The Tower of Druaga (Game Thread)

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Caedis bent over the shore and splashed herself in the face with its salty water. In her mind, there was no way that her father had just talked to her. No way. Then a ghastly guess came over her and she pushed herself away from the shore.

"Is it the water?" She muttered aloud. If the water did that from far away then she'd hate to see what it would once she's actually submerged. Then another thought came over her. She looked over herself and saw the heavy armor gleaming in the sunlight. This would certainly weigh her down if she were to try and swim and every second counts in that watery abyss.

Hesitant, she looked around if any prying eyes were looking upon her but her assumptions of her isolation came over Caedis. To further make sure she went to a small, isolated inlet where the water nipped at her feet. Piece by piece she removed her armor.

Clunk

It was the upper piece of her armor that concerned her. Most of it was hard tempered metal meant to withstand arrows and swords but it would mean a watery grave if she swam with that on. Once most of it was off she grabbed and Caedis headed back to the beach where most of things lay. She hoped that she would able to wrap her upper armor with the rope she has stored in rucksack. Finally wrap that to the spear and hopefully convince the others to see the sprawling cave as well. Aside from her lower armor all Caedis had on was an undershirt, she felt naked.

Once she got into view though, Caedis noticed Nathan's figure on the rocks. It seems he had the same idea as well. Quickly she reached her things and wrapped her armor to her rucksack and then to her spear but before she left, Caedis wanted to try something out. She began to run and hastily she yelled to her companions.

"TOUCH MY THINGS AND YOUR DEAD!" She climbed up a rock no taller than what Nathan was on and jumped off into the water.

"Stonefuse and Veritas should go first."

"A good idea." Zavier said, looking down at Nathan who was still lying on the shore. "That does bring up the question of what shall happen should you not return? If Veritas dies for some reason under the waves, I doubt Stonefuse is buoyant enough to make it back to report."

A short way down the beach, Caedis reemerged. "TOUCH MY THINGS AND YOU'RE DEAD!" She shouted before diving into the water.

"That was rather odd." Zavier said, and several of the others nodded in agreement.

Atticus unthawed, had been simply watching the conversation. Nathan had returned with the location of an underwater cave and supposed that Stonefuse and Veritas go down first, which he whole heartily agreed with. But then Zavier brought up a crucial issue.

"If Veritas dies for some reason under the waves, I doubt Stonefuse is buoyant enough to make it back to report."

Before Attiucs could respond, a few feet away Caedis suddenly appeared yelling "TOUCH MY THINGS AND YOU'RE DEAD!" And suddenly dived into the water.

"That was rather odd." Zavier said.

Atticus nodded. "Yes, yes it was..."

"Anyway, I think I know what to do about our friend Stonefuse. I've got a couple of weather balloons and Tornado Traps for days. I could probably rig something up to get him out of the water easily. I might need to make something like that for Damien if he doesn't want to leave his armor, and bags for our stuff at some point as well." Atticus proposed.

Atticus looked at the water for a bit, hesitantly. He was an great swimmer, even free diving to the bottom of lakes in Agris to find missing parts and discarded toy balls, but Veritas's statement about the water still bothered him. Did this water disturb him as well? Atticus decided that he'd need to test this water too and get Veritas's opinion on it.

"That's all I got for now. The rest of use are simply gonna hoof it. Hope you guys are good swimmers and can hold your breath for awhile. I've only got one regulator, and I'm giving it to the least experienced swimmer." Atticus explained, looking at everyone in the group.

"That's all I got for now. The rest of use are simply gonna hoof it. Hope you guys are good swimmers and can hold your breath for awhile. I've only got one regulator, and I'm giving it to the least experienced swimmer."

Faunra waved her hand at the idea of using the device. Though Nathan was right about her hatred of sea-fairing vessels, she loved the ocean. The cool and refreshing water, the challenge of holding your breath, and the free-floating feeling she imagined birds might feel as they flew over the world below. Faunra was many things, but "inexperienced swimmer" was not one of them. She was half tempted to join Caedis on her little adventure, if only for the joy of swimming, but thought better of it.

Instead, she made her way to the shore and lay down of a rock, her feet soaking in the water, while the rest of the group fought over who got Atticus's "Regulator" - she was more than happy to let them take their time.

"If Veritas dies for some reason under the waves, I doubt Stonefuse is buoyant enough to make it back to report."

Veritas entered the water, fully clothed. "I'll try not to die then" he said while grinning, before plunging further into the deep, murky waters. Veritas used his water ability to try and seek out any dangerous signs of life, as he walked on the sea bed past cavern after cavern. He could "see" his comerades, waiting anxiously at the beginning. He began to run out of oxygen. Nimbly, he lifted his hands to the surface and whispered "Tacere". When his hands reentered the water, they were holding a globe of oxygen, a huge bubble, which Veritas breathed. He could have used other methods to get through the water, but they simply weren't slow enough for him to get a good look at the cerulean depths.

Suddenly, he began to "see" a large shape traversing the water towards him. "Stonefuse perhaps?" he thought, but just in case, as the large shape got closer, he pulled out his hunting knife and realised it was a hell of a lot bigger. Veritas clapped his hands together to create an airfield round his body. It was time to fight.

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The water was perfectly, utterly clear. Stonefield and Veritas were forty feet down, and could see the ocean floor angling off far below them into open ocean. And what detail! Reefs rose from the seabed, brimming with jewels and life. Brilliantly colored fish swam in swirling schools, while crabs nestled in between rocks and scattered gems. The cave itself was perhaps half a thousand feet wide. Was this it? It's in the right area. But there could be dozens of caves.

A crystal spire rose at one side like an immense and wondrous tower, up and up; breaching the border between sea and sky. It was here that their scouting was brought to an abrupt halt. That some spirit of total, unending vigilance abode in the crystal spire there was no doubt, for all could feel the oppression of them. Even far away- it became clear why Lentos Potiatus feared them so. When any climber cried to cross one, the watching-crystal threw forth a terrible barrier, such that men who tried to pass found that they could not. Nor could they be forced through- if propelled within it they were stricken dead by the weight of it upon their hearts.

Just as Veritas was journeying through the water he felt a shock: as if he had run into a web, only invisible. He could see no obstacle, but something too strong for his will to overcome barred the way. He looked about, toward the beautiful monolith in the distance. Immovable, and yet they were aware: some spirit of total, unending vigilance abode in them. They knew an enemy. Visible or invisible none could pass unheeded. They would forbid his entry, or his escape.

Hardening his will, he thrust forward once again, and halted with a jerk, staggering as if from a blow upon his breast and head. Each stroke became more difficult. To move an inch further was a pain and weariness to will and limb. He was being pushed back, as if by current. He could feel the watcher spirit's revelation of his flesh and soul.

Caught by the strange structure, Veritas tried reducing himself to a liquid state in order to free himself. This was unsuccessful so he decided to wait for help, after all, pain was endurable, and he wasn't going to die with his abilities.

"That's all I got for now. The rest of us are simply gonna hoof it. Hope you guys are good swimmers and can hold your breath for awhile. I've only got one regulator, and I'm giving it to the least experienced swimmer."

Aleister watched as Faunra made her way to the shoreline, and led down on a rock. He then gave his opinion.

"Think I'll pass Atticus. I find myself to be a competent swimmer, as it helped me build up strength in the upper body and legs, along with stamina training. As for holding me breath, I can hold it for a while, it was good for concentration when handling two swords at the same time."

After explaining his capability underwater, Aleister left the group, and sat down on the beach, removing his swords. He then began to slot his two katana into the Edge of Soul, it would mean that, whilst they were swimming, there wouldn't be as many things to get caught on the rocks; plus it could theoretically provide some additional protection for his back.

Aleister then rested the combined blade on a nearby rock.

"That's all I got for now. The rest of us are simply gonna hoof it. Hope you guys are good swimmers and can hold your breath for awhile. I've only got one regulator, and I'm giving it to the least experienced swimmer."

The least experienced swimmer, Zavier considered, who could that be. Aleister made a comment about his lack of need for the device before setting his things aside in preparation for the dive. The device Atticus was offering, however, still kept Zavier's attention.

He had trained to survive in various environments, his former master had been keen to ensure that, and he was a good swimmer, but something Veritas said earlier made him pause. Something to the effect of 'This water is tainted,' Zavier thought. At the time he had dismissed it as foolishness on Veritas's part, however, now with the prospect of actually swimming in it Zavier decided that it might be best to keep things safe. "I could make use of the device." Zavier said, nonchalantly. Hopefully, no one else here really needed it.

Damien watched as his companions one by one stripped out of their armor and made for some kind of underwater caves. He was confused as to how their level had not yet created sealed suits of armor as his own had. The only thing he needed to worry about was how he would get his pack through it all without it getting soaked and so, he went about tying it off, and finding something to waterproof it.

He noticed Zavier, Atticus, and Aleister talking on the ship and Aleister combining his blades together. he made sure his armor was all sealed tight and opened the small hole for air to come through until he held his breath for the journey down. He was pretty sure he could do it without running out of air, but he began practicing before he started his journey.

Prail really wasn't comfortable with the water. Even apart from its warmth she was dubious.
Sure they could take off their armour but she could exactly get rid of her tail and horns so easily. She'd never really experienced the water; the strength needed to move her through it would be immense considering her density not to mention she wasn't exactly the quickest of movers.
Of course even that was immaterial. The airways problem was much more concerning. How could she prevent water getting into her horns while still being able to hear, not to mention she didn't really have any idea how long she could hold her breath for.
She sat by the edge looking down, the water was crystal clear, it would take her a while to figure out whether that made things better or worse.

As he was slowly reaching the ocean floor, Stonefuse noticed Veritas was missing. As he looked up, he noticed Veritas swimming in place, looking at the wide entrance not far in front of him. Is that where we are supposed to go?

As Atticus attached his tornado traps onto Stonefuse, he explained to him what he was to do.

"There's and underwater entrance that probably leads to where we need to go. Explore it, see where it leads to, and come back. Use the tornado traps only when you need to either come back, or reach the entrance of the cave. And if anything happens to Veritas, tell us."

As Stonefuse nestled onto the ocean floor, he headed towards the entrace, only to be blocked by... something. He pushed forwards, it pushed back."I will not be stopped" he said to the barrier, his voice muffled by the water. He pushed and pummeled the barrier with the stubbornness of a child; frustation, for the first time ever, engulfed him. "You shall not hold me back. You shall not hold me back. You. Shall. Not. HOOOLD! MEEEE! BAAAACK!"

Stonefuse let out a long, scraping roar as he passed through the barrier, pushing onwards. Looking up at the entrance, he activated one of the tornado traps, and it sent him "flying" upwards, into the maw of the cave.

Calming down, still focused on the task he was given, he continued forth.

The water was entrancing as it was deep. Her lungs began to struggle after the first minute but that was all she needed. She had seen Veritas go under when he had when in deeper in the cave with an air bubble around his head. Something must have happened though, for he did not emerge or answer back. Even in the unyielding luminescence of the ocean water it was difficult to see him let alone navigate the twisting coral reefs or the caverns of rock.

She needed to hurry if not for his sake but hers as well. There was no doubt in her mind now that the ocean was a barrier to them passing through the next level and it seemed that maybe it or something was controlling it to make sure of that. Suddenly she sighted Veritas and he seemed to be awaiting help, as if stuck by something. She swam to him and grabbed him by the sleeve, tugging it to try and get him loose from whatever was keeping him there. Her lungs were killing her at this point, she was on the threshold of consciousness at this point but she needed to get him out of there or better yet get herself out of there.

She noticed his airbubble around his head and with the free hand she pointed to him and then to her throat to signal that she was running out of air fast.

After attaching the combined sword to his back, Aleister held his breath, and jumped into the water; as soon as he found balance, he began to swim to try and find the others.

He thought of the word "Feht" in his mind, and two small jet of wind formed on the palms of his hands; this would allow him to have greater control over his swimming movements, and if necessary, give him some more air. Aleister noticed Caedis was trying to assist Veritas, who seemed to be stuck on something, he quickly went in to assist.

As Aleister arrived, he could see that Caedis was blacking out every so often, a sign that she was nearing unconsciousness. He pulled her head back, and launched one of the air jets into her mouth, which seemed to revive her somewhat. Aleister then gestured her to follow Stonefuse, who seemed to be able to make some progress.

After seeing her off, he decided the best way to assist Veritas, was to break him free of whatever was controlling him. Without a subconscious thought, two blades of ice formed across his arms, and be began attacking the point in which Veritas seemed to be the most stuck; hoping it would free him.

Atticus finished his building the balloon and tornado trap mechanisms. Perfect for holding whatever materials they could carry with them. Atticus took off his overalls, removing the thin plates of armor. He only wore his inner shirt and shorts. Atticus kept his pellet bag and slingshot with him, since they wore both pretty light and a his slingshot still worked pretty well underwater.

"Alright, I'm just about ready to go. I wonder if they've made it to the cave yet."

Atticus looked over at the water, and noticed a small swirl forming. It wasn't much, barely noticeable, but Atticus could tell that something down there had caused that small current. Stonefuse must've used one of the traps to get into the cave. Hopefully Veritas was with him and Caeids was there too. He then noticed something else, a couple of bubbles on the surface. Stonefuse didn't really need to breath, so he must've been saying something. He'd have to be talking pretty loudly.

"Hope everything's going fine." Atticus said to himself.

Veritas saw Caedis was suffering, and grasped onto her arm, and creating a separate airfield for her. In the meantime, he wondered if a spell would break him free.

Zavier removed his coat and folded it up. He then proceeded to place it and his journal in his pack. The others had already removed their unnecessary items and prepared to dive below. This will be difficult, Zavier thought, it wouldn't just be a journey under the waves, it would be a struggle to keep alive with their burdens.

As he gathered up his sack, Zavier pulled up the silver medallion he had taken from his master's chambers. He couldn't say why he bothered with it, there were other things he could have grabbed, things worth much more than the small trinket, but the medallion seemed to call to him, and he took it along. Zavier ran his thumb over the first side, a scroll with archaic symbols on it, sorry that he might lose so many of his books, but if that was the price to advance, then he would.

Zavier only kept two things with him as he made his way to the water, the two knives still tucked up his sleeves. Never go anywhere unarmed, he thought. With that, Zavier slowly waded into the water before diving below after his companions.

As he continued to hack away with the ice, Aleister could see cracks beginning to show, so he at least knew that it was working to some degree. He continued to hack away, all the while checking up on Veritas, who seemed to still be breathing, thanks to that air bubble of his.

Whatever seemed to be holding Veritas in place, shook violently as Aleister made a single strike with both his ice blades, which caused them to shatter, but managed to free Veritas as well.

Aleister and Caedis came upon their comrade, and they halted. Even from where they swan they felt the force of the watcher-spirit beating on them. Then greatly daring, because it was one of their own, their own resolution met that of the spire. Augmented by each other- and by their combined quests for vengeance- one for a nation, the other for a single man. They drew slowly out the young climber. Caedis yelled with the exertion, while Aleister chopped away at the water itself. The crystal spire sat there glimmering and still. For a moment they caught an ebb of power in the spire, that made men like Potiatus quail; but slowly they felt it's will waver, and pulled him to freedom.

Stonefuse continued through the open cave, past jutting rocks and stalactites, around sudden turns, up sudden chimneys, and down sudden wells. At the end he came to an opening- a pool in the ceiling that revealed where the water ended.

More of the party splashed into the ocean. With Veritas free, Caedis and Aleister drove forward. The will of the crystal spire was broken with a suddenness like the snapping of a cord, and the three sprang past it; but even as they did so they were aware, as plainly as if a bar of steel had snapped to behind them, that it's vigilance was renewed. And from the crystal spire a shift and reverberation, and then was immutable once more.

Damien, finished with whatever preparation he could make for the journey, began walking into the sea, fully armed and armored, all seals intact. The armor, however light it was, was just as dense as any suit of armor and he sank to the bottom rather quickly.

He came upon the invisible wall as Aleister,Caedis and Veritas entered the caves. He watched as they entered the caves and came against resistance. He began calling on all his years of training,practice, and experience to best the will of the watcher and enter the caves beyond.

I've come too far to be bested by a wall. I will not fail.

"Ah, finally done."

Atticus had finished packing and wrapping most of their supplies, armor, and etc. All sealed and water tight. He was ready to get down there, as it seemed that Aleister, Zavier, and Damien were already on their way, and he needed to plant a few tornado traps on Damien as well. Prail and Faunra were just about ready to go, both near the edge of the water. He thought about using his respirator, but he hoped it would only be a quick swim down. He stashed it in his pellet bag.

"Alright ladies, meet you on the other side." He said as he dived in.

Atticus looked around, swimming deeper and deeper into the water. He looked around nervously. On all the other levels, there had been a guardian or watcher of some kind. Atticus looked around expecting something to pop out, fishmen, an underwater volcano, something. But nothing came.

"This might actually be easy." Atticus thought, until he noticed something. He could actually see Damien at the bottom and a few of the others up ahead. Except they didn't seem to be moving that much.

"Oh boy, what did I mi-" Atticus's thought was cut off has he collided with something.

"What the?" Atticus fought back, lashing out at the barrier, even becoming frustrated to the point where he fired an explosive pellet at it, with no affect.

Atticus wracked his brain. "Alright, if I could get Stonefuse to become crystallized, using some of the crystals down here, he could easily brea-" Atticus dropped that idea while frantically scanned the bottom, only seeing Damien. Where the hell was Stonefuse?

"Oh no, after 8 years of rising through the levels, I am NOT letting a wall stop me!"

Atticus loaded up 3 explosive pellets, put on the respirator, and swam towards Damien.

Zavier swam down along with the others. Ahead, he could see that several of them had already gotten through the mouth of the enormous cave, seemingly unhindered. This was surprisingly easy, Zavier thought. Usually there was more of a challenge in exiting a level. And that made him suspicious.

It wasn't too long before he hit the barrier. Zavier swam along the exterior of the obstacle, trying to see if there was a way past it. It was no use, he determined quickly, the barrier covered the entire mouth of the cave, or near as made no difference. There was only one way then, and that was through.

Zavier marshaled himself and pushed against the barrier, knowing its futility and continuing anyway. To his surprise, the obstacle actually began to give, and he pressed on with further determination. Slowly, but steadily, he was forcing the barrier back, or his own way through. It didn't matter, the outcome was the same. Finally, after several tense moments Zavier made it to a point where the pressure gave way, he had passed the trial successfully. Immediately, he swam to the top of the underwater cave and was relieved to find a small pocket of air there. He breathed in several deep lungfuls before swimming back down to join his companions.

Faunra, already at the shore line, dived in immediately after Atticus. She was suppressed to find Damien struggling in the water.

"What could possibly slow him down?"

Before she could put any further thought into the question however, she witnessed Atticus come to a violent and abrupt halt. Swimming forward with somewhat greater caution, she placed her hand on the invisible force before her. No matter how hard she pushed against it, it would not move.

Turning to Atticus, she found him doing much the same; struggling against a barrier. Continuing her scan, the source of the disturbance quickly became apparent: one of the massive crystal columns that supported this layer of the tower. The column glowed with a supernatural force, designed to prevent further access.

Withdrawing one of her knives, she slammed it against the barrier with all the force she could muster. As if to mock her, the barrier gave no ground.

"There has to be a way to cut through the barrier. If only we had something as strong as the column we could..."

Faunra paused for a moment to consider the idea. It wasn't the best idea she had ever had, but it wasn't the worst. Returning her knife to it's sheath, she swam toward Atticus. Atticus, for his part, had also ceased attacking the barrier and was moving to get Damien.

"Perfect! Just the two I need."

As she reached Atticus, he had withdrawn some of his explosive pellets and placed them in his sling. "I need to get his attention first".

Swimming between Atticus and the barrier, Faunra began to send her message. She began by waving her hands at the man to attract his attention. Then she pointed at the column followed by his pack, while holding a small gem from the sea floor. "Damn it, I hope he understands"

Stonefuse rose into the air at the end of the cave. Water flowed into a pool at the center of a vast chamber.

Beyond the pool was an incredible place.

The walls were clear as air. Through transparent bulkheads, through the transparent ceiling, through shimmering blue of the Jewel Ocean could be seen a vivid dance of light and color. Smooth rock carpeted the ground, forming patterns. Everywhere there were brightly lit columns of runic carvings. Ocean life swam in scattered congregations among the rocks outside, while the surface of the water oscillated far overhead. The hulls of shipwrecks could be seen in the distance.

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Atticus loaded the pellets into his contraption, swimming through the water and stopping where some force of will held them at bay. To where Damien Daresh was already wavering the spire's barrier.

As he did, something brushed on Atticus from below. He thought it was the armor of a comrade. But then there was a sudden jerk and he was pulled downward with a grip was slick and hard.

It was a gem, like the countless gems that littered the floor. But it moved.

The defenses of the Tower of Druaga varied in both form and tactic. Beasts of the Tower were formidable in their own right, but a guardian's singularity of purpose was self-evident. A Tower guardian was a spirit created to vanquish anything that dares think itself worthy of Druaga's ultimate prize. If you saw a guardian, you knew you were in trouble. The appearance alone cowed most with fear.

The body was composed of faceted crystal surfaces. They were large. Fully standing, they were about eight feet tall. But most of that was protrusions jutting out from the top of the body. They had long heads with an orifice carved into the base, and within that was a light, red and shimmering. Their arms were strong. One ended in a ten-fingered hand. The other, even stronger, ended in a retractable blade.

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"Hello and goodbye." A clanging voice called out from it.

Damien looked to the side to see Faunra gesturing with a dagger an gem in hand, what she was trying to convey, he couldn't tell. What immediately called his attention was that Atticus had been captured by a multitude of moving gems.

Halfway through this monstrosity and I am being challenged again, but Atticus must be helped

Damien began making gestures back towards Faunra, trying to get her attention arrayed back behind her. When she turned and visibly shook from the shock of the crystalline creature. He grabbed the pommel of Altimar and the water turned even darker as the glowing black blade was pulled free of it's sheath.

He began advancing on Atticus and the creature, slowly he swung the legendary sword, cleaving through the limb pulling the man down into the depths. He knew he couldn't best this creature in it's home, but he may be able to injure it enough to pass through the barrier.

He pulled Atticus from the monster's grip and began running through the water back towards the barrier, sword firmly in his grip.

Atticus was nearly at Damien when he felt the water swish slightly behind him. He turned around and scanned the water and there she was. Faunra, frantically waving her arms at him. What could she want? Faunra pointed at the column, then his small pack, and finally held up a small crystal she'd picked up off the sea floor.

"What is she trying to tell me-wait a second, of course! The only thing strong enough the break the crystals, are other crystals! We didn't need Stonefuse to make it through this, all we need are-" The thought was cutoff as Atticus felt something brush against his legs and noticed something shimmering below him. Was it Damien's armor? No, No, it looked more like a gem.

"Stonefuse? Great, that should make breaking through the barrier easier-" Suddenly Atticus was jerked down, plunging and deeper and deeper into the depts. He looked up to see a tall crystalline creature, shards protruding everywhere, staring up at him as Atticus was pulled into down. A hand with too many figures picked him up and held him out, face-to-face. appeared, and a blade formed from it's own other arm. The guardian stared at him with a simple red glaring light.

"Hello and goodbye." The creature holding him said.

"Of course this wasn't gonna be as simple as breaking a wall." Atticus thought."Atleast it has manners."

Atticus was about to fire his pellets when suddenly the crystalline creatures hand was severed and Atticus was pulled away by another force. He looked up to see Damien moving him away from the creatures and back towards the barrier.

"I never did apologize to your for what happened back in Minalca, did I?" Atticus thought as he re-adjusted his slingshot's aim into the deep and towards the guardian.

Atticus's eye's lit up in revelation as the message was delivered. But before she was able to get the column crystal, a massive lucent hand grabbed hold of Atticus, dragging him farther below. Regaining her "balance" after the sudden disturbance, she took stock of the situation. Damien had engaged with one of the monsters and was holding his own better than one could even hope. Atticus had freed himself from one of the beasts with the use of some of his explosive pellets before firing a stink pellet at Damien.

"What is he trying to do?"

Unsure what Atticus was attempting, Faunra acted on instinct and swam straight for Atticus. If she had any hope of hurting the monstrosities, she needed that crystal shard. Without time to ask again, she chose to utilize her own skills to get it; by picking his pocket. A moment later she had everything she needed.

"Sorry Atticus, I promise to pay you back later."

She swam at full speed at the closest crystal warrior. Prepared, beast stabbed forward with unexpected speed, catching her in the shoulder. Fortunatly, it was not the shoulder she needed to stab the it. Embracing her knowledge of knife fighting, she plunged the crystal, sharpest end first, into the golem's glowing red eye.

Well, not quite "first". First came one of Atticus's explosive pellets.

The shock of the close range blast threw her spinning through the water, knocking what remaining air she had from her lungs. Frantically, she raced for the aerated surface, her shoulder bleeding profusely, the all-important crystal still clutched in her good hand.

Veritas emerged from the caves, and burst up to the surface. He saw the guardian, and a chill went down his spine.

"Hello and Goodbye"

"Oh crap", Veritas thought. This was gonna take a while to get through. He backed away slowly to the water's edge.

The spire's call had been answered. Several of the guardians bounded through the water, rushing from the surrounding ocean floor. They seemed to be everywhere. One would be knocked off the rocky shelf only to see another one emerge to take its place. There could have been five guardians. There could have been fifty. It didn't matter.

Damien wrenched through the barrier, his will driving him forward like a man possessed. The assailants came for him. The one in front was met with Daresh's sword in his face. The blow cut through it's head and left a shattered conical structure rolling down the reef. He chopped away at it until it stopped moving and fell in a heap.


FWOOOOOSH!
Faunra exploded out of the water. She sucked air; exhaled and inhaled like she was never going to breathe again.

On the rock, unmistakably, was the pursuer. A man dressed as a monk or a priest. The same alluring mouth, brown eyes, and matted black hair. He had seen how the party fought, how they talked to each other. And he disappeared before they could even get a second glance. And now he was sitting on a high rock, unbothered by the waves.

Faunra tried to yell at him when another guardian pulled her underwater, and only bubbles escaped her throat. Kicking and slashing at the being, she flailed in the water trying to break free. It was hard as a rock. She stabbed the face of it, stabbing at anything she could get hold of. It brought it's weapon-arm to bear; a large spiked sphere.

"I will crush you."

But suddenly there was a splash and a man's arms encircled the crystal warrior's head. Ramirez rushed with insane courage at the guardian, holding onto it's protrusions and neck with all his strength, but he couldn't reach his weapon anymore.

He scrabbled at it with his bare hands. There was nothing Nathan could do, but he tried anyway. It released Faunra it's grip and swung a faceted arm. Ramirez was thrown. He scrambled upright in the water, sword drawn, and came back for more.

"Yes, got the damn thing!" Atticus thought as he drifted along side Damien. He knew 3 explosive pellets probably wouldn't take it down, but hopefully they would slow it down. Alright, back to work. The plume of black smoke from the explosion spread out, crystal fragments drifting apart, but Atticus could slightly make out the guardians movements. Atticus was gonna need those crystals fast; he needed to regroup with Faunra who was...nowhere to be seen.

"What the? She was just here a second ago, where did she-" And that's when he noticed the plume of black spoke that rose upwards and pierced through the surface of the water.

"Well...shit." Atticus hoped that Prail would help her. Luckily the explosion had been slightly muted due to the water, but she was still hit with enough force to launch her upwards. Atticus felt badbut couldn't worry about that right now. They still had to deal with their own guardian and getting through the crystal barrier. Atticus picked a few crystals off the sea floor, not as thick but good enough, and got Damien's attention. He then stabbed a few into the barrier and pointed at an empty space, motioning his hand in rapid punching motions.

"Please understand this." Atticus thought as he adjusted his slingshot to fire a scatter shot pellet.

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