"Perhaps you are right, but that does not make the burden smaller by any means. The lot of us should tread lightly as we continue. And of course I'll help you find the tome, unfortunate to lose something so rare." Alexander said while getting up and beginning to look through the shelves.
"Well if it keeps taking people back to the same time frame, what if that were to be the key? A time of great emotion and danger to get the most out of subjects in both power and understanding their personality, maximizing it's ability to understand and manipulate the desires of the worthy to its own ends. That could explain why he only makes deals with some and not others, only those with enough to offer would be worthwhile. I mean a presumably ancient entity locked inside a crystal and sending those who come to it to a time when all was brought low then offering a deal to those it deems worthy seems a being that wouldn't exactly want to stay in such a confined and repetitive world. Or this being could even be simply transporting you into the different experiences of people from the past, then letting the scene play out with new actors. Figuring who is worthy by who acts in a most interesting way or in a way most similar to or different from the one it replaces.
But then if the entity is trying to escape the storms could be a way of preventing it, bury the thing and make it impossible to reach before the entity escapes. Though that wouldn't explain why the storms didn't start here and just bury it immediately, but any theory is worth exploration for now.
Do you have more than one crystal you can access, or just the trial crystal? If you have more than one, do they all have the entity and the scenario of the trial crystal? So many questions that could be answered if there was more than just the one. Also you mentioned odd things from the crystal, is there more than I have been told so far of their power?" He said as he began to think on what he had been told so far, still looking for the book.
Drew extended his hand out to meet him, his voice more confident. "I've had enough given purposes. I don't need to add some creepy shadow to the list of people telling me what I need to do and how much I'm failing at it. I want the power. I want to be strong enough to find my own purpose." He could feel bolts of electricity reaching out and arcing between the two of them for an instant before vanishing. "So you know what I want. What's the price?"
"I think... you can either pay the price, or your shadow can pay the price. Half of your shadow right now... or giving up a chance of ever being your strongest. Do we have a deal...?"
Gabriel didn't understand the first option, and didn't fancy the second. This creature didn't seem to be the 'sharing-information' type. Maybe now was the time to build on that.
"I do not accept either option, largely because I don't know what they entail. In fact, there is a lot that I don't know about this whole endeavour. Specifically, you," he clarified, pointing a finger at the shadowy creature. "Who or what are you? What kind of power do you hold? What gives you the ability to make these changes, do the deals you do? What do you get out of them? There must be some benefit to you, making your deals and taking things that sound impossible. Years of life in Fei's case, chances at full magical strength in mine... what gives you the power - and the right - to do this sort of thing?"
Gabriel felt a surge of anger within as he spoke, and drew on it to feed his venting. Now was as good a time as any to get it out there.
"I'm not saying I'm walking away from a chance at a deal, far from it. I'm just a bit hacked off that I'm constantly left in the dark by people higher up on the metaphorical ladder. I don't even know why I was picked for this job. Just that I have 'a proper personality, skills, ideals and workings,' whatever in the Gods' name that means. So before I go any further with these deals, I want to know more. About you and your machinations, I mean. The latter part of my little tirade I will take up with someone else in due course."
I have no idea if this... thing knows the Prime Minister or not. Probably does. It's possible the man gave up something at some point. That something could have been his wings, when he had them.
Seth was rather sure that Raven had actually faded out there for a second, but her agreement was good enough for him. Giving a small shrug to Silvana, he turned only to note that another had come from the crystal, this time being...Phebe? He couldn't help but pause in his look at her. She was wearing something much more form fitting than the robes from before. It was an odd...armor of sorts, but something was different about it. And not only that, but she hadn't gone in with all those weapons, had she? Seth looked her over for a moment, but Seth's shadow seemed much more interested in the figure that came behind her.
The more well armed and somewhat demonic looking shadow, while still trying to get used to the new voice that it possessed, raised its hands almost in a peaceful method when Seth's first started off with bigger flames. After noting the odd expression, the flames instead went back down and it looked over the newly named Lilim in askance.
"I....am....me. Named...Lilim. And you are....?" Lilim asked, lowering her arms now that the threat was no longer as obvious to itself and Seth. Seth's gave a small shrug and gestured back to Seth, which made Lilim look at Phebe in askance. It was obvious that they didn't understand why they had not been answered.
This happened while Seth took full inventory of the new weapons and everything that she had, and he gave a small wave to Phebe, not really sure what else he could say at this point.
"Uh...Hey Phebe. I notice that you did a bit of...altering as well. You alright?" Seth asked, still wondering what had happened to her and her shadow in there.
"Slow down there Alex. Won't find the book just quickly glancing past them. Couple of them titled pretty similarly..." Isabella moved next to Alexander to look through the same row. "But I wouldn't say you will all need to tread lightly. If that was all it took, I think the good Prime Minister would have managed....whatever it is by now. I think he needs something a bit more different than his usual approach...." Isabella paused at one book, only to shake her head and keep going.
"And....maybe. The event might be the key to a lot of things. I know it is important to our history to learn all we can from that moment, because....well, so much happens. So many perspectives and ideas and changes happen in that spot. I've heard sometimes the humans killed all the mages, and....then everything ended, despite no mages to do...whatever it is they do. No offense, of course...But also worth noting is that the dealmaker isn't the one trying to escape, I think. Its this new crystal which seems to be the problem......this dealmaker fellow does seem to play out the event. Or at least watches, I think."
With the additional mentions of him perhaps doing manipulations, Isabella stopped looking through the books and grinned at Alexander. "Have you met 'King' Devon yet? If you met him, I think you would get a small taste of this shadowy figure. Not the best of people, but...well, you would see what I mean if you spoke with him. You would think he is manipulative, but it is more along the lines of hoping something will happen."
However, with the thought of the storm perhaps being used to cover the crystal, it was a new line of thinking. "Hum....Bury the crystal? We could do that ourselves but....I would think that is pretty risky on our part. Just throwing a bunch of stone and things on there would make it difficult to get back to the crystal...though, I only am really....lets say, 'allowed' to go with the trial crystal. Same with that...other odd fellow. David? Yeah, I think that's it...But, I am sure the Prime Minister has reasons for not allowing others to touch it. It is rather...ominous anyways. In a temple, with the Gods all looking over it...Though, your question about odd things is...well, I think that there is more to those trials. And especially more to that temple than simply looking at it....and...Those shadows. I'm sure you noticed them. I think they might be a key to a lot of the answers that we need. But...they don't say much. Least the ones I've seen...." Isabella went back to looking and pulled out a book.
"Not what I was looking for, but close enough. 'Artifacts and Understanding.' An odd title, but it has all sorts of little knowledge in there. Seems that in this book...crystals were more often the focus of power for magic than it was for anything else...but these crystals seem to do no such thing. I'm not expert, of course, but...maybe you think they are a focus point? Or maybe there is more to the old ways of magic than we realize...do you know about the older styles of magic?"
The shadow regarded Drew for a moment, extending the hand and letting it almost glow an odd blue. With the open hand, the shadow continued it's odd tone.
"The deal is a trade. Your power for this one. But...it is a dangerous gift to take, and one which takes more life than it would ever save. If the deal is acceptable for you to take this power, then it is yours for the even trade. With just a shake of the hand...And you are wise to perhaps not want another task on top of all that already goes on. Perhaps the power to make it through is what you will need...." The shadow seemed to offer nothing more, satisfied with what was said.
"Ooohhh...A little bit of fire in this one! You don't want to accept options because you are so.....concerned? How funny of you!" The shadow Gabriel had been venting at seemed halfway gleeful as he continued to do so, listening to the questions and shaking its head at a few others. After all the venting, the shadow sat back in it's chair, lounging once again.
"Does it look like I need a benefit? It is just....FANTASTIC to be able to make changes again! I mean, imagine how happy some people are with all these changes! You, with your unique staff! It would be quite interesting to see how you worked with the additional powers! Though, to be honest, I think this might be the WORST of places to discuss 'rights'. I don't have any 'rights', only the deals. And the people can accept them if they wish. For example....you could just ask to leave, free of charge! No strings attached, you can leave!" The shadow pulled upon the darkness, bringing out Gabriel's door as well, showing him the way out.
"And...being left in the dark is how those in power make you dance a certain way. I don't have any 'angles', to play, because for me I don't have to care, I get to WATCH! And truth be told, that is a lot better than having to do anything. So, who I am isn't very important. I am what you COULD say is....someone who can rewrite the balances of individuals. Rather than having one thing, another! Maybe you were born intelligent, and would instead want to be beautiful? It CAN be done. Those trades are something I can manage, all because I will stay here and watch! I don't know what else would be better really. I'm sure someone went for the world domination angle, but I think that would get boring in a few thousand years. I get to be new and creative EVERY time someone steps through....."
The shadow, paused, standing up to Gabriel, almost towering over him now. "But, I think that wasn't part of our deal...or was it? Would you like to trade some information in exchange for it? Such as how you feel about your newly feathered friend over there? Or maybe say something about how you have a particular....fear? Up to you, of course. I'm just here to provide a nice balance to things!"
Drew took a moment to consider. "You want my wind magic? Seems... simple." He lowered his hand slightly, thinking to himself. I wouldn't be able to fly anymore... but I'm not exactly great at it to begin with, and I've only started learning how to fly recently. I'm used to fighting with redirection, but I just prefer not to fight at all. I would miss it, but I don't really need my magic. He started to reach out, his hand almost at the shadow's right before he stopped. ...But what about Fei? We both needed to work together to use lightning before. If I lost my wind magic...
This seemed to make him hesitate more than anything else. He took a moment to weigh things in his head before finally coming to his conclusion. Sorry, Fei. One day you'll understand. He grabbed the shadow's hand, and his own hand started to glow blue. "Deal."
Phebe felt stared at, not a new feeling by any means, but uncomfortable nonetheless. Lilim reacted to Seth's shadow, but thankfully not in a hostile way. "I don't think it can talk. I bargained for your voice, remember?" She said, when Lilim turned to her for guidance.
Finally Seth spoke, instead of looking her over. "Oh yeah, never been better. Well, not in a long time anyway. I'm sure it'll be better from now on." She answered him, with a lack of her usual confidence, which annoyed her more than anything. She hadn't gotten to her age just to act like a little girl, and even that little girl had been bold. "I just traded in an old life, for the chance at a new one." She raised her halberd slightly, to show that it was part of the new one. The rest was there to see as well.
"Some magic for new gear." Phebe said it defiantly, to hell with those who'd look down on her, and to hell with her insecurity. "How about you, are you alright? Any of you made any deals?"
Alexander slowed down before she found the book that was close enough.
"Unfortunately my knowledge of magic ends at the academy library, and I don't know much of the older ways. I didn't even know that a crystal in the lab would absorb my light and use it to grow.
As for the crystals. I'm still thinking on their connection. Perhaps the crystals were what held the storm back from residual energy and now with no mages it grows because there is nothing to keep it back, or perhaps even the inverse is true. That with no energy input and mage to control the output perhaps it is releasing energy haphazardly that the storm is absorbing.
I've seen the crystal of which you speak though and its shadows. Perhaps I should see if I can't communicate with them." He hadn't heard from his shadow in a while and decided to think to himself to see if it would maybe communicate.
'I haven't heard from you in a while Alexander. Do you think you could communicate with other shadows perhaps, and far more importantly how are you feeling? I know when last we spoke you weren't in the best of shape.'
With a heavy sigh and some bit of thinking, Cale shook his head at the shadow. Even though it would bother him until the end of time or until he found out, he decided that perhaps not knowing why would be a blessing. Whatever truth that lay hidden is hidden for a reason, he presumed.
"Thank you for the offer, shadow." Cale murmured before following the door out of this place. In a matter of moments, Cale was back in reality with a number of mages as well with one of them Nydia. Curious as to what she traded for, he approached her.
"What did you get?" He asked, with the curiosity of a child whose friend got something from a toy store.
The shadows gleeful demeanor as it set about completing their bargain was somewhat unsettling to Nydia. Had she made the right choice? But it was too later to turn back now. Her shadow had already taken on a much grander appearance and before she could fully examine it she felt her own powers increase greatly. The sudden influx caught her so off guard that she almost lost control of her magic but she managed to get a hold of herself quickly enough. After a few moments of deep breaths to calm herself and adjust to the sudden increase of her powers she found the sensation to be rather... exhilarating surprisingly. She hadn't felt this good in some time.
The shadow even told her that she had nothing to worry about so long as she didn't "stab her shadow in the back", which was something Nydia simply couldn't see herself doing. She turned to see Cale and the shadow still talking, though she hadn't heard the topic. She briefly pondered what sort of deal Cale might want but to intrude would be rude and the shadow had conjured an exit implying that it would like her to leave. So with her shadow in tow, Nydia stepped back into the real world.
Though she would hardly call Kerbones familiar to her, it was a most welcome sight compared to what she had witnessed in the trials. She gave a sigh of relief as she saw Seth and the two Nightshades unharmed nearby. Now there were only a few others left inside... Just as she had thought that, Cale emerged shortly after her and approached. She laughed lightly when he asked what she had gotten. "Well.... I suppose power is the simplest way to put it." She answered, lowering her voice slight as she explained why she had chosen that. "I am afraid I was quite useless during our trial and the attack the night before... I pray that I shall never need use these newfound powers but that's being a bit too optimistic..."
She trailed off, the thought of danger to come and being too weak to face them was unpleasant to say the least. She had done all she could to be prepared though so there was little point to worrying further though. Now that Cale had asked about her bargain, she felt a bit more comfortable asking if he had obtained anything. "And yourself? Did you make a deal with the shadow?
With the deal now sealed, the shadow nodded, and suddenly bolts began to fly all around them, the energy bursting from the darkness which at one time had held nothing. As the energies began to fly into Drew, he felt his former powers began to be pulled from him, the winds dying down around him and almost abandoning him entirely. In its place, a much more violent and powerful power seemed to take its place. Where the wind had the threat of violence and destruction, the lightning held no such reservations. The power fluctuated wildly, and as the shadow stepped away from Drew, the lightning continued to arc about him, leaping between joints, limbs, and hair. As all the energy slowly began to die down, the sparks were still evident for a time, seeming to almost be alive on their own as they continued to dance between Drew's fingers.
With the deal complete, the Shadow leaned against a wall, and pulled out the door that Drew had entered from before. With a small nod, and an odd gust of wind seeming to give Drew a small push, the shadow spoke a final time.
"Your wish for powers are yours. May they serve you well...and perhaps you may someday understand why I cautioned you against such powers. Hopefully we will not see each other again..." And with that, Drew was back outside, where the other mages had been now all meeting back up....except Fei and Gabriel had yet to return.
While Seth was no 'people-reader' by any means, he felt something was....off when Phebe spoke. As if there was something to be nervous, about, something out of place. In fact, he felt that she was no longer...something. While he couldn't place his finger on it, when she claimed she had traded some magic for her tools, he rose an eyebrow. That didn't sound like the best of deals to him.
"Better than alright, thanks for asking. No deals for me though. Pretty sure that they would be hard pressed to improve what I have going for me though. I already burn brighter than most anyone I can think of, so I think I'm doing just fine...but you got quite a bit for 'some' magic. How much is....some?"
Lilim, in the meantime, nodded in understanding as Phebe said that "it" couldn't do such things. Though it seemed slightly troubled by this turn of events, and approached the Pyromancer's shadow. "I am...Lilim. You are...?...Oh. Mmmm....I don't know what your name is. Maybe someone else knows...?"
Seth's shadow seemed to be somewhat confused, as when Lilim approached, he offered his hand only for Lilim to get very close, ignoring the hand entirely. So, for the moment it lowered the hand and stood somewhat uncomfortably close to Lilim. Raven's shadow didn't seem entirely pleased with the particular display, and took a step forward only for Lilim to then peer at her in askance as well.
"No....name for you....either? This is...different. Who...to work with...?"
"Mmm...Unfortunate, dear. I would like to think that some mage of the older style of magic would be able to provide some guidance as to why with the notice of these crystals the storm has now been growing. I find it odd that all it took was a bit of earth to ultimately cover up all that power that would make a storm...grow. Though, I must wonder if it all requires a mage to simply focus the powers, then why don't you get to feeling that right away? I...can't claim to understand how it all works, mind you, but I would think you would feel something like that. And...expel it, or push it back in, or something." At the mention of the odd light absorbing stone, Isabella simply laughed.
"Those inventors bring in so many odd things, and create so many more, I'm surprised the upper palace is still standing. I'm sure sooner or later they'll blow too many holes in the walls, and the Prime Minister will have to do something about them...." As Alexander turned to speak with someone that she could not see, she paused, not exactly sure what to say to the man, but giving him an odd look through the odd conversation of talking to...himself.
Alexander's shadow, as it were, had been sitting down and largely almost sleeping, seeming to attempt to try Alexander's advice to be careful and not overexert. The rest seemed to have some small visible benefit, with the fading no longer as bad to the point in which you could mistake him for never being there. However, the question jolted the older shadow awake, and he turned in askance.
"Speak with the other shadows....Hmm....Well, I imagine it could be done. If they could speak, of course. I imagine you had not been able to talk with them? Were they speaking an ancient language, or perhaps a form of language you are unfamiliar with?"
As Nydia spoke with Cale who had returned, her matured shadow stepped forward somewhat defensively, seeming to be slightly unfamiliar with Cale's intentions. However, upon her speaking with Cale, it lowered the guard somewhat, only to seem much more alarmed at the notice of Lilim, Seth, and Raven's shadows all being in a relatively close area. More so at the appearance of Lilim's demonic look which while had most of the human parts, also had the demonic wings and many weaponry attachments. The lights about the shadow gave off an odd glow, glancing back at Nydia from time to time as the attention was largely focused on the other shadows.
Cale's shadow, in the meantime, seemed somewhat relieved at the choice that had been made, and seemed somewhat weary of the new shadow of Nydia, before it seemed to get a pass and the other shadows seemed more of a concern. Cale's shadow stayed relatively close, while not seeming quite as threatened. Much more familiar to all the changes...or willing to accept them than Nydia's new protector was.
"Hah!" Phebe smiled, then scratched her neck when he asked how much she'd given up. "Well, let's just say I can't literally burn brightly anymore. Although, I think it'll be fine. I am still alive, and now I can honour the path of my people. I won't have to live with the cause of many bad memories anymore."
Really? Yeah, I think so. Why? I've missed having to fight for survival, rainy nights outside and living with the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. I want to be able to choose for myself, not be forced to take a path for the safety of others.
She had some doubts, but hopefully she would be able to heal, and find somewhere she belonged. Lilim was curious of the other shadows, which made her a bit worried and slightly jealous. Maybe she wouldn't be as alone, if the demonic shadow remained by her side, instead of whatever she was trying to do now. She hadn't showed as much interest in them before.
"Lilim, you'll work with me. Stop bothering the others." Phebe said, then turned to Seth. "So, what happens next?"
Drew had left the trials, reemerging in the regular world. The first thing he noticed was one of the mages from the ship, now clad in a new set or armor and armed with different weapons. That one is... Phebe, I think? Wonder what her trial was like... He shrugged. He took a look around and saw everyone else's shadow, wondering for a moment where his was.
Fei and her friend weren't among the others, but he wasn't going to panic yet. Before his mind could linger on that, he heard someone speak. So, what happens next? He smirked, deciding to make himself known, walking up to the other mages. "That's a good question. The trials were a nice distraction, but we still got stuff to do."
He fidgeted about trying to find out who else still wasn't there when he noticed Lilim. He started at her for a moment. "Uh... so..." he just turned back to the others "Speaking of the trials, was anyone else made an offer by some strange shadow guy?"
Alexander first responded to his shadow.
"I simply hadn't tried before. You and they both were relatively simple compared to what you at the very least are now. I did not think of what either of you to be capable of. Especially when our only method of communication was through a kind of mental link. I figured it was something of a closed system, now with your jump in complexity I am assuming little to nothing in terms of your possible ability or growth." With that he turned to Isabella.
"I'm sorry if I seem insane to you. It would take a long time to explain, but to keep it relatively simple. The crystals are not the only odd events to have unfolded here, and it involves quite a lot of magical happenings. So while I know I again must seem mentally infirm. I would appreciate it if you would bear with it and just chalk it up to us all living in very odd times indeed.
As for the power I should have felt. I felt something in the room. Though really you are correct and nothing I've thrown out so far is likely to be the answer. Though I feel I need to start somewhere, and with no real leads to go on I'm more or less just throwing out every idea I can think of. Ultimately I guess there will be little that can be revealed until we actually do as the Prime Minister asks and begin our journey in earnest.
I'm just entirely uncomfortable with the distinct lack of information about these crystals and what their purpose is or used to be in this land. In any case I thank you for your time, and I would appreciate if perhaps you might see if you can find anything that may be useful and pass it along. I need to see if I can't re-enter the room with our particularly interesting and disturbing piece of history." He shook the woman's hand before heading back to try and find the Prime Minister once again.
Fei hummed absentmindedly, listening to Gabriel and the shadow argue. She kept looking back at the wings, which were flying around above her. They were like birds without... the bird. When was she going to get her wings! The shadow said something about it taking a few years, but that it was sped up, right? Maybe he meant it would still be like years in here, and when she came out, it would actually only be a few minutes.
As she stared, the wings hovered menacingly around her. The sharpened humerus bones elongated, sticking out of the feathers like a pair of blades. "Um... Gabriel?" She took a few steps back, watching the wings. They didn't look so cute now. They shoot out at her, making Fei squeal in suprise and fear. "GABRIEEEL" They burst forward as soon as she turned her back, burying themselves in her shoulders. They knocked her off her feet and onto her face, which honestly might have hurt more than the wings fusing into her bones. "AAAAUGHOOOOOOOWW!" She could hear them growing in. It hurt a lot. A LOT a lot. Even if the whole thing took maybe 5 minutes, it was the LONGEST 5 minutes EVER.
The sharp stabbing pains were replaced with a general overall soreness. She just laid there for a minute. Wings hurt more than she thought. She wondered if the people there were born with small wings, or if they grew from small bumps maybe?
At first she couldn't move the new wings. She touched them tentatively. They were just like when... well when they weren't attached and flying around. Maybe she should have just asked if her shadow could have wings, and Fei could borrow them? Maybe she could do the trials a second time? Wait, he said five years right? Fei stood up and ran over to Gabriel, face in his as she tried to see if she had gotten any taller. Her wings were kinda heavy, but not too heavy. It was hard to tiptoe. She put her hand up over their heads. "Hold still! I want to see how big I've gotten!"
"So, what happens next?"
Seth shrugged, as he never really had a plan in the first place. It all sounded a lot better when there were fewer people, but now it seemed that they were all coming back around....except Fei and Gabriel, which had Seth slightly worried. Where were they? Hopefully not at the same trial as they were just in. That was no place for them to be, and would make little sense for them. However, for the moment he let it go. Maybe they were being indecisive?
"Well...the way I see it, I think this is all we can do at this point. I mean....we could go wandering around, whatever good that would do us at this point. Instead it might be better to...wait? Well, unless someone here has a map...or a way to locate the Prime Minister guy. Because I bet he has all the plans we need to do....whatever it is we need to do." Seth wasn't quite sure what to make of this all at this point. Should he maybe try something? Or were the trials perhaps something else? Something darker...?
"Speaking of the trials, was anyone else made an offer by some strange shadow guy?"
"Strange shadow guy? Yeah....he was kind of rude. Didn't want anything that he was selling....seems that I was one of those who thought that though. How about you? Did you do some dealing with the odd guy?"
Lilim, after being told that she should stop tampering with the others, took a few steps back. "Work with....you. But they like....me? What wrong with....them?"
As the discussion went onwards, both the Prime Minister and Alexander entered the room, with the Prime Minister shaking his head.
"Hon, stuck around this city long enough, and I imagine that we'll all seem a little...off. Though, talking to your new...things or whatever is a new one. And ya didn't even warn me that we were being watched already. Just sayin, a little warnin goes a long way for conversation...." Isabella said, shaking Alexander's hand. "Feel free to stop by whenver, Alex. Conversation is refreshing with you different folk. And maybe I'll have something for you. Take care..." Isabella sat back down, and Alexander's shadow rose to follow him.
"I see....trying out new ideas, exploring the world around you, and ultimately discovering new paths....though, I must admit that my understanding of this entire situation is....rather limited. Though.....now that I have a moment to wonder, I do try to make sense of how or what I am supposed to be doing, as are you supposed to be doing. Crystals? Magic? History? I would hope that you could make this clear later...." Alexander's shadow spoke, obviously curious but also understanding Alexander's hurry to get back to the Prime Minister....who also happened to be coming to the floor he was on via elevator.
"Mm....There you are Alexander. Good timing, I was going to go check on your fellow mages at the trials. Apparently, they are finished...and I must admit I am curious as to what happened to them in there. Never have had many mages, let alone all together, going into the trials...." As Alexander stepped onto the elevator, the Prime Minister turned to address him again.
"So...did you discover something useful? I know that it seems like I am pushing a little for time...but, unfortunately time is not on our side, and informed decisions are long past." The Prime Minister explained as the elevator arrived and they began going to the trials once more.
"Well....it seems most of you have made it back. I hope that the rest will come through shortly....but there is less time than I had hoped, unfortunately." The Prime Minister explained upon seeing that everyone was mostly present for what he needed to say. Surveying the group, he shook his head again at the mages.
"So....I will speak plainly. The crystal downstairs has begun to...assert itself? Make more of...itself? Whatever the case, it has become bigger. And the gods around it have....changed. I imagine you are all exhausted, so I can provide some time....can't have you going in less than prepared. However...In a few hours, you must get through the portal." The Prime Minister was firm as he spoke, stepping about and looking over the mages.
"So the task is simple...go inside the portal, and find out what it is doing to make the storm grow. Stop that, and return. It seems simple, but there is more to it than just walking in and flicking a switch....which is why you are here. I have provided a small feast in the previous rooms...and your beds are of course prepared. In four hours though...it is time to go, and my guards will get a hold of you." The Prime Minister continued, and paused in his stepping about.
"So...I apologize that the time spent here could not be better spent on understanding, but you have been given time...So it is time to go. Prepare mages, and discuss among yourselves what you shall need, and I will see to it that you are provided it."
And with that, the Prime Minister gave a small bow, and left the mages to their own devices until the time came once again.
Phebe put her one free arm around Lilim's shoulder, and almost dragged her out of the room, glaring at The Prime Minister as she left. "Ah, yes. Obviously you expect us to jump whenever you want us too!" She said to his face, but didn't wait around for an answer. He was busy talking to the others.
They returned to Phebe's room, where her bed had indeed been made and the robes had been picked up from the floor. She probably wouldn't wear them again, so in retrospect she should have brought them with her into the trials, rather than her every day clothes which she'd left behind.
"There's nothing wrong with them, Lilim." Phebe answered her previous question, when they were alone. "I just... don't want you to get too attached to anyone. I thought you'd come with me, when they return to their academy."
She hesitated about even going with them to stop the storm, but leaving now felt selfish. They may need her, if she could still be of use to them. It's not like she was in a hurry either. She had no idea where to go, or how to get out of the city.
"Well, it's your choice." She couldn't tell if she was capable of leaving her side anyway. "If you want to stay behind with those like you. Although, you can't communicate with them, so you'll be an outsider."
"Did you do so dealing with the odd guy?" "Yeah, I did get something out of it." Drew didn't have the chance to elaborate any further before the Prime Minister came in, briefing the group on what they had to do next. "Well, the first thing I need is for my sister to get out of those trials." he mumbled to himself. "She probably is asking that shadow thing for a million things at once." he chuckled at the thought, but then he realized something. Wait. I know she can beat the trial... but what about the deal? What would that thing want from her? Once again, before he could think any further on the matter, someone else spoke up. This time it was Phebe, taking her shadow and leaving the room.
"She has a point, you know." he said, turning to the remaining mages. "Despite everything we've seen, we still aren't entirely sure of what this guy wants. And even if we did know, how would we know it was the truth?" Drew kept looking back where he had just walked out, hoping that Fei would walk out any moment.
In a hallway away from the chamber the mages were gathered in, Drew's shadow levitated in the air, whittling a block of wood with a knife from the dining hall. Drew had left him behind that morning, so he had spent his time roaming the grounds and finding things to entertain himself. For the past couple hour, he carved a simple cog out of a piece of lumber from the dining hall from the attack last night. He had managed to get a little hole in the center, spinning the gear on his index finger.
Suddenly, he saw one of the mages walk past with her own shadow down a connected hallway. This one seemed different from the other shadows he had seen, but she was gone before he could get a look. His curiosity piqued, the shadow went to the other hall, looking both ways, seeing the mages gathered together. He floated towards them, still staying at the end of the room, trying to listen in, but not letting himself stand out.
He talked to his shadow before running into the Prime Minister.
"Ultimately I'm trying to find the connection between everything involved in this. I'm hoping to learn more of the crystals ultimately. That leads me to their history and their connection to magic. I don't even know if you can talk to the other shadows, but it can't hurt to try. Anything you could glean from them could be useful in some fashion. But what would be immediately useful is if they have any history to them or if they know anything of the crystal. I just don't like the distinct lack of information here, but many times that is the case. I've at least learned something in my time here so I wouldn't say this whole venture has lead to nothing." It was a little while after he finished he ran into the prime minister.
"Not as much as I would like unfortunately. Apparently the crystals as understood previously were used to focus magic. Whether this particular crystal has such a purpose is unknown though. I also learned a bit of history, the war between mages and humans. The destruction of cities and the creation of the storms. Most importantly though that there is quite probably a connection between the storms and the crystals, though the questions of what and how remain as of yet unanswered. Though I'm sure you had already guessed there was some connection it is good to at least have confirmation of the idea.
I still dislike how little we know of what to expect but I guess such is the case. Ultimately you are right and we simply have little to no time to study this with the carefulness I'd prefer." With that he simply stood next to the prime minister before aiding those who had left the trials if they needed it.
"I'd appreciate it if you continued to rest." He spoke to the shadow.
"I promise not to overexert myself." He then heard mention of the crystal asserting and making more of itself. He then moved to follow the Prime Minister as he left.
"I'd like to go there immediately if possible. Do you happen to know if the storm's growth rate has accelerated? How has it grown and how have the gods in the room reacted? What of the shadows, have they changed in some way?" He asked both interested and somewhat fearfully. If this crystal had grown like the one in the experiment, was it more powerful? Was it taking in some residual magical energy of some kind? Had he missed something before, lost in the room itself to not sense it? OR was it even something he could sense? Questions flew through his mind as followed.
Lilim cocked her head to the side, somewhat confused by the statement that Phebe had made about it being 'her choice to stay or go'. She stepped over to Phebe and looked her over, the demon seeming to size up the former mage with her somewhat more demonic posture. After a small while, a sigh seemed to escape the demonic looking Lilim.
"Too.....attached? We abandon.....them? Not going to....Academy?" Lilim seemed to have many more questions now with the statements that Phebe was making. "Maybe....join with others? Those shadows seemed....nice. Something missing? Why would....we need to leave? Seeking something else...?"
The shadow turned slightly towards the door, seeming to almost note something, only to turn back away from it again and back to sizing up how Phebe looks again. Again, a small sigh seemed to come out again, and then seemed to be somewhat downcast from what she saw. "I think you look....nice. Why can't I...look like that? What is....wrong with me? All those...looks..."
Seth gave a small shrug at the Prime Minister as he left, with Alexander close behind after Phebe was taking off with her....interesting shadow now. What was going on around here? He felt as if a billion things were going on and he was only one of them. At least Drew still seemed....well, mostly himself. His shadow had wandered off, but that was almost typical of Drew too.
"Well...what exactly should we do in that case then? Tell him 'no thanks, we'll just sit back and do something else'? I mean....yeah, he's probably a lying bastard, but we don't exactly have all that many places to get info from for all of this..." Seth replied, and noted that Drew was looking back at the crystal, almost knowing exactly what he was thinking.
"She'll....be just a bit, I'm sure. Nothing to worry about at all...." Seth wished that sounded more confident, but he had no idea what to expect for Fei and Gabriel. He hoped it was nothing as terrible as what he had dealt with.
As Alexander had entered with his Shadow, Nydia's shadow seemed to note something about the additional shadow entering, and seemed to want to follow along when the pair left. However, there was hesitation yet, and it stopped to look Nydia over carefully, not wanting to go onward without some form of permission or realization of what was going on. However, Alexander's own shadow did not seem to notice, only closing his eyes as he listened quietly to Alexander's explanation.
"The distinct lack of information is never....a good thing. It is an obstacle to our ultimate goal, I imagine. I...think...or maybe feel? Well, regardless there is something to them about all this. A reason for them being...given to you? I think that is what happened, isn't it? So much information all at once is just...difficult to remember all at once. Maybe you are correct, some rest would do some good....So rest I shall. Just...say something if you need something...?" And with that, the shadow seemed to enter a sitting state, cross legged and floating, as if in a deep meditation.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister listened carefully to Alexander, nodding his head slightly as the pair walked. With the mention of the crystal growing, the Prime Minister slowed in the walk.
"So...there is a connection more likely than not. Always good to have some additional confirmation, as you can imagine having some actual facts about these situations is....less than optimal at best. I was aware of the connection, and some of the history, of course, but....like you, I wonder if there is more to what we really know. I had considered at one point trying to destroy the crystals...but then figured that trying such a brute force method might lead to a lot more unintended damage than wanted...."
"As far as the storm goes....it has grown. Much more than anticipated, actually. I'm not sure what...angered it, but it has begun to stretch somewhat further than the valley it once simply inhabited. Molten boulders, strange lightning...all sorts of odd weather has begun to reach out. The worst part is that there isn't much of any explanation other than we are out of time. I thought we had all the time in the world, which I thought would mean time to let you grow...accustomed to this place. Seems I was foolish, and we are out of time." The Prime Minister stopped at the Elevator, waiting for it to arrive and stepping inside with Alexander.
"The gods....they do not look the same. The seem to be more in the action of actually...performing their powers? That is the best I can describe it, but...if I didn't know any better, I would say they are prepared to let loose with some destruction. Either into the crystal, or at each other, or all around them...I cannot say. But what I can say is that it coincides with the change in the weather." As they began to go downward, the Prime Minister gave a small shrug.
"I hate having to step forward like this, but I am counting on you to see this through. You are...much more informed than the others, for which I am pleased to have had the opportunity to give you such knowledge. Are there any tools that you would like to have? Or something that might assist through the...crystal? Knowledge only carries one so far, of course..."
Alexander listened carefully to the Prime Minister.
"Trying to destroy them likely could only have made the situation worse. According to legend the crystals are a focus for energy, and if that crystal is focusing energy that is controlling the storm...Well who knows what would happen if it were to be destroyed or damaged? In regards to the storm itself, that is highly troubling and leaves little time for much of anything really. What troubles me most though are those statues, if they are taking more active poses as the storm grows, that seems very much like a warning or a threat to me. Neither of which is particularly encouraging to the situation on the other side as it were.
Considering tools I would like to have, I unfortunately can't come up with anything too specific. Though perhaps there is one thing which I may find a use for. I was pulled into an experiment earlier that was testing the properties of a certain stone. This stone absorbed magical energy that was focused onto it and used it to grow. In some sense working as an armor against magic. Perhaps I could get a bit of this stone. If this crystal is a focus then if the stone passes with me it may act as a way of slowing or even stopping whatever reaction is causing this. If nothing else my time there could yield more of said crystal and hopefully give you some way of protecting yourselves against the storm itself. Outside of the stone, survival gear and medical supplies would be the safest bet to see use. Though seeing as you have had more time to think on this than I, perhaps there is something you would think of that I have not?"
"GABRIEEEL! AAAAUGHOOOOOOOWW!" The sudden impact of Fei's wings knocked her flat. Gabriel immediately hurried to her side, just in case there was something he could possibly do... there wasn't much, except get hit in the face by the set of bird-like wings. Gabe spat a feather out of his mouth.
It took a few minutes for the wings to finish their... fusing, was probably the best word for it, into Fei's back... Gabe cringed at her cries of pain, unsure if he should try to soothe the pain somehow. When it was over, she got back to her feet after a little bit of just lying there to get her breath back.
"Hold still! I want to see how big I've gotten!" Obligingly, the short Hydromancer stood still for a while as Fei rushed up to him to compare her newfound height. It turned out that she was still ever so slightly shorter than him.
"Well... you've done your deal, it looks like. And those look good on you. As for me..." Gabriel recalled one comment in particular from the shadowy figure. "Such as how you feel about your newly feathered friend over there?" It had the daring to suggest that as a price? Gabe wasn't even sure on it himself... but he wasn't about to give it up. He turned his head in the shadow's direction.
"Y'know what? No. Fei can have her deal, that's fine by me, but I'm not comfortable with the deals you've offered. I don't want anything," he addressed the shadow. Its prices were too high for his liking... and would probably be higher if he asked for something plus the knowledge to use it. He figured that Fei would probably have to learn how to fly once they were back in the city.
Raven still wasn't fully there in the moment. The snowballs of doubt over her reluctance to take advantage of the deals that the shadow dealer was offering were growing larger and Seth wasn't there to melt them away, instead talking with the other mages that were now emerging from the crystal. Everyone's coming out of that thing with all these new powers and stuff, and I'm just sitting here watching the shadows on the wall. What the hell are they doing? That one's talking now!
I should have asked for something. I should have asked for anything. Wings. Looks. A wand that shoots knives and lightning. Anything. I mean, yeah, I think I lost some weight, but I could have done that with exercise....hah! Sure. But still, was Seth right? Did I really blow my chance at something I could have used just for him?
The train of thought was derailed once the Prime Minister barged into the room. Apparently the time was nigh for dealing with the crystal he mentioned upon arrival in Kerbones. That white mage from before was following him around like a puppy dog, trotting right behind him as he left. Suck-up. I knew there was something I didn't like about him other than his magic. Nice to get confirmation on that at least.
I guess it's probably good to finally start dealing with that thing. Maybe then we can get out of here. This castle city thing, it's...know what I thought it would be. Thought a place like this with enough dark rooms and everything would make me feel right at home, but I'm not. Seth brought up what little choice they had in the matter, and Raven was inclined to agree.
"Seth's right," she confirmed. "I say we just take care of this crystal and put it to rest so we can collect whatever fee they promised to give us and be on our way." Drew was more worried about his sister, but that was no concern to the Nightshade. "Once your sister stops pestering the shadows long enough to get something out of it, we should be able to move on from here."
Phebe had to look up, as Lilim was slightly taller than her and she was standing close. It was rare for her to have too look up to see someone else. "No, we're not going to the Academy." She said, somewhat relieved that Lilim wasn't going to try to force her to stay, or split up with her. "I don't know, maybe we'll join with others. I was alone for a long time before. Yes, I'm seeking something else, and they won't welcome me back to the Academy as I am now. They'll throw me out as soon as they find out, unless they feel like punishing me. So, it's better to slip out and not give them the chance to begin with."
She didn't have all the answers to her questions herself. She tried the best to answer them either way.
Lilim turned away, then back again to ask her questions that made her blush and feel a sting of familiar sadness. "Hah..." Was all she said, as she was too busy trying to push back those old memories to the dark recesses of her mind, where she had locked them away.
"Thank you, Lilim. You look nice too. I mean, I like the demonic look better than the shadow."
She had no idea how to answer the last questions though. They hit too close to home. Why can't I be like that? What is wrong with me? Why do they keep staring at me as if I am one of the beasts?
For a while, Phebe remained motionless and quiet. Little girl, little girl. You're not who you once was, but you'll always be haunted by your past, until you find a way to deal with it. You've taken the first step.
She nodded, then looked at Lilim, and put a hand on her shoulder. "I don't know. I'm an outsider too. I've not made many friends in the academy, and people feared me before that. Anyway, let's go eat, or spar. Whatever, it's better to not dwell on these questions."
After Raven had finished speaking, Drew chuckled, remembering the trial. "So shut up and get things done as fast as possible? Pardon me if I find it funny that that's the plan coming from you and your boyfriend..." Drew said to Raven before looking back at Seth. "I know she'll be fine. She's a better mage than most give her credit for. I'm just worried she'll make a deal without thinking of the consequences..."
Drew's shadow had mostly been trying to get caught up with everything that had happened, when something caught his attention. One of the other shadows spoke! He left the room, looking around the castle. He was hoping either Lilim or Alexander's shadow were nearby so he could try and find out what had happened to them.
Raven tried to come up with a credible comeback for what one of her opponent in the trial had said, but was coming up with nothing. What can I even come back on? We weren't taking too long, I was trying to warn his ass about opposing us, and... She glanced over at Seth. And he is my boyfriend now. It feels weird to think that way, but it's a good weird.
Raven let out her own solitary chuckle as she moved over to where her boyfriend, as the Airbender put it, was. "Well, we were the more successful pair in there, weren't we?" she reminded him. "Besides, don't you want to see if this Crystal is actually something to be frightened of or just another bullshit story concocted by the Prime Minister?"
Silvana agreed that she needed some rest, but she wasn't leaving just yet. Another mage stepped out, with a demonic looking shadow. Who apparently could talk. Could her own shadow talk, then? Her shadow looked back at her as if to confirm to her that she could not, as she said nothing. Maybe if she spent enough time with her shadow, it would gain the ability to talk? She honestly didn't know.
Other mages came through, one of them being the Lightdweller who had asked for the same thing as she had. It didn't matter too much to Silvana, as her main concern at the moment were all the different shadows she was seeing in addition to everyone who was stepping through now. The room wasn't too big to begin with, and with all the additional shadows, it was beginning to be a little hard to see much of what was going on.
She didn't need to see much, though, as the Prime Minister came into the room, Alexander close behind him with more shadows added to the room from the two of them. This is already starting to seem like the worse of the two options... Silvana thought before the Prime Minister informed them of their small time they had and what preparations they could make before they were to take on the task at hand.
Silvana looked at it as time to get some rest, so she, along with her own shadow, left the room and headed towards the rooms that had been made ready for them. She went into one that seemed like it had been made for her before she just closed the door and lay down on the bed, her shadow not just looking like it was standing by her room, but rather like it was standing watch, as if it was expecting trouble. Silvana didn't think much of it as she entered the dreamland. Rest would be good before the trip, and hopefully when she'd awake she could eat a bit.
Fei celebrated by herself in the background while Gabriel spoke with the shadow again. He was boring. He didn't want anything. Not even a sandwich or something. New clothes. But she had wings! And she was a little taller! It was like getting 2 wishes instead of one! She had to be like a gazillion years old now! Was she older than Drew now?
When Gabriel had mentioned that he didn't want anything, she saw the door open. The one they had gone through before. It was like a ray of light cracking open in the dark. "Come oooon Gabriel! If you don't want anything we have to go back out! Come on! I want to show everyone my wiiiings!" She went over and grabbed his arm, pulling him away from the cackling shadow and into the portal.
Fei didn't know how long it had been, but the next thing she knew, she was spit out of the door, tumbling out onto the hard floor. Was it over? The trial? She sat up and did a quick check of her arms, legs, and fingers. "Phew! I'm okay!" Even her shadow was next to her, albeit standing and unruffled.
Gabriel was spit out next, rolling to a stop right next to Fei. "Gabriel! We did it! We're out!" She looked around. "Where is everyone! Oh no! How long were we gone? What if we were gone for years, and everyone's already old and dead? Or they've already left? How do we get back to our own time? Do we have to go back in the door? Maybe we have to go in the back of the door instead of the front? What if we're in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORLD???" She turned around, seeing some of the other mages and Drew and Seth. Nope, hey were in the right time. Good thing too! Otherwise who would she show her wings off to? "Drew! Dreeeew!" She got up off the floor and ran over to her brother. Now instead of being around his waist, her arms could go around his shoulders. It was kind of harder to run with her wings kinda splayed out. She wasn't sure what to do with them, or how to move them a lot. It was awkward. But they were pretty! "Look I got my wings Drew I got wiiiings! Seth look I got wings!"
Drew shrugged at Raven's question "I am kinda curious, but there's no need to be stupid about it..." he was interrupted by a sudden thud. He turned around, seeing his sister standing before him, a new set of wings now sticking out. "Fei! he cried out, smiling as he hugged her. He felt like a great weight was lifted from his shoulders, his voice now a lot more calm. "Thank the gods your ok. I knew you could handle it, sis! And you got some fancy new wings I see..." he said, looking at the wings. They certainly were a sight to behold. He was hoping to see them in motion soon.
Then he noticed that she was suddenly taller. He let her go, taking a step back and now getting a look at her. "Oh..." the smile didn't leave his face, but it was starting to look less and less sincere. "You look... great! A little different, but still great. Uh, could you excuse me?"
He then walked over to her companion, Gabriel, helping him to his feet. "So, you both made it through." he placed his hand on Gabe's shoulder. "Good job." He then stood directly in front of him. "So... you were probably offered a deal by a shadowy figure, right?"
His voice seemed a little more stressed now as he put his other hand on Gabe's other shoulder "I can tell because she looks like she changed. So do you mind if I ask a couple questions?" Before there was time for a response, Drew's hands were almost at his neck and he started violently shaking Gabe back and forth, shouting at him "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?! Why does she look so different? What did that thing take from her? Did you have anything to do with this?!! Why didn't you stop it? Why didn't you stop her?!"
"I agree with the idea that the situation on the other side can't be much brighter than how our situation here is looking. But, we still have time and a chance to set things right, so it is what we must do..." As the Prime Minister stepped into the elevator, he regarded Alexander a moment as they stood inside waiting for it to go down. "You know....you have become quite the knowledgeable leader despite your objections earlier. It is good to see that you decided to step in rather than sit back and hope...well, that things went another way. Like with that Pyromancer...."
"But, at this point I can't expect you to come up with any specifics, Alexander. I have had more time than you have had, and I have yet to see anything in particular. Then again, my knowledge is more based upon humanity than magic...However, this stone you were pulled into sounds...interesting. Perhaps an answer to our problems? Most likely a bit too hopeful...but you are correct that it is something that might be of interest in taking along. Though, you say your magic made it...bigger? Not sure how we are going to be getting a bit of it when your magic didn't do anything but make it bigger....But I will see what I can do." The Prime Minister said, stepping out of the elevator to the academy once again.
"But, I do have some packages all set up for the group. Rations, herbs, some bandages....all the necessities of an adventure. I almost wish I could go along with you....but I think you'll find when you get to a point like myself, you can't exactly go off blowing holes in the walls or things like that...people tend to show a bit more concern when their leaders seem to be able to kill men just by giving them a dark look...."
The Prime Minister had seemed to reflect for a moment on that before addressing Alexander's last point. "Though, I have had a thought. You probably noticed that not all the gods are present at the particular ritual...thing that they are around. That makes me wonder why the last god is not there, why is the God of the Other Side not there? What is so special about him...? In fact, that brought up another point....you have mages of all kinds at the Academy, so are there those who follow the teachings of...The Reaver? Or practice his powers, perhaps? It just seems to be more than a coincidence that I was unable to find any mages that practice such things, and yet here we are with that god in particular missing from this equation....now, where is this rock that you were talking about before? The one that...grew with magic?"
Lilim looked at Phebe as she spoke, seeming to try and draw a deeper meaning in the answers that she was providing. However, the ending that Phebe tried to put on the conversation seemed to make the demon slightly uncomfortable.
"But....isn't it nice to know....things? Like....Why would they hunt...you? Something wrong with you now? Broken maybe...?" She said, seeming to still try and get something new from the conversation. "I...I wish things were....simple. All this going on makes....no sense. We go...eat though?" The demon took a few steps over to the door, noting that Phebe had been slightly troubled by what they were talking about.
"It's....OK Phebe.....I'm here. Won't abandon....." She seemed to give a small bow when she said that, almost treating Phebe as if there was some sort of title that Phebe held.
Seth turned at the mention of being Raven's boyfriend, which he couldn't help but give Drew an odd look. Yeah, that was still Drew over there, even if he did make any deals or change anything. Still, that was refreshing at least to know that he was still himself....even with Fei not being around right now. "She has a point that we are the more successful group here..." He said with a grin at Drew's mention of them together.
Seth nodded at Drew's suggestion that they shouldn't be stupid, only for the discussion to be interrupted by a tumbling Fei and Gabriel returning from the trials. He quickly made his way over to Fei, grinning as Drew tended to his sister, noting her new wings, which were somewhat...beautiful. It was a change that he thought he could approve of...until he looked closer. She seemed.....different. Older? That was...well, knowing that shadow guy, that was probably very likely. He stepped over to Fei after Drew went to tend to Gabriel.
"Hey there, Fei! You look great! I bet you chose out those wings yourself...and look at you! Growing up so fast now! You seem....taller? It seems you got all sorts of....." Seth was happily praising Fei as she stood practically beaming at how pretty her wings were, only to be suddenly interrupted by Drew.
"WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?! Why does she look so different? What did that thing take from her? Did you have anything to do with this?!! Why didn't you stop it? Why didn't you stop her?!"
Turning around quickly, Seth quickly moved next to Drew, not wanting to force him to take his hands off of Gabriel, but at least to stop him from shaking the poor kid. He wasn't going to be saying much going like that, and he...hopefully had nothing to do with Fei's odd change.
"HEY! Easy Drew! You need him somewhat coherent to answer you, and he won't do that with you shaking him like a piece of paper! Just...let him talk..." Seth said, putting his hands on Drew's arms to ultimately stop the violent shaking.
Seth's shadow in the meantime seemed to walk over to Fei's shadow, and the two seemed to look each other over for a moment, until the odd moment seemed to pass and Seth's shadow nodded, and went back to watching over Seth's shoulder at what was happening.
No sooner had Gabriel been helped to his feet than Drew was practically choking him. "Get your - hands off - lunatic!" he tried to eke out before Seth thankfully intervened. Once he stopped shaking, Gabe tore himself from Drew's invading hands and stepped back, massaging one shoulder and then the other before speaking. The Airshifter's act had hurt, and it showed in Gabe's angered expression. His shadow was giving the Hydromancer a look suggested it wanted to help, but was unsure how to.
"Don't do that again. And to give you your answers, I tried. Did you think I wouldn't try to at least get her to reconsider? It's not like I'm a gods-blessed master negotiator. The deals it offered were simpler for Fei than they were for me. When I spoke up about what she wanted and the price it wanted her to pay, the shadow turned to me instead. Wouldn't give a straight answer at all, it danced around the questions thrown at it." That shadow probably gets a kick out of people who don't understand it. Like me.
"As for what Fei got out of her deal, I had nothing to do with it. If anything, I might have made the cost of those wings a little lower because I said something. So it's not as bad - as far as you seem to see it - as it could have been," Gabe finished, soon realising that he hadn't eaten in what felt like hours. Hopefully there was something available.
Fei's smile couldn't have gotten any bigger. Seth liked her wings, AND noticed she was taller. "What did you get from the man shadow thing? Did you get INVISIBLE wings!?" She skipped alongside Seth to her brother and Gabriel. "Aren't they awesometastic? I can't wait to try and fly in them. Do you think I could carry heavy things? Like like could I carry someone else?" She flapped her wings a little, stirring up a gust of wind and little else. The flapping was something you would have expected from a bird that had run into a window and broke a wing. Uncoordinated and unhelpful. Unless you were trying to blow dust around.In which case it was very helpful. She flapped her wings a little again, pretending to be an Airshifter. "Whoosh... whoosh! Look what I can do Seth! Drew? Gabriel? Look!"
"Hunt me?" Phebe raised her voice questioningly. "What are you talking about? Why would anyone do that?" She didn't know where Lilim had got the idea from in the first place. Maybe there had been a misunderstanding between them. Phebe didn't think anyone considered her important enough to chase after, should she disappear by her own free will.
Lilim went for the door, and told her that she wouldn't abandon her. It was a rare occurrence, but when people "abandoned" her, or more like threw her out, they had been individuals she'd not wanted to leave.
"Yeah, let's go eat." She said, but put down her halberd and bow first. She didn't need them now, unless someone planned on attacking them while they ate again.
She brought the knife with her, just in case. They walked through the hallways looking for the supposed feast. Phebe unsheathed her new knife, to have a closer look at it. He'd said it could create fire. She made sure that no one else was nearby, before dragging it along the wall, to create friction and see if any sparks would happen. At first, nothing, then the blade burst into flames. She freaked out a bit, and waved the knife around to put the fire out, eventually it died. Phebe put it back in its sheath, hoping that it hadn't attracted any attention.
They arrived in the dining hall, that seemed mostly empty. Phebe sat down at the edge of the table, after grabbing two plates of the food that were on it, stacking as much as she could without dropping them. It had been an exhausting day. Besides, soon she'd return to a physical life, not one where her mental aptitude were valued higher.
Phebe placed her feet on the table, with her boots still on and leaned back, digging in on what she thought was chicken. She wished the Prime Minister would walk in. She disliked the man, and showing some disrespect towards those who expected the opposite was fun. In a childish way.
"So, anyway, Lilim." Phebe said, while chewing. "Do you have any memories from before we met?" She was both curious and trying to think of something to talk about.
"So far as I know there are none who follow the Reaver in the academy, either as a god or as a school of magic. If there are practitioners they are not in the school's general population or involved with the school in anything other than a clandestine way. Though if he is not present and the other gods are reacting to something in that room, and shadows could be considered an otherworldly reflection of the self...perhaps that is the connection.
What if the crystal is focusing energy that is coming from the Reaver or has some elements of Reaver magic to it? And the other gods are there because the crystal was considered dangerous and so was surrounded by effigies of the other gods to contain it or at least give warning. Then the war caused something to happen and over time the energy leaked out and is now fueling the storm. It may very well explain why there are moving shadows in the room, the connection between the storm encompassing all elements and the statues' reactions to the increased activity in such an overtly violent manner. It also fits in with the known history of the crystals and their purpose.
It would also explain the total lack of information regarding this situation from all of our angles. Neither the academy nor any human factions would go into depth on the Reaver or it's magical properties, so there would be a natural hole in anything regarding such forces." Alexander thought a little longer on it before continuing.
"As for the stone, it was used in one of the experiments in what I guess you would call your laboratory. It was just after we had parted ways, she was focusing lasers onto a small stone which simply absorbed the light and did nothing. However when I focused my light the stone absorbed my magical energy and grew toward it. If I can get a small piece I can take it with me, if not we can always put it in the room near the crystal. If nothing else it could be a kind of stopgap if my theory holds true. If the stone absorbs magic and grows it could work as a kind of container to at least possibly disrupt whatever connection the crystal and storm has. Though it would probably be a last ditch effort plan at best.
As for the supplies, they should be satisfactory given we can only work in generalities. Though I still don't like the concept of being a leader. Then again I guess most leaders who get chosen by circumstance don't like the idea."
Drew had to be pried away, letting Gabriel say what he had to say. He had time to calm down, sighing and muttering "Right, right... I know there wasn't much you really could have done..." he still wanted to blame him, but he knew it wasn't fair. He knew first hand that thing didn't give a straight answer. He turned to Fei, hiding his concern, looking at her wings.
"Not bad. Come on, sis, try and get off the ground." he tried for a second to give her an air current to use, but nothing came out. "Hm? Oh... right..." he muttered to himself before taking account of where everyone else was again. Cale and Nydia were still talking, Silvana had seemed to go off, Alexander was gone again, but Seth and Fei's shadows seemed to have entered the room. That made him wonder where his own was, but he shrugged and ignored it. He'll be fine...
He decided to at least try make amends with the other Hydromancer. "So... Gabriel... what did you want out of the trials, anyway?"
"Whew....damned...whatever it is." Seth muttered as the situation between Gabriel and Drew had settled. He knew Drew was extremely defensive of his sister, but still....the kid didn't do anything wrong other than end up with her in the trials. But, it was only reasonable, he guessed. Fei was practically his little sister too at times. It was strange, but she tended to come to him a lot with a lot of things. Like....right now, wanting to be seen with her wings.
"Heh, no Fei, I didn't get any invisible wings or anything like that. I got some experiences and things, and a chance to perhaps see how far I can go with my flames...but I didn't do any dealing. Course, I don't think I could get half as good a deal as you did." Seth watched as she tried to flap the wings that she had gotten, seeming to be doing it somewhat haphazardly. It was a start.
"Well, I don't think you are going to be picking someone like me up yet. Might want to give it some practice first, see if you can carry smaller things and then go up from there. Bet you look really pretty when the sunlight hits your wings." As Seth watched complimenting on Fei's new wings, he noted that Gabriel seemed a little...worse for wear. Glancing at him for a moment, he gave a small chuckle.
"Hungry, Gabriel? I hear back at the hall that we were in before has a bit of a feast for us to prepare for if ya are interested in partaking before the trip.
Meanwhile, Seth's shadow stepped back away from the others, deciding for the moment to take a stand next to Raven for the moment, simply watching over everything just as Raven and her shadow was at the time. He kept a careful eye on Drew for now, but otherwise made no movements, instead deciding to stay passive for the time being.
As Lilim walked along with Phebe, she watched curiously as she rant the knife along the wall, and seemed to smile for a moment when the blade burst into flame as it had been scraped along. While Phebe gave it a few panicked swings to put it out, Lilim simply watched interested in the activities that were going on. Upon finally entering the room and again watching Phebe pile on the food and sitting, Lilim did her best to follow suit, sitting down in the chair somewhat uncomfortably as the wings took some shifting to get in place for the chair.
"Where I came from....abandoning meant hunting soon after. No free escapes, as....I was told once. You simply....fight or stay." Lilim replied, looking at the food that Phebe took a few experimental chomps. "But....should I remember something from before? This seems like an odd question....I think I should know something more, but I don't know anything that I think I should...So what do you know of me? Did you bring me here before? Were we always here?"
"So, no followers to a god whom all seem to know well enough to fear. Quite the interesting fellow to follow, The Reaver. I'm sure you heard your fair amount of stories about the God of the Other Side as well. The one whom rather than join his fellow gods, decided to venture onward past what should be seen. To places where the other gods had not even dared to realize, even. Some say that he was the traitor god, the one that needed to exist simply because not allowing him to would cause even more hardship....But, it is beyond us at this point. With little more than guesses to guide those thoughts, we might as well hope that the storm just calms itself..." The Prime Minister mused, noting the stone that Alexander had mentioned before, and waving over the woman.
"But perhaps you are correct in that the crystal is much more of a dangerous focal point of energy, and that the statues around it are more guardians than anything else. Which means that we might have less time than I had hoped. Let me be clear, I would rather not send you through the damned thing if I could help it, but as of now I am not fresh on options, and venturing into the storm itself for answers is suicide. So we've ultimately come to this....where I send you through and hope that you can succeed where I have been unable to."
When the woman came over, the Prime Minister changed the conversation to her quickly. "I need you to get anyone you can to get a piece of that stone...whatever you need to do. Just something for me to take along..." And with that, the woman gave a slow nod and walked away.
"It's an odd thing, leading things along. But I think you can manage it just fine. You'll find that all you really need to do is make sure to not get everyone killed. A bit of a task in itself, but once you manage that, everything else tends to fall where it needs to. However, I get the feeling you wanted to discuss more than a stone that does...something. Perhaps to see the statues before the others? Maybe something else you wanted to try before you proceed? Speak your mind, Alexander, for I am listening."