pique the curiosity of a friend. Interestingly, though, he was the first person to ask her about the past she had left behind. She would tell him. Perhaps she would finally make some level of peace with her past. But she knew that she could never have the peace she wanted until she was free of the influence of the World Snake. She took in a deep breath. ”Ooookay,” she intoned. ”I’ve never told anyone alive this, but then again, no one ever asked. Since you did, and you’re a friend, I shall oblige you.” Suzhen turned to back Goethe, and drew her hair to one side, revealing the World Snake seal just below the back of her neck. ”Have you seen this before? It’s the mark of an ancient beast, a cosmic snake, which has recurred in various mythologies around Ishgar, probably even Fiore. It goes by many names: the World Snake, Ouroborus, Jormungandr; we of Dongxia called it Gonggong. It is a being of reputedly endless strength and endless hunger. I was born in Fenghai, a little village far in the swamps of Shuiyu. In Dongxia, the August Longdi rules from his citadel of Qian Dao Gong, and I think he’s a good ruler, but Fenghai is one of those places so far away that it’s difficult for the government to have a hold on it. Many places in Dongxia are like that, that’s why there are so many hidden cults and oddities in the Dongxian wilds. Anyway, there was this other village close by, Huangmu, larger and stronger than Fenghai. The people of Huangmu always bullied and raided us. One day, a strange cultist came to our house, and told my father that I had been chosen to save Fenghai forever, but they needed to perform a ritual on me. He refused. Shortly after, Huangmu raided us again. My father—he died in that raid. My mother died of grief shortly after, leaving me and my little sister, Xiaoqing. My extended family promptly gave me over to the cultists. I was drugged and I slept straight for two days, and I had terrible nightmares like I’ve never had before. When I awoke, the mark of the World Snake was branded upon me. And nothing else changed, except the torturous nightmares. Not seeing the deliverance they had been promised, my people grew resentful of me. Then the chief of Huangmu came and informed the elders of my village that he wanted me for a wife, and that would end Huangmu’s harassment of Fenghai. I was fifteen at the time. I was handed over like I had no value, and so, in the hope that I would be able to protect Xiaoqing, I asked that she be allowed to accompany me. But no sooner had we arrived at Huangmu than the pig who called himself the chief tried to force himself on Xiaoqing, so I forced my entire hair comb down his throat.  And his goons attacked us, and I couldn’t save my sister. And so they all died. Something powerful came over me, and I killed them, and I felt pure, unadulterated joy doing so.”

    She paused, a pained look on her face. ”I even killed a number of bystanders, whose only crime was coming to see what was causing such a racket. That was the greatest moment of shame of my life. I was not myself, but I think I could have stopped it, if I had tried hard enough. I allowed the World Snake to control me, and I killed discriminately: men, women, children, animals.” Suzhen gave Goethe a sad smile. ”And everyone looks at me and assumes I’m this nice, sweet girl.” She laughed.


    WC: 1497
    PWC: 2766
    TWC: 5325


    _____________________________________________________________________________________


    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
    Golden Lacrima in effect till 11th July 2022
    Digit v2
    Digit v2

    Player 
    Lineage : Buccaneer’s Bounty
    Position : None
    Posts : 316
    Guild : None
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Mentor : None
    Experience : 1,012,320

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Augur Concordia
    Second Magic: ???
    Third Magic: ???

    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 6th October 2021, 9:36 am

    Goethe couldn't say that he had seen the seal tattooed onto Suzhen's upper back before; her copious hair often hid that part of her body, and besides, Goethe had not made a habit of trying to study every square inch of his friend, as the thought alone even sounded perverted. He squinted at the circular symbol in the moonlight, and he noticed the Dongxian script that had been inscribed below the seal. It was a pity he had no idea what the writing meant; prior to this time, he would have been able to understand what it said, thanks to his connection with Arnoba. She had died, and his powers had gone away. Despite his mild curiosity, Goethe did not ask for the meanings of the symbols. They might have had something to do with the seal, and they might not have. Either way, it was none of his business, and he would only be willing to hear the answer, if Suzhen was willing to include it in her discussion with him. He wasn't sure of the "Gonggong" appellation by which it was named by Suzhen's people, but Goethe was familiar enough with tales and legends of the World Snake, Ouroborus, and the Jormungandr that played a very decisive role in the Ragnarok, a mythological ending of worlds. It was stunning that his unassuming friend had been the conduit of a world breaking power. For a while, he wondered what would happen if this Metropolitan King and the World Snake were to clash. He dismissed the thought quickly enough. Such creatures somehow unfortunately had the common sense to avoid interfering with each others' plans, leaving  the rescue missions and salvages to the hapless humans that were entangled with their maddening plots.

    As he listened to her history, Goethe realized that the two of them had a lot in common, as far as origin stories were concerned. They had both become vessels, against their wills, of an otherworldly entity which was definitely not one of the good guys. Cultists who worshipped these beings had been involved, though Goethe mentally noted, with some wry humor, that unlike Suzhen, the cultists in his story were members of his own family. But that was where the similarities tapered out; at least, that was what he initially supposed. While the both of them had been victims of circumstance, Goethe's issue had been the feeling of helplessness he had experienced when his  powers had spiraled out of control. From the way Suzhen spoke, she was not incapable of stopping herself from killing her sister's murderers. Goethe did not blame her. He would have done the same thing.

    As he listened further, he saw that their life stories gained a similarity once more. Suzhen admitted she had not been herself when the unchecked slaughter began, and she blamed herself for not being able to hold back. Goethe smiled slightly, a sad smile, when she stated that she thought she could have stopped, had she tried hard enough. They had both been the same in that regard. Here each of them was, at a separate point in time, having a strange power coursing through them, fueling a felony that they would never have been part of, dangling a false hope before their eyes that if they really pushed themselves, they could have averted it. But at this point, he came to the conclusion that if either of them could have stopped it, they would have. And thus, each one of them had carried a sin that weighed heavily on their souls, trying hard to obtain redemption through their acts.

    Perhaps it was time for the both of them to forgive themselves.

    Goethe placed a hand gently on her shoulder, but he was quiet for a while. "You are a nice, sweet girl. That is no assumption." His words finally came, a little quietly, but firmly, nonetheless. "We two are rather alike, like peas in a pod, what with our back stories and the crimes we have consistently tried to atone for. But I realized something, Suzhen. I realized that even though you killed those bystanders, it was not your fault. You said you could have stopped it. If you really could have, you would have. I know what it's like to have yourself being controlled, having it seem like control is just out of arm's reach, and perhaps, if you reached just a little farther, you might attain it. And that's why the guilt is so much."

    His eyes smoldered in the dark, but his voice did not quaver. "I'm tired of that life, Suzhen. I don't want to do good deeds because I seek atonement anymore. I want to do them just because that's who I am. I've spent close to nine years dragging that weight behind me, but tonight, it all ends. I will no longer be characterized by the deeds of the Metropolitan King. I will be characterized by who I am. It took me a while to realize this, but thanks to you, my fellow sufferer, I am on the cusp of making peace with my past. However, that peace will be attained when vengeance has been served.

    "Suzhen, please, don't live all your life in the shadow of that day. Let it go. You might find a way to have your comeuppance against the World Snake, or you might not. Whichever the case, you are not a criminal, so don't think that way, and don't let anyone make you think so."


    He gave her a warm smile. "Once again, thanks for being a good friend... but if I stand here trying to show how grateful I am, we might never get anything done. Now, on to grislier matters."

    Without any other words, Goethe gripped the Black Tooth firmly and marched up to the edge of the shimmering portal. He thrust the blade halfway through, which did not emerge from the other side. Then he jabbed at it with a finger, then pushed it through and pulled it out whole, having suffered no ill effects. He put in his entire hand, and drew it back, and it was unharmed. Finally, taking a deep breath, Goethe stepped through the portal...

    ... and found himself falling.

    It was good that he had steeled his mind for anything at all, so while this caught him a little off-guard, he was not too shaken to react efficiently. He noticed that he was a bit close to a rock formation, so he extended the Black Tooth to plunge into the rock and halt his descent. It was a bit jarring, but it worked well enough. He was not too far from the ground, so he made his way down, and looked around.

    The place was definitely not Earthland, from the looks of it. Its sky was a pale crimson color, similar to the hue of the portal through which he had entered. The rocks around were black, and the lighting was a little bit wanting. Before he could make any close observations, there was a cracking sound as a large spider-like abomination, with the face of a lion-like creature, pulled itself from the ground and watched him with golden eyes. Behind it, more began to rise up, but despite the harsh snapping and creaking sounds, Goethe heard a distinct peal of laughter.

    Luna. The Diophage.

    She sat beyond the sea of monster spiders, watching with interest. "Welcome to the Graveyard of the Gods," she announced dramatically. "Quite ironic that a place with such a name would bring about the rebirth of the Metropolitan King."

    "I intend for the name to be more fitting, instead," Goethe retorted, as he drew and readied the Kraken's Lament. "This is where you and your false god die."

    Luna only laughed in reply. And the monster spiders attacked.

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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag 6th October 2021, 2:41 pm

    Suzhen said nothing when Goethe began to speak, his hand resting reassuringly on her shoulder. While what he was saying was reasonable, Suzhen was not sure she believed his words, that she would have stopped the slaughter of the people of Huangmu if she could. Because deep down, Suzhen was aware that she had had no intention nor desire to stay the bloodletting as soon as Xiaoqing breathed her last pained gasps in her older sister’s arms. Suzhen was not so far gone that she could not control herself when in Serpent Force mode, even though the desire for violence was increased in that state. The truth was, Suzhen had simply willed herself to do nothing, allowing her body to react almost instinctively, driven by nothing but hatred and despair. And there had been that voice of conscience that had called out repeatedly, admonished her not to give in to her despair and hatred, for some people’s blood did not deserve to be shed. And she, Bai Suzhen, had willfully shut out the voice, wrapping herself in a cocoon in her own mind, isolating herself with her pains and woes. Had she decided to take charge of herself, Suzhen was certain that she would have, without a doubt, been able to stay her hand from the wanton carnage she had allowed to be wreaked that day. There was, after all, a Dongxian saying which posited that while people often decried those who put forth their hands to do evil, evil just as great could be wrought by the inaction of those who should have acted. In that regard, Goethe was better than she was, because at least, he could not have been able to resist whatever influence the Metropolitan King had exerted over him. And Suzhen had not mentioned what had happened after the night of the Huangmu massacre, for she had not initially been sorry for what she had done, and was even on the way to becoming a local tyrant herself, until she had met the first man she had loved, Xu Xian. But Suzhen had long since placed herself on the path of atonement, and she had learned to forgive herself. So she did not attempt to correct her friend.

    In any event, it was good to see that Goethe was eager to move on and make sense of himself. Suzhen had been lucky, she had been able to meet someone who had forcefully corrected her thinking, before she had crossed a line of no return. Goethe hadn’t seemed to be in such a risk, but he had not had anyone, perhaps apart from Arnoba and Bayne, who could reach into his darkness and help him out of it. Now, Bayne and Arnoba were sadly deceased, but Suzhen was still here. And she was keen on helping Goethe through this dark corridor of his life. Because this was the very reason for the existence of friends. A true friend was supposed to be there in the fair and foul weather, helping with burdens and blessings, and giving whatever sound advice they were capable of giving. And like a good friend, Goethe had reminded her of the fact that the past was simply where it was, and while it could not be changed, its shadow which fell into the future could be brightened. And today’s step to brightening yesterday’s shadow was going into that strange portal and kicking the backside of whatever was in there that had been named the Metropolitan King. Suzhen gave a smile in response to Goethe’s last statement, and quietly echoed her friend’s words, ”…on to grislier matters….”

    Suzhen watched as Goethe tested the portal repeatedly. That was wise. She had heard tales of portals that ripped those who passed through them apart, unless some mysterious criterion was met. Some other portals led into regions of instant death; Suzhen was not sure, no matter how powerful a person was, that it would be easy to survive if one was teleported to a plane that was chock full of corrosive gas, or something like the center of a sun. Having tested the portal to his satisfaction, Goethe stepped into it and vanished. Suzhen waited for a little moment, and then followed him in, wondering whether it was probably not a good idea to have attempted to enter the portal with him. Even though the portal’s dimensions were too narrow for both mages to enter at the same time, perhaps if they had held hands or stayed connected somehow, that might have been safer. The reason for this thought process was the fact that some portals led to places with terribly absurd variations of the laws of space and time, and if this portal was something similar, then Goethe stepping into the portal before her would mean that she would not see him by the time she stepped through herself. Fortunately, it wasn’t the case. Suzhen’s eyes widened slightly, as she found herself falling. To fall from this height would be fatal for a normal human. Suzhen was however not anything near a normal human being. She saw Goethe climbing down a nearby rock formation, and was reminded of the fact that she would need to keep an eye out for him in the battle to come. As the earth approached, the Dongxian did a single flip and landed in a crouching position, before rising and looking around.

    There were strange arachnoid monsters coming up out of the ground, the creatures’ eyes fixed on the two mages. And then she heard Luna’s voice. The Dongxian’s brows furrowed unconsciously. In the distance, she could see the weird woman, sitting and watching them, the voice of the Diophage carrying across the space to the hearing of the two mages. Goethe had a few choice words of his own, words that Luna apparently did not believe, thanks to her response. Suzhen said nothing. In moments like this, words grew useless. The best way to communicate would be through actions. As the spider monsters surged, Suzhen took a grounded stance and began swinging her arms. ”Teiryudo: Gouka Messatsu!” Bright blue balls of fire began swirling around her, and as the first spider drew to almost within striking distance, Suzhen took a single step back, and one of the trailing fiery projectiles struck the creature as it prepared to jump. Three others, hot on the first one’s tail also found themselves suddenly kindled by blue flame. There was an otherworldly shriek, as the four spider things died in evidently great agony, their viscera and muscles slowly being burned away. Suzhen allowed the effect of her strange blue fire to sink in, though she had little care as to whether these spidery things were capable of rational and intelligent thought. And then with hand motions, Suzhen began spreading blue fiery death as she slowly walked forward, her eyes ever fixed on the form of the Diophage.

    WC: 1154
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    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
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    Digit v2
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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 7th October 2021, 10:58 am

    Goethe had noticed that Suzhen had been rather quiet once they had entered the "Graveyard of the Gods", as Luna had so named it. His Dongxian friend was probably in her "business mode", and Goethe had only seen her in a similar mood back when they had had that short but violent spat on the border of the two clashing world powers, Pergrande and Bellum. It wasn't like being flippant would do anybody any good, any way. Like her, he was done talking to the Diophage. He would let his actions speak, and hope they were more than enough.

    As the gargantuan arachnoid creatures approached aggressively, Suzhen conjured up a series of livid spheres of blue fire, which began to make short work of the monster spiders. The fire was very effective, much like natural flames easily slew normal spiders on a good day. Goethe couldn't help but feel a little useless as he watched her efficient pest eradication techniques. Without his powers, he was pretty much unable to do anything, but there was no more time for self pity and regret. He was done with that. He stayed where he was until Suzhen had walked past him, and then he followed, blade in one hand and shield in the other, keeping pace with her.

    The monster spiders were screaming with helpless fury as they backed away from Suzhen's unrelenting flames, learning by now that they were courting death if they came too close. Still, some of them were unfortunate; their kin behind them refused to give way quickly enough, and as they tried to scuttle backwards, they bumped into each other, so that the Gouka Messatsu found their marks and burned them to death. The progress of the Dongxian scholar might have been slow, but from all indications, it remained inexorable. And while the spiders were but brute beasts, even animals could come up with a strategy.

    Goethe noticed that some of the spiders far behind had begun to skirt around, seeing as they could not approach the invaders from the fore. Instantly, he knew what they were planning. It was one of the oldest tricks in the books: a pincer movement. Pointing the Black Tooth at the spider leading the circling charge, he willed the weapon to obey his will. Immediately, the blade flashed as it extended its length instantaneously, and the spider collapsed, a hole punched through its cranium. Still, the others continued, clambering over rocks, crevices and outcrops, as they hurried to press their advantage. Goethe swung his attack next, the Black Tooth easily sweeping through the bodies of three of the monsters like it was ethereal, and yet they came apart at those points. Good thing he had never tried blocking this strange weapon.

    "Heads up, Suzhen! They're trying to surround us."

    He was sure that she might have noticed, but who knew whether she was fully focused on burning this horrible beasts that she might have been oblivious to any other danger? "Keep up the fire works; they are highly effective, and much of their bulk lies before us. I'll deal with any ones that try to pick us off from behind. And don't worry, if I need help, I'll be sure to let you know."

    With those words, he fell back a little further, extending the blade and whipping it out to slice more spiders into pieces. He noticed that the dynamics of swinging the elongated blade of the Black Tooth made it more like a flail weapon and less like a sword. He had no problem with that. The power of the Astral Arsenal had filled his mind, whenever he equipped it, with various styles and arts of weapon utilization, and being the perfectionist he sometimes was, he had often trained in the use of these weapons without the help of his battle tools.  Such knowledge was now an advantage for him.

    The Black Tooth was uncanny in its power, because unlike a flail or whip that had the disadvantage of leaving its wielder open in the moment after it was unfurled, Goethe simply withdrew the blade with nigh-lightning speed, and lashed it out again. The spiders were getting closer every moment, but they were also bein  cut down by their dozens. He was making a difference here, despite his lack of powers. He would pat himself on the back for it, but he wouldn't let it get into his head. Taking the little victories as they came was good enough fuel to keep him going.

    One of the spiders ran along a high rock face, then flung itself off and leaped towards them, no doubt intending to crush them beneath its bulk. Once again, the Black Tooth flicked outwards, cleanly bifurcating the spider before it could get close. Taking advantage of Goethe's attack, another one came in low with surprising speed, having managed to get all the way to behind the two warriors. Goethe put the Kraken's Lament between himself and the fangs of the monster, thrusting the Black Tooth out like a spear to skewer it in the brain. Instead of trying to  pull the blade out, he withdrew it into its hilt until it barely stuck out, saving himself the time and effort of pulling back. Without missing a breath, he swung, slicing through the heads of two more spiders in one blow, beating back whatever else tried to come close to them from behind.

    Soon, the battle had left in its wake a multitude of dismembered and burning bodies, but the two intruders into the Graveyard of the Gods stood undefeated by their first contacts. Luna watched them, her expression one of intrigue, and then  she clapped her hands, looking gleeful. "This is marvelous! The two of you were outstanding! What a glorious performance! Of course, you would want me to cut to the chase and show you the way to the Palace of the Metropolitan King, but he's not yet prepared to meet his guests, yet. While we're waiting for his summons by my husband, why not entertain yourselves further?"

    Goethe and Suzhen would notice that what had appeared to be two rocks ahead of them  suddenly cracked and split open, and two monstrosities emerged. The first would have been a moth like creature, except that it was nine feet tall, and had a writhing mass of tentacles where its head was supposed to be. Its legs were also long tentacles, and if it was supposed to be an insect, it had eight, rather than six legs. The other creature was of similar height; it was more or less bipedal, but too slimy and gaunt to inspire anything but disgust if compared with a living being. Its face was misshapen, like someone had started work on a plasticine project of a screaming man, then left it halfway.

    Uttering disturbing groans and grunts, these abominations approached Suzhen and Goethe. Then, while the arthropod looking creature lifted itself into the air with a powerful beat of its wings, the humanoid arched its back and screamed.

    "These seem intended to waste our time," Goethe noted with no small degree of distaste. "You take one; leave me to butcher the other."

    Interesting choice of words, he considered; he was already wielding the weapon of the Devil Butcher, and he had done a good job of butchering, if he dared say so himself. Still, there was no way he would be the successor of such a cursed name, if he could say anything about it.
    That name, its owner and their master had to expire tonight.
    WC: 1264
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    Fraag
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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag 7th October 2021, 1:38 pm

    Suzhen noted, with some considerable measure of favorable impression, the tactic Goethe had used in response to her own fiery counteroffensive. Despite his recently acquired lack of powers, the Ackermann had proceeded to create his own method of staying in the game and keeping himself relevant, becoming a monster spider slaying machine in his own right. True enough, if he had found himself in a pinch, Suzhen was sure that she would have, as quickly as possible, come to his aid and not have complained about it, but it was so much easier to fight without having to distract yourself from an attacking foe, for the purpose of attempting to keep a friend from harm. And even though Suzhen was sure that she could whirl her fiery blue trails of death and destruction to defend against enemies behind her, she was going to expend much less effort on concentrating, because she considered herself covered, as far as attacks from the rear were concerned. So even when Goethe announced the warning that the spiders were trying to get them surrounded, Suzhen simply expressed her acknowledgement of his warning with a quick nod, but did not bother to adjust her strategy, being assured that Goethe was by himself enough to prevent their being surrounded from becoming a rather serious problem. And as she expected, he did not disappoint.

    While Suzhen directed the plumes of flame of her Gouka Messatsu, she was sure to use her psychic extra sense, Shingan Bokusen, to keep an eye, figuratively, on Goethe’s progress. He seemed to be using the Black Tooth rather effectively, and for the moment, Suzhen did not know whether to just be grateful that the strange weapon had been left behind by its former owner, or still observe it with a wary mind, seeing as its nuances and workings were not completely understood by the two light mages. In any case, it was best to be grateful for little boons, but Suzhen was determined to be a lot more on guard if the Devil Butcher decided to show his face again, seeing as the Black Tooth might have just been waiting to get back once more into the hands of its true master. The hope, though, was that the eldritch blade did not have a true master, and was content to remain in the employ and service of Goethe Ackermann, although the thought that this weapon might have a will of its own was a little disconcerting.

    In time, the spiders were dead to the last one, having been slashed, skewered or scorched by the two mages set on eliminating the Metropolitan King. The smell of charred otherworldly flesh was weird in a rather unpleasant way, but it wasn’t anything that Suzhen could not easily ignore. Having done away with the spiders, Suzhen continued her walk, still heading for where the Diophage sat watching them. She ignored Luna’s sarcastic praise, her eyes still fixed on that disturbingly beautiful face as she slowly closed the distance between them. Deep down, Suzhen considered Luna her problem, and though she was not going to complain if it was Goethe that ended up slaying the Diophage, that feeling that Luna was Suzhen’s problem had persisted, ever since the most ingenious trick had been used to kill Goethe’s friends. She had originally been Suzhen’s opponent, and while Suzhen was not going to blame herself for not being able to stop Luna from executing her plan with Ivan, the Dongxian simply felt that when she had first faced Luna, the idea was to fight until one of them was dead, as grisly as that sounded. Since Luna was still alive, Suzhen was not eager to throw that idea away. Unfortunately, Luna seemed to have other things in mind.

    Whether with Luna’s twisted mind, or by some other unknown cue, the Diophage summoned two new monstrosities, each one hatching out of some rock-like cocoon to face the duo. Suzhen had a horrifying thought that all the black rocks in this place could very well just be cocoons of slumbering monstrosities and other eldritch freaks. After all, the spider monsters had come out of the ground, which seemed to be made of the same black material as whatever those two freaks had just emerged out of. Her mouth remained closed, but Suzhen activated the telepathic platform ability of her Shingan Bokusen, creating a mental forum where in she could converse silently and unheard with Goethe. ”While we don’t particularly have any choice in the matter of walking about on the earth,” Suzhen stated silently, ”It would be most wise to regard the ground, and any other thing made out of the black rocks of this region, to be housing some dangerous, evil freak. All those spider things came out of the ground, did they not? And now we see Luna and Ivan’s spirit animals coming out of what had previously seemed to be rocks. Beware the ground, thus. And in other news, I think the moth is Luna’s spirit animal, so I’m going to kill it.” She didn’t mention that she was choosing the moth because it could fly, and flying provided more strategic advantages, which Suzhen, thanks to her magic, was sure she could counter.

    ”Let’s slay our freaks quickly, then,” Suzhen said aloud, seemingly in response to Goethe’s latest statement, but more so that Luna would have no idea that the two could discuss privately and away from being eavesdropped on. So saying, she charged at the freaky insect thing which had lifted itself off from the ground. The moth freak’s wings began to shimmer, and strange, shiny scales began to float downwards, towards Suzhen. She quickly changed course, avoiding the scales. Whatever they were, she had no intention of figuring out their effect by experience. As Suzhen changed direction, the moth suddenly swooped, lunging at her, as it swept out the tentacles which were supposed to serve as its legs. Suzhen narrowly evaded the writhing appendages, also taking care not to touch the scales which now lay on the ground. However, she had moved a little close to a patch of ground dusted with scales, and the glow of the scales intensified, resulting in a soundless, flameless explosion, which sent the Dongxian flying. Quickly, she righted herself, pulling her monk’s spade off her back and using it as a leverage on the rocky ground to acrobatically reposition herself, before she darted off to the side and rolled to avoid another lunge of the moth freak. That seemed to be its strategy: use its scales to control the battle terrain, and lunge at her while she sought to keep herself alive. However the creature actually attacked physically, Suzhen did not want to know, but she was convinced that something with such an anomaly for a head could not have any attacks worthy of praise, even if they would be effective.

    Suzhen had not finished evading the last lunge, when the moth flicked its wing, sending a stream of scales her way. The iridescent stream exploded, sending her flying once more, and this time, the moth was prepared to intercept her. So, this thing was a lot more intelligent than the spiders she’d faced before. Before Suzhen could respond accordingly, she noticed to her surprise that some of the monster’s tentacle legs had extended at surprising speed, wrapping around her four limbs, while the rest of its tentacle legs found purchase on the ground to help it better as it reeled her in. The thing was actually quite strong to boot. But if it had thought that it had outmaneuvered Suzhen by using an ability that she didn’t know it possessed, it was in for a big surprise. The moth drew Suzhen closer as she struggled with its tentacles. And then from among the mass of squirming appendages that made its head, a strange, unsettling line formed, and a mouth opened to an almost ridiculous size, rimmed all over with long, needle teeth. It gave a final tug to pull Suzhen within range of its open maw, but there was a sudden flash, and the monster froze, as the telltale crescent of a Senkouken flew into the distance behind the open-mouthed creature. Then its tentacles which held Suzhen dropped limply to the ground, before the mass of its head above the ugly toothed rictus of its mouth slid off the rest of its body, dropping to the earth with a wet plop. Its body crashed to the ground not long after, leaving Suzhen to begin her approach towards Luna once more.


    WC: 1430
    PWC: 5350
    TWC: 10477


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    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
    Golden Lacrima in effect till 11th July 2022
    Digit v2
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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 10th October 2021, 1:54 pm

    "Yeah, I had a similar suspicion. It is very likely that whatever it is we are standing on is one massive monster-coughing organ. That's inconvenient, but I'm staying frosty, and I sure won't let that stop me."

    He observed the two newest uglies that Suzhen had referred to as "Luna and Ivan's spirit animals", and he almost laughed. How she had come up with such a connection was beyond him. Still, he agreed with her allocations; the moth like freak was likely more like his aunt than the long limbed hideous screamer. Suzhen had taken the moth, so the screamer was his to slay.

    He nodded in response to his friend's outspoken statement, and readied himself. Unlike Suzhen, who ran towards the moth-like monster to close the distance within them, Goethe walked resolutely towards the freak face creature. It crouched low, emitting what sounded like a cross between a snarl and a pained moan. It was planning to jump, Goethe assumed. It was probably a physical type, and would likely have a strength that belied its bony limbs. It would also likely be very fast, so as to cope with being a physical attacker. Goethe was rather fast on his feet himself, though he had to admit that the loss of his powers had made him a lot much slower than he had ever been before. And as for his physical strength... there were days when he could have crippled behemoths with a single punch, at the peak of his heydays.

    He pointed the blade of the Black Tooth at freak face, but he didn't extend it yet. Since he was not yet sure of its abilities, he preferred to be able to react to its attack with a counter strategy of his own. Freak face shrieked again, then lunged. Boy, it was fast! Goethe threw himself to the side, quickly performing a roll as his body hit the ground, so that his feet could be under him by the time freak face was ready to attack again. If that had been its average speed, Goethe was certain that he would be able to keep up. Hopefully, it would not have any boosts similar to his former magic that could temporarily but effectively increase its speed, because that would put him in a severe strait. He noticed that freak face had smashed through a thick rock column in its attempt to hit him. Yes, it was rather strong. Seeing as its back was to him, and it was being a bit slow turning to look for him, now was a very good time to press his attack.

    The Black Tooth extended in a flash, the blade rushing through the distance between them to plunge into freak face's back. Freak face looked down at the sword that now protruded through its chest, and screamed once more. Whatever had been causing it to make all those annoying noises, Goethe could not be sure, but this time, he was certain anger was part of it. Quickly, Goethe retracted the Black Tooth as freak face spun around, what was supposed to be its face pointed in his direction. It yanked out pieces of rock and flung them at him. Smart move. It was likely trying to get him to dodge, so that it could attack him while he was evading. He had no options. Had he still had his superhuman strength, he could have just blocked the rocks with the Kraken's Lament, but right now, they would likely squash him flat. Again, Goethe sprang aside.

    He felt the thuds vibrate through the substrate as the rocks missed him and struck the ground. The disadvantage of rolling, while it had gotten him out of immediate harm's way, was that freak face would be in his blind spot for a few dangerous seconds. Shield in front of him, Goethe quickly faced where he expected freak face to be. As he set eyes on the creature, he noticed that a pulsating ball of red light flickered in front of where its face was supposed to be, a split second before it erupted in a powerful ray of destructive energy. The blast struck the Kraken's Lament directly, and Goethe was obscured in a flash of light and smoke.

    Barely a second elapsed before a narrow, black shape shot out of the smoke, aiming right for freak face's head. Freak face moved with impressive speed, dodging the blade of the Black Tooth and jumping at Goethe. Even though this was in the thick of battle, and Goethe would have preferred to test this strategy in a much safer environment, there was no better time to test if this would work. Seeing as the Black Tooth functioned effectively when he thought of it as part of his body, perhaps he might be able to test just how versatile the blade could be. Instead of withdrawing it as usual, Goethe focused on the extending weapon, commanding it to turn backwards towards himself. He had used it a bit like a whip before, so theoretically, it ought to be able to change direction. But, trying to command it this way meant that he might be unable to dodge freak face.

    The blade of the Black Tooth returned, making a smooth graceful curve through the air, moving faster than the force of gravity and freak face's initial velocity could propel it towards Goethe. For the second time, the Black Tooth ran freak face through the chest, jarring it to a halt in mid air. Screaming, it writhed and dangled, and Goethe realized that he could not hold its weight in mid air. Freak face crashed to the ground, and instantly began powering up another red beam. It grabbed the blade that pierced it and held it tight, and to Goethe's consternation, he could not pull the blade out from its grasp. The pulsating ball of energy grew larger and larger, a dull ominous hum notifying everyone of its presence. With the way things were going, he would have to release the Black Tooth if he wanted to dodge, but that would disarm him of the only weapon he had.

    At a loss for what to do, Goethe extended the blade further.

    It worked. The blade headed towards Goethe for a micro-second, then curved upwards and returned, piercing through the red energy and into the face of freak face behind it. There was a loud, harsh croak that could be heard above the humming of energy, and then the red ball exploded, sending Goethe flying. He landed heavily and rather ungraciously on his back, and with a grunt and a clumsy roll, managed to get back on his feet, as he willed the Black Tooth to return its blade to him. To his relief, the blade retracted without any form of resistance.

    Straightening up, Goethe peeked warily from behind the shield, as he watched freak face's position, wreathed in dust and smoke. As the visual obstructions cleared, he noticed it was still standing... without a head. At first, he panicked slightly; was it supposed to be still going on even when its head had been vaporized? But then its body spasmed violently, and it fell forward. It stayed splayed on the ground, limbs twitching in grotesque manners, but the vigor and tempo of the spasms reduced until it was still. Goethe approached it carefully, and when he was sure it was completely unmoving, he suddenly extended the Black Tooth to lop off its arms from its torso, and its torso from its waist.

    "That is quite brutal, isn't it? And you're supposed to be the good guys..." Luna noted with mock horror.

    Goethe did not answer. He had decided that until he had cut any creature connected with this place into several pieces, he wouldn't be satisfied that it was dead. Oh, and he would destroy the head, first. That seemed to work.

    Suzhen had bifurcated the moth monster's head, effectively killing it, and that further cemented Goethe's theory about the creatures of this place, and why the Devil Butcher had not died when he had attacked him earlier tonight.

    "I think it's safe to say that to kill these things, we should go for the head, Suzhen," Goethe, taking advantage of the telepathic channel, said to his friend. "I couldn't land a fatal injury on Ivan's head, and he was able to survive. So, if we fatally damage the head, the monster should die."

    He joined Suzhen, and they approached Luna, refusing to answer her words. In situations like this, it was best to just jump into the fighting. Perhaps they could even attack Luna before Ivan arrived. That would be very advantageous...

    The ground suddenly cracked beside Luna, and like a devil coming up from the underworld, Ivan Ackermann crawled out. His appearance had taken on a more demonic visage: his eyes were burning pools of sulfur yellow, his skin was dark red and black. The black was cracked in many areas, and glowing red veins could be seen beneath. He started talking to Luna, then he noticed Suzhen and Goethe.

    And he smiled.

    "This is perfect. I actually, for a moment, thought that the loss of your powers would give you the common sense to leave the Black Tooth alone and avoid this place. You don't know how happy I am to see I was wrong."

    Looking at Luna, he said: "My dear, it is time."

    Luna jumped to her feet, her grin nothing short of manic. "The Metropolitan King is ready, Goethe, and do you know what that means?" No answer. "It means that all we have to do now is to kill the both of you to resurrect the King. Well, okay, we don't need to kill the girl, but I'm itching for a rematch."

    "And this time," Ivan added, reaching down to pull a large jagged cleaver out of the ground, "we won't be holding back. We had been fighting with kids' gloves, because we couldn't afford to sacrifice you before the time was right. But you've delivered yourselves to us. Thanks for making it so easy."

    "Goodness! You two talk too much," was all Goethe muttered. But quite frankly, he was starting to wonder if it hadn't been a little bit rash to rush into the Graveyard of the Gods like they had done, even suspecting that they were heading into a trap.

    WC: 1737
    TWC: 12,214


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Fraag
    Fraag

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    First Magic: Yoza Kengen
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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag 11th October 2021, 9:03 am

    Goethe seemed to have arrived at a similar conclusion as had Suzhen: that the ‘ground’ on which the two mages stood was probably a little more than an actual geological surface. This brought a lot of questions to Suzhen’s naturally curious mind, none of the least being whether the ground was actually composed of an organic or mineral substance, exactly how the generation of monsters was achieved, and if there was a will guiding such a process, and whether it was from this realm that Ivan had used the Black Tooth to summon forth abominations via his weapon’s ability to cut rifts in space time. And of course, that posited another question: was the Black Tooth only connected to this nightmarish realm of the Graveyard of the Gods, or was the weapon more of some sort of interdimensional key which could be used to traverse the distance between separate dimensions? And if the latter was the case, what ‘tuned’ the Black Tooth? Was it driven by the will of its wielder, or was a more elaborate requirement needed to give the eldritch weapon the ability to create portals to other planes and worlds other than the one to which it was originally attuned? And speaking of worlds, was this place a dimension that did not necessarily conform to the laws of space and time, or was it, for all intents and purposes, a planet in some alien star system? It was likely not a planet, even though it seemed to have planetary gravitational laws. Probably some weird planar aberration, most likely. But the time to contemplate on questions and considerations about this realm would have to be kept on hold for another time.

    Suzhen noticed that, unlike herself, Goethe was not taking any chances with his opponent, dismembering it even after he had apparently killed it. And there was good reason to do so, if Ivan was anything to be used as a point of reference. It seemed fatal damage to the head was the most surefire way to ensure their enemies from this weird world stayed dead. She had cast a quick glance at her fallen opponent, but the eldritch moth thankfully seemed to be staying dead. Perhaps a direct attack to the brain was what did the trick, although Suzhen decided to go for destroying the head as well as possible, if she could. Thinking back to when they had fought the Diophage and the Devil Butcher, Suzhen surmised that she and Goethe had learned their lessons, more or less. Of course, when fighting a normal humanoid opponent, decapitation was usually the best and quickest means of dispatching the target. She had even attempted to decapitate Luna back then, when she had first had a brief tussle with the Diophage. This time, she would probably attempt on the Diophage what she had managed to perform on the creature she had dubbed Luna’s alleged spirit animal. Suzhen noted with an air of irritation that the gloating Diophage professed that the mages were supposedly the ‘good guys’. Obviously sarcasm. Perhaps because of the death of Goethe’s friends, Suzhen did not feel particularly in the mood to respond vocally to Luna’s words.

    As the two approached Luna, a new monster emerged from the ground. Initially, Suzhen could not recognize the form, but from general bone structure, she began to see some similarities with Ivan. The smile confirmed Suzhen’s suspicions; it was Ivan Ackermann. Suzhen wondered what had been done to him, but she was not willing to consider this. He needed to die, as well as Luna. And then would follow the Metropolitan King, wherever he was. What Suzhen found bothersome was that Ivan was quite glad that the two mages had come here, especially Goethe. The mention of the Black Tooth worried Suzhen even more. Did Ivan still have some level of control over the weapon? Was her friend in peril for using the eldritch tool? She kept her eyes fixed on Ivan and Luna, but mentally reached out to Goethe. ”Be wary of that weapon, Goethe,” she warned silently. ”Ivan probably still has a sort of hold on the Black Tooth.”

    Luna was revving to fight, and she was interesting in having a rematch with Suzhen. While Goethe was supposed to be a sacrifice, Suzhen was probably expected to be collateral damage. Inwardly, she decided to make the eldritch couple regret her involvement in this matter. She did not bother telling Goethe not to die; she knew he was not interested in that. From Ivan’s words, they wished to sacrifice him to bring about the Metropolitan King’s return. But if Goethe did not die, that would be a problem solved, right? Goethe had reason to be wary, especially as he had lost his powers. Suzhen didn’t. She cast a sidelong glance at her friend when he complained about the loquacity of the eldritch couple, and said with a small smile, ”I most certainly agree.” And then she charged, preparing a swing with Fahai. She was sure Goethe would handle Ivan, but she was still going to keep out her eyes for sneak attacks. ”I still intend to interfere in your fight, however I can, Goethe, but I’m going to attempt to punish Luna severely if she tries redirecting her attacks at you. Best of luck.”

    As Suzhen came within striking range, she swung her monk’s spade downwards, aiming to cleave Luna’s head, but the Diophage receded out of the way of the attack. Receded, because no living human was expected to move the way the Diophage had, like her tissues were made of some strange half solid, half liquid mass, rapidly alternating between the two states. Out of Suzhen’s reach, the Diophage’s body began to reconstruct itself, until Luna stood transformed before her. Now standing at almost seven feet tall, the Diophage’s limbs now ended in sharp, jagged points, making standing look like a physics defying maneuver, which Luna seemed to have no problem with. Her body was generally feminine, but had absolutely no features, seemingly made up of the black, oily gel-like matter that was the constituent of Luna’s shadows. From her back writhed a myriad of tentacles, and Luna’s face was flat with no topology, not even a nose or cheekbones. However, as Suzhen watched, an impossibly wide mouth cracked open, with jagged teeth arranged in a nightmarish order within. A rather long tongue snaked out of the mouth, lolling around idly. Although the open mouth did not make any further moves, Luna’s laugh emanated from the aperture, a dual tone of the Diophage’s voice and some other demonic adjective.

    ”What’s the matter, girl, cat’s got your tongue?” the Diophage asked, a note of amusement in her voice. ”Not at all,” Suzhen replied, ”I was just feeling let down that the pretty face you had back there was just a sham. But don’t let me discourage you, you wear the new look rather well.” Luna laughed, a strange grating sound. ”Oh, don’t you worry one bit, child. When the Metropolitan King comes into your world, your vain notions of beauty and what not will be all obsolete.”

    ”Well, now I have a stronger motivation to kill you….”


    WC: 1200
    PWC: 6550
    TWC: 13414


    _____________________________________________________________________________________


    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
    Golden Lacrima in effect till 11th July 2022
    Digit v2
    Digit v2

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    Experience : 1,012,320

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    First Magic: Augur Concordia
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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 11th October 2021, 1:46 pm

    Suzhen did not delay in attacking Luna, who also transformed into a more monstrous aspect. According to Ivan, they would not be holding back, and these new forms of theirs were most likely manifestations of their power. Goethe felt the situation he was in was very ironic: throughout his life, he had been trying to avoid dying, as he feared it would unleash an evil upon Earthland. Then, he had realized that dying "prematurely" might just rob the Metropolitan King of the chance to possess his body, and he had attempted to then get rid of the Diophage and Devil Butcher, or at least die while trying. Unfortunately, he finally discovered that at this point, dying was what the Metropolitan King required of him. It was like his entire life had been one hide-and-seek game with death... and the game would probably end tonight. He wouldn't have minded if he died, if only that would thwart the Metropolitan King decisively, but he wanted to get out of this alive for Suzhen's sake.

    Speaking of Suzhen, she had just warned him about the Black Tooth, a weapon that Goethe found to be a necessary evil. He had learnt how to use his mind to operate it effectively, to some extent, but he had still not unlocked all its capabilities... at least, he couldn't use it yet like Ivan had. Suzhen didn't need to warn him, though; he had decided that until he was sure of its allegiance, he would try as much as possible to be prepared for any unexpected event involving the Black Tooth. He had come to the conclusion that it was sentient in its own way; it seemed to have a will of its own, which reacted to his mental commands, and it relished killing things. He also noticed that the more he "bonded" with it mentally, the more it "accepted" him, allowing him to use it more ingeniously and having faster reaction speeds. It was most effective when he considered it to be more or less a part of his body. It reacted better when he thought of his attack more like moving his fingers than using a tool.

    "I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the not of warning."

    Suzhen also informed him that she would try to aid him in his fight against the Devil Butcher, but Goethe made no reply to that. He was sure she would have her hands full fighting against the Diophage, so he would try to hold his own as much as he could manage. If she found any window of opportunity to help out, he would take it, and if he could even distract Luna just for a bit, if such a chance presented itself, he would do so. As seemed to be her preferred strategy, his Dongxian friend charged, while Goethe stood his ground and waited for the Devil Butcher to come to him.

    "This weapon better suits a 'butcher'," Ivan commented, as he swung his cleaver with one hand, as though testing its weight. "Not like that little toothpick you've got there with you."

    The feeling of resentment Goethe felt from the Black Tooth surprised him, even though it was quite subdued. It was certainly not the result of his own dislike for Ivan, but more like a reaction from an autonomous entity. Yes, the Black Tooth did have a mind of its own, and it was not happy to feel replaced. Well, nobody ever did. Perhaps this might actually help him against the Devil Butcher, and he might be able to use more powerful abilities from the Black Tooth, if he could figure its workings out. Preparing himself for another battle, Goethe willed the eldritch sword to extend to the length of a Midijin curved sword. The Black Tooth's response was nothing short of enthusiastic. It was like it wanted to show Ivan that he had made a mistake dumping it for his new toy. As long as it worked in Goethe's favor, he didn't mind.

    "Thanks to the Metropolitan King, I have this new upgrade. I think it would be perfect to test it out on you, and my former weapon. I shall call it the 'Heaven and Earth Cleaver.'"

    Goethe wanted to groan and roll his eyes, and ask his uncle to can it wit the corny names and step into battle, but honestly, his mind was busy taking note of all the odds stacked against him to be interested in a witty comeback. Still, he could still manage to show no sins of fear, and that was a good thing. He began to walk towards Ivan...

    ... who smiled and charged him with blinding speed. Warrior instincts taking over, Goethe's shield arm moved to block the overhead blow, as Ivan was a little too fast to avoid effectively. In hindsight, he thought that dodging would have been better, especially if this large sword had similar phasing properties to the Black Tooth when it was wielded by Ivan. There was a loud clang, as the force of the Devil Butcher's blow drove him down on one knee. His left arm, the one bearing up the shield, felt numb from the impact. Ivan broke out into a guffaw of laughter.

    "How does it feel like to be on the receiving end of the crushing blows now, eh?" the Devil Butcher mocked. "You always felt so high and mighty with that strength of yours, knocking me all over the place like you had the right."

    Goethe did not answer. Instead, the Black Tooth lashed out eagerly at Ivan's face. The Devil Butcher's laugh froze on his face as he realized what was going on, and he threw his head to one side to avoid getting skewered between the eyes. The Black Tooth missed its original target, but managed to hack of a chunk of ear as went forth. Breaking away from the fight, the Devil Butcher put a finger to his injured ear to feel the extent of the damage, then grinned. It was full of malice, and promised torment.

    "I am going to break your tooth pick, boy. And then I will prolong your suffering until you beg for death."

    Goethe did not bother to reply him. Was he sure of his words? Could the Black Tooth really be broken? That would be a very inconvenient disadvantage if that happened. The Devil Butcher took a ready stance, and his large cleaver began crackling with energy of a dark red hue. "Are you surprised? Did you think all I could do was swing a huge sword around like an ape?"

    "So you do realize you are quite like an ape right now..." Goethe replied dryly. He was working a strategy in his mind. The Devil Butcher knew he had the advantage. Goethe would conserve his energy while his uncle blustered about like an ox on drugs, and he would focus on well aimed, precise strikes. A clean punch through the skull might end this quickly, if all things worked well.

    WC: 1175
    TWC: 14,589


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Fraag
    Fraag

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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag 11th October 2021, 3:48 pm

    For all intents and purposes, it seemed Luna had created an advantage for herself in this battle, with her new form. Yes, she was rather ugly, granted, but beauty was not known to win a fight, and the multitude of tentacles which sprouted from the Diophage’s back suggested the very likely idea that getting close to do battle might be a little more difficult than Suzhen would like. And the Dongxian could bet all her life savings that the Diophage was still capable of using those strange oily shadows that she had used back there on the lava flats outside Hoenka. But in a way, Suzhen had a strategy of her own. She had been sparing with using some of her stronger level spells, because she was not willing that Luna would be aware of them. Those unused spells would serve as game changers in her arsenal, and she would use them only when she was almost, if not a hundred percent, certain that the use of the spell would score a hit. Because if it didn’t Luna would be more aware of the extent of her magic, and Suzhen had seen that the Diophage was rather devious in her way of thinking.  Every advantage to be had could not be spent foolishly.

    As was Suzhen’s plan, she would use spells that Luna had seen her use before, until she was sure Luna would not be doing any dodging. She threw a graceful kick, a silvery blur trailing along the path of her foot’s motion. Normally, of course, with the distance between the two women, such a kick was apparently a futile waste of time, but she knew Luna had seen her perform this technique before, and it was one of her much less strenuous spells, so Suzhen could use it often without fear of getting tired soon. ”Mushinken: Senkoukyaku!” the Dongxian called out, as was required to be done during her training to learn these spells. It was not necessary for the spell to work, but was encouraged, said her teacher, as it improved concentration, proper breathing, and thus improved the form and execution of the spell. Luna seemed to find this amusing however. A mass of tentacles extended from behind the Diophage as she laughed, the appendages melding together to form a thick mass of blackness which collided with the oncoming crescent. The Senkoukyaku wave dissipated on striking the tendrils, although the dark mass they had formed was dispelled as well, and the tendrils were forced apart, receding back to their original positions behind the Diophage and looking for all the world as though they had not just encountered an attack.

    Still, this had allowed Suzhen to establish a suspicion. Luna’s body seemed to be coated with this oily darkness gel thing, which she used as both offensive and defensive media. While Suzhen did not know the actual volume of the darkness gel, she knew that Luna could control it with her mind, and even though the tentacles on her back seemed to sprout from the Diophage’s body, they most likely did not have any nerve endings, and as such could be used by the Diophage as she willed, without fear of being hurt in the process. The actual challenge was going to be breaking through the darkness and hitting Luna’s real body, although the Dongxian could not help but wonder what exactly was beneath the oily darkness, especially if Luna’s mouth and tongue were anything to go by. Luna’s attack came, a mass of tentacles rushing forward at Suzhen, their tips sharpened into jagged edges, similar to the extremities of the Diophage’s present limbs. Suzhen responded by twirling her monk’s spade, as she activated the Turtle Shell. A dome of pulsating air, churned by the passing of the weapon Fahai, immediately surrounded the Dongxian maiden, just before the tendrils of darkness struck. The impact destroyed the tendrils as they punched against the spell, and Suzhen kept twirling to keep the dome up. It was not a shield, though most people would assume that it was. It was actually an offensive spell, which gave it the enablement to destroy the tendrils of darkness as they tried to penetrate Suzhen’s defenses.

    The Diophage’s tendrils, having tried in vain to get through to Suzhen, began to recede, and the Dongxian released the Turtle Shell, when suddenly, other tendrils burst from the ground around her, seeking to ensnare and skewer the scholar. Made aware of the approaching tendrils by her Shingan Bokusen sense, Suzhen was quick to jump away, evading them for the most part. However, one thick tendril wrapped around the monk’s spade, as another aimed for Suzhen, even as she tried to wrest the weapon free. Seeing no other option, she let go of the monk’s spade, although she got a cut on her left arm. If she had not let go, the tendril would have passed clean through her heart. Luna was laughing now with reckless abandon, holding Fahai aloft with her tendrils. ”How does it feel, now that I have your pesky spatula, huh?” she gloated, the unsettlingly wide mouth contorting into an even more disturbing smile. ”Oh, I’m not going to drop this just yet,” the Diophage laughed. ”I know you’ve got this annoying teleport ability, so if I threw it away, you’d simply go back and retrieve it. And I don’t have the fancy rift opening ability that your boyfriend’s toothpick has, so I’ll keep your weapon for you. Don’t worry, I won’t let anything bad happen to it.” The Diophage’s tentacles brought the staff weapon to her reach, and Luna cradled it as though it was a prized possession. ”I’ll keep it in good faith for you, and then when you’re dead, which will be very soon, I promise to use it as a grave marker for you.”

    And then a great explosion erupted from Fahai. Unknown to Luna, Suzhen had used her Shinken: Oso Batsu to make her weapon into a sort of bomb when Luna’s tentacle had grappled with her for it. And the lovely thing about the Oso Batsu was that it could not be detected once placed on a target. Suzhen had been sure that Luna would attempt to keep Fahai close, so that she would not be able to retrieve her weapon from the Diophage. So far, Fahai was the only item Suzhen had used to execute an armor-piercing attack, and from their previous battle and Goethe’s suggestion then, she knew that Luna’s shadows were relatively weak against armor piercing spells. So Luna would definitely want to keep Fahai from Suzhen, and Luna could not destroy the weapon, because it was too well made. Suzhen, for her part, felt a little mollified that just as Luna had tricked her before, she had now been able to put wool over the eyes of the Diophage. But she would not leave that little advantage fallow. As the blast sent Luna flying, Suzhen used her Shinken: Shinryuu Bougai to close the distance between the two of them, appearing in the air over Luna, as the scholar’s right foot was suddenly wreathed in an azure flame. ”Shinken: Ukitenga!” The downward directed aerial kick connected solidly with Luna’s head, setting the Diophage’s head aflame and sending the eldritch woman plummeting at breakneck speed through the air and into the earth, raising up a large plume of black dust, and a crater where the Diophage crashed.

    ”Was that enough to do it?” Suzhen thought as she landed some feet away, having retrieved Fahai as she kicked Luna. Her psychic sense did not pick any movement, though there seemed to be a strange form in the crater. As the dust settled, Suzhen stared with shock into the eyes of a giant, otherworldly bat, with sulphurous yellow eyes like Ivan’s but with a similar mouth to what Luna had been sporting earlier. In the Diophage’s voice it said, ”I had been trying to be nice, but you just had to get me pissed. Prepare to die, wench!”


    WC: 1340
    PWC: 7890
    TWC: 15929


    _____________________________________________________________________________________


    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
    Golden Lacrima in effect till 11th July 2022
    Digit v2
    Digit v2

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    Experience : 1,012,320

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    First Magic: Augur Concordia
    Second Magic: ???
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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 13th October 2021, 4:25 am

    The Devil Butcher ran at Goethe, his cleaver leaving a trail of dark red energy behind him. Goethe would have to take note of that ominous light; it was best to avoid it until he was sure of what it could do. Shield at the ready, he stepped forward, intending to avoid Ivan's first attack and parry any other that came after, if he was unable to evade it outright. Ivan made a powerful horizontal swing, gripping the handle of the cleaver with both hands. Goethe ducked beneath the blow, swinging his own weapon in a horizontal slash of his own. Unless Ivan could jump like a cricket, there was hardly any other way he was going to avoid this, unless he had some defensive ability of his own.

    The Black Tooth cut into Ivan's side, but using his other hand, he gripped the blade and stopped it short when it was halfway through him. Not again. This was precisely the same thing Ivan's "spirit animal" had done, and if this was anything to go by, then withdrawing the Black Tooth out of Ivan's body would be an issue. Goethe tried. As he had feared, the blade remained stuck in Ivan's body, refusing to move, like it had been grafted into him. This was a worse predicament he was in than when he was fighting freak face. In the previous fight, freak face was not close enough to deal physical damage, but here, he was within melee range of the Devil Butcher's weapon.

    Ignoring the weapon stuck in his stomach, Ivan grinned and aimed a downward blow at Goethe's head. Cursing under his breath, Goethe moved to the side, unwilling to let go of the Black Tooth, but it was clear that that was exactly what Ivan was trying to get him to do. Goethe couldn't pull his sword out, but at least he could still manipulate the length of the weapon. He shortened the blade, drawing close to Ivan as he did so, so that it would be difficult for the Devil Butcher to hit him with the cleaver. In order to get at him, Ivan would probably have to resort to kicks or headbutts; one hand was securing the Black Tooth, and the other held his new butchering device. The option of grappling Goethe, which was one of the worst things that could happen, could only be successfully carried out if Ivan freed one of his hands, but that would give Goethe the advantage of getting his own weapon free, or disarming Ivan of his. Unfortunately, he wasn't sure if his physical strikes would make any impact, but he would try.

    Ivan tried to strike Goethe with his lower arm as he got in close, realizing belatedly that the result would be a clumsy, easily parried strike. He dug one foot down and tried to kick Goethe with the other, but Goethe was expecting this, and dodged to the left, returning a kick of his own into Ivan's side, where the Black Tooth had cut into. His uncle did not show even the slightest sign of pain, much to his chagrin. And while a kick was arguably stronger than a blow, since the legs were longer, an  effective kick meant that Goethe had had to step back a bit to kick well. Ivan wasted no time taking advantage of this. The cleaver, crackling with  dark energy, swung again. Once more, Goethe twisted out of the way, but the red energy suddenly expanded outwards, engulfing both Goethe and Ivan in its range.

    Quickly, Goethe jumped away from the strange radiation, sliding to a halt a good distance from the Devil Butcher. Ivan gave a satisfied smile, for Goethe no longer held the Black Tooth in his grasp. He pulled the blade out of his body and considered it. "The Black Tooth... It did have some useful abilities, but it was limited in its attacks, and I'm just saying this, because the information is worthless to you, but the ability of this blade to cut open rifts in space is not going to work in the Graveyard of the Gods. Why, I hear someone ask? That's because all the rifts opened from there to here, but since we're 'here', any rifts will only open back to Earthland. And I doubt you have an army over there waiting for your summons. Hehehehehehehehe."

    He drove the cleaver into the ground, then gripped the blade of the Black Tooth in one hand, and its hilt in the other. "Such a needy little thing," he muttered. "I really only wanted to use you as a decoy, and that went swimmingly well... so, you're no longer of any use to me." So saying, he snapped the blade at the hilt, and threw the handle of the Black Tooth away, as far as he could. Then he looked Goethe up and down.

    "Say, you don't look so good," he chuckled.

    In truth, Goethe probably felt as bad as he looked. The explosion of dark crimson energy had torched the sleeve off the arm that had held the Black Tooth, and burned a side of Goethe's face. Fortunately, his other side had been protected by the Kraken's Lament. He hurt like crazy, but he could still stand. And as long as he could stand, he would fight. He was sure that the Devil Butcher would try to give him a crippling injury, like cutting off a limb, and if that happened, he could as well kiss his hopes for revenge and justice goodbye. The pain from the burns had left him gasping, but eventually, he managed to put his body under control. This he did by focusing on something, a powerful emotion that could rival the agony he felt. Anger was a good choice.

    "Speak for yourself; you're as hideous as they come," Goethe retorted, employing a bit of trash talking to verify a suspicion he had. "Since the Black Tooth is no longer useful, why didn't you just return it to me?"

    Ivan laughed. "And what good would that have done you?"

    Goethe shrugged. "I don't know. False hope, maybe."

    There were two conclusions he had come to, in this fight with the Devil Butcher, and both had the propensity to serve him well: first, the Devil Butcher's running speed was damn fast, but his strikes were a bit slower. Goethe would be unable to outrun him, but as long as he could study where the blow was headed, he would be able to evade as many attacks as possible. He would also have to keep as much distance as possible from that red energy, though he was sure that as long as he put the Kraken's Lament between himself and the energy, he would be mostly protected. The second thing was that the Black Tooth was still pretty much valuable as a combat tool, seeing as how Ivan had cast it as far off as he could from Goethe. If it was useless, he was sure that his uncle, who loved gloating and mocking, would throw it back to him without even his asking for it.

    Goethe started towards the location of the Black Tooth, but Ivan cut him off. "Uh uh uh... I don't think you'll be going that way any time soon." He strode forward, swinging diagonally with the cleaver, which glowed bright red. He wasn't close enough to Goethe to deal physical damage, though. It took a fraction of a second for Goethe to realize something was amiss, and he quickly thrust the Kraken's Lament in front of him. There was a ringing sound, and Goethe was driven backwards. He was unhurt, but he noticed that the ground in front of him had a large gash in it, like the cleaver had struck that point. Hmmm, that was rather reminiscent of his Spirit Arms. And that was why he had figured it out quickly without having to be hit by it. Ivan, in the meantime, was elated.

    "This Bloody Cleaver sure has overwhelming offensive abilities," he crowed, "just like the Metropolitan King had said. Who needs such a useless Black tooth when I have this guy?" He roared with laughter.

    "Suzhen, I need your help," Goethe said telepathically. "I think I've figured some things out. The Black Tooth may be broken at the blade, but I think it might still have some capabilities that I can use; potent ones in fact, seeing as Ivan doesn't want me to get close to it. I also realized that whenever it got stuck in the body of one of these things, they could hold on to it and disallow it from moving further. A laser could cut through almost anything, but theoretically, a laser can be stopped by another laser. Get where I'm going with this?"

    Goethe ducked beneath another attack, but shielded himself with the Kraken's Lament, as he noticed that the Bloody Cleaver's blade glowed with that dark crimson. There was an explosion of energy, but this time, Goethe got out of it with only a few nicks from having to roll across the ground.

    "So, I need two things: first, I need help with getting the Black Tooth back. It does have a mind of its own, and I daresay it holds a grudge against Ivan for dumping it for his new toy. Thus, I doubt it will be helping him anytime soon, especially what with the new indignity he just subjected it to. Secondly, I think I'll need some of those fireballs you used to make barbeque out of those spiders. I want to use them to test something. But let those come later."

    Ivan swung again, this time with the Bloody Cleaver burning blood-red bright. Goethe placed the shield before him as usual, but evaded to the side as well, rushing up to Ivan. The blade would have a linear attack range, and once he could predict the direction of the slash, he didn't have to see it to dodge it. He placed the shield in front, just in case the invisible attack was not as 'linear' as he expected. Putting all his strength into his arms, he rammed the upward point of the Kraken's Lament into the Devil Butcher's jaw.

    Ivan staggered back, black blood spouting from his mouth, and Goethe quickly used the opportunity to plant a solid drop kick in Ivan's face. He may have lacked his superhuman strength, but the kick was strong enough to knock him to the ground. He was reminded of his injuries when he hit the ground, but they were things he could manage. He was no stranger to pain, after all. Quickly Goethe was back on his feet, watching Ivan warily as he prepared himself for the next clash. Ivan might be stronger and a little faster, but Goethe was a lot more nimble, and had some years of fighting experience in his belt. Ivan was just a guy whom power had been thrust on, and he had hardly seen the need to hone his battle skills, from the way Goethe had seen him fight.

    He just had to play this right. With Suzhen's help, there was still a lot of hope that he could win this.

    WC: 1877
    TWC: 17806


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    Fraag
    Fraag

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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag 14th October 2021, 2:31 pm

    Suzhen’s fight with the Diophage was not resolving as the Dongxian had been hoping. If anything, Luna seemed to have revealed a new trump card. She knew that her attacks were proving effective against the Diophage, but she needed to increase her damage output if she wanted to bury this freak. And she had to do it fast, else she would end up wasting much needed magic power, or exposing more of her abilities than she cared to show. Luna was a rather tough opponent, that had to be admitted, though; despite her Ukitenga strike, and the burn effect it produced, the huge bat, whose head was still wreathed in blue flame, did not seem to be conscious of the pale fire burning on its head, but fixed its newly formed yellow eyes on Suzhen, as it ascended out of the crater with a single flap of its wings. The Dongxian thought with a bit of ironic humor how she had called the flying moth Luna’s spirit animal, and had now ended up facing an airborne Luna. One had to be always careful of what they said, went an old Dongxian proverb, for it might turn out to be the truth.

    ”I’d like to venture a guess,” the monstrous bat said, shadows beginning to coalesce around it. ”If I, in a hypothetical situation, ended up, say killing you, would that by any chance happen to get rid of this pesky little flame?” Suzhen made no reply, and the bat, taking her silence to be proof of the veracity of the mentioned hunch, whooped in glee. ”Well, that’s settled then. You wouldn’t hold it against me if I decided at this moment to really take killing you seriously, would you? Because, yes, I know, I’m a bat, and echolocation and all that, but this annoying blue really does seem to get in the way, you know? Makes it rather difficult to tell colors apart.”

    ”Goethe was right,” the Dongxian said, allowing herself to sound annoyed, ”you both really need to know when to shut up.” The bat screeched with laughter and swooped at the Dongxian, the shadows descending with her. Suzhen began twirling Fahai once again, as she activated the Turtle Shell, deflecting most of the shadows, until the bat smashed into the shield bodily. There was an ear splitting shriek from Luna, as the Turtle Shell wreaked damage on the bat, but was blown apart due to the force with which she struck the shield. The power of the dive, coupled with the shadows that had accompanied the Diophage’s attack, however sent Suzhen sailing like a ragdoll. As expected, with feline grace, she righted herself in the air, only to see a lance of shadow coming her way. Twisting her body as much as she could, she evaded most of it, but gasped as the spear of darkness cut a deep gash in her side. She could feel the blood soaking her dress, but she ignored it. Due to her unnatural healing, the wound would take care of itself eventually. But if she continued like this, Luna might eventually give her a much more debilitating injury, or she could tire out, neither of which was desirable to her.

    And then she heard Goethe requesting her help. Although she had been focusing on fighting the Diophage, taking quick stock of what had happened using her Mumajutsu: Shingan Bokusen wasn’t difficult. It was like someone watching a proceeding while not paying attention. They could know a few things they had inadvertently observed, and, piecing two and two together to make four, could come to a reasonably informed decision about the matter, if they were intelligent enough. And never had Suzhen had cause to discredit her mental acuity. Using her psychic sense to find where the Black Tooth’s handle was was not going to be a problem. Getting it to Goethe without alerting suspicion was the issue. But Suzhen had a plan. ”I’m not particularly sure I know where you’re going you’re your plan; I’ve a bit of a quandary to sort out myself,” the Dongxian answered mentally, ”but I’m going to get you back your implement’s handle. It’s the handle you want, right? Do you need the blade? I’ll get both, just to make sure. And if you see any white snakes, don’t freak out. They’re mine.” So saying, she silently activated her Majutsu: Kyoka Suigetsu. What made this technique rather insidious was that while it created illusions, one would not know they were within a field of illusions, unless they had the power to see through, or disregard phantasms. Having done so, she used one of her Mark of the Serpent spells, Tu She Ti, to create two snakes which grew out of the back of her neck, slithered down to the ground, and went for both the handle and blade of the Black Tooth, hidden by Suzhen’s illusory field. The snakes carefully used the rough terrain to attempt to avoid the likely areas in which the Diophage’s echolocation, if the bat really had any such thing, could detect them. Meanwhile, Suzhen kept avoiding the Diophage’s attacks, though she was getting cornered. Then she sprung her trap. While she dodged a shadow tendril rather closely, she cast an illusion that showed her skewered in the shoulder, while making another illusion that hid where she truly was. If Luna used echolocation, the bat would detect Suzhen being in the general vicinity of the shadow tendril. Echolocation was not so precise as to identify tiny details in the environment, and Suzhen was counting on that to deceive the Diophage. As for the tangibility of the illusion, it was not, but the shadows of Luna could not feel, and so, unless Luna decided to do something like try to lift Suzhen, she would be none the wiser.

    ”Oh my, looks like we have a little baby in a cute pinch,” Luna gloated, twisting the tentacle of shadow to elicit a more pained response from Suzhen. The illusion did not disappoint her. ”Now, whatever shall I do with you? Oh, I know.” Before the illusory Suzhen could react, several shadows sprang forth and bound her arms and legs, immobilizing her, it seemed. ”I think I shall bite your head off. I want to see how your brain tastes. I’ve a hunch that smart people have saltier brains than dunces, but then, we won’t know until we give it a try, right?” More tendrils burst forth, skewering the immobilized Suzhen in many non-vital points, causing the illusion to cry out. ”Don’t worry about me, Goethe, whatever you see,” Suzhen quickly informed her friend, realizing that her Kyoka Suigetsu created audio-visual three-dimensional illusions that occupied space, meaning that everyone within the illusory field would see what Suzhen was projecting. ”You should be getting your mail by now, and when you do, prepare for my dancing fireballs. I’m going to aim for the Devil Butcher with a couple, but one I need specially for Luna.”

    The bat had descended to almost within striking distance, and the actually unskewered Suzhen silently summoned her Gouka Messatsu fireballs. To an observer, they would see blue fire erupt out of thin air, and then the illusion was dispelled, revealing a relatively unhurt Suzhen. Just about the same time, Goethe would feel something scaly nudge the back of his foot gently, before sliding quietly up his back, and snaking round his body to drop the Black Tooth handle and blade in his hand before dissipating into nothingness. Before Luna could fly backwards, two of the fireballs smashed into her, while the rest went in streaking vengeance, homing in on Ivan. And then Suzhen used her trump card.

    ”Teiyoushiki: Tsunzakigetsu!”

    The blow was aimed at Luna’s head, and distracted by the pain of the Gouka Messatsu, the eldritch bat could not even dodge. What an observer would see would be Suzhen throwing a punch at the head of the bat, then she would blur and flash, and Luna’s head would explode into a shower of black gore, forcing Suzhen to quickly backpedal to avoid the filth. The shadows around the Diophage slowly dissipated, as the body of the bat, still on fire, combusted to leave nothing but a misshapen and headless bat skeleton, burning in lurid bright blue flames.

    One down, one to go.


    WC: 1390
    PWC: 9280
    TWC: 19196


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    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
    Golden Lacrima in effect till 11th July 2022
    Digit v2
    Digit v2

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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 16th October 2021, 2:09 pm

    Ivan Ackermann rose to his feet, and he was smiling, even though the midnight colored blood dribbled down his chin and plopped to the ground below. "I hardly felt that, boy," he said with an ominous chuckle. "You'll have to hit way harder than that before... oh, I forgot. You can barely hit harder than a three year old, now." He threw back his head and laughed hard, obviously of the opinion that Goethe was powerless to kill him. Which was actually true, come to think of it. Goethe was not strong enough to knock off his head with a well placed kick, and his only weapon, the Black Tooth, had been broken and thrown away. Still, he was neither without hope, nor help. Suzhen had responded, and she was even going to help him get the blade, though Goethe felt that would not be necessary if his plan worked right. Still, if he could continue to use his will to manipulate the length of the blade, even when separated from the Black  Tooth's hilt, he might be able to launch some unexpected attacks that would give him the much needed edge in this battle. He would wait for Suzhen's white snakes to appear, and he would stay as alive and as much in one piece as he could afford.

    "The Metropolitan King is impatient for his sacrifice, and thankfully, he didn't say in what condition you were to be in. 'Dead' was the only adjective he used, and I think, at this point in time, he grows impatient. It grieves me that I won't be able to extend your pain, but I suppose your death would still give me a great measure of satisfaction." So saying, Ivan charged Goethe, swinging wildly. Goethe ducked beneath the first blow, then stepped aside to avoid the second, only for Ivan to swing his left hand in a powerful backhand blow. Quickly, the Kraken's Lament went up, and his blow glanced off the shield, though it was powerful to cause Goethe to stumble. The Bloody Cleaver swung again, glowing its dark color. An explosion was imminent. There was a loud ring as the cleaver struck the shield, then a dull boom followed as the energy detonated.

    Ivan looked through the dust and smoke to see Goethe had jumped some distance away. He was still on his feet, and that meant the explosion had hardly caused him any injury. Ivan growled. "Can't you just make this easier for the both of us and stay in one place?" he growled. "You're making this boring."

    Goethe felt pleased that he was starting to get under his uncle's skin, but he did not show any outward signs of delight. He was getting worried about the integrity of the Kraken's Lament. From the first time he had used it to block an attack, he'd realized that it seemed to have a protective field of sorts, though he could not discern what it was for. He had come to the assumption that it was meant to make its protective capabilities more effective, but with Ivan's last attack, he had sensed that the field had... wobbled, for lack of a better word. This battle was going to end pretty soon, whether he liked it or not, and as of now, he was not assured of his victory.

    "Stand still and die, you stupid brat!" Ivan roared as he slashed again at Goethe. The young man evaded and tried to back away, but Ivan charged into him, knocking him to the ground. With a satisfied smile, Ivan leaped on top of Goethe, crushing him beneath  his bulk, and raised the Bloody Cleaver. Fortunately, his shield arm was not pinned down, and so Goethe put the Kraken's Lament in the path of the descending massive sword. The Bloody Cleaver glowed dark red again.

    Goethe gritted his teeth.

    Once again, a conflagration of energy erupted from the dark crimson radiation, engulfing the both of them. Ivan was trying to make a decisive, finishing blow, but that meant he was getting a little reckless. And for Goethe, it was another opportunity to use his head and keep himself alive. The Bloody Cleaver's explosion was deflected by the magical aura of the Kraken's Lament, but Goethe felt the protective aura flutter, and fail. However, in that moment, Ivan would be least balanced, his body under the effect of the opposite reaction encountered when the Bloody cleaver came in contact with the Kraken's Lament. And thus it was, in that moment, that Goethe kicked out with his legs and knocked the Devil Butcher off him.

    Back on his feet in record time, Goethe was surprised to feel his body charged up with magical power. At first, he thought it was something Suzhen had done, but knowing her, she would have mentioned it if it was her ability. He was sure it was not the Metropolitan King, because that being wanted him dead, and this power was making him feel quite alive. He didn't know that it was the ability of the Kraken's Lament, which had been converting every blow against it to magical power, and bestowing it all on him when the aura broke, but at least, it was something positive. Pity he couldn't use any...

    His line of thoughts was disrupted by Suzhen's notification; the Black Tooth would be given to him pretty soon. And at that point, he felt something nudge his foot. He looked down first, having been prepared by Suzhen's psychic announcement; otherwise, what with the way he was on edge, he would have stomped down first and looked later. Two snakes swiftly and fluidly climbed up his body, and while Goethe was not really a fan of cold, legless reptiles slithering all over him, since it was from his friend, he would abide them. Ivan frowned at them, wondering what they were doing, until he saw them deposit the hilt and blade of the Broken Tooth in Goethe's hands. He screamed in rage and lurched forward, aiming a deadly strike at Goethe as the Bloody Cleaver burned bright red.

    "You bastard!!!"

    This turn of events was very pleasing to Goethe. Ivan seemed to be panicking, which meant that as long as Goethe kept his cool, he would be able to take advantage of Ivan's carelessness. Also, it meant that the Black Tooth was still dangerous. Ivan's attack was horizontal, targeted at his waist, so Goethe leaped clean over the invisible cutting force, and delivered another kick to Ivan's face. As he landed on his feet, he quickly studied what he held in his hands. And what he saw surprised him. The hilt of the Black Tooth remained, but the blade seemed deformed, somehow. He wanted to study it more carefully, but he couldn't risk Ivan attacking when he was distracted. His chance came almost immediately, as Suzhen's Gouka Messatsu came at Ivan. He dodged them at first, but they doubled back and came for him, causing him to forget about Goethe for the time being and try to defend himself. Goethe looked carefully at the blade. It resembled the strange rock that made up the ground in this place. Perhaps his theory had been right all along: the reason the Black Tooth was not effective in cutting through the enemies here, once they laid hold of it, was because it was made up of the same material as their bodies were. At least, the blade was.

    He focused his will on the hilt of the Black Tooth, and it responded eagerly, and Goethe smiled at what he felt. The Black Tooth was obviously angry, and it was trying to grasp at something to form a new blade. That must be its primary ability: to create a blade from an existing substrate, and, with proper training and mastery, cut through almost anything. Goethe was not sure he had the "proper mastery" down pat, but as for creating a blade... He focused on the air, and felt the Black Tooth trying to pull the molecules around to create something, but it was almost impossible, since he had nothing his eyes were fixed on. Alright then, it was time to try the original purpose he had asked for Suzhen's fireballs.

    Goethe ran towards Ivan, who was trying to hit the streaking fireballs out of the air. One of them set him alight with a whoosh, and he shrieked with fury (and was that pain?) as he swung wildly at them. As one of the Gouka Messatsu flames flew past Goethe, he focused on it and held out the Black Tooth. The blue flames twisted and churned, then flowed into the Black Tooth, which began glowing blue. Its desire to create a new blade seemed to have been sated, because it seemed to be waiting for his command. So he willed it to extend its edge.

    A sword made purely out of blue fire burst forth from where the blade normally projected from, lighting up the area in an azure light. Goethe did not wait to glory or exult in the new state of his weapon, for that would give Ivan the opportunity to recover from being taken off guard. Holding the sword of fire in both hands, he jumped into the air, just as Ivan looked up, snarling. Ivan hefted up his cleaver to attack, but Goethe did not strike, instead landing right before him without making a single strike. "Fool!" Ivan roared, as he brought down the Bloody Cleaver towards Goethe's head. And that was exactly what Goethe had hoped he would do.

    He shifted nimbly, making an attack of his own as he did so, a powerful skyward blow. The Bloody Cleaver glowed dark red, but Goethe ignored it and pressed on his attack, though he had the Kraken's Lament positioned between the energy and himself. There was a livid flash  of light blue, followed by a dark explosion, which lifted Goethe off his feet and sent him hurtling away. The young man managed to mitigate damage as much as possible by rolling on the ground, and he came up in a crouch, shield held before him to protect against any incoming attack.

    Ivan stood there, glaring at him, but there was a bright blue line that ran straight from his crotch to his crown. Then he made a scoffing sound as his body fell apart in two almost perfect halves, the blue erupting into a fire that consumed his flesh. Goethe stood up, breathing heavily. But he smiled.

    "Thanks, Suzhen. I couldn't have done it without you."

    He was going to ask aloud how they would find the Metropolitan King, when the ground suddenly broke open, and a massive squid like creature rose out from its dark depths. If floated in the air, tentacles pointed downwards, its six large bulbous eyes staring at the two intruders to this realm. A powerful sense of dread instantly invaded the area, a feeling both entirely alien to them, and yet very familiar. It could be best defined as a flavor of fear not naturally felt by mortal man. From somewhere within its mass, a disembodied voice spoke:

    "You have caused a lot of trouble, boy, for a body that does not belong to you. Your flesh is rightfully mine, and you will hand it over."

    Somehow, without anyone telling them, both Suzhen and Goethe would realize that the Metropolitan King had grown tired of waiting, and had come to find them himself.

    "You don't own squat..." Goethe began, when he suddenly clutched his chest and sank to his knees, his face contorted in pain, as spectral tendrils suddenly sprang out of his body and flowed into the floating gastropod looking monstrosity. "My heart beats within your chest, boy. Your body belongs to me."

    WC: 1969
    TWC: 21,165


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    Fraag
    Fraag

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    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Fraag Yesterday at 3:01 pm

    Suzhen watched as her plan worked, watched as Goethe's own plan worked. That the Black Tooth could draw on substance to create its own blade was an amazing thing, something Suzhen had no idea was possible. That Goethe could figure this out meant he did have an impressive ability to reason. She reflected on how people were made by their choices and experiences; perhaps in another day and age, Goethe could have been an academic or a strategist, not the wandering mage he was. But Ivan was dead now, and they two mages were one step closer to getting their goal achieved, although Suzhen wondered how they were going to get the Metropolitan King to show itself, seeing as this whole matter would never be resolved until the Metropolitan King was dead.

    Suzhen was about to reply to Goethe's thanks, when the ground broke open, and out issued the Metropolitan King, a massive mollusk-like monstrosity with six eyes. Suzhen felt a strange sort of fear. She was certain that it was as a result of the physical presence of this thing. Despair seemed to want to encroach on her mind, carried on the vehicle of the otherworldly terror that invaded her senses. And then she felt it, another alien sensation, although this one already seemed to be in her mind. The World Snake seemed to be reacting to the presence of the Metropolitan King feeling the eldritch abomination through its connection to Suzhen, although the Dongxian could not determine exactly what the World Snake's opinion on the Metropolitan King was.

    As things went, if one were to judge by the eldritch monster's words, it seemed that somehow, the Metropolitan King's heart was beating inside Goethe's chest, and it was this that the abomination used as a hold over Suzhen's friend. Alarm welled up inside her as Goethe fell to his knees, and the ghostly tendrils began emanating from his body and flowing into the Metropolitan King. And then Suzhen heard a voice in her mind, a voice she usually heard in the world of dreams. The World Snake.

    "A most interesting situation indeed. Your friend is going to die, Dongxian."

    "Not if I can help it..."

    "But you can't help it," the World Snake interjected. "You're too weak. I, however, can help you."

    "I'm not letting you take control of my body again," Suzhen replied mentally. "Set your heart at ease," came the reply. "I have grown weary of your slowness which you refer to as virtue. You have wasted the power I gave you for many years, and I seek a new vessel that will be more amenable to my will. But I do not begrudge you for that. You humans have your motivations, and I respect your strength of will. So I bring you a proposition. If you refuse, your friend, and probably you as well, will die. If you agree, you will be able to save your friend, and you will be rid of my power, something I'm sure you have desired for so long." Suzhen frowned. "And what will you get out of it?" The World Snake replied, "a meal." Suzhen was about to refuse, when the World Snake continued. "Spare me the righteous refusals; I have no intention of destroying you and your friend. No, I desire to devour the Metropolitan King. If you use the Shard of Infinity, you can summon an avatar of mine onto this world, but that would remove my influence completely from your body. You will be free of me, and I shall have my feast. What do you say?"

    In response, a surge of power erupted from Suzhen, and her eyes turned bronze in hue, as white scales coated parts of her body. The World Snake, though a being of terrible hunger, did not lie, for it had no reason to do so. The Dongxian surmised that this would result in acceptable outcomes for everyone, if what the World Snake had said was true. She felt a sharp pain at her back, where the seal of the World Snake was, and she mentally willed the seal to break. The energy flux which surrounded her grew into a large maelstrom, which began stretching away from her, before coalescing into a giant snake. The eyes of the Metropolitan King fixed on the snake one moment before the reptile's mouth opened to incredible proportions, and it swallowed the Metropolitan King whole. Suzhen felt incredibly drained, but rather light, as she fell to her hands and knees, panting for breath. She looked up at the avatar of the World Snake, gazing at her. "You may yet one day regret that you no longer have my powers," it said with a laugh, "but don't worry. It is not my intention to seek you out and punish you. No, I know you humans. Insatiable and greedy. You will probably want this power again, you will seek me, and this time, my conditions shall be steeper. Till then, Dongxian." And the gigantic apparition of the snake seemed toc coil on itself until it was gone.

    Suzhen turned to look at Goethe. "Please tell me your alive," she said, a note of worry in her voice. "I can feel the influence of the World Snake no longer. I think I may have been rid of it finally...."


    WC: 890
    PWC: 10170
    TWC: 22056


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    Bai Suzhen of Fenghai | Bank
    Golden Lacrima in effect till 11th July 2022
    Digit v2
    Digit v2

    Player 
    Lineage : Buccaneer’s Bounty
    Position : None
    Posts : 316
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    Mentor : None
    Experience : 1,012,320

    Character Sheet
    First Magic: Augur Concordia
    Second Magic: ???
    Third Magic: ???

    The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire] Empty Re: The Graveyard of the Gods [Part II: Darkness and Fire]

    Post by Digit v2 Today at 3:51 am

    The pain was devastating, and Goethe knew what the Metropolitan King was trying to do. It was trying to force a merger of their souls, which would crush and destroy the weaker one, assimilating it into the stronger. Quite frankly, Goethe was not sure if he could claim to be the stronger soul (it was very unlikely), but he was sure he could resist as much as he could. And even though his body showed signs of pain, he was actually doing a good job holding back the invasive power of the Metropolitan King.

    At first, he almost wondered why such techniques used by the Great Old Ones to take over one's body, soul and spirit had often been very effective, if a mere mortal like himself could push back this strongly. And then the ploy that worked against those who claimed to be strong of will was revealed. Goethe realized that it was as though he stood on one side of a semi-permeable membrane, with the Metropolitan King on the other, and there was this reverse tug-of-war game going on, for they weren't pulling, but pushing. And as he pushed, he could feel tidbits of knowledge, seeping into his side. Knowledge of almost everything he wanted to know: who the Metropolitan King really was, how to defeat him, how to restore his lost powers, and so on. The temptation to allow a little to seep in was really strong, but Goethe knew that if he opened up, he might be unable to stem the tide that would flow in from the other side. A part of him reasoned that he had held back the power of the Metropolitan King till now, and thus ought to be able to risk it, but another part (one which Goethe agreed with) noted that presumption was always the bane of man. He would keep resisting, and hope that help would come to him from without. At least, he was not alone in this.

    He was very surprised when he sensed fear from the Metropolitan King, and at that moment, the force of the eldritch being's push greatly diminished. It definitely had something to do with the gargantuan snake that seemed to have been projected out of Suzhen. Sure that this was not some tactic of the Metropolitan King to lull him into a sense of complacency, Goethe made his "attack" as the snake went for the Metropolitan King. Reaching through the "membrane" and into the other side, all it took was a second for all sorts of knowledge and information to come rushing into him, but he grasped at one and fled for the safety of his side. He now understood what would have happened if the Metropolitan King was not distracted by the snake that was currently gobbling him up, when he had tried what he just did. It would have been instant mind death for him. The sheer pressure of information had been overwhelming, and the Metropolitan King's will was not even focused on him.

    Goethe was still on his knees, his face to the ground, but as the World Snake swallowed the Metropolitan King, the pain instantly  stopped. Instead, it was replaced by revulsion, and he threw up some strange, black, tarry goo. And at that moment, his chest felt light, and his heart couldn't have felt more... free. The Metropolitan King had finally lost its hold on him. If the eldritch monster had been at its full power, it would have likely given the World Snake a run for its money. But it had been severely weakened, grasping onto a vestige of existence and hoping to use Goethe's soul as a catalyst to restore its life. It seemed like tonight was going to end on a more pleasant note after all... provided they survived this part.

    Ignoring Suzhen's concern for the meantime (not because he did not care about her feelings, but because time was of the utmost essence), Goethe sprang to his feet, the Black Tooth blazing into blue flame. He ran to the yawning hole that the Metropolitan King had come out of, and pointed the blade of the Black Tooth into it. Then he extended the blade as far down as it would go. Nothing seemed to happen at first, then the ground slowly started rumbling. He hurried back to Suzhen.

    "I'm alive, Suzhen, and I'm glad you are too. But we need to get out of here if we want to stay that way." He grabbed her hand as he focused on the Black Tooth. "The reason all those monsters kept popping out from the ground is because this entire planet is the Metropolitan King. He is barely alive, but cannot truly die unless his body is destroyed. And that is what I've just initiated. I was able to discover, from when he was trying to absorb me into himself, that his heart rests deep down below, and I just managed to pierce it with the blade of the... I think I'll look for a better name to call this weapon."

    He thrust the blade of the Black Tooth forward, focusing like he was trying to thread the eye of a needle. Slowly, the blade sank into thin air, disappearing from sight. Goethe then drew downwards, and like Ivan had often done before, cut open a hole in space. "Yes! Come on, Suzhen, we've got a lot of figuring out ahead of us to do. Let's leave this hideous place, and our pasts, to burn here."

    So saying, he led Suzhen through the portal, which led back into the living room of her tidy, comfy apartment. And as the portal closed behind them, geysers of blue fire erupted from the cracking substrate, as the ground collapsed into a livid ball of blue fire that was rapidly expanding from within.

    And about three months later, people in Earthland would look up at the sky on a clear night, and witness a star suddenly shine brightly for close to half an hour, and fade away.

    THE END

    WC: 1009
    TWC: 23065


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      Current date/time is 19th October 2021, 3:03 pm