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Ultionem Crystallis: Final Fantasy

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    Xu-Shen was to last of the group to enter the meditation room, only Luciano was walking behind him. The looked curiously as they passed a number of odd items displayed on pedestals. An intricately detailed, wooden carving of a serpent with bright blue eyes that looks like it would have taken someone years to finish. A strange medallion with symbols from a language he'd never seen before. And an add looking mask that was carved from a strange, slightly-translucent, gray stone. He stopped in front of the mask for a moment to get a closer look. It was similar in style to what all the Shaman were wearing, but the eye holes were more narrow and slightly curved at the ends. And instead of having nothing where the mouth would be, this mask had a crude "x" carved into it. He was curious about the material and began to reach out to it when one of the shaman grabbed his arm and squeezed it firmly. "This is not for you to touch, outsider." Xu gave a wry smile while he pulled his arm back and threw both hands into the air slightly above his head. "No touching then," he said as he walked along. The Shaman pointed to a table in the center of the room .

    Once everyone was seated, several more Shaman came from another room holding small baskets with various herbs and ointments contained as well as robes. They tended to the group's minor injures, mostly burns from the dragoon's final attack, and then commanded them to put on the gray robes. "Wait here until your friends are ready to join you." Spoke the female one from before, she bowed slightly and left the group to their own devices. Having little else to do, Xu sat down in the floor, crossed his legs, and closed his eyes. He began breathing in and out deeply. The others recognized the breathing exercises from his earlier discussion on limit breaks. He mentioned there might be a good place to practice the technique, and it seemed he was telling them that now was as good a time as any. It would be a few hours before the others joined them anyway.


      [Temple of Dragen]
      |Soft Reflection in Silent Reign|
      [Meditation and the Past]

      The explanation that the depiction that both he and the Hellish thought was a bear wasn’t, but was in fact something called Titan, of the other guardians sort of bummed the Beastmaster out. He was hoping for a patron deity that he could align with, instead its’s some giant naked man with a skin condition. With a sigh he polishes off the tea that he’d poured himself and sat the cup down on the stone table. After that sad revelation was given, it seemed that a decision was made, and the monks were going to aid the team. At least for one night. They were split up into two groups the Viking Kriss and their stretcher ridden friends were to be taken elsewhere, presumably to be treated for their more grievous wounds. They, the remaining would be taken somewhere different where minor wounds could be treated.

      As they were divided, they were also told that they’d have to adhere to a dress code, as it was the least, they could do while being guest. It was a funny notion to the Beastmaster requiring guest to were garments not of their choosing. Beggars, however, couldn’t be choosers and they were at the mercy of the monks and were in no condition or position to make demands of their host. So Grigor would go along with it, though what was to occur would almost make the robes and boots worth the hassle.

      At least they let you stick around, and didn’t force you out into the cold

      Fenrir looked up to Grigor while he spoke and then scratched at the gray fabric that wrapped her body, while it wasn’t exactly a robe like was forced on him, it was still a wrap of the same color. These monks were hardcore when it came to dress code, even animals had to adhere. He also quietly agreed with here, these cloths were down right itchy. Looking over to Xu, who seemed more acclimated to this meditation thing. Grigor recognized the breathing technique the Eastman was practicing immediately from when he explained what he did to the Dragoon. What did he call it, Limit something or another? The Beastmaster nodded to himself, sure why not? Might as well try to imitate it, there was nothing better to do while they waited anyway.

      Closing his eyes Grigor cleared his mind and focused like Xu explained before they even arrived to the Chocobo carriages. …

      “Are you just going to stare at my table boy?”


        The group walked into the meditation room, with Luciano trailing behind them. Eyes scanning the room, he noticed the artifacts that were displayed on pedestals. Could his hunch be correct? Maybe these trinkets could aid them in their fight for the crystals. If it was, then he knew that the would need to go through a trial to get their hands on one of them. Though that was if the shaman collective deemed them worthy of such trials to begin with. His eyes were finally to the strange looking mask that sat there, almost beckoning him. The assassin contemplated taking the mask and making a break for it, the idea of going through a set of trials sounding too troublesome to him, though before he could finish these thoughts, the sound of Xu-Shen arm being roughly grabbed by one of the shamans snapped him out of his trance.
        His eastern companion had apparently gotten the same idea.
        "This is not for you to touch, outsider." The assassin's eyes narrowed, giving a cold glare at the perceived threat which was then returned to him. Sensing the brewing tension, Xu-Shen gently broke free of the shaman's grip and motioned Luciano to follow the group.
        "No touching then,"
        Reading the mood and not wanting to cause any more trouble, Luciano decided to back off for now. Besides, he knew that it wouldn't be a good idea to make these shamans an enemy, so he decided to play nice. Walking off to the table with the rest of the group, he knew that he'd be back to take that mask, one way or another.

        Sitting with the rest of the group, he let the shamans tend to his injuries. After that was done, he quietly slipped on the grey robes and sat back in his chair. Xu-Shen sat down on the floor to meditate, and soon the rest began to follow. Taking a different approach, Luciano decided to carefully observe the Eastman's breathing meditation in hopes being able to grasp the proper technique before attempting to practice.


          [Plot Progression]

          Just over an hour had passed since Xu-Shen and the others had entered the room and had their minor wounds tended to. The room was quiet but a faint glow of azure flickered whimsically off the stone walls. Under Xu's guidance, everyone was on their way to learning how to focus their spirit energy. However, the silence wouldn't last any longer. "What are you doing?" The voice cut through the quiet like a dagger. Ju-Long stepped through the doorway with Cirrus, Alistair, and Kriss following closely behind him. The sudden interruption broke focus and their auras quickly dissipated. Xu-Shen quickly rose to his feet and placed a hand on the warrior's shoulder. "I'm glad you're finally walking again, Ju. I was worried that you wouldn't pull through." Ju-Long shot Xu-Shen a cold glare before moving past him and addressing everyone else in the group. "That technique will take your lives if you do not take caution with it." Xu placed his hand back on his friend's shoulder and quietly whispered into his ear low enough that none of the others could hear him. "Then they will train directly under me before they use it again."

          The eastman broke from Xu's hand again and walked to a corner where he learned against the wall and closed his eyes. The entire conversation had left Cirrus, Kriss, and Alistair visibly confused. "It seems to me that we've missed something rather important," the ranger commented to no one in particular. Xh just gave him a smile before he explained the basics of the technique to the three, ending it somewhat sarcastically with the same warning Ju-Long had given moments before. They had not long finished talking when one of the Shaman, Aslaug, entered the room with a large group.

          "Those who would stand against the coming darkness; we have made the decision to assist you in your fight." The shaman waited until everyone in the room was focused on him before he continued speaking. "You shall each undergo the Trial of the Dragen this day and if you are successful, you shall receive the blessing and favor of Leviathan." An uncomfortable silence filled the room for several moments, causing Hellfish to speak up loudly. "Well it ain't a giant fekkin' bear god but we'll takes it all th'same."

          A few of the shaman shot Hellfish stares while Aslaug began to speak again. "Behind you is a hall filled with doors. Those rooms are our meditation rooms and they hold great power. The water that covers the floor will peer into your very souls and reflect back to you the kind of person you have lived as. You will sit in the center of the room and meditate deeply. Then the waters will take you and then you'll be confronted with the thing which you fear the most. If you overcome that fear you will overcome the trial, the waters will become clear again, and you will be bestowed with the god's blessing. Now go, one of we shall accompany you to your room."

          However, before anyone actually made it out of the room, Kriss raised his voice and brought everyone's attention to him. "You should tell them what happens if they fail, Shaman Aslaug. The water won't give you back, your mind will be lost forever in the Realm of Leviathan." Shaman Aslaug looked to the viking coldly, his eyes piercing through him even from behind the expressionless mask. "You stay here, Fjelløve. You've completed the trial once and don't need to do it again."
          Song of the Moment
          Undertale OST, cover by LiliyPichu

          The Ranger opened the doorway into the meditation room and took a step in, the floor was half a foot lower and was covered in crystal clear water until he had both feet in. A pulse traveled through the water from his feet. He watched as it hit the wall in front of him and bounded back towards him. As it did, the water behind the pulse became became clouded and grey. The door behind Alistair shut, leaving him on his own in the dimly lit room. He made his way towards the center and sat down, he noted that even though he was sitting in water... It didn't feel wet. A curiosity to him, but not a major distraction. He closed his eyes, just as he was told to do, and cleared his mind. Suddenly, the water enveloped him and his consciousness faded to black as his mind was ripped from him and thrown into a dark world of his own creation.

          Edina stepped down into her room and watched as the clear water pulsed from her feet. The wave traveled to the edge of the room and rebounded off the wall becoming dark and murky in the wake of the pulse. "It would seem you have many sins to answer for, girl." The door closed tightly behind her, leaving her in darkness. She sighed as she made her way to the center of the room and sat down, taking notice of how she seemed to stay dry despite part of her lower half being submerged in water. She cupped some of the water in her hand and lifted it to her face, looking at it suspiciously. Even though she only had a bit in her hand, she could only barely make out the color of her palm under it. "Strange" she thought to herself as she dropped it back onto the floor and closed her eyes. She breathed deeply as she cleared her mind. The water overtook her body and her consciousness faded.

          The assassin stepped into the water. His eyes traced the pulse that emitted from his feet as it rebounded off the far wall and traveled back to him, leaving the water so dark that it looked as if it were a void of nothingness. "You..." The shaman said from behind him. "The water has turned black, just what have you done with your life?" Luciano scratched the back of his head and turned towards the shaman. "Does this mean I can't get the blessing?" The shaman looked at the assassin for a few moments and then stepped backwards, motioning for the assassin to step out of the room. "That darkness comes from within you. You have lived a wicked life. Before you can confront your fears you must confront yourself. Follow me." The shaman lead Luciano back into the room from before and to the mask he had seen earlier. "If you put this mask on, you will be taken into your own subconscious. There you will face your own demons. If you can overcome them you may be able to take the trial."

          The beastmaster watched in confusion as the water pulsed from his feet and rebounded off the wall in front of him. As it traveled back, it left the clear water grey and cloudy. Grigor heard the door shut behind him. "Tch" The beastmaster clicked his tongue and sat down in the center of the room. He wasn't being watched down and in order to clear his mind he thought he'd need a little assistance. He reached into the robe and grinned as he pulled his pipe and a bag from it, somehow managing to sneak it into the room with him. He put a bit of the contents of his bag into the pipe and used a small piece of flint from the bag to light it. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. After a few moments the water crept over his body and covered him entirely. Slowly he felt himself drifting away into another world.

          The young dragoon stepped down into the room and was surprised when he noticed the water didn't feel wet, though it was also so clear that he he wasn't even sure if there water there at all. As he placed his other foot in, the water pulsed and a wave traveled from his feet and rebounded off the far wall. He noticed a slight darkening as the wave traveled back to him. The water was still relatively clear but now it had a faint grey tinge to it. He turned around with the intent to ask about it but only caught a glimpse of the shaman as the door was closed behind him. Cirrus was a little confused but decided to simply push it down. He made his way to the center of the room and sat down as he was instructed. He breathed deeply and closed his eyes, the water slowly enveloped his body and he faded into black.

          Hellfish snorted and scratched at his butt as he hopped down into the room. The water at his feet pulsed and a wave traveled from him to the far wall. When it rebounded back the water was dark and murky. "Oi!" the captain muttered as he turned towards the shaman. "Yer water trying to tell somethin' to me?" The shaman looked at the dark water around Hellfish's feet for a few moments before replying flatly. "It reflects the life you've lived. You haven't lived a very righteous life." The captain laughed and snorted at the shaman. "Yer fekkin' right! Ain't a life worth livin' if ye can't have fun!" The captain laughed hard as he plopped down in the middle of the room and closed his eyes, within seconds Hellfish had fallen flat asleep leaving the shaman completely dumbfounded. The door closed and the water crept along the captain's body until it completely covered him.

          Ravaayth bowed to the shaman before tepidly putting one foot into the room. She marveled at how the water was so clear and didn't at all feel like one would expect. As she brought her other foot in, she watched as the water pulsed and a wave traveled from her feet to the far wall and then back again. "As expected of a follower of the light. Your water is just as clear as it was before you entered. You've truly lived a just life, girl." The shaman returned her bow and then closed the door. The mage lightly stepped through the clear waters and sat down in the middle. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes as she pushed herself in a trance, void of all thought, as she had trained to do in her youth. The water slowly took over her body and she found herself lost in a world of darkness.

          The elf girl cautiously stepped into the room. They said there would be water but she had never seen water so clear before. It was truly marvelous. As she brought both feet in she watched a pulse emit from her feet, it traveled the length of the room and hit the wall before dissipating. The water around Serapha became hazy, as if it was veiled behind a wall of mist. "Curious," the shaman said from behind her. "It's as if you have no past to reflect." Serapha chuckled quietly and gave the shaman as smirk. "Tis because I don't. I can't remember anything about meself." The shaman began to close the door to the room, but before it was completely shut he gave her a warning. "It won't be easy to overcome a fear that you don't understand. Your trial will be hard and you won't return if you fail." The elf turned around and sat in the center of the room. She heard the door close completely behind her. "Or it will show me something I've long forgotten." She closed her eyes and purged her mind of all thought. The water flowed up and over her body as she drifted into unconsciousness.

          The brawler enthusiastically hopped into the room. The prospect of becoming stronger excited him in ways nothing else could. As he landed a wave traveled from his feet and spread evenly across the room. It rebounded off the walls and closed back in on him, leaving the water tinged and only slightly murky. The shaman watched as the water began swirling slightly around Volt. "As pure as your thoughts might be, your violent desires disturb the water. Be cautious of yourself boy. You can't punch your way out of everything." The door closed tightly behind Volt, leaving him in the dimly lit room on his own. He sat down in the water, crossed his legs, and put his hands on his knees. "Hmph. I've punched my way out of plenty." He closed his eyes and after some effort he cleared his thoughts and the water washed over him and dragged his mind away.

          Without a word, Ju-Long stepped into the room and watched as a pulse emitted from his feet. The water hit the wall and suddenly flashed brilliantly, bathing the entire room and hallway in a blinding light. Instinctively, the warrior covered his eyes with his arm and stammered backwards. The shaman quickly pulled Ju-Long back into the hall and slammed the door. "Why did you not say that you undertook these trials before?" The shaman was angry with Ju-Long. "Who are you?" Ju pulled himself to his feet and dusted his robes off. He looked at the shaman coldly before walking back towards the other room. "I have not done any such trials. But if Leviathan refuses to grant me her blessing I will find strength on my own."

          Xu looked at the crystal blue floor curiously. He made a short hop into it and made a splash as he landed. Slowly he walked towards the center of the room and started to crouch down when the shaman called out behind him. "Wait." Xu turned around and made eye contact with the shaman, giving a wry smile. "Is something wrong?" The shaman watched carefully for several moments before motioning for Xu to come back. "Leviathan doesn't recognize you..." The two were interrupted by a bright flash from down the hall. Moments later Ju-Long stomped by, turning slightly to see Xu standing in the water. "Hmm... You too Ju? Seems like Leviathan just doesn't like us." Xu made his way back into the wall and walked with Ju-Long back into the waiting room.


            Kriss stood and watched as some of the shamans came out of each room carrying the boots of everybody that had stepped into the water. Kriss was worried, out of all the trials he had to succeed in to earn his axe, this was possibly the most difficult. The water reflects back your fear as well as anything terrible you’ve done in the past and transforms it into a form to overcome. It was different for each person who participated in it. The other person who had made it as far as Kriss in the trials lost his mind to the ritual. The last two shaman came out of the rooms with boots, but they were followed by the two barefoot Eastmen behind them. What had happened? Surely they hadn’t already completed the trial.

            “Young Fjelløve! How long are you going to remain there gawking? Come with me to the kitchen to help prepare the fish stew.”
            Shaman Yolanda grabbed Kriss by his robes sleeve and pulled him towards the kitchen. She was the only one who didn’t call him “Lion of the Mountain” and he couldn’t help but appreciate that a bit. He moved into the kitchen and began working on deboning the fish and cutting into cubes for the stew.
            “It’s strange, first and outsider appears on our shore, and now you come and bring an entire cart full of them. Our service to Leviathan has been full of oddly... foreign elements.”

            “There is another outsider here? In the temple?”
            Kriss was genuinely shocked to hear the news.

            Yes, it was very strange. He simply appeared on the shore outside. He was terribly injured, though not nearly as bad as you and your companions. That being said, he was unconscious and wouldn’t wake up. He’s in a spare bed down in the sleeping area.”

            That is... What does this outsider look like?”

            “He has dark hair with a styling grease in it. He was wearing a red silk shirt and dark trousers and he has a gold front tooth.”

            There was no doubt in Kriss’ mind, surely this was the thief that had framed him back on the Siren’s Song. The one who had disappeared without a trace. Now he was at the temple. Kriss knew that he couldn’t start trouble with the shamans, especially while the others were undergoing their trials, so he chose remain in the kitchen for the time being. He prepared another fish for the stew.
            Last edited by Tyler_D; February 11th, 2019, 08:21 PM.


              Volt soon woke up to find himself at a place he had long been away from. 'This is....'
              Volt was outside of a small house made of clay and brick, with a small stable with a total of four Chocobos not far away from it. 'My home....... But how?' Volt went to the house entrance and inside was two people in clothing that were like that of mages, who looked at him like he ran away and didn't tell them. One was a male of 30 + years, his hair being Red, with a buzz cut. The other person was female, with Long Blonde hair in a ponytail. "Son?" Asked the male. "Volt? Is it really you?" Asked the female. Volt dropped to his knees, tears in his eyes. Volt was not expecting to encounter his parents.

              The mother stepped up to Volt and knelt down to put a hand on his shoulder. "But you aren't alive...... How come I can see you? " Volt asked. His parents looked at him confused. "What are you talking about?" His father asked.

              A loud roar would soon be heard outside, causing the Chocobos in the pen to panic. Volt's eyes widened. A flash in his head showed him alone amongst his dead family, covered in blood and gashes. He soon snapped back to this reality and got up. "Mom, Dad, find a hiding place, quick!" His dad shook his head. "No, let us go with you to help." Volt clenched his teeth. He didn't want to experience this pain again, but Volt would allow them to follow.

              Volt and his parents ran outside to see a Black wingless wyvern stomping towards the house, Its mouth full of razor sharp teeth and eyes glowing a ominous yellow, that seemed to absorb anything that stares at them.

              "A Basilisk? What is one of those foul creatures doing here?" His mother asked. Volt's father replied, "That creature shouldn't even be here. We are nowhere near the Volcanic Isle." Volt looked at his parents, and told them,
              "Stay back! I got this!" He ran towards the Basilisk, and got under its body before leaping and throwing a punch at its underside. A loud crunch could be heard upon impact, followed by Volt falling to the ground and his hand looking deformed. He held his hand screaming in pain.

              He looked at his parents, who were rushing towards his aid. Volt thought in his head about this incident. How he doesn't want to see it happen again. He closed his eyes and as soon as he did so, there was silence. He opened his eyes to find himself in a black space, his own hand fully healed to his own surprise.
              "What the...... Did I do that? No, something else is going on..... Hrrrgh!" Volt fell to his knees. The wound he felt healed from his own journey was reopened - The loss of his own family.

              He slammed his fists on the ground screaming.
              "They did not deserve to die! I should've been learning the magic arts, but all I did was slack off strengthening my body! I should have learned to use my inner flame! Then my parents wouldn't have had to......." Volt had tears running down his cheeks. This was the test he needed to face..... The one problem he could not punch away.
              Last edited by Kevin King Ghidorah; February 12th, 2019, 07:08 PM.


                One moment, Alistair was drifting in a sea of black and in the next he he found himself in a lush green forest under the cover of night. He was looking around in an attempt to gain his bearings when he was caught off guard by the sound of familiar voices in the distance. With his curiosity piqued, he carefully made his way through the brush by following the voices. Moments later he entered a small clearing and spotted a camp. The fire flickered brilliantly causing light to dance across a makeshift tent. Two older men sat around the fire talking loudly and drinking heavily. They looked familiar but the ranger couldn't quite place their faces.

                He approached them cautiously and, not wanting to startle them, announced his presence clearly. "Hello there my good friends!" The two older men looked in his direction. One man in particular glared at him scornfully. The man was quite large, especially given his apparent age, what with his shaggy, snow white hair and unkempt beard. He was muscular, well-built and clearly in excellent health. Given the sheer size of him and how hairy his arms were, one wouldn't be remiss mistaking him for a bear instead of a man. But none of that explained the familiarity, at least not until he spoke. "Where's the kill, boy?" His voice was deep and gruff and the smell of alcohol rolled uninhibited from his mouth as he spoke. "Sent you out an hour ago to find it and finish it off but you can't even do that right?" Alistair was confused, this moment was familiar. Like an old memory he had buried deep down. "P-Pardon?" He found himself trembling slightly but he wasn't sure why. He watched as the man stood up, suddenly he seemed much larger. He towered over Alistair by a good three feet. His presence was imposing as he stood over the ranger with a bottle in hand.

                The old man tilted the bottle to his mouth and finished off the rest of the spirit. His face grew red when he looked down at the boy in front of him. "Some son o' mine, you're useless." Suddenly it all came back to him, this man's identity and this moment. "Maybe I wouldn't be so useless if you weren't such a pathetic sack of shit." He gritted his teeth and clinched his fist as he watched his father's face flush and his brows furrow. With the bottle in hand, he reached out and then smashed it across the side of Alistair's face, knocking him flat to the ground and splattering blood into the dirt. His vision faded to black.


                  [The Realm of Leviathan]
                  |Where Few Mortals Dare Trespass|
                  [Dregs of the Past]

                  Grigor came to with a snap almost losing his balance in the process forcing him to stumble so he wouldn’t fall. His heavy steps echoed off the stone floor at his feet, and he was immediately confused as to where he was, and possibly when. A cursory glance of his surroundings told him he was in ruins of some sort and the stone around him was slick with condensation. He was struck with a sickening realization, well more of a thought. These ruins looked awfully familiar. Too familiar and his heart leapt to his throat nearly choking him. What in the god’s names was going on here? What happened to Dragen’s Temple? How long was he out? Were they attacked? Did he fail the test? Was he dead?


                  Girgor’s voice cracked when he shouted, but no answer came with the empty echo. Just the swirling fog that engulfed him. The Beastmaster swallowed hard and closed himself off, pulling his thoughts inward. Calming himself. If only his training for that limit thing wasn’t filled with the old man berating him for his life choices, then maybe he’d be better at clearing his mind.

                  No, he thinks to himself pushing his immediate fears down. This cannot be what you believe it is. Pay attention Grigor, your surroundings are telling you something. It’s not cold enough to be Dragen Temple, and the ruins are in far too much disrepair to be destroyed by any recent event. You also can’t be dead, you can smell, taste, and feel the environment. Then, where are you. Opening his eyes, Grigor’s mind was racing but he was calm enough to start moving about. Walking over to a wall he places a hand on its surface. It was cool and moist to the touch, yet despite that it was also covered in a fine layer of dust which came free as he pulled his hand away.

                  A familiar tingle crawled up his spine while he rubbed his hands together and he moved from that spot to an archway. Moving though it he finds himself walking from an antechamber into a much larger, rubble filled, room. Morning light flooded the area from a large hole in the partially collapsed ceiling, but it did very little to cut through the mist that seemed to be almost alive as it swirled and ebbed in place. There was nothing to do but move forward, and so he did. In doing so, though, he kicks something knocking it a few feet from him. Retrieving it, Grigor discovers it was a worn piece of charcoal and his heart again leapt to his throat. Crouching he leaned toward the nearest wall and rubbed the dust and moisture away and to his fear he finds the childish drawings that he and his sister had done in their youth.

                  The realization left him weak in the knees which forced him into a sitting posture.

                  So, this is what my soul reflects. Kriss said if we fail, we’d be lost to Leviathan…'

                  Looking up, the Beastmaster almost seemed cosigned to that fate while he recalled what was said before this test started.


                    Don sat up in the bed with a slight wince and reached over to a small table with some type of herbal tea on it. The shamans didn't tell him anything specific about the liquid, only that he needed to drink it regularly. They seemed to refill his cup while he was asleep. He was still a little tender from the various beatings he'd received in the past few days, but ultimately pretty well-mended. A bandage was wrapped around his forehead but other than that he had no residual damage. He was however a bit itchy in the grey robes he'd been provided. However he thought it best to not complain about them to his hosts.

                    One of the masked shaman that had been acting as his caretaker entered his room quietly and placed a small box on the foot of his bed before making her way to Don. "Good. You are awake." she reached out and touched his cheek with the back of her hand "And your temperature has returned to normal." She then gestured towards the box "These are all of the possessions you had when we found you.. They have been cleaned and repaired." Don nodded in thanks and leaned over the box, beginning to rummage through it.

                    The shaman spoke up again. "It has been twenty-four hours, it is time you be on your way." she spoke in a monotonous voice, her eyes concealed by the mask. Don paused for a moment and looked up, his hand rising up and rubbing his head-bandage instinctively. "Look... I just got done single-handedly defeating a shadow Dragoon.. I think I'll need a little more time to recover, you know?"

                    Without any pause the masked woman shot back. "No, you don't. Your wounds are healed. You will not be permitted to stay any longer, mister Frisco" Don didn't recall giving the shaman his name, perhaps he volunteered the information in a state of semi-consciousness. "I will give you a few moments to get dressed. Please do not tarry." she said before exiting the room.

                    Don slowly began to dress, although it was just a few minutes it seemed to drag on as he began to ponder about his situation. The thief prided himself on being able to thrive in some of the roughest ports and towns of Acerrae Vatriae, but he'd spent virtually no time outside of a city-environment. And the arctic temperatures only further complicated things.

                    He finished dressing and placed the robe in the box provided, then carried it with him out of the room. The masked woman was waiting outside for Don, and as soon as he exited the room she motioned for him to follow as she lead him down the hallway. Don chimed in while they walked "I can pay for a room if you'll let me stay. I'm not familiar with this.. area"

                    The masked woman seemed to ignore his bargain, "You may keep the robe Mr. Frisco. We are not certain why you've visited our land without appropriate attire, or how you ended up here."

                    Don sighed "Yeah, that makes two of--" the thief stopped talking as the two passed the kitchen where Don caught a glimpse of Kriss, who seemed to be cooking alongside other shaman. In his relief to see a quasi-familiar and unmasked face, without thinking he tapped the shaman on the shoulder and pointed over to Kriss. "Hey -- that guy. I know that guy. He'll vouch for me."

                    before any response was given from the masked woman, Don briskly walked into the kitchen towards Kriss and perhaps less-than-sincerely called over to him "Hey pal, glad to see you made it here safely."

                    Last edited by The Poster Formerly Known as Teal; February 13th, 2019, 05:55 AM.


                      "Hey pal, glad to see you made it here safely."

                      Kriss was utterly startled, there was the man who had framed him on the ship walking up and speaking to him like they were old friends. His dark pants were covered in mending stitches as was his jacket which he had tucked under his arm and his red shirt was clearly darker in places where blood had stained it. His hair was messy and his face was covered in small styptics and bandages. The shamans had clearly helped him out. He waved over to Kriss and gave a big grin, his gold tooth glinting.

                      "You know the outsider who mysteriously appeared on our shore?" Shaman Yolada asked, clearly intrigued.
                      "We are... acquainted. This is the Snea-"
                      "Don!" He interrupted Kriss before giving a small cough and smiling.
                      "He was on the ship with us before he disappeared into thin air. I am surprised you allowed him entrance."

                      The other shaman spoke up. "He has a powerful magical force emanating from within him, and he was permitted by Leviathan to enter. He claims he defeated a "Shadow Dragoon" single-handedly and that's why he's so injured. He says you will confirm this."
                      Kriss slowly felt anger burn inside him. He wasn't even angry over getting framed, but what this man had claimed struck a chord within Kriss.

                      "I will not confirm that blatant lie!" He walked over to Don and looked straight into his eyes. "That Dragoon killed my friend and brother, Jack! You know damn well that it is still out there! Your business being associated with this group at all is between you and the Eastman! You boarded using a false name with a promise of payment you did not actually have in order to steal from the captain and us! You framed me for your crimes and then, while the others fought and nearly died against the Dragoon, you..." Kriss took a deep breath and made himself calm down. "I am not certain what your intentions are from this point, Don the Thief. If you thought the shamans couldn't see through your lies, you are mistaken. You should be deeply grateful for whatever circumstances caused them to grant yo-"

                      "Do not speak for the Shamans of Dragen, Lion of the Mountain."
                      The shaman beside Don had cut Kriss off. "It was the will of Leviathan that we accepted him as well as your party into this temple. We are not here to judge him. Any grievances you have with this man are not our concern, but they will not be aired in this temple. He said you know him, and that seems to be true. While she was speaking, another masked shaman walked up and spoke to her quietly. "The shamans have convened and have determined to leave him with your party. Congratulations, Mr. Frisco, you will be permitted to remain another night if you so choose. If so, please return your clothing and put the robes and boots back on."

                      Kriss was floored by this turn of events. How was he the one in the wrong? He turned to look at Shaman Yolanda who had continued to prepare the stew. Without looking up she simply said "We will not defy the will of Leviathan, Young Fjelløve." Kriss sighed and went back to preparing fish and wondered how the other's were faring in their trials.


                        "That Dragoon killed my friend and brother, Jack! You know damn well that it is still out there! Your business being associated with this group at all is between you and the Eastman! You boarded using a false name with a promise of payment you did not actually have in order to steal from the captain and us! You framed me for your crimes and then, while the others fought and nearly died against the Dragoon, you... I am not certain what your intentions are from this point, Don the Thief. If you thought the shamans couldn't see through your lies, you are mistaken. You should be deeply grateful for whatever circumstances caused them to grant yo-"

                        Don was taken aback and pondered some of what Kriss said while the shaman beside him spoke, although he outwardly maintained his grin. While he somewhat remembered the Shadow Dragoon singling out Cirrus, he hadn't really considered the rest of the group's connection to it -- a realization that brought with it a small pang of guilt. A feeling of which Don was frankly surprised by.

                        The new shaman beside him snapped him out of his introspection,"Congratulations, Mr. Frisco, you will be permitted to remain another night if you so choose. If so, please return your clothing and put the robes and boots back on." to which Don nodded in acknowledgement while removing the cloak from the box and draping it over his shoulder. He brought his gaze back to Kriss, still sporting a gold-toothed grin.

                        "It's pirate... I stole something at sea. So it's Don the Pirate"

                        with that he headed towards the hallway with his caretaker shaman in tow. In a much more chipper mood now at being able to stay he said aloud to the kitchen "Praise the great Leviathan" before exiting.

                        While walking back to the sleeping area and recalling some of the prior conversation he spoke out to the woman.
                        "Hey, you mentioned the Viki- er, The Lion of the Mountain's 'party'. Where are they?" Don was legitimately curious as to the condition of the other passengers, but also couldn't help but wonder if Beckett was among them.


                          Song of the Moment: Secret of the Forest (Chrono Trigger)
                          By Yasunori Mitsuda

                          "Witch-lady....Oi! Rise n shine, hag, lest we charge ye another hour for the room!"


                          "Ye stewpid cow, I'm not in the mood for yer antics today!"


                          ".........That makes two of us."


                          The indignant maid barely managed to register the slumbering mage's grumble in time. Just as she was opening her mouth to retort, her eyes were blinded momentarily by the flash of silver. With a yelp, she stumbled back just as the sword sliced through the empty air where her throat had been with deadly ferocity. Her movement was too sudden for her delicate frame, however; with a heavy thud, the young lass landed on her bottom. She stewed in her anger for a moment while the redheaded scoundrel continued snoring, apparently totally indifferent to whether or not the strike had killed her.

                          "Oooohhh, that DOES IT!!!"

                          The furious young maid scrambled up from her undignified position and made her way to the door of the lodge room in a huff, only coming to a slow stop when a larger figure drifted into the frame, blocking her path. Its armored form was so hulking and imposing, the young girl almost didn't notice it was a woman until it turned its hooded head towards her. Two pale blue eyes peered down to regard her from beneath a flowing mane. Long, golden locks fell across a formidable pauldron bearing the insignia of a military wing, the sickle-shape of the symbol not unlike that of a scythe. The young girl stifled a gulp before speaking.

                          "Eh, mornin', madam..."

                          "Good day to ye. Please, I shall take her off yer hands now; Continue about yer morning, and do not breathe a word of this to the guards."

                          The young lass pouted, clearly flustered at the thought of letting the ruffian go unpunished but feeling she had no choice other than to acquiesce to the paladin's demand. Seeming to sense this discontentment, the armored soldier reached for something about her waist. The young lass didn't dare so much as breathe. Her face brightened only when the paladin took one of the girl's hands in a thick gauntlet, depositing several large pieces of gold into a delicate, trembling palm.


                          "Y-yes, milady! Thank ye for yer patronage, may our God-ruler watch over yer every step!"

                          Smiling, eyes twinkling, humming a merry hymn, the girl made her way down the hall in a twirling sort of dance. Celestia watched her disappear around a corner, her footsteps sounding on a flight of stairs as she clambered down to the first floor. Contented that they were alone, the paladin turned back to the soldier still dozing despite the rising sun. With a few silent clinks, Celestia made her way to the bed. She bent down gently over the mop of auburn hair, and whispered:



                          "O, 'aving a pleasant dream, are ye? Ahaha, who is it with, love? Do I kno 'im? O...don't tell me it's the admiral again. Ye kno he's a marr'id man, ya, and with little whelps. Tsk...Serapha, ye truly are a naughty thing, thinking of doing all that with an honorable man like the admiral."

                          "Hell's bells...I'm awake, ye miserable cow."

                          Kicking off the fuzzy blanket, Serapha shifted onto her back. She rose to a sitting position and stretched her limbs, ignoring the musical cascade of giggles presently bubbling from her armored companion.

                          "...Any particular reason for this rude intrusion?"

                          "'Rude' would be taking off the 'ead of our hosts, wench. I'll be out of gold soon if ye keep making attempts on lodge persons like this."

                          Celestia punctuated her scolding with a yawn, adding, "I'm blooming tired of 'aving to wake up well before dawn to mind the safety of said persons, ye kno. Some of the less scrupulous types like charging ye early..."

                          She yawned again, collapsing into the small bed alongside the mage. Serapha mused over this for a few moments, absently running a set of fingertips over her chin.

                          "Well," Serapha grunted, bringing her legs over the other side of the mattress, "maybe ye should spare yourself the trouble from now on, and let nature run its course. It's best that way. Natural selection, they call it."


                          Serapha grinned sheepishly, rising to her feet. After surveying the room for a moment, she crossed the wooden floor towards a mirror on the other side with a disheveled sack at its base. She bent to retrieve her luggage and started to rummage through her belongings. Curious, Celestia's head shot up at the sound.

                          "What are ye stealing?"

                          "I'm not..."


                          "Really! Nothin' in this dump worth nicking. I just been wanting a warm bath, is all, ever since we came to this continent...Er..."

                          Wordlessly, Celestia had swung up gracefully from the bed, wearing the trademark smile that made her pale blue eyes twinkle as she came over to Serapha. The mage watched her approach in the mirror, eyes narrowed with suspicion. They always had whenever Celestia's bewitching expression of disarmament and charm had made its appearance. So entrancing was that look, that Serapha had scarcely noticed the moment when the distance between the two of them had been closed completely. Gently, Celestia brought her arms around her dearest friend in a warm embrace. Serapha's ear tickled with the words the beguiling paladin whispered to her,

                          "That makes two of us."

                          "Ay, q-quit fooling ya fukken cow!" Serapha yelped, ducking out of Celestia's arms. Laughter bubbled through the room once more as the flustered mage, blushing furiously, fumbled about with the articles that had tumbled out of her bag.

                          Song of the moment: Poeme-Nocturne op. 61
                          By Alexander Scriabin

                          It wasn't until Serapha was alone in the bath that her new memories finally caught up with her. Perhaps they were triggered by the sight of the bath-water rippling out from beneath her as she settled down. She watched the tiny waves travel to the corners of the small bath, which were partly obscured behind the steady haze rising from the warm water. This, too, reminded her of the trial she had entered. Her mind recalled the ominous words the shaman had spoken about combating a clouded past.

                          Serapha let her body sink until only her head and shoulders remained exposed. Her troubled mind meandered over everything she had experienced since waking up in the inn, trying to suss out any slight peculiarities. The morning had been rather uneventful; After Serapha had donned the requisite robes to enter the bathhouse while smuggling her shortsword beneath, Celestia suggested once again that they enter together. Her brash attempt at a subtle proposition had been declined once more, and Serapha left for her morning alone. She had seen the feisty young maid on her way out and offered a half-hearted greeting, being rewarded with only a silent dagger-like stare.

                          Upon entering the bathhouse, Serapha had been delighted to note that no other occupants were inside. This pleasant realization did a great deal to ease her mind, as there had been some unrest assailing her ever since she had come out of her room. Now that she had seen the ripples and been reminded of her precarious situation, she knew why.

                 is truly worrying...what might it be asking of me? What is the test to overcome, in the first place?

                          Curiously, Serapha scanned through the warm steam about her. No monstrous foes were to be found lurking in the bath with her. The mage rose to her feet, carefully negotiating her way across the smooth surface towards a small window on the opposite side, ignoring the radiating warmth of the waters that beckoned for her to return. She parted the small curtain, but could see nothing amiss from this narrow view of the woods surrounding the humble lodge. If there were an enemy stalking about in that dense wilderness, it was keeping itself quite hidden.

                          Serapha gave a somewhat sharp sigh as the cold began to cling to her skin. As she stared down at the crystalline surface behind a screen of steam, her reflection was suddenly distorted by a new series of ripples. Serapha's head shot up, internally cursing herself for leaving her sword at the other end of the room.

                          "Are ye quite alright, wench?"

                          "Get out!" Serapha hissed at her chortling comrade, barely managing to keep her own footing as she rushed over to try and force Celestia out of the water. "We agreed, ye would wait outside until I finished, why are ye here?!"

                          Celestia didn't bother answering her quarry, instead stooping down to take a seat in the water. She motioned for Serapha to do the same. The mage stared at her for a moment before doing so with apparent reluctance, letting herself sink up to her nostrils.

                          The blonde elf hummed cheerfully, "Ye kno, I didnae think we would be so fortuitous as this, 'aving the place all to ourselves. D'ye remember, when we were young novices and having to share damn near every breath of air in those dingy barracks back in that hellish swamp-town?"

                          "Ye", Serapha muttered absently, not really paying much mind to what her friend was saying. Her eyes darted over to the window again.

                          "O, isn't it nice being assigned to a town such as this. Did ye kno, they 'ave one of them nature parks near th'outskirts? We should go there on our next day off, oh I hear they 'ave those funny bird-things like the ones my nana used to work with!"

                          Serapha smiled. It did sound like a pleasant way to spend the time. Still...

                          Her eyes drifted away to peer at the window again uneasily. Nothing had really changed. It still showed a vacant forest, still as can be, though it was difficult to tell through the steam. What might be lurking out there? Would Celestia be of any use against it?

                          Next to Serapha, she heard her friend shifting in some mild discontentment.

                          " something the matter? Did ye see a deviant outside the window?"

                          "No; she's sitting here next to me."

                          Celestia gave her a light slap on the shoulder, which was promptly returned onto her arm as she brimmed with another giggle. Serapha smiled, her head lulling back. She closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the water's caress and her friend's company. Several minutes passed in silence as she let her mind wander again.

                          Many days ago, Serapha had fallen ill aboard the Siren's Song. She had gone into a sort of trance before then - an effect of having a powerful memory find its way to her so suddenly. In it, she had been speaking with a witch who had been rumored to have the rare ability to divine the future.

                          Yet I can't seem to recall all the details of her omen...She knew of this 'Astaroth' character that my new friends are pursuing, but what else did she tell me?

                          All that she knew was that she had gone to those caverns willingly to investigate. Serapha had never been one to shy away from a fight, and she had every intention of confronting this new threat head-on regardless of the outcome. This choice had put her on a collision course with the hydra, whose petrifying curse had left her dormant in the cave for thousands of years. And now...

                          Serapha's eyes opened again, realizing she had almost been dozing off in the last few moments. The morning sky above her was almost entirely obscured by the steam. Her eyes scanned about again. Beside her, Celestia was gently humming a soothing melody from behind a steady screen of warm condensation. Her pale skin seemed somewhat ashen hidden from the rising sun in this thin haze. Absently, Serapha wondered if this had been similar to what she had looked like in the petrifying fog for all those years. Despite the warmth, she suppressed a shudder.

                          "It won't be easy to overcome a fear that you don't understand. Your trial will be hard and you won't return if you fail."

                          The words seemed to float through the mist to find her again. Finally, Serapha decided she didn't want to be here any longer. She arose from the waters, seeming to fight them off slightly as her body freed itself from its pressure. Next to her, Celestia stirred from her idling to look up at Serapha in puzzlement.

                          "Something the matter?"

                          Wordless, Serapha shook her head, making her way towards the entrance. The cool morning air rushed over her skin in a wintry greeting as she walked, sending a brief chill down her spine. Behind her, Celestia was rising out of the water as well, though not quite as wordless.

                          "You kno, ye do not have to come with me, friend."

                          In fact, I quite prefer you stay here while I go and find this thing to confront alone

                          "O, and leave ye to skewer some little whelp who mighta been peepin' or mighta been at the wrong place at the wrong time? I think not!"

                          Serapha gave a mildly frustrated sigh. "It's nothing like that at all, trust me."

                          Celestia crossed her arms. "What d'ye need that for, then?"

                          She gestured at the shortsword, which Serapha was presently making her way towards. Serapha rubbed her neck sheepishly, turning away from her.

                          "Celestia...I'll be right back. I won't go causing trouble for no one, ye have my word. Now, what more could you want?"

                          "I want to kno what the bloomin' 'eck has got ye so antsy, darn ye. Acting like a completely different person right now, ye are, leavin me here without reason nor a goodbye. Aren't we partners?"

                          This outburst left Serapha stunned for a few moments. She had not intended to hurt Celestia with her actions, but time might not be a luxury she had at that moment.

                          As she was deliberating over all plausibly appropriate courses of action, Serapha suddenly felt the warmth of a body at her back. The startled mage was completely paralyzed as her mind scrambled to understand what was happening. Two bare arms coiled around her to pull her in a familiar embrace before Celestia's lips buzzed in her ear once more.

                          "Serapha...come, now, just relax and stay here. Whatever it was, just stay here. Or are ye not happy being here with me?"

                          ...Oh, no.

                          Slowly, the mage pulled away, a dark realization finally coming to her. "It's not that at all, Celestia..." Serapha turned to look at her, half-expecting to see a dramatic change in the illusory projection of her old friend now that the spell was surely broken

                          Her heavy stare was met with one of perplexity and genuine worry.

                          "Love...friend...Why do ye look at me with those baleful eyes?"

                          " You are not Celestia. Celestia is dead. She has been for thousands of years. Just like....the rest of my kind."

                          "...Have ye gone mad, wh-"

                          "And if I do not wish to join ye all in the ashes any time soon, I must stop trying to live with the dead meself. I will not forget my dearest friend or who I am, so I must stop being afraid of moving ON!!!"

                          With that final word came the swing of her silver blade that she had always kept nearby, no matter the hour, no matter the occasion. Celestia barely moved from her spot. The blade collided with her bare midsection like it had hit solid steel, though the attack was sudden enough to catch her by surprise and send her off-kilter. Serapha was momentarily set off-balance as well, the waves of the impact traveling up her arm and to the rest of her body. She lept back to regroup, her clothes toppling into the warm bathwater as Celestia regained her footing.

                          " kno...I 'ave to confess, I've always wondered what it might be like to fight ye seriously since we first met. It's a sad thing to be doin' it this far away from any arena, to do it because ye have gone FUKKEN CRAZY!!!"

                          As Serapha poised to take another swipe at a more vulnerable spot, Celestia hastily snatched at the robe that had spilled at her feet and threw it into the red mage's face, momentarily blinding her. The frenzied mage tore it away in an instant, her eyes hunting about for the fake Celestia. She saw the door to the bath had been thrown open and sprinted through the entryway, turning in the direction of the lodge.

                          At the other end of the stone path stood the paladin, ironclad and armed with an intimidating zweihänder. What was even more terrifying, however, was what had happened above her neck.

                          Somehow, while it had been out of sight, the illusory thing had sprouted two more heads. One, Serapha recognized as the young girl who had come into her room to wake her. The other, she could not place immediately though its face seemed oddly familiar. Both of them stared out angrily at the mage from the other end of the path, with Celestia's cold blue eyes regarding her with a distant apathy.

                          Serapha tisked at the sight. She was suddenly much more aware of her vulnerable state.

                          "This seems a trite bit unfair, no, taking up arms against a bonnie lass with not a patch of clothing on her back, never mind armor?"

                          "Yer one to talk, striking at an unarmed foe, never mind the lass."


                          "It will be!"The monstrosity roared, charging towards the mage at a blinding speed. The two other heads gnashed their teeth angrily, and that was when the red mage recognized the other head: it was the sailor whose arm she had cut off many days ago during the vampire attack on the Siren's Song. The nimble mage vaulted over the paladin's horizontal strike, a deafening series of noises echoing through the quiet forest as the greatsword devastated the adjacent wall of the bathhouse. The combatants were showered in stone, wood and paint. The opportunistic mage slammed the hilt of her sword into the side of Celestia's head. It would not do any substantial damage with her protective charm in place, but it would jar her concentration long enough for Serapha to make a tactical retreat.

                          "I'll be going now!" Serapha called out as she slipped into the lodge and bolted towards the room she had awoken in. The three-headed paladin followed a split second later, steel boots pounding up the stairs as it rubbed one of its temples. It arrived at the room and peered in cautiously before stealthily making its way to the small closet. As it jerked it open, the abomination would realize it needn't have been so careful; the mage was well gone.
                          Last edited by Helly; February 14th, 2019, 04:57 PM.


                            Alistair awoke in a soft bed with a stir. He remembered that his father had just smashed a bottle across his face and sat up abruptly. Instinctively, he brought his hand to his cheek and and flinched at the expectation of pain and blood. Instead only found the rough hairs of his beard. "A beard? I'm not old enough to..." His thoughts suddenly stopped at the realization, like hitting a brick wall. He hadn't been a child in decades. But in that moment just before he was a kid again and at the mercy of his violent, drunk of a father. He rubbed both hands across his face as he tried to sort through the muddled memories. He remembered now; the shaman and the trial, the meditation room and water, and the warning that the water would take him and he'd be lost forever if he didn't succeed. "This must be what the shaman meant when he said that we wouldn't return. We'd be lost to our own memories forever." He sighed hard and let out a sarcastic chuckle under his breath as he moved his legs over the edge of the bed and dropped his feet to the floor. "It would be a truly terrible fate to befall."

                            "What would be a terrible fate?" The voice took the ranger by surprise, he tried to jump out of the bed but was caught and pulled back by a pair of thin arms that wrapped around his torso tightly. "Do you dislike spending a night with your wife so much? You hunters and your little excursions..." The woman lay her head on Alistair's shoulder, he watched as a mess of auburn hair fell across his arm and chest and he gasped lightly as she squeezed on him even tighter. "K-Kaarina?" A knot formed in his throat and he felt like he was being choked. His voice trembled as he sputtered out her name. "I still don't want Tessa going. She's only five, Alistair. And you know how you and your friends get when you're out there by yourselves..."

                            He broke away from her and jumped out of the bed. He spun around quickly and wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. "Kaarina, I" "DON'T!" She screamed at him, not giving him a chance to say anything else. She shoved him hard, causing him to stumble back. She had tears in her eyes and her face was filled with anger. He looked down and saw blood dripping from her clinched fist. Alistair was confused, she was just hugging him and now she seemed like she would kill him. He looked around and quickly found that he was no longer in the bedroom but in his own kitchen. His eyes drifted down to the table where he found blood-covered pieces of a broken cup scattered beside a half-empty bottle of ale. He turned back to look at his wife but now she was gone. Everything was gone. He was suddenly surrounded by nothingness except for a door of light right in front of him.

                            His heart was beating like crazy and he felt physically ill after the encounter. "What cruel magic is this!?" He yelled into the void. He didn't expect any answer but it made him feel better scream. "You show me my wife? I already lost her because I became a man just like my father! What more do I have to fear from this?" A deafening silence was the only response he would get. He was angry, hurt, and confused. But with nothing else for him to do now, he slowly walked into the door that was set in front of him and was awash in a brilliantly blinding light.
                            Last edited by Cid; February 14th, 2019, 10:12 PM.


                              Edina's mind went blank for a moment. When she could open her eyes again, she was... nowhere? "Where.. what is this?"

                              "Oh. Hello, witch."

                              "What? Who's.." Blackrose could hear a disembodied voice, one that she recognized. The little white mage who used to travel with her. "You? But, you.." Gosh, it had been so long.

                              "Yes, I did. And lucky day! Mother brings you to us on a silver platter, after all this time. We've been waiting for you, Blackrose.."

                              "We? What do you.."

                              "Aye, we! You know, the band you turned your back on and tossed to oblivion to save yer own neck."

                              "Ah, hehe.. come on guys! It was nothing personal.."

                              "Oh, it's all hells of personal."

                              Several apparitions suddenly surrounded her, the ghosts of her legion, with the young girl in the middle. The girl had hatred in her eyes, a deep burning blackness that had lingered for a long time. Unresolved feelings. A certain lust for revenge. "Mother has given us this chance.. we can finally make peace!"

                              Blackrose was overwhelmed. Every last one of those people who trusted and followed her, who she led to certain doom, all catching up with her. Ready to give her what she deserved. Her eyes darted around, recognizing every angry face. "H.. hah.. no, come on, guys.. Johnson? We're cool, right? Dave? Remember when we used to sit on the roof and eat ice cream? What about you, Jimmy Jam? We used to beat up hotshot rich people remember? Those were good times right?"

                              "You can't save yourself here. They don't care, witch. They all want the same thing.. Mother brought you here to give them justice."

                              "Who's this mother you keep going on about?! What's going on?! You're all dead! I thought... I thought you were dead! What is this??"

                              "Leviathan, she promised us peace.."

                              Leviathan? The goddess the monks worshiped? Her head was spinning. This was Leviathan's doing?

                              "Show me this Mother of yours.. I ain't afraid!"

                              "Oh... you will be."

                              Blackrose could feel a tight pressure constricting her body. She couldn't hardly breathe. Any feelings of fear were then replaced by immeasurable pain as the ghosts began to give her their worst. She was beaten, shot, stabbed, all at once every one took their anger out on her. She could feel everything, though physically they didn't leave a scratch. She wanted to scream, but nothing could come out.

                              Amidst this, the pain began to turn into frustration, then rage. She could feel something from her past awaken inside her. Her real self, the Blackrose she'd locked away since she'd lost everything. She had enough. Enough wallowing. Enough struggling and denying. "ENOUGH!" She shouted. The pressure constraining her was suddenly gone, and the ghosts were all blown back.

                              Blackrose was surrounded by an aura of blue flames, and in a new outfit. It looked like her old one, but with a big coat, fancier boots and gloves, and a bigger hat.

                              "What is this?!" the mage girl uttered in surprise. "No, this is our revenge! How can this happen?!"

                              "Revenge?" Blackrose spat. "I call it mutiny. You miserable lot shoulda stayed dead and kept your honor."

                              "You let us die!"

                              "You knew what you signed up for! I'm the bandit queen, Edina Fucking Blackrose! And you ain't fit to be my fuckin crew, that's for sure. Just a bunch a quivering pussies is whatchu are!"

                              "What're you all gawking at?! Get her!" the girl screamed at the others. They were too terrified to move though.

                              "Heh! Lookit that! Not so tough are ya now, huh girly?" She scoffed. "And if I remember right, we got some business to take care of. You know the penalty for mutiny, don't you?"

                              "You idiots! GET HER!!"

                              Blackrose's gun started to charge with energy as she pointed it at the girl. Before she could say anything else, Blackrose fired and put one right between her eyes. The blue flames started to consume her, then all the ghosts, and then the whole space.

                              Then, Edina opened her eyes and was back in the meditation room. She was standing, and the water was still black, if not even darker than before. She smirked. It suited her. And so did the new clothes, which she totally got to keep because fuck you that's why. She felt like herself again.
                              Last edited by Chara; March 29th, 2019, 09:02 PM.


                                Volt opened his eyes, he had a look of Extreme loss on his face. 'I'm not strong enough..... Why did I even start traveling in the first place?"

                                He laughed at himself. He remembered why, to find out who sent the the Basilisk in the first place, that had not only killed his parents, but other people in his home land as well. He was on a quest for revenge, but along the way, he must have forgotten, from his many travels.


                                  Serapha grumbled to herself, one hand on the hilt of her shortblade while the other gently pushed aside the thick foliage as she made her way through the dark forest. There had been a winding path leading out from the lodge and presumably towards civilization, but this she had foregone completely in favour of a less obvious route through the thick woods where cover was plentiful for her - and, surely, for others. A few times during her journey she had frozen in place, thinking she had heard the sounds of something in these woods with her. Only a heavy silence would follow, and after a long pause the elf would decide to continue, going off to where the road signs at the lodge had indicated to her a nearby town.

                                  After several hours of walking through the forest, Serapha came upon a formation of large rocks. She muttered an incantation and clambered briskly atop them to the tallest of their group, wishing to confirm that she was, indeed, closer to her destination. The light of sunset was in her eyes, but in spite of that she could faintly make out the distant shapes of civilization just a few more kilometres away. She noted the shape of what seemed to be a temple recognizing its architecture almost immediately.

                                  A house of worship for our living God, where the highest room of the tallest steeple is for Him alone should He grace this place with His presence...So, I am in the past, after all.

                                  She surveyed the scene with growing nostalgia, her eyes alighting upon the tall watchtowers. She wondered if any of them had seen her yet, out here in the forest stood conspicuously atop a mess of rocks. There would be time to find that out.

                                  The elf descended from her place, knocking debris down with her as she slid down the face of the giant boulder. Metal clinked as she dusted off the seat of her armor, and she turned to vanish into the forest once more.

                                  Serapha froze in place.

                                  Out in front of her, sat calmly on its haunches, was a monstrous beast of a disturbing familiarity. Long claws stretched out of paws the size of an elf's head. Except for its feathered back, its body was covered in fur that was light and fair, the mane seeming almost a golden color in the light of the setting sun. Serapha counted six heads sitting within that blonde set of hair. Three beasts, three elves. The one in the middle, she was quite familiar with. Its cold blue eyes watched her with an animalistic intelligence. The beast rose from its spot, the sunlight catching on the sheen of a protective charm that covered its body.

                                  "Ah, I got careless. That's too bad," Serapha said solemnly.

                                  The creature flicked its tail in response. Then, in a single leap, it was upon her. Serapha dove to the side, feeling more than hearing a dreadfully heavy rumble as something landed just behind her. Without a moment's hesitation, she shouted her incantation and leapt among the rocks once more, launching herself this way and that as something thundered behind her, heavy yet nimble on its powerful legs. Serapha noted with a dreadful knot in her stomach that it was gaining despite her enhanced speed and skill. She had no time to think about what her escape plan was. No time to weigh the risk of what she was doing. Upon reaching the final stone, she lept with all her might at the nearest tree several meters away, feeling something heavy bat at her ankle with enough force to make her feel a blunt pain in spite of the protective armor. Serapha soared through the empty air, her heart rising in her throat as her hands darted out frantically, feeling herself starting to fall towards the ground. Surely, the six-headed lion was racing across the clearing even now as her body started to descend. Surely, it would snatch her out of the air before-

                                  But her recklessness had paid off. In a painful instant, she was crashing and tearing through the thick branches of the evergreen, her arms and legs hastily struggling until they found a stable enough hold. She breathed heavily against the aged wood, finally daring to look back at the beast.

                                  It sat, eerily calm, at the foot of the rocks several meters away from her. A cold bemusement seemed to fill its eyes, and for a moment the elf felt the urge to come down and give the thing a piece of her mind. Instead, she simply stared, wordless and breathless, wondering if this was the end of this particular trial.

                                  Then it unfurled its wings.

                                  Serapha did not wait to see more. She released her embrace on the evergreen and let herself fall, disappearing beneath the canopy of the evergreens just as the monstrous shadow passed overhead.


                                    Cirrus's eyes opened slowly. He was in his bedroom, plain and spartan as it was.The room felt almost alien to him, somehow. As Cirrus got up and went through his morning rituals to get ready for the day, though, that feeling subsided as he shrugged off whatever dream he had last night.

                                    Breakfast was waiting for him in the kitchen, as was most of his family. Nimbus, his little sister, was wolfing down a plate of chocobo eggs and greens. His mother, Indra, was busying herself with dishes.

                                    "Hey Cirrus!" Nimbus exploded out of her chair when she saw her brother, and she sprinted around the table so he could see her better. She was wearing immaculate white robes with sharp crimson trimming, and holding a toy sword much too big for a six-year-old. "Look, look! I'm the White Mage!"

                                    Cirrus grinned; her excitement was infectious. "Hey mom, did you know we have one of the Four Heroes of legend in our kitchen?" he joked. Nimbus giggled and hopped back onto her chair, and Cirrus went to what he assumed was his plate lying on the table across from her.

                                    Despite Nimbus's head start, Cirrus finished his food before she did. After every bite, she was chattering about how excited she was for the Requiem. Cirrus could hardly fit a "yup" or "uh huh" in edgewise, between her explaining what the crystals were and how she wanted to play with fireworks.

                                    After they had both finished eating, Indra took Nimbus's hand. "Well, we're heading out, there's a kids' tug-of-war event starting soon, and your little sister wanted to kick some butt," she said with a grin. "You have a present in the next room. You should see it before you go out."

                                    The two left, then Cirrus made his way to the living room. He noticed someone at the edge of his peripheral vision, and when he turned to look he felt a shock of anxiety. The man had short, iron-gray hair and pointed features, and he wore a royal costume befitting a decorated war hero. His hawkish eyes landed on Cirrus, who felt a momentary shudder for some inexplicable reason.

                                    "Morning, Cirrus," the man said.

                                    "Good morning, dad," Cirrus replied. All of a sudden, the uneasy feeling melted away. This was his father, his mentor, his role model. Cirrus started to feel guilty about that gut reaction.

                                    "You know, this is a special day for a lot of reasons," the Dragoon master said, tilting his head down. He paused for a moment, just like that, as though he were trying to figure out what he was trying to say."The Crystal Requiem is a celebration of the valor and strength that saved the world so long ago, and today is a centennial anniversary. The eyes of the world will be on this city later tonight, you'll see why. I'll be a part of the honor guard for a few... surprise guests. For some people, that might be the most significant thing they witness in their lives.

                                    "But I think it's a special day for more than just those reasons. Cirrus, I've been here since the beginning, and I've seen you go from your first toddling steps to Jumping over our house. I've taught you how to wield a spear, and how to live your life. You've really grown, you know. And I am proud of you."

                                    Mercury smiled, and looked to Cirrus. "I think it's time."

                                    He motioned to an armor rack, one that kept a draconic-looking emerald suit in perfect order. Cirrus walked up to it, mouth slightly agape.

                                    "You mean... for me?" Cirrus asked. He turned around to make sure that his father definitely meant it.

                                    "Only until we can get you your own custom armor, of course," Mercury said with a grin. "But personally, I think this set will suit you well."

                                    Cirrus gingerly pulled the helmet off the top of the rack, and stared into its eyes. He could almost see his own reflected back out from them... the eyes of a true warrior...

                                    (To Be Continued ---->)
                                    Last edited by OrganizationXV; November 23rd, 2019, 10:28 PM.
                                    Originally posted by Wade
                                    Everything is hidden in plain sight, like in Men in Black. We've all just been neuralized to think it is "normal".


                                      Luciano's eyes jerked open and he immediately checked his surroundings. This wasn't the temple that he and his comrades had travelled to. In fact, he didn't seem to be "anywhere". There was only darkness wherever the young man looked. As he continued to search for a sign of what was going on the unformed void began to take shape, slowly materializing in the form of a dark grey stone-like mask that floated inches away from his face. Instinctively stepping back, the young man's eyes narrowed as he inspected the mask. It seemed all too familiar to him, though he couldn't for the life of him remember the significance of it. His mind was still too hazy to remember clearly, and he was still in the middle of processing what was going on in front of him. Before Luciano could inspect further the mask began to emit a dark, almost sinister energy before a bright light flashed.

                                      Song of the Moment:

                                      Luciano's eyes opened once more, and he found himself standing within the same darkness he found himself in moments before. The difference being that this time the young man was not alone. A masked man of similar height and build stood meters in front of him, with that same mask resting on the stranger's face. As a matter of fact everything about the man seemed to mirror Luciano, from his stature, build, his hair, even down to his own resting stance. The mirror silhouette blankly stared at Luciano, as the young man tried desperately to piece together what was going on.

                                      It was then when Luciano finally began to recall the last thing he heard from the shaman before he awakened.

                                      "If you put this mask on, you will be taken into your own subconscious. There you will face your own demons. If you can overcome them you may be able to take the trial. But be warned. Donning this mask will subject you to the full weight of your sins."

                                      So that's what this was. The mirror image of himself simply stood there staring at the young man, almost as if it was waiting for him to make the first move. For a moment, the assassin hesitated. There was an oddly powerful pressure that seemed to emanate from the silhouette. Judging from what that shaman said, the difficulty of this particular trial increases with the amount of evil deeds the person has done. Great. If that were the case, he would've tried to convince Ravaayth to do it for him. A trial like this was the worst for a man like Luciano to deal with. It was as clear as day that this wasn't going to be an easy fight, but this was something ne needed to do in order to progress.

                                      The two fighters were one and the same and as such, there was no need for words. It was clear to both of them that this would be a battle for supremacy, and only one could survive. This would be a clash of wills. Taking the first move, Luciano threw a pair of throwing knives at the Shadow. Without effort, the Shadow sidestepped the attack and immediately lunged at Luciano with blinding speed. With Luciano having barely managing to dodge a roundhouse kick, the Shadow then threw a punch as a follow up attack. The punch was blocked, though the force behind the attack being great enough to knock the assassin back a few feet. Managing to regain his footing, Luciano intercepted another attack and the two continued to trade blows.

                                      The fight continued, with Luciano on the defensive. While the Shadow had a clear advantage in speed and power, it was clear that there was no sense of thought or reason behind the silhouette's movements. The culmination of Luciano's sins manifested, the Shadow's attacks were driven by a savage, almost animalistic killer instinct. As the fight dragged on, the Shadow's swift, elegant and graceful movements grew more and more violent, wild, and barbaric. Its attacks became more predictable and linear, but on the other hand the Shadow's attacks only seemed to grow in power. If the fight wasn't ended soon, things would eventually escalate to an unwinnable scenario. He needed to shift the momentum of the battle in his favor.

                                      However, the difference in speed was still to great. After a minute more of fighting, the Shadow was able to grab a hold of Luciano's wrists, immediately crushing them in its grasp. No more fists. Grunting in pain, Luciano immediately noticed the buildup of a violet, wispy gas near the mouth of the mask. An attack was coming, and Luciano needed to act soon. It was now or never. "Celero!" Enhancing his own speed with a Haste spell, Luciano delivered a swift and powerful kick to the Shadow's chin, knocking its head upwards and stunning it. From its mouth a torrent poisonous smoke rushed forth from the Shadow's mouth, spraying upwards. A large cloud of toxic gas soon formed above the two, the toxins beginning to slowly trickle down to the battlefield. Not accounting for the actual poison, if Luciano had taken that attack head on he would've died on the spot. Taking advantage of the newfound opening, Luciano casted a second spell. "Caeco!" The Shadow's senses were attacked by the particles of darkness that violently stuck to its eyes. With his opponent fully helpless, Luciano continued his onslaught with a barrage of kicks, brutally beating down the Shadow as its formerly silent demeanor was reduced to a torrent of feral grunts and shrieks. It was clear that the Shadow was beginning to slowly regress to the form of a slavering animal. After half a minute or so of being ruthlessly attacked and beaten down, the Shadow's senses finally returned. However by the time the Shadow came to, Luciano was gone. Letting out a howl of frustration, the Shadow began to rampage through the empty space in search of its target.

                                      Last edited by Max; November 24th, 2019, 12:43 AM.


                                        Cirrus, now donning his first suit of dragoon armor, spent the next few hours attending the Crystal Requiem's festival. He was sure he enjoyed it, but he couldn't say for sure. Time seemed to swirl into itself, leaving the festival a blurry, colorful fever dream. He remembered the lights, the bright red and green streamers, the glint of light off his gauntlets, and the glow of fire under cooking brown meat. But he couldn't remember details, couldn't place the down time.

                                        At some point, he felt like he was close enough to the sky, that canopy of azure melting into amber, to touch it. But then, everything went gray around him. The next moment, reality was being torn apart, starting from the town square and ending somewhere past him. His body was flung weightlessly, soundlessly through the air. He remembered seeing the ground charge closer to him, him and the loose bricks around him. Everything snapped to blackness.


                                        At some point, Cirrus woke up. He struggled to his feet, which was no easy task. The wooden floor was shifting back and forth, and his splitting headache was doing no favors to his sea legs. He looked around and took in the sights. There was fog, suffocatingly hot, enveloping the ship around him. He could hardly see a few feet in front of himself, but lying on the ground were the familiar shapes of his fallen allies. Alistair lay face-first on the ground, a gaping hole in his side. Kriss was nearby, except for most of his shoulder and the entire arm attached to it.

                                        Cirrus walked through the steam, slowly, trying to be quieter than the boiling ocean. He skulked past Volt, who had an arrow sunk through the back of his head. He had to clamber between the railing and Hellfish, whose armor bled through dozens of puncture marks. Luciano's body was strung up by the neck in some loose ropes hanging from the sail. Serapha's body floated in the churning waters off the port side, and Reyvaath's white robes were stained red against the railing. Grigor and Fenrir were crumpled together under the crow's nest, with Don impaled on splintered wood atop them. Finally, he came to the mast, and Edina fucking Blackrose was pinned to it by a spear going through her chest.

                                        "You can't save them," A cold voice echoed through the steam, somewhere behind him. "You already know you can't."

                                        Cirrus's skin crawled when he heard the voice. The red ribbon on the spear went taught, and with a sickening crack it pulled free of the mast. Blackrose's corpse dropped, but Cirrus caught it and cradled it in his arms.

                                        "Why are you doing this?" Cirrus whispered with all the strength he could muster. The only answer was the clank of metal greaves against the deck. The soldier-in-training didn't turn to look.

                                        "Cling to your friends, they're all that you have left. And when I return, take comfort in knowing that you'll die with them."

                                        Then, excruciating pain as the barbed tip of a cruel weapon jabbed into his spine, through his innards, and out the front of his armor. Cirrus screamed a long, baleful scream until he felt his consciousness bleed out of him.

                                        Last edited by OrganizationXV; November 28th, 2019, 02:47 PM.
                                        Originally posted by Wade
                                        Everything is hidden in plain sight, like in Men in Black. We've all just been neuralized to think it is "normal".


                                          The blinding light Alistair stepped through quickly gave way to the warm fiery glow from a hearth. The ranger watched blankly as the flames flickered and danced against the stone lining. It felt like eons had passed by before a loud crackle from the fire made him flinch. Suddenly his head was spinning with strong emotion, anger and frustration for no known reason. He brought a hand to his eyes and staggered as pain shot through his head. "Hey buddy, are you ok?" a gruff voice came from behind a shabby wooden bar at the edge of the room. "Oh, you're the hunter. Haven't seen you in here in forever." Alistair watched as the man pulled an old wooden cup from under the bar and sat it up top. "What can I do you for?"

                                          Alistair blinked and he was at the bar, nursing a cup of ale. He felt numb and cold, as if he'd been drinking all night. It didn't matter, he decided as he gingerly lifted the cup and down its contents. The gentle warmth as it made its way to his stomach eased the emotions he felt so strongly before. But he didn't just want it eased, he wanted it gone. He hated feeling that way. He tapped the rim of the cup as a signal to the bartender. But instead of pouring more, the man shook his head. "No can do, Al. You can't come back if you've drank yourself to death. It'd be bad for business if I didn't know when to cut you off. Scamper on back to the missus now." The ranger gritted his teeth, ready to argue as he pulled himself off the stool. He thought better of it when he realized he could barely stand upright. "To hell with ya anyway, I have more at home." The ranger stiffly batted an arm as he turned and struggled across the floor and eventually out of the door.

                                          The night air was refreshingly cool against his flushed face. The lightheaded feeling and difficulty walking, however, was not cool. Nonetheless, he trudged onward even though he had a sinking feeling in his gut and a voice in his head telling him to stop and "leave it be". "Leave what be?" He wasn't even sure what was going on or why he was there. Wasn't he in the temple? Or... No, he was at home with Kaarina. Did they have a fight? Alistair stopped and buried his face in his hands. His memories were a muddled mess and he was having trouble even remembering how he got to where he was. He rubbed his face a couple times and started to move again. He only took a couple steps before he came to a forced stop against a heavy wooden door. He staggered backward from the collision, unsure of what he possibly could have walked into when he was just in the middle of a road. He glanced up at the door and winced when he realized it was the door to his own home. He rubbed his forehead again and pulled on the handle.

                                          His eyes widened as the door opened to a home in complete disarray. Bottles and shards of broken glass and splintered wood littered the floor. The cupboards were ransacked and furniture was overturned. In the next room he could barely make out two figures in a corner, the larger of the two cradling the other. "Kaarina? Tessa!?" The ranger rushed through the doorway and into the next room. The two figures came into focus and he saw his wife with a bruised cheek and his daughter with tears in her eyes. The room, like the kitchen, was a mess. Instinctively, his eyes darted around looking for an intruder and to his left he caught a shadow as it rushed him and pinned him against the wall. Alistair struggled to break free but couldn't. The large man was far too strong. He had the ranger pressed against the wall by the shoulders and lifted a good foot off the ground.

                                          "Who are you!? What do you want!?" The brute of a man loosened his grip on him. Alistair looked up in horror as he finally got a good look at the intruder. "They're coming with me, boy. And don't you try to stop us." His father pushed him to the ground violently before turning back and holding a hand out to the two women...