Protectors of the Crystals, a Final Fantasy RP (Dead)

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Roderic watched as the soldier types came to the tower finally, and the ropes were cut. So, they really were going to be staying here like a group of idiots. He wasn't too fond of that idea, but then they were being told to find an entrance, which he was more than happy to start his hunt for. He wondered if there was such a thing, especially on such a strange tower. As the others began to try and fan out, Roderic didn't feel like wasting his time. He knelt down, keeping a steady eye along the ground to see if there was anything out of place.

As his gaze swept across the surface, he noted something a little out of place. An area that didn't have a selection of distinct runes that covered it. While it wasn't the strangest of things, at this point Roderic was more trusting of his instincts than what would be a usual activity. Taking a few steps forward, he knelt down once again and ran his hand along the smoother surface.

Well well, it seems that someone has a taste for being sneaky as well. Somewhat fortunate that I came along then...now lets see how this opens up...

Running a hand along the smooth square location, he figured there was likely a small trick to the spot. It actually turned out to be not as complicated as the devices back in Victus, which Roderic was very grateful for at this point. It seemed there was a small folded handle that was ingrained in the stonework. Very clever design, but not unworkable.

"I think this might have been the better choice." Roderic muttered largely to himself, then to speak a bit more loudly. "So, who wants to go first? I already did the hard part..."

As one of them signaled having found am entrance Mira let out a barely concealed sigh of relief. This plan was not exactly a work of military genius, she was relying on little more than luck and her gut instincts.

The Alexander was speeding away, able to outrun the monsters the crew couldn't outfight, and soon the horde would likely return.

"I'll take the lead." She pulled the hatch open and peered down, the top few rungs of a ladder down a long shaft into the darkness the only thing visible. She grimaced, then jumped down the shaft, halberd clutched tightly.

A few seconds later she landed easily, bringing her halberd to sweep around her. Black as pitch, she thought at first, then her eyes gradually adjusted to the surroundings, a dim greenish light being emitted from runes all over the walls, similar to the ones on the roof. A charge was in the air, one that set the hair on her neck on end and set her skin to crawling. Even to her untrained mind the magic in the air was palpable, and something else - an equally palpable sense of wrongness, her very soul shuddering at this place.

"It's clear to climb down!" She shouted up the shaft.

Yuria heard when one of them had found an entrance and went over to where it was. Mira went down it first, and after a few moments, things seemed to be clear to go down. She went to the hole and climbed down the ladder, her eyes adjusting fast to the darkness due to her being part cat. Runes like the ones on the roof adorned the walls inside as well, and she could hear the buzz more clearly now than she would have earlier.

"This place is something else..." she said quietly to herself as she reached the bottom, then looked around to get a better look at the runes. Something about this place made the hair on the back of her head and on her tail stand up, and her tail stood upright. She kept her hand firmly on her sword, just in case, ready if anything attacked them.

Rowen wasn't really up for searching the area. Usually there is something obvious that pointed out the path, but this just appeared to be a bunch of clumsy drawings on top of a roof. Until the ears found a lever that opened the doorway in. Typical lucky bugger. Not wanting to stick around where monsters were still milling about, he fell in line with the group as they headed into the tower.

Heading down the ladder, that dull ache that Rowen felt when he landed on the spire was starting to return. The numbing pain wasn't overwhelming, but it was definitely annoying. It made it hard to concentrate on coordinating his limbs down the ladder, but since the alternative was much worse, he continued on.

"This place is something else..."

"It's something not right," Rowen remarked as he hit the bottom, the ache getting a little stronger. "Something's off here. This is starting to feel like a trap...or something." He withdrew his guns from their holsters, prepared to blast anything that he thought might be contributing to the unwelcome feelings in his body.

Nr. i

The answers were not what the Black Mage was hoping for, especially not the blatant disregard of his other query. A gloved hand traced over one of the glyphs, and immediately felt his skin crawl upon contact. Vast amounts of mana were seeping into him and threatened to numb all sense. He immediately withdrew his touch, clenching his hand over and over to make sure he had control over it. Theories about mana and its origins suggested that it was responsible for the shaping and cultivating of life but that too much exposure to it had detrimental effects on the body and mind; the Arcanists had taught the Black Mage that much about mana in its practical applications in part of their preparations for 'The Fat Bird' alias. The throbbing itch persisted in his hand, even after many attempts to stimulate it. The deafening hum was not helping with his senses either. A thought however came to him to test another glyph if it yielded the same results, and seconds later the Black Mage felt nothing but the same overflow of mana entering his arm. A thought occurred as he nursed his numb hand that the glyphs may be a sort of energy source either charging or in use for something in this tower.

Could they be powering that hum?

Readying his knife, he chipped and pried away at the panels, seeking to remove them from their moorings. It took some doing, but one or two glyphs were successfully chipped off; large sparks of lightning burst from where the knife hit, and a blinding flash encapsulate his eyes. He was stunned for quite some time, unsure of what was happening around him.

When the Black Mage came to, he recalled his original inkling. He reached out with his hands on the floor to collect them, but decided against it after remembering the sensation of mana overexposure. He reached into his robes for one of his waterskins, and emptied its contents in its mouth, slightly raising his mask so it didn't get in the way. The Black Mage kept his back turned on the rest of the group as he went about his deed, not wanting them to see his face as the Arcanists instructed. Finally the skin was empty and with his knife the Black Mage made the waterskin into a makeshift satchel to hold the runes. With his knife and bag, he nudged the two glyphs into the bag. At the end he felt his vision become very distorted and lost track of where everyone is.

Then the call came from Mira, and thoughts snapped back to the job. He pocketed his glyphs and knife in his robes and proceeded along with them. As he approached the ladder, he felt his entire body shake and convulse. Either the glyphs or the sensory deprivation were affecting him as he grew closer.

"What the hell was that, mage!?" Whatever slow process the Black Mage underwent was interrputed by one of the people on the tower; anger clearly draping her face and body. Before he could reply, she grabbed him by the arm almost dragging him to where the ladder was.

"Get down that ladder! Now!" She growled out as she finished forcing him to his destination. As much as the Black Mage wanted to experiment more, the knight was right. He was wasting time with these glyphs, and what importance had little to do with the job. The Black Mage carefully climbed down the ladder, unfocused eyes staring at the knight right through his mask.

"So much mana gathered in one place. It cannot be healthy to linger for long." The Fat Bird said aloud. He saw that people were speaking concerned, and protocol decided to spill what he could understand.

"It's collecting something, but its purpose escapes me."

Dagon took one last look at the spire before jumping down to join Mira and the others. "What a peculiar place. The very AIR seems foul!" he was still trying to be quiet, but each time he got a little louder. He then noticed a bright flash from above. "What the devil...?!" He quickly turned back to Mira. "Whatever these things are, we should waste no time in putting a stop to it! So, Captain... what shall we do? I await your orders!"

Gerhard followed the Red Mage down the ladder and felt the intensity of the tower's buzzing increase once he was away from open air. This was far from ideal. His own anxiety seemed to be magnified by the aura emitting from the walls. Gerhard hoped that the effects of this tower wouldn't slow his efforts to restore his magical strength for what came next. Above them there was a bright flash, causing Gerhard to turn and point his sword at the entrance but nothing happened so he lowered it slowly.

Can't get too jumpy in a place like this.

"This place is something else..."

"It's something not right, something's off here. This is starting to feel like a trap...or something."

"It wouldn't be the first time someone has abused magic like this but I've never heard of something this... vast." said Gerhard, remembering some of the lessons from his Master.

Great wars in the past once saw the construction of power obelisks for a transference of nature to man. It was one of the few times Calamai had spoken in grave tones about their order: "There's a reason we don't use magic to build any longer... Our number roams eternally, in penance.". Gerhard had never heard Calamai speak so softly about anything before or after that night. Whenever he pressed further on the subject he was met with an angry "We don't speak of it!" and usually ended up having to do something unsavory as a consequence for bringing it up.

Could this be related? Or is this even older than the ancient mage war?

Calamai had been far from a great scholar however. Surely someone with more interest in magical history would have some answers about the tower's purpose and construction. That however was not terribly important. They were supposedly here for a reason so he didn't see any point in wallowing in the experience longer than they had to. The whole place stank of danger.

"So, Captain... what shall we do? I await your orders!"

"Yes, let's not dwell. If our enemy truly is at work below we shouldn't give them time."

He sheathed his runed blade and clasped his hands. There would be more casting to do shortly.

Vaila gave a wry smirk in response when Yuria cheekily did exactly what she asked of her. Such amusement passed quickly though, once the entrance was discovered and the party began to descend into the darkness.

As Gerhard had seemed inclined to stay with Yuria and herself for now, Vaila followed him down into the dark, bringing up the rear of the tri-colour of mages. Red, Black and White and all of them, she was sure the moment she was inside, probably very uncomfortable with the atmosphere in here.

Though she was still not exactly fond of Gerhard, something he said caught her attention and drew her curiousity. Especially in the situation they found themselves in. "You've heard of a set up like this before?" Her ears had perked up in interest. "Is there anything in particular we ought to know about this arrangement?"

With any luck, he'd have some fascinating information. Maybe it would even make up for the smell, although right now the buzz was more of an annoyance than the mage.

"All I know is that in ages long past mages used to build up their power for those they swore fealty to by using awful magic. They would mark the land and tap its power for their own use. My master told me something terrible happened because of it and that our order has forever been punished for it. It's my guess that these things are from that time or even before but I bet you nobody alive understands everything about them." said Gerhard, forgetting his dislike of Vaila briefly. The history of the Dark Mages was one of the few things he had found interesting during his apprenticeship.

"Believe it or not, Black Mages weren't always benign like me. Calamai always told me it was a travesty we were used as guards..."

The old man was not the most reliable source. He was always drinking mead during the day and sea water in the night.

"That's all I got. If you want more information, go to a library in Durakia!" he said shortly as he accidentally brushed against a glyph wall. A nasty sensation ran through his body briefly but he managed to suppress it.

"I hate it here." he spat, returning to his internal meditations.

As the rest of the party began to make their way down, Roderic glanced up for a moment....only to flinch as a flash happened behind him. He didn't dare look, as he knew the intended effect was bringing the monsters down. It was time for him to get moving, and his annoyance was slightly matched by the knight who stood in front of the trapdoor, apparently wanting him to go down first. Though, he wished that he could just leap down and shut the door at this point.

"You gonna move it, or wait for me to mail you an invitation?" Roderic said, slightly annoyed that the creatures would not be ignoring their presence any more. "Just...remember to shut the door, or this trip is going to be a very short one!"

With his piece said, Roderic did a quick jump down, grabbing the ladder after a small fall so he could get down a bit more quickly, and leave room so the next person could get down as quickly as possible. As he began to make his way down, he caught the tail end of some conversation, but he imagined that there wasn't too much that concerned him. Especially as it sounded like it was talk of the runes, and the tower, which Roderic didn't need to be a mage to realize was somethign to heavily deal in magic.

Magic traps...always nasty. Going to have to be paying some very close attention down here. And I'm guessing no one brought some torches to keep the area a bit brighter. Ah well, just going to have to deal with clumsy people stumbling into traps, and just avoid them where I can.

Yeah, yeah, whatever Lilianna stared down the man as he grudgingly took the ladder down. Not a minute too soon Lilianna jumped in, spying a speedy harpy intent on crashing the party. She brought the hatch over just in time for it's claws to dent the cover. She could vaguely make out more noises from the other side, but the hatch stayed shut. Lilianna waited a few more seconds. Nothing. Satisfied, she slid down the ladder.

It was dark and claustrophobic for the gria, who was used to having every direction open for miles. There was some light coming off the walls. "Someone going to cast some fire spell?" She whispered, assuming the mages were close by. She kept her wings folded tightly against her back, not wanting to brush up against anything.

With her adjusted eyes, Yuria could see that the room wasn't empty. Aside from the runes on the walls, the same needle they'd seen on the roof was protruding from the floor up through the roof, and there were various mechanisms that were there for unknown reasons, though Yuria suspected they had not been there for a long time. Probably been put there by the people who were draining the elements, possibly for that exact purpose. Along with that was a staircase that lead down, and if they would go over to it, they'd be able to see that it was kept along the walls down in a circle, with multiple floors down below them.

"I don't want to cast Fire in case it causes undesirable results. Such as an explosion." she said to Knight Lilianna. "Besides, I see in the dark." She recounted to them what she saw, in case anyone else couldn't see it properly. Once she was done, though, a woman appeared from the steps, having heard when Mira landed on the floor, and then heard them talking. Not counting all the shooting that had happened outside and the harpoons that had been lodged into the spire. She was dressed in a black dress, with a typical Black Mage hat on her. "Intruders!" she called down to the other people who were there, all of various classes and races, who had been waiting for them to arrive. "Guess we don't have much of a choice but to fight. Let's hope we won't need to use Black Magic." Yuria said as she drew her sword. Quickly after calling to anyone below her, the Black Mage cast a Fire spell towards the party, which exploded into several fireballs thrown in almost all directions.

Dagon listened closely to Gerhard's history lesson. "Despite the little information, any little bit could prove useful. Thank you for illuminating us, Grouchy One!" He was then cut out by the arrival of yet another Black Mage.

"Intruders!"

He heard the shout and wasted no time, jumping into the air "FACE JUDGEMENT!" he shouted, planting both feet into the mage's chest, sending her flying towards the stairs, sending her crashing downward. "Her companions are on their way! Prepare yourselves! They'll only be momentarily delayed! Captain, do we seek to apprehend or to eliminate?"

Nr. i

"It's not a safe place to begin with." The Fat Bird said. "So much mana gathered in one place is not good for the body, or mind."

Mulling over what the other black mage said was something that he could do to distract him from the unease his body was feeling from the mana oversaturation. The air was thick and humid with the substance. If such an organization used such a facility, it would mean that they were very powerful indeed; either that or very foolhardy. The Black Mage could not imagine the fortitude these magic-users must possess as his body was still suffering from the effects of the two glyphs and the vibrating hum which he was certain came from the spire. That they could not only endure such exposure but weaponize it to the results the other mage spoke of gave the Black Mage pause. Either that of these malcontents were in way over their heads for what plans they had.

Whatever scenarios he could explore were brutally interrupted when a wayward plume of fire appeared in the Black Mage's face and exploded before he could respond. His mask was scorched and his hat was smouldering; the former could be salvaged, but not the latter. The top of his head felt absent and cold by the air. The hat was removed before the pyres could damage him, and pulled out his wand.

He walked out ahead of the rest of the party, objective was to eliminate the foes no doubt approaching their position. A female Dragoon was the first that barrelled out of the corner, and was the first to intercept the Black Mage. She was also the first to be struck with a rain of ice, but the spell created side effects he did not anticipate. First, just as the blizzard spell hurt the Dragoon, he suffered the hoary frost as well; it was fortunate that he walked ahead of the group when he did this, otherwise they would've suffered the cold as well. Second, another target - a human knight - was frozen in his tracks, but he had just appeared from the corner. Finally, the stone walkway froze over due to the blizzard spell. It was the third consequence that rammed itself into the Black Mage's skull.

One loose step caused the Black Mage to fall down the stairs, along with the Dragoon who crashed into the wall and fell a long ways. With no guardrail, he followed the Dragoon in his unintended plummet. His vision spun out as he fell down the shaft, body occasionally scraping against the wall and suffering jolts of mana from the runes. By luck, the fall ended much shorter than he expected, hitting the ground from a story below.

He landed on his back, and felt pain whisper across his nerves for a few seconds. He heard footsteps approaching from all around, either his comrades approaching or more foes closing in on his location. A cold metal object tapped his boot, causing him to look forward. He saw a human thief, with a pleased look on his face, like he saw a new score.

Thinking quickly, the Black Mage reached for his glyphs and with as much dexterity he could muster threw them at the thief. One missed, while the other hit him in the shoulder, making him hurt a little.... Not at all the results the Black Mage anticipated. He concluded that these glyphs from above were not power sources to exploit. But whatever answer he would get would be an academic point; the job would be finished afterwards and he'd wash his hands of these events.

The thief got out his knife and had it right to the Black Mage's chest before a Blizzard spell was loosed. The target was reduced to an icy statue while the caster was stuck in an icy cage; alive, but immobilized.

Lilianna snatched her shield off her back, bringing the thick steel in front of her just in time to block a spatter of fire. "Ready to cast some magic now, mage!?" Lilianna glared at the cat woman briefly before charging with the monk. He ran right through the fire, taking out the mage who had cast it. She rolled her eyes when he asked if they were about to try and apprehend what she assumed to be a tower full of enemies. Then one of the black mages ran out ahead. "Hey! Wait!"

He ran headfirst into a dragoon, but luckily managed to get off an attack that froze her to the ground. What happened next was too stupid to be put into words. The black mage slipped on his own ice, and fell down the stairs. Shit! She hoped they had their first casualty so soon. He had fallen past the monk, and was pretty much out in the front without any help. Lilianna took a swing at both frozen bodies, the ice making them easy targets to her mace, which shattered them on impact. She half slid to the bottom of the stairway, another icy enemy meeting her. More quick work. Now if only the mage would do this from behind front lines. Part of her had to wonder how slow this thief was: it didn't look like he had gotten a single scratch on the mage, and to top it off, he was frozen.

Heavy footsteps on the stairs behind her made Lilianna spin, mace at the ready, barely catching an armored enemy's battleax on her weapon. The force did push her down on a knee though. Fuck, why can't I be big as shit too?? She twisted her mace, the ax falling harmlessly to the side while she dented his/her helmet with a counterattack. The stairs were slowing the trickle of enemies, as they could only ascend two by two, but she couldn't afford to spend too much time on a single enemy. Still, seeing the mage sprawled out of the floor, half frozen, gave her an idea. She charged at the bigger knight, planting and throwing herself at him/her, and pushing him/her down the stairs. A cacophany of metal and shouts confirmed that she had a few seconds to take out the icicle in front of her "teammate". "Cast fire and get yourself out, and stay behind someone who can fight." she ordered, careful to keep her voice clear of scorn.

Nr. i

"Please stand back." The Fat Bird spoke before reading his spell. It took some doing to move in this ice, but he got the Fire spell to be cast. The plume thawed him out, but the effect spread out much farther than expected. The Black Mage figured that it would happen; the mana was amplifying his spells.

That would be unfortunate if she got scorched...

He got back on his feet and approached the Gria knight.

"The mana here is making my Magick unpredictable. There's so much of it that it's causing side-effects." The Fat Bird explained. "Perhaps it would be better if you get behind me in case any mishaps happen."

Roderic could only watch as once again the insane monk charged at a mage, barreling into them with full force. What followed was the knight who had apparently followed him down, and then...the mage? Why was a mage charging headwards into battle? And then afterwords, Roderic had a new thought as to why this mage was so horribly clumsy. He made a small mental note to avoid the mage in the future, especially regarding any battles or spell casting, and took a few cautious steps forward. Around here, he had to keep his eyes open for traps, tricks, and now enemies.

...Along with any loot that they might decide to leave behind. Lets see what we have here...? Mm, some gil, which is always handy...pair of potions? Thanks, those will be nice later....weapons can stay where they are...except those knives. A few extra for my belt...alright, on to the next one.

As Roderic pocketed the few items and gil that he wanted, he proceeded downwards slowly, seeing as the battle had moved forward a lot faster than he had anticipated...which wasn't the worst of things, of course.

"Intruders!"

Gerhard drew his blade alongside the Red Mage and watched as Dagon went to work. It hadn't taken them very long to be detected and Gerhard had to agree with Yuria's comment.

"I'm still drained, we should let the warriors hand-"

Suddenly, to their astonishment, the Black Mage which called itself Engbyr didn't fall back behind the protection of the warriors moving forward but actually advanced on its own. The folly of it astounded Gerhard but he didn't miss, even at a distance, the disastrous effects of using Black Magic inside the tower.

"His magic is rebounding on him," said Gerhard as they advanced, "and now he's fallen deeper inside."

Gerhard glanced over his shoulder as he stepped over some fresh corpses with Vaila and Yuria behind their armored compatriots. They were apparently the rearguard now. As they made their way down the stairs where the mage had fallen, they could see the battle beginning to develop in earnest as reinforcements started to stream upwards. Gunfire rang through the halls as their ranger went about his business.

"Lucky you. If you cast magic, you might accidentally heal yourself in the process. I'll just get electrocuted." Gerhard dryly mentioned to Vaila as Engbyr managed to thaw himself out of his self-inflicted ice tomb.

Damned buzzing! Well, I guess I get to be a sellsword afterall.

Gerhard brandished his short sword as they closed ranks with the rest of their party, ready to step in and assist anyone in need.

Lets see just how formidable these people really are.

"Do you seriously want me to risk accidentally casting on you or anyone else in our little group?" Yuria remarked to the Gria Knight, then watched as a few of her party members headed forwards and downwards where the Black Mage's backup was. The Black Mage with the mask demonstrated exactly why it was a bad idea to cast spells inside the spire, but it didn't seem like the Knight actually listened to her.

Yuria headed downwards with Gerhard and Vaila, and aided in battling, taking on some mages who were struggling with the decision of either casting spells and risking unfortunate consequences, or fighting with their staves and risking being weak in battle. She took them down easily enough with a few swings and stabs with her sword, then moved onto more enemies. One of her opponents was a Red Mage, who seemed more skilled than she was with a sword. Crystals damn it, I will not let him get the better of me! Risking it, she blasted a Fire spell in his face. Predictably with the mana in the air, it went all over the place, but it was the edge she needed against the Red Mage and stabbed through his chest, then kicked him off the stairs before continuing onwards.

More enemies headed their way from the other floors down below, seeming to reach forty or so. They were determined to get the intruders out of the tower, with almost any means necessary. Excluding summoning, because that would just be plain stupid inside the spire.

Dagon got a gesture from Mira telling him everything he needed to know. "FACE MY WRATH FOUL ONES!" he shouted, charging down the stairs to aid his comrades. He saw the fat mage getting out the ice, glad to see one problem had been resolved. "Your bravery is to be admired, good avian spellcaster, but you should mind your spells!" He then saw Roderic picking the pockets of fallen enemies, seeing a knight winding up a blow. Dagon rushed towards him, kicking high to strike him in the chin. As he fell down on the ground, he grabbed his legs, lifting the knight onto his shoulders before slamming him right back into the ground with a ringing crash. With the enemy out of the way, he scolded Roderic "This is hardly an appropriate time for such behavior! Wait until the danger has passed, THEN take care of their possessions!"

Upon seeing Yuria's attacks, he laughed heartily. "You fight with the conviction worthy of DAGON SETH!" He rushed past her, taking care of a Dancer who saw that all of her companions near her had been scattered and was trying to get to the stairs. "You started this fight! See it through to the end!" he punched her in the gut, and as she staggered in pain, he grabbed her arms, hooking his arms around her, pointing her head down as he jumped in the air, using gravity to slam her head onto the ground. "Feline Mage! How many more are coming towards us?!"

Nr. i

Time had passed and it seemed to the Black Mage that the Gria Knight was giving her consent. As he examined it, why else would she say nothing?

Rod brandished in his hand again, he moved forward. He had no exact idea of his location, but the objective remained the same: eliminate these interlopers.

A Viera warrior intercepted the Black Mage and nabbed a few cuts before a choatic Fire Spell cooked her inside-out, and blackened his clothes further. He thought that that Viera would be the only foe at this time, but then another Viera came charging right at him. He pointed his rod and cast Fire behind the warrior, and found himself to have avoided the backlash. To his surprise, the Viera still kept at him. He had to step back from his march and ready his dagger. He was not at all trained with it save for practical reasons to possess a knife. Peering behind him he noticed a human white mage looking like he had finished a spell, and it made sense.

The white mage was the higher priority, but the Viera and her speed and grace made splitting his focus more costly. Each strike she made scored nicks and cuts despite his attempt at defense, and each attempt at striking with his knife was met with parries and dodges that gave him more cuts. He was backed in a corner with the sword pointed at his chest, when he cast one last spell: Blizzard.

Once again, the Black Mage was frozen in a tomb and so was the Viera, but it'd be a matter of time before the white mage freed her and get to killing him in earnest. He willed the reserves of mana for a jolt of lightning at the mage; it did enough to stun him, but it also succeeded in stunning himself as well; the Viera's sword point did aggravatingly well to channel the lightning at his heart.

He was dazed again, but it was preferable to dead. Only a matter of time before his mana came back to him.

Lilianna noticed everyone starting to decend now, starting with the elezen, then the smellier of the black mages, the red mage and the white mage, the monk. Then everything just sort of took a nosedive. The stairs burst with enemies, pouring in fighters two by two. A viera and and a human got past when what she could only assume was a monk barreled into her, using her own mace to pin her against the wall.

In one sense, it was lucky, because that big hunk of flesh and bone protected her from a trio of spells. An inferno, quickly extinguished by a temperature drop, and then lightning. The monk dropped her, howling in pain. From the looks of it, despite the fact that this mage must have the worst luck, he had everything under control. Save one thing. She grabbed the white mage by the neck. "Cure and Esuna, or they won't find enough of you to raise" she growled.

As soon as a more helpful explosion of healing magic flowed, Lilianna punched her lights out, throwing her in the corner. She would be out for a while, and if they cleared this floor by floor, there would be no one to heal her either. "Tie her up if you have a second?"

Roderic couldn't help but chuckle as Dagon seemed annoyed that he was already in the process of grabbing a few things. He got the feeling that most of the group would not appreciate his style, especially when he found another pair of potions, and a few more knives. Handy for the situation they found themselves in know. With his quick work done, he made his way towards the monk who had paused in his rampage, tossing him a potion.

"I find that taking advantage of resources as they become available makes things much easier in the long run. In this case, like having something after running into a fireball. Enjoy." Roderic said with a grin, keeping a quick eye as the battle still went onward down the stairs.

Taking a glance down the stairs, he noted that the black mage had once again oddly enough charged into battle. He wasn't quite sure what was wrong with this particular mage, especially since he saw earlier when the mage had blasted himself with magic from before, and had done so again. However, in this particular case he wasn't sure if he was going to be stepping too close to the front lines, and saw the Knight. Decided he was going to let her and the monk go first, rather than step forward to get blasted at himself.

"You are a very foolish mage, my good Engbyr. Maybe you should stop tossing yourself to death, and let those better equipped deal with it, no?" It was then that he heard the Knight give the general request to tie up the white mage that had apparently been grabbed during the fight.

"Not a problem. She'll stay nicely..." Roderic said, and ripped some of the clothes to make suitable tie, and then proceeded to do it twice with the hands, and then around the legs as well. After sitting back for a bit, then decided to do a bit around the mouth as well.

"A loud prisoner is an annoying prisoner..."

Mira had not been expecting this. Enemies, yes, but not enemies comppsed of Halvorian races, and not, she thought as rebounded from a parry to drive the.hook of her halberd into a Human warrior's chest, quickly ripping it out to press the attack against another armored fighter. The way they fought was strange...

She ducked under a haymaker slash, coming upwards with a quick jab into the man's neck, slipping between armor plates to deliver a lethal blow, the man falling to the floor in a clatter of metal. Something about this situation, these soldiers, wasn't right.

"Fall back to the redoubt!" She looked to find the speaker and her blood ran cold - a man in a tattered coat and cloak, the armor beneath scratched and rusted, but nothing could change the helmet - a Dragon Helm, worn only by the Dragoon Knights.

Before she could push they began to retreat. "Let them go! We'll deal with them soon enough!"

Gerhard felt vindicated in his decision not to use his magic when he saw the other mage freeze himself with his own spell for a second time. As the knight and their captain slashed through the ranks, he took a quick stab at the back of a knife wielding rogue who had slipped behind their Monk and who was readying for a jump.

"Not tonight." said Gerhard, driving his blade deep through the man's torso as he screamed, "This should teach you not to mess around with ancient relics!"

"Tie her up if you have a second?" said the winged knight at the front before she disappeared once more into the melee.

Pulling his sword out of his victim, Gerhard noticed Roderic take up the task. Making his way over some freshly hewn corpses, he stared at the unconscious mage as she was bound up tightly and gagged.

"Maybe when she wakes up she can tell us why these ancient towers seem to be-"

A human knight, wounded but not out of the fight rose from the ground after seemingly being forgotten by those in the front. With the Red Mage occupied to their right, there were no other swords on hand to put him down. He rushed forward with a wide swing, forcing Gerhard to jump back.

"Help!" he struggled to yell to the Elezen as a thrust came for his chest. Dropping to his knees, he swung his short sword up only to find it met by an armored gauntlet which plucked it out of his grip and tossed it away. The knight brutally kicked him, sending him onto his back. Knowing he had no choice, Gerhard prepared to launch a thunder spell directly into the chest of his foe.

He never had to. The knight's triumphant yelling had turned into screams of agony. Before Gerhard could even get to his feet, Roderic had turned the marauding armored figure into a pile of steel and blood. Gerhard retrieved his blade from the ground as he overheard a general order for retreat being made by the enemy.

"Thank you. I suppose you'll take it to mean I owe you." said Gerhard, examining the knight and turning to Roderic. "He had a rather fancy ring on his left hand."

One of Gerhard's yellow eyes winked at the Elezen who was still standing with bloody knives. He made his way over to the white mage to take custody of her and sheathed his runed sword. That had been entirely too close for comfort.

The sooner I can use my magic without fear of blowback, the better.

Nr. i

He could feel his wounds close and heal up in his icy cage. The pain was shoved into a memory and the Black Mage could continue Thank goodness the frozen Viera was out for the count as well, or he'd be in a much worse position.

One wayward Fire spell was enough to free him again and proceed. The Viera was thawed out as well, but remained immobile from the shock. He took her sword and latched it in one of his belts; his thinking was to disarm this warrior in case she still had more fight in her. There was still the white mage to handle though, but he was certain that he could handle this foe. Then came the thief, Roderic who had plenty to say about the Black Mage's tactics and had already handled the white mage.

"Thank you, but it is better that I stay in front." The Fat Bird replied as he headed for the party ahead of him.

He could see another black mage further down the stairs past where the others were gathering. By the look of things it seemed like the party had these interlopers on the run. The Black Mage thought it good, as it meant that the job would soon end. Instead of advancing to eradicate these foes, the standing order was to let them go. He would do so, but not before grabbing something from the other black mage. He pointed his wand at the mage and loosed a Thunder spell.

The lightning damaged the enemy, but not enough to kill him; probably had some white mage cast Shell or Reflect to endure the brunt of the strike, while he found himself shocked by his own lightning. It hurt badly, but he was still standing but barely. Without any enemies nearby, the bolt only made a fantastic light show as it hit the wall. But the strike did reap some other benefit: it knocked the mage's hat off. Calmly the Black Mage walked up to where the wide-brimmed hat was, and put it on his head. It was a tight fit, but it'll have to do.

He clumsily returned back to where the party was stationed, and proceeded to nurse his wounds, or at least look like it. Protocol dictated grabbing onto whatever seemed to be in damage. In this case, his chest. "What is next?" The Fat Bird asked.

After Roderic had made double checked his tying work, he decided to give the mage a good look over. Something about her seemed...off. She looked less than well, making him wonder what she was doing standing up here trying to heal and shield her supposed allies. As he checked about for a necklace, he did feel something that was cold, but solidly on the back of her neck? With a small push, he glanced to see what he imagined to be an odd...tattoo, maybe? Perhaps this was worse than they had been sent to deal with.

A cult, perhaps? Never seen this kind of...thing before though. To have this big of a following would have to have some kind of outreach to other cities or something...

His thoughts were interrupted as a yell for help went out. Roderic had already taken out his knives in a flash, and was already, almost instinctively, moving towards the mage who had called out. A knight had seemingly gotten through, and with close quarters and magic being downright self destructive, the mage wasn't going to win.

The pair of knives slammed into the back and arm of the knight, making his cry of triumph turn into a scream of pain as the intended blow was now no longer an option. Drawing out another two knives, Roderic smoothly slammed one into the neck of the unsuspecting foe, then another to the side of the knight to send him clattering into the ground. With the immediate threat taken care of, Roderic reached down and retrieved the pair of knives that he had implanted, cleaning them up as he moved to hide them away once more.

"Thank you. I suppose you'll take it to mean I owe you.He had a rather fancy ring on his left hand."

"I think I'd rather keep the favor, and you keep the ring, if you don't mind." Roderic replied wryly to Gerhard, glancing over to the others and noting they were currently busy pulling themselves back together.

"Well, that went...well. Though, I didn't realize we would be cleaning up some kind of religious cult, or that there would be...well, this kind of variety. Maybe we should just leave this thing and see about causing it to tumble to the ground. Unless someone has a better idea?" Roderic posed the question to any who were listening, now that they had a brief respite.

"Not a cult, I think. That device on their necks..." She knelt down. "Hard to be sure, but it looks similar - albeit smaller - to the devices on the monsters we fought outside. All on the head too...and that was definitely a Halvorian Dragoon Knight there. Whatever is going on here is more..."

"My life for the Empire!" The white mage they had captured screamed, abruptly awake. Mira turned to look at her, her hand going to her halberd as the mage pressed her face to a rune and screamed, - "Vae Victis!" The rune glowed brighter, then went dark as the mage's body began to jerk, her body arcing with electricity, a few bolts splashing around, one catching Mira on the leg and leaving a smoking burn. Then the mage fell dead, still twitching, smoke pouring from her nose and mouth.

Mira bit back a scream of pain, her eyes wide and horrified behind her helm. "What."

Nr. i

In the back of his head the Black Mage wondered where the white mage from before was; indubitably her work would be very helpful in the injuries he's sustained over time, especially as lightning crossed through his body. The cacophonous hum had been a migraine for his time in this tower; his body had been convulsing from the vibrating effects the tower seemed to create till he felt numb in his limbs; and the damage he has sustained has made accomplishing this job more daunting. Cogitating on the defense measure was the only thing he could do until he could continue the advance downward.

The Black Mage saw the withered remains of that foe who triggered the lightning. He recalled the white mage's actions, pressing her head against a specific glyph and triggering the sudden surge. He walked right up to where the rune was and the fallen mage. He could not quite differentiate between it and the multitude of glyphs, and the specific meaning of it eluded him. Whatever significance it held, it had something to do with how the white mage's could cast that blast of lightning. The thought occurred to collect the glyph to see its effects and readied his knife to pry it off. But the Black Mage stopped before he could begin the process; experience taught him that these glyphs do not retain their mana, and there was no proof that this one would be different. He looked again at the remains and recalled something from the magickal theories the Arcanists drilled into him: most - if not all - life forms have mana in them despite its hazards.

The theory stood that when a mage applies his trade, they utilize the mana that exists in them naturally to create their desired effects. Of course there were also limits to how much mana could be expended; too much being spent led to detrimental consequences like mental retardation and bad health. Yet the body had preventative measures against these things; mages old and new alike had them the moment they learned to use magic whether they knew it or not. The Black Mage could assume that the white mage in question may have found a way to circumvent the body's natural limitations. Either by the glyph, by mana radiating through the structure, or by the one who's in charge of these foes. Either way...

"We need to press forward." The Fat Bird spoke up, facing the stairwell going down. "Otherwise we may encounter more of this defense measure." He gestured towards the white mage's remains.

He heard a group of foes heading up, and readied his wand. An ice spell was cast a floor from where the Black Mage was; he was not going to encase himself in ice again. He then heard the clack and clamor of people slipping and falling. He opted to move forward, but found that his left foot was frozen to the floor...

Options for what brutal method for execution would suffice for when he finally reached the man in charge of these foes.

While Yuria was dispatching more enemies, the order for them to retreat was given, and while Yuria wanted to go after them, Mira told them to leave them be. She sheathed her sword for the time being, and walked over to where the White Mage was. "Devices on their necks? Just what are we dealing wi-" She didn't get a chance to finish her sentence as the White Mage yelled something, then another thing and exploded into lightning. Yuria jumped out of the way so she wouldn't be hit by it, then went over to Mira and healed her with her own Cure spell.

"Something is definitely not right here. And I'm aware that's an understatement." Just what was going on? Devices in their enemies' necks that made them fight, which were similar to the ones on the monsters they'd been fighting on the Alexander. And the White Mage had mentioned the Empire. Who were they, exactly? "I don't think they'll talk, considering what just happened. But we still need to take them out." Yuria watched as the masked Black Mage got frozen. Again. At least this time it was only his foot, but still. "For the Crystals' sake, you'd think you'd learn that casting spells is not safe in here..." She drew her sword again, ready when needed.

Dagon caught the potion that Roderic threw at him, pouring it into the opening in his helmet, presumably drinking it. "Ah, most invigorating! Wonderful!" He was half done when he threw the remaining potion to Gerhard. "You might need this more than I do, Surly Mage." He saw the rest of the enemies retreat, just to see the captive White Mage's actions. "GREAT CRYSTALS!"

The sight of what happened stirred a strong reaction from the monk. "What vile sort of people would do such a thing?!" The disgust in his voice was only overshadowed by his rage. "To do such things to their allies... IT'S INEXCUSABLE!"

He saw the other Black Mage freeze himself and stairs going downstairs. The ice accumulated in such a way that the way down was now a slide instead of a bunch of stairs. Dagon rushed forward, leaping on the ice, sliding down, his knees bent and arms extended to its full length as the thin ice behind him cracked under his weight. "I shall clear the way, comrades! Those foul ones will feel the unrelenting wrath of Dagon Seth's HOLY BLITZ!" He inhaled, and the very air around him seemed to surge. The arm facing forward drew back, and he wound up his elbow, ready to strike the first enemy he saw.

"ELBOW..." As he reached the bottom of the stairs, the first foe waiting for him was a massive Barbarian berserker, lifting an axe to drop down on Dagon. The blow would never come, as Dagon used the momentum to slam his elbow into the fighter's gut.

"CANNON! Once he impacted the enemy, a loud 'whoosh' sound filled the floor, and the barbarian was sent flying off his feet, catapulting across the room, hitting a few of his allies and scattering those who were able to get out of the way. He stood up, ready to fight more, but had to quickly jump out of the way of a volley of arrows.

"I think I'd rather keep the favor, and you keep the ring, if you don't mind."

"You know I can't dirty my noble mage hands with petty looting." said Gerhard laughing, walking away from their subdued captive white mage. He was about to pry the ring off the gauntlet when a vial came flying his way. He caught the potion Dagon had thrown at him.

"Cheers." said Gerhard, stashing the vial away in one of his numerous robe pockets.

The fact he no longer had his satchel bothered him as it was stuffed with down to ensure containers didn't break apart while he was on the move. As he pulled the ring off, he heard a stranger's voice start screaming. He turned in shock to see that the White Mage had thrown herself against one of the glyph walls. Her body began to convulse as the rune reacted to flesh.

"Vae Victis!"

"Gods no!" shouted Gerhard, throwing himself to the ground as white lightning erupted from within their captive. A bolt hit the body of the dead knight near him, leaving a hole in the chest plate smoking. He rose, looking at the ashen remains of their deceased prisoner.

"Well... If they're going to act like that, we should just slay the lot of them." muttered Gerhard, closing with the rest of the group.

Once again the magic of Engbyr splattered out of control in the tower although this time it merely froze a portion of his body and didn't encase him. He found it strange how the mage insisted on moving forward when there were clearly members in their group better suited to lead the way.

"For the Crystals' sake, you'd think you'd learn that casting spells is not safe in here..."

"The sooner we finish with this place, the sooner I'll be happy. What's the point of being an adept in here when you're more likely to harm yourself than hit your mark." he said, plodding beside Yuria.

The reprieve seemed to be short lived however as their fearless Dagon charged in once again.

Better him than me. He's as strong as an ox and seems to be about as simple minded.

Gerhard kept his grip on his hilt, ready to draw his weapon if anything got past their warriors.

Nr. i

"I would not cast them if I did not have a reason to do so." The Fat Bird answered, still trying to force his foot out of the ice. A thought occurred and the Black Mage got his knife out and started chipping at the ice around his foot. He took care not to miss and strike his foot instead. He could hear the Yuke and a few of the others pressing below, dispatching what foe that got in their way. It confused him why they would think that magic should not be cast here, despite that there were magic-users stationed here, white, black, red, and others.

"The mana oversaturation will not deter these malcontents from casting spells. It will only force them to... be creative." The Fat Bird spoke up again, gesturing to the fallen white mage. With one final strike below the heel, the Black Mage loosed his foot from the ice... sort of. Ice still covered his foot to just above the ankle, but he could move it. The only clear consequence to worry about is frostbite, but the damage could be repaired by the other mages.

He pressed forward, rod at the ready for any foe he saw a floor below. He eyed a trio of humans dashing up the stairs, and the proper response was a Fire spell. The floor roared with red embers as the humanfolk screamed from the burning. Progress was made in the Black Mage's head: as long as the spells' radius was not where he was, the damage he would take would be near minimal. Having assumed that, he could feel his right shoe ooze off; being frozen and rapidly melted deteriorated the leather off of his foot. It also didn't help that his foot began to hurt from the heat projected below.

Almost in retaliation for his Fire Spell, the Black Mage found himself once again frozen over...

Just as he was learning, so were the mages...

One pyroclasm later - and putting out the fires, he was freed and pressed forward. This time keeping a distance behind to check the side rooms for any stragglers that hid. He found a Moogle engineer, but before he could loose another spell, the moogle tackled him and kicked the rod out of his hands. The foe readied some knuckle dusters and started swinging punches at the Black Mage before he could retaliate. He ran from the punches, but the Moogle was faster; despire the engineer's size, he packed a nasty punch.

The Black Mage readied his knife and pulled out the sword - which felt heavy in his hand - and struck back. The response was enough to force the Moogle to keep his distance, but the little beastie kept dodging his swings. From the corner of his eye he saw his rod on the side and edged his way to it, but the Moogle was faster still; he caught the rod with a *kupo* and resumed his offensive. One rabbit punch pushed him to the ground and the Moogle took advantage of his state to climb on him.

He yanked the mask off the Black Mage and was ready to land the last punch when he saw what was behind it. "What kind of... *kupo* thing are you??"

So spooked by the cadaverous face that he lost his grip and fell. That was enough of an opportunity for the Black Mage. He grabbed the knife and plunged it through the Moogle's chest.

With victory attained, the Black Mage took priority to find his mask and fastened it back on his face; the red paint and feathers were burned off and scraped, but it could still serve its purposes. Next was regaining his rod, which was still on the dead Moogle. The body itself kept a potion of its person, which the Black Mage emptied to regain some vigor. His eyes laded on the distinctive pom-pom...

The room cleared of foes, he continued following the party's descent lower.

"My life for the Empire!"
Lilianna was by the stairs, unable to see the action, and by the time she pushed her way to the front, there was a burst of lightning. Everyone jumped back, but it looked like no one was seriously hurt. Mira was hurt, but Lilianna left her in the care of the red mage that seemed to take up the healing job.

The monk rushed down the stairs, and Lilianna was close behind him. He cleared a good path, and she picked off the few who were stunned. Last time I spare a healer... She crossed weapons with another gria, lightly armored, but carrying a sharp sword. Normally, her armor was sufficient protection, but against this woman it was getting to be a hindrance. The samurai ducked under her mace, thrusting her sword point right under Lilianna's arm. The knight twisted away, but not before the cold steel nicked her. She pushed the samurai back with her shield, growling as her mace grew heavy in her hand. She wasn't losing blood too fast, but she was going to need to accost another healer before her mace was useful again. The next time the samurai came at her, Lilianna turned and deflected the sword point off her armored wing, then lunged forward and smashed her in the face with her shield. Lilianna lunged for her again, but found herself instead whirled around and redirected into a wall.

A crushing force followed by a sharp, cold, pain in her back. Lilianna flailed, her wings thrashing around and catching the gria in the face with her wings. Looked like they weren't planning on fighting one on one too long. The samurai stood next to a ranger, who had managed to get an arrow right under her wing, and had another already set and ready to shoot at the next unprotected enemy. The samurai charged again, and a yell from Lilianna's right side indicated another attacked was barreling towards her. At the last minute she dodged the samurai's sword, rolling painfully to the side and slashing up with her own sword in time for a berserker to impale a berserker through the stomach. The heavy body fell right on her, pinning her to the floor. The first thing Lilianna saw when she squirmed from under the dying corpse was the samurai gria, sword poised to strike.

Roderic sat back, happy to be able to take a small look around and possibly interrogate the supposed prisoner. That particular plan was terribly short lived as the white mage awoke, and screamed some kind of nonsense. Deciding that he wasn't going to have any part in this, he turned as Dagon began charging down the steps, doing...whatever it was that he did. However, he couldn't help but grin at how effective that method was. Even if they didn't have a method to blow this place apart, Dagon could probably do a good job on his own.

At the same time, the knight charged ahead right behind Dagon. With a small shrug, he decided that rather than sit around with the insane white mage, and the disaster of what that could be considered, he figured he would follow behind. Better than anything that was going to be brewing behind them now, especially if the flashes of lightning were any indicator. As he made his way down, he glanced sideways at the black mage who had apparently ended up in a small scuffle with a Moogle, of all damned creatures. He was going to help, but then the shouting downstairs seemed to get much more...spirited. Taking off at a sprint, he noted Dagon slamming his fists into anything that dared get in his path, and the knight was having more trouble with a selection of opponents who were almost perfect in getting around her armor and weapon. As the ranger seemed to be getting ready once again to fire at someone, Roderic grinned at the foe.

You have no idea what you are shooting at, do you? C'mon, lets see who does this better. In fact, lets see who's projectiles are more dangerous.

The ranger turned, firing the crossbow as Roderic let loose a pair of knives, narrowly dodging the bolt as the ranger successfully dodged one of the knives, but was staggered by another. With now a much more clear advantage, Roderic began his own charge towards the Ranger, only to note that the knight was slightly overwhelmed by a berserker. Roderic frowned, knowing that he wouldn't be able to enjoy his unfair advantage over his wounded opponent, as a Samurai moved to do some finishing touches on the slightly pinned knight, obviously ignoring him. A target he wasn't about to ignore.

Well....guess we'll just have to risk a possibly second arrow. Damned group needs to stop being in such a rush...

Roderic dismissed the injured ranger for now. Besides, taking down this particular...honorable opponent brought its own rewards. Throwing a single knife towards the Samurai, it got the attention of the gria quickly enough as the lack of armor was now more of a weakness since the unexpected range of knives was a new problem. As he made his way forward, the gria turned to swing her blade into a defensive stance, only for Roderic to decide his flaming knife was at home here. He swung the blade intentionally to skim along the blade, launching sparks and flames at the gria who had anticipated a normal weapon, not flames to jump at them.

"Gotcha." Roderic said with a chuckle as the samurai stumbled back, throwing the other knife into the chest of the no longer perfectly standing samurai. For a moment, he gria started to register that the knife had struck her, and to Roderic's surprise started to try and recover...which was when he let another knife fly, this time closer to the throat.

Crystals be damned, why the hell are they so damned tough? Then again, they ARE supposedly damned insane...

For the moment, he was going to leave the knives where they were, as he wanted to be sure that Samurai didn't get back up from those, and turned to see the knight tugging free of the beserker. She looked...less than great. Which was about all the time he had to observe before the ranger from before had closed the distance. Seems it was hard to arm the crossbow with the knife in his arm, and had taken to trying to stab him!

Why the hell did I do this again? Oh right...that pretty knight from getting stabbed. I'm a damned idiot.

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