"Yeah, no, I'm not like that. I'll slay monsters and help whoever I'm fighting with, but I'm not going to rush headfirst into danger." Yuria took out her blade out of its sheath for a moment to admire it. She was fairly proud of it and liked it a lot. She put it away again and sighed a little.
"Yeah, exactly. Kind of a heavy burden to save the world, but it's good to know that there were many good fighters who showed up. Now we just need to see them all in action."
The Alexander was making its way closer to the mountains, closer to their destination. Hopefully they'd be able to see soon where it was they're going.
Mira was living in a world where the most sane and professional person from a group of fifty was her sister, a woman who had served in battles and proven herself a hero, commanded men in desperate battle and yet never managed to mature past fifteen.
This was going to be a long mission.
"Keep your rod, but don't ready it again unless battle is imminent. I appreciate your help, but escalating situations like that is not helpful to our cause"
"I understand." The Fat Bird replied. He gave a nod to Mira and the second member and made his way back to the deck. It seemed far too long to be walking around; the Black Mage had his time and it was spent on events on the top deck. He would need to wait longer before resuming rounds, lest the people here would be suspicious of him constantly walking across the airship. He makes his way to the stairs and walked down to the deck with resting cots.
He picked a hammock where he could observe people coming and going in the deck.
The white mage was definately pleased to hear the red one confirm she wasn't crazy. She'd heard a lot of answers to "How did this happen?" during her treatments to various adventurers back in Byron that had caused no small amount of eyerolling, facepalming, jawdropping or any combination thereof.
It was a nice sword she had. Well maintained. Vaila could respect that. She always appreciated things being properly looked after. She gave a Yuria a nod, very much on board with the prospect of seeing the assorted recruited forces do their thing.
They had company now it appeared, one of the black mages who wasn't Gerhard had arrived on the deck and claimed a hammock. Despite the excitement, Vaila decided that she should at least try to get some rest before they arrived. "Well, I suppose I should make an effort to rest before we get properly underway. It looks as if the others might be retiring soon in any case," she continued, gesturing to the Fat Bird in his hammock.
"I doubt I'll be able to get much sleep, but if I do, please wake me if anything exciting happens. I'd hate to miss it." She smiled and lay down on the hammock, shifting a few times before her tail was in a comfortable position and pulled her hood down over her eyes.
Yuria didn't think much of the Black Mage that arrived into the room and claimed a hammock. "Rest well." she said to Vaila, tipping her hat before looking back out the porthole, towards the mountains. There were sounds of people talking, discussing the mission and what they would do, what they thought their destination looked like and how many they'd be expecting to kill in order to save Halvor. Yuria was unsure of whether she could kill another person, but if it meant keeping her country safe, she'd do her best.
Their travel went on for some time, eventually starting to grow a bit dark as the day passed. Night hadn't settled in yet, but they passed on into the evening. Getting closer, their destination was now revealed. It had been hidden behind the mountains, near a volcano most assumed was inactive which was at the edge of Halvor, near the sea. A large stone spire that reached high into the sky, and around the middle of it where three other smaller spires connected to it, one inside the volcano, another in the ground by it and the third in the ocean.
Once Yuria saw it, it quickly dawned on her. "Of course! Magitek! That's how they're draining the four elements!" She quickly went over to Vaila to wake her up. "Come on, look, look!" She went back to the porthole, looking at the magnificent building.
Mira had taken a short rest, letting the stresses of he day bleed away before battle. That rest came to an abrupt end at the sound of a beating at her door. She rose from her bed and pulled hwr uniform back on before answering. It was one of her crew, a bright, fresh faced kid who was one of thw lookouts.
"Captain, Commander Bael thinks we've reached our destination."
Mira nodded and gathered her sword, halberd, and helm, donning the helm as she stepped onto the deck. Battle was at hand.
She peered out, drawing in a breath at the sight. A great tower rising out of a volcano's edge, with two lesser towers plunging into the caldera and the icy waters beyond, a massive basalt edifice that rose as high as Alexander's cruising height. It was an awesome sight beyond any doubt, but the thrill it sent up her neck was far overshadowed by the lump of ice in her gut.
"Gods." She turned to the lookout. "Bring us to alert. Get the bells ringing and prepare to beat to battle."
The bells began ringing out, and as they did the sides of the mountains they were passing shifted. Mira snapped up her spyglass and looked, and lit by the setting sun she saw.them, and took a sharp breath. Monsters of a hundred varieties, from wyverns to massive insects and beyond were coming, and stranger still, all had large metal devices crudely grafted onto their heads.
"Beat to battle! Cannons load grapeshot! We are under attack!"
Roused from her slumber by the red mage, Vaila almost jumped out of the hammock and hurried after Yuria to the porthole, eager to see what was so exciting before breaking into a wide smile of delight as she took in the splendor of the 4 towers.
"Amazing! Seeing this in the flesh is an absolute treat!" Air, Fire, Earth and Water. The four elements and their towers. They had arrived! Vaila was all anticipation, tail and whiskers twitching as she gazed through the porthole with Yuria at the marvels outside.
...And then drums. Drums! It only took a moment before she realised what that meant, having recalled the captain's words as they boarded the ship. Battle! Already they were under attack!
"Gods above, already?! We've got to get up there!" grabbing her bag and rod from beside her hammock and slowing only a moment to sling the bag over her shoulder, the rat sprinted post haste along the deck and up the stairs with Yuria surely very close behind.
With the little party on the deck breaking up to go towards the growing commotion located where Gerhard assumed the Captain's cabin was located, Gerhard moved to a position amidships and leaned against a spar. The other Black Mage hadn't given him any thought whatsoever having been wrapped up with some of the stupid egos of the other warriors. Gerhard had long ago realized the best way to deal with warriors who considered themselves legends was to simply let them kill themselves off. Let the White Mages sweat about keeping the more foolish sellswords alive. They were far less useful than the humorous but collected soldier with whom one could enjoy a decent game of cards with. Those types tended to be fun to poke fun at as well because it was hard to crack through their composure at first...
By the Crystals, am I feeling nostalgic for home already? Ahahahaha...
Gerhard pulled out a long, gnarled pipe and began to puff a bit. His position granted him some good visibility and he could always cross the deck to any threatened point. He was never one for excessive sleeping and had slept in the cart they had brought him to Alexia in. Staying up tonight would not be a challenge.
"What do you think you're doing?" asked a random crewmen who looked like he was checking all the spare weapons attached to the masts to deal with boarders.
"I'm waiting for us to make it to our destination. Never seen a Mage on Deck before?"
"I thought you would want to start a fight, like some of the others over there." said the air-sailor, obviously relieved to see a new member of his crew not pulling out his weapon.
"I'll leave discipline to your Mira. If she can't control her own ship, that's her problem."
"She's a war hero you know." he said, a little defensively.
"She's not MY hero yet."
The crewmember looked like he had more to say but his mate called him over for more work so he let it pass. Gerhard closed his yellow eyes and began to run his mind through the incantations. The slight buzz of the Brown Flann wasn't nearly enough to shake his practiced concentration and soon he knew he was ready to cast. All he would have to do was maintain this state until they reached their destination.
Eventually, he spotted some spires jutting out of the geography in the distance. Curiosity overtook him once again and he left his self-assigned position to lean onto the starboard rail to get a better look. There were four of them, as there would be for any magical structure of great importance. Construction must have-
Gerhard's attention snapped to the air around the closest spire. It looked like a massive flock of things were rising into the air...
*BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM*
Somewhere a battle drum began to roll. Returning to the center of the ship, Gerhard drew his runed sword and began to refine his concentration. If battle was to be upon them, they'd find at least one of their Black Mages ready for action.
After the short scuffle with Rowen, Dagon gave a bow and went to the front of the ship. He sat down, crossing his legs and started to meditate. He would remain there, completely silent and still for hours on end. The rush of the wind soothed him, and he was used to sleeping in less comfortable conditions. It wasn't clear when he had fallen asleep, but sleep did eventually come to him.
He wasn't sure how long he had been resting, just long enough for the sun to go down. He was awoken by three sounds: the sound of ringing bells, booming drums and the shouts of the Captain:
"Beat to battle! Cannons load grapeshot! We are under attack!"
He instantly sprang to his feet, and saw the wave of monsters heading towards the ship. He knew this was what he had been waiting for. "At last! A chance to smite down fiends!" He struck a pose and shouted loud enough to be heard right below him. "HEAR ME, FOUL DEMONS! You rush towards oblivion, for the great warship the Alexander shall strike you down, and those FOOLISH enough to dare come closer shall face the wrath of the great... the GRAND... the MIGHTY!!..." at that, a gust of wind hit the ship, blowing the rags he had been keeping over his head over his eye "Oh bloody hell..." He whispered, grabbing his face.
"You shall feel the power of DIVINE FURY INCARNATE! You shall know the wrath... of DAGON..." he then ripped away the rags, showing the tri-skulled helmet "SETH!!!"
With that out of the way, he leaped towards the first monster that made it to the deck of the ship; a wyvern. He grabbed it in midair, placing it's chin right on his shoulder as he fell back to the ship. Once he landed, the beast's jaw slammed down on Dagon's shoulder, stunning it. He then grabbed it by the horns and neck to toss it over his shoulder onto the deck of the ship. With the beast now vulnerable, Dagon jumped onto the edge of the ship for elevation, raised his fists in the air and jumps down, slamming his elbow into the wyvern's gut. Finally, he grabbed it by the tail and swung it around a few times before releasing it. "BEGONE!" he shouted as the winged beast crashed into an oncoming cockatrice.
People stepped in and out of the deck, paying attention to those who retired and kept moving around. Some of the persons' gazes lingered on the Black Mage before breaking contact altogether and rushed to their destination. There was no inclination towards any development on their destination save for the count he was doing in his head.
However a low quiet hum reached his ears, breaking his concentration for a moment. He got up from his hammock to look for the source of the hum. He saw people sleeping, idle, piqued and cantankerous in that order as he combed through the deck for the source. Time passed and the Black Mage found no trace of where the hum was coming from. Gradually the hum grew louder in his ears and began to hurt in a place he never thought would hurt. He clutched his head with both hands, pulling the brim of his hat over his ears, and keeping his hands over them in a vain attempt to block the noise. Some paused to ask him if he was alright, but he made no answer. It hurt too much to speak, and all that could come out was pained grunts. One clear directive pervaded the Black Mage's mind: eradicate the noise.
Step by step he willed his feet forward above deck to find the source of this hum, especially as it grew louder and louder still. At the top deck, he found it to be in disarray; fights were breaking out wherever he looked, and he could see swarms of fiends travelling in hot pursuit of the airship. He had also seen a strange tower, and looking at it, the damned hum began to split his mind. The sigil and face of Adrammelech flashed in his mind, and the Black Mage began drawing mana to summon him. Compared to other Espers, the Wroth would do a far better job compared to the others; he could fly and take the fight to the fiends while Famfrit and Ifrit would be stuck in one location, wasting the space of the others.
That tower, and these fiends will suffer the Wroth Emperor's Judgement as far as he could think. Crush them completely and then finish this job by any means necessary. And Adrammelech grinned at that sentiment.
A gate of light opened in the sky, and out came the green draconian visage of the Wroth. The red streaking lines on his body the only thing that showed the raw fury that he hid. As quickly as he appeared, he vanished from sight, charging to the heart of the swarm, glowing with sheer mana. Sparks of lightning gathered around his body as the sky darkened and in the blink of an eye Adrammalech exploded. Massive tendrils of pure lightning struck out at anything and everything it could touch, including the tower. The weakest of the fiends were culled utterly by the Wroth's Judgement, while the strongest were at the mercy of the airship.
The Black Mage felt accomplishment in this deed as he saw the numbers thinning. But that infernal hum still did not stop!
"Cannons loaded, Captain!"
"Fire!" She twisted around the bite of some hideous beast and returned the favor, driving her spearpoint into the beast's throat and flinging it off the ship. "Protect the balloon, it's our weakest point!"
The cannons roared.and a spray of grapeshot dug into the heart of the horde, causing many to fall and more to be scattered and wounded, just in time for the summoned beast to plunge into them and begin slaughtering them wholesale. For a moment it looked to be an easy victory. Bur as she watched more poured from the tower.
"Helmsman, take us at the tower, full speed! We have to get in there!" She leapt into the air, crossing the deck and landing beside the.mage who looked to be summoning beheading an opportunistic insect with a spray of ichor that splattered her cloak and his hat.
Roderic had taken to a hammock as the entertainment had ended. Needed a bit of a nap after all the fun, and to be ready for whatever it was they were going to be dealing with. While his rest was going to be short lived regardless, it seemed that it wouldn't even last till evening properly. A thrumming sound began to go through the ship, and he had been around enough to know that those drums meant a fight was going on. And for the entire airship to be hearing that, it meant that it was a big one.
While everyone else began to seeming be in a rush to get topside, Roderic took a bit of his time. Taking a stretch, checking his knives, and then taking a breath, he got to making his way upstairs to see that there was already a pitched battle underway. It was likely the most monsters that he had ever seen all going after one ship. The question as to why was easy to answer, as the spires that loomed ahead of them seemed to be a very good indicator of why. The more pressing question was why they were now speeding towards the large tower at apparently full speed.
"Well, this was a real great idea...." Roderic muttered, doing a quick rotation of his knives before taking off at a sprint, planning on causing a bit of trouble before they crashed into the tower in a fiery explosion. In his sprint, he was planning how this needed to go, throwing a dagger full force at a harpy, who wouldn't expect the speedy thief to be such a danger at a distance, especially as the blade slammed into it's head. As it crumpled to the deck, Roderic was already stepping past it, ripping his blade free again in the process. He had picked another target during his additional steps, a Cockatrice, who had also decided that Roderic was a quick kill. The creature attempted a dive at Roderic, who had let another knife fly into the monster, this time following it with a quick second stab, retrieving his knife once again. He would keep this going for a while...but only for a small while longer.
As a Knight stepped forward to swing a large hammer into another creature, Roderic stepped back for a moment. Too many threats, not enough distractions. And with more coming out of the tower...
Going to be lucky to keep this up...perhaps I should get a little higher in the rafters...Or maybe just get to the lower decks before we all get launched from the damn ship after slamming into it. What a way to go.
Yuria wasn't far behind Vaila as they made their way to the top deck. Hundreds of monsters were coming their way, aiming to attack them. Some had already reached them. Many of the warriors who'd arrived onto the ship were fighting off as well as they could. One of them had even summoned a beast to help them, a draconian lightning beast of some sort.
Despite the beast and the shots from the airship, monsters were still making their way onto the Alexander, and it gave Yuria a chance to attack on her own. Drawing her blade, she sliced the nearest monster to her, felling it in a few strikes, and making her way to the next one. This would be a good time for her to be able to cast Protect and Shell, but that was the problem with being a Red Mage. She had five spells all Red Mages start with, one to cure, four to hurt, none to support. "Vaila, if you know them, could you cast Protect and Shell on me?" she called to the White Mage as she continued to slay more monsters, utilizing both blade and magic to dispose of the monsters.
Night was a lot less eventful than the day. Their ETA was sometime that night, and Lilianna took that time to prepare. She changed into her armor, strapping on the dull metal piece by piece, feeling their weight. Last but not least, she picked up her mace. She didn't have a cape, but her wings easily made up for that extra pow factor. Too bad Mira didn't have any sort of mirror so Lilianna could check herself out. She sat down at the foot of the cot and closed her eyes.
When she opened them, it was to someone knocking, and Mira answering.
"Bring us to alert. Get the bells ringing and prepare to beat to battle."
Lilianna took her time, unfurling her wings and getting the blood flowing again. By the time she stepped out of the Captain's room, the glory of battle was unfolding. Swarms of monsters approached like clouds, all ready for a taste of her mace.
She eagerly swung at the first monster that flew in range, a medium sized bird of some kind or another. Didn't matter when she hit it out of the park.
"Protect the balloon, it's our weakest point!"
"Aye, aye, Captain" Lilianna mumbled under her breath, jumping up. Now, she couldn't jump as high as a Dragoon, but wings meant it didn't matter. With another powerful downbeat, she was airborne, soaring up and around to the top of the airship's balloon. The cannons couldn't reach over the tops, but she could. She landed lightly on the balloon, her weight not even making a dent. A green wyvern screeched nearby, already wounded but not down yet. It was close enough. Lilianna launched herself into the wyvern, swinging her mace at the last minute to crush its skull. The reptile fell harmlessly out of the air. She heard another buzzing, and whipped around, knocking what looked like a large mosquito out of the sky with her tail.
It looked like Yuria would be getting her chance to slay some monsters much sooner than either of them had expected as Vaila saw her draw her sword and have at the nearest cretin before requesting some supporting magic.
"Consider it done!" Vaila's smile was always pointy, but it seemed a little sharper now that things were all business as she cast her Protect and Shell spells upon Yuria, then moving towards roughly the centre of the deck, where a black mage and the captain were, intending to be in position to be able to cast on as many of her fellows as possible, though making a point of ensuring she was still within range of Yuria. It wouldn't do to allow her new friend to fall through any negligence on her part.
It'd didn't seem as though there'd yet been any wounds that required her immediate attention, so she could hold off on Cure for now, but as for the other combatants. She started with the mage and the captain, applying protect and shell to them also while they were close at hand, as the mage was summoning and they'd really be in trouble if the captain was badly harmed. After that was taken care of, she lingered around the area, intermittantly casting cure on those who had taken hits and shell or protect in the windows where cure was not needed.
Even so though, with all the monsters flying around, a lot of time between casting was spent ducking and weaving to stay out of the way of the more opportunist flyers fancying a run at a target that wasn't actively striking towards them.
When the horde began to close, Gerhard's flames were among the first racing to explode amongst them.
He let the fury of his soul erupt from the point of the sword. It struck a group of formation flying insects who shrieked and popped at the heat, their wings melting into uselessness as they dropped from the the sky. Noticing that the horde had managed to split into an enveloping formation, he started focusing on the Port side. The tip of the runed blade began to glow red hot as blue flames screamed out of it to engulf the monsters he directed it at.
"They're forming up off of port! BRACE YOURSELVES!" he shouted to all those now fighting on the deck.
The cannons of the ship and the weaponry of those up top swung up in response but already they were diving at high speed. Knowing that his magic would be striking too close to the wooden warship for comfort, he switched his tactics.
Bolts of lightning now arced from the tip of the blade, branching off from monster to monster in chain attacks. However, despite the efforts of all those facing the port threat, dozens managed to get on deck with more swarming the sky behind them. With the starboard side being taken care of for the moment, Gerhard shouted to a warrior near him.
"I'll keep frying those in the sky, can you help me with those that make it?"
The effort of the casting was beginning to sting but the spell kept launching the justice of the sky out of his blade.
Well, isn't this lovely. I might be about to die.
The monsters in the second wave kept being pummeled from the fire of Mira's crew and Gerhard's magic yet more kept managing to land on deck. Suddenly Gerhard's concentration was broken, something had slashed his arm. Falling to his side, the warrior he had asked skewered the Wyvern that had attacked the Black Mage. Forcing himself back up to his feet, he turned to be face to face with the giant eye of an Ahriman. Without skipping a beat, he plunged his short sword into the eye. The runes on his blade glowed fiercely and the resilient eye of the monster began to cloud over with the spell imbued within the weapon. It screeched and swung wildly as Gerhard moved to the side. A sword from a nearby warrior was soon put to work on the weakened monster.
There was no time to spare however. Gerhard began launching more volleys of spell into the approaching monsters, just hoping that there would still be enough men on deck to keep those that landed at bay. He just hoped that he wouldn't bleed out if they made it out alive.
The search was going poorly. It took forever to find the cargo hold where there might be suitable materials for a rack, and even then Rowen wasn't able to find anything that might be able to just use as one. Damnit, I'm a Ranger, not a Carpenter! The drums ringing out from far above him snapped him out of this mind-numbing quest, for the call of a far more important task. Battle? ABOUT TIME!
He drew out his guns and burst out of the hold, only to have directions fail him. Fuck! Now where do I go? Damn this ship! It took longer then he would have liked to reached the top deck again, but eventually he came out on board, a bit disappointed to see the battle raging around the deck in full swing, with most of the warriors selected already engaged. There was one saving grace though: the fact that most the monsters around the ship were flying. Excellent. Time for some target practice!
Ducking around a couple of the close range fighters, he took up a position near the stern of the ship, intent on clearing a path as best he can for the junk heap. About 60 feet away, he spotted a wyvern making a beeline towards the vessel, teeth bared, intent on piercing the hull, if not making a move towards the balloon which was keeping it aloft.
"All right, wind's not a factor," Rowen brought his gun up level with his face. "I've got bullets in here strong enough to pierce castle walls, should take two hits." He stared down the beast, trying his best to look cool. "Here's looking at you."
He squeezed the trigger twice in succession, his arms built up to avoid recoil. The first shot caught the beast in the eye, forcing the dragon to rear it's head back in pain. That only exposed the throat, which the second bullet pierced through. The wyvern lost all momentum, falling down to the earth below.
"All right, who's next? I've got a million of these." Rowen scanned the skies for his next target, intent on bettering his two shot first kill.
Dagon had swatted away a few bugs when he noticed something happen on the deck of the ship. He turned to see Adrammalech burst and strike dozens of monsters down. He saw that Engbyr, the Black Mage from before, was in its vicinity. He concluded that it must have been a summon. "Aha! Well done, noble Chocobo Wizard! THAT should surely even the odds!" He saw more of the crew rush to the deck, and went after the first monster he could reach. "CHAAAARGE!" he shouted to nobody in particular. He saw an Ahriman swoop down on one of the crew, and sprinted towards him. "Take THIS!" He jumped into the air and kicked the beast away with both feet, flinging it away. "What manner of fiendish scum could gather such a massive army of creatures?!" He shouted to whoever might hear him.
His thoughts were interrupted by a harpy grabbing him by the shoulders, lifting him up. Unfazed, he shifted his weight to swing around and throw it off balance, striking its talons to release him. He took advantage of the creature's pause to grab it and re-position it while they fell. He swung it around so that he was holding it by the neck and waist, holding it horizontally across his shoulders. He landed on his feet, and the harpy's back made a loud "KRUNCH" as gravity did its work.
He took a look over to a green-hooded white mage, casting spells on everyone she could. "Most commendable, young one! Keeping your comrades safe and at FULL POWER is important in such dire times! Worry not! DAGON SETH shall keep you safe from any retaliation!" With that, he grabbed the talons of the now dead harpy and swung it to swat away another bug, and threw it at a bird getting too close to the balloon.
Fatigue began to set in for the Black Mage as he expunged more mana to retain Adrammelech's form in this realm; normally such a strike would be enough to warrant the Wroth' departure, but there still were swarms of fiends approaching them. And there were more still that made their way on the airship, being much too close for comfort. He thought that he needed to break his summoning to deal with one foe, but saw another person do that for him: Mira. The sudden boosts to his defenses was also welcomed by the Black Mage. If the damned hum could recede from his ears, he would consider this a great position to be in.
"Thank you." Was all he said to both Mira and the White Mage who was no doubt nearby. All the mana and concentration he could muster went back into summoning Adrammelech again, this time without using all the Esper's strength at once.
Eventually the Wroth regained its form and resumed its onslaught. A loud shrill roar echoed from the tower, and one by one the largest of the fiends were vanishing into the ether. Only small myriad flashes of jade lightning were the only indicator of the Esper's work, and the progress it left. Meticulously Adrammelech struck these fiends in the distance with grand lightning, cleaving a thunderous path through the swarms till nought stood before the Wroth Emperor; at least none of the smart fiends. Another roar pierced the skies as the Esper charged right to the airship, intent on striking the fiends on board.
The Wroth stood on the deck at thrice the Black Mage's height, sparks of lightning arced from his ornate body into wherever it touched. His red slits for eyes gazed upon the fiends on the deck, seeing each as a foe to dominate. The Esper raised an arm towards a stationary Wyvern, and the beast exploded in a smaller burst of lightning in the blink of an eye. Bolts of lightning snaked to other fiends nearby, damaging them as well and forcing the horde to shift its attention. Many gathered around Adrammelech, expecting another dire bolt, and ready to strike the moment the Wroth showed weakness.
But he would not show any. Yet the Black Mage's concentration had ran out, and Adrammelech vanished into the ethers. The Black Mage was on his knees, one arm keeping him up, the other reaching for his wand with a lesser spell on his lips.
Mira cleaved a wing off some kind of hulking creature, what looked to be a lion with a long serpentine neck and massive wings. As the beast reeled back she planted her boot into it, sending it over the side on the long drop to earth.
"Six and seven, load grapples!" She bellowed at the top of her lungs, reaching the gunners over the din of battle. "Target the upper levels of the tower!" She leapt straight upwards, grabbing a blackbird with a beak full of razors by the neck and twisting, crunching its neck and flinging it towards the deck, driving her spearhead through the falling corpse into some kind of bat-woman, the beasts shuddering and dying.
Scant seconds later the two cannons roared and a pair of harpoons shot out at the tower, trailing cables. They bit into the stone, firmly attaching the ship and proving a precarious path.
"Lilianna! You seven!" She indicated a couple of the others on the deck. "With me, we're going into that tower! The rest of you hold the enemy off and prepare to disengage as soon as we're inside!" Mira drove her hook into a wyvern's jaw, twisting until it snapped, then finishing with a quick beheading strike. "Quickly!"
Lilianna jumped back, a large fur covered avian diving in front of her. It was among the ugliest monsters she had ever seen: it looked like a flying sloth, with a mouth full of teeth. She doubt it could even close its mouth. It dove at her again, razor sharp claws a danger to Lilianna and the airship's balloon. She sprang forward to meet it, swatting its claws aside with her mace, and then swinging around to hit its body. The creature's bones cracked against the metal, and it dropped harmlessly onto its back.
She could barely hear her sister over the din of dying monsters, but Mira had developed some impressive lungs it seemed. Lilianna crushed the bird's head against the balloon before kicking it off.
"With me, we're going into that tower! The rest of you hold the enemy off and prepare to disengage as soon as we're inside!"
Not a moment later Lilianna dove off the side of the balloon herself, gliding away from the ship and towards the tower. She saw the two lines attached to the tower. "Come on, I'll cover ya!" she shouted, switching to her sword. It was sharper than sin, a narrow blade that tapered to a needle point.
A couple of Ahriman targeted the lines, flying into view, and began to glow as they started casting. She sliced the first once clean in two: it really was a shame that they were virtually one big flying weak point. The second one completed its spell, casting Blaze. Fire blossomed in the sky, enveloping the knight as well as a few smaller monsters around. It'll take more than that to take me down she tried to repeat in her head. Don't panic Her charred wings got to work, shooting her forward away from the heat, and she tackled the Ahriman into the tower.
"With me, we're going into that tower! The rest of you hold the enemy off and prepare to disengage as soon as we're inside! Quickly!"
Dagon nodded and went over, looking at the cables, sloping downward to the tower. He looked over to spot the nearest allies he could find, grabbing the two black mages, throwing them over his shoulders. "There's no time to waste, courageous wizards! ONWARD!" He took a moment to get used to all the added weight, then ran forward. He used a fallen monster as a stepping stone to get on the edge of the ship, and jumped off. "HERE WE GO!" He landed on the right cable, using the two mages to balance himself as he started grinding down.
As they reached the end of the harpoon, they were sent crashing off the cable, and Dagon lost his grip on the two mages. He landed facedown on the floor, but quickly picked himself back up. "Ouch... Hm... HAHA! We've arrived! Now which way to go..." he stood there, looking back and forth, paying no mind to the two others who were now with him.
His gnarled rod was pointed at one fiend who thought him weakened, and was reduced to shards of ice. The Black Mage however could not find the time to get back on his feet again, as more fiends drew closer to him. He wanted to conserve what mana he had left, but the surrounding horde made it very difficult to do so. And the damned humming grew cacophonus as more tones joined with it, turning this subtle knife to his head into a flanged mace. To his surprise - and the mercenaries near him, he let out a scream.
A massive plume of fire burst from one of the fiends, scorching others nearby. It bought the Black Mage some time to right himself, but only a sliver. The horde encircled him again as he was back on his feet; his rod still firmly in hand but no spell was readied. The moment he cast a spell, the horde would strike all at once. Any movement would be cut off, and the fiends would strike altogether. Make no movement and they would eventually muster enough confidence to strike in earnest. He could draw more mana to him and summon either Adrammelech or Famfrit, but that would be an investment of time. All these options led to unsatisfying results for the Black Mage, but he had to choose something.
But that choice was made for him as he found himself snagged and flailing in the air. For a moment he assumed a vile fiend had ensnared him and readied a spell, but relented upon seeing it was no fiend. Besides, the Black Mage was disoriented; limbs were flailing against the wind; the airship was shrinking from his vision, and he felt a new crack in his head as the humming grew closer and closer. He could only lie on his back, limbs numb from the visual overload, and the mask barely on his face by sheer luck.
"Where... are we?" The Fat Bird asked. Fatigue clearly laced his tone.
"Thank you!" Yuria called to Vaila before continuing her attacks on the monsters, stabbing a few, setting others on fire, freezing some more and frying others with a combo of Water and Lightning. It was a classic combo. First time she'd used it herself, but nevertheless a classic one she knew of. The other warriors were busy holding the monsters off, and the ship launched harpoons into the main tower.
As Mira gave a few of them the command to go towards the tower via the cables connecting the ship and harpoons, Yuria didn't hesitate as she jumped onto one and grinded on it down to the tower, jumping off quickly enough to not hit the side of the tower. Once there, it was just a matter of finding an entrance into the place. Though before that, she looked towards the airship, wondering how her new friend was to make her way to the tower.
Though somewhat confused by Dagon Seth's manner of speech, she certainly wasn't complaining when he came to her defence. It was much better to be able to devote her energy to using her magic effectively rather than glancing around every few seconds.
Until Mira gave the order to descend to the tower anyway, watching as the monk and the mages went down the wires, followed by Yuria.
She wasn't overly enthusiastic about throwing herself down the lines, but the longer she stayed back here, the more time the flyers would have a chance to notice a white mage without protection.
"Oh hell, this'll sting." she muttered, gritting her teeth, casting protect on herself and quietly thankful that her staff was made of a solid material like brass, holding it over the top of the cable and gripping either end to slide down towards the tower. This was not the best idea. It really wasn't. It was fast though, and probably safer than most ways she could have gotten down, but this was not a mage who had ever ziplined before and so her dismount was anything but graceful and largely consisted of swinging from side to side to slow her pace as she reached the far end of the line, holding onto the staff for dear life as she came to a stop against the wall with a muffled squeaking noise and after a few moments to allow everything to stop spinning, clambered up over the top of the cable and onto the roof.
"Remind me, she muttered groggily as she caught up with Yuria. "To never try that again." Still, at least she had the foresight to use protect first, but that didn't mean she wouldn't have some bruising later.
Gerhard gritted his teeth, the sting of the prolonged casting had turned into a pulsing pain through his body. The bolts erupting from his sword crackled more and more as his focus and control loosened. However, if he stopped casting for a breather the monsters he was keeping at bay would close the distance. Next to him a crewmember of the Alexander was gored messily by an insect creature causing him to scream madly.
The worst thing is, they're still coming. Did they really think one ship was enough for this mission?
Suddenly his wellspring ran dry. He was simply too exhausted to continue the effort. A harpy descended onto the deck in front of him and began to approach, its long nails already red with the blood of another victim. Gerhard tried to hold his sword with both hands but the pain in his left arm was agonizing. As he prepared to fend it off one handed he was suddenly picked up by something incredibly strong. It dawned on him quickly however that it wasn't a monster but the Yuke which had lifted him off the deck.
"What in the hell are you doing?!?" he exclaimed, barely holding onto his sword as Dagon rushed towards the railing.
"HERE WE GO" said the immensely strong fighter, leaping into the air as another barrage of cannonfire filled Gerhard's ears.
Gerhard held onto to whatever he could as the bizarre monk slid down cables attached to the ship. Upon landing Gerhard flew off Dagon's shoulder and landed in a heap of robes and curses. His arm, painful before was now exploding in protest to the landing. Shakily making his way back onto his feet, Gerhard had to restrain himself from launching a bolt at the crazy Yuke who had nearly killed him.
That masked son of a bitch!
The concerns of his own flesh overrode his desire to throttle his unarmed ally. The fact that he'd likely be squashed against a fighter with that kind of strength didn't occur to him. As the pain lanced through his brain, he saw Vaila and made his way over to her.
"Think you can help me with this?" he said sourly, gesturing to his shredded arm with the flat of his blade. He wasn't in any mood for a conversation, especially with monsters still flying about.
Roderic was annoyed at this point. He had been stabbing, slicing, and tossing knives at things for a while now. It was too much, and he knew that this ship wasn't going to last forever, not when everything was coming from that tower. Even the large guns seemed to only slow the tide, which was made evident as he spun to avoid a flying slug with teeth. As it passed him by he gave it something to remember him by: a good slash along the slide which he dodged to. It was then that he got an order which he almost laughed at.
"Lilianna! You seven! With me, we're going into that tower! The rest of you hold the enemy off and prepare to disengage as soon as we're inside!"
Inside? I'm guessing if we all had a more preferred way to die, we could do that I guess. Then again, guess I would do better with these knives inside rather than losing them all by tossing into one of these monsters....Ah dammit.
He watched as the Yuke leaped from the ship, taking some mages with him, which made him laugh out loud. The man was absolutely insane, and he got the feeling that even though he could never get along with the man, at least he could trust him to do something completely needed.
As he stayed behind, contemplating if he really wanted to go, he noted a white mage making her way off the ship. With that, he guessed he might as well follow along, if for no other reason than by now he was close enough. Of course, the harpy that was near the line might have had something to do with it too, as he jumped the harpy, slamming his knives into it before leaping onto the line, for a moment trying to keep on top of the thicker than usual line, before ultimately deciding that rather than keeping his breakneck speed going that he would instead finish sliding the rest of the way. With a quick shift, he swung himself downward as he began his descent, coming to the end by releasing the rope and doing an almost practiced roll onto the rooftop, coming to a stop and standing almost as if it was a daily activity.
"Well, that was fun. Almost like home, except for the....well, the monsters are different, at least." Roderic said, standing up and checking himself over, then glancing back to the sky. Monsters wouldn't stay away for long.
Another shot struck the wing of a wyvern, but was not enough to eliminate it completely from the fight. Damn. Should have had that one too. You got one second left, jabrone.
Damn it what now! Wrecking my shots and everything!
"With me, we're going into that tower! The rest of you hold the enemy off and prepare to disengage as soon as we're inside! Quickly!"
What! Rowen looked over to see how she proposed this move, and spotted the cables that tethered the airship to the one of the towers surrounding what could only be the fabled crystals. Really? Couldn't make things easy or anything? How the hell am I getting across that thing? He looked around for something on deck that might be of some use, and came up with a shortened piece of rope, possibly jarred loose by one of the creature's attacks. Fuck, I guess it will work. Not like I'm going to be able to sprint across that thing.
Rowen tied one end of the rope around his wrist as tight as he could muster it and moved over towards the cannons that had fired off the wire bridges. "Well, you all seem to have this well in hand," he remarked to no one in particular as he swung the rope over one of the cables and grabbed it with the same hand . "I'll let you guys have this battle then." He then leaped over the edge, relying on the tensile strength of the rope and gravity to carry him forward as opposed to the ground.
If he wasn't so sure this was a entirely precarious position and the fact that his wrist was already starting to strain, this might have been an enjoyable experience for Rowen. He certainly was getting a good view of the scenery of the mountain area. Including the wounded wyvern that spotted it's enemy looking more like an apple then a threat. It came flying in to pluck the proverbial low-hanging fruit, but Rowen spotted him coming and with his free hand fired a killshot into the beast's skull, as another scaly foe was stricken down by his metal.
"Hah! Trying to pull that on me, sucker! I told you I'd get you and...oh shit..." In his celebration of the moving takedown he had just performed, Rowen had failed to realize just how much time he had left before he was apparently set to impact with the cold, hard roof of the tower, that a few others were already standing on. He had a split decision to make, and Rowen's track record wasn't great. Still he made the only choice he thought he could make and as he crossed the threshold of the room barriers, he let go of the rope.
As he crossed over solid rock, Rowen ended up more horizontal then vertical and he impacted the roof at full speed, barrel rolling over himself as he finally slowed to a stop near a large...needle thing in the center. As he came to a stop, he thought he would be feeling scrapes and bumps from his rough landing, but there was something else. A dull ache coursing throughout his body as he struggled to return to his feet. As he walked towards the rest of the landing party, the ache seemed to ebb away, leaving only the reminders of his rash decision.
"Thanks for the heads up on the end point," he said tersely to the collective. "So what the hell are we going to do now?"
Lilianna landed on the roof after everyone had made it down the cable, save Mira. She knew the Captain would probably jump it. "Find a way in!" she shouted, gesturing around before jumping up and beheading a bat girl. Most of the monsters were focusing on the airship, but a few flew close enough to the roof for Lilianna to kill them. She kept an eye on the few fighters that had descended to the roof. None of them were too hurt. Lilianna cast Cure on herself, to keep up her stamina while it was at a decent level. Nothing too bad yet, she told herself. She helped up one of the mages that the monk so helpfully plopped down. "Try not to draw attention, no big spells, no guns. Monk, keep your voice down and help me make sure no monsters get close."
The big spire in the middle of the roof was enchanted with something, but it was beyond her expertise. The whole place just felt weird. There were carvings of stuff everywhere, but no door in the area she could see... hopefully they found something soon, because out here they were sitting ducks.
As the laat of them made the trip across mira braced herself at the edge of the deck. "Cut the cables, then get to a safe distance!" She took a step back, then ran forward and leapt, leaping thirty feet up and nearly a hundred across to land on the back of a hulking monster, pushing off it for a second leap that carried her the rest of the way, landing on the roof with her knees bent, spear held ready. Behind her the cables went limp as they were disconnected, the Alexander quickly turning and leaving, blasts of cannonfire tearing at their pursuit.
"Fan out, there might be a concealed door. If not, we'll have to blast open a door."
Gerhard was approaching Vaila. Her nose let her know before her eyes, especially with her head still spinning a bit. Right now she sure didn't have any time to waste time on bickering though.
"Done." She muttered, casting cure on the mage's wrecked arm. He'd done an awful lot of damage to it. So for good measure she cast it twice. The wound looked like it warranted it.
Now then. Rubbing her sore nose, she started to look around for an entrance.
"... Thank you..."
Something was wrong.
In the back of the Black Mage's head he understood that he was in the tower - possibly at its peak - but something about where they were was unpleasant. The others who have made it could not feel it, but he certainly could. On top of the blurring of fiend encounters and improvised escape - which he was not sure how that happened - much of the stimuli became surreal to the Black Mage. He could swear that his vision was turning grey and that part of his mind was sinking deeper and deeper into unconsciousness. The only thing that kept him together and not collapse like his fellow black mage was his directive. He would finish this job, whatever it takes.
He walked up to the other black mage. He appeared healthy thanks to a white mage tending to him.
"Are you alright?" The Fat Bird asked. Protocol still functioned.
The Black Mage's eyes focused back on the surrounding area: the spire, and the glyphs. He belatedly examined the runes on the close end of the room. He could clearly feel mana flowing from these runes, but as quickly as it materialized it vanished. Something the Black Mage assumed was absorbing the mana in these panels, and whatever is doing it must be doing the same to him. But why? Why have a source of mana here? What purpose would it serve?
"Do you think you can draw from these glyphs?" The Fat Bird asked both mages. The spire in the middle caught his corner gaze. Tiredly, he wondered if that large thin device is what's causing the hum that's vibrating his body. If that could be destroyed, could the hum finally stop?
His thoughts went to Ifrit, but cast them aside. He had already expended so much mana for Adrammelech, and wanted to keep hold of his reserves for simple spells.
He went back to the glyphs, his mask pressed by hand against his face for a better look. Apart from channeling mana, there was little else he knew about them. Nothing stood out; nothing made any sense apart from them being carved into the rock.
"Does anyone here know what these glyphs mean?" The Fat Bird asked aloud.
"Fan out, there might be a concealed door. If not, we'll have to blast open a door."
Wearily Gerhard looked around. They were on top of one of the towers he had spotted earlier. They had been fighting so furiously to get there that he had completely forgotten the actual goal of the battle. He bared his arm in front of Vaila as she did her craft.
"Done." she muttered matter of factly.
It had been ages since he had felt the relaxing aura of white magic flow through him. It was bittersweet to say the least. Muttering a low thanks to Vaila, he ignored the other Black Mage's concern for his safety and did a quick self evaluation. He was drained and would have to relax his mind before casting again. He cursed himself for his lack of endurance, a byproduct of several years of neglecting his craft in favor of self pity.
And now there's this buzzing..?
With his arm back to normal and no longer sending pulses of screaming nerve trauma to his head, Gerhard noticed for the first time the low frequency pulses of the runes they were standing on. These runes were like nothing he had studied with in the tomes Calamai had provided him during his apprenticeship. He could feel them although their ultimate purpose was unknown to him.
"Do you think you can draw from these glyphs?"
"I wouldn't even if you could figure out how to. Magic like this is beyond any single mage..." answered Gerhard, studying the spire. It almost felt alluring, attractive to his spirit. A dangerous sign of deeper magic if he ever saw one. Touching it would certainly lead to disastrous consequences.
"Does anyone here know what these glyphs mean?"
Not willing to admit that his education as a mage was sorely lacking, Gerhard changed the subject to their current dilemma.
"No time for that, let's find a way in before those monsters split off from the ship and dive on us instead."
Gerhard began walking with the Red Mage as they searched the roof for an entrance. Besides the inscriptions, the roof seemed to be solid stone no matter where they stepped. It was at this point he realized that the planning behind the drop had run on shoddy logic.
So the plan was to drop on top of a tower with monsters guarding it and that might not even have an entrance in the roof? War hero maybe but a genius she's not. This adventure is off to a great start.
All of the glyphs were indecipherable and Gerhard started to ignore them altogether. There had to be a physical feature of the roof that would give away a door.
"Never try that again." Yuria said cheekily to Vaila as she landed onto the roof. Speaking of the roof, it was very strange. Strange runes were written in the stone, and she could sense magic from it. And not in a good way. Just what in the world do they plan on doing with this place...
She wasn't given much time for her own thoughts when the good captain gave them an order to look for an entrance. Going inside was what they were here for, so she started to look around immediately, staying close to Vaila. And unfortunately for her nose, it seemed like Gerhard was staying close to them as well. She had half a thought to cast a Water spell on him, but it was more important to find a way inside.
Dagon had gotten back to his feet and saw his companions land on the roof. Now that he was in close proximity, he noticed something. "Does anyone else hear a buzzing?" Despite his years of physical training and neglect of all things magic, Yukes were a race naturally gifted in the mystic arts. It was incredibly faint, almost mute, but at this proximity it was just enough for him to notice.
"Monk, keep your voice down and help me make sure no monsters get close."
"If you insist..." he said in a quieter tone.
"Fan out, there might be a concealed door. If not, we'll have to blast open a door."
"I shall perform the later action should we not find a proper entrance!" his voice got louder, but still wasn't louder than a hushed tone. He stood there staring at the spire. "What a perplexing contraption. Is this the source of the calamity plaguing the crystals? Why don't we just demolish the accursed thing and be done with it? Then we can deal with the fiendish ones inside responsible!"