The Tower of Druaga (Game Thread)

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"Hello and Goodbye." A voice called, as several eight foot tall beings made of crystal appeared from under the murky depths of the water. Aleister could sense the look of desperation on Veritas's face as he backed away towards the water's edge. He quickly fired two air blasts at Caedis and Veritas, narrowly avoiding the retractable arm blades that the crystal guardians of this level swung at them with.

Aleister blocked another guardians blade with his own, and then fired a small bolt of electricity at the red, cyclopean eye of the crystal being, which seemed to confuse it briefly; giving Aleister time to chop, what presumebly was its head off, sending it tumbling into the abysall depths.

He then signalled Veritas and Caedis to the surface.

As they reached the surface, Aleister could see that Nathan had just crushed one of the beings heads, and that Faunra was lying on top of the water, blood coming out of her shoulder.

"We need to get Faunra out of here quickly, she's bleeding."

He then began to swim down towards her.

With Nathans interference, Faunra was finally freed from the crystal guardian. Needing to make some distance, Faunra swam for the bottom. Atticus and Damien had already combined forces to demolish the barrier.

Atticus had placed several of his pellets against the wall. The only things missing were Damien's strength and the column crystal. With all the strength she had left in her remaining good arm she threw the shard straight at Damien before he unleashed his barrage.

Underwater however, that meant little more than dropping it in the correct direction. Still, her aim was true, and the crystal collided with Damien's armor, bouncing off it with a loud "ca-chunk", before sinking to the sea floor.

"Now show that wall what a Grand Master can do"

Damien felt the crystal shard hit his armor and sent slight vibrations throughout his whole body. He turned his head and watched as the shard drifted to the sea bottom. He leaned to floor and grasped it in his hand and stood back up. Just as the crystal being he had freed Atticus before rose up to meet him.

He swung Altimar and again, the blade hewed through the crystal, never stopping once and leaving it lying on the sea bed in two pieces. He slammed the shard into the crystal barricade.

Zavier returned from his brief breath to find everything in turmoil. Do they ever not get into trouble when I'm not around? He thought, swimming toward Atticus and Nathan. Several monstrous crystalline beings were throwing everything they had into a fight with the party. Zavier knew what they were, his research had made several mentions of the guardians of the Tower. This was bad. Very bad.

From his vantage point above the action, Zavier could see that Aleister and Caedis were already retreating. The guardians were being slowed by the current fighting, but he could see that their denser forms were aiding them considerably underwater against their more buoyant adversaries. Now was the time for difficult decisions: should he retreat or risk his life to try to help his allies?

There was no doubt that fighting the guardians underwater was a monumentally stupid idea, but Zavier also knew that he could still make use of his allies, and he was interested in learning more about the guardians. Ultimately, Zavier decided that the opportunity was too much to pass up, and swam toward his enemy-beset companions, slipping the knives in his sleeves into his hands.

One of the guardians took note of him, and swung at him with its blade. Zavier raised his knives to catch the blow. Normally, on the surface, such a blow would have been difficult to catch, and almost impossible to deflect without a well-grounded position. Underwater, however, Zavier deflected it just fine, catching the blade between blades of his knives. From this position he propelled himself over the blade and lunged toward the guardian. The sudden move caught the guardian off-guard and Zavier landed on its form, knives first. The crystal monster let out a great howl, distorted by the water. It raised its second sword in an attempt to strike him down, however, Zavier struck first once again, driving his knives into the beast's glowing eyes.

Atticus saw Faunra submerged again and throwing a crystal towards Damien. He grabbed it, sliced it in two, and slammed the fragments into the barrier. Perfect. Atticus loaded the scatter shot pellet, and aimed them right at Damien.

"Gotta get the pressure points just right." Atticus thought as he fired that pellets. It looked like one simple plain black pellet, but as it flew through the water it broke apart into about 8 different pellets, each of which scattered outwards and hit the right spots in the barrier. Large cracks spread throughout the barrier as chucks of it began to chip away.

"Finally! Let's break through this thing!" Atticus yelled in his head, trying to swimm towards a growing gap. Yet, as he inched closer, he began to slow down and felt lightheaded.

Caedis swam up as fast as she could and with the oxygen supply given by both Zavier and Veritas she reached the shining surface in no time. Quickly she grabbed her armor but this time she put them on her back and retrieved her spear as there would be no more trips back. She had that feeling when she spotted the stone golem get through and several other of her own companions as well.

Caedis wrapped her armor along with her rucksack on her back and she held her spear with her freehand. With the help of Veritas once more, she was able to breathe underwater thanks to his abilities. She quickly tried to catch up with the group once more as they traversed deeper into the caves. Right away once she entered the cave again one of the guardians took notice of her and charged at her. She watched as it moved through the water with relative ease and swiftness. Caedis didn't have that much time though as it was heading straight for her.

She did the sensible thing and dodged its attack. Caedis moved to the right as the guardian charged forward and swung its blade downwards. She brought up her legs and kicked the creature backwards while propelling herself to where the majority of her comrades were. The guardian attacked again this time with its blade forwards in an attempt to impale her with it. Caedis took notice of this and faced the guardian. She arched her body backwards at the last second making its blade fall inbetween her and her spear. Caedis brought the spear to her body trapping the guardian's arm. She leaned back once more and brought her legs up and forcefully went forward into what must have been its elbow. With a resounding crack the bladearm separated in a cloud of crystal fragments. Caedis quickly grabbed the broken blade and stabbed into its shining red eye just as it recovered.

She kicked the body of the guardian back and swam forwards to where the group was trying to break the wall.

Zavier heard the sound of the wall breaking reverberate through the water around him. Perfect, he thought. Wasting no time, Zavier propelled himself toward the barrier off the body of his slain foe just as more guardians were focusing in on him. Some attempted to follow, but the initial burst of speed he got kept them at a distance. He passed through the barrier along with the rest of the group and swam forward as quickly as he could, not wanting to be caught in the underwater passageway when he eventually ran out of air.

Faunra watched as the massive invisible wall began to fall apart under the combined force of Damien and Atticus. As it fell, a sense of relief washed over her. Now all they needed to do was swim through and make it to land where they had the advantage. As the tension faded however, it was replaced with a surreal sort of calmness that Faunra could not explain. They were still overrun with the crystal guardians, and she was nowhere near the underground cavern that constituted their goal. She had even witnessed the figure stalking them on shore, judging their abilities and likely preparing to attack them at any moment. The sense placidity was both confusing and unnerving. What-more, as she swam through the shattered remains of the magical wall, the feeling became worse.

With her elven eye's she could see a look of worry on one of her companions faces... "What was his name? "A" something... Why can't I remember" she thought, before dismissing it in favor of reaching the cavern.

As Faunra burst from the water into the crystalline cavern, the cause finally became apparent. With the burst from the numbingly cold water, pain shot through her arm. It's suddenness nearly made her shout in agony, but she repressed the urge. Fearing what it was, she resolved not to look at the shoulder until she had escaped the water.

With the rest of her strength she crawled to shore, and rolled onto her back, her breathing heavy and labored. Finally free from the threat of a watery grave, she hardened her mind and glanced at her shoulder - the source of her pain. Free from the water, her shoulder finally began to bleed in earnest, pooling around a several inch long crystal blade, a souvenir of her encounter with the crystal warrior she had destroyed, embedded deep into her shoulder blade.

Her brain, now finally registering the threat, renewed its supply of adrenaline, desperate to keep her blood fluid level stable. Her mind however, now faced with its greatest source of fear, sent her into a frenzied panic, trying to find anything to stopper the wound.

The wall now broken through, Damien reached behind him and began pulling Atticus through with him. Crystal entities were sliced in two as they passed near him and he threw Atticus through the opening into the underground cave.

He sheathed Altimar and began swimming for the surface, his air supply running low and breached the pool before quickly pulling the man out and readying himself for battle, shield and sword both drawn for when the crystals broke the surface.

After Damien launched him to the surface, Atticus was left scrambling to get the respirator off. He couldn't breath, which didn't make much sense. He got it off, inhaled the best breath of air he'd ever taken. He looked over to his left and saw the golem staring off blankly.

"Wow Stonefuse, thanks for the help down there." Atticus said sarcastically. Though, Atticus had to admit it was nice to see the big buy in one piece.

He took a few seconds to examine the respirator. It had been damaged by one of the crystal guardians and had lost most it's oxygen, the remainder escaping with a little "sssssss" of air. Atticus had been breathing on nothing. If Damien hadn't pulled Atticus out when he did, he would've probably black out and been left to drown while at the mercy of the guardians.

"Another save...boy, someone out there wants to make me feel like a jerk." Atticus thought remembering their little encounter back in Minalca. He looked over to see Damien in a battle stance preparing for the worst.

"Hey, Damien, thanks for the save back there. I would've been goner if you hadn't-" Atticus stopped midway through sentence as he noticed the small stream of blood inching its way to him. He looked over to see Faunra bleeding out, on the rocky floor of the crystalline cavern, a long crystal blade protruding from her shoulder. Aleister was there assisting her.

"Oh crap, Faunra!" Atticus rushed over. "Geez, Aleister what happened down there? Don't worry I've got a health kit right..."

Aleister soon made it through the hole in the so called 'impenetrable' and invisible barrier, which fell under the combined strength of Damien and Atticus. He could still make out Faunra, who shoulder wound was still bleeding from her encounter with the guardian, she would have to receive medical attention soon; otherwise, well lets just her fate would be most unpleasant.

After swimming through the caves for a few more minutes, he rose to the surface, and climbed out onto the shoreline. As he got out Aleister noticed that Faunra was led out on a rock, a pool of blood forming around her.

"Don't worry yourself Miss Faunra, help, has arrived." Aleister casually thought to himself with a devious smile, as he walked over to the elf, and pulled out his health kit.

Atticus soon came rushing over.

"Geez, Aleister what happened down there?" Don't worry, I've got a health kit right..."

"Relax Atticus, it seems that Miss Faunra, had a spot of trouble with one of the guardians down. Rest assured, I have it handled." Aleister remarked, as he showed Atticus his own health kit. He then bent down next to the elf, and undid the straps of the kit, showing a manner of various implements inside.

Aleister first removed the crystal blade from her shoulder. Placing it two one side, quietly curious about how it could be used at some later date in the journey.

He then placed Faunra in an upright position, so to prevent further blood form coming out of the open wound. He then staunched the wound with some bandages, to help absorb any blood that was still in the afflicted area, and also, to apply some brief pressure.

Aleister then heated the tip of his dagger with a little fire, and applied the tip to each of the broken veins. A small, but quiet hissing sound, and a quick yelp from Faunra could be heard as each of the veins was treated.

A needle and thread was pulled out of the health kit, and he started to sew up the wound, making sure it was as tight as possible, so it couldn't be undone so easily. A small bottle of green liquid was produced from the kit, along with a square of bandage. Aleister applied some of the liquid to the area around the wound, to clean up any infection; he then cleaned the needle in the same liquid, so cross contamination didn't occur the next time it was used.

Some fresh bandages were wrapped around Faunra's shoulder tightly, so sufficient pressure could be built to prevent blood from flowing to the affected area so easily.

"There you go Miss Faunra. We should probably get you to some place safer. Tell me, can you walk at all?"

image

The party raced. Ramirez raced. They pushed madly down the tunnel. It took forever. Forward and forward. Air! Where was the air? He kicked hard, every muscle in his body straining, desperate now. Desperate! With a gasp, Nathan burst from the underwater tunnel, up into the pool. Their other teammates couldn't be far ahead. An enormous, breathtaking structure greeted him, rolling waves of blue water far above.

Unfortunately, that had the effect of dragging the entire battle into the chamber.

An opaque crystal warrior emerged from the pool and bounded inside. Another lurched behind it. Guardians disgorged from the ocean. Reinforcements could be seen through the walls outside, forming in ranks. More humanoid crystal warriors. One that was segmented with needle-like legs, a crystal centipede. One was a lumbering, six-armed giant. They marched across the sea floor while fish, turtles and sea animals swam away obliviously.

Assailants converged on them. One had a tower shield formed from his arm. It backed Ramirez to the edge of a stone pillar. The one behind had some sort of energy-crossbow. He rolled sideways as a dozen crystalline darts, tiny triangles, shattered against the column. More shards came flying from it. They kept shooting out as small sparkling particles bounced away from the rock, crushed to nothing.

"AAaaagh!" He bellowed while the tower-shielded guardian swept him to the ground. He caught a blurred movement - another climber! The battle erupted. We charged; they charged. We exploded into each other.

"Oh, dilemma! Oh, drama! Oh, the tension and excitement of it all!"

The voice was new. High, shrill, grating. And then . . .

And then . . . the crystal warriors were moving very slowly.

"Who the ... what?" Ramirez said. "Where did that voice come from?"

"Right here, Nathan. You, the reluctant warrior. The oh-so-tiresomely decent one. A sanctimonious killer: my least favorite kind."

The crystal warriors seemed to be frozen. Weapons raised, bodies charging forward- But not moving.

"All here together?" the voice continued. "Daresh, the hypocrite stooge? 'I don't believe in violence . . . except when I do.' Aleister, the pitiful, pale shadow of his dead mentor? If only you'd not been so stupid, maybe he'd have lived. Too bad. And Faunra, ah, yes.
The woman not really so much on sojourn, but a gutless escape from civilization? And Caedis. My favorite."

"There you go Miss Faunra. We should probably get you to some place safer. Tell me, can you walk at all?"

Faunra, to answer the question, rose to her feet. Her stance was unstable at best, but her legs held, the sharp unrelenting pain in her arm having been reduced to a dull aching. She was light headed from the loss of blood, but otherwise ready to walk.

"I'll be fine." she uttered. She looked down at the wound; It was well done and should hold for some time as long as she didn't go for another swim; then returned her gaze to Aleister. "Thanks" she offered to the still grinning swordsman.

Regaining her bearings, she started to take stock of the cavern. Before she had much of a chance to look however, Nathan shot from the water like a bat out of hell. Hot on his heels came the small army of crystal guardians, ready to renew their war.

Faunra withdrew her daggers, ready to defend herself. Before she could begin her retreat however, a voice resonated through the cavern. "Oh, dilemma! Oh, drama! Oh, the tension and excitement of it all!..." it began, before starting a string of insults. as he did, the crystal warriors stopped in their tracks, as though beholden to the words of the man.

Nodding at Aleister to get his attention, Faunra shifted on her feet and set herself back to back with the swordsman, ready to fight whoever it was, no matter where he came from.

...And Faunra, ah, yes.The woman not really so much on sojourn, but a gutless escape from civilization?"...".

Unwilling to let the man get the last word, she called out "HA! The man who's too afraid to show himself is calling me gutless? Why don't you come out and I'll show you the true meaning of the word!" while brandishing her daggers.

The Grand Master stood at the pool's edge, ready for the crystal creatures, who came on the heels of Nathan. He swung the sword, severing a head from one and the arms from two others before he realized that they had stopped. They seemed to be just awaiting orders of some kind.

Daresh, the hypocrite stooge? 'I don't believe in violence . . . except when I do.'

Someone has been watching us. Strange, what has been watching from the shadows?

He began backing towards the next cavern, pushing the members of his party ahead of him, he was best suited to playing rear guard while the rest of them went to take care of whatever was in the next cave.

"Go, go, I'll cover our rear."

Nathan burst through the water, scrambling to get on shore while a gang of crystal guardians followed right behind him. "Mother of all-" Atticus loaded his slingshot, took aim, and then...

Nothing happened. Everything got slower, the guardians moving at a snails pace. Everything was dead quiet. too. And then a condescending voice broke the silence.

"Oh, dilemma! Oh, drama! Oh, the tension and excitement of it all!"

The voice was high and shrill, a terrible combination in Atticus's opinion.

"All here together?""Daresh, the hypocrite stooge? 'I don't believe in violence . . . except when I do.' Aleister, the pitiful, pale shadow of his dead mentor? If only you'd not been so stupid, maybe he'd have lived. Too bad.

"Well, isn't this guy an asshole." Atticus thought to himself.

"And Faunra, ah, yes The woman not really so much on sojourn, but a gutless escape from civilization?

"HA" Faunra said in rebuttle.

"And Caedis. My favorite."

"Now you're just being creepy." Atticus said to the voice, assuming it could hear him.

Damien began pushing them all backwards, towards the next cavern.

"Go, go, I'll cover our rear." Damien said quickly.

Though he wanted to stay back and blow the heads off the guardians for a bit, Atticus decided to go along with Damien's plan. He still had most of the groups stuff, such as Caedis's armor and Faunra's bow, in bags. They needed time to organize. Atticus rummaged through his bag quickly and pulled out two blue capsules and handed them to Damien.

"If you don't want anymore of those things following us, throw this into the entrance. Should freeze the water shut and at least buy us some time."

"Come out, come out wherever you are," the voice sang mockingly to the elven woman. "Of course. I'll even come out with my hands up."

A figure stepped from from behind a crystal. At first it seemed to be a man. But as the figure drew closer, it's face was morphing, becoming distorted. And then the illusion fell. What he became left Ramirez speechless. In our travels, we had seen dozens of sentient races spread all across the realms. He had never seen this one.

The flesh was dark, almost black. Wrinkles covered its entire body, like your thumb after a long bath. It moved on two legs, body held upright and balanced by a stubby tail. It walked like a bird or a dinosaur. The arms were like twigs. Far too thin for the body; weak flimsy things that ended in three-fingered hands, multiply jointed but obviously designed for very light work or very low gravity.

And all that was weird, but it wasn't as weird as what came next. Because the head was surprising for that almost reptilian body: vaguely human in shape, with a narrow lower jaw and wide-set, intelligent, laughing eyes, rimmed with green.
image

It held a deck of cards in it's strange hand, and was holding up a single card- on the back was it's own grinning face. And on the front was a human face.

"And who's this? Oh, Atticus, the inventor!" the prune-thing cried, slapping its limp hands together. "How's Sissy, Tinkerous? Is she a popsicle yet?"

Ramirez swung a poleaxe at the creature. The withered thing drew another card- one with a spiral. He held out a twig arm and Nathan was bathed in writhing lights, that lifted him screaming into the air.

The creature laughed. Then it turned to Caedis. "Do you feel the adrenaline rush of murderous desire? Do you feel the urge to reach out and destroy me? Of course you do. Have you killed your comrades yet? No? Well, you will."

Then it was no longer smiling. It turned to the group."My master doesn't like you. Doesn't like any of you." Then it looked straight at Caedis Saevio. "Although you have potential."

"And who's this? Oh, Atticus, the inventor!" the prune-thing cried, slapping its limp hands together. "How's Sissy, Tinkerous? Is she a popsicle yet?"

What the hell did that thing just say? Nathan swung at the creature, it drew a card with a spiral on it and held out it's arm. He was left withering in the air screaming as lights surrounded him. The creature let out a horrible laugh. This was about the time where Atticus would tried to stay calm,formulate some form of game plan, but a few words just kept ringing in his head.

"Popsicle"

It turned to Caedis. "Do you feel the adrenaline rush of murderous desire? Do you feel the urge to reach out and destroy me? Of course you do. Have you killed your comrades yet? No? Well, you will."

"Popsicle"

The creature dropped it's smile, but Atticus could still feel a sense of superiority rising from the creature.

"My master doesn't like you. Doesn't like any of you." Then it looked straight at Caedis Saevio. "Although you have potential."

"Popsicle"

Atticus dropped the bangs he was holding and simply pointed at them. "Caedis, your armor is there. Faunra, your bow." Atticus said coldly. He loaded his slingshot with a blue capsule.

"Let's see how you enjoy being a popsicle...you-you...what even are you?!" Atticus yelled at the creature.

"Allow me to introduce myself," it growled. "My name is Spiriah. It's a word from my species. It is not a polite word. And I serve a very powerful man. One who sees a universe of conflict, pain, and terror. He craves fear. Not his own, of course, but the fear of others. He wants to be able to control the strands of space and time itself. Not merely to see them and understand them, but to hold them in his fist and dictate the very laws of physics and nature, to recreate the world in his own image, and someday to spread his power throughout all creation. He will reach the apex, and sweep aside anything in his way."

He turned to Caedis.

"You know, my Lord could use you. He has a special fondness for those who possess viciousness and drive. It pains him to see you cast out of a kingdom so rightfully yours.

The fool Darius will pay in blood, certainly. But how much more if you had our powers at your disposal? O the marvels you would perform then! You would transform the very earth as an iron-fisted warrior queen. Their ruler, their master. Men will live and die at your whim. Just do us one small favor: Kill your tiresome friends. My master would like to see that. So would I. Kill the women first."

Zavier entered the cavern's exit just ahead of his companions. He hadn't gotten up, he simply waited in the water, breathing deeply. It's interesting how much you appreciate air after it's been deprived from you for some time. It wasn't too long before the cavern echoed with the voice of something utterly inhuman. Zavier made no sudden movements, he simply shifted his position slowly, trying to find the source of the mocking voice.

Eventually, he came across the terrible creature that was challenging them. It mocked and degraded Atticus, Aleister, and Caedis in turn, though it missed him. Perhaps it simply didn't notice him yet.

"Do you feel the adrenaline rush of murderous desire? Do you feel the urge to reach out and destroy me? Of course you do. Have you killed your comrades yet? No? Well, you will."

So, he couldn't trust Caedis? Not that he planned to. Or perhaps this thing was lying. It was clearly intelligent and cunning enough to craft such a scheme. Nonetheless, Caedis could wait until after this thing was dealt with. Slowly, Zavier set aside his bag and pulled out his knives.

"Spiriah, spare me your talk." Caedis followed Atticus' words and grabbed her armor without breaking eye contact with whatever the thing addressed himself to be. His words were enticing and riveting, with the promises of power and indomitable influence that she no doubt wanted out of this entire experience. If not that then Darius' head on a silver platter. "I do not wish to come back to Helliot to rule her people with an iron fist and neither do I want betray those that I need. I only want to kill Darius and that is the end of it."

But there was something deep within Caedis that the creature poked at. A secret fire prodded and began to smoke. What if the creature was right about its master? What if the only thing she needed to do was to get rid of her fellow climbers? She tried not to let it get to her because of the simple truth that she truly needed them throughout this adventure to not only get to the top but also for something to fall on if things get too hairy. Caedis tried not to think if the others would do the same though and that began to sow the seeds of paranoia. She saw her companions in a new light and she needed to make sure whether or not they wouldn't be the ones to stick the knife in her back.

"Get out of here, creature unless you want a fight." She brandished her spear towards the thing's direction.

"Just do us one small favor: Kill your tiresome friends. My master would like to see that. So would I. Kill the women first."

Faunra glanced around the room.

Veritas: Male, Aleiester: Male, Damien: Male, Atticus: Male, Zavier: Male, Nathan: Male, Stonefuse: Golem, Prail: Prail, Caedis: One being asked to do the killing.

Faunra: Female

"Well fuck you too" she called out to the self proclaimed "Spiriah". "You called me "gutless"; let me show you how wrong you are." Sheathing her daggers, she turned and walked toward Caedis, calm confidence in each step.

"I trust you Caedis and I have your back. Whatever you did in the past, that's where it is and that's where it belongs."

Faunra took a moment pause to consider the rationality of her next action, then embraced her. Confidant that trust was restored, she turned from Caedis and called out once more to the abomination. "We are all brothers and sisters in arms; I hope you have made your peace because you're out of time."

"Just do us one small favor: Kill your tiresome friends. My master would like to see that. So would I. Kill the women first."

Veritas was scared, and was running out of places to try and get away to. In the event that Caedis would attack, he reckoned that only a few of the group would go down, and unless he acted, he would be one of them. But first, he had some spying to do. With the utmost caution, he began to focus his permanently active "Truth" magic on the creature. He was sure it could sense what he was doing, but it was peobably arrogant enough to believe it was harmless. Veritas was sure that this "Spiriah" was hiding something. 

A plan formulated in his mind, one in the instance that Caedis did attack. He turned, to stare at her, intently. "Caedis" he said solemnly, "tell me your decision, and I shall determine the absolute truth." 

While waiting for her response, he turned back to the grotesque figure in front.

"Aleister, the pitiful, pale shadow of his dead mentor? If only you'd not been so stupid, maybe he'd have lived. Too bad." The creature known as Spiriah try taunting Aleister into a rage, but his resolve stayed true.

"How dare you, call me a cheap imitation of Nisak Krios! Master of the Auron Order. Your words, sully their name. How dare you think you cannot get away with this, without some form of retribution from me. If it is a fight you want, I shall give you one." Aleister shouted at Spiriah, offended by the insults, as he raised his blade in protest, ready to engage in combat.

"This is my decision..." Caedis dropped her spear and drew out her short sword. She took a step forwards and grabbed Faunra by her elbow forcing her into a headlock. Caedis turned both her and Faunra opposite to the group and stepped back, closer to the creature.

"Earlier from the start I should have told all of you this simple fact about me. Nothing will stop me from getting to the top floor and getting the power I want. The power I need to avenge those that I have failed." Faunra struggled in her grip but as she did so, Caedis applied more pressure to her throat. She was weak enough as it is. "I single-handily killed everyone I knew and loved. I brought my kingdom death and destruction. My decision is this, Veritas, I plan to kill every single one of you." Caedis looked them all in the eye but most importantly Veritas hoping that he'd catch a glimmer of fallacy that shined in her own eyes. Then she winked.

"Starting with you." Caedis slipped her sword into Faunra's loose cape and pushed her forwards. A smile crept on her face and the satisfaction of the kill was evident. She stepped backwards towards Spiriah.

"I changed my mind, Spiriah." Cadeis said without breaking eye contact with her companions. "But first, I'd like you to deliver a message to your master. Tell him I'd like to meet him face to face!" Caedis swiped her short sword backwards, aiming for his arms.

"Starting with you."

At the sound, a blade slipped punctured her cowl. Faunra dropped to the ground, clutching her side, before going limp. It was, after all, important to maintain the illusion of her death for a few moments.

"I changed my mind, Spiriah." she heard Caedis say to the aberration from her position on the ground. She could just imagine the smirk on the creature's ugly face as Caedis approached him, blood from her injured shoulder running down Caedis's sword. But, as with all good things, the deception would need to end quickly before the Spiriah chose to investigate.

"But first, I'd like you to deliver a message to your master. Tell him I'd like to meet him face to face!" Caedis yelled as she pivoted. At the sound, Faunra rolled on the ground until she was on the balls of her feet. Then, with all the strength her injured arm could muster, she pushed herself upright.

While standing up, she grabbed hold of Caedis's spear, lying discarded on the ground, and brought it to bear. Finally, she could see the newly started battle. She could see that Caedis had indeed swung hard with her short sword, though what effect the attack had was obscured by Caedis's armored frame.

With the strength of her good arm, and a call of "Caedis!", Faunra tossed the spear such that Caedis could grab it if needed. Faunra then bolted for her discarded bow, smiling the whole way.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*Flashback*

Faunra took a moment pause to consider the rationality of her next action, then embraced her. It took only a moment, but that was all that was needed to deliver the plan.

In a hushed voice, she said. "Pretend to stab me to gain his trust. Then use that trust to get close and kill this son of a bitch." She waited for the light on understanding to appear in Caedis's eye, before pulling away and turning to the Spiriah.

"We are all brothers and sisters in arms; I hope you have made your peace because you're out of time.""

*End Flashback*

"Starting with you!" Caedis lunged toward Faunra, evidently killing her. It was a convincing performance, but Zavier was watchful enough not to be fooled. Impressive, he thought. Sadly, instead of simply striking down Spiriah then and there, Caedis felt the need to announce her deception. Sometimes, his allies simply baffled him.

Nonetheless, Zavier sprung up when the time for preparation had passed. In one fluid motion, he jumped up and released both knives, one travelling toward the target, the other travelling to the location the target was expected to dodge. Back on his feet, Zavier wasted no time in grabbing his saber and dagger for the fight. He would have preferred to get his throwing knives, but it would waste too much time to rummage about in his bag in an attempt to find them. Suitably armed, Zavier launched into a speedy attack, rapidly closing the distance between himself and the monster.

How fast did these people move exactly? She'd had to run to keep up and that's wasn't something Lallowens were ever meant to do. She'd done everything she could but.
Prail has painted.
She managed to get back up eventually, not really sure how long she'd been down for but then she saw the creature.
Another reptile, it had been too long.
Then she heard the words Kill your tiresome friends. My master would like to see that. So would I. Kill the women first .
Could it be one of them, she'd never seen the great unknown enemy, none of her people had. Could this be one of them? The decision to kill it barely even needed to be made.
She got to her feet.
Let out a roar from her horns that carried out across the chamber resonated with the walls themselves. Bursting every pod left on her tail she unleashes a swarm of flyers to attack before drawing closer herself.
She was fearing what it had to say about her but hopefully a spike in the head would stop the words.

Stonefuse.

Told to explore, he obliged. But he is a slow one, and he always was. He managed to reach this chamber before the others, but not long after, they reached it themselves, removing the need for him to go back for them.

And now, for all he was doing, he could be one of those crystal warrios. Standing still, as though whatever affected the crystalic guardians had affected him as well, he watched as his companions assaulted the monstrosity that stood before them. He would be of utmost use in a fight, as his abilities could be devestating if used for combat, but more importantly, because of his resistance to magic; this creature did, after all, appear to use magic instead of brute force. But he wasn't going to act on his own. He might kill someone he shouldn't, like last time.

No. No, Stonefuse could do only one thing, what he did best - he waited.

"Starting with you."

Atticus freaked out as Caedis wrestled with Faunra. He watched the two struggle, nearly firing the blue capsule he had loaded, but instead looked around the room as if asking, "Should we do something?!" But as he watched the tussle, stopped when he realized something. He'd teamed up with Faunra a few levels back and knew that she wouldn't have just fallen over that easily. Sure, Faunra wasn't the best in close combat but she could handle herself and Caedis would be missing a good chunk of her arm.

"Alright ladies, what do you have up your sleeves? Atticus thought as she answered Veritas.

Caedis stabbed downwards, before turning to the creature and swiping backwards. Faunra rolled over, threw Caedis her spear, and fired a bolt from her bow. Zavier ran passed Atticus, saber and dagger in hand.

"Seriously, I don't know who your master is Spiriah, but I do know that we're getting off this level!"

Atticus aimed his still loaded slingshot at Spiriah but realized the others were a bit too close. Atticus then aimed it at Nathan, still in the air, tired of screaming, producing only a little whining sound, and fired it at him. A white smoke surrounded him and he heard a definite thud.

"Sorry about that, but I'm sure you'll thank me later."

"Stonefuse, go thaw Nathan and feel free to join the fight." Atticus said as he fired a few pellets, loading one each second, timing them and firing without hitting any of his comrades.

Prail let out a roar, hitting him Spiriah with a flurry of flying spikes and Atticus laughed.

"Yeah, I can see why your master would be interested with us, but personally I think he's biting off more than he can chew!"

Aleister could feel the mighty roar that came from Prail as he arrived in the cave. He was briefly knocked back, but regained his balance quickly. He then saw the swarms of those little flying creatures that Prail carried with her, as they were sent to attack Spiriah with furiosity.

Aleister could see that Zavier went into a speedy charge attack, to try and topple the monstrosity that was Spiriah. He decided to assist, in some small capacity. Aleister began charging up a powerful blast of energy.

"Vmyna Cmycr" Aleister shouted, as a surge of energy flowed through him. He then poured the energy into the Edge of Soul, which made it glow with a white aura. With a simple strike, he targeted on of the large crystal Stalactites that formed part of the cave.

Now, from a spectator's view, it would appear that the move didn't do anything to harm their foe. On the contrary it would. The lower section of the Stalactite slowly broke free from the rest of the cave ceiling. It soon made contact with Spiriah's tail, impaling it, and sending a few of the crystal guardians into the abyssal waters.

"Now is your chance Zavier, strike whilst the beast is wounded."

"Stonefuse, go thaw Nathan and feel free to join the fight."

As if he were reanimated, Stonefuse obeyed. He set forth to break Nathan out of his frozen imprisonment. It would take him some time, and as he chipped away the ice, the tension of the situation was coming to a boil.

10 of us. Ten climbers. Facing us- a wrinkled-dinosaur-joker, who seemed to be some sort of dark sorcerer.

"Haha! Devious!" It clapped as Faunra fell.

"But first, I'd like you to deliver a message to your master. Tell him I'd like to meet him face to face!" Her shortsword flashed. The evil creature's eyes went wide with dawning comprehension. Fast enough to see the attack coming, but not fast enough to avoid.

"SSreeeee!" It shrieked. Saevio's sword cut straight through it's bones. Cards flew everywhere, dissolving in midair. A bizarre arm came off and plopped severed to the floor, while it's strange blood flowed from a gash across the shoulder. The trickster had been tricked.

Zavier rushed it. But he, like the crystal warriors, began to move very... very slowly. And then- a vision.

A man, or a spirit. Some combination of both. Taller and wider than any man could possibly be, with obsidian flesh and eyes blazing with a burning red glow. He wore an ancient suit of armor, a cloak of fire draped across his hulking shoulders. Thick sandals were lashed about his feet. The being's bare chest shone like lacquered ebony, and his eyes were like captured suns. His face as inscrutable as the very rock of a mountain itself. In his hand he clasped a enormous bladed chain. There was darkness reaching out from him, malice that clutched the heart.

image

"If you ever find yourself desperate, Caedis. At an end. In need. Remember this: Their lives are your passport to salvation in my arms."

Then he was gone.

Spiriah was nowhere to be found. The crystal warriors resumed their charge as if nothing had happened. But now, a crack was forming up the transparent wall of the undersea structure.

Damien watched whole thing play out, he was a bit surprised by Caedis's false betrayal, but trusted her to do the nobler thing, and his hopes were answered by her convictions.

He spun as he heard the crystal warriors resume their charge, and met two of the ones by the pool head-on. He easily dispatched both as neither seemed that intent on defending themselves, as more rose out of the pool, he threw the beads that Atticus had given him into it. The effects were almost immediate, tendrils of ice latched onto the moisture in the air and rock, creating a thick block of ice that trapped a head and arm of one crystal entity and the rest were trapped behind the new door.

He turned back to the next room and charged out, carving another crystalline man and, after noticing the cracks beginning to form in the surrounding walls, he began ushering the rest of his party towards the nearest exit.

"We need to leave, forget the crystal men, they are almost harmless. Stonefuse, push forward, clear a path for Aleister,Nathan and Caedis to finish off what you knock out of the way, use each other. Faunra, Atticus, form a ring with Zavier and Veritas, protect yourselves and follow right behind the other three. Prail, you're with me, your job is to keep me moving behind the group and support me as rearguard, use those flyers you have to distract them. We're going to be swarmed if we don't move now. NOW GO!"

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