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    Misery Loves Company

    Vandrad Ragnos
    Vandrad Ragnos

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Traveller of the Multiverse
    Position : None
    Posts : 773
    Guild : Fairy Tail
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 7,808,129

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Energy Monarch
    Second Skill: Ark of the Dread Masters
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Misery Loves Company

    Post by Vandrad Ragnos 15th January 2022, 8:40 pm

     
    BREAK OFF THE CHAINS
    "Surpass your limits!"


    How had it all gone wrong?

    Chishan looked up through blood-covered eyes, the stream of plasma leaking out from several cuts on his face. In the distance he could hear the cries of men and women being cut down where they stood, put up against a wall and blasted with magic to put them out of their misery. There was a ringing in his ears that threatened to drown out all sound everywhere but he could still hear the agony. Even through the blood, he could only watch as his people, his friends and allies, were reduced to ash, executed on the spot. Worse yet, he could see and hear the few that chose to spare themselves the sword, surrendering themselves to the will and the desires of their attackers.

    Wincing, Chishan’s gaze continued to lift upward towards the face of Zifu, smug and amused at the agony wrought on her husband’s face. Several Dread Masters stood behind her and around him, his arms and neck bound by some kind of anti-magic cuffs and lasso. “Why?” he asked, hissing the question between his teeth. “Why betray us?”

    Zifu chuckled. “My dear, it was never a matter of betrayal. The truth of the matter is that I never was with you,” she explained cordially. “You see, that god that tortured my people, ruled over my village? He did far, far worse things than you ever understood -- terrible things to men and women, including myself. I was so relieved and moved when the Order of Souls came in and slew him, taking him down once and for all. It was like something out of a fairy tale; the knight in shining armor riding in to slay the monster to save the princess. But it’s not quite that simple, is it? No, you see, the Dread Masters visited me not long after the Order arrived and told me the truth. The Order of Souls had simply observed our village and its torture for years, deciphering and trying to discern weaknesses they could exploit. You put us under a magnifying glass and let that monster abuse us for his own pleasure and amusement.”

    “I didn’t believe it at first. How could I? The Order had come in and saved us, after all. And the Dread Masters were just this shadowy group of people that were trying to undermine you. It wasn’t until I met you, years later, when I wanted to join the Order. It wasn’t until I was allowed into your ranks and saw how you acted and treated these monsters that I began to wonder and suspect. And once our arrangement was made, I was allowed full reign over our records. Then I knew the truth. I sought out the Dread Masters, found them… broken and uninspired. Dogs barking in the night against the superior Order, in hopes of shining a light on the contradiction they were. I helped organize them, to bring their numbers together. Once I knew that we could take power from the gods and demons, use their own magic against them to make them hurt, there was little denying what I wanted -- what I needed to do. I planted myself within the Order to gain knowledge and pass it along. We would undo your pathetic attempts to balance the natural order of things and bring the power to the people that deserved it.”

    She smiled. “And you’d be remarkably surprised how many of your order believed the same. They believed we should be destroying the gods and taking their power for ourselves, just as the Dread Masters do. But they’d been told of the other organization and the schism that resulted in their destruction. I quietly fed them intelligence that allowed them to wonder if the Dread Masters were truly gone. And once reports began coming in of their actions and sightings of them, the seeds bore great fruit of curiosity. And when the time came, we took action rather than sitting idly and watching.”

    “So that’s it,” Chishan said softly, shaking his head. “I can’t claim to understand what you went through and I am sorry for it. But taking celestial and demonic power? Using it to make ourselves powerful? That will only make us as abusive and disgusting as those that you hate!”

    “I am a queen, Chishan. I understand the sacrifices that need to be made to guarantee a proper and peaceful rule,” Zifu chastised.

    “Do you?!” the Master of the Order said, gesturing with his head towards the Order members being executed. “Killing people that have surrendered?! This isn’t sacrificing anything; this is cold blooded vengeance for the wrongs done to you. You are taking out your fury on these people, nothing more. And all it’s going to do is make the hole inside of you deeper and darker. It’ll make you thirst for more vengeance. You’ll become as savage and as dangerous as the god that hurt you.”

    With a swing of her hand, she smacked him across the face, shutting him up. Blood sprayed onto the floor from the cuts on his head as Chishan righted his gaze back on her. There was a fire burning in his eyes, a nerve that he had touched hard enough to ignite her wrath. After a moment it cooled as she turned and waved to a group of Dread Masters entering. “We found him trying to escape. He stayed back and fought off my people long enough for Wanda to escape.” In came Gren, dragged by his arms by several Dread Masters. He was thrown upon the ground unceremoniously, grunting as he hit the stone cold surface. He’d been beaten pretty severely as well, blood bubbling out from several cuts. As he tried to push himself up, Zifu stepped onto his back between his shoulders, pressing him back down. “Where did you send her?”

    “Go Screw Yourself Street, corner of Fuck Off Road,” Gren spat out at her, grinning in spite of his situation.

    “The Triad believes the Ataxian Shard is heading to Field Marshall Sinclair and Director Ragnos’ home. Should we prepare an assault?” One of the Dread Masters asked.

    Zifu scoffed in annoyance and shook her head. “No. Attacking the leaders of the Rune Knights attracts too much attention and hardly worth the numbers we’ll lose to their power. No, Wanda was simply a consolation prize. We can acquire her at a future point when it’s more beneficial.” Sighing softly, Zifu reached over and pulled a sword out from one of the Dread Master’s belt. With barely a look, she thrust it down into Gren’s back, piercing it all the way through the muscle and impaling it into the ground beneath. The former Knight gasped in agony, now pinned to the ground. “I just severed several of your arteries, old man. You have four minutes before you bleed out. Enjoy them while they last.”

    “Gren! No!” Chishan said, trying to leap to his feet. But several Dread Masters grabbed him and threw him to the ground. Now pinned, he could only look up partially from one eye, able to take in Gren gasping and twitching as blood poured out from the wound onto the ground. A sharp pain soon overwhelmed him as another sword was swiftly embedded in him, much the same as Gren.

    “It’s nothing personal, Chishan. But I promise it’s better this way. The world will soon embrace us as its true gods after we’ve wiped out the rest. And humanity will flourish under our rule and care. The Dread Masters will do what the Order could not and we’ll be celebrated for it. Let’s go.” There was a rushing of noise as several magical spells were activated at once, teleportation spells no doubt. But that was the last thing on Chishan’s mind. Gritting his teeth, blood pooling in his throat and in his mouth, he tried to push himself up, trying to rip the sword out from the ground. If he could free Gren, maybe there was a chance he could get the cuffs off and have his Spirits save them.

    But putting so much physical effort caused his blood to pour out faster. Soon enough his vision was swimming and he could barely concentrate. His strength soon followed after and then he was slumping back onto the ground. As his vision darkened, he could only stare at Gren’s limp body, wishing and praying someone would come. Anyone.





    | 1408 WORDS |
    @—


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Vandrad Ragnos
    Vandrad Ragnos

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Traveller of the Multiverse
    Position : None
    Posts : 773
    Guild : Fairy Tail
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 7,808,129

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Energy Monarch
    Second Skill: Ark of the Dread Masters
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Vandrad Ragnos 15th January 2022, 9:55 pm

     
    BREAK OFF THE CHAINS
    "Surpass your limits!"


    A foul wind was in the air, Vandrad could sense it. There was a bite that didn’t usually accompany the winter months and yet it came nonetheless, a nasty chill that dampened the already cool air. It wasn’t uncommon for there to be strange natural occurrences in weather patterns every now and then but this one felt wrong. The prince of Bellum couldn’t tell what it meant but he knew he wasn’t imagining it. And there were several options to what it could possibly be hinting at. Faera perhaps, planning another strike against Mythal and the world around them. It could be the Dread Masters, finally enacting some kind of plan to attack him and his allies while they were still weak. Or it could have even been what remaining Nazru there were, if any, finally coming for Earth to pay him and Mercury back for the destruction of their flotilla and their ships. Whatever it was, it filled his veins with ice water enough to be cautious. Yet he couldn’t ignore his duties for the day.

    The act of getting engaged was fine, in the long run. It had been a long trail that led him to realizing he was capable of feeling love and understanding that he’d been thrown upon it when it came to Mercury. Their story was a complicated one, to put it mildly, but it had eventually led them back to a place of admitting their feelings and dedicating themselves to one another. Of course, saying as much in a hospital room while he was bedridden wasn’t exactly what his family had hoped for but they were happy for the pair nonetheless. It was treated as an engagement, which he supposed it was, and they had already begun preparations for a wedding that was coming sooner rather than later, if his mother was to be believed. After all, there was Xocili to take into account for the wedding as well. The entirety of his family was ecstatic, though he couldn’t quite tell if that was wholly because he had found love or that it was with Mercury, their constant shared bedfellow.

    Vandrad walked through the bustling streets of Magnolia, shopping bags clung in his gloves as he went. He’d gone out to purchase some food and drinks for the fairies working at the front desk at the guildhall. He’d been working closely with them over the past year or so, since his appointment to Treasurer and Taskmaster and then promotion to Executive Ace, and had garnered a favorable and respectable relationship with them. As such, he had offered to buy them lunch for the day, needing to go out and make some purchases himself. As he was walking along, his iLac started ringing. Stopping to adjust his hand so he could shove it in the body suit’s pocket, he pulled out the small device and glanced at the screen. Then a soft groan escaped his lips as he rolled his eyes.

    The announcement of the wedding had brought forth all sorts of issues he’d never expected to run into. For one, it was expected that he would be helping to plan every single part of the wedding. Vandrad was a man of very little patience or care for celebration and while he was more than happy to wed Mercury, he didn’t want to make a big deal out of the matter. The du Wolffs insisted that was unacceptable, wanting to throw a large party for the engaged pair and truly celebrate their matrimony in the grandest of styles. The issue that came along with being asked all the time about selections was the fact that his iLac was almost always ringing, one family member or the other trying to get in contact with him. This time it was Bartrand.

    He pressed the button to answer the call. "What is it, Bartrand?”

    “Well hello there to you too, Uncle Van! I was wondering where the heck you went! Cece, Phelia and I dropped by the guildhall to see you and you were nowhere to be found! You and Merc sneak off somewhere without me?” the man on the other line came out in quick bursts of energetic sentences. Bartrand, Cecelia and Ophelia had made it a point to come and visit with Vandrad and Mercury more often, utilizing some of Everance’s magic to portal there. It had solely been for lunch dates but Bartrand kept hinting at wanting to spend a true vacation in Fiore at some point.

    "I don’t know where Mercury is right now, probably at Silver Wolf,” the prince answered simply.

    “Ooh la la, perhaps I should go pay her a visit then? See if I can’t steal her away from mom,” Bartrand said, Vandrad practically hearing the grin in his voice. Ever had been talking more seriously about joining Silver Wolf as of late. “Anyways, I was looking to see if you wanted to get lunch. Where you at?”

    "I am getting lunch for the fairy workers at Fairy Tail. After that I planned on getting in my afternoon workout.”

    “Ah c’mon, aren’t you chiseled enough? You can afford to pass up working out for one afternoon to spend time with your favorite nephew. I’ve barely gotten a chance to look around Magnolia and this would be a great opportunity to show me around!”

    Vandrad was already starting to get fed up, his annoyance flashing in his eyes. "Favorite nephew? After all the time you’ve been forcing me to waste lately? And I have responsibilities; actual obligations beyond that of placating your incessant, irritable desire to see and hear everything, everywhere!” Vandrad snapped.

    There was a brief pause on the other side of the iLac before Bartrand spoke up once more, laughing. “Man, you’re so easy to work up. Gets me every time.” the other man responded, frustratingly avoiding the insults without a care in the world. It was like having a male version of his fiance, which made his life all the harder to deal with.

    The prince was about to respond again, this time making his insults that much sharper so they couldn’t be ignored. But his senses fired up, ringing loudly in his head as magical energy began to build directly behind him. "Hmph. I’ll call you back,” he said coolly. Before Bartrand could make a remark, the call had already been disconnected.

    The thin, pink beam of magic shot out and impacted the store window right where Vandrad had  been standing a second prior. The prince had swung himself to the left, avoiding the attack. The grocery bags dropped from his hands as he launched himself forward, slamming his fist into the face of the attacker and sending them rocketing into the sky. His magical aura burst to life around him and after the attacker Vandrad went, scorching above the city limits in quick and hostile pursuit. He only came to a stop when he took in the full features of the man, who had thrown his arms out and used his own magic to slow to a stop, floating casually above the towering buildings of Magnolia. "Scourge,” Vandrad named him. "State your business.”

    Scourge looked… different. After a brief moment to look him over, the prince noticed the odd but definitely new feature; a tail, not unlike one might find springing from the rear of a primate. It was as black as Scourge’s hair, idly waving in the air behind him as the Dread Master smirked and lazily crossed his arms over his chest. “Come now, you didn’t expect me to come and visit you after that heart-breaking attempt on your life and Mercury’s unfortunate kidnapping? It seems you think I’m a bad friend.”

    "You’re no friend at all,” Vandrad snapped back, though he took a moment to calm himself. "I’m told you did what you could to protect Mercury from any worse damage by that insane woman and that you provided key intel on me and her. For a time, I wondered if you were truly acting altruistically. But here you are, making another attempt at my life…”

    Scourge chuckled. “Am I to believe that the great Prince Vandrad was nearly taken out by a simple magic spell? You and I both know that even in your weakened state, that would have caused you very minimal damage. But I had to get your attention one way or another; it’s hardly fitting for me to attack from out of the shadows, unlike most of my order.”

    "Is that so? Mercury told me of your assistance in the Dread Master laboratory. You seemed quite keen to lie in wait and leap from the darkness then.” Vandrad was quick to cut down the comment.

    “Well, it seems you’ve caught me in a lie. Very good, Vandrad. But then again, we’re both lying in our own way, aren’t we? Or am I to understand that you weren’t prepared for the Dread Masters to make a move on you?” Scourge raised an eyebrow.

    "Of course I was. You might be surprised at how prepared your targets are.” The prince showed an iota of pride, flashing a smirk at the Dread Master.

    That seemed to thrill Scourge. “Will I?” he wondered in awe. “Let’s put that to the test, shall we?”

    Scourge’s hand flew to his forehead, two fingers extended. In an instant he disappeared from his spot in the air and as Vandrad’s magical senses hastened to find him, they picked up on the signature below. There Scourge was reappearing between two cars that were driving on the road. His hands shot out, grabbing the metal frames and denting them as his fingers wrapped around them. The sheer strength he possessed caused the cars to come to a dead stop and, even more surprisingly, be lifted and tossed one after the other at Vandrad. The prince sneered as he zipped back and forth in the air, dodging the cars, before soaring after them quickly. Swinging underneath each one, he wrapped his hands around the underlying wiring and took hold of each vehicle as he swung back down towards the ground. Gently he eased himself down, scoffing in annoyance. "You scum,” he spat at Scourge as he eased the vehicles onto the side of the road carefully. "You’re starting off on the wrong foot, making me bother with things I dislike.”

    With the pedestrians safe, Vandrad launched himself forward, pulling his right arm back to prepare a punch. As he drew close to Scourge, he swung forward, only for his limb to be caught right on the bicep by the Dread Master. Grinning, Scourge swung his free hand forward and slammed a fist into Vandrad’s stomach and, adding insult to injury, released a pulse of magic that sent the prince flying backwards across the street. He flew for several yards before using his own magic to slow himself but Scourge was already preparing the next attack, his hands forming a cage as he pulled his arms back. In the center, a blob of crimson magic appeared, crackling with energy. He thrust his arms forward and sent the ball scurrying towards Vandrad. The prince twisted on a single foot and put up the other, slamming his boot into the bottom of the magical blast and sending it upwards and away from the city.

    But even as he landed on both feet, Scourge was reappearing above him, hands brought together in a hammer blow. Vandrad blocked it and pushed it off, launching a punch in retaliation at the Dread Master that was easily dodged. But as Scourge looked to once again punch the prince in the gut, it was Vandrad who reached out and snatched the Dread Master’s bicep and then, twisting once more on his foot, leveled a kick directly into Scourge’s face. He followed it up with two other successful kicks and then threw himself into the air to try and deliver a harder kick but Scourge dodged it and, making use of Vandrad not having a solid foundation, brought his hand down on Vandrad’s face and swiftly slammed him into the pavement. Stone and concrete shot up around the humbled prince as a crater scarred the once pristine road. Yet Vandrad was far from down, shifting his weight back so as to land yet another kick in Scourge’s jaw. Planting a hand, the prince tried to bring a rising kick up but found an arm there to block it, earning a punch to the face as his reward. He slid back on the ground several feet.

    Already Scourge was priming his next magical attack, both of his hands out and charging up glowing electrical currents. “I am truly surprised, Vandrad!” Scourge cried out in glee. “Are you as strong as..? No… is your Energy Monarch even stronger than expected?!” The magical energy swarming around his hands melted into the Dread Master’s flesh, causing his fists to glow.

    Vandrad snorted. "Who knows?” he dismissed the insinuation, even as he released a shockwave of magic from his form as he activated some of his shielding. The ground beneath him cracked, shattered and splintered into yet another crater from the pressure of his expulsion, just before breaking further as Vandrad launched himself at Scourge. He came from above, as if he was trying to imitate the Dread Master’s earlier hammer blow. The Dread Master was ready, swinging his empowered fist up to meet… but at the last moment, Vandrad put magic into his aura and shot himself down and under the swinging limb, quickly compressing magic into his own fist as he shot himself up from the ground and planted a hard uppercut into Scourge’s jaw, now sending the Dread Master scorching up and out of the city.

    Scourge flew a long way, his body limp and seemingly unprotected as it went. But as gravity slowly worked itself on him and eased his thrust, his magic took over and took hold of him. He was a few miles out from Magnolia as he finally righted himself, Vandrad soaring up into the air in front of him and crossing his arms over his chest. "Now explain to me why you’re doing all of this, Scourge.”

    The Dread Master cackled. “You’re in no position to order me around,” he replied as he held an arm out towards Magnolia. Magical energy swiftly compiled in his palm, forming a deadly blast that was aimed at the city. “I could easily wipe this town from the map and you would be without a means to stop me. You are beneath me, Vandrad… and I won’t lose to the likes of you. I have a purpose that was given to me by the grace of the Dread Masters and I will complete the Union as foretold.” After a moment of consideration, the Dread Master shifted his aim and loosed the blast of magic, sending it soaring off towards one of the mountains nearby. The entirety of the mountainous region was swallowed up in an explosion upon moment of impact, devastating the raised region and everything upon its surface.

    Scourge grinned as he glanced at his hand and then closed it into a fist, tucking his other free arm behind his back. “I’m simply here to ensure I’m at the strongest I can be when the Union comes. And I’ll be using you as my means of getting stronger.”

    Vandrad considered the man’s words for a moment and then snorted. A moment later, an amused smirk pulled at his face before he began to laugh. Scourge looked surprised by the sudden expulsion of amusement. “What’s so funny, Vandrad?”

    "Union? Foretelling? You sound like a madman,” the prince mocked the Dread Master. "Elaborate this instant, clown, before I decide to rid myself of you.”

    The Dread Master returned the smirk. “Very well.” His hand went to his forehead and he once again teleported, this time putting himself directly behind Vandrad. But rather than trying to launch some kind of sneak attack, he simply placed himself back to back with the prince, his form calm and relaxed. Otherwise Vandrad would have been ready to retaliate but, given that Scourge seemed to be a sucker for grandiose showcases, he allowed the man to appear unharmed, if only to get some proper answers out of him. “It all began many years ago.”

    “As you’re very well aware of by now, Marka Ragnos sought to destroy the ruling gods and demons of Earthland and take their power for his own. He saw a world where humanity would be blessed with divine and demonic strength, thereby guaranteeing our continued dominance. And he believed the Dread Masters were the ones to usher and command that new age. You see, what people believe the name ‘Dread Master’ comes from is the order’s intent to master and spread dread, when it was named after the unified goal to overcome the dread humanity felt at the hands of the immortals. They believed that making them feel dread was the true weapon, so much so that when they discovered dreadether, it was named as such to instill that fear in the immortals we hunted. But Marka was mortal, despite his best efforts not to be so. Through several successful hunts, he captured several different powerful divine and demonic magics but nothing that could stop the constantly ticking clock of humanity’s mortality. I hear he even tried to take the magical power of Death himself. But eventually he accepted that his current iteration would pass and, instead, sought to bring about his return through other means. Necromancy would allow him to return but not as he wanted. No, he wished to come back as much as himself as possible. It was then that he came up with an idea.”

    “A vessel. Long had the Dread Masters and Order of Souls studied the Divines and Prime Sins and understood that they could take on vessels, subjugating humanity to serve as their vassals, in a sense. Marka believed it possible for humanity to craft a similar system, so as to have a human bestow their power upon another. The Dread Masters had already partially started this transference by their method of granting access to the Ark. You see, Marka could access and utilize the Ark fully but the other Masters couldn’t. They needed to perform a ritual to grant them even the slightest attachment to the Ark, so that they could be armed against the immortals. Anyways, Marka and his followers utilized alchemy and magical transference to attempt to craft a human vessel outside of normal breeding. And when they believed they had done it, all they could do was wait for Marka to die and seemingly possess the vessel. And so he did… or so they thought.”

    “The vessel never awoke. It remained in its form of stasis, unhindered by the intrusion of an outside force. Without knowing what else to do, the Dread Masters hid it away, burying it among their rarest artifacts and documents. It was closely guarded by a handful of them and they were some of the few that survived the slaughtering at the hands of the Order. Hundreds of years went by until finally, forty years ago, the vessel awoke. Unsure if their master had returned, the Dread Masters tended to the child as if it was Marka Ragnos but as it grew, they swiftly began to understand that something had gone wrong. The child was a living, breathing child… but it was not Marka Ragnos. So they gave it a name, in hopes that such a heinous title would give it purpose in its pursuit of the destruction of the immortals; Scourge.”

    “Despite my not being Marka, they still hoped that I would possess the same access to the Ark. Unfortunately, at first, that didn’t seem to be the case. In fact, it almost looked as if I was magicless. Then you gained access to your magic, back when you treated your grandmother to some vaporization and suddenly I could use magic as well. A pure reflection of you; Energy Monarch and the Ark but within two different boys. Though you control of the Ark disappeared as you focused on Energy Monarch, mine stayed, undoubtedly as the Dread Masters focused my attention on it. Better yet, as your magical strength grew, so did mine -- connected through a source no one could determine but granting me all the benefits of your work ethic. The leaders of the Dread Masters, called the Triad, then spent years trying to determine how to either assume you into the ranks… or take your power from you. And so the Union was theorized. It is believed that should one of us die at the hand of the other, utilizing the Ark, the full control, strength and access of it will pass to the victor. And so here I am, Vandrad, your shadow, your mirror image, possessing the strength you built up, to ensure that I will complete the Union and gain full access to the Ark.”

    Vandrad, once again, snorted. A truly harrowing tale that wove a very bleak childhood and growth for Scourge. As much as the prince wanted to call it fictitious, it was hard to deny the resonating emotions within the Dread Master as he told the very true tale of his upbringing. And while he felt for the man, it was clear he had one goal in mind; Vandrad’s annihilation. And the prince was not one to take prisoners often when a clear threat was made. "Tough luck,” he remarked. Magical energy swirled about him and was matched by Scourge and in a flash of golden light, both men had taken on matching Empowerments, their hairs gold, their eyes cerulean and their magical strengths heightened. Vandrad wasn’t even surprised, given the story he’d just heard. "You’re not getting out of this alive.”

    Scourge chuckled as he slowly turned to face Vandrad’s back. “On the contrary, Vandrad,” he said calmly. His magical energy suddenly exploded out from him in an even more brilliant and powerful aura, knocking Vandrad away and causing the prince to block his face from the intense shine. Within the golden globe, the Dread Master was grinning, a wild, manic smile of pure wicked amusement.

    “You can’t even fathom my power.”







    | 3723/5131 WORDS |
    @—



    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Vandrad Ragnos
    Vandrad Ragnos

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Traveller of the Multiverse
    Position : None
    Posts : 773
    Guild : Fairy Tail
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 7,808,129

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Energy Monarch
    Second Skill: Ark of the Dread Masters
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Vandrad Ragnos 16th January 2022, 11:17 am

     
    BREAK OFF THE CHAINS
    "Surpass your limits!"


    Themesycia was feeling much better about herself nowadays.

    Not that the duchess was ever really down on herself. She was blessed to have a loving family and a position within Bellum’s hierarchy that granted her the ability to live rather comfortably. And her role as a duchess was something she enjoyed, happy to play the role of politician and entertainer for the sake of placating her noble friends. But her life had shifted as of late, now that Vandrad and Mercury had finally stopped beating around the bush and talked to one another about their feelings. It had taken the heartbreaking and traumatic event of the prince nearly being killed but in the end, it had brought them closer together. Of course, then Vandrad had disappeared and Mercury had gotten kidnapped and that had been the darkest period of her entire life. Even the brutality and abuse that she had suffered at the hands of Beatrix was nothing in comparison to not knowing where either of them had gone. And to think that Vandrad had somehow been taken to Rhaegar…

    There were still plenty of complications and answers that needed to be found out. But Themesycia was so focused on making sure the Xocili had adapted to their new homes and apparently rekindling a former flame she once thought dead. Gren had spent the night with her every single night since he’d made his move, making up for lost time and showing that age meant very little to the former Knight. Being the straightforward woman that she was, she’d asked what exactly it had meant, them winding up in bed together. She’d half expected him to explain it away as a drunken mistake but instead he’d been honest; he wasn’t sure. He knew that he had gotten over whatever hindrance had halted him before, perhaps from spending so much time with her during Vandrad and Mercury’s disappearance. He knew it wasn’t something he had thought about but it wasn’t a placeholder either. It had been intentional and he certainly hadn’t regretted it, which was also good to hear. So rather than put any kind of name or title to it, they agreed to simply see where things went. So far, it usually went a couple hours of nearly destroying her bed frame.

    He’d let her know that Chishan had reached out to him an hour or so prior, wanting to meet and discuss things. Though Themesycia hadn’t seen the Master of the Order of Souls herself, Mercury spoke highly of his… exceptional qualities. It was concerning to learn that there was a shadowy group of people watching for dangerous threats in the world, if only because she subscribed to Serilda’s belief that such action should be public and known. Then again, who was she to talk? She was a being from an entirely different universe. Nonetheless, it was the Dread Masters that gave her more concern than anything else. Their obsession with Vandrad had nearly cost him his life and as far as she was concerned, they had earned the right of no mercy, save for one. Scourge had risked his life to tell her and the rest of her clan about Mercury’s kidnapping and for that, he’d earned a pass. But she was earnest in her promise that she would be far less forgiving if he showed his face on her property again.

    It was very nearly dinner time, the sun having all but set on the horizon. Winter months resulted in early darkness, a theme that Themesycia truly did not enjoy. No doubt Simon would be calling for her soon. The duchess had been idling in her armory for quite some time, the space more often used for meditation nowadays than training. She was dressed in a tight bodice dress, dark blue scaled metal plates making up the majority of the top. An open slit ran down the center of her torso, with strings through the plates to hold them together. A dark blue skirt hung off the bottom of the bodice, gently caressing the sides of her legs. She hummed quietly as she reached up and pressed her hand against the handles of her lacrimasabers. She’d been meticulous in cleaning them after their fight against the Nazru, the polished steel reflecting the dim light that shone from above. She’d honestly never thought that she would wield them again, intent on letting them rest until she inevitably chose to pass them onto Vandrad. But circumstances had changed that and now she felt compelled to keep them close at all times.

    She’d had them attached to her legs all day, a small band around each thigh with a holster. A part of her still wanted to keep them there, even through the rest of the evening, but it would be rude to accidentally flash some leg and show either one of the hilts. A few of the families from nearby were coming over for dinner and they weren’t keen on weapons being at the table, undoubtedly. With a sigh, she finally pulled her hand back, just in time for the front door bell to ring. “Impeccable timing, as usual,” she muttered softly as she turned and headed back out the doorway. After locking down the armory through a nearby keypad, she followed the hallways back to the ballroom. She spotted some figures near the main doorway and began her proper introductions. “It’s so wonderful to see you again…”

    Her words halted in her voice as she took in the sight before her. Simon was standing at the front of the group, his arms held tight behind his back. A blade, not unlike the one that had run through Vandrad, was pressed close to his neck. Dozens of figures filed in from the hallway behind the original perpetrator, each one garbed in red and black robes and wearing intricately carved golden helmets. The duchess’ casually pleasant demeanor shrank away into a cold, heartless stare as she ran her gaze over the intruders to her home. After all of them had filed in she snorted, an action shared by her son more often than not. “Well you all certainly don’t look like the guests I had invited this evening. Unless I detailed a costume party and simply forgot?”

    No answer came from the group. “I’m afraid I don’t have enough food to fill this many bellies. So I may have to cut down the numbers. Or perhaps wipe you all out completely, as it is a very poor choice to threaten my brother.”

    “You know, there have been tales spoken of just how intimidating you are. But those stories do not do you justice, Duchess Themesycia du Wolff.” From behind the Dread Master holding the knife emerged a smaller being wearing a different kind of armor. Maker, complete in his Engineer garb, took a couple of steps ahead of the rest of his gathered army, crossing his arms behind his back. “I must apologize for our rather hasty entrance but your brother was quite dismissive of our attempts at a peaceful entry.”

    “Sorry about that. Our policy is robes, creepy masks and killing intent, no service,” Simon spat out before he was quieted by the blade pressing against his neck a bit tighter.

    Maker chuckled. “The du Wolff family is quite obstinate, aren’t they?” A dry chuckle came from the rest of the Dread Masters. “Might I inquire to where Everance and Dudley are? And the rest of your nephews and nieces? I’d rather get this over with quickly and cleanly without putting too much effort into hunting them down.”

    “Now why would I make it easy? Any true hunter knows that half the fun is the hunt. But then again, you’re more accustomed to taking the easy way to victory, aren’t you, Maker?” Themesycia leveled her gaze on him, a flash of mischief in her eyes. “Mercury told us all about you. Not quite as skilled in battle as your are in the laboratory but still have a thirst for blood. You’ll find that your science won’t help you against me.”

    “Are you quite sure about that, Ashen Dread? Everyone has a weakness. It’s just about finding the point to press, the pressure to apply and all that confidence comes crashing down to the ground. Especially for you humans -- so fragile are your egos that you build yourself up so high and mightily. It makes the fall all the more sweeter. As it stands, if you make any kind of move, your brother’s neck will be opened and his blood will run rampant over your floors. I can hardly believe that you’d allow yourself the blame of his death, just so you can try and save him?”

    Themesycia lowered her head slightly to glare at Maker. “It’s not wise to underestimate me.” It was the only warning she would give before her magic kicked on and she was gone. There was almost no time difference between the moment she disappeared and the one where she reappeared next to the Dread Master holding her brother captive. Her hand wrapped around the wrist of the Dread Master and yanked the blade away from Simon’s neck while also pushing him off to the side. Down the held arm swung and Themesycia impaled the Dread Master with his own weapon before she was already turning towards Maker, ready to rip his head from his neck.

    That’s when she hit something hard. A hard, glowing surface appeared in front of her and the duchess slammed into it with all of her force, only for the barrier to hold. As she bounced backwards, her back hit a similar surface and when the duchess whirled around, she found the glowing orange energy field surrounding her entirely. Growling, she threw herself against the barrier, slamming it hard enough to rock the ground beneath the bubble, punching her fists against it to try and break through. But it never gave. As she settled into a fighting stance, she heard Maker chuckling. “Oh believe me, there was no underestimation. The energy field you’re currently trapped within was created by a species with technology far superior to you humans. It was meant to keep the energy of a star sealed away. I just modified it a bit so that it was much smaller and capable of trapping you.” Maker pressed a button on his armband and the globe shrunk even further, causing Themesycia to have to squat down to keep from being too far pressed.

    She spun her gaze over to Simon, who was once again captured. A few Dread Masters were getting back up, showing  that the man had put up a fight but the cursed blade had returned and was, once again, pressed against his neck. He was brought over to Themesycia’s prison and kicked down to kneel in front of it, the blade pressed so tightly against his flesh that it was a miracle it hadn’t pierced him.

    “Plant the bomb. Search the house for the rest. Kill anyone you find,” Maker replied casually, waving to the Dread Masters. Several of them dispersed through the ballroom, disappearing into the hallway beyond. Three of them brought out a device, roughly the size of a barrel, and placed it in the center of the room. As they fiddled with that, Maker walked around Themesycia’s prison slowly. “Please understand that I consider it a great honor to be capable of trapping you. I wasn’t entirely certain it would work… though I did have contingencies if it didn’t. You’re a remarkable woman, Themesycia… perhaps one of the strongest I’ve ever gotten a chance to witness. I look forward to what I’ll be able to discover from experimenting on you. Kill him, prepare her for transport and set the timer to a minute.”

    Themesycia roared and slammed her fists against the barrier in front of her. “I’ll kill you for this, you son of a bitch! Do you hear me?! Let him go right now!” Over and over she pounded the barrier, her rage mixing with fear.

    Simon sighed softly. “Themmy, Themmy… it’s okay.” His words were soft, enough to stop her relentless punching. Already tears were starting to pool in her eyes, threatening to pour down her face as she looked up at him. “I know you’ll give them what for.”

    “I was supposed to protect you. Father… he told me to protect you all,” Themesycia said, the dam broken and tears streaming down.

    “You did. I promise you, you did.” What else could he say? He was about to lose his life and she was going to be forced to watch it. All he could do was try to comfort her, even as his own fear caused his body to shiver and his voice to crack. “I love you.”


    And then the hand on the blade tightened, ready to yank it across his jugular and end his life accordingly.








    | 2158/7289 WORDS |
    @—



    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Mercury Arseneault
    Mercury Arseneault

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Gold Rush
    Position : None
    Posts : 675
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 6,857,298

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Gunblade Master
    Second Skill: Mecha Primordial Slayer
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Mercury Arseneault 16th January 2022, 9:11 pm

    Mercury Banner
    Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects
    and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
    She was being followed.

    They were attempting to hide their presence for the time being, but that was easier said than done when it came to Mercury. Her radars were not often fooled by magic tricks, her advanced biology able to sense things far beyond the average mortal of this world. Add that to having direct access and control of the largest cashe of prototype and alien wares on Earthland, mixed with her own superior technological intellect, and it was actually very difficult to pull the wool over her eyes, though she often went along as though she were none-the-wiser to lead people astray – much like she was doing now, in fact.

    These people were clever, whoever they were, but considering that Mercury was quite literally born into the life of an elite spy and assassin it was quite easy to recognize their movements and the patterns they used to track her. There were twenty of them in total, some of them keeping ahead of her and some behind, the entire group forming a loose circle around her as she moved through the crowded market streets Crocus. It was obvious they were waiting for an opportunity to confront her in a place where there weren’t too many people around. She had a feeling that had less to do with collateral damage and more to do with not wanting to draw attention to themselves, which could only mean one thing: the Dread Masters had arrived.

    Mercury and the du Wolffs had been on high alert basically since the day after the welcome feast they had thrown her people. Vandrad had expressed his opinion that his enemies might make a move sooner rather than later while they perceived them to be weak, and unfortunately his theory seemed to be proving correct. Mercury sighed inwardly, knowing she was about to lose many of the supplies she had just purchased while out and about looking for things that might help the Xocili get a jump start on their new lives. In her head, she sent out a quick group message to Vandrad, Gren, Themmy, Mythal, Serilda, and her father with a simple note that merely stated: I am being followed. Be on your guards.

    She was unaware how far too late it was for such a message to be going out, of course, as she was one of the last to be pulled into a several prong attack that was already underway. The truth surely would not take long to be realized, but for now she remained genuinely ignorant. Zemenar was the first to respond, which was of little surprise. Her father was always eager to share a word or conversation with her, and given his own biology he was able to receive, process, and respond to such messages with as much lightning speed as herself. He reached back out with a quick acknowledgement of her message, assuring her that he and the others on the island would be vigilant, though there was very little probability that anything would come their way. It didn’t hurt to be prepared, however.

    Mercury had half a mind to simply open up a portal and disappear somewhere else, knowing that the simple maneuver would at least temporarily confound her assailants as they would have to scramble to figure out where she had teleported to and follow after her. Then again, it’s not like the Dread Masters didn’t know about her translocation ray at this point, particularly after her kidnapping of Patricia Reeves. Just how much effort had they gone through to ensure they could follow her, even if she teleported away? She supposed there was only one way to find out. Without tipping her hand, she pulled her translocater out of her small pack and gave it a casual little twirl. “Let’s go, Bandit! We’ve still got a couple more shops to hit.”

    The crow cawed at her from his current perch on top of the stall of a street vender before flying down and landing on her shoulder. She could already sense the group of her stalkers quickly converging to one location nearby as she opened a portal with her gun and walked through, the gateway snapping shut behind her after only a second or two. On the other side Mercury had emerged in Era, not too far from the headquarters of the Rune Knights. If the Dread Masters didn’t wish to confront her before witnesses then Era was a safe place to collect a control study, seeing as how the Rune Knights were likely the last people that they wanted to draw attention from, particularly with Mythal and Serilda, so Mercury had calculated a high probability that while her pursuants would follow her to Era they would likely continue to merely observe rather than reveal themselves.

    Her theory proved to be correct, and she was impressed to discover that it hadn’t taken the entire group of them to materialize around her within less than thirty seconds. That left her with a great number of questions, of course. It was no easy feat to follow someone through such a manner, so she could only assume that Maker had crafted something to aid them. She wondered briefly if the extraterrestrial engineer was among their numbers, but it seemed unlikely. He was more likely to hide behind a monitor until he was sure that he had the upper hand. Most likely this was just another test of her abilities for him to attempt to collect data. Very well – two could play at that game.

    Moving along as normal, she swung by another vendor or two and chatted them up about their wares and asking into some of the supplies she was looking for. As she did so, she used her radars to analyze the movement patterns of the large group, marking each individual separately in her head and monitoring who they kept nearest to and where they positioned themselves amongst each other. She also kept an eye on her group message, a bad feeling washing over her. So far, the only ones who had opened and read the message aside from her father were Serilda and Mythal, the former having replied to confirm that they went home to protect Patricia and their daughters until the coast was clear, just in case. However, Vandrad, Themmy and Gren had not even read the message yet, which was unlike all three of them.

    Whatever was going on here, it was a multifaceted strategy, and while Mercury was more than sure that everyone could hold their own that didn’t mean things wouldn’t go more smoothly without her help. That meant that she needed to deal with her invisible escort. Once she’d bought a few more things and continued under the guise of shopping, Mercury opened up another portal to move along one more time, preparing herself as she would only have a handful of seconds to set herself up before they followed after her.

    When the Masters caught up to her, they would find her standing alone in the middle of a dense forest far outside any civilized areas of Fiore. She was waiting expectantly with Mercy in her hand. Bandit was nowhere to be seen. She smiled openly. “There! This is a little more private and intimate, just like you were hoping for. So how about you lot go ahead and show yourselves? While it’s fun moving around and pretending like I don’t know you exist, there is something to be said about how easy it was to catch on to all of you. I’m hoping that just means you weren’t trying very hard, otherwise I might have to be insulted.”

    Only a moment or two later did their cloaking spell drop, revealing all twenty individuals gathered around her. They were garbed in what had to be the gaudiest outfits she’d ever laid eyes on, the red and gold armored robes covering them from head to toe. Each of them wore a unique mast crafted out of gold, intricately marked with tribal designs and sinister looking visages. Mercury visually blanched at them. “Well, if I wasn’t sure you were members of the Dread Masters before, there’s certainly no mistaking it now. At least you’re keeping up with the theme of pretentiousness…”

    Without saying a word, a couple of them loosed spells at her only to find their magic dispelled when they came into contact with the barrier of light around her, the blue field rippling into existence to swallow up the energy before disappearing again. “Boy, you guys sure are eager to start this gang bang, aren’t you? We’ll get to that in a minute, don’t worry. I have my kinks and I am more than willing to play along. But I have a few questions for you, first. Let’s start with this one: Where is my darling Maker?” Turning slowly where she stood, Mercury eyed each of them, adjusting her vision settings to see through their metal faceplates and to the flesh and bone beyond. “You’re all human by the looks of each of you, which means that once again my playdate has stood me up. If he keeps this up, I may start to get the impression that he doesn’t actually like me.”

    As a group, the Masters adjusted themselves around her as they calculated their next moves to adjust their attack. None of them spoke a word. Instead, they launched another small barrage of energy to test her shield without so much as entertaining her with a response, even to exchange witty banter or deliver threats of death. Hell, they didn’t even tell her to shut up. Of course, this merely left Mercury with plenty of talking room to work out answers to her own questions. After all there, were plenty of ways to get information without any of them speaking up. “Let’s see,” she conjectured aloud, spilling Mercury idly on her finger by the trigger. “I am vastly outnumbered here, which means you’re all either intent on killing me or at least keeping me busy and separated from Vandrad, so I can only assume he’s got a welcoming party of his own. I assume the same is true of his family, which quite honestly is impressively stupid. But hey, if you guys want to pick a fight with Themmy, that’s your own funeral I suppose.”

    Still nothing. They were still focused more on trying to chip away at her shield, and a few of them were getting a bit antsy about it. That was curious. They had varying vital signals among them as they continued to adjust and throw new spells at the barrier in an attempt to break through it, and with each failed test there was a quiver in their vitals that suggested something along the lines of frustration, perhaps some wariness; almost like they weren’t expecting her to put up much of a resistance. She was starting to suspect a certain black haired guardian angel’s involvement. After all, Scourge had seen the level of destruction she was capable of, so surely the group should have been a bit more prepared. It was possible they were masking some other trick to catch her off guard, but that wasn’t the feeling Mercury was getting.

    “So let’s work out the possibilities, then. I imagine Scourge is confronting Vandrad, yes? That seems the most likely scenario. What I wouldn’t give to watch that meatfest unfold live before my eyes. Mmph. Anyway, Serilda and Mythal have been checking in with me, so I know you’re avoiding them. Probably the smartest decision you’ve made today, really. You’d have to send someone incredibly strong to even be a small roadblock in Themesycia’s way. That, or someone that was exceptionally intelligent and crafty…” She peered at them, understanding dawning on her. “So that’s where Maker is, then, is he? I suppose Themmy is a much bigger threat than I am, so I’ll try not to be too offended by that.”

    Mostly she was just talking and theorizing out loud at this point, speaking as though she knew what she was talking about just to gauge their reactions. However, by the subtle shifts and quivers in their vital signals, she knew she was guessing correctly. Yet they still continued not to speak to her, only putting forth their attacks and slowly trying to chip away at her shield, which was starting to dwindle. There was very little time left before it would shatter and this would turn into an all out brawl, and sadly not a single one of them were susceptible to being baited into conversation. Mercury rolled her eyes. “Ugh, they had to send the dull ones after me. Maker and Scourge were so much more fun than this. Alright, then. I suppose if that’s how you want it to be.”

    They would only have a split second to prepare before Mercury suddenly surged forward at lightning speed, picking a target at random and descending on them much faster than they anticipated. Her blade snapped out and she brought it up in a quick and powerful slice aimed to carve the master from hip to collar in one fell swoop. And while she certainly managed to make contact, she would find that the attack wasn’t as fruitful as she would have hoped, the garish armor proving itself to be for more than just show. The person within recovered quickly, loosing a spell and hoping to hit her at point blank, but by them Mercury had already moved on and out of the way.

    It wouldn’t take long for her to realize that the group around her really… was not suitably geared to fight her. They had an advantage in numbers, and their armor was nothing to scoff at, but their own attacks were a bit underwhelming to say the least. She got hit several times, but it really wasn’t doing as much damage as she would expect from an organization such as this. And granted they didn’t know the full extent of her power, as Mercury worked very hard to keep the true depths of her abilities a mystery, but this seemed a little apropos. Surely they knew that she trained with Vandrad regularly, so why hadn’t they sent a larger group than this, or at least people that were a bit stronger than this? She could only think that someone somewhere had taken the time to convince others that she wasn’t that big of a threat… and she had a sneaking suspicion on who that might be.

    But it did provide her with an opportunity. A risky one, perhaps, but one that the Xocili couldn’t resist. She could tap into her true power and wipe them all out in a reasonably quick amount of time… or, she could continue to allow them, and thus the people they answered to, to live in the delusion that they had crafted of her. Keeping her cards close to the chest had never failed her before, so Mercury elected to stick with the strategy for the time being as she laid out the building blocks of her plan.

    As long as she kept at her current pace, they would continue to fight more or less at a level of stalemate, with her being slightly ahead of them, but only slightly. Just enough to feed into the idea that perhaps they had underestimated her abilities a bit, but not by too much, leaving them room for some reasonable confidence that they would win out in the end. She worked her way through their ranks slowly, the masters tough but not impossibly so. They were simply requiring a bit of work to whittle down as she meticulously killed many of them one by one, waiting for her opportunity and doing her best to be convincing about the struggle she was having against them. A great number of their attacks landed true, and Mercury allowed the damage to take its toll until she was sporting a number of black stains of blood on her person and visibly slowing down from the strain of battle.

    By the time the fight reached its apex, she had managed to reduce their numbers down from twenty to a whopping four. Mercury could tell they were getting a bit frantic at this point, clearly not having expected her to put up this much of a fight or have worked her way through this many of them, but to their credit they didn’t allow themselves to lose their stride, knowing that giving in to worry would only cause them to slip up. And for her part, Mercury had kept the use of her magic only to the things that she knew the Masters already were aware of. Primarily, her weapon and her ability to conjure metal and light. But if this gamble was going to pay off, she really needed one of them to step up their game.

    Luckily, her wish would be granted. When she was distracted by two of the Masters that were flanking her on either side, the remaining two wised up and elected to combine their strength while she was preoccupied. They conjoined their hands together, building up a moderately powerful unison raid spell and hurling it at her. While Mercury could have dodged it, she instead allowed it to hit with full effect as she kept herself focused on the pair engaged in melee with her. With a shocked look did she go flying across the forest, her body crashing through several trees and bursting them into splinters before coming to a stop. She gasped in agony, the wind knocked from her lungs as she struggled to rise to her feet, only to find the weight of her body giving way beneath her as one of her legs was severely broken and twisted.

    Swapping Mercy to pistol mode, she refused to give up and instead turned into a wild animal that had been backed into a corner, feral and unpredictable as she began to fire off round after round at her remaining attackers. They continued to bear down on her, one of them quickly rushing forward and conjuring a sword made of ice and plunging it into her side. Mercury screamed and unleashed a powerful wave of light, knocking all four of them back as she lashed out in desperation with her metal and light based spells with the frantic and erratic mannerisms of prey that was in the throes of death and making her final stand. One final spell was all it took from one of them, the caster materializing a number of sharp vines that grew from the ground before her and launching them at her at all once, the rough stakes piercing her in several places and pinning her to the tree behind her.

    Mercury sat there in cold shock, the fight wiped out of her all at once as her life force began to drain from her body, along with any energy or focus she might have had to keep fighting. She could only watch as the Master that had conjured the vines made one last one, using it to pierce her straight through the neck. She choked and gasped for air for several long seconds before finally, her body was completely still. The four remaining opponents, not quite ready to drop their guard, held steady as one of them carefully approached and checked her. “She’s dead,” the masked assailant confirmed.

    Then and only then did they relax, turning to take a look at the carnage around them. “That was close,” one of them said. “Too close. She was clearly hiding much of her strength before now.”

    “As much as I hate to say it, I think we got lucky.”

    “It doesn’t matter. We completed our mission. Alert the triad and let them know that Mercury Arseneault is dead.”

    One of them wandered over and picked Mercy off the ground, turning it over in their hands. “I imagine the Engineer would be quite pleased if we brought this to him for study. And her body, as well.”

    “Bring it all, and the rest of them too. We can’t leave any evidence behind of who was here. They took a few minutes to gather everything together, including Mercury’s body and her alien weapon. Then, one of them pulled out a magical artifact of some kind and activated it, and in the blink of an eye they were gone, along with all the evidence of their fallen comrades.

    Mercury watched from afar where she was hidden from view by her own physical and magical cloaking, thanking several constellations of stars that she had spent the last several days hard at work on finishing the upgrades she had been building for herself. She had quite a bit of evidence on her of her battle with the masters on her person, mostly in the form of both her blood and theirs. Swapping her body out with a convincing clone mid fight had been quite the challenge, but she’d managed to succeed. The body and weapon that they were bringing back to the rest of their order would be more than convincing enough, even with Maker most likely getting his hands on it. He would surely feel like he had gotten quite the prize, and frankly he would gather quite a bit of information from the copies, even if they weren’t exact. She wasn’t thrilled by that, but there was much more that she would gain from this endeavor that would make the sacrifice worth it… so long as she was patient.

    In the meantime, she needed to figure out what had happened to everyone else.

    WORDS: 3619/3619 | @Vandrad Ragnos
    Serilda Sinclair



    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Vandrad Ragnos
    Vandrad Ragnos

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Traveller of the Multiverse
    Position : None
    Posts : 773
    Guild : Fairy Tail
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 7,808,129

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Energy Monarch
    Second Skill: Ark of the Dread Masters
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Vandrad Ragnos 16th January 2022, 9:33 pm

     
    BREAK OFF THE CHAINS
    "Surpass your limits!"


    Vandrad wasted little time in starting the next phase of their battle. The prince summoned forth a ball of magical energy in his hand, twisting his body around to add maximum velocity when he swung it forward, sending the blast soaring at the Dread Master. Scourge summoned his massive, powerful aura back into his body, compressing it into the air between his closed hands. Once more he thrust it forward, the larger beam of magic eviscerating Vandrad’s into nothing and continuing onwards towards the prince. Vandrad’s aura sparked to life as he zipped out of the way, glaring at the blast in annoyance before launching himself at Scourge, twisting his body to deliver a flying kick to the stomach of the Dread Master. Then his entire body swung upwards and used the momentum from the near-flip to deliver another kick to Scourge, sending him hurtling down towards the ground.

    Scourge took the hit well enough but slowed himself far before he made impact with the rocky outcropping below. Recovering, he thrust out his hand and unleashed another beam of magic back at Vandrad. The prince dodged away from it, even as he was preparing another devastating blast of his own and then launched it down at Scourge. Just as it came upon him, the singular blast splintered off into six, smaller blasts, all aimed at the Dread Master. Grinning, Scourge dropped down to the ground and then used the solid surface to launch himself away from the impact, the six blasts detonating as soon as they hit the ground. Scourge put his hands to his forehead just as the explosions threatened to swallow him up, teleporting himself back up and in line with Vandrad. As he appeared, one hand was already pulled back, a crimson orb of magic swifting gaining strength and size. Vandrad sneered at the sight of it and just as Scourge thrust it forward, the prince threw out his limbs and released magic from his core, creating a bubble of reinforced energy to stop the blast in its tracks. Scourge continued to hold onto it, fueling it and attempting to use it almost like a ram to break through Vandrad’s shield. Then the prince thrust his arms back towards the Dread Master, willing the shield to press back against the attack and attempt to overwhelm it. Sensing this, Scourge’s other hand quickly crafted a similar blast and swung it forward, using the strength of the matching blasts to break through the shield and send Vandrad flying backwards through the air.

    Even farther from Magnolia he soared, passing over the mountainous area that Scourge had destroyed earlier. The Dread Master swiftly caught up, his right hand now crackling as a magic sword thrust out from his flesh and overtook his limb. His other hand was almost reaching towards Vandrad, magic also funneling into his palm before he pulled it back and attempted to stab the prince. He dodged to the left but Scourge had prepared for that, bringing the prepared blast up in an attempt to take the prince by surprise. Vandard’s entire body dipped backwards, just barely dodging the blast as it ripped off of the Dread Master’s hand. While still bent, Vandrad’s feet were filled with pale, blue magic and when the prince thrust both legs up at Scourge, a blast of magic erupted from the odd point of origin. Unfortunately for Vandrad, Scourge was just as limber as him and bent backwards to dodge the deadly beam, his free hand once more going to his forehead and teleporting him instantly from where he was to Vandrad’s rear. A biting slash ripped its way across Vandrad’s back, tearing into his protective armor and carving a deep trench that found skin beneath. Another swipe horizontally cut yet another wound in the air and Vandrad’s back before the prince was able to turn and bring up his hands to block a downward stroke, magical energy creating a barrier over him enough to protect his limbs from being hacked off. It still sent him soaring downwards but Vandrad funneled magic into both hands, thinning it out into two spinning ‘blades’ of magic. One was sent back at Scourge then the other even as the prince continued his downward trek and the Dread Master swung his magic blade twice, cutting both discs to pieces before he once more teleported himself downwards. Reaching the point that Vandrad was going to come crashing down, the Dread Master was ready to strike… but so was the prince. Attempting to take Scourge by surprise, Vandrad opened his mouth and unleashed a powerful blast of magic from his throat, only to hit against a magic bubble not unlike the one he had formed earlier. As the blast dissipated, Scourge attempted yet another stab but Vandrad blocked it away, now floating upside down and sent a kick into the Dread Master’s face, knocking his head upwards as he was sent sliding back onto the stony ground. He fell to a single knee, his free hand grabbing the stone beneath him and using it to slow his slide. But the momentary appearance of being truly injured worked in his favor as Vandrad hastily teleported himself next to the Dread Master, blast in hand, and was met with the flat edge of the magic blade smacking him in the face and sending him flying backwards.

    Momentarily knocked silly, Vandrad could do nothing as Scourge instantly materialized above him and stabbed the sword into his chest plate as the pair fell down towards the ground at an alarming rate. Just before they hit the surface, Scourge swung the blade out from its place in Vandrad’s armor, cutting even more of the plate to shreds and thrust his hand out at Vandrad. Compressing the air and gravity around the prince, he trapped him in a bubble as he threw Vandrad away from him. Now in full control of the prince’s body, Scourge cackled as he moved his hand back and forth and the bubble responded in kind, slamming Vandrad against the mountainous walls around them over and over again. Now bruised and bleeding, the prince roared and flexed his limbs outwards, releasing even more magical energy from his core and ripping his prison to nothing. Fury overtook the prince as he rushed forward, arm once more primed and he slammed his fist into Scourge’s stomach, swiftly followed by a kick to the jaw, which was also followed upon by a haymaker to the Dread Master’s jaw. With Scourge dazed, Vandrad brought both hands above his head, knitting them together and swung downwards at the Dread Master in a heavy hammer blow, sending him surging downwards towards the earth. Breaking apart his hand, Vandrad thrust one out, tracking the Dread Master’s trajectory and sending a follow up magical blast to catch up to him.

    Just as it was about to hit, Scourge recovered, swinging his magic blade through the blast and splitting it in two, each blast zipping harmlessly away before exploding into the nearby mountainsides. Scourge once more pressed his hand against his head and instantly materialized before Vandrad, his other limb now overcome and transformed into a magical sword as well. A swipe and a stab from each limb were thrown at Vandrad, who dodged both easily and then teleported himself above Scourge, landing a hard punch but receiving a slash across the neck and shoulder for his recompense. The Dread Master then thrust both energy blades into Vandrad’s armor, breaking through it and piercing his torso and then slashed outwards, rending flesh from its placement before finishing up his combination from a kick to send Vandrad flying back towards the nearest mountain. Bloodied and sliced, Vandrad’s magic worked to heal his injuries, even as he flipped over himself and landed on the ground with a heavy thud, hard enough to dent the earth with another crater. Already magical energy rushed to his hands as he pumped his arms outward, sending blast after magical blast at Scourge. They came in quick succession but the Dread Master proved the quicker, his hand on his forehead as he zipped between the blasts, toying with the prince, amusing himself by playing among the dangerous blasts. He materialized before Vandrad, hand out and primed with a blast and a beam of magical energy swallowed up the prince.

    But Vandrad was already pushing himself to the next level. Crimson energy outlined his form as he punched through the beam and landed a solid hit against Scourge, sending the Dread Master flying backwards. His aura fluctuated and was swallowed up in the red energy, transforming the prince as well into his crimson form. A shockwave erupted from his core, ripping the ground to shreds and creating an even larger crater beneath him than what he’d already made. Snarling, he glared at Scourge as he focused both inward and outward. The Crimson Empowerment was still something he’d newly reacquired and he hadn’t mastered it in the short amount of time he’d possessed it.

    Scourge landed several yards away, glancing up at the newly transformed Vandrad. He chuckled. “So it’s just as I speculated. You’ve already begun your reclamation of your former strength. Consider me impressed,” the Dread Master complimented Vandrad, even as he tucked his arms against his sides. Dark, malicious energy began to emanate off of the Dread Master as he focused inward, drawing from the dreadether stored within. “Worry not, Vandrad. I will match your Empowerment with this!!” Crackling, overwhelming flames overtook the Dread Master, painting him in a reddish orange color. Grinning, he quickly teleported himself behind Vandrad and began to smash punches against the prince’s back. At first, they barely felt like anything to the empowered prince… until the fire returned to surround Scourge, bolstering his strength and speed and causing Vandrad’s armor to splinter and his body to bend at the impact of the blows. Snarling, Vandrad spun around to knock away a punch and returned one into Scourge’s stomach. As the Dread Master recovered and attempted to send a punch back, the prince’s legs parted in a split to dodge and then snapped back to bring him back up, Vandrad slamming an open palm against Scourge’s torso. A bright burning magical mark appeared on the Dread Master’s gi but he paid it no mind, already throwing himself back at Vandrad in an attempted spin kick, only to be met with a flying kick from the prince to send them both into the air once more. Vandrad continued his assault, bringing his leg back and spinning around to slam his knee into Scourge’s stomach before rearing his fist back and punching into his head downwards, followed up by yet another punch that slammed Scourge into the ground.

    But the Dread Master recovered hastily, his own feet glowing as he released several blasts of magic out from his legs, causing Vandrad to dodge upwards and to the sides. Scourge took the opening to push himself up on his hands and swing his legs around, fire overwhelming him once more as he sprayed a volley of enhanced magical blasts up at Vandrad. The prince wove between the attacks, outright dodging them or knocking them away before coming out from the volley and sending his own blast of energy back down. Scourge reacted by unleashing a beam of magic up, swallowing up the blast as it bore down on Vandrad. Crackling magical energy wrapped around Vandrad as he twisted his body back and then unleashed an even larger beam of magic, utilizing the full force of his Empowerment. It overwhelmed Scourge’s beam easily… but the Dread Master activated the flaming aura and sent even more energy into his magical beam to wipe away Vandrad’s. The prince dodged to the side once more and then countered with a blast of magic energy, to which Scourge stood his ground, compressing a follow up attack, until the last moment. Then he zipped up and unleashed his attack at Vandrad, hoping to take him by surprise. To his credit, Vandrad was taken aback but a pulse of magic was enough to send Vandrad away from the beam. Now even angrier, the prince summoned up more magic from his core and threw his limbs out, hundreds of globes of magic erupting from his aura and overwhelming the surrounding area.

    Scourge tucked his arms in and funneled his magic into a protective bubble, riding out the blasts as they crashed into his barrier and exploded. As the storm settled, Vandrad teleported down to Scourge and once more roared, the sound enhanced by magical energy that attempted to overwhelm the Dread Master. He thrust his hands out and sent out magical energy to carve out a safe space inside the beam, protecting himself from cataclysmic damage. As his fiery aura continued to flare around him, he threw himself at Vandrad in a kick, only to have the prince dodge and send a blast of magic back. Scourge thrust his hand out and detonated the blast before it hit him, vaporizing the ethernano and rendering the attack from existence. Vandrad rushed in with his elbow and Scourge met him with his knee, the two fighters creating a shockwave of energy from their combined impact. Scourge attempted to take advantage of the draw by swinging his own elbow at Vandrad’s head, only for the prince to dodge and deliver an axe kick into the Dread Master, delivering him down towards the ground yet again. Vandrad quickly compiled magic into a beam to follow after Scourge but the Dread Master once more recovered in time to kick the beam away.

    Yet Vandrad had a feeling he would do this and teleported practically on top of Scourge, slamming his fists into him one after the other, each hit loud and heavy enough to vibrate the air. With the Dread Master stunned, Vandrad kicked him in the stomach, putting his entire body weight behind it and sent the Dread Master flying away, barely a foot above the ground. Gravity took hold of him and attempted to cause him to crash and Scourge had just enough focus to roll over himself as he hit the rocky surface and grab the ground, slowing himself to a stop. Now on one knee and panting, all Scourge could do was kneel there as Vandrad teleported in front of him, arms crossed over his chest, already prepared to claim victory. "You’ve stolen my magical power for years and yet you’re nothing compared to me,” the prince chastised the Dread Master, staring down at him.

    With his head hung, Scourge’s shoulders began to bounce softly. It was only a moment later that his raw, dry laugh escaped, even as he lifted his head to look at Vandrad. “Is that your true power?” he said, nodding towards the prince’s current Empowerment. Pushing himself up to a standing position, he wiped a bit of blood from his lip and smirked. “Color me disappointed.”

    Vandrad sneered and threw himself forward at Scourge, attempting to punch his head clean off. But the Dread Master bent down and dodged the hit, clasping his hands together at the wrists and lifting them up to counter with a point blank beam of violet magic. Vandrad’s magic barrier held through the attack and as he turned to face the quickly approaching Scourge, he twisted his body to kick at him. The Dread Master’s form was overwhelmed in flames once more as he met the prince’s kick in exact form and twice more they slammed their shins against one another in perfect synchronization before Scourge launched himself at Vandrad with a flying kick and sent the prince soaring backwards. Vandrad skidded against the ground before a single hand rose up and pointed towards Scourge. The glowing magical mark on the Dread Master’s shirt lit up and quickly paralyzed Scourge where he stood. Now in control of the Dread Master’s body, he pulled him towards him and then overhead, bringing him down to slam into the ground and then swiftly repeated it several times. It only came to an end when Scourge managed to negate the mark and send it back to Vandrad, gaining a temporary hold of him and then throwing him up into the sky.

    The prince spun wildly before he ripped through the prison, only for Scourge to materialize above him in a hammerblow that was only half-blocked. Vandrad’s arm swung up, bathed in magical energy, just as Scourge’s leg came down, his entire form once more covered in flames. The two limbs crashed together and negated against one another, only for both men to twist and send their elbows to slam into one another, each one pushing against the other. Then they each squared up in the air, throwing kicks and punches at one another, blow after blow ringing out on either side as the two abused one another. Their attacks were so quick that they would almost be invisible to the naked eye. Finally Scourge broke through, landing three hard hits into Vandrad’s stomach in a row before punching him down towards the ground. Down the prince went, slamming into the surface with a loud thud but landing in a half-squat with one hand on the rocky terrain. He released a pulse of magical energy down into the terrace and then threw his arms upwards, sending two human-sized blasts of magic up towards Scourge. He managed to dodge the first one but the Dread Master was captured in the second, his entire body wrapped up in devastating magical energy. Still in control of the orb, Vandrad, gestured down towards the ground and, answering the call, the blast soared downwards, bringing the Dread Master with it. When it collided with the surface, nearly a hundred yards away, it exploded, swallowing up the Dread Master in the volatile energy. But Vandrad wasn’t taking any chances; his hands pumped forward to send a veritable minefield of magic orbs that surrounded the still rippling explosion. "Rot in hell!” he roared as he swung his hands in towards one another and the blasts tracked, soaring down towards the now fading explosion. Already Scourge could be seen in the center, his eyes quickly noticing the incoming blasts. Just as they all came within his proximity, he managed to throw his hands out and create another magical bubble. The explosion was devastating, destroying the rocky terrain all around it and vaporizing naturally formed stone monuments that had stood the test of time for generations. Yet Scourge’s protective shield managed to hold up, even if it wasn’t able to protect the Dread Master’s shirt from vaporizing and pieces of his leggings to tear and melt away. The color of the bubble and even the color of Scourge’s hair seemed different for a brief moment, though that was lost on Vandrad in the midst of the detonation.

    Once the explosion faded away and the smoke billowed out from the now transformed region, Scourge appeared floating in the air, amused, despite his newfound near-nakedness. “By now I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve barely begun to break a sweat and yet my magical power is growing with each hit I take. I don’t even need the Ark anymore,” the Dread Master bragged before thrusting his hands out and sending blasts towards Vandrad. The prince launched himself towards his opponent, slamming his fists into the blasts as they came at him and knocking them away. But just as he was coming upon the Dread Master, ready to deliver a blast point-blank, Scourge threw his hand up and unleashed a bright flash of magic. Though it didn’t cause any direct damage, it blinded Vandrad for a brief moment, long enough for his aim to be thrown off and the blast to soar harmlessly over Scourge’s shoulder. The Dread Master kicked Vandrad back the way he came and then soared towards him, only for Vandrad to catch his hands with his own, fingers intertwining, as each man pushed against one another. Vandrad proved the stronger, sending the two of them soaring down towards the ground at a rapid rate. They unleashed a series of blows at one another just before breaking apart, each man sliding along the ground and coming to a stop several yards from one another.

    “Vandrad…” Scourge remarked as his form relaxed slightly. “Do you know why it’s impossible for you to beat me? Because my utilization of the Ark and of Energy Monarch is superior to yours.” It was a boast but not one that Scourge didn’t have evidence for, it seemed. “You’ve only recently gained a bit of control over the Ark, having accessed it and lost yourself to the manic power beneath. You approached it like you would Energy Monarch and, as such, it overwhelmed you. The irony of the situation is just how accurate your trajectory was but you lack discipline and the years of training I’ve had. As you know by now, Energy Monarch allows us to draw in ethernano at such a high rate that we’re almost constantly able to recover our magical energy in no time. But what you might not understand is that our magic improves and gains strength through hardship. When pushed to its limits and when constantly used, Energy Monarch continually finds ways to grow to overcome the odds, thereby making its users stronger as well. You’ve made miraculous strides through trials and tribulations but have missed the greatest opportunity presented to you thus far.”

    Scourge gestured to himself. “The Ark is corrosive and dangerous, even when used properly. It is the antithesis to ethernano-strengthened magic and, as such, it makes putting Energy Monarch and the Ark together combative. But with time and effort, one can use the corrosive nature of the Ark to continually force Energy Monarch to evolve and break through its limits. I realized rather quickly that if I kept combining the two, I could make my Energy Monarch reach heights that would take years otherwise. The power multiplier I was just utilizing from the fallen Demon Lord Hades pushes my strength and speed beyond superhuman but it corrodes my natural magic like an open flame to dry bush. But using it in short bursts, it can punish Energy Monarch just enough to strengthen it, toughening it up and pushing my abilities beyond their limit. I’ve found that I get even more marvelous results from enduring a great struggle in actual battle. And you’ve been serving your part quite well.” The Dread Master grinned. “Do you understand what I’m saying, Vandrad. Since we’ve begun our fight, I have been making my Energy Monarch stronger at triple the rate you have, leaping ahead of you with each clash and impact. It’s only a matter of time before I make your Empowerment useless against this much lower Empowerment.”

    Vandrad sneered. He could feel how much stronger Scourge was in comparison to where he had been when the fight began. But his arrogance and cockiness was hardly deserving, as far as he was concerned. It would take too long for Scourge to supersede his power and, by then, Vandrad intended on wiping the Dread Master out. "You won’t live long enough for it to matter,” he growled as he threw both of his arms out. A high volume of magical energy surrounded his hands, seeming to warp the air around him as he compiled ethernano together in each mitt. Bringing them together, he threw his arms forward and unleashed his largest, most devastating attack yet; a crackling, stormy beam of magical energy that scorched the air ravaged mountaintop.

    Scourge stood his ground, watching the massive beam rushing at him. After a moment, a wicked smirk tugged at his face and he closed his eyes. “Looks like it’s about time,” he muttered to himself, just as the beam reached him. Within the confines of the blast, Scourge’s body took on a new form. The golden hair returned to its natural black but it grew, spreading down over his shoulders. The primate tail that had swinging behind him turned a deep red color and spread the fur from it over the Dread Master’s body, covering his arms, shoulders and back in the dark red coat. As the beam passed around him, he stood among the harmful particles, seemingly unbothered or rather untouched by the magical energy that should have rendered him from existence. As Vandrad’s attack passed into the sky above, twinkling particles remaining afterwards, the destruction he had caused could be seen. The mountain had been ripped open and lava was bubbling and flowing through crevices carved by his attack. And standing among the magma, on a fiery rock all his own, was the transformed Scourge.

    The prince was stunned. This was a form he’d never seen before. "What is this?” he asked, looking over the beastial form of Scourge.

    “Marka Ragnos’ vision for what humanity can become. The perfect fusion of demonic energy and human magic. This peak of evolution is called the Caliban, the Lost Link.” Scourge gestured to himself, still smirking in delighted amusement.


    Vandrad scoffed. "In terms of magical power, it’s nothing in comparison to my Empowerment.”

    Scourge’s smirk opened into a grin. “I couldn’t agree more. Which is why defeating you with this form will make my victory all the more satisfying.” The Dread Master chuckled. “I’ll let you in on a secret, Vandrad. This form isn’t complete -- or rather, it hasn’t been utilized to its full extent. Marka only discovered it late in his life, once he had experimented with demonic magic enough times. You see, the stolen celestial magic stored within the Ark can be controlled and used as many times as the user wishes but it doesn’t connect with us on an evolutionary scale. It overwhelms the body and kills us, preventing us from taking on any kind of hybrid form. But demonic magic; it’s entire purpose is to corrupt and destroy. Despite utilizing ethernano, its properties can be masterfully combined with that of dreadether and attached to the human form. It raises our strength, our speed, our very essence to a new plane of existence -- one where we can battle demon lords and gods at an even level.”

    “By embracing our heritage, as the evolution of early primates, the beastial atoms within us can take on the demonic energy and transform us further. As one of only two people that can fully embrace and control the Ark, I was told from an early age that the Caliban form was mine by right. It took years of hardship and patience but I was finally able to use the Take Over spell fully.” Rolling his neck slightly, Scourge chuckled. “You see, Vandrad, I knew that if I wanted to make this form reach its true potential, I needed to put it to the test against a worthy foe. And then no one could stop me ever again.” The Dread Master crossed his arms over his chest and angled himself slightly away, almost in wonder at his own power. “I can end this battle whenever I want… but I need to get stronger from all of this.”

    “So cooperate… while you’re still alive.” A single hand emerged from underneath Scourge’s arm and loose a thin beam of magic from an extended finger. Vandrad instinctively threw out his hand and deflected it, just as another series of thin blasts came zipping at him. He took to the air and flew at Scourge, hardening the magic barrier over his arm as beam after beam impacted the limb. Vandrad swiftly came upon the Dread Master and thrust his hand in his face, creating a ball of magic to release into Scourge’s face pointblank. But the Dread Master brought his hand up and grabbed the ball of energy, crushing it within his grip. He then threw out his other hand to punch Vandrad in the face, knocking him back before manipulating the air behind the prince to knock him back towards Scourge. The energy sword once more formed in his hand and he stabbed at the prince’s face, Vandrad just barely able to reach up and slam his hands on either side of the blade’s flat sides to catch it. But then Scourge transferred the sword to his foot and swung it up, slicing Vandrad across the torso and knocking him slightly upwards and off guard, enough for Scourge to transfer the blade, once more, to his elbow and slam it down into Vandrad’s upper back and knock him down through the air.

    Scourge instantly materialized in Vandrad’s path, his hands together and sent a blast of corrosive dreadether towards the prince. Vandrad, still at an odd angle, swung his leg towards the blast and loosed a ball of magical energy that ripped through Scourge’s blast. But as it came upon the Dread Master, his hands came together and, as they pulled apart, a shaft of light appeared in his grip. It swiftly took the form of a glowing magic scythe and was used to slice through Vandrad’s blast. As the prince teleported in to try and catch Scourge off guard, he was met with the scythe cutting across his chest, knocking him off guard. The Dread Master then transformed the scythe into two, smaller scythes linked by a chain. One spun hooked onto Vandrad’s armor while the other spun wildly in front of it, ripping plate, bodysuit and flesh apart as Scourge pulled him back and forth, keeping Vandrad from recovering. Both scythes hooked in and the Dread Master spun Vandrad around once before sending him flying through the air.

    The prince put all of his magic into his aura to stop his momentum. "Bastard,” he hissed, even as Scourge materialized in front of him with a fully formed scythe and slashed. Vandrad dodged and swung himself around to try and punch at the Dread Master, only to once again be caught by the sharp edge of the blade on his torso and then slammed by the flat top edge of the scythe down past the mountaintop. Vandrad righted himself in the air and pumped out magical blasts to shoot at Scourge, who swiftly sliced several out of existence before manipulating the scythe to catch and release the blasts back at the prince. Vandrad was forced to dodge his own attacks before he was able to recover and prepared another blast, only for the scythe to come frisbeeing in and slamming into him, knocking him out of position. As he recovered, he was unable to locate Scourge, who had teleported behind him and slammed the flat end of the scythe into Vandrad’s shoulder, knocking him down into a lake that they’d managed to bring their battle above.

    The liquid managed to slow Vandrad’s descent but he still rode it out until he reached the bottom of the lake. There he slammed his feet into the ground and consolidated his magical energy from his core into the rock below him. When it was ready, he threw his arms up and unleashed a pillar of magical energy up through the waterline at Scourge. The Dread Master chuckled as he swung his scythe back and then forward, releasing a razor-sharp beam of magic from the blade that ripped through the heart of the pillar of light. Vandrad had just enough time to look up and see the swiftly approaching blast and move out of the way before it crashed into the ground where he had just stood, devastating the area. Using the chaos as a smokescreen, Vandrad put his magic into his thrust and launched himself upwards before teleporting just before breaking the surface. He reappeared behind Scourge and grabbed his arms, pulling them backwards. Locking the man in a full nelson and wrapping his legs around Scourge’s legs, his aura wrapped around him and he launched himself up into the air, swinging around and then dive bombing towards the ground. At the moment of impact he released Scourge, sending the Dread Master into the rocky terrain with such force, the shockwave sent a tidal wave of water off the lake and vaporized several rock towers that had been nearby.

    Vandrad landed next to the half-buried body of Scourge, his legs sticking out and hanging limply. But to the prince’s shock, the body began to fall apart, the legs snapping off and breaking down into magical particles. "A magic clone!” he realized. Of course it was; he’d used such a spell before when he was utilizing the Ark. But before he could get back on guard, Scourge reappeared beside him, his fist already rushing in and slamming the prince in the cheek. Even as Vandrad soared through the air, Scourge was already preparing another magical beam in his hands. The prince soared several yards before landing and immediately responded by shooting his own beam of magic back at the Dread Master. Scourge reciprocated by unleashing his beam and both barrels of magic slammed into one another, vying for conquest against one another. “Even with your reawakened Empowerment, you’re nothing!” Scourge screamed over the roar of the beam battle, cackling.

    "You piece of trash…” Vandrad said through gritted teeth. "You think you’ve won because of one lucky hit?! Think again!” Vandrad’s other hand came forward and added magical energy to his beam, intensifying its strength. The middle of the two beams, a ring of light of compressed power, shifted slightly towards Scourge from the new addition of power.

    But Scourge was unbothered. His muscles tensed as he smiled. “Time to drop out of the game, Vandrad.” Then a rush of magic funneled out from his palms into his beam, causing the line of magic to grow in size and strength. It broke through the middle and overwhelmed Vandrad’s own spell, bearing down on him. With no other choice, all Vandrad could do was throw his arms in front of him and put all of his magical strength into his shielding. But even that was barely able to take the brunt of the magical strength, his armor and bodysuit shredding and vaporizing against the force and several burns and cuts opening over his body. The strength of the blast knocked him off his guard and the prince was lost in the light, flickering as a shadow for a moment before being swallowed up. The beam continued on across the rocky plains, carving yet another devastating trench into the earth to add to the others both fighters had rendered upon the ground. It, too, dissipated after several long seconds, leaving the air magically charged and full of smoke.

    Vandrad couldn’t see anything at first but all he felt was pain. His entire body ached and screamed at him. The roar of the beam around him had practically made him deaf but through the loud ringing in his ears, he heard Scourge’s voice. “Give up,” he said. “In that sorry state, you can’t win.”

    Somehow Vandrad was still standing, the ground beneath and around him so deeply scorched that the rocks were as black as night. His armor was a thing of memory, only jagged pieces of his body suit managing to survive the destructive wave of magic. Blood ran down from several open wounds, drenching his arms and torso. His head was hung, his Empowerment seeming to lose its control as his hair flickered back and forth from red and black. Steam rolled off the entirety of his front, swirling around him gently in the air. Were it not for the color of his flesh, one might think of him as a statue with how still and quiet he was.

    "Every day of my life.” His voice was raw but still surprisingly strong. "I trained for every day of my life to get where I am now.” Slowly Vandrad’s body began to move, his lungs filling with air and causing his chest to rise and fall. "Unlike you, who simply stole the fruits of my training.” Finally his head managed to lift up, his eyes cold but fierce, burning with rage. He set them directly on Scourge, undeterred despite the state of his body.

    "Your very existence sickens me.”

    All at once, his aura roared to life. Vandrad threw his head back, his arms out and screamed to the heavens. Magical energy wrapped around him from the entirety of the area, funneling into his core and revitalizing him all at once. His hair, once a soft red, took on a bright, shinier sheen, becoming almost as crystallized as pure ruby. His muscles swelled with magical energy, causing his body to grow several inches all over. The ground rocked beneath him and all across the newly formed valley, even causing Scourge to have to take a few steps to rebalance himself. All the Dread Master could do was watch as Vandrad’s aura grew even higher and brighter, overwhelming the prince in its strength and force. “What’s this..?” he asked in wonder before the air suddenly rushed out and hit him square in the chest, causing him to slide back several feet. Vandrad’s energy reached its peak and his aura exploded up into the sky like a brightly burning eruption, illuminating the near evening sky.

    As the world settled, Vandrad stood brimming with magical energy. His Empowerment had been pushed beyond its limits, breaching through the ceiling and taking on a new devastating form. "All the strength I’ve forged over a lifetime, you got by taking the shortcut.” His newly transformed eyes, red with black irises in the middle, stared daggers at the Dread Master. "Losing to you means losing all that made me what I am.”

    Scourge couldn’t help but grin. “Well, well… I didn’t know you were capable of activating your own limit breaker through sheer willpower. You keep surprising me, Vandrad.”

    "You’ve made a grave mistake, pushing me to a corner. I had no choice but to break through my limits.”

    Scourge laughed, throwing his arms out to the sides and floating up into the air. “I’m glad!” As he spoke, magical energy began to form in front of him. “It wouldn’t be a real match otherwise!” As the attack grew stronger and brighter, it swallowed up the Dread Master before it erupted outwards in a beam not unlike the one that had overwhelmed Vandrad before.

    The prince’s body contorted backwards, hand pressing against hand, his aura surging down to wrap around his body tightly. When both his hands rushed forward, a beam of purple magic, unmatched in strength, exploded out. There was no battle of magical strengths, Vandrad’s beam swiftly overwhelming Scourge’s, almost absorbing the Dread Master’s magical attack to make itself stronger. Scourge was forced to cut off his spelland slam his hands against the head of the magic beam, attempting to hold it back. He grit his teeth. “This… is… nothing!” he said between grunts.

    "Nothing, you say?!” Vandrad demanded as he continued to pour magic into his beam. His strength continued to fluctuate up and down and brief flashes of blue appeared over his hair, a preview of a form he’d once mastered and controlled just within his reach. His aura flashed completely blue for a brief second as Vandrad pushed his attack to its limits. "You’re finished!”

    The beam became too much for Scourge to hold back and it overwhelmed him. Closing his eyes against the brightness, he had no choice but to pour all of his magic into a protective bubble once more. The beam detonated, ripping the ground to shreds and sending rocky terrain flying in all directions. Vandrad turned away from the blast, tucking his arms against his sides as his anger and power kept fluctuating. "I’m starting to figure out the weakness of that form of yours.” He spoke directly to Scourge, already knowing full well that the Dread Master had survived the blast.

    And as the smoke cleared, the bubble that Scourge had erected remained, though it quickly began to fall apart around him. “You had me worried for a second. Had I not put everything I had into that barrier, I would have surely been wiped out.” Scourge swiped away the remaining fragments of the magical bubble. “This is a very fortunate turn of events.” He brought up his fingers towards his hand and in his other hand, began to prepare another magical attack.

    Vandrad was already ready, having formed a disc of sharpened magical energy in his hand. His body barely shifted as he teleported behind Scourge and wrapped his hand around the tail protruding from his back. "I figured it out,” he hissed. The tail -- it had been something completely new, back when Scourge had made his presence known. There had been no other reason for him to showcase something so drastically different unless it served a purpose. And all that talk about connecting back to their evolutionary roots of primates…

    It was the tail. “What?!” Scourge exclaimed, honestly surprised at Vandrad’s speed. The prince swung his other hand in, aiming to slice the tail off right at the source with the disc in his hand. But just before it made contact, Scourge disappeared and materialized farther away. Instantly he threw his hands out and then unleashed dueling beams of magic, the two waves swirling around one another as they headed towards Vandrad. The prince remained hovering in the air, absorbing the disc back into his body and reigniting his aura. He threw his hand in front of him and soared forward, the duel beams crashing against his glove and tearing the material apart. But the prince’s fingers ripped through the beam as he continued forward, practically tearing the attack apart at a molecular level as he quickly came upon Scourge and slammed his fist into his head, knocking him back a foot or two. Magical energy formed in his other hand and he thrust it forward, unleashing a beam that pierced Scourge’s side, opening a freshly burned wound. The Dread Master snarled and launched two punches at Vandrad, the prince easily moving back and forth in the air to dodge. When Scourge attempted to kick him, Vandrad lifted his knee and slammed Scourge in the chin, followed up by an uppercut and then spun leg over head to kick him down back towards the ground. He righted himself and compressed the air in front of him before slashing at it, sending a near-invisible wave of sharpened wind at the Dread Master.

    Scourge barely had time to dodge the first tendrils of sharp wind before he swiped the others away. As he came to a stop, Vandrad was already upon him and both men teleported at the same time, their invisible impacts sending vibrations through the air as they slammed into one another across the mountain region. Their path took them over one of the taller mountains, covered in snow, where they finally reappeared. Vandrad and Scourge each slammed their foreheads against one another, bone cracking against bone. Scourge followed up with a punch that barely moved the prince, who then slammed a kick into his injured side. A quick series of exchanged blows followed before Vandrad’s leg and Scourge’s arm met in a loud crack. “I’m so glad I misjudged you, Vandrad!” the Dread Master replied. “To push me this far…”

    The fiery aura that Scourge had used before burst to life, sending Vandrad back. "Tenacious bastard!” he roared, even as the Dread Master came soaring in. Both men swung in and connected but it was the Dread Master’s punch that seemed to cause the most damage, as the fire around him multiplied his strength tenfold. “You’ve proven to be a decent punching back after all,” Scourge hissed at the prince before he released a beam of magic from his knuckles sending Vandrad flying backwards into a snowy, rocky wall.

    The prince hit the rocky barrier hard, causing the snow to crack and collapse around him. But even as Scourge was watching Vandrad continue to break through stone, he felt his magic power beginning to diminish. The prince burst through into a cave within the mountain, crashing down onto the cavern floor. There his hand slammed into the stone, carving a line of broken rock that helped slow his trajectory. "A punching bag…?” he asked, spitting out blood. "Don’t make me laugh.” As he stood back to his feet, the ripped off tail from Scourge’s back was gripped tight in his hand. He had chosen not to punch the man but rather to let the Dread Master have his moment of supposed victory and use it to take a firm grip of the extra appendage. As he tossed the tail away, magic energy began to coalesce into his core. "You’re just a fake. A thief. And that’s why I will never be beaten by an imposter like you!”

    Glowing particles of ethernano surged intos Vandrad’s body, causing his entire form to be outlined in a crimson glow. As he pulled more and more magic energy into his form, making himself the spell, his body began to shake ever so slightly. Such a high level of compressed ethernano was dangerous to keep stored in his veins but he didn’t care. As it reached its breaking point, he flung out his arms and threw his head up, roaring. "Begone!!!” A bubble of crimson energy rushed out from Vandrad, swiftly gaining size and strength. It tore through the mountain, vaporizing everything in its path as it continued to grow larger and larger.

    Scourge, who was just outside and too drained from his sudden detransformation, could only watch as the dome rushed at him. He chuckled tiredly. “Playing right into my hands the whole time…” he muttered to himself, even as the dome overwhelmed him.

    The explosive dome overtook almost the entire mountain region, shaking the ground and destroying several growths of land that had been present for eons. As the tremendous force finally came to settle, the energy around Vandrad began to disperse, his shadowed form against the light once more gaining its features back. Steam rolled off his body, sweat dotting his brow and muscles, as he stood posed. After a moment he relaxed, letting out a long breath. He was in the center of a massive crater, the mountain replaced with a depression. And only yards away, lying in a ditch of stone, dirt and blood, was Scourge. The prince settled his eyes on the Dread Master. "Without that tail, you’ve been robbed of that form of yours. You had no time to power yourself up to make any viable defensible spells,” Vandrad told Scourge what he already knew.

    "Move a muscle and you’re a dead man,” Vandrad finished, pointing his hand at Scourge and charging magic into his palm.

    The Dread Master, despite the sorry state he was in, managed to chuckle, though all that did was cause him to cough and choke on his own blood. “I’ll admit this, Vandrad… I did not expect you to undergo such a drastic change in power. But I’m happy for it. I had to do something -- anything -- to make you stronger. It proved for the best.”

    The prince’s brow furrowed. "What the hell are you talking about?”

    “The Dread Masters… they are launching an all out attack on you and your allies. If I’d gone against them then, they would have locked me up and I wouldn’t have known their plans. I had to go along with it but I knew you were still weak from your attack. I had to push you to break through your limits. It was the only way.”

    An attack on his allies? "My family… Mercury?!”

    Scourge nodded softly. “Even the Order of Souls. I was assigned to fulfill the Union with you -- I couldn’t worm my way into any of the other groups or they would have suspected. I needed to put on a good show on stage while making movements behind the scenes. You don’t have to worry, Vandrad… Mercury and your family will be safe. I did what I had to do to ensure that. And I allowed myself to be devastated by you here, so that you can complete the Union and gain the power you need to defeat the Dread Masters.”

    Vandrad was speechless, flabbergasted. "This doesn’t make sense. What do you mean you allowed yourself to be beaten? What the hell is this ‘Union’?”

    Scourge chuckled once more. “I told you before, didn’t I? I could end the battle anytime I want.” And as a show of just how earnest he meant that, Scourge was suddenly overwhelmed with magical power. His hair stuck up and was transformed in a bright pink color. The pressure of his magic was phenomenal, not unlike what Vandrad knew his former Blue Empowerment had been. If Scourge had used that from the beginning…

    He was right. He would have defeated Vandrad without issue. After a moment, Scourge let the Empowerment fade, blood pouring out from his several wounds. “Once you kill me, the Union will be complete. All you have to do is finish the job.”

    "Why?” Vandrad demanded. "Why so willingly put yourself in a position to die?”

    Scourge’s eyes dropped away for a moment, looking to the ground. “The Dread Masters have lost their way. They spoke of ruling over humanity with the Ark, not sharing its power to help everyone ascend. The promise of power has overtaken them. The goal is lost. And worst of all, Maker has their full trust and faith. Despite my best efforts, they’ve lost their way. I have sacrificed years of my life, years as a tool for their schemes. My only option to stop them is to help you achieve the power you need to wipe them out.” He lifted his head and looked skyward, smiling softly. “I said what I had to say, did what I had to do to push you forward. I hope you’ll forgive my words -- I had to make sure you understood the stakes.” Finally he looked back to Vandrad. “Despite my harsh comments, everything I told you was the truth. I’m nothing more than a puppet, created to be the new Marka Ragnos. I barely count as alive. There is no reason to hesitate. So do it, quickly. Just make sure not to vaporize me; you’ll need my iLac to communicate with my agents helping your family.”

    Vandrad stood before Scourge, stunned. The man, who had been operating in the shadows for years, who had been created by the Dread Masters to act as their messiah, was willing to die here to ensure the safety of himself and his family. All he’d thought of Scourge was as a selfish, power-hungry foe that had only helped Mercury for his own self-serving reasons. But no man marched willingly to their death, antagonized their foe to push them to beat them, without some understanding of compassion. It brought the prince back to their first meeting in the bar, when Scourge had genuinely stated he wanted to help keep mankind safe. He wanted to help them get the strength to push back against forces that threatened them. Those weren’t the words of a madman who had splintered the Order of Souls for selfish, ravenous reasons. Vandrad had felt Scourge’s true emotions in the moment and now, reflecting back on all that he had done since that meeting, there was no denying Scourge had done what he could to help Vandrad, Mercury and his family, even at great risk to himself. As much as he hated to admit it, he had a newfound respect for Scourge.

    Vandrad snarled and scoffed at himself. Damn this charitable nature that had, somehow, infected him. Turning his hand over, he transformed the magical attack that he’d been building in his palm into a new spell -- one that he’d been working on ever since the attack on the Nazru. After another long moment of consideration, he flung it at Scourge. The spell floated over to him and settled into the Dread Master’s chest. The effect was near instant -- his wounds began to stitch back together, wiping away the damage that had been done both externally and internally.

    It was Scourge’s time to look shocked. “What- What are you doing?” he asked, sitting up.

    "So you’d rather take the coward’s way out rather than own up and take responsibility for your mistakes?” Vandrad spat at Scourge. "Not on my watch. You want the Dread Masters stopped, you have to take part. I am no one’s errand boy.”

    Scourge stared at Vandrad for a long beat, eyes wide and mouth agape. After what felt like an age, he finally closed his eyes and smiled, shaking his head. “Who knew the dear Bellum prince was such a softie?”

    "Don’t push your luck, I still have plenty of time to change my mind,” Vandrad snapped back.

    “Oh I would never,” Scourge relented, pushing himself slowly to his feet.

    "Now these attacks. Are you positive Mercury and my family are safe?”

    Scourge brushed off some dirt from his chest and then brought his hands up to his forehead, closing his eyes for a moment. “It seems so. I didn’t have enough resources to directly help Mercury but I merely understated her strength, thereby convincing the Triad that she was hardly worth a large number of people. Your family and the Order of Souls I knew I had to have some kind of direct contribution in aiding. Zifu and Maker are far too clever to attempt any kind of convincing of being weak, especially considering your mother.”

    "Wait, Zifu? As in Chishan’s wife, the leader of the Order of Souls?” Vandrad asked.

    “Surprising, right? Even I was shocked. But it seems mostly everyone is accounted for.”

    "Mostly everyone, what does that mean?”

    “No time, Vandrad. Since you’ve opted to spare my life then I shall reward you with the ultimate revenge. A direct path to the bulk of the Dread Master forces. I imagine your fiance will be just as eager to give them a right thrashing so we’ll have to pop over and pick her up as well." His brow furrowed for a moment. “Odd, I can't sense her. There's no way that -- oh, there she is. That was strange. Here, put your hand on my shoulder.”

    "Is this your means of getting around?” Vandrad asked with a snort, walking over and putting his hand on the man’s shoulder.

    Scourge smirked. “Oh Vandrad, I have much to teach you.” And with that last comment, the pair dematerialized from the wasteland they’d created and reappeared in a strangely calm but bloodied forest area. The destruction that Mercury had wrought was evident all over clearing... but no sign of her.

    But she was definitely there. Both Vandrad and Scourge could sense her emotions. "Mercury," the prince called out. "It's me and... Scourge," he said, unsure of how to clarify that. Once she had decloaked, the pair would move over to her. "As you can already see, the Dread Masters are attacking us. Scourge has made moves to guarantee the rest of my family's safety but at the moment, we need to move. He's going to take us to where the brunt of the Dread Masters are gathered and take them out all in one go."

    “Most likely not the leadership, mind you. Maker, Zifu and the Triad will have already moved to a new location. But all of the grunts and other members will all be gathered before separating. Best opportunity to take almost all their manpower away from them. I figured I owe you as well, considering how our last date went. Throw a hand on my shoulder. And be ready to go all out -- we want to make sure we take them out fast and hard, no pun intended." Once Mercury and Vandrad had placed their hands on his shoulders, the Dread Master would close his eye to focus once more and then away they would go.

    They would reappear in a stone bunker, not unlike the one that the Order of Souls had first met them in. The difference was that this one was much larger and filled with Dread Masters, chattering away and coming down from their missions. “Hello everyone," Scourge called out, his own Full Empowerment activating. As his pink aura burst to life, Vandrad's crimson one surged back into existence as well. “I brought some strays home."








    | 9418/16,707 WORDS |
    @—



    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Mercury Arseneault
    Mercury Arseneault

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Gold Rush
    Position : None
    Posts : 675
    Cosmic Coins : 0
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    Experience : 6,857,298

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Gunblade Master
    Second Skill: Mecha Primordial Slayer
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Mercury Arseneault 17th January 2022, 6:49 pm

    Mercury Banner
    Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects
    and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
    Mercury was just getting ready to open up a gateway to go check on some of the others when she felt two people materialize in the area. Her guard was instantly raised, and for a brief moment she was extremely frustrated as she thought that uncloaking her magical signature had alerted her alleged killers that she was not actually dead. But her annoyance lasted only a moment before she realized it was Vandrad, who spoke up to announce himself along with his present company Scourge. “Well, I see you two didn’t quite manage to kill each other yet. I’ll try not to pout too much over the fact that I didn’t get to watch you two wrestle each other half naked.”

    Her invisibility dropped, the light around her seeming to bend briefly to reveal herself as she stood there looking very unsurprised at the image of the two men together. She gave Scourge a deep grin. “Hey there, tiger.” Emerald eyes gave him a brief but shameless once over as she got a good look at him without his top on before swiftly turning her attention to Vandrad. The prince stated the obvious about the Dread Master attacks, claiming that Scourge had enacted plans to make sure the du Wolffs got out safely, but for now they needed to act quickly. Supposedly, their unlikely companion was about to transport them somewhere where the three of them could wipe out the Dread Masters all at once.

    Mercury’s interest and excitement piqued. “Oh good! Hopefully they’ll be more fun than this lot I just dealt with. They were boring.” Scourge chimed in to quickly dash her hopes at getting a run at Maker, however, the Dread Master – former Dread Master? – informing her that the leaders would have already moved someplace more safe, including the Triad, Maker, and… Her lavender brows snapped together. “Zifu?! I knew that woman was a fucking snake!” Mercury hadn’t liked or trusted Zifu from the beginning, and that had not changed since she and Seri had endeavored to patch things up with one another after the Voidwalker’s outburst. Mercury had been waiting for the other shoe to drop, but even this was far beyond what she had expected. And if Zifu was involved with the Dread Masters, the Silver Wolf ace could only conclude that the queen’s part in this attack likely was targeted at the Order of Souls, which meant Chishen, Wanda, and Gren were dealing with that – knowledge that did not sit well with her at all.

    Exhaling a resigned huff from her nostrils, she forced herself to calm down. “Well, I hope Themmy saves some of Maker for me. But I swear to every constellation in the sky, if that two faced bitch hurts a single hair on my boyfriend’s head I’m going to skin her alive and hang her pelt on the wall like a vulcan.” Her words, which were by no means a joke, were delivered with the same laissez faire playfulness that she typically carried, the woman quick to tease and present even her toughest of emotions under the guise of calm humor. It certainly wasn’t the first time she’d referred to Gren as her boyfriend in front of Vandrad or his family, Mercury always one to play up her attraction to the older man, but there was a vein of anger and worry buried beneath her surface emotions that would betray how upset and furious she truly would be should something happen to the man. Not unlike how personally Gren had taken the news of Mercury’s kidnapping.

    That was enough chatter for now, though. They had a retaliatory strike to make, and Mercury was all too eager to play along. “I’ve got only one request,” she told the men as she closed the distance between them, easily seeming to let go of her prior anxiety and slipping back into her typical mannerisms. “The Triad sent this little group to kill me, and as far as the survivors of that little battle are concerned they succeeded. I’d like to keep it that way, so not having any witnesses would be real swell. Which probably also means that I’m going to have to change up my attack style, since using my gunblade would be a dead giveaway to whoever comes investigating afterward. Guess that means you get another show. Lucky you.”

    “Also, does it have to be your shoulder, or can I put my hand anywhere? Don’t give me that look, Vandaddy. You know what I’m about.” Despite her jesting, she put her hand on the taller man’s shoulder as instructed. Then, in a blink they were gone and standing in an entirely new place, a stone bunker similar to the one that they had first entered the night Faera attacked Mythal. However, this time they had a rather large welcoming party to greet them, the group completely relaxed and off the guards now that their tasks were over. The renegade Master greeted everyone cheerily, bursting into a fully empowered state that caused a massive spike in Mercury’s new magic sensory radars. Vandrad followed suit by slipping into his crimson form. Not to be outdone by the two men, Mercury coaxed an aura of her own to life as well, a brilliant display of prismatic light shifting and shimmering around her as mutlicolored bolts of electricity crackled and zapped along her body. And since this was not a battle any of them planned on half assing, and her magic was not suffering from a recovery set back like Vandrad’s had been recently, she had the full weight of her power on full display for the first time in a very, very long time. The last time she had let loose like this had been the sea serpent fight, and she had grown astronomically since then. The light of her aura was so bright that everyone in the room save for Vandrad and Scourge would find themselves instantly blinded, shrinking back and covering their faces in agony.

    With a roar, Mercury unleashed a tremendous bolt of lightning that streaked through the air toward her first target before breaking off into pieces and jumping from person to person. In a matter of only a second or two, she had struck nearly everyone in the room with the attack, each of them crying out in pain and seizing from the literal shock. As she conjured a suit of armor around her body and two thick and overlarge mechanical gauntlets upon her hands, a sadistically wild smile was plastered to her face as she shot forward at light speed, hurling herself into the thick of the crowd as they scrambled to recover and regroup. The pistons in the gauntlets cocked back like the hammer of a gun, and when her fist landed on her chosen target it released in a similarly explosive fashion, the gauntlet snapping out and discharging so much power that her unfortunate foe simply burst into a misty spray of blood and viscera.

    She continued to move in similar fashion, never standing still long enough for anyone to lob an easy shot at her. The gauntlets were easily used to block and deflect spells cast her way as she punched or smacked them out of her way. Nearly everyone she squared up against was literally crushed, their bones popping and breaking beneath the swing of her fists. Even when their opponents did manage to strike her – and they did many times as, statistically speaking it was impossible for her to not get hit in a crowd this size – she showcased how much of her training had been spent taking blows from Vandrad, the small, lithe woman easily shaking off the pain and negative effects and pushing relentlessly forward like they’d done little more than tintilate and entice her further. At least once during the combat she zipped right past Scourge as she flattened an unsuspecting Dread Master that had been more focused on the pink haired man than on her, shooting Scourge a flirty wink while they were close before racing off once more.

    Her radars alerted her to an enemy attempting to flee the building in the chaos. Conjuring several thin metal plates in the air, Mercury leaped from plate to plate to climb up above the chaos of the battle. Once she was over everyone’s heads, she shot one of her gauntlets across the room where it crushed the would-be escapee against the stone wall, leaving him little more than a crimson paste to decorate the base. As she fell back to the ground in a controlled descent, Mercury eyed a nearby Dread Master that had managed to get his gaudy golden helmet on. Soaking her magic into the metal, she clenched her fist, causing the gold plated steel to crumple around the man’s skull and pop it like a balloon, his headless body slumping to the floor in a bloody spray. Twisting gracefully in the air, she landed in a low crouch and launched toward her next opponent. Batting the woman’s spell out of the way with the remaining gauntlet, Mercury snapped her hand out and latched onto the opposing woman’s face. When she ripped her hand back, all the oil in the woman’s body came with it, leaving her foe’s flesh so shriveled and dry that the woman instantly broke out in unimaginable pain and itching, scratching at her body to relieve the discomfort and finding her brittle skin flaking off in large chunks until she was bleeding out all over her body.

    Holding the globule of body oil before her, Mercury shed her remaining gauntlet and threw herself into a ring of other masters. Her bare hand took turns in quick succession as they reached toward her various targets and violently ripped the natural grease out of their bodies, leaving them parched and frail and in an immense deal of burning anguish until she had a large sphere of body oil hovering before her. Holding her hands on either side of the globe, she used her magic to compress it together slowly, building up pressure at an exponential rate as she fed it with her own prismatic oils until it was volatile. Then it exploded all around her in a wide radius, covering everyone in the immediate area. Immediately following it was another burst wave of lightning, the colorful sparks igniting the flammable liquid and lighting all of them on fire. From there, she resorted to picking off the rest with raw blasts of pure light not unlike what Vandrad and Scourge often unleashed with Energy Monarch, though the nature of her power was clearly much different than anything anyone in the room would have sensed or seen before now, backing up Trinity’s prior words that whatever magic it was Mercury wielded, it was something as rare and powerful and unknown as both Energy Monarch and the Ark.

    As the battle started to dwindle down to a close she took a look around at the carnage. Mercury was almost as drenched in blood by that point as she had been after slaughtering Sabine’s family, the Xocili pleased with herself but also disgusted by the film of nastiness that clung to her. Wrinkling her nose in distaste and making a half assed effort to shake some of the viscera off of her, she sauntered back toward her male companions. “Well, that was lovely and cathartic and much more exciting than my last fight, even if I’m going to need to shower for the rest of my life to feel clean again. What’s next?”

    WORDS: 1938/5557 | @Vandrad Ragnos
    Serilda Sinclair



    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Vandrad Ragnos
    Vandrad Ragnos

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Traveller of the Multiverse
    Position : None
    Posts : 773
    Guild : Fairy Tail
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 7,808,129

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Energy Monarch
    Second Skill: Ark of the Dread Masters
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Vandrad Ragnos 18th January 2022, 1:13 pm

     
    BREAK OFF THE CHAINS
    "Surpass your limits!"


    The blade against Simon’s throat had just barely moved before it was suddenly ripped out of his hand, some invisible, fantastical force grabbing the weapon and pulling it towards and past Themesycia’s prison. In that same instant, a bolt of lightning, pure white and gigantic in size and power, pierced through the body of the Dread Master that had been holding Simon, the bolt managing to wrap around the du Wolff lord without hurting him. Maker’s brow rose in surprise before he, too, was hit by a hard object, sending him flying into the wall right beside the entryway.

    As Themesycia turned her head to look at who had come, a spinning object came flying out from the crater that Maker had made and returned to the hand of its controller. Once in grip, it was revealed to be a hammer of sorts, electric magic running over its surface. It was brought down on top of the prison that held the duchess, targeting the metal device on top that held the trap in place. Once destroyed, the shielding evaporated into air. Standing on either side of Themesycia as she got to her feet was Gren, already materializing out of his own lightning, and Chishan, wielding the hammer.

    The question remained as to how they had come. They’d both been on death’s door only moments before and, indeed, Gren was sure that his life had reached its end. But he was lifted out of the darkness, his conscious mind rushing back to embrace reality as he felt a warm, comforting sensation running through his body. His eyes blinked opened, weak and tired, to see a hazy figure kneeling over him. Blinking a few times, he managed to clear the blurriness and saw Wanda there, her hands pressed against his chest. “Wanda…” he muttered.

    “Stay still, Gren. My healing hasn’t finished yet…” she urged him, her face frozen in cold concentration.

    “You were s’pposed to get out of here. I helped ya escape.”

    “You did and I appreciate that. But I knew their numbers were too much for you and Chishan to handle. With Zifu changing sides, I calculated a four point five percent chance either one of you would survive if I left. When I ran into her, I knew that my chance of saving you two dramatically increased,” Wanda explained.

    Her? Gren shifted his head to look around before he found someone else, kneeling over Chishan. The Master of the Order’s wounds had been healed but he was still unconscious it seemed. The woman above him was dressed in an elegant crimson dress, ornate with gold around the deep v-cut collar. Her head was completely lacking hair and intricate tattoos had been painted onto the flesh around her dome. At a quick glance, he almost took her for Zifu… but she was smaller, more lithe and carried herself far more casually as she slowly stood and looked to Gren. “Who are you?” he asked.

    “A friend. Scourge rescued me from certain death a year ago and has kept me hidden for some time,” the woman replied, her accent a thick Desiertian. “My name is Kessicia. Vassal of Kronelia and Bilios.”

    Those names seemed familiar. Did she mean… the Divines? That meant that she was in the same position that Serilda was in for that demon lord, Ozorith. That was a lot to take in. “Wait a minute, ya mean…”

    “I’m afraid we don’t have much time for explanation. The Dread Masters are already in Bellum and have set upon the rest of the du Wolff family. If we are to prevent any more death, you and Chishan must go now.”


    “You can stand now, Gren,” Wanda said, taking her hands off of the former Knight. He pushed himself to his feet, the ache and pain gone from both injury and normal exhaustion, if only for the moment.

    He looked at Wanda. “You trust this woman’s word?”

    “It was… concerning to hear the name of a Dread Master as her summons but I can feel her genuine desire to help. She truly wanted to get here in time to save you and Chishan.”

    Gren nodded and looked back to Kessicia. “Then I guess I owe ya our thanks. Now you said that the du Wolffs are also under attack?” How are we supposed to get here fast enough? And… Chishan ain’t lookin’ too hot.”

    “His wound was worse than yours but he is stable. I’m going to give him an alarming amount of power that will wake him immediately and empower him. He’ll be able to take you both to Bellum almost instantly.” Kessica waved her hand and summoned forth a hammer, idle and unpowered at the moment. “One benefit to my position is that I can temporarily pass on my power to another, if only for a short time.”

    “And what about you and Wanda?”

    “I will escort her to the location you were attempting to send her before. Serilda Sinclair is… an old friend,” Kessicia’s gaze shifted slightly away, almost in embarrassment.

    He still had a lot of questions and a lot of information to wrap around his head. But if this Kessicia was telling the truth, he needed to get to Bellum. Whether or not Themesycia could handle the Dread Masters was the last thing on his mind -- he wanted to be there to back her up nonetheless. “Alright well… whatever ya gonna do, best do it now.”

    “I would take a step back,” she warned Gren and Wanda as she twirled the hammer over in her hand and lowered it towards Chishan’s chest. “The first time is a bit… explosive.”

    It had been mere minutes since Chishan had been thrust back into the waking world but already his mind was processing faster than it ever had before. With the hammer in hand, he swung it upwards towards the line of Dread Masters, still trying to recover from the interruption, and unleashed a wave of lightning magic that hit with such force, it knocked every single one of them back.

    Gren joined in the attack as well, rushing towards the other Dread Masters and casting different electric bolts towards them. Themesycia, now freed, moved to her brother, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him to his feet. “Are you okay?” she asked him softly, taking his face in her hands and lifting his head to look at his neck.

    “A little abused but fine, yes,” he insisted. Now free of danger, he extended his hand outward and unleashed his magic, causing all of the Dread Masters to stop. They had been frozen in time, petrified like complete statues while the du Wolffs, Gren and Chishan could still move. That made wiping them out quicker, as Gren and Chishan wasted little time in sparing any of the grunts.

    An amused laugh caught Themesycia and Simon’s attention, both of them turning to look as Maker removed himself from his crater and stepped back onto the ground. Somehow he was still capable of moving, reaching up and cracking his neck with one of his palms. Patches of his skin had broken off, revealing the metal casing beneath. “Well this got far more exciting than planned,” he remarked.

    Themesycia was on him in a flash. Through her magic she summoned forth her lacrisabers, igniting them in one swift movement as she swung them forward and impaled the extraterrestrial. She pushed him back, piercing him through the shoulders and planting him against the wall he’d just stepped out of. She looked at him slowly, sneering. “Coward. You don’t even have the guts to come yourself,” she hissed at him.

    “I had to prepare in case things went awry,” the fake Maker stated in amusement. “The Dread Masters’ plans were hasty at best, though that was only supplied thanks to my suggestions. Humans are so delightfully impressionable, aren’t they? Then again, I suppose you don’t know much about that, do you Rhaegarian?”

    Themesycia pressed her lacrisabers deeper into the machine’s shoulders. “How do you know about that?!” she demanded.

    “A little birdie told me. One of your people, actually. Oh they were quite vocal once I started my work on them. They told me all about Vandrad and his adventures on your homeworld. To think, your son possesses some kind of means of breaching the walls between realities? I very much look forward to figuring out how that works myself.” He was baiting her, of course. Even Themesycia understood that. But there was no other way he could possibly know about her heritage without having spied on them. It was possible but unlikely. The far more terrifying realization was that he did, in fact, have Rhaegar survivors that Vandrad had managed to bring over.

    Whatever the case, she was done listening. Swinging the lacrisabers in tandem, she cut the clone of Maker into several pieces, making sure to cut the head into ribbons so that it couldn’t mock her any further. With that set, she turned back to Gren and Chishan, who had just taken out the Dread Masters around the bomb. “What do we have to do to disarm this?”

    “I ain’t ever seen somethin’ like this before. It seems to possess an anti-tampering field of some kind. If we touch it or try to move it, it goes off early,” the former Knight explained as he analyzed the device with his own iLac.

    “Simon can keep it frozen why you get rid of it,” the duchess explained.

    “I don’t think so,” Simon explained as he walked over. “If it’s a strong enough magical device, I’ll only be able to slow it down. It’ll be absorbing all the ethernano in the area and I’d get very little. All I can do is keep it stuck at the moment but… well, you know my limits, Themmy,” the du Wolff lord explained.

    Themesycia sighed softly. So there was no preventing the explosion then. She took a moment to look around the ballroom, taking in the sight of the manor that had been her home her entire life. Her family had grown up here, her father building it practically brick by brick to accommodate his family. “Fine,” she said, nodding. “Then we evacuate everyone the Dread Masters haven’t gotten to. Hold it as long as you can, Simon.” Themesycia turned her gaze to Chishan. “You are?”

    “Chishan, ma’am. Master of… well, former Master of the Order of Souls,” he explained.

    “Mercury did say you were dreamy. I’ll find a way to properly thank you for coming to my brother’s salvation but it seems I still require your help.”

    Chishan nodded. “Happy to. Let’s get your people out of here.”

    The bomb did go off, unfortunately. The magnitude of the explosion was impressive, even to Themesycia’s standards. It destroyed the entirety of the floating island, reducing the manor, town and port to nothing but ashen memories. With Chishan and Gren’s help, they had managed to save a large portion of the populace, as it seemed that the Dread Masters had solely focused on disarming the du Wolffs personally. One quick call to Everance ensured that she and her family were safe and Ever was quick to teleport over to check on them. Without anywhere else to go, Themesycia had Everance make a portal to the island, bringing her people to safety, or rather what she hoped was safe. She wasn’t able to guarantee that fact until she arrived and found the Xocili armed and prepared but unharmed. Dudley, Bartrand, Ophelia and Cecilia were summarily contacted and brought to the island as well, to guarantee their safety. And that’s what Scourge could sense; all of the magical signatures of the du Wolff family, unharmed and secluded in one area that was far beyond where he’d expected. That meant that the Dread Masters most likely didn’t know they were there either.

    Mercury remarked about the two men not killing each other after a moment of silence, though lamented the fact that she didn’t get to see the fight herself. She did away with her invisibility and stood before them, unabashedly looking over Scourge and greeting him. “Hello lovely,” he returned the moment, somehow still flirtatious and charming, despite the tiresome battle he’d just partaken in. Vandrad was quick to explain the situation, exciting Mercury over the aspect of a, hopefully, real fight before she expressed her anger at Zifu’s betrayal. “She did always seem rather pretentious but I never caught wind of her being a Dread Master. Funny how much they managed to keep from me,” Scourge mused.

    Mercury had a moment to insist that if Gren came to injury, she would make Zifu pay for it tenfold. “Well… I can tell you that you’ll probably be skinning her alive then. Gren’s alive and unhurt now but it was rather close. Both him and Chishan.”

    "How did you manage to save them?” Vandrad asked, his eyes flicking to Scourge.

    “All in good time, my friend. We have far more important matters to address.” But before they were able to go, Mercury insisted that she had one request that she needed to address. She had deceived the group of Dread Masters that attacked her, convincing them that they had killed her. To keep up appearances, she would be utilizing the full power of her magic, so as not to give away her presence among the slaughter that was to soon follow. It seemed like an easy enough request to comply to, though she wondered if she could place her hand anywhere rather than just his shoulder. Vandrad rolled his eyes and glared at her, even as Scourge smirked. “Anywhere on my body will work but how about we save that for our victory celebration?”

    The three arrived to a very unprepared, almost relaxed army of Dread Masters. The group had already begun taking their helmets off, leisurely enjoying themselves as they talked to one another about their victories. Even the members that hadn’t been assigned were relishing in the air of conquest that was shared among the returning members. All of that came to an alarming standstill when Scourge arrived, flanked by Mercury and Vandrad. He greeted them in his usual, overly-cocky manner before he activated his Empowerment alongside Vandrad. Mercury herself powered up as well, embracing the full brunt of her magic so as to match the other two in strengths. Her radiance was so bright that the entirety of the room was forced to cover their eyes, so as not to be completely blinded.

    Mercury launched herself into the group, turning herself into a bolt of lightning and zapping through almost everyone in the room. As the Dread Masters seized and shook, Vandrad and Scourge leapt into the fray, magic surging into their hands. Blasts and beams were unleashed in all directions as the two split up, taking on different groupings and wiping the floor with them. As the Dread Masters recovered and attempted to launch counterattacks, they would find their foes unbending to damage or pain, taking hits and returning them at double strength. For the most part, Vandrad and Scourge fought apart from one another and Mercury, as the Silver Wolf Ace seemed to be enjoying herself zipping between enemies. Though there was hard to avoid looking over at her from both men and relishing in the pure carnage and power she was spreading throughout the room. While Vandrad had very little to hide his enthusiasm for her actions, Scourge was lucky enough to, at least, be wearing pants to cloak his. But even Mercury would probably be able to sense it as she ripped past him and took down a Dread Master that had been attempting to sneak up on the Dread Master, the Empowered man grinning back at the woman as she winked at him.

    By the end of it all, the bunker had been reduced to a scorched, crumbling, bloody hallway of death. Near the end of the fight, Scourge had wiped out a portion of the room and then simply sat back, happy to watch Mercury work as he took a well earned breath. Vandrad teleported over to him after dispatching another group, blood caking his half-naked form. "Do you want a beverage or meal to go with your leisurely relaxation?” Vandrad asked with a scoff.

    “I’m more wondering why we bothered to come at all. Your future bride is more than capable of ripping these people apart all herself. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make her all the more attractive,” Scourge remarked, adding a sensual little purr at the end.

    "I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that,” the prince said dismissively, even as Mercury finally finished goring the rest of the Dread Masters. She walked over to them, trying to shake off the literal layer of blood that covered her from head to toe. She remarked about how enjoyable it had been, though she admitted she would need a long shower afterward. "Yes, what’s the next step?” Vandrad asked, looking at Scourge.

    “Well I’m still focused on the idea of Mercury taking a shower, as I’d be more than happy to help scrub you off,” he said, flashing the woman a smirk. “But otherwise, we’ve decimated most of the Dread Master’s standing force. As I said, leadership will be holed up somewhere even I don’t know but they’ll lack the numbers or resources to rearm anytime soon. Though I can’t say they are gone for good, this will buy us time to prepare a more definitive end to their existences. All that’s left is to blow this bunker to smithereens. Mercury, if you wouldn’t--”

    The Dread Master paused, his brow furrowing as he turned his head and looked over his shoulder. There was a door directly behind him and it seemed his gaze had shifted to that. "What’s wrong?” Vandrad asked, putting himself back on guard.

    “There’s more people here,” Scourge explained, turning and walking towards the door.

    "More Dread Masters?”

    “No. Their magic cores are… small. As if they’re just children.” Scourge sounded earnestly surprised, even as he ripped the door off the wall. As he stared inside, his shock was evident. “What is this?”

    Vandrad followed after the Dread Master, who had walked into the room and as he turned the corner and caught sight of what was confusing Scourge, his own confusion and surprise appeared on his face. There were several holding cells, lined with a thick glass-like substance all around them. There were at least five or six different cells, each of them filled with people that were currently imprisoned. It wouldn’t have been that much of a stretch to believe that the Dread Masters had taken prisoners, except…

    “Vandrad?” There was Cyrene, right at the front of the second cell. And as she said his name, even more familiar faces appeared in the crowd. They were Rhaegarians, every single one of them.

    “You know these people?” Scourge asked, looking back to Vandrad.

    "These… are my people,” he muttered softly as he approached the glass.

    “Your people?” That didn’t answer much for Scourge but Vandrad was already coming face to face with Cyrene.

    “You’re alive!” She said, moved by the sight of him.

    "Cyrene… I thought I had…” He’d never gotten any confirmation that he’d saved anyone from Rhaegar. As the days had gone by, he’d started to believe that he’d only managed to save his own life. "What are you doing here?”

    “These people told us they were your ally, allies to the du Wolff family. They brought us here and locked us up as they continued to find more and more of us. Eventually they started to take a handful of us away. They… didn’t return. Who are they? What is going on?”

    The Dread Masters had found the Rhaegarians first. Worse, they had rounded them up and, from the sounds of it, taken them away. Vandrad was willing to put money down that Maker had gotten his hands on them. "Stand back,” he said as he put his hands out. The group in the cell slowly pushed themselves back as Vandrad focused his magic on the glass. With a hard push, he vaporized the entirety of the barrier, freeing that particular cell. "We need to get the rest out of here,” he insisted. Turning his gaze to Scourge, he continued. "You can teleport vast distances. Can you teleport all of these people out of here? To the rest of my family?”

    Scourge opened his mouth to speak and then stopped, closing it for a moment. Finally he spoke. “Hypothetically, yes. I’ve never moved this many people before but theoretically I can do it.”

    Vandrad seemed to sense Scourge’s hesitance and walked over to him. "Do this… and I’ll give you answers to your questions. Just…” he inhaled deeply and his look softened, if only by a slight margin. "Please.”

    The Dread Master met Vandrad’s gaze full on, considering. “Very well,” he finally said before lifting a hand, one finger extended. “But… charge free. It is safe to say that I owe you one for today -- we’ll consider that debt settled with this.”

    Vandrad nodded softly. "Let’s get them out of here,” he said, looking at Mercury and Scourge together. With the help of the other two, they would be able to get the entirety of the Rhargarian survivors out of their cells.

    Once that was all set, Scourge took a rough head count of the amount of people he would be moving. “Well this will certainly drain the old battery but what a thrilling challenge. Alright, all you lovely people, everyone please place a hand on a friend’s shoulder or back or any part of their body -- I don’t judge. Once we’re all connected, I ask that you remain still and try not freak out too much. Oh and I lied, Vandrad, I would like a small charge; I’d like Mercury to be the one to connect us all.” It was barely a request, far more a flirtation but he seemed quite serious. Vandrad rolled his eyes but seemed amenable to it, if only because he didn’t care that much.

    Once everyone was properly touching one another, Scourge put both of his fingers against his head. Locating Themesycia’s magical signature was not difficult, as he’d already pinpointed it earlier but focusing his magic throughout the bodies of everyone attached to him proved far more challenging. It took a minute or so of solid concentration before the air around each person began to crackle and shift ever so slightly. There were a few panicked murmurs as the Rhaegarians struggled to understand what was happening. Finally, the entirety of the group dematerialized and reappeared on the market street of the island, just past the docks of the port. The rest of the du Wolff family, along with their allies, were gathered only yards away when an abundance of people suddenly appeared out of thin air, with Mercury and Vandrad at the front. They all looked shocked… but Themesycia was already moving, his lacrisabers lighting up, as she charged at Scourge.

    Vandrad stepped in her path, throwing his arms out. "Stop, mother,” he stated plainly.

    The duchess came to a halt in front of him. “Vandrad, he…” she started.

    "Saved our lives. The least I can do is guarantee his safety after he risked his life to guarantee our continued existences.”

    “He’s right,” Gren said, calling from behind as he approached. “Scourge here’s the reason Chishan and I are alive. As much as I hate to say it… thanks, Scourge.”

    “It’s always a treat… to be thanked,” Scourge said between heavy breathes. He fell to his knees, winded and drained from moving so many people but gently waved Vandrad off. “I’ll be fine. Just give me a moment to catch my breath. I imagine there’s… a lot of explanation to be made.”

    The prince nodded. "Themesycia du Wolff,” he said to his mother before he turned and gestured to the gathered crowd behind him. "Meet the survivors of Rhaegar.”








    | 4021/4021 WORDS |
    @—




    Last edited by Vandrad Ragnos on 23rd January 2022, 11:01 am; edited 3 times in total


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Mercury Arseneault
    Mercury Arseneault

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Gold Rush
    Position : None
    Posts : 675
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 6,857,298

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Gunblade Master
    Second Skill: Mecha Primordial Slayer
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Mercury Arseneault 18th January 2022, 6:51 pm

    Mercury Banner
    Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects
    and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
    If the knowledge that Gren had been very close to dying had an effect on how viciously she behaved in the following battle, neither of the men chose to comment on it. Instead, the trio thrust themselves right into the fray and the unsuspecting Dread Masters didn’t stand a chance against even one of them, let alone all three. Before long the building had been utterly razed and not a single survivor had managed to flee to get word out to their leaders, nor to confirm Mercury’s continued existence. By the end of it, both men had elected to sit back and let Mercury finish up the work, both of them more than happy to appreciate her in action, though Vandrad tried to pass it off.

    She mosied over to them, pleased with herself and inquiring as to their next steps. Scourge started by admitting he was entirely too captivated by the idea of helping Mercury shower, which earned the taller man a saucy grin from the woman. But otherwise, he figured the best step would be to blow this particular bunker sky high. With the forces here wiped out, that would leave the leaders without very many resources to call upon any time soon which would give the rest of them more time to prepare even if they didn’t know where the others had gone. Mercury was already smirking to herself, getting ready to let them in on what exactly she had done in her last encounter when Scourge stopped himself mid sentence from leaving the destruction of the building to her, a frown upon his face.

    Mercury tensed up along with Vandrad as the prince asked what was wrong, and Scourge confirmed there were more people around. “What?” she asked, looking to her internal HUD. It didn’t show any evidence of others in the area, but then again she realized the whole area behind the door that Scourge indicated was a bit of a void to her. Something in the walls must have been too thick for her radars to penetrate, which was saying something. But it wasn’t Dread Masters. If anything, he said it felt like children because of the infantile state of their magical cores. The pink haired man ripped the door off its hinges and was shocked by the sight that greeted them there: a row of cells that were holding adult prisoners.

    But not just any prisoners.

    One of them spoke Vandrad’s name, causing Mercury to frown, and a moment later it was revealed that everyone being kept within the prison was Rhaegarian – Vandrad’s people. As the prince went to greet the one he knew by name, Mercury was already hurrying inside to analyze the prison doors for traps. Finding none, she set about releasing the others one cell at a time, conjuring one of her large gauntlets back onto her hand and punching through the thick glass to free those gathered beyond. Vandrad asked Scourge if he would be able to get all of them out together, which Scourge admitted he’d never attempted to move such a large group at once before but believed he was capable of doing, though his confidence on the matter wasn’t firm.

    In the biggest shocker of the century, Vandrad approached the former Dread Master with an air of patience, advising that if he did this for them the prince would give him the answers Scourge sought from him, even following his request with a gentle please. Mercury watched carefully, observing the two men and taking notes of their body language with one another as she waited for the outcome, though truthfully she figured that Scourge would do it. He’d already come this far, hadn’t he? There was no backing out now. Surely the remaining leaders of the Dread Masters would know that he had turned his back on them by this point, and there was very little he could do to cover that. Ultimately, Scourge did agree but not in exchange for information, rather as recompense for a debt he had supposedly owed Vandrad for earlier.

    That seemed to be enough for Vandrad. Agreed, Scourge scanned the small crowd to get an idea of what he was working with, admitting that the trip was probably going to deplete what was currently left of his energy, but willing and cheery nonetheless. He instructed everyone to grab hold of one another forming a physical link between them all, and to try to contain themselves until the ride was over, though he amended his comment about not requesting a charge for his services by asking Mercury to be the one to serve as the central link.

    The Xocili flashed him a flirty grin. “Anything for you, tiger. But first things first; I believe you ordered one extra large explosion?” Taking a steady breath to center herself, Mercury held her hands in front of her chest with her palms facing one another. Everyone would get to watch as she began to craft an intricate bomb before their eyes. Wires rippled into existence like veins of blood in the space between her hands, connecting to one another even as plates of metal began to encase them with jolts of electricity and light sparking to life amidst the wires and junction boxes, the bomb forming itself from the inside out until it was complete in her hands. Picking a spot, she set the device down and armed it, a red light blinking the warning that it was hot and primed to detonate whenever she deemed it to do so, and this one would be far larger than her last one had been. “There. That should do it.”

    Pleased, she rejoined everyone else and set herself up to allow herself to be the main connector between the others and Scourge. The moment they teleported out, her bomb would detonate, leveling the entire bunker and then some, though none of them would have stuck around to see it. The instant they landed they were understandably besieged by a very alert Themesycia who had her sabers in hand and was charging toward Scourge with a single intent. Even as Mercury erected a barrier of light around Scourge to try to help protect him just in case, Vandrad stepped in his mother’s way and called her off the hunt, interrupting her to inform her that Scourge had betrayed the Masters and was the only reason all of them were still alive – a statement that Gren confirmed from his own experience, thanking the man if begrudgingly.

    Once she was sure that there wasn’t about to be another brawl, Mercury released her protective spell around Scourge and caught him before he could fall too hard to his knees, helping him down gently. As Vandrad gave a broad introduction between Themmy and the Rhaegarian survivors, Mercury stepped away from the exhausted master and made her way over to Chishan and Gren. Her countenance softened considerably upon approaching Vandrad’s father and it was evident that she somehow already knew that he had almost died. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck for a tight, wordless hug, breathing a deep sigh of relief as the anxiety trickled from her.

    Holding him for a long time while the others were presumably distracted with introductions, she finally stepped back and gave him a small, if emotional smile before moving on to Chishan. Her mannerisms returned to form for him, giving the man a wry smirk. “Good to see you, stud.” Giving him a hug as well, she informed him, “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I need you to know that if I ever see Zifu again, I’m going to murder her.” She did her best to speak up in a playful manner, but there would be no mistaking that she was deadly serious. As far as Mercury was concerned, Zifu had made the top of her shit list even higher than Maker. Maker, for all that he was a psychopath, had at least always been up front about who he was and was delightful to banter with. Zifu was just a lying, coward of a queen. Pulling away from them both, her green eyes glanced between them both with a sober look as she asked, “Wanda..?” There was no way Zifu or the Dread Masters would leave the living Ataxian Shard alone in this endeavor, but considering the woman wasn’t present with everyone else… Once they presumably revealed that Wanda was safe and unharmed in Mythal and Serilda’s care, she would nod in relief.

    “Mercury..!” Zemenar worked his way through the small crowd of Xocili to greet her quietly, his eyes wrought with worry at the sight of her covered in so much blood even if it obviously wasn’t hers.

    She gave him a hug as well, the older man holding her tightly. “Hey, dad. Don’t worry, I’m alright. Nothing I couldn’t handle.” Mercury pulled back to give him a soft smirk.

    He nodded his understanding, though like any parent that did little to fully ease his worry. He glanced at the ragtag group of refugees they had arrived with, seeing what had been his own people barely a week ago. “What can we do to help?” he asked.

    “I’m sure they’ve had a rough time and could use some comforts. Maybe see if you and Khelben can get everyone to round up some food and water? I’m sure Themmy and Vandrad can handle the rest.”

    Her father nodded and left to do just that, rounding up Khelben and the others and getting them to work on pulling some immediate supplies to start passing out to the Rhaegarians, as well as to Scourge. From there, Mercury sought to ease her own anxiety by going around and once more checking on every single member of the du Wolff family and giving each of them long, tight embraces before finally rejoining Vandrad and Themmy.

    WORDS: 1656 | @Vandrad Ragnos
    Serilda Sinclair



    Last edited by Mercury Arseneault on 23rd January 2022, 11:04 am; edited 1 time in total


    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Vandrad Ragnos
    Vandrad Ragnos

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Traveller of the Multiverse
    Position : None
    Posts : 773
    Guild : Fairy Tail
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 7,808,129

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Energy Monarch
    Second Skill: Ark of the Dread Masters
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Vandrad Ragnos 19th January 2022, 2:38 pm

     
    BREAK OFF THE CHAINS
    "Surpass your limits!"


    Scourge had suggested that they blow up the base after all and once everyone had made a connection, Mercury was more than happy to whip up an explosion for them. Once the bomb was planted, she provided herself as the main connection between everyone and then off they went, Scourge using a vast amount of magical energy to whisk them all to Themesycia’s magical signature. Of course, his presence created an air of alert and the duchess was already coming upon him, though Mercury and Vandrad both put themselves in her way to guarantee the Dread Master’s safety. Once she had been calmed down, Scourge finally relaxed, aided in his descent to the ground by Mercury so he could simply catch his breath.

    The Rhaegarians were looking around in utter shock. One moment they had been in a bunker and the next they were outside, among buildings and near a bay. The entirety of the crowd was murmuring in wonder before Vandrad spoke up loud enough for them to hear, introducing Themesycia to the rest of them. The surprise on the duchess’ face along with the rest of the du Wolffs was unlike anything Vandrad had ever seen. Truly, they had hoped to see their countrymen again but as the days had gone by, they’d been slowly losing hope. One woman stepped forward immediately; Cyrene. She separated herself from the group and approached Themesycia, the two looking over one another. “Hi, Themesycia. This might come as a bit of a shock but…” she started.

    “You must be Cyrene. My sister,” Themesycia filled in the gaps. At Cyrene’s surprise, the duchess gestured to Vandrad. “Your nephew has already filled us in on what happened on Rhaegar. I’m…I’m sorry. If I had known…”

    The older sister waved her off. “I was just happy to see that you were being raised by Bacchus. He loved you dearly, even from a very young age. And look at you; you’re so beautiful now.”

    “As are you…” Themesycia took the initiative and stepped in, locking her lacrisabers back onto her belt and wrapping her arms around her older sister. Cyrene barely waited a second to return the gesture, tugging her sister close to her. They held one another for a long beat before finally parting, though remaining attached by their hands. “We’ve a lot to catch up on. All of us,” Themesycia said, looking back to the crowd. “I know many of you most likely know me by name but I’m afraid I know very little of our world and our people, beyond what Simon and Everance told me. Please make yourselves at home; I promise you this island is the safest place you can be.”

    “Ever! Simon!” Another voice spoke up from the crowd. Hera and Enzio rushed through the group, tailed by several other men and women that looked similar to them. Simon and Ever barely had time to comprehend what was happening before they were nearly tackled off of their feet by the older du Wolffs. “It’s been so long!”

    “Is it… Uncle Enzio and Aunt Hera?” Ever gasped as she pulled back to look at the two of them. Once she understood who was embracing her, she pulled them in tighter, along with Simon.

    Gren had stuck near the rear of the group, not sure quite where he fit at the moment. Chishan stayed at his side, also as lost at where he was meant to be, considering almost everyone he knew was gone, either by death or betrayal. Luckily Mercury came over to them, the Silver Wolf Ace already getting more emotional as she met the former Knight’s gaze. He smiled softly, almost sheepishly, as if he’d been the one to do something wrong. He reached down and pretty much pulled her off her feet as he held her tight, glad to see her unharmed and happy that he still possessed a life that allowed him to see her. After a long few moments, he finally let her down, almost unwilling to let her part before she turned and looked at Chishan. Her usual mannerism returned as she hugged him, informing him that Zifu was now the highest priority on her punishment list. He let out a dry laugh. “Yeah… I imagine a lot of people are going to want to hurt her,” he said slowly. It was clear that the emotional turmoil of being betrayed was still fresh and deep, the man understanding but still very forlorn over everything that had happened.

    Gren reached over and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Chishan,” he told the other man gently.

    Chishan nodded and reached up to pat Gren on the arm. “I’ll be okay in time, especially knowing that everyone is safe.” Mercury pulled back and inquired about Wanda. “She’s safe. Scourge sent someone to help us out and Wanda came back to heal us, alongside Kessicia. She’s on her way to Mythal and Seri’s place right now.”

    “Now that I ain’t on the brink of death, I think I remember her name. She was a part’a that mercenary guild that was sanctioned by the Magic Council. Last I heard, she died on their first mission,” Gren said, crossing his arms.

    “And she said that Scourge saved her life. She’s also claiming to be a vassal of two Divines. That’s concerning,” Chishan continued the thought.

    “More questions than answers,” Gren mused softly.

    As the two continued to talk, Mercury’s father rushed over and checked in with her, making sure she was okay before asking what they could do. As she asked them to help get supplies to help the Rhaegarians, the Silver Wolf Ace moved about and was greeted warmly by the rest of the du Wolff family members. By the time she returned to Vandrad and Themesycia, the duchess was finally looking at her son. “I’m assuming by your tattered clothing that you were the target of the plot as well?” she asked, gesturing to the remnants of his ripped armor.

    "Yes and no. The Dread Masters sent Scourge after me. He…” Vandrad was forced to swallow his pride as he turned to look down at the still kneeling Dread Master. "Chose to spare me and pushed me enough to help me regain some of my power.”

    The duchess snorted softly and looked at the Dread Master. “And what, pray tell, brought forth this sudden altruistic need to help us, Scourge?”

    Scourge chuckled. “Barely altruism, I’m afraid. I just knew that I couldn’t take out the rest of the Dread Masters on my own. Plus I’d rather not have you and Mercury hunting me down for the rest of my life -- I rather enjoy breathing.”

    Themesycia considered his answer for a moment but the barest of smirks tugged at her face, amused by his answer. “I’ve only heard others' words about these Dread Masters before tonight but it seems your ‘Maker’ is quite the scoundrel. A coward but a brilliant one. Had it not been for your betrayal of them, I can’t imagine any of us would be in good positions. It seems I owe you yet another show of gratitude.”

    “None necessary. My actions were for my own benefit,” Scourge insisted as he finally got to his feet. “Besides, it seems in helping, I’ve come across a sanctuary that I know the Dread Masters aren’t aware of. This is quite the island nation you have set up,” the Dread Master remarked as he glanced around. “And now with all of these people to occupy the houses.”

    “Yes, well… it would be best for your continued livelihood that you don’t speak of this to anyone,” Themesycia remarked, giving him a colder stare.

    The Dread Master chuckled once more. “Speak of what? I can barely see anything in the setting sun,” he stated as an excuse. “Well as I am the only sore thumb that doesn’t belong in this reunion, it’s best I make my exit while I can. A pleasure as always, Duchess,” he said, giving Themesycia a small, respectful bow of the head before he turned and started walking away from the massive gathering of people.

    Vandrad glanced over at Mercury and gave her a small nod, communicating his desire to follow after and assuming she would as well. He moved past the group and walked after the Dread Master, who had made it to the docks and was already lifting his fingers to his head. "Scourge,” he called to the Dread Master in an attempt to stop him.

    It worked. The Dread Master turned his head enough to look at the two approaching him. “Here for a goodbye kiss? I’m far more into Mercury than I am you, Vandrad, so you’ll forgive me if I choose her over you,” he remarked with a smirk.

    The prince chose to ignore the comment. "Everything you said during our fight… was it true? The Union, your upbringing… that wasn’t some ploy to deceive me?”

    Scourge glanced between the enfianced pair and sighed softly. “It was the truth, though I understand why you might think it a lie. Our beginning wasn’t formed on the best of terms. Do extend my apologies to your cousin for pretending to be him.” After a moment, he continued. “There’s more to the Ark and the Dread Masters than even I understand. We’ve dealt them a hefty blow but do not think them extinct. There is still much to do and more to learn. I know I don’t have much in the currency of trust… but I ask that you believe me that I have no ill intentions towards you or your family. I never have. And I hope we’ll be able to establish a working relationship moving forward.” And as a sign of good faith, he extended his hand out to Vandrad.

    The prince looked down at the hand for a long moment, considering it and the Dread Master’s words. Then he finally took the hand in his. "Take care of yourself, Scourge. You’ve made yourself a target now.”

    The Dread Master chuckled as he released Vandrad’s hand and brought his fingers back to his head. “That’s half the fun,” he replied, glancing at Mercury and shooting her a wink before his form ripped apart and disappeared.

    Vandrad watched the space where Scourge had been standing until he felt a hand on his shoulder, as Mercury would feel on hers. Themesycia walked up behind the two of them.  “He is strange, that Scourge. A man so sure of himself but he seems unsure of where he fits.”

    Vandrad nodded. "Indeed.”

    “And if I do say so myself, a truly delicious hunk.”

    The prince scoffed and turned to the duchess. "Mother!” he chastised her.

    “What? Your mother has a spot for mysterious bad boys, generally between my legs,” she admitted with a shrug.

    "No. Not him,” Vandrad said sternly.

    Themesycia sighed dramatically. “Of course, love. As you wish,” Themesycia looked at Mercury and tossed her an impish wink away from Vandrad’s gaze. “Now the two of you must come along. There is a lot of family to be met on both sides and while Vandrad has gotten ahead of the curve, we must do our best to catch up. I think another feast might be in order…”









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    Last edited by Vandrad Ragnos on 23rd January 2022, 11:02 am; edited 1 time in total


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    Mercury Arseneault
    Mercury Arseneault

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Gold Rush
    Position : None
    Posts : 675
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 6,857,298

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Gunblade Master
    Second Skill: Mecha Primordial Slayer
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Mercury Arseneault 19th January 2022, 5:32 pm

    Mercury Banner
    Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects
    and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
    The moment between her and Gren was ripe with unspoken affection, the two holding one another silently for a long moment and just letting their embraces speak for one another rather than their words. When that was done they made a conscious effort to part, even though both would have preferred to stay, so Mercury could continue on to Chishan. She regretted her words almost instantly, so spurned by her anger toward his wife that she hadn’t really stopped to put Chishan’s feelings first. “I’m sorry. That was rude of me,” Mercury told him quietly, checking her attitude and softening up to be more mindful toward him. Between her and Gren, they both extended their condolences and empathy in their own ways, with Chishan assuring them that he’d work past it eventually, but for now he was just happy they were all safe.

    Mercury asked about Wanda and he confirmed that she was safe and on her way to Seri and Mythal’s place with some woman named Kessicia; the contact that Scourge had sent to help make sure Gren, Chishan, and Wanda made it out alive. It wasn’t a name that Mercury recognized, but now that things had calmed down a bit Gren admitted the name was familiar, tracing her back to a former mercenary guild that had once been Council approved. As far as he had been aware, Kessicia had died in the guild’s first major mission. Clearly that wasn’t the case, and Chishan reiterated the woman’s words that Scourge had saved her life. Not only that, but apparently she was allied to two Divines which caused Mercury to frown in thought. Whoever Kessicia was, it seemed she was in a similar boat as Serilda. How curious.

    But they weren’t going to get answers on that tonight. After Zemenar came over to see what they could help with, Mercury moved back over to Vandrad and Themmy. The woman was eyeing the state of her son, correctly surmising that he had also been caught up in the attack. He confirmed as much, informing her that Scourge had been sent for him but had chosen to not only spare him but also to make sure Vandrad regained some of his lost power. The Silver Wolf ace nodded and chimed in with, “They also sent twenty people to try and take me out. They weren’t a very skilled force, and I had figured even before the two of them came to collect me that Scourge had something to do with the group not quite being up to the task. Though, I did let a few of them escape; as far as they are aware I’m dead, and with any luck I put a couple things in place that will give us an advantage.”

    Themmy turned to Scourge then, inquiring as to the reasons behind his change in allegiance. The Dread Master admitted that most of it was still for his own selfish reasons, admitting it had more to do with wanting to make a power move against the Dread Masters more than from a personal concern for Vandrad and his family. That, and he wasn’t exactly looking to get on either her or Mercury’s hit lists. The Xocili grinned at him. “Aw, c’mon. I bet we could make it fun.”

    He and the duchess went back and forth a little about Maker and the island, with Themmy making it very clear that she expected him to keep his knowledge of the place to himself. Scourge was already playing ignorant, remarking about how he couldn’t really see much of it anyway due to the sun, before speaking up to take his leave. Even though he was the sole reason that all of them were alive and safe, he knew that he was still the odd one out and not entirely trusted by those present just yet, so rather than overstay his already shaky welcome he thought it best to leave them to their devices and recovery. With a bow to the woman, he turned and started walking away toward the coast line.

    Mercury watched him go, feeling admittedly odd about letting him just leave without some sort of… closure on the day’s events? Luckily, Vandrad caught her gaze and with a small nod he seemed to be of the same impression, indicating that they should follow after to have a word with him. So Mercury slipped off with her fiance, who managed to call his attention just before Scourge disappeared. The Dread Master turned to glance at them, ready with a playful quip about whether they were looking for a goodbye kiss, which he admitted he was more interested in with Mercury than Vandrad. She grinned at him. “Careful what you wish for.”

    Vandrad, unsurprisingly, chose to ignore the comment. Instead, he sought clarification over the things that Scourge had relayed to him during their fight. Mercury frowned curiously at the mention of something called the “Union” and chose to just listen quietly as they talked it out. Scourge admitted to understanding Vandrad’s hesitance, particularly after their first meeting, and asked the man to apologize to Bartrand for pretending to be him. After that, he admitted that there was much involving the Ark and even the Masters that he wasn’t fully privy to, but he cautioned them not to think their enemy fully defeated. Though he knew he still had a way to go in earning real trust, he asked that they at least believe that he genuinely had no ill will toward them or Vandrad’s family, and his only aim was to have a mutually beneficial working relationship.

    He offered the prince a handshake and after a moment of consideration Vandrad took it, accepting his words and imploring him to take care of himself now that he’d made himself a target. It was a sentiment that brought a chuckle to Scourge, who remarked that being a target was half the fun, living Mercury a much appreciated wink before he finally blinked out of sight. The pair stood there only moment a moment before Themmy finished approaching, both of them having sensed her. She put her hands on each of their shoulders and commented on how strange Scourge was, someone who bore such confidence and yet didn’t really seem to know where he belonged. Mercury nodded. “Yes. I’m familiar with the feeling…” After all, that very sentiment had described her up until very recently.

    Then Themmy broke the sobriety of the mood by admitting how attractive he was. Mercury was instantly grinning at the older woman, even as Vandrad was trying to chastise his mother. “You can say that again.” She admitted that she had a very intimate place on her body for men like Scourge, and Vandrad put his foot down, informing her that she was not allowed to sleep with the man. Themesycia appeared to acquiesce, if begrudgingly, though the look she gave Mercury when Vandrad wasn’t looking told a different story. “Yeah, full disclosure: I’m making no such promises,” she teased her future husband, linking her arm in his and giving him her trademark smirk.

    From there, the duchess insisted it was time for them to return to the others as there were a lot of introductions to be had, as well as another feast to put together. Mercury sighed dramatically. “Man, I was this close to maxing out my bingo card,” she lamented without providing any context, knowing that Themmy would likely understand what she was talking about even if Vandrad didn’t. “Alright, let’s go meet some future in-laws.”

    WORDS: 1260/2916 | @Vandrad Ragnos
    Serilda Sinclair



    Last edited by Mercury Arseneault on 23rd January 2022, 11:05 am; edited 1 time in total


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    Vandrad Ragnos
    Vandrad Ragnos

    Quality Badge Level 1- Quality Badge Level 2- Quality Badge Level 3- Player 
    Lineage : Traveller of the Multiverse
    Position : None
    Posts : 773
    Guild : Fairy Tail
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 7,808,129

    Character Sheet
    First Skill: Energy Monarch
    Second Skill: Ark of the Dread Masters
    Third Skill:

    Misery Loves Company Empty Re: Misery Loves Company

    Post by Vandrad Ragnos 19th January 2022, 6:55 pm

     
    BREAK OFF THE CHAINS
    "Surpass your limits!"


    It was frustrating just how similar his mother and Mercury were. As soon as Themesycia remarked about Scourge being attractive, the Silver Wolf Ace was right there to back her up, practically ready to trade gossip about it with her. The prince was quick to shut it down, refusing to allow his mother to talk about such things or even hint that she would act on it. The duchess lamented to his terms, seemingly agreeing to keep her hands off the Dread Master. Mercury, however, had no intentions of making such a promise, almost completely letting her intentions be known. Vandrad rolled his eyes once more, annoyed but understanding that there was very little he could do to try and talk her out of it. With that all said and done, she linked her arm with his and followed after Themesycia as she insisted that introductions be made. Mercury sighed and spoke about some kind of bingo card, which didn’t make much sense to Vandrad. He narrowed his gaze at her. "What the hell are you on about, ‘bingo card’?”

    There was very little time to make preparations for a feast but Themesycia had done more with less. They’d managed to save most of the people that resided in Bellum so they spent some time calming the residents down and helping them find new places to live. Once that was settled, it was the du Wolff family -- the ones that had always lived on Earthland -- that grabbed the cooking supplies and prepared the large and extravagant meal. Now with Xocili, Rhaegarians and Bellum people to attend to, it would require the working hands of all of the former royal family members. Catching up with everyone was a near impossible task, given the sheer amount of bodies that now would be living on the island. But that was a concern for later; at the moment, it was about getting as much food and drink as possible to appease everyone’s appetites and try to reconnect with people once thought lost. The ‘feast’ as it were, went long into the night, with everyone getting a chance to connect and open up.

    Vandrad was surprised by the sheer amount of his family that he hadn’t met yet. Even during his time on Rhaegar, he’d only managed to help save a few of them. They were introduced to Cyrene’s husband and wife, Fenn and Sex respectfully. Fenn had provided children to both women, a man and woman named Ragin and Zoraa. Themesycia was thrilled to meet people she was directly related to, talking with the group constantly throughout the night. Hera and Enzio were reunited with their sister Arianna, another one of Bacchus’ siblings. Arianna’s daughter and granddaughter were there as well, along with the sons and grandson and daughter of Hera and Enzio. They were the twins, Chadwick and Chadwin du Wolff, the sons and Alsatia and Hamlet, their children. In a near instant, the du Wolff family had grown nearly three times the size it was. Everyone was delighted to meet Vandrad and Mercury, excitedly introducing themselves and talking a bit about their lives, as dreary as it had been under God-King Xavier.

    Getting everyone into a home for themselves proved a rather short task, considering. The Rhaegarians, like the Xocili, weren’t looking for anything lavish or extraordinary. They wanted the means to be comfortable with their loved ones and once they found that, they settled in. It was early in the morning when everyone finally had gotten themselves situated. Only then did the du Wolff family and Mercury have a moment to truly grieve what had been lost in Bellum. The manor grounds had been home to the du Wolff line for years and there were fond memories and trinkets from their parents that had been lost to the explosion. It was a humbling, albeit sorrowful realization that most of what they had cherished was gone. That was made worse by the knowledge, as Everance revealed, that Bellum forces had gone to Ever and Dudley’s home and seized it. Their company had been shut down and it was believed that the du Wolff family had been supplying information to Pergrande for quite some time. The Dread Masters had masterfully woven a scheme to kill whatever legacy may have remained for them after.

    What remained, of course, was figuring out what that meant for their island home. But that was a discussion that could be had later, when they’d gotten a chance to rest and catch their breath.

    Hundreds of miles away, Maker stood looking at several different analysis screens. His arms tucked behind his back, his eyes roamed over all of the data being streamed before his gaze. The Dread Masters had brought back Mercury’s remnants, her beaten corpse, as a prize for the Engineer himself. It was a truly marvelous gift, but he couldn’t deny his uneasiness about it. He’d secured it in a room, where he could study it from afar without the need of direct interaction. If this truly was the Xocili, then it was better he be more prepared than less -- there was no telling what she could have implanted in herself in case someone tried to take her apart with their hands.

    Still, it would provide eye-opening data, that much he was sure. And speaking of data, he heard the footsteps of someone approaching before the door slid open. In came Zifu, the apparent traitor among the ranks of the Order of Souls. And the extraterrestrial could sense her anger even without looking at her.

    “The bodies were gone! Chishan and Gren! And where is that insufferable Scourge? Is the Union complete or not?” she demanded as she approached Maker.

    “Oh I highly doubt it,” the alien remarked with a small chuckle. Reaching up with his hand, he twisted it and the screens in front of him shifted to that of… the Dread Master bunker’s crater. It was a recording of the aftermath, displaying the full carnage of what had happened to the Dread Masters. There was gore spread out along the entirety of the depression, bodies reduced to plasma by an intense explosion. It should have been infuriating, though Maker seemed more amused than anything else.  “Your Triad didn’t believe I needed to install observatory equipment in this particular bunker. Claimed that the sheer number of forces would be enough to keep an eye on my pets. Yet here we are.”

    “What…? How can this be?”

    “And now the Rhaegarians are gone. I would say ‘killed’ but there is no reason to believe that this bunker was targeted for any other reason than to undo your forces. Any invader worth their salt would have taken a quick look around before blowing it up and discovered my pets.” Maker paused the screen in front of him, the destructive scene frozen in time. “There is no way that anyone would have stumbled across this place without prior knowledge. It seems Scourge has well and truly gone against the Dread Masters. After all, that would explain why Chishan and Gren showed up in Bellum to rescue the du Wolff family.”

    “They what?!” Zifu looked utterly horrified. “You mean… our entire strategy failed. Everyone survived.”

    “Not quite everyone, perhaps. But it did make the Dread Masters rather obsolete, didn’t it? Of course there is still you and the rest of the Triad but no other members really, beyond whoever you have installed in different governments around the world. Not enough to matter in the long run.”

    Zifu snarled. “How dare you speak that way. The Dread Masters have survived worse than this. We will continue on, thriving even in our minimal numbers. Our mission is too important.”

    Your mission,” Maker corrected. He unpaused the screen and then flicked to another image, that of Themesycia’s face recorded from the vision of his clone. “Mine has taken a far more interesting turn.”

    “What are you saying? You-- urk!” Before Zifu could get into an onslaught of words, she felt something sharp pierce her neck. She twisted away from it, only to find another Maker standing there, needle in hand, plunger already fully depressed. She reached for her neck but already she felt her head beginning to get lighter. “What..?”

    “The Dread Masters as an organization no longer has the means and resources to keep me interested. I’ve sent a few more of my creations to personally provide my resignation to the rest of the Triad. But for you…” Maker said, smirking as he finally turned to look at the struggling Zifu. “You’re already here and present. And there’s so much I can still learn from you. After all, you did want to hurt Chishan, right? I can see to it that you get your chance, with a few… adjustments.”

    Zifu tried to speak but her focus was completely shot. She would have fallen over but another Maker clone came over and caught her, keeping her on her feet. The queen babbled something unintelligible before her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she went completely limp in the clone’s arms. “Take her to the other examination room,” he ordered the clone, the silent double nodding and dragging Zifu away.

    The screen behind him chirped with a new alert. Maker’s brow furrowed, recognizing the sound but surprised. He’d set up a few satellites in orbit around Earthland recently, wanting to ensure that no other extraterrestrials landed on the planet without him knowing. They were pinging him, letting him know that something was entering the upper atmosphere. He slid his hand evenly through the air, flipping the screens to the satellite’s scanner. It picked up a vessel, descending from the stars. The scanners ran the length of the ship and picked up an ID tag, displaying it on the screen along with a photo of the registered user

    Maker’s face hardened for a moment before relaxing, his mouth twitching into an amused smile.  “Well hello… brother.”









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      Current date/time is 23rd April 2024, 11:16 pm