The Tower of Druaga (Game Thread)

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"What was that Zavier?"

Should he have said that? Should he explain what it was, what his fears were, why they needed to leave? No, He thought, there were more important matters to deal with at the moment, like the giant lizard that was impatiently waiting to kill them all. "If we survive this, I'll explain as well as I can." Zavier said, "Just know that there's something else going on here. Something with considerable power behind it."

"Shut up...shut up...shut up..." Caedis whispered as she tried to shush the voices in her head. She had been struggling from breaking into screaming because of the constant nagging from Spiriah. Caedis looked up watched as what seems to be the leader wanting them to follow or else be forced into by his army. They were extremely outnumbered and a fight seemed suicide at best. Caedis followed Nathan's actions and grabbed her things. She looked back at her fellow climbers.

"Come on now. Would rather fight all these reptiles or follow them?"

After the better part of an hour spent traveling the jungle, Prail could sense the sounds and smells of rushing water. The sound grew louder and louder, and the smells grew more pronounced, until instantaneously, the jungle ceased to be and Prail found itself looking over a cliff, down onto the Lallow city.

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The male Lallow was waiting, his head turned back to face her. "Welcome to Endgha-Tarragon-si-dra" he said. The words had barely left his mouth before he had jumped from the cliff with all the considerable dextrous skill their hunter race allowed, pulling Prail with him.

It took minutes before they had arrived within the city's north-eastern corner. Shops lined the streets, selling items of all designs - from meats and simple tools to old Lallowen technology and even a few mostly used history candles. A few entrepreneurial Lallows sould livestock - ranging from herd animals to the less savory creatures: humanoids. The most prevalent goods however were weapons. Swords and spears, shields and armor, bows and crossbows, and weapons that defied the imagination lined the store fronts; some being sold, others being traded like currency.

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At this point, Prail's Lallow guide bolted to a side shop, exchanged a few words, and returned. "You come good time, Third Serragish at convergence. Many Lallow challenge for high rank this time, good show."
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Calgradni led Stonfuse through the city, its peoples and markets in quiet reverence as they passed. Looking around, it seemed every corner of the city was engaged in some task - some were making tools, some trading goods and services, some readying themselves for combat, some watched Stonefuse, a strange judging look in their eyes.

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Finally, they arrived at a massive stone arena. From within, the sounds of cheering could be heard. Crowds of Lallowens poured to and from the structure like ants from a their hill. "Your test will take place here." The snake-woman said with a smile. "If you succeed, the temple will open to you." As she finished her statement, something in the crowd caught her attention. "Ah... If you will excuse me, I have an important matter to attend to. This one..." she said, pointing at one of her lallow guards, "will show you to your challenge." she smiled once more, and slithered off into the crowd, her guardians in tow.

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The remaining Lallow motioned for Stonefuse to follow him, leading him through a dark passage way that led below the stone structure. Within, two caged people lay upon the ground in varying states of health. The first was a human, covered in loose, light fitting armor, a damaged sword beside him, breathing heavily on the floor. The other man was dressed only in a pair of dirtied white pants, a sword belt with blade lying at his feet. he was chained by the neck to a rock, bloodied and bruised, but his eyes fierce.
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Through the jungle the Lallow war party marched. The Lallow made progress with speed the group of climbers could hardly match - the more heavily armored members sweating from a combination of the heat and excursion. After what felt to many like hours, the jungle cleared and the city they had glimpsed from above opened to them, its stone and bronze walls gleaming in the mists from the waterfall.

After a moments pause, the Lallows pushed forward and over a bridge into the city's north-eastern district. As the group crossed the threshold into the city, an odd sight awaited them: No one. The city streets were empty. As the party turned to face their Lallow guides, they found them, their spears at the ready, inches from their faces.

"Welcome trespassers to Endgha-Tarragon-si-dra - Welcome to the City of Great Tarragon." a voice boomed from behind them. From the side streets, dozens more Lallow sprang, their weapons at the ready. Behind them was a female, their leader. She looked unlike any of her allies, lacking horns, a spiked tail, or the small cysts that grew from the forms of the others. Her body looked more humanoid than her compatriots, but she scales covered her body. In place of legs, a long snake tail fell back behind her.

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As she said this, she smiled, her mouth wide open, revealing her jagged teeth, and the bronze door from which they entered closed shut.

Caedis could hear the wrinkled dinosaur-like enemy in her mind say "I told you not to trust them."

The battle-worn young man chained to the rock heaved a large breath and dragged himself into a seated position resting his back against the cage. He watched the large fleshy creature being led in by the Lallowens and called out to them.

"Is this what you want me too kill next you bastards? I don't care if you can't understand me, at this point you know; I won't die here!"

His body had bruises, dirt, and blood all over it. He had clearly been battling for some number of consecutive hours. Some of the blood on him was dried and dark, some was clearly fresh and wet. Most of the fresh blood was splattered on him, apparently from his opponents. His breathing was ragged, but his voice was strong, and his eyes were piercing, like a hawk's.

"So," Etrius said as Stonefuse walked past his cell. "What are you doing here?"

While they walked, Atticus racked his brain. Where were they exactly going? The tower was off the list, and they appeared to be entering a city, and empty city. Okay, slightly worrisome.

"Well, maybe the reason no ones here is because all of them are currently guiding us."

They made their way to a stadium. "Okay, things might not be going south. Perhaps this is just an important place to them for meetings and such."

As they entered, that theory kindly hung itself and jumped out a window.

"Welcome trespassers to Endgha-Tarragon-si-dra - Welcome to the City of Great Tarragon." From the side streets, dozens more Lallow sprang, their weapons at the ready. Behind them was a female, their leader. She looked unlike any of her allies, lacking horns, a spiked tail, or the small cysts that grew from the forms of the others. Her body looked more humanoid than her compatriots, but she scales covered her body. In place of legs, a long snake tail fell back behind her.

Atticus stood there with his companions, staring at the creature and between the guards, who had their weapons ready.

*sigh* "...why's it always gotta be like this?"

As they walked through the city Stonefuse looked at its people, their shops and markets, their traders and their craftsmen. Meat, tools and old junk - it was junk as far as Stonefuse was concerned - filled the stands, here and there livestock was also seen, but for each stand that was filled with combat unrelated goods, there were two that had battle arms and garments. As they passed one livestock merchant, Stonefuse noticed a man in rags, chained like the rest of the animals. Not someone I know, therefor not a reason to care.

Soon enough, they reached a large, stone structure from where most of the comotion was coming from. Lallows gushing in and out of it, while those within were yelling and screaming, blowing through their horns. They are.. cheering? Stonefuse threw a glance at the snake queen. What is it you want from me?

With a smile that seemed to never leave her face, Calgradni spoke. "Your test will take place here. If you succeed, the temple will open to you." As she said that, something in the crowd apparently caught her attention. "Ah... If you will excuse me, I have an important matter to attend to. This one...", she said, as she pointed at one of her guards, "will show you to your challenge."

As she slithered away, the remaining guard gestured him to follow, leading him through a dark tunnel that went underneath the arena. Below, two men were caged, one wearing a slack, light armor, a chipped sword by his side. The other had only dirtied and bloodstained pants, ostensivly white, held by a leather belt with golden, diamond shaped plates, and an empty sword scabbard attached to it. He was chained by his neck to a wall, his sword lying by his feet. His pants weren't the only thing that was bloodstained - the rest of his body was also covered in blood, some old, dark and dry, some fresh, wet and scarlet, dripping to the ground.

As they approached, he taunted the Lallowen guard. "Is this what you want me too kill next you bastards? I don't care if you can't understand me, at this point you know; I won't die here!" As Stonefuse passed his cell, the man spoke to him. "So, what are you doing here?"

Stonefuse stopped and turned to face the prisoner, his blank gaze meeting the mans piercing eyes, his gravel, uninterested voice meeting the mans ragged, but strong voice.

"I am here to.. prove myself worthy."

"I am here to.. prove myself worthy."

"Oh, I see. So you can't remember either? I don't know what kind of magic they have here, but they make you forget things. It happens slow at first. You momentarily forget what you were doing or saying, you can't remember when exactly you last ate. Then you start forgetting big things. I can't even remember how I got here. I just know that for the sake of one of the memories they stole from me, I can't die yet. And so I fight."

At this point Etrius, with effort, stood and stretched. He then turned around revealing large white wings folded against his back. They were just as dirty as the rest of him. He held out his right hand and it quickly grew feathers and talons until it was a large bird claw. Then he used it to preen his wings, straightening the feathers and removing clumps of dirt and blood.

"So," he spoke again to the fleshy creature as he preened. "What is your name? If I have to kill you, I'd at least like to know who you are."

Prail was more than willing to attend; it had been too long since she'd seen a good fight.
"Lead the way.
So when did Serragish rise again?"
She didn't fully believe it but she trusted her people, even as primitive as this place was, not to make a fuss over nothing. She'd have to investigate.
"Actually do you mind if I meet Serragish, I should offer thanks for bringing me to you."

"Oh, I see. So you can't remember either? I don't know what kind of magic they have here, but they make you forget things. It happens slow at first. You momentarily forget what you were doing or saying, you can't remember when exactly you last ate. Then you start forgetting big things. I can't even remember how I got here. I just know that for the sake of one of the memories they stole from me, I can't die yet. And so I fight."

The man, evidently with some difficulty, rose up to his feet and stretched. Turning around so he could reach his now visible wings, he raised his right hand, which grew wings and talons, towards them, tidying them up. As he plumed his wings, the bird-man asked, "So, what is your name? If I have to kill you, I'd at least like to know who you are."

Questions, explanations, questions, explanations. Is that how all living things work? Perhaps I should try it.

"Can't remember? I cannot forget. And I do not eat. The magic you speak of, it lies in the temple? If so, it calls for me, just as the crystal spires of the Jewel Ocean did beforehand. I was simpleminded then, but if it is magic that which I feel, then it gives me understanding. Might be why I remember, bird-man."

Speaking this much is exhausting.

Turning his back to the bird-man, Stonefuse started transforming himself. In the awkward skin's place, crystals formed, same as those that made his forearms and hands. Soon the crystal took over the marble eyes as well, and Stonefuse, fully crystalline, spoke.

"Stonefuse, of the house of Stormbender. And you cannot kill what is not alive."

To be alive. He will have to try that out too.

Aleister reluctantly followed the reptile like beings, same as everyone else. A fight would of been out of the question, due to the vast difference in numbers. He did consider the possibility of using some magic to split the reptiles into smaller groups, but even then, there would of been too many to handle.

As the group entered what looked like a large city, a group of reptiles ambushed them, being lead by a feminine looking humanoid creature, that had the body of a snake emerged from the group of reptiles.

"Welcome trespassers to Endgha-Tarragon-si-dra - Welcome to the City of Great Tarragon."

As the being announced, her followers had their weapons drawn and raised at the group.

Whilst he waited for someone in the group to respond, Aleister scanned the horizon; in case of any additional opponents. The skyline was relatively empty, except from a singular being, who looked human in appearance. It was hard to tell what the person actually looked like, since they wore a long hooded cloak, and was carrying a scythe.

Aleister rubbed his eyes briefly, not believing what he had just saw. He looked back at the spot again, and saw no one there now. His focus then returned to the group.

The winged young man watched the thing turn to crystal and felt un-easy. Being held from the sky by a chain was already torment enough, and now he was talking to a living piece of the ground. He tunred around and folded his wings then replied.

"So, you are a creature of the earth to quite a literal degree. Well, of the few things I remember, I always respect those with a strong foundation. Despite our natural divide, I admire your spirit, Stonefuse of the house of Stormbender. I hope we both survive to be free, so that after I reclaim my memory, I can tell you my name as well."

Stonefuse turned his gaze to the bird-man.

"I am not one for talking. If you want freedom, all you need to do is ask."

Then he continued waiting to be summoned by the snake queen. The sooner this is done, the better.

The young man let out a short laugh at the perceived joke.

"Sure then, would you please free me?" he followed this with another chuckle.

With a short laugh, the bird-man said, "Sure then, would you please free me?". Then he let out another chuckle.

Laughter. Another thing living beings tend to do. I should learn how to do that as well.

Grabbing the bars of the cage, Stonefuse ripped them apart, making way for the escapee. Stepping into the cage, he grabbed the shackle around the bird-mans neck with one hand, and the chain with the other. Cries of metal could be heard as Stonefuse, with unhuman ease, seperated the two.

Exiting the cage, he looked at the bird-man, and noticed shock on his face. "Is something wrong?"

The young warrior simply stared.

"Why are you here at all if you can do that?" he asked frantically.

"They wanted me to follow them here." The living crystal replied.

"You don't understand what's going on do you? This is a prison. The lizard folk and Calgradni capture people and make them fight for their lives in the arena above us!"

"You don't understand what's going on do you? This is a prison. The lizard folk and Calgradni capture people and make them fight for their lives in the arena above us!"

At the sound of the breaking metal bars, the other prisoner woke and turned to see their new guest. After watching the exchange, he scoffed out a response.

"Your waste'in ya time; it don't matter what either ah ya do or how many a dem bars ya break, that snake-bitch ain't let anyone go from here." The man then rolled back over.
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"So when did Serragish rise again? and do you mind if I meet Serragish, I should offer thanks for bringing me to you."

"She returned many cycles ago. Upon mighty wings she landed; she destroyed out blasphemous ways and returned us to the true rightful path. Many blasphemers died before she revealed her name. Her voice shakes the world, her breath bestows life and death, and she is as a mountain to us. Many feared her, they all blasphemers, so she shed her form, and now she slithers among us - god and queen." he said, much of it as though quoting from some old text. He paused for a moment before realizing he had not answered the other half of Prail's question.

"We see her in arena. she host the challenges... she not there now though. She getting fighters for challenge at city gate." he said, his face turning to a slight frown at the end. "we could sneak look at fighters, see her sooner, but she maybe angry. Not offend Third Serragish good idea" As he said it, he nodded, trying to look wise. The effort had the opposite effect however, creating a silly spectacle of the Lallow.
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The Lallow kept their weapons at the ready, but the snake women moved closer, fearing no action of the intrepid party. "You have made a grave error coming here, to my sanctuary." her voice was soft and sickly sweet, and her smile as broad as it was cruel. As she reached the half way point between her troops and the people, her smile disappeared and her eye's widened. "Well well, what is this I smell... the brother of Daresh! What a treat! Oh how I have longed to meet the last of his kin - the one who defies our Scion." As she said this, her smile was replaced by a twisted lip movement and a fierce look. "I will enjoy watching you suffer." She stared at him for a second longer than turned to her next target.

"Ah, and you must be Caedis Saevio." she stared into Caedis's yes for a long instant before her normal, cruel smile returned. "You know, I wouldn't have found you if not for our friend Imaeus - you really should thank him. He's the only reason you are going to survive."

She was about to continue forward, when a lallow rushed forward, bowing before her as best he could. "What is it now!" she said to the lonely Lallow. In as quiet a voice as he could muster, the Lallow "barked" his message. She contemplated whatever it was for a few moments. "Very well, take him to Sutcliff." a handful of Lallow moved forward, and grabbed hold of Aleiester, pushing him to the ground.

She slithered closer and looked over the rest of the group, stopping briefly at Veritas. She looked shocked by his presence for just a second. Turning to her guards, she called for one of them. "You, bind his eyes!"

Caedis walked forward, outraged by what the serpent had said to her. Was it true that the trickster had arranged for this to happen as well? She regretted not aiming for his mouth rather than his arms. But now it seemed like they had more plans in store for her. Caedis didn't know the true range that her named carried because all it was to her was petty talk. If they wanted to talk to a girl that helped overthrow a nation then they'd best talk to her face to face.

She heard the sound of spears and weapons turn towards her as she walked a few more steps. "What do you want from me, serpent? Why is it that I have a reason to live and my companions have to suffer? Tell me before I take a few more steps." Caedis threatened. She would not only be within range of the snake woman but also Caedis loved to test the bounds that a guard would be willing to take.

"Very well, take him to Sutcliff." Calgradni ordered, as a group of Lalloweens went straight to Aleister. He tried to evade them, but another group appeared behind, and wrestled him to the floor. One of the group pressed their scaly foot on top of Aleister. Despite the pressure to his brain, he remained focused.

It was then that Calgradni slithered past him, and took a single look at Veritas. By the looks of it, she was shocked by his mere presence.

"You, bind his eyes!" She ordered as another few went towards Veritas. Aleister decided to speak up, forcing the foot off his head.

"Can someone please explain what is going on? Who is this Sutcliff?" He asked in a loud voice.

"You don't understand what's going on do you? This is a prison. The lizard folk and Calgradni capture people and make them fight for their lives in the arena above us!"

Awoken by the sound of metal breaking, the other prisoner spoke up, "Your waste'in ya time; it don't matter what either ah ya do or how many a dem bars ya break, that snake-bitch ain't let anyone go from here."

"That snake-bitch ain't let anyone go from here." Does she dare force her will onto others?

"You do not have to obey her. You do not have to obey anyone." As he said that, Stonefuse broke the bars of the second cage as well. "If you wish to leave, do so, and do not consider yourself a prisoner of her will."

Turning back to face the bird-man, Stonefuse told him, "You are free now. From what you told me it is frivolous to go up into the arena. I must make way to the temple." Before entering the dark tunnel through which he got in, Stonefuse added, "Try to survive. You still owe me your name." And with that, he left the holding area.

"I think she'll want to see me as soon as she can. Considering what I have to tell her.
If you're worried about aggravating her you could point me her direction and I'll go by myself.
I'd hate for you to get into trouble because of me.
So what's your work around here? Have you been male for long?"

Throughout the trek, Caedis had been acting strangely. What, is she hearing voices in her head? But then, the ambush in the street, the inhabitants surrounding them, leveling their weapons from all directions. He drew his own, readying for a fight.

"We will leave! And if any follow us, then let him BEWARE!" Nathan shouted.

He heard a shrill laughter. Anger and rage of a familiar sort boiled his mind and froze his heart. A beautiful man, clothed like a monk or a priest. He walked confidently around the warriors. But if he looked human, he felt different. It was like he was wearing a mask, only you just knew that under it there was something evil and twisted.

The puppet master. The one behind all this.

"Is that your name? Imaeus."

"You really are completely stupid, aren't you? It's been a long time since I've been called what my father called me. I probably wouldn't even respond."

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"Let us go, raisin-head, or you will suffer!"

"Threaten away, monkey boy. And now, no more time for chat. The spectators are here for you. Will they kill you outright? Or will they just take your memories away? I don't care. Either way, my master will reward me."

Ramirez lunged for the creature. It dodged him easily.

"Ha! Parting is such sweet sorrow! Because now, my brave climbers, it is time. Time to die."

Ramirez swung even as the Lallow piled on top of him, shoving his face into the dirt and pulling him away screaming, his arms bound in chains.

Is she the one Mark learned his forms from?

A group of Lallowens attempted to force him to the ground, but Damien would not allow them. He drew his sword and killed two of them while doing so, with a backhanded sweep he clove through another. He was swiftly driven to the ground, and his sword shoved back in it's sheath. He refused to go down without a fight. It took three of the Lallows to keep him restrained.

"Can someone please explain what is going on? Who is this Sutcliff?" Aleister yelled.

"Like usual, it's another person trying to kill us for vague weird reasons!" Atticus yelled in response as he loaded his slingshot. He fired a scatter shot at three lallows holding Damien down.

"You're welcome!" Atticus yelled as he fired more pellets at his own small group of lallows charging towards him. His barrage of pellets were disorienting a few of the lallows but plenty kept charging at Atticus. These things were relentless! One in particular ran up close, sword drawn snarling with fury. Atticus loaded static pellets and fired but the lallow dodged, each hitting a few of his companions further back and actually incapacitating them. Atticus would've marveled at this if it wasn't for the fact one lallow in particular charged at him.

"Damn this thing is quick!"

This one was apparently a bit used to being fired at. The lallow made it's way behind Atticus, who simply fired pellets in rapid succession as the lallow dodged, Atticus and his enemy back to back rotating around each. The lallow then jabbed its sword, just barely missing Atticus's side, but the lallow reacted by grabbing Atticus arm and jabbing the sword through his slingshot's whole. The two stood there for a few seconds face-to-face breathing heavily.

"So...how are the kids?" Atticus asked mockingly. The lallow swiped down with a claw but Atticus was quick and whipped out his Rod. Atticus swung, but the lallow simply grabbed it. It snarled with what sounded slightly like a snicker.

"I wouldn't laugh yet." Atticus remarked as tiny sparks began to sizzle and pop from the Rod and so it was a glow as a few thousand watts were pulled out of the air, into the Rod, and transferred to the lallow, convulsing and foaming at the mouth before falling over.

"Gotta love those insulated gloves. Alright, I can only be so useful down here. I need range, I need..." Atticus looked over at a few of pillars and the seats in the stadium. He ran over to one and started to climb.

Stonefuse pushed through the crowd, or he would've had the Lallows not moved out of his way as they watched him pass by. An outsider, walking freely in their city, nor the guards nor their queen accompanying him, was not an everyday sight for them. Unsure what to think, what to do, they just glared at him.

As he grew evermore eager to reach the temple, Stonefuse did what seemed impossible for a creature of his stature and character - he ran. Making haste, he didn't even notice as he passed his companions, no more than 50 feet away. He was bound to bring unwelcome attention to himself, but for the time being, the Lallowen gave him no trouble as he raced through the streets.

When - what seemed like mere seconds to Stonefuse - passed, he found himself in front of the temple, staring at it. A silent moment later, he reached for the door.

I think she'll want to see me as soon as she can considering what I have to tell her.
If you're worried about aggravating her you could point me her direction and I'll go by myself.
I'd hate for you to get into trouble because of me.
So what's your work around here? Have you been male for long?"

"I have been male for only a few months. You need to be to care for the Third's jungle." he said, pride in his voice. He stopped to let the wonderment of the statement sink in over Prail. When he realized Prial seemed unaffected, he tilted his head to the side in confusion. "You not impressed?"

Before Prail had a chance to answer, the sound of explosions resounded across the city, its source only a few feet away within the stadium, followed by a roar. "Sounds like Calgradni wants to fight!" the lallow gardener said, before rushing into the stadium for abetter view of the festivities.
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At Stonefuse's touch, the doors opened, as if happy to see the Golem. Within, he saw a forest, trees reaching to the ceiling. Unlike the jungle outside however, the whole room seemed to radiate light, magical power flowing through the small enclave. In the center of the room stood the source of his most recent quest: a tree. The tree radiated more light than the sun above, its power undeniable.

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As Stonefuse opened the gold covered temple door, he heard a call from behind him, from the old warrior he had just freed, who had run after him. "You're a damned fool! Calgradni will kill... destroy you for entering her temple! Both of us! But if we hurry, maybe we can escape before she notices! What do you say? You and me could make a pretty decent bandit band. Whole levels would fear us.. just not this level." he finished, speaking over the sounds of the battle raging on the other side of the city.

Seconds later, a roar erupted from across the city
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"Alright, I can only be so useful down here. I need range, I need..." Atticus muttered as he started to climb. he made it nearly half way, before the truth dawned on him - the seats were filled with Lallow, all watching the fight with all their attention. Severla of them were already drawing weapons ready to push him back into the arena.

The Lallowens rushed forward from all sides, eager to please their god-queen, ready to bathe their spears in blood. Imaeus, unwilling to fight the party disarmed as he was, stayed back. He had his own task, and the rest of the climbers be damned. he raised one of his cards into the air, and from it came a blast of light - directed at Caedis and Nathan - blinding them momentarily.

Calgradni smiled and moved forward. she had little to fear from the warm blooded mortals: they knew not what they faced. besides, now she could gain some pleasure fighting the foolish Daresh brother who fought against the destiny of her kind.

With the speed of a snake she was upon Damien, her claws rending against him, damaging his armor. Damien looked down in shock, his ancient armor pierced by the natural claws of the woman before him. Grabbing hold of his armor, she lifted him with unnatural strength and threw him hard against one of the pillars. Before she could finish her onslaught however, she felt a change in the air. The temple doors were open! With a mighty roar, she began to flee the fight.

Aleiester quickly drew his sword, ready to strike down any that approached, and with the magical power of his blade, the Lallowen horde kept their distance. For a moment, Aleiester believed he had the edge. then he felt it; a presence behind him, a curved blade pressed into his back. "We need to have a chat Mr. Cole" it said. a second later, the world inverted and Aleiester felt sick. He looked around, to find himself atop one of the nearby buildings, a pair of the scythe wielding warriors he had seen standing before him. "I have a message for you." one said.

Zavier found himself defending against the lallowen horde with surprising ability. Though he could not consciously recall any facts about the creature before him, his subconscious mind was in no way so limited. Each blow was as easy to read as the words of a book. Yet, more Lallowens were on route, and he could only defend for so long before he was overwhelmed by the sea of scales, metal, claws, and flesh.

Atticus watched the madness from above as he climbed. Spiriah appearing simply to blind Nathan and Caedis with a bright light, The bitch actually penetrating Damien's armor and throwing him against a pillar before slithering off with a tremendous roar, Aleister freezing in place and staring off blankly, and Zavier was being swarmed by the lallows, and Veritas was simply doing his best not to get killed right then and there. He had to do something. He was half way up and nearing the seats.

"Gotta get to the seats. I can cover the entire area, get a view of our surroundings, and most importantly snipe all these Prails without them realizing where the shot came from. This might actually eas-" Atticus's train of thought stopped abruptly as he looked up to see a few lallows standing over the edge, weapons ready to push him back in. Atticus was about to jump back down, but saw that a group of lallows were forming below him.

"Either drop down and face impending death or jump over the ledge and into the seats to face impending death..." Atticus muttered. He knew he couldn't wait there forever and he could also feel his grip loosening. And then an idea popped into his head. Atticus pulled out a number of tornado traps and jumped away from wall, falling towards the group below him. He dove in head first and the group lunged at him.

Just to simply be blown away and upwards.

Atticus and a couple of lallows were sent flying even above the lallows in the seats. As Atticus flew over head, all that passed through his head was. "Those are a lot of Prails."

Atticus landed roughly on his feet, in a few empty seats behind the spectating lallows. They all stared at each other, eye to eye, every last one of them trained on Atticus who simply looked back without even a flinch. Atticus reached for his his pellet bag...only to find it wasn't there. He looked around and saw it at the top of a large tower, covered in foilage to the point where it resembled a tree.

"Oh, well then...later!" Atticus said as he shot off running to the top of the seats, dropping tornado traps and blue capsules behind him.

The lallows took off right behind him, a few getting taken out by tornado traps and slowed down by the ice.

As Calgradni fled to the tower, the ear-splitting shriek of a bird of prey was heard. The snake woman turned her head to the sky and in the same instant, Etrius' talons raked across her face. She roared again in pain as he swept back into the sky.

"I told you when you locked me up I wouldn't die here! Now give me back my memories, before I remind you of a reptile's position in the food chain!"

Damien sat against the pillar, his armor with ragged tears in it, thankfully, nothing pierced the final inch of steel between his skin and the Queen's claws, he'd call her.

He watched as a birdman came down out of the sky, screeching and clawing with a single talon. He thanked the bird, unsheathed his sword once more, and charged the Queen, slashing out, clipping off three inches of her tail while her head searched the skies for the flier. She screeched once more and struck out at him, hitting his shield and sending him back a few steps.

"You wanted to make me suffer, but it seems to me, you are the one in pain now, Queen."

Her back was open for a good raking from the flying man and had positioned himself where his sword could pierce her breast if he launched into her hard enough.

"I told you when you locked me up I wouldn't die here! Now give me back my memories, before I remind you of a reptile's position in the food chain!"

Calgradni recoiled from the cut. not so much out of pain, but out of annoyance. How had the damnable bird creature free itself. It had been in the prison with... Her eyes widened. it was worse than she though. The Golem! It must have grown tired of waiting and broken the Seraphim free.

She paled slightly. If the Golem was the one who opened the temple door, than he was only a short distance from her cradle. If he absorbed the magic of the tree...

The thought enraged her. "I've spent too much time building this empire, I will not let it fall!"

She needed to stop the Golem. That meant getting to the temple as quickly as possible, but with the Seraphim's wing speed, she couldn't possible out run him. which meant she would need to show these mortals her true power.

Her smile returned and her eyes became the fiercest they had seen. "Perhaps I will show you the true top of the food chain Seriph" She opened her mouth and let loose a bellow. As before, the world trembled at her power. As she did, the Lallow around them ran. Their God-queen would spare no one.

And with the scream, her body began to change. What little humanity she showed faded into the dust. She turned to Daresh. "Be honored mortal, you are about to be the only being in existence to face this power twice."
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As the transformation began, the spell that covered Zavier and Damiens mind began to break.
To Zavier it was statistics and facts: "Great Powers of the Tower", Chapter 6, pg 213
To Damien it was something much closer to home: the roar, the shape, and the cruelty
To both however, it came down to one word:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

He body elongated, its size quickly outstripping the building. Her arms grew sharper and more jagged, her neck growing in length as well. From her back, two massive wings sprung. a Pair of hind legs formed from the ether. Her head became sharp and pointed, he teeth like swords. twisted horns appeared from her skull, shaped like they were trees from the jungle around them.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The single important word that had escaped them since they had arrived appeared in the minds of the climbers. It was so obvious: the roaring, the penchant for reptiles, the powerful magics, wrath, and greed.

The word was Dragon.

Caldragni, the Great Wyrm of Jungles was here and all would pay for their impudence. She turned her head toward her avian adversary and roared once more. From her mouth shot great globs of burning acid.

EDIT: Ret-con bot has devoured this post for it's tasty pixels.

"You're a damned fool! Calgradni will kill... destroy you for entering her temple! Both of us! But if we hurry, maybe we can escape before she notices! What do you say? You and me could make a pretty decent bandit band. Whole levels would fear us.. just not this level."

Ignoring the warrior behind him, Stonefuse stepped into the temple. As he slowly walked towards the tree, his eyes imbibing the sight before him, every part of his body sparkled because of the unearthly glow. As he reached the tree, he placed his palms on it, and he could feel its energy flowing through it.

Stonefuse formed his left hand, all but one finger, into wood, and then snapped the crystalline finger off of himself, placing it on the ground. Returning his attention to the tree, he once again placed his hands on it, and started molding himself into it. Inch by inch, Stonefuse gradually entered the tree, until he was fully engulfed by it, the clothes he wore falling to the ground, his presance unknown by any other than the warrior that seen what happened. It was uneasy. Avoiding the juices that coursed through the tree, Stonefuse had to make a thousand fractures within himself in order to fuse with it. But it had to be done.

Nothingness consumed him. All memories forgotten, he knew only of the power that surrounded him. Hours passed. Days passed. Weeks and months, time was not something he could tell in that state.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The tree shattered into pieces and in its place stood the wooden golem, his arms outstretched.

As his memories returned to him, Stonefuse analyzed them one by one, the meanings and functions, logic and rationality. Then a memory, something that he saw in the corner of his eye, came to him. They are in trouble! Picking up the crystal shard he left on the floor, he transformed, once again, into a fully crystalline golem. Rushing to the temple entrance, he grabbed the old warrior by his armor, raising him so they would be face to face, and told him, "I do not think my friends would approve of bandits. Leave my sight before I stomp on you." Throwing him to the ground, Stonefuse hustled back to the arena.

"I have a message for you." One of the men weilding scythes asked. A look of confusion appeared on Aleister's face, as he tried to make sense of the situation. Eventually though, he responded.

"What is it then?" Aleister nervously asked as the other scythe weilder began charging some strange sort of energy. He recognized it, as something similar to the teleportation ability that brought him here just now.

"It's that our superior, Dante Sutcliff has a proposition for you. Please, follow us." The first man politely asked, as his asscociate released the energy, which culminated into a portal. The two gentlemen that appeared before him soon stepped into the portal. Whilst Aleister was nervous about what was happening, his curiosity got the better of him; as he wanted to know who or what this Sutcliff person wanted him for. Casting doubt back into the depths of his mind, Aleister got up off the rooftop, and then stepped into the portal himself.

Whilst three people entered the portal, only Aleister himself exited it. It appeared he arrived in some sort of room which was well decorated, appropriate enough for someone of nobility. Along the opposite wall of the room to which Aleister was standing from, seemed to be countless shelves filled with books, each with a pair of letters emblazoned in black on them. A fire was also going, and a man with plum coloured hair was standing in front of it, his back to Aleister, and a glass of something in his right hand.

"I take it your Dante Sutcliff then?" Aleister asked, which seemed to catch the person's attention, as he turned to face Aleister. His eyes were a dark blue in colour.

"Indeed I am, Aleister Cole, please, take a seat; I have an interesting job proposal for you." Dante responded with a gleam in his eye, as he gestured to an empty chair, whilst he himself took the one opposite. Aleister quickly followed the man's request, and sat down on the chair. Dante placed his glass on a small gold table that was situated between them.

"Sorry for having to drag you out of that fight in the manner that we did. I was hoping to get you out of there before any conflict had started, but your foolish friend Damien insisted on having the first blow. Then again, Calgradni and the Warrior Monks of Daresh, have been enemies for quite some time, so its expected that some hostilities occur when two opposing forces clash." Dante remarked, apologising for what had occured a few moments ago.

"It's quite alright, I was hoping to avoid some conflict anyway." Aleister replied, sounding rather pleased about what had happened.

"At least we have that settled. Now then to the business at hand. Tell me Aleister, have you ever heard of the Shinigami?"

Aleister sounded curious at what Dante had said, and sat up in his chair.

"I take it the Shinigami have something to do with these books that the line those shelves above you."

Dante gave off a slight chuckle.

"A very astute observation, and sharp eyesight you possess Aleister. I can see that I have made an excellent decision in selecting you to become one of our Reaper Agents. You see, these books contain information that details every single fact of a person's life. From their birth to death, all are recorded within the Tome of Death Records. We decide if, when a person is near death, should they continue to live, or is their soul for the taking." Dante gave off a dark laugh as he announced this.

"Why would I wanter to become one of your Agents of Death? I see no reason to, aside from keeping the balance between life and death in check." Aleister remarked in anger, as he could feel a warm glow on his back. His fire magic had returned.

"Well, join us, and it will lead you to Michelle Knox, the bandit queen that killed Nisak Krios, your mentor." Dante replied with, as he noticed the fiery look of determination in his eyes.

"Where do I sign up?"

"Simple, to officially become a Reaper Agent, you must claim the soul of a demon dragonkin. Your task is to claim Calgradni's soul, she has slithered through our fingers for centuries. But with the interupttion of your friends, we finally have a chance to end her, and write the final details of her story.

Dante then summoned a portal behind Aleister.

"Your Scythe should be waiting for you when you return. You shall also look different, that is because you are in your "Reaper Form". Don't worry though, it isn't permenant... for now at least. Anyway off you go."

Aleister walked through the portal, and found himself back in the battle. He checked to see what was different about him, it seems that his dark red hair had turned white, and grown considerably longer, going past his shoulders. His eyes were a mixture of yellow and green.

Instead of the clothing he wore when he arrived, Aleister was wearing a dark coloured tailcoat, black trousers, white gloves, a light grey shirt and combat boots. A long hooded cloak, completed the attire. He turned to his left, and discovered his Scythe propped next to a small fountain. Aleister briefly tested its weight and speed, and found it suitable for the task of claiming a soul. He then set off towards the battle.

Damien watched as the section of tail he had chopped off regrew itself as Calgradni changed, become larger, changing into something he had hoped he would never have to see again. But she stopped growing soon, she was no where near the size of Mark's transformation, not even a quarter of his massive draconian form.

"You are nothing but a cheap replica, you have enslaved the people of this realm, and for what? To simply die here, by my hand? I will not suffer another of your kind to live. JOOS!"

The world...warped around Damien, her back claws splintering and falling apart, a handful of her scales either fell from their moorings, or simply shattered where they were, exposing her tender flesh underneath, a pillar looked as if it had become powder suddenly and violently, a boulder became nothing more than equal sized rocks, and the ground cracked open in the Word's area of effect. He kept his shield up, knowing how easily a single drop could reduce a person to a bubbling puddle that continued to eat away at the ground.

He began chopping at her exposed parts, the scales mostly protecting her from his blows, but her flesh becoming torn,bleeding, and ragged from the sword.

Atticus kept running up the stairs but could feel the lallows right behind him. He knew he couldn't keep running and needed a new plan. The tornado traps were only effective and apparently lallows didn't have much trouble dealing with the cold. Atticus threw a number of red capsules at the lallows, but even though they melted through the ground behind Atticus and burned a number of lallows, they kept coming at him with full force. He was nearing the top of the stadium and saw a number of branches sticking out from the pillar. His pellet pouch was in there.

"Almost there!" Atticus thought as he neared the branches.

Suddenly an arrow shot out, grazing Atticus cheek. He hissed, grabbing his cheek, and turned back to see the lallows chasing him had bows aimed at him. None of them had arrows loaded, but the lallows simply stared at him. They all appeared to have what Atticus assumed were grins. They had him. Even if Atticus through a tornado trap or two at them, they'd still have enough archers to load a few and take him out. Atticus needed to finish them all at once. How was he gonna do that.

"Alright, time to face the storm." Atticus thought. And then an idea popped into his head. Atticus put his hands in the air. The lallows got a bit closer, probably trying to choose whether they should hit him with arrows or slice him apart. Suddenly Atticus dropped a slew of tornado traps and threw kicked them towards lallows.

The lallows quickkl loaded their bows.

Atticus then reached into his belt and threw a doze red and blue capsules toward the lallows.

The lallows pulled back on their bows.

And finally Atticus whipped out his Rod and let it charge with electricity before throwing it into the croud of lallows like a spear.

The lallows released their bows and fired.

The red and blue capsules were whipped around by the tornado traps and burst in the air, creating a difference in cool and warm air pressures, and the electric current from the rod ignited it all producing thunder. The small army of lallows were electrified and the resulting shockwave damn near destroyed their insides.

Atticus was sent flying upwards and into the branches of the tree and squirmed around a bit. Though he hadn't been in the thick of it, the shockwave still messed him up a bit. He gained his senses and looked around, greeted by his pellet bag. Atticus grinned widely, grabbed his bag, and looked out from the trees. His group of lallows were pretty much defeated and Atticus had a great view of the stadium.

"Alright, now we're in business." Atticus said as he loaded his slingshot and surveyed the battlefield. Atticus hit all the lallows that were surround Zavier and Veritas. He watched Nathan and Caedis regain their senses and continue the fight. Damien was dealing with the snake lady and Aleiste was nowhere to be seen. In his place was a strange figure in a dark hood weilding a scythe.

"Who the hell is this guy?!" Atticus said to himself. He aimed at the figure, loading an explosive pellet but he was distracted, for noticed another larger figure enter the stadium.

"Wait a min-STONEFUSE?!"

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