2017-08-18: Water Margin (Side A)

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DC: Ida Everstead-Rey switches forms to The Traveling Naturalist!
DC: Alhazred switches forms to Evilutionary Scientist Alhazred!
DC: Alhazred switches forms to Quarter Knight Alhazred!
DC: You switch forms to Zoa Priestess Catenna!
DC: Catenna switches forms to Zoa Priestess Catenna!
<Pose Tracker> Siegfried has posed.

The Guardian Temple is a remote, long-buried ruin that is a hike from Milama. It touches upon a few of the hills north of Lahan, before the land gives way to the Great Aveh Desert. Despite rumors of its existence, finding the temple has been a challenge. The sands have made approaches hard.

And, when people have come close, they have found the huge stone doors utterly immobile. As these things happen, one might have assumed it was a matter of time until the way was decoded.

Siegfried, lord commander of the Quarter Knights, does not intend to wait until they figure the plan out.

The blue-armored knight stands, tall and proud, before the army that has descended upon this location. The Metal Demons mobilized quickly, and used the full teleportation powers of the Photosphere to terrific effect. Columns of white light erupted into the sky, one by one, until it was like a second sun. Hundreds of Metal Beasts appeared, though they did not rush towards Milama.

They surged, instead, towards the Temple: a huge, ziggurat-shaped building, with a stone edifice that was lined with great relief statues, showing a variety of bestial forms, with their eyes all looking outward. A perimeter has been established around the Temple. The Quarter Knight stands there, and another ancient Demon has joined him.

"Boomerang," Siegfried says. "You are certain that this is the place? That the humans will be coming for? That it will hold the information we seek?"

The tall, armored, yet slim form next to him nods. Siegfried looks at Boomerang -- and then down to the huge, purple hound that is ever in Boomerang's lee. His eyes narrow, for a moment, at the hound. Boomerang turns to look at him. "It is, Siegfried," he says. "Now let's get on with it. The battle I desire... this will bring that to pass."

"Very well," Siegfried says. One hand remains wrapped around the hilt of Glumzambor; the Dark Spear has been punched into the earth. The other lifts up. "Destroy the gateway!"

Dozens of the hound-like Metal Beasts crawling about open their fanged, metallic mouths. Points of light glow in their maws -- and then beams of light fly, slamming into the huge stone door as one. The door shatters apart in a colossal explosion. Fire and smoke burst high into the air and shudder, as a cacophonous explosion sounds. Anyone in Milama will hear. Anyone in Milama will see.

Siegfried has no interest in subtleties today. He starts forward, as the Metal Beasts around him roar. "Come!" he calls to the rest of the Demons. "Secure this place! If the humans attempt to approach, we will hold them back--we need only to have the Mimir Recorder operate long enough to secure a reading of the Guardians here! Riesenlied, should they break through, your and your team shall give pursuit!"

Boomerang watches, silently -- and then vanishes, the great purple hound with him, in a burst of dark shadow.

Siegfried steps forward, then holds out a device: a huge, yellow crystal shaped not unlike an eye. It pulses with light -- and then a ray of golden light begins to wash over the temple, as he strides towards the door. He smiles, as he walks. "Volsung. You did well to provide us with this..."

MISSION OBJECTIVE: Survive against the Metal Demons for five turns.

<Pose Tracker> Alhazred has posed.

For many years, the last of the Quarter Knights had not deigned to emerge from his laboratories on board the Photosphere. Alhazred had a number of experiments which simply must be monitored constantly, and leaving them alone should only be done under the direst circumstances. He had taken a few breaks - Arctica had been a most fascinating and educational diversion, and there was that one time five hundred years ago... oh where did the time go?

But for the most part, he had kept to his own work. Which did not mean that it was particularly SAFE to be anywhere in Alhazred's sphere of comprehension - those who ventured into his laboratory rarely returned in the same shape they had been when they entered.

But now was the time for SCIENCE. And READINGS. Readings were especially important, and Siegfried's operation would offer such interesting possibilities! "To think that the Guardians would hide from us in such dilapidated and disappointing environs!" The final Quarter Knight makes an odd screeching noise that is his own equivalent of clicking his tongue. "Still, the more data we can gather, the more progress we can make on our solution to this 'Guardian' problem. As long as I can obtain a sample in the progress. Can you imagine the possibilities?"

The destruction of the Guardians was a desirable outcome - domination of the world meant that Alhazred would have no end of test subjects. But creating his OWN Guardians... well that would certainly be a true miracle of science. The possibilities! Endless!

Distant and quite possibly unreachable, but ENDLESS.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

The news of the Guardian Temple had loomed in the air, ever since Riesenlied saw that note of Boomerang's pinned to Siegfried's door by daggerpoint, ever so politely. It had concerned her, but...

...to her, this was also an opportunity.

It was an opportunity to know the truth, more than anything else -- to know the truth of the hatred of a thousand years ago. To know why such enmity is harbored by the Guardians to her brethren, to know what happened in the Metal Demon Wars from the opposing side. She wishes to know the truth.

But the truth does not come free, and it does not come without sin.

"... yes, Lord Siegfried," expresses Riesenlied quietly as she stands near the doors to the temple where the yellow crystal begins its work. She had never seen the Mimir Recorder before, but seeing its power at work was... something else.

A voice was throbbing at the back of her head.

You coward...

The young girl within her mind slips her blood-coated hands to her sides, mirthful with mocking laughter.

Your indecision only causes more deaths, and you know it.

The looming image of a menacing unicorn, distinctly draped in shadow and emanating with an aura of enmity snaps her out of her reverie.

The Guardians are near. She can sense them at the back of her mind, ever pressing against her consciousness to reject her. The power that sustains the world rejects her.

She quietly draws her side-sword and spreads her wings gently, letting out a faint and bothered sigh.

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt is among the Metal Demon hordes that touch down. He looks as foul and melty and kind of shiny as ever. As he is in the company of superior numbers to hide behind, his long tongue slobbers out the side of his too-wide maw as he crawls forward against the sand. Slowly. Achingly slowly.

Because it aches for him to crawl across sand. When the lower half of your body is a melting mass of metallic flesh, any particle matter getting in there is like getting a moving itch that travels anywhere and everywhere within your body until it can be somehow expelled. So it's less 'crawl' and more 'convulses.'

"Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Motheeeerrrr," his voice screeches in probably the happiest agony he's ever suffered, because they're soooo close! He flails his arms to relieve the pain and stress running through him. "Well in jest sand and dure for yoooouuuuu!"

He gets batted aside by some of the charging Metal Beast hordes. Wow, not even lowly Metal Beasts give Yarobeleedt any due respect. (By extension, they give him no undue respect either.)

<Pose Tracker> Ebon Zero has posed.

Hidden behind Ebon Zero's helmet, Noeline quietly grinds her teeth in consternation. Arctica, then Adlehyde, and now this. Every large scale attack seems only to convince her even more that she doesn't want to fight alongside the likes of Berserk and Alhazred, that that kind of demon isn't the future she envisions for the Hyadean race. Each attack sets back her hopes that Metal Demons might learn to live within Filgaia, and leaves her more conflicted on her own place in the equation, as a Metal Demon who's learnt to hear the words of a Guardian through a medium.

For Wayside, she reminds herself quietly, her grip on her oversize sword tightening. For Riesenlied. At the very least, Noeline can hold onto that much - she'll fight if it means protecting the winged commander of the Tainted, if it means ensuring that the Tainted keep the only commander liable to care about them, if it means ensuring that her plan to give the dregs of the demons a home can continue unabated.

Besides... this might be the only chance she gets to sneak in to the Temple of the Guardians, to connect with and learn about Duras Drum and the history that they've lost, in some vain and tiny hope that she and it might be able to come to some kind of accord, and that that accord might be able to spread to others.

But that feels like a tiny, tiny hope right now - and all she can do is make her presence known at Riesenlied's side, silent but supportive. "... yes, sir," she comments, quiet and blunt, to Siegfried's order.

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi positions herself inside the room, not too close to the entrance. The "scanning" intrigues her far more than fighting, but she's prepared to fight, just in case. She is armed and armored. This excursion may well let the Metal Demons find out more about the Guardians, and wasn't it impossible to have too much knowledge? It was, perhaps, too much to be hoped that one of the Guardian statues imprisoning Mother would be found here. Later she intends to take a closer look at that Veruni scanner. Maybe she can adapt some of its technology to her own.

DC: Ebon Zero switches forms to Chevalier of the Dragon!
DC: Riesenlied switches forms to Tainted Dragon Riesenlied!
DC: Yarobeleedt switches forms to The Favorite Chum of Mother!! Metal Darkman Yarobeleedt!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

The Guardian Temple of Milama. A hidden piece of history, thrumming with stories untold. It looks ravaged by time, yet dignified. Natural. Striking--

BOOM

"GA HA HA! WHAT A PIECE OF GARBAGE!"

Somehow, the burbling, raucous laughter of the Quarter Knight known as Berserk manages to grate its way even past the shuddering, blinding explosion that ripples a shockwave throughout the grounds of the entrance of the Guardian Temple. Standing there near Siegfried, eyes blazing with contemptible yellow light, the monstrous Metal Demon just laughs as their mindless beasts rip apart that stone door. He even slaps a knee.

"Weak temple for weak Guardians, right?! HAH!"

And here, the very proud knight spits on the ruinous, scorched ground.

Let it not be said Berserk was ever one to not say or do exactly what's on his mind.

With a snort, the demon rights himself once more, towering over many of the forces assembled; his cantankerous gaze tracks over to Boomerang and his dog for a moment, a contemptible sneer peeling briefly at his lips. "Tch," he grunts unpleasantly, and promptly sets about ignoring the armored soldier, gripping all the more tightly to the spiked wrecking ball ever at his side, gaze sliding towards the Mimir Recorder.

"Pointless little toy," is his assessment of it. "Shoulda just let me put the screws to 'em like I said. I'd get those shitty little Guardians talkin'." Does he know how to summon a Guardian? Of course not. Does he know the Guardians here? Not in the least. Does he even really know what this place is? About 50/50.

But violence is always the best solution as far as he's concerned.

But Siegfried gives his orders, and Berserk prepares himself accordingly -- by snorting a loud, condescending snort as his gaze tracks towards Riesenlied for a long, contemplative moment -- as if trying to bore a hole through her by stare along.

"... Heh," he says, after a time, showing just how much he cares to engage in humanity by turning his back to the outside world and doing absolutely nothing to prepare for their coming.

"Fine by me. Let the trash handle the trash, right?"

Ever-thoughtful, ever-sensitive, Berserk is.

<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Where Lord Siegfried, first of the Quarter Knights and Mother's chosen elects to lead, unsurprisingly, the youngest of said Knights can be found barely a half-step behind. Towering, graceful, deadly, and recently medicated to be back under more careful control, the Lady Harken is at Siegfried's side as ravenous beasts of metal shred the ancient temple door and alert all the world to their presence. A muted smile is on her lips at the sight, perhaps savoring what is to come. The sickly golden light pulsating from the Mimir Recorder paints her in an eerie hue, contrasting strangely against her predominantly scarlet features.

Perhaps in contrast to Riesenlied, the only thing that bothers Harken is a certain clicking, screeching Quarter Knight of Science who (understandably, let's be real) probably feels like a kid breaking into the candy store. In fact, Alhazred makes Berserk's mindless thirst for destruction seem downright refreshing by comparison. But then, he opens his damn mouth and ruins everything again. Harkles, as she is known, frowns snarkily.

"Lord Siegfried doesn't waste his time on 'pointless toys', you imbecile. Find yourself a dumpster and crawl into it."

That's the kind of camaraderie that holds the Photosphere together. Harken icily hefts the shaft of her terrible scythe in one hand and strikes the ground with one end, feet squared, awaiting a challenge. At least for all her shit-talking, generally the two never come to blows.

Generally.

<Pose Tracker> Fenrir has posed.

Among the Metal Demons touching down upon the Guardian Temple is Fenrir, with the hordes. The wolf is wearing no disguise as she usually does, instead standing as close to the frontlines as she can manage, her left arm transformed into that of a wolf's with a claw, and her right arm visibly gone - jagged fleshshards at the stump and down the torso. The right side of her face is scarred similarly, and her eye on that side responds much slower than the one on the left. There's a scowl on her face, but in it is...joy. Joy for the battle coming, joy to prove herself worthy, as she flexes that claw back and forth.

The Guardians will suffer. Those who protect the Guardians will suffer. Fenrir has more right than any of them to exist, and she will avenge Mother. She will slaughter the humans. Fenrir will prove that she is the best Metal Demon there is.

<Pose Tracker> Alhazred has posed.

"Ah, direct and to the point as usual, my dear Harken," Alhazred comments as he floats over to be... in her general area at least. Which is likely to make her uncomfortable, as the Quarter Knights' premier scientist is not the most reassuring presence in the world. Not to mention being more than a little creepy.

"But Berserk has at least one point - remote observation has returned no measurable data to this point. More direct action is required to gather sufficient information to ensure our victory. However, I think we can do it with something more effective than 'screws'." He holds up one claw, and then looks to the other Metal Demons in attendance.

"If nothing else, Berserk's enthusiasm should be a shining example to you all! Those who oppose us have chosen their fates - it is up to you to place the final seal upon them! Just make sure to save any interesting bits for my collection!"

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

The wind is blowing.

For the past few weeks, Cyre has felt a strange compulsion to travel to the Guardian Temple. It took some time for the Caravan to make its way here even with that, however. By the time they arrive...

Well. There's a reason Cyre isn't in his seat by the time the earthshattering kaboom hits.

A howling gale blasts across the wasteland, carrying a man with rage and desperation burning in his eyes. The red dust settles in moments, blasted back into the landscape by a sudden downdraft that sees him land, hard, at the perimeter of the temple.

They're here.

He knew they would be. But seing it-- seeing it is another thing entirely...!

"You..." Cyre growls. His staff whirls through the air as he surges into a pack of Metal Beasts. A miniature cyclone surrounds him, blasting them back as he barrels through, leaping and vaulting on geysers of upwelling air. "I knew you monsters would come to desecrate this place, but this... Whatever it is you're doing, you won't get away with it so easily!"

Cyre raises his staff to the sky. The air gathers into lances of invisible, razor-sharp wind which launch with earsplitting noise to bombard the battlefield!

And... Possibly might just slam right into a certain green terror lizard.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Berserk with Stepping Wind!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has canceled their attack on Berserk.
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Berserk with Wind Lance!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Berserk with Wind Lance!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna knew there was a reason the moonsong had drawn her along with the CaraKin. Why it just so happened that the group would head west and take her with them on the road to this place.

Because they must've needed someone else to stand in front of the frigging doors.

Someone else to stand in front of the frigging doors with a bunch of Metal Demons looming imposingly over the temple. Lots of prominent Metal Demons - including a few she recognizes. Stopping well outside the perimeter, she presses her lips together and draws her sword, her Medium nestled solidly in her other hand. Here, there's no moral dilemma.

They're going after something sacred to the Guardians. One of their holy places. One of her holy places. "This is... unforgivable," she hisses, her reserve breaking for just a moment as she catches herself striding forward all the more quickly. She tamps down the surge of indignant anger. But she doesn't stop moving.

She does, however, bypass the opportunity to pick a fight with Riesenlied. She can see someone else up there who's far bigger, more intimidating - and less complicated in how she makes Catenna feel. With a look back over her shoulder, she nods to her companion - she travelled with the caravan and may or may not have brought Cyre along with her.

The wind priest makes his move, with a billowing gust of air. Catenna moves around to his flank and raises her voice. "Anathema!" she calls out in her heavy accent, the words ringing. "You have no place here! Begone, or be removed!"

Quickly, she sweeps her left hand out, beginning to chant something in her own language. The spell she hurls into the fray is not nearly so spectacular as that which Cyre H. Lorentz deploys. The air around Berserk distorts subtly as an invisible force attempts to crush him into the ground - gravity itself, multiplying rapidly to try and hold him down and compress him.

GS: Please provide a more specific attack name. [grav]
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Wind Lance for 85 hit points!
GS: Please provide a more specific attack name. [Grav]
CHAT: You are already on channel <Ask-Staff>.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi gazes out at the oncoming confrontation and pauses a moment to psych herself up.

GS: Malfi has attacked Malfi with Battle Meditation!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Malfi takes a solid hit from Malfi's Battle Meditation for 0 hit points!
GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Grav!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt suddenly explodes out from the ground, wriggling and thrashing and looking mighty approach-and-punchable yadda yadda.

"Supplies!!!" Yarobeleedt shouts as he brandishes a sharp-looking sword-like forearm, backed by one that looks like a heavy hammer in the other, but their forms don't seem particularly solid (much like the rest of him from about the waistline down). "That is a twisted ending by yours!"

He wriggles his lower end, as it pulsates and tries to squeeze out all the sand and dirt and other particle matters. "Itchy, itchy. Scratch itch by scratch you and then also itch??"

Whatever that means.

GS: CRITICAL! Berserk guards a hit from Catenna's Grav for 78 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

The resort town of Milama was some ways west of Lacour, and Cecilia Aldehyde and her group gathered there for a night of rest before venturing further on. It was easier than Cecilia expected to confirm the location of the Guardian Temple.

Now, after what seemed like too long waiting and not nearly long enough, it stood before her - some distance away, miles devoured by sand and scrub grass, but still, in sight. Cecilia, her sturdy traveling jacket shifting with the dry breeze, stares out across the ruined site, her lips pursed tight. "Guardian Temple," she murmurs. "To think a place this sacred has fallen to this much decay..." She remembers the statue of Zeldukes back at Adlehyde; the thing in such terrible disrepair that even a local waitress's irregular washing was a blessing. Her hand rises up, to where the Teardrop should be, fingers curling tight against her leather vest. She takes a breath.

She breathes it out, slowly, and that hand rises up to tuck her hair behind her ear, instead. "The wind," she says, with a small smile. She turns to face the western wind. "It's coming from the west. Hope is with us. So let us--"

The sound is terribly familiar, and terrible in all. Her face drops and her skin goes pale. "No," she croaks, at the sound of the sky shattering. Did the wind stop, or is it her imagination? She turns, at the pillars of light ripping down from the sky. Remembers.

When she shakes out of it, Siegfried has roared his rallying cry. Berserk has thundred his guffawing hatred. And Cecilia...can only suck in a breath of desert air, cast out her arm, and summon her staff to hand.

"Not again," she says. Berserk, lumbering about, catches her eyes most; the familiar cackle.

The memory of the Teardrop in his hands. They were cold.

"Not this time! Not here! We must get inside! The rest....we figure out after! Let's go!"

She rushes off, because she knows everyone else runs faster than her, especially when she slows down to pull out a crest and announce herself to Berserk in the traditional way: With a blast of raw magic across the ears.

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Lest it be forgotten, Rosaline is a Drifter. For all her charity work, she is looking for the next big score like the rest of them... if only to give it to charity in the end. And so, it was in her group's interest to check out the rumors surrounding Milama.

"Demons," Rosaline quietly whispers between gritted teeth.

She feels anger throbbing just at the sight of them in the distance, but it... could be worse. She's been trying her best to keep it in check lately, whatever 'it' even is. It helps a lot that there are no innocents here (right?), only precious knowledge to be lost.

And before she even knows it, the battle is joined. Dust is kicked off and battle lines are drawn. She shrieks, coughs and puts her hands over her ears, before going after the nearest friendly face she can find...

"Please wait for me! Um... Elena?"

Elena, of all people. Their previous encounter was rather awkward, but at the end of the day they're on the same side, after all.

And then, she shrieks AGAIN as Yarobeleedt bursts out of the ground and SUPPLIES her thoroughly. "I-I don't understand what you're saying at all!" she cries out, somehow still sounding apologetic as she sprays and prays in the flexible Demon's general direction from her twin submachinegun ARMs.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Ley Blast!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Yarobeleedt with Esdras and Judith!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Yarobeleedt takes a solid hit from Rosaline Calice's Esdras and Judith for 85 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Yarobeleedt!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Ley Blast for 82 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

Elena didn't really WANT to be here. She has very little respect for the faith people have in the Guardians, faith she feels should be invested in Lord Granas instead. She's also made very little effort to conceal this fact in certain conversations, and spent at least five minutes arguing with the Father who said it's imperative that the Church send one (or two, or three) people to check the ruins out.

Of course, Elena yielded eventually.

This is why the priestess was amongst the crowd of Drifters curiously wandering in to see these new ruins, journeying to them like fame and fortune had been promised to them. In a sense, maybe it had been.

Metal Demons, though... that wasn't planned.

Elena frowned, a mix of annoyance and heavy concern. That wasn't just one or two. That was almost a dozen. And of them, she recognized Lady Harken without a doubt. The one who had single-handedly endangered Lacour. What would happen with so many coming in at once? Adlehyde, again? But these are ruins. There's no population to burn, no city to level. Just old ruins.

The contents must be highly valuable.

"This is... this is not good!" Elena whines, turning to look at Rosaline. "Oh! Sister Calice, it is good to see you! The strength of an Etone will be invaluable here!" Things got a little bit better, she hopes. Yaro doesn't look like he'll just fall over though. This could still be really bad.

... weird, Elena thinks, why is that Metal Demon's voice so similar? Something about a... tournament match? And a weird, quirky announcer?

Huh. Well, no time for that. "O winds, gather, slice my foes!" A twirl of her scepter, Mana Egg clutched in her other hand. Blades of wind form in the air around Yarobeleedt, and launch in a flurry towards the Metal Demon!

GS: Elena has attacked Yarobeleedt with Howl!
GS: Elena has completed her action.
GS: Yarobeleedt takes a glancing hit from Elena's Howl for 49 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

Ah... There was no mistaking that sound. Rena's ears twitched, hearing it all the way from down yonder. And she knew. ...Knew that something unpleasant was going to be going down soon. And because of that, she's off with the others in Cecilia's band of merry misfits to go have a looksee! All the while she's pretty worried about what they're going to find, and...

Well.

It's about as pleasant as she expected it to be. Which is to say not at all! Rena sighs as she comes to behold what the Metal Demons are up to with a frown on her face. A frown! Did they really have to do this? ..Well, yes. Actually, she's questioning their tactical choices now, just blowing the place up rather than trying to be more low key about it.

Wonder why they didn't just go that route?

Weirdos.

But in time, there's little else to question. They've got to get inside and make sure that what happened at Adlehyde doesn't happen here. Cecilia bolts off after Berserk, whome the blue haired elf girl gives a mildly worried glance at. Dude looks super dangerous, but... Something else catches her eye. A metal demon with a big ol claw and a missing arm on the other side. That's... unique. But she's no doubt an enemy, and so!

Rena calls out. "Hey! Over here!" Of course... she's not the strongest person in a fight here, but she's still going to do what she can do! Bolting forward, she tucks low and closes the distance to Fenrir, before sweeping out with a low kick, followed by two more to the side and to the solar plexus. "Do you people just enjoy destroying everything!?"

GS: Rena Lanford has attacked Fenrir with Triple Kick!
GS: Rena Lanford has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle has been travelling with the Dawn Chasers for some time. They knew they were looking for Guardian Temple, and Tethelle had only a vague idea of where it is - her grasp of Ignan geography is not always the best, because she grew up in Aquvy. An isolated part of Aquvy.

"Time affects all things," Tethelle replies to Cecilia. Her village is almost as run-down, the small shrine to Equites old and warn despite a priesthood to take care of it. It's still a shock. Have the Guardians fallen so far? It hurts her to see. "I think... I will offer prayers. And if we have time, perhaps... I can do more."

But then the Metal Demons tried to blow it up.

This is a holy place. Like Catenna, Tethelle has strong feelings about that. Her hand raises to her neck for an instant, touching the small token of Equites there - not big enough or complex enough to be a Medium, just a disc of stone with the simplified symbol of Equites carved on it. It helps her focus herself.

It's no good. The surge of anger beats the focus. Tethelle knew they stood opposed to the Guardians, but to have them strike at a place like this -

Tethelle draws her weirdly curved blade. It's ... definitely an unusual sword; curved and heavy and presumably good at slashing from sheer weight and momentum, though it isn't a particularly finely made sword. Truth be told, Tethelle does not like it very much, but it was a gift and it is teaching her things she never learned before about sword-fighting. How to move with the curve, how to adjust her grip because of the weighting... and for that it is valuable.

She's never used it in combat before but she's sure trying now. Tethelle comes in hard, charging an imposing-looking Metal Demon - Alhazred, not by choice but mostly by chance. She launches herself in an arc, both her body and her blade following the same half-moon path that her too-heavy blade is built into, slashing downward in an almost vertical slash.

"I will not let you harm this place!"

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Alhazred with Demilune!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean doesn't know a lot about Guardians, or about the Guardian Temple, but he does know one thing: giant blinding explosions are bad news. He also knows that the Metal Demons have done some pretty horrible things--even Noeline, who seemed pretty nice to him, admitted that the Metal Demons' bad reputation was well-earned--and although blowing up old buildings is not the worst thing anyone could ever do, it's still pretty bad.

After a quick talk with his friends Avril and Rebecca (it had been Avril who'd been drawn here in the first place, after all), the three of them split up--Dean to check out what's going on, and Avril and Rebecca to stay behind just in case someone attacks the sleepy little town while all the other Drifters go to the main force. (Rebecca's idea! Dean's not that tactical.) As he rolls up with the many other Drifters to the incoming forces of the Metal Demons, he rears back, ARMs flashing into his hands.

"Woah...! There's so many of these guys!" he utters, looking around. It's a little hard for him to tell who's who, actually, though at least he recognizes some people, like Cyre over in the distance there. Still, some Demons are pretty obviously Demons, like that tall and massive lady in the black platemail who seems to be looking over the battlefield, and Dean runs up to her, twin pistols and their accompanying combat rods flashing in the sunlight.

"Hey! I don't know what you guys are up to here, but you need to cut it out!" he shouts at Malfi. To back up his words, he charges right for her, rods swishing around as he attempts to smack them into her in a one-two attack! ...Don't ask why Dean isn't using his guns to shoot her. It's Dean. You're better off this way.

<Pose Tracker> Jack Van Burace has posed.


A Guardian Temple.

Really? Thee Guardians. Thats the kind of thing a princess believes in? Old tales of the Gods? She didn't look like a Beskar. But really. It was something to do. It wasn't like he was doing anything else. Besides Hanpan suggested it might be a good idea and Jack has leared to trust the wise little rodent.

So he had gone.

He didn't think anything would come of it. The Princess always had these crazy ideas see. Its a good thing she pays well.

The smoke and explosions though was a cause for concern. The ruined gates a cause for alarm. But the figures gathered around the gate, the voices that were hauntingly familiar. They were the stuff of nightmares. The whispers of hidden things in the night. The bubbling laughter of unstoppable death.

Jack's eyes widen as breath is drawn in between his teath. His heart quickens. His gaze begins to red out around the edges. On hand grips the hilt of his sword with force enough to turn knuckles white, weather out of fear or anger its hard to say.

Cecilia runs fowards, shouting encouragement to the others there. For a moment Jack freezes, images of a castle on fire superimposing themselves against the temple.

It passes as the anger outdistances the fear.

While Cecilia's shout is one of encouragement, Jack's is one full of rage, hate, pain, and a dozen other darker emotions. The sword of his, usually quietly held and calmly wielded is torn from the scabbard faster than most could blink. The sheer force of the draw parts the air, exploding across the dust and debris to strike towards Alhazred.

The swordsman follows in the wake of the blast, Hanpan clinging on for dear life as he charges forwards.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Double Strike!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Jack Van Burace has attacked Alhazred with Heal Blade!
GS: Jack Van Burace has completed its action.
GS: Malfi takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Double Strike for 90 hit points!
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Demilune for 80 hit points!
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Jack Van Burace's Heal Blade for 58 hit points!
GS: Jack Van Burace takes Cover! It gains 50 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

The call, which is to say that the discovery of a Temple in some remote village, is about as close as what it takes for Arleph to actually get involved, beyond existential crisies. Which, to be absolutely fair, happens to be one. Some cursory investigation led him to find out that this is far, far more important than just a random archeological discovery.

The Metal Demons sure seems to think so. That makes it doubly of a reason to get involved.

The Symbologist arrived with the rest of the Drifters, which he finds rather facinating that this was this quickly organized. He supposes that greed and enthusiasm of sticking it to the monsters is a strong motivator TO organize. Arleph tightens his gloves, staring around the raging battle tha tjust begun, spotting one particular metal demon that's been something of a short bane for him. One that's attacking a lady he know... and one that he don't know.

"Sister Rosaline." Ardan says, stepping up behind them, punctuating his arrival with a snap of his fingers. Water condenses above his left hand, the other being used to gently tip his hat at Elena. "Miss. Excuse the malformed ant."

With a swing of his casting hand, he swings the newly formed water cutters in Yarobeleedt's direction, the symbologist giving him a glare. "He always speak like this. Allow me to assist."

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Yarobeleedt with Aqua Cutters!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.


"..."

There was some talking. It was likely Cecilia reminding the group of the tactical importance of the place, how it was a spiritual place, people responding to it. For some reason, the young man had a hard time concentrating, as if merely mentioning magic and the mystical cause some sort of disconnect within in his brain. But when there was mention of it being a place of tactical importance to the Metal Demons and the importance of them not securing the place, the brown eyes of the young warrior seemed to harden and a steely resolve replaces an aimless gaze.

"I'll leave the whole understanding the Guardians to you. I'll do my part and get you there. I won't let them stop you." The brown eyes shift from the Princess to Jack and the rest of the Dawn Chasers. "Any of you. You need to get there and you will." Going to the temple is not exactly on Rudy's list of priorities, but protecting his friends and teammates definitely is. Calmly, the Hand Cannon is loaded. His Bowie Knife is inspected and then put away once more once the sharpness he expects is observed.

Soon, the party is racing in, the group of like-minded souls with singular purpose (albeit with much different intents and means) moving toward the defending Metal Demons. As the powerful magic, bullets, and sword techniques are unleashed, the blasts of Rudy's Hand Cannon are likely easily lost in the mix as he continues to run, his bandanna waves behind him. As the two rounds attempt to tear into a floating fiend of unknown name or origin, Roughnight hopes the damage the creature takes will be a suitable greeting. Or at least the beginning of a farewell.

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi is taken aback when the blue-haired youth has the effrontery to attack her directly. He lands two solid blows, though not enough to do more than bruise. She smiles wickedly at him and counterattacks, aiming her lance to attempt to stab him right through the solar plexus. What was a human so young doing in a combat zone, anyway?

GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Alhazred with So It Begins!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Dead Reckoning!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Yarobeleedt takes a solid hit from Arleph Ardan's Aqua Cutters for 105 hit points!
GS: Dean Stark critically Guards a hit from Malfi's Dead Reckoning for 18 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny is a derpy swordguy. But he's also a soldier (sailor, technically, though once you're in space it's mostly the same thing). He knows what to do when the trumpet sounds; when Cecilia says run, he doesn't bother asking how fast. He just moves. When he arrives, he sees what his instructors would call a target-rich environment - Metal Demons everywhere, interspersed with Drifters entering combat. If there weren't so many witnesses - and if so many of them weren't people he cared about - Claude would throw caution to the wind, draw the weapon he's not allowed to draw, and make an end to this thing. Instead, his hand drops to his hip, resting upon the hilt of a sword.

It's much nicer than the one Tethelle has, because he's not the one who made it.

The curved katana leaves its sheath in a liquid whisper, and Claude shifts the weapon to a light two-handed grip. He's not entirely comfortable with the idea of wielding a sword that was suggested to him by Dias "Stupid Face" Flac, but there's no denying the smith Gamgee knows his work. The steel practically sings in the air as Claude whirls it around his head, waiting for Rena to clear the way for an----

"AIR SLASH!"

The vacuum blade hisses toward Fenrir, and Claude brightens considerably. This thing slashes air real good.

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Fenrir with Air Slash!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: Fenrir takes a solid hit from Rena Lanford's Triple Kick for 97 hit points!
GS: Fenrir guards a hit from Claude C. Kenny's Air Slash for 66 hit points!
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Rudy Roughnight's So It Begins for 43 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Silvery ichor stains the hallowed ground with the blood of a creature that should not be on this world, the bullets passing through Yarobeleedt's lower body with the appropriate screeching and writhing as he continues to try and dart around the collective assaults. He stays low to the ground, crawling like a lowly worm, allowing much of the blades of wind from Elena to pass overhead with some close scrapes. Arleph assists with his respectable amount of Anti-Yarobeleedt knowledge and aligns the water cutters to splash into him, flip him onto his back to the Metal Demon equivalent of a spray of blood-filled spittle.

"Not ant!! Not bug! That bugs!" Yarobeleedt protests as he waves his deadly arms in the air, whirling and flipping back upright. "Come to cry? Fufufu." He seems to speak from a position of power and intimidation, but he seems to be backing slowly into a shadow. "Late night snack?? Is so late. Not too late. Three late!! That is how late. Soon. Soon~"

Yarobeleedt moves back on the offense. A sword arm swung through Elena's side. The same arm pivoting to stab Rosa's upper back a few times.

His other arm - wait, wasn't it a hammer-like thing long ago? Turns into a jagged spear tip as he tries to stab both into Arleph, indiscriminately, a few extra times.

He seems a little bold today, by cowardly yellow metal worm standards.

GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Elena with Sly Sing!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Rosaline Calice with Dye Sing!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Arleph Ardan with Min Sing!
GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
GS: Elena takes a solid hit from Yarobeleedt's Sly Sing for 101 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

So the Metal Demon's not talking back, huh? That's fine by Dean! If she's not going to stop all this chaos and destruction, then there's nothing for it but to *make* her stop. Malfi might be a lot taller than her, and she might be swinging that lance around to stab him clear through the solar plexus, but Dean doesn't scare easily and WOAH WOAH WAIT WHAT'S THAT ABOUT STABBING HIM CLEAR THROUGH THE SOLAR PLEXUS?? Dean crosses the rods of his twin pistols just in time to avoid getting skewered on the massive lightning lance, though he can't avoid getting struck at all--it leaves a nasty red line across his chest, tearing his coat at the same time.

"Nngh!" he grunts, winking one eye shut. "You're not gonna beat me *that* easy...! How about THIS?!" Twisting the rods along the length of Malfi's spear, he attempts to shove her weapon aside with one rod and snap the other up high right for Malfi's head. Of course, given the electricity crackling on the guard of her weapon, this leaves him open for a perhaps shocking retribution!

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Hot Rods!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
DC: MISS! Arleph Ardan completely evades Min Sing from Yarobeleedt!
GS: Malfi critically Guards a hit from Dean Stark's Hot Rods for 14 hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a glancing hit from Yarobeleedt's Dye Sing for 48 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

"Let's go, Gulliver!" Having sighted a glimpse of Cecilia's group earlier, Gwen parted from the Fiends, leaving her wagon in a sheltered spot nearby. Without the weight of the wagon behind him, the grey and black dappled horse seems to fly across the landscape, drawing on his heritage as a horse of the Badlands: tough, resilient, and a tolerance for long runs.

She needs to get to Cecilia before the Guard possibly does, in case the princess is dragged into the conflict between the Guard and the Fiend factions. Or just... to watch over her. Thomas Blackwell and Carde's words (though the later was more gestures), as well as Seis Thurule's speech, though all not quite making sense, have made her wonder just what goals the Guard may have as a whole.

Getting closer to the fray, Gwen tugs off her right glove with her mouth, using her left hand to guide Gulliver's reins to move further in. Then she switches hands, drawing up her right sleeve amd rolling it halfway up. Recognizing the fluttering bandanna of Rudy, Gwen moves Gulliver close to him, loading a few bullets into a compartment in the bend of her right arm. "You guys need a hand?"

She can't help but let a smile tug the ends of her mouth as she points her hand forward, aiming it at the strange... Metal Demon. Just what is that guy? Is it a guy?

She fires.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Alhazred with Crackshot!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Gwen Whitlock's Crackshot for 85 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

The ground trembles with each impatient step he takes as Berserk paces back and forth in front of the Guardian Temple. His right eye twitches. His clawed hands clench and unclench. His massive feet dig deep, ugly furrows into the natural earth. IT's only Harken's words that snap him out of his impatient reverie, snapping his gaze her way.

"Yeah? Wanna--" he begins...

... before something catches his eye. Something from just beyond. His lips twitch into something resembling an amused sneer as drool slobbers its way down his jaw.

"Heh. Took 'em long enough."

And in come the cavalry for humanity. Shamans, people from another world, Beastmen, Drifters all alike -- they make no difference. In Berserk's eyes, they all look the same:

"C'MON, MEAT! YOU'RE LATE TO THE PARTY!"

Wind slices through the air almost in direct response to his words, carving earth and blowing past Metal Beasts. It hits with a tremendous impact; pure, compressed air flung at maximum accelerates blow through Berserk, staggering the Quarter Knight back half a step. He doesn't move, though -- he doesn't even attempt it. Not even as he feels that crushing weight of magically-manipulated gravity attempting to hold him in place, inciting a loud, primal laugh of derision. Not even as he sees a face that ought to be familiar on the horizon; he squints, past the others, towards the flare of pure, magical light...

... and his lips peel back in a spiteful grin seconds before Cecilia Adlehyde makes her presence known in that pure blast of magical power, blowing across his head.

Wind, gravity, magic, all buffet him, all consume him, try to uproot him as equally as they try to crush him down. And the Quarter Knight...

"GA HA HA HA!"

Just RUSHES forward, -breaking- through those magical bindings and powers he so -despises- with a raucous, chortling laugh. He moves fast -- far faster than anything his size rightly should, reaching absurd accelerations as he looks to just BARREL through Cyre and introduce him head-first to the sheer density of the Quarter Knight's forehead. Within the same motion he is twisting about, swinging his arm back before -tossing- his weapon into the air and sending it -careening- down to smash into Catenna, as if to flatten her like one might deal with a particularly bothersome insect.

"NOISE, NOISE, NOISE!" hollars Berserk with a decisive lack of ironic self-awareness. "Is that all you humans are good at, spewing shrill nonsense?! LISTEN UP! SOMEHOW, all this crap is more boring than YOU PEOPLE -- so you BETTER give me a nice way to spend my time while I wait--

"--or I'm gonna have to make this -REALLY- painful!"

That wrecking ball yanks aside again only moments after, tearing apart earth in huge, muddy chunks before it flies through the air... and aims to CRASH right next to Cecilia. Not aiming to hit her... but aiming to fall close enough for her to -feel- the dangerous rush of winds.

"Well well well," rumbles the Quarter Knight, his voice a hideous snarl, "if it isn't the princess. And here I thought you did the smart thing and ran away like the spineless sack of meat you are, -princess-. Maybe you oughta do that now, huh?" His lips peel back. He looms, tall and threatening and condescending all in one.

"... Unless you -really- wanna play brave. After all, that worked out so well for your daddy, didn't it? GA HA HA HA!"

GS: Berserk has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Hellacious Headbutt!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Flatten!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Taunt!
GS: Berserk takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Berserk has completed his action.
GS: Catenna takes a solid hit from Berserk's Flatten for 84 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

Round: 1/5

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde critically Guards a hit from Berserk's Taunt for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Dean isn't a bit surprised when Malfi actually leans into his attacks and lets him strike her. She attempts to zap him good. He was, quite frankly, expecting that...

GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Assault with Batteries!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Dean Stark guards a hit from Malfi's Assault with Batteries for 60 hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Hellacious Headbutt for 72 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Fenrir has posed.

As Fenrir stands among the frontlines, she waits. For a worthy opponent. For prey. And she gets such, in that an elf suddenly calls out to her, runs forward, and starts kicking at her. The wolf's instincts are fast, but she's not a type to dodge - she's a type to block, as Rena's kicks move to strike at her. Despite her best intentions, though, one hits her flat in the stomach, knocking her back in a single blow, as Fenrir huffs. "Huh, another weird-eared person? Really, how many of you does this planet have?!" Ignoring her own wolf-y ears, Fenrir shouts at Rena, before grinning. "Nice hit. You'll be fun to tear to pieces."

But before Fenrir can strike, she's hit again - a blast of vacuumized wind strikes straight for Fenrir, but her left ear rustles, briefly. The wolf throws up her left arm, resisting the blow as it pushes her back and cuts into her flesh, drawing metallic blood and a 'tsk' from the Metal Demon. Glancing at Claude, the grin only widens. "Two against one? That's pretty unfair - are you sure you don't need more help before you fight me?" From staring at Claude, Fenrir looks like she might strike him first, before turning towards Rena - the one closer to her, and swiping that claw straight at her chest furiously. "Destroying everything? It's called revenge! Those who act against us will see what we're capable of, and I'll deliver them to the undertaker myself!"

And while Claude is at a distance, Fenrir doesn't move to close it. Instead, with a flex of her arm, it begins to shift, unnaturally shrinking from that claw and forming into liquid metal before it solidifies into a long chain. It lashes out, moving to trip up the swordsman and wrap around his legs. "You know, you should really get over here! Come and join the party, human!"

GS: Fenrir has attacked Rena Lanford with Wolf's Claw!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Chain of Gleipnir!
GS: Fenrir has completed her action.
GS: Claude C. Kenny takes a solid hit from Fenrir's Chain of Gleipnir for 48 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Claude C. Kenny!
GS: Rena Lanford takes a glancing hit from Fenrir's Wolf's Claw for 58 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Alhazred has posed.

For Alhazred, every day was a good day for science. The fact that the humans were likely to arrive to oppose their operations here was to be expected - Alhazred would like nothing less than to gather more samples and observe test subjects in the field. The overall variance of human phenotypes, operational methodologies, and magical implementation had increased by nearly seven percent in the last few months alone. AMAZING.

He could hardly stay in the lab under these circumstances!

But out of the swirling pack of combatants, a pair of swordsmen are the first to charge at the Quarter Knight. Alhazred turns slightly at the first cry from Tethelle, a shout that this was a temple that should be protected. An interesting statement, but the efficacy needed testing. As the blade slams into the side of the floating Metal Demon, Tethelle can feel it impact something, but the vague form underneath that floating cloak is difficult to comprehend, and the cloth doesn't seem to be damaged by the strike - instead spreading the impact out to reduce its energy.

"Harm? Nonsense, there is little more 'harm' that can be done to this ruin that time has not already inflicted." Alhazred pauses, and glances at Berserk for a moment. And then adds, "Allow me to correct myself. There is little more harm that my tests could inflict upon the physical structure of this temple. I make no allowances for Berserk's overall enthusiasm." A moment later Jack slams into him, his own blade impacting the Quarter Knight and pushing him a few inches through the air. Red eyes rotate around, and gaze down at the swordsman for a moment... and then there is a clicking, rasping sound that fills the air.

"No no no no no. I am here for NEW data!" Alhazred declares, looking down with what might be disappointment if there was any sort of face that could be seen. "I have NUMEROUS examples of the Fast Draw Style from my last expedition. Demonstration of old techniques does little to improve my database!" One clawed hand lashes out, aiming to knock Jack away for a moment. "I would rate this example as inferior, however, compared to previous samples."

The sound of gunsmoke weapons firing fills the room as both Gwen and Rudy open up with their weapons, the slugs slamming into Alhazred as he floats in front of the entrance, continuing to gather observations. One of them actually looks like it hurts a bit more than the other, and the red eyes wince slightly, before turning to look at Gwen. "Accuracy within expected parameters. Very well. Engaging combat mode."

And from out of thin air, four large insects make their appearance. Each one blinks in with a distorting twist to the space around it, and they appear to be four winged creations with a pair of large claws, narrow torsos, and wide abdomens. "Variables calculated. Offensive systems engaged. First of all, I think that I will deal with that unnecessary moving about. I can hardly be expected to gather samples when you keep running in all directions! Slow Down - initiate!"

It's hard to say what Alhazred does exactly, but the mechanical insects flutter for a moment, and then spread out... and within the field, it feels like the humans caught in the effect are robbed of their speed, the energy field pressing against them and restricting movement. "How do you like that? A combination of gravity and spatial manipulation - marvelous."

GS: Alhazred has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Prayers sound nice. Cecilia had nodded to that from Tethelle. A pleasant thought.

She can focus on those later. For now, the battle is joined. The Chasers scatter a bit as they hit the main line - that's expected, to a point. She stays as close as she can, lingering nearer Tethelle and Jack and Rudy as they advance. They have to get through. They MUST get through! Cecilia's boots, new but by now well-worn, don't hurt her feet the way her high-heels from before did. Her leggings don't catch and snare the way her dress did. And her heart doesn't quiver and cower the way her old one did, as Berserk stares dead at her and calls her father a fool.

And she finds herself unmoved. "Father did his duties as royalty! He put his life on the line for the people he loved! So I shall do the very same! Berserk!" Motes of purple light gather around her, and then fork outward in scathing bolts of lightning, blasting across the massive toad-man's hide. "SPARK!"

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Spark!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

"Oh, you are that man who fought the princess from the moon!" Elena tells Arleph, recognizing him from the one tournament match. Having more help, especially good one, is certainly not something Elena will bemoan right now. Even if, in any other circumstances, she might spend some time lecturing people about participating in a tournament and encouraging violence.

Not that she'd have time even if she wanted to.

Yaro is screaming... what is he screaming? Elena looks confused. Now she's sure she's heard that voice before. Was that Metal Demon playing announcer for a match? Why would one bother? ... but then, Riesenlied had turned out to be kind of... nice, actually, for a Metal Demon.

No, there's no time to think about that.

Elena gets her side sliced open. Red stains her white and blue dress and she falls to the floor already. "T-That hurts! You are... you are an incredibly rude, confusing... THING!" What IS he anyway? Exploded, that's what! Elena reaches for one of those two long ribbons hanging from her dress, with a red orb at the end. The red orb pops off, and she hurls it straight for the Metal Demon.

One, that's totally high-explosives.

Two, and more importantly, that's a priestess wearing high explosives as a fashion accessory.

She's hoping this buys her enough time to get back up.

GS: Elena has attacked Yarobeleedt with Impact Bomb!
GS: Elena has completed her action.
GS: Alhazred has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Slow Down!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Slow Down!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Jack Van Burace with Gathering Samples!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Gathering Samples!
GS: Alhazred has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

He's just laughing at her, Catenna realizes as Berserk stands there and bears it. Clenching her teeth, she takes a step to one side and back, ready to ramp up the gravity.

It doesn't matter. Berserk just barrels through the spell before Catenna has time to move out of the way. Widening her eyes, she plants her heels and holds her sword across her body in the hopes that she can hold her ground against the wrecking ball-toting lizardman person.

It is hard to parry that kind of weapon with a short sword. She makes an honest try of it but the huge hurtling weapon slams into her and hurls her off her feet. With a hiss of breath she hits the ground, skidding for a few feet - but if nothing else, she's saved by the fact that she wore armour today.

It isn't heavy armour - pants and a plated bustier - but it keeps Berserk from crushing anything important even as she's knocked that hard. She's still sore as she comes back up to her knee, her eyes narrowed.

With a glance to the side, she tracks after Cecilia, watching the way Berserk snarls at her and looms over her like a guillotine blade about to crash through her face unless she does something about it.

"None of us are here to excite you," she calls out, her voice laced with acid. "Nor do we intend to run away from you!"

Cecilia delivers a nice fiery sassback and Catenna nods approvingly. Hand resting over her Medium, she utters a few words in the Zortroan language, her voice taking on a resonant note.

What happens next is a simple blunt-force gravitic blow. The air in front of Berserk seems to pinch in on itself before a sudden blast of invisible force propels towards him, aimed at blowing him backwards and away from Cecilia.

GS: Yarobeleedt takes a glancing hit from Elena's Impact Bomb for 72 hit points!
GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Compressor!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Alhazred's Gathering Samples for 65 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Alhazred's Slow Down for 65 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Gwen Whitlock!
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Spark for 52 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Catenna's Compressor for 83 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline lets out a nervous, tiny laugh when Elena throws a compliment her way. "Etone-in-training, still," she corrects, putting special emphasis on the 'training', because she's been doing a lot of that lately. Arleph is a welcome sight, too, one she hasn't seen in a long time. "Thank you!"

Oh, he always speaks like that? That would explain it.

The nun narrowly avoids getting dyed and sung by a sword arm, pivoting so that it leaves a bad tear in her habit but merely scratches her arm. "Eep!"

She scampers away, trying to put some distance between herself and the peculiarly wriggly demon man. "I don't like this at all! I don't like it!!" She places a hand on her Crest, chanting a spell that she thinks may help, considering that Arleph is likely the most offensively-minded of the trio.

"Please let me help! Holy sword!"

And as she incants, light gathers around his hands. The symbologist will soon find that his spells now pack an extra, luminous kick.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Arleph Ardan with Holy Sword!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Arleph Ardan takes a solid hit from Rosaline Calice's Holy Sword for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Arleph Ardan!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

ZAP. Dean gets a good jolt to his system, making him stagger back away from Malfi as he jitters. Th-that tingled--he's still feeling numb after that hit. She's pretty strong... but he's not going to lose, either! Blue eyes burning with determination, he rushes back in towards her, combat rods swinging as he attempts to sail them around in a one-two jab at the closest thing of her he can reach--which in this case is probably her armored gut, given their height difference. Even so, he'll hit her as hard as he can!

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Twin Drive!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Malfi guards a hit from Dean Stark's Twin Drive for 58 hit points!
Cecilia Adlehyde is not connected.
Unable to page: "Cecilia Adlehyde"
GS: CRITICAL! Rudy Roughnight takes a solid hit from Alhazred's Slow Down for 120 hit points!
GS: Slow, Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Rudy Roughnight!
<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

Rena sidehops out of the way, just in time for Claude's Air Slash to blaze past her and strike Fenrir. All the while, she just frowns harder. "My ears aren't weird, you hypocrite! Look in a mirror before you say that!" She huffs, hands coming up to rub at them defensively. But they are in the middle of a fight, so she returns to her ready stance just in time for a claw to come swiping at her from the front.

"Whoa-!" Rena yelps, leaping back just in time for a dangerous looking strike to be cut down a glance. ...And yet that glance still hurts! The very tips of Fenrir's claw barely misses cleaving through her tunic, but still tears a bit into it, drawing a faint bit of blood. "Tsk! ow...!" The elf grumbles as she tucks into a backflip, skidding back to Claude's position upon landing.

"Okay, so she's about as strong as she looks. ...In which case..." Wisps of green energy form in the girl's palms, which almost looks like an attack at first. But then those arms are thrust forward at Claude, sending a flow of healing magic his way. "Claude! You take point! You're probably better for this than I am! I'll make sure you don't die!"

Ah, so that's her game, then. Now it's really not fair.

GS: Rena Lanford has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Relief!
GS: Rena Lanford has completed her action.
GS: Rena Lanford heals Claude C. Kenny! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
DC: MISS! Jack Van Burace completely evades Gathering Samples from Alhazred!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi oooofs as Dean drives his ARMS (not his arms) into her gut, and pewter blood seeps out from a pair of shallow cuts along her torso. She frowns. Ooofing was discraceful. It showed weakness. She would have to make up for that by killing him immediately. He obviously meant business. It was time that she did, too. She counters with a devastating counterattack that draws heavily on her internal batteries. Let's see him get out of this one!

GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Power Surge!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"Ugh," Claude C. Kenny grunts as he gets a closer look at the thing he just hit. "Man, it was bad enough when it was just Metal Demons and Metal Dragons. Now they've got a Metal Wolf? Chaos," he mutters, shaking his head. "Seriously, what are they going to come up with ne---"

Further complaints are cut off by the sudden shifting of Fenrir's arm - that is a neat trick, and one he hasn't seen these creatures pull just yet - and then are resumed again when the aforementioned arm snakes around his ankles and begins dragging him toward the metallic monster. Claude snarls, flipping his sword back in a one-handed grip, preparing to cut downward at the restraining arm. He stops, though, as Rena shouts at him and sends waves of healing in his direction. What a great idea, he thinks! Sending the big beefy swordguy forward and leaving the healer in the back row! How did she think of this!

"Okay!" Claude shouts, and then suddenly he stops resisting Fenrir's pull; in fact, he jumps into it, bringing his sword back up over his head and leaping at the canine-formed Hyadean. "FOR THE RECORD, I AM ONLY ATTACKING YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE A HOSTILE FORCE!" he shouts at the top of his lungs. "I MAINTAIN THE UTMOST RESPECT FOR YOUR PERSONAL LIFE CHOICES!" he adds as he brings the sword slashing down.

Somewhere, a functionary in the Federation HR department gets its wings.

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Fenrir with Fursecution!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

There are few who have withstood a direct hit from Berserk and lived to tell the tale. One was blasted just under a thousand years into the future somehow. Cyre does not receive the demon's attack directly, and for this reason alone he's not a bloodstain on the parched earth right now. Berserk charges through him and he tucks into the tremendous headbutt. He leaps in the same moment, twisting above and over the cataclysmic Hammer of the Photosphere.

But even that-- even a glancing blow-- cracks his shoulder hard. A dark-blue bruise blossoms across his chest in mere moments. "Ghh. Do you think we're here to entertain you, monster?"

Cyre extends a hand. The very atmosphere seems to grow heavy. The sound of hurricane force winds overwhelm all others as air suddenly rushes in around the massive Metal Demon. He's not just trying to hold him down-- he's trying to crush every little mucous membrane, every scant shard of soft tissue that he can find with pure atmospheric pressure.

"These are our homes. Our heritage. Our gods! What would we be if we weren't out here fighting you to protect it!?" Cyre squeezes his hand tight. That pressure doubles, then triples. "We'll push you back, even if it means using everything we have to give!"

Everything...

Everything...!

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Berserk with Grand Pressure!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Grand Pressure for 61 hit points!
GS: Berserk enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Dean Stark critically Guards a hit from Malfi's Power Surge for 43 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Dean Stark!
GS: Malfi takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: Malfi drains Dean Stark! Malfi gains 92 temporary hit points!
GS: Fenrir critically Guards a hit from Claude C. Kenny's Fursecution for 19 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

Despite Arleph's general swagger about coming in middle of a raging battlefield against metal demons, he know fully well how dangerous Yarobeleedt is. He remeber the sickness he felt when he slashed him accross the stomach, the poisoning that lingered behind. His blows are also very dangerous, strong and agile. Or at least, sharp and agile, which is just as bad.

In more ways than one, while not understimating him, Arleph is ready to fight him.

The tournament bears some fruits, having fought somebody fighting with a spear, the Symbologist grits his teeth, waving with his hat-tipping hand off, willing a symbology circle into being, while stepping left and right around the thrusts, while a small pool of water slides him in such directions.

"I am, yes. Arleph Ardan, a pleasure, but let us wait for formal introductions--" He grunts, throwing himself to one side, "--After this, if you don't mind." Rosaline get a brief look, sensing some energy being gathered there. Ah. Right, she uses a Crest. This is going to be interesting to see what happens. The light gathers around his hands, Arleph giving them a brief look before looking up at Yaro, tightening his gloves around his fingers. Huh. He punned. Was that on purpose?

"No, I have not come to cry. I have come to deny you from whatever you seek within." He mutters, his now glowing gloves covered in symbology, transforming into a large coating of water, that he pulls with his other hand back, unleashing a long, sharp tendril of water. "Also, perhaps, perchance, to get to the bottom of your own condition!"

He swings his arm, the Water Whip snapping through the air, the glow from Rosaline's spell flowing through it as it cuts, sprays and snaps at the Metal demon.

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Yarobeleedt with Water Whip!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Yarobeleedt takes a glancing hit from Arleph Ardan's Water Whip for 84 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Unfortunately, Dean's too dumb to die when he's killed. Although Malfi hits him HARD with that spear of hers, sending him flying backwards as she's re-energized, Dean ragdolls across the battlefield, rolls, comes to a stop... but doesn't have the decency to stay down. He coughs, sputters, clutches his aggrieved ribs--but still shoves himself up one-handed, glaring at Malfi with gritted teeth. He staggers as he gets back to his feet, but that might be cold comfort to Malfi, who wanted him dead.

At least this time, he doesn't blindly charge into another direct assault. This time, he concentrates, focusing on his copy of the Sword Medium and calling upon the power of the Guardian to which it's indirectly connected. He thrusts one pistol-wielding hand into the air, and the next moment, a rush of non-elemental power will materialize and attempt to slam into Malfi.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"The Guardians live," Tethelle snaps back to Alhazred, "and thus they deserve respect!"

Tethelle does not really feel like talking to Alhazred, mysteriously. It's never worked out any of the other times she's fought a Metal Demon. She reacts to being struck at by the bugs by lashing out with the curved blade, trying to bat them away more than actually destroy them. It's easier. She does not entirely manage to protect herself, but it's better than it could have been.

Tethelle shifts into a different stance, one that seems more formalized than the previous and oddly off-balance. It keeps her blade high and forward, though it looks like it's meant for a straighter sword than the one she's using. But if Alhazred is really a scholar, it might ring some bells... some very old bells. It's an ancient Baskar style, archaic, presumed defunct because have you seen any Baskar with gigantic swords around lately?

(Yes. One. Tethelle.)

From the Stance of Noua Shax, Tethelle delivers a series of downward blows, lightning-fast. The cascade doesn't let up as Tethelle tries to press Alhazred, keep him too busy to follow up against her compatriots; better she draw his attention than letting him continue to hunt down Rudy, Gwen (who she knows less well, granted) or Jack. Her blade rings with impact, an echoing tone that builds up as Tethelle gathers power.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Elemental Crush!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Malfi critically Guards a hit from Dean Stark's Elemental Crush for 22 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Alhazred with Still Blade!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Alhazred guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Still Blade for 53 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Alhazred!
<Pose Tracker> Fenrir has posed.

"What? Why would I look in a mirror? What does that have to do with anything?" Fenrir shouts back at Rena, really not getting it. As the hit draws some blood, the wolf-like Metal Demon bears those fangy teeth in a grin, but frowns when Rena moves to heal Claude instead of counterattack. "What are you, girl, a coward?! Fight me! Don't take your eyes off me! I only have one good eye and I can fight both of you, so you should be able to do the same!"

And it's shown when Claude comes leaping at Fenrir. The blade is coming overhead, slashing into her face for the briefest of seconds before she pulls her head to the side and uses the chain to deflect the rest, blood dripping from one of the jagged prisms on her bad side. "The hell sort of gibberish are you shouting? No matter. All you'll be capable of soon is gibbering in GENERAL! Nice hit, though - you surely got the guts to come straight at me, so I'll give you both EVERYTHING I'VE GOT!"

That chain-arm begins to form again, but instead of changing entirely, instead, the chain retracts - forming another claw. It's very odd, because it's as if she has no arm...but Rena and Claude will only have a second to ponder that before it whips out, sweeping in a wide arc like a flail to attempt to smash them both in the face with the wolf claw without taking a step. "You've barely made me move. Come on! Put your backs into it!"

GS: Fenrir has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Chain Slasher!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Rena Lanford with Chain Slasher!
GS: Fenrir has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

"What is the confusing?! I am Yarobeleedt! The Favorite Chum of Mother!! Metal darkman! No now, yes? Then your state 'yes' is then soon 'no!'" Okay? Whatever that's saying. "Fifth twenty-sixth fifth twenty-sixth."

No protests about being a 'rude' or a 'THING!' That's canon, then. Yarobeleedt is a rude THING!

Nonetheless, Yarobeleedt starts up a wall as he doesn't completely outrace the explosion. His melting tail end takes on a slightly more scorched character that filters and throbs as the metallic mass tumbles and pulsates within itself.

"Play all you want! Soon. Soon! Soon. It is OVAL." Yarobeleedt teases, from high up on a wall, as though certain nothing anything they can do will reach him, that he can feel safe to tease and taunt them.

Then Arleph's water whip snaps around the long slug-butt end, and Yarobeleedt panics. He screeches as he reforms his forearms into picks, scraping and scratching at the wall for grip.

"Nononononono!!! Infade my pry vats see?!" Yarobeleedt's eyes comically bulge out. "No! No touchy! No licky!" It's going to take some tugging, but it's a tug of war that Arleph eventually wins thanks to the HOLY BLESSING, sending Yarobeleedt falling back down towards the sand-filled ground with a screech and an exaggerated dust cloud.

This seems a solid blow unto itself, with only one minor complication - it's not clear where Yarobeleedt is in the wake of this dusty explosion. Maybe he ran away. He sure seems skittish, for being a shambling metallic Cronenberg horror.

Oh, there he is, coming up just behind Elena.

"Holds 'til!" It holds until whe-- never mind. The more important thing is that he's trying to stab a jagged-looking lance arm into her back.

The other arm, presently a sword, sweeps horizontally in Rosa's vague direction. When that motion completes, the weight of the forearm's mass shifts towards the front, creating a misshapen heavy bludgeon that he raises on high as he leans a ways towards Arleph.

"Taste the bad!" But, Yarobeleedt said no more than a few seconds ago, 'no licky.' Is he taking it back? (Lick away!) ((EDITOR'S NOTE: don't lick)) He tries to bring it down on Arleph's fine, enviable cranium and its contents.

GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Elena with Sue Tab!
GS: Rena Lanford takes a solid hit from Fenrir's Chain Slasher for 136 hit points!
GS: Yarobeleedt enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Rosaline Calice with Sue Lies!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Arleph Ardan with Sue Mash!
GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

The Guardian's spite washes over Malfi, roiling and seething over blood and brain and bone, intractable, inexhaustible. Anathema, intolerable! To her credit, she bears it stoically, though not without strain. Her defiance and willpower are palpable, and she attacks Dean once again. Why won't he drop already?!?! Humans were supposed to be easy to kill. The ones she'd faced as a neonate certainly had been. What was up with this one?

GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Power Surge!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Dean Stark guards a hit from Malfi's Power Surge for 85 hit points!
GS: Malfi takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: Malfi drains Dean Stark! Malfi gains 183 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jack Van Burace has posed.


To say that Jack is angry is not quite doing the emotion justice. He's gone a bit beyond anger. At least from the blazing look of hate on his face as the death-grip he has on his sword.

That arm comes in and the swordsman sweeps his sword up to almost casually send it skittering to the side. A slight dodge and the brunt of the blow strikes nothing but air as he shifts his grip on the weapon.

"I've learned a few new tricks since then, you murderous soulless abomination!" He shifts the weapon again, hand resting against the flat of the blade for a moment before he slamps the elegant weapon forwards, wind-magic infusing the blade with speed as he aims to spear into the scientist's side.

Lets see if he really is made of Science!!

He times the attack with Tethelle, seemingly used to fighting with others. Darting in as her overhand strikes might unbalance their opponent.

"Watch out fir this one! He has more tricks up his sleeves than just these!" He calls back towards Rudy and Gwen, doing his best to stay out of their line of fire.


GS: Jack Van Burace has attacked Alhazred with Strike Buddy!
GS: Jack Van Burace has completed its action.
GS: Alhazred critically Guards a hit from Jack Van Burace's Strike Buddy for 21 hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a glancing hit from Yarobeleedt's Sue Lies for 47 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Arleph Ardan takes a solid hit from Yarobeleedt's Sue Mash for 166 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Arleph Ardan!
GS: Elena takes a glancing hit from Yarobeleedt's Sue Tab for 48 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

Rena's ears twitch at Fenrir's shouting. "Eh?" She blinks. "Why should I do that when I can just do this instead?" It's a sound tactical choice, bloodthirsty combat bravado be damned! Of course, that's assuming that she can actually stay out of the way long enough to fulfill her role.

Which, as it turns out, Fenrir isn't very keen on allowing! That chain whips out, and Rena tries to leap out of the way. But it's too little, too late. That claw comes crashing right into her. She guards her face, but she can feel her arms being torn into. "Augh!" She cries out painfully before sailing aside a bit and hitting the ground with a roll rather roughly.

It was a harsh fall, but the elf girl isn't down for the count. She heaves a sigh and stands herself back up carefully, blood dripping from her wounds. "You and that loudmouth over there are perfect for each other. Fight me, fight me, fight me-" A shake of the head. "I don't get people like you."

But if they're not stopped here, then everything will have all been for naught! Rena clenches both hands into fists and takes a deep breath. "Hooooo...." Her expression steels and then she dashes forward, answering Fenrir's challenge! Energy gathered into her fists, she skids to a stop right before her opponent, one fist opening up into a palm that she thrusts into Fenrir's abdomen from an inch's distance.

"Hah!"

GS: Rena Lanford has attacked Fenrir with Energy Palm!
GS: Rena Lanford has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.


As usual in battle (and out of battle), Rudy's responses are minimalistic. Gwen's offer for help gets a small smile, not exactly stating a need for the help, but definitely appreciating her company. There is a brief pause, however, as the Metal Demon speaks. He loves to talk, that's for sure. Then the gravitational forces pull around Rudy. The young man walks on, even as the weight seems to increase and his body cracks. There are cracks as his gun arm gets dislocated at the shoulder, the weight of the weapon and the gravitational forces hitting him in a way that his 'normal' strength is not used to. But the attack ends and Rudy stands there with a stance that suggests that more than just his arm was injured in the attack. But he doesn't stop. Instead, continues onward, using his good and free hand to shove some berries in his mouth before the hand moves toward his wrist. As he pulls and yanks the arm in place, the teeth painfully grind into the berries, providing the healing needed to keep him going.

With his body forcefully put back into fighting condition, Rudy merely rises his gun and continues to shoot on, another volley of shots ringing out. While it seems as if his battle style is lackluster, his brown eyes belay himself: his friends and allies are being observed, the young soul doing everything he can to ensure that the battle ends without another tragic causality. Tethelle is trying to keep Alhazred's attention and despite his self-destructive impulses, Rudy is enough of a team player to merely support and not try and undermine by doing the 'no attack me' in hopes that the wraith will be averted toward him. Jack seems to know this opponent, Rudy realizes. It's more than just Rudy's personal ire toward the Metal Demons as a whole. Jack wants to kill this one in particular. For now, as expected, Rudy has nothing to say on that matter.

GS: Rudy Roughnight used Mystic on Rudy Roughnight! 100 Temporary HP gained! All statuses cleared!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Alhazred with Can't Stop Won't Stop!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

It's an unpleasant surprise to Dean when the power of the Crush attack slams into Malfi, but she grits her teeth through it. She also seems--mad, even so? Why's she so upset? He doesn't have time to think about it, though, when she slams her spear into him again. He manages to not go flying this time, thanks to him tensing up into a defensive posture before the attack lands, but sticking his ground actually makes the attack hurt even *more* since he's not rolling with the punches.

"Why are you people attacking this place, anyway?" Dean calls to Malfi. "It's just an old temple!" Apparently someone isn't in the know. Either way, he runs a short distance away--but only far enough away so he has some breathing space to cast a magic spell on himself to enhance his speed. He's not about to run from this fight yet!

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Dean Stark with Quicken Edge!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Dean Stark takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Quicken Edge for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Dean Stark!
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Rudy Roughnight's Can't Stop Won't Stop for 60 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi wonders how the young human can be so completely clueless. How could he draw on a Guardian's power without understanding how the Guardians felt about the Metal Demons? She doesn't dignify his question with a response; instead she forms her left hand and arm into metal tendrils and tries to ensnare him in them.

GS: Claude C. Kenny critically Guards a hit from Fenrir's Chain Slasher for 26 hit points!
GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Spider's Grasp!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

Elena has been diligently getting back up while the increasingly oddly-spoken Metal Demon is distracted by her fellow sister and Arleph. This would be great if Yaro wasn't so... fast! How, how did he get behind her so quickly!

The Songstress raises her scepter, the generic metal mace only moderately useful in stopping her from getting impaled. The fact she stumbles back trying to sidestep does a better job saving her, though a part of her dress gets torn, and she's still bleeding from the first strike.

"I do not understand a single thing you are saying!" she screeches, almost flailing. Somehow this is making the situation worse! Bleeding? It sucks, but combat is something everyone knows how to deal with. Just fight back! Heal yourself. Struggle. Yaro's speech, though? She has no idea how to even begin processing it. "Please speak using our language if you must taunt us, Demon!"

Her Mana Egg shines in her left hand, the right hand guiding her mace up. Water sorcery gathers overhead, forming circles of crystal water that rain down healing magic onto herself, Rosalina and Arleph. "Lord Granas, send forth your healing rain!"

It soothes, it heals, it mends! Sadly, it doesn't remove bloodstains, so Elena's dress is still quite ruined. But at least her sides are relatively more closed than moments earlier.

GS: Elena has attacked Rosaline Calice with Droplets of Life!
GS: Elena has attacked Elena with Droplets of Life!
GS: Elena has attacked Arleph Ardan with Droplets of Life!
GS: Elena has completed her action.
GS: Elena heals Rosaline Calice! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Elena heals Arleph Ardan! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Elena heals Elena! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
DC: MISS! Dean Stark completely evades Spider's Grasp from Malfi!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

None of us are here to excite you -- Nor do we intend to run away from you!

"That right?"

The question comes, spiteful and full of the sort of patronizing incredulousness one might take up when dealing with unruly children. That it's all but snarled out around spittle and teeth that could tear apart metal like warm butter is just the injury to the insult as he pauses to slowly turn that massive, white-maned head Catenna's way. He turns her way. Starts to walk. The air pinch inwards just beyond him in that telltale twinge of magic he so loathes. He stops... and grins.

The blow of force is tremendous, propelling outward forcefully. And Berserk steps -into- it, wading through that compressed air and weighted pressure through sheer, brute force and little else, armor crunching inward here and there as he struggles, -stomps- every step of the way towards Catenna. Not stopping. Not even for a moment.

And while he is not blown away, per se--

"Guess you're just gonna die messy, then."

--the shaman manages to tear his attention away from the princess, at least, as he lifts one hand and brings it crashing down in a backhanded strike aimed to clap across the side of Catenna's head. It's a belittling amount of force from Berserk... but one that can do wonders towards jarring the girl from Elru's sense of focus.

If he has plans to follow it up -- and given the bloodlust in his eyes, that's more than likely -- it's interrupted when Catenna's attempted ploy bears fruit. Berserk doesn't notice Cecilia until those bolts of lightning CRACKLE across his back, scorching his armored body with currents of electrical might that make him -lurch- forward bodily with a mild snarl of annoyance. Back smoking, he whips his head around, sneering at the princess of Adlehyde.

"MIGHT AS WELL GIVE YOU THE VERY SAME END THEN, HUH, -PRINCESS-?!" he hollars, the title like an insult as he -HURLS- his wrecking ball at the girl with an unhealthy amount of physical force to propel it.

With one hard yank, that weapon will come howling back to its master not seconds later -- but it is a howl that is swiftly drowned out by the force of the winds. "Hnn--?" begins Berserk, with an irritable snort -- just as he looks Cyre's way. His eyes narrow. His lips pull into an ugly frown. Wind buffets him, crashes into him, -encases- him -- tries to -crush- him. He bows down slightly, body shaking as if from the pent up pressure...

"IS THIS EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO GIVE?!"

...only to SNAP up with the sudden shatter of one of his pauldrons and a hideous growl of -irritation- as he sends that wrecking ball swinging about, glinting in the passing light of day before it SOARS towards Cyre, accelerating at dizzying speeds and full of Berserk's uncanny amounts of bloodthirsty wrath.

"You better hope not, because this is PATHETIC! C'MON!! SHOW ME! SHOW ME WHAT 'EVERYTHING' IS, MEAT! BECAUSE AT THIS RATE, YOU'RE SCREWED! GA HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Torment!
GS: Berserk enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Concussive Carnage!
GS: Berserk has completed his action.
DC: MISS! Catenna completely evades Concussive Carnage from Berserk!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Berserk's Torment for 182 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Cecilia Adlehyde critically Guards a hit from Berserk's Torment for 60 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"Space stuff," Claude C. Kenny answers when Fenrir asks him what he's on about.

He realizes half a second later he probably shouldn't say that.

"SPACE STUFF!" he shouts to Rena. "I think this thing is made of space stuff! That's why it can---" The blonde swordsman breaks off his cover-preserving narrative when the claw comes in; it shreds Rena's guard, but Claude raises his right arm and tucks in his shoulder, preparing to take the blow in the fabric of his jacket, which will undoubtedly tear through easily.

Except instead it bounces off, the Federation armour weave hardening at the point of the blow, until Fenrir's claw smashes into something harder than steel. Claude presses any advantage of surprise the move may bring him, releasing the hilt of his sword with his left hand and stepping quickly inward. Blue and yellow light dances around his hand and arm, after which Claude unleashes a blistering barrage of punches, his arm blurring as he lets fly with a dozen punches in a second or two.

"My back's still not in it, by the way!" Claude adds, because Fenrir annoys him. "LEt me know when I should start with that!"

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Luckily, it seems the interaction of crest sorcery and symbology doesn't cause anything to explode. Well. Anything they don't WANT to explode. Rosaline has a pained thought for the destruction they're causing right now, but it will only be worse if these demons are allowed to run roughshod over these grounds!

"D-Did we win?" she asks, not realizing how painfully resilient Yarobeleedt can be. Something about him seems so familiar, too! But she can't put a finger on it.

"Elena!" she cries out, when the cronenberg emerges behind her fellow Granasite. She should be worrying about herself more, as soon the Demon is swinging its sword arm right up in her face again. She ducks at the very last second, as it painfully shears the tip of her ears right off. Thank Granas she has spells for that sort of thing.

Arleph takes a severe beating too, one that makes her wince, but Elena is quick to offer help. "Thank you so much, Elena!" so says, as Granas' healing rain is summoned onto them.

And just like that, her ears are intact again. Thank Granas indeed.

And so, she turns her attention back to the canonically rude THING, clutching her cross and Crest to gather power once more. "Please repent," she cries out, "Luminous Motes!"

And just as the name says, motes of light appear in the air to chase Yarobeleedt down. Rosaline is still building up her power, so they may not hurt much individually, but oh, how much they must STING!

"I think he only has a speech impediment," she asides to Elena, sheepishly, "so we probably shouldn't give him a hard time over it."

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Fenrir with Meteor Palm!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Yarobeleedt with Luminous Motes!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Yarobeleedt critically Guards a hit from Rosaline Calice's Luminous Motes for 14 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Fenrir guards a hit from Rena Lanford's Energy Palm for 81 hit points!
GS: Fenrir critically Guards a hit from Claude C. Kenny's Meteor Palm for 24 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

This is why Arleph was not underestimating Yarobeleedt. He knows what he's capable of. He don't feel satisfied with his Whip appears to strike at somewhere sensitive of the Metal Demon's anatomy -- if there is such a way you can describle it, considering on how flexible it appears to be at the moment. The Symbologist tugs at his hand to free his water whip, which is probably a mistake for various reasons. The first one, he could've simply dismissed it. For two, this put him in an disadvantageous position, slightly disbalanced by pulling back his hand. The whip arcs in the air, his arm jerking away.

Then he's there, in his face, the hammer coming down on his head. Arleph sees it coming down, gritting his teeth.

The impact is far more loud than it should've been. The hat provide some protection, caving in beneath the heavy bludgeon instrument, then slamming powerfully against Arleph's cranium. It reasonate, a spark of energy pushing against the heavy blow, then largely breaking immediatedly against him. The symbologist immediatedly fall down on his ass, air gasping out of his lungs.

He lay there for a few seconds, a hand to his head and in pain, his hat falling off in the motion. He got careless. He can imagine the filth flowing through his micro fracture and laceration of the blows. This is a major set--

The Droplets of Life falls on him, surging him with new energy. He can feel the magic sooth his pain and fill his heart with awe. Is this what it feels?

Arleph slowly straightens while Rosa goes on the offensive, whistling a breath between his teeth as he stares at the Metal Demon, new vigor flowing in his heart. He reach a gloved hand to his bleeding head, spread it between his fingers, then slam that fist into the ground.

A symbological circle explodes out beneath the impact, spinning then surging upward as Arleph intones.

"THE BLANKET THAT KEEP US OUR FEET UPON THE EARTH! THE INVISIBLE WATERS ABOVE US ALL!"

The crackle of the circle snaps around them, focusing around Yaro as the atmosphere ripens, leadens, the pressure of the air, the water within growing crushingly present, all around in a sphere he's aimed at.

"LET IT BE KNOW, AND FOREVER FEARED!"

Arleph snaps his finger. Imagine the deepest, most crushing humoid summer marshy feeling. Multiply that by a hundred. That is what is happening within that sphere right now, as water, gravity converge to create a huge crushing mess.

"ATMOSPHERIC CONDENSATION!"

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Yarobeleedt with Atmospheric Condensation!
GS: Arleph Ardan takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Yarobeleedt guards a hit from Arleph Ardan's Atmospheric Condensation for 135 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

That's the power of a clueless country boy who was given a present of Mediums without really knowing what they were: there's a lot about this world Dean still doesn't know. Until he'd left his hometown, he'd never even heard of Metal Demons, and (as an aside) only barely knew who or what the Veruni were. Not that Malfi would know that either.

"Just gonna stay quiet, huh? Fine, be that way!" Dean calls again. His spell was well-timed: when Malfi reforms her left hand into metal tendrils and whips them towards him with intent to capture, Dean *dashes* to one side, avoiding them just before they would have snatched him up. He skids to a halt somewhere to her right--Dean's right--and he swings his twin pistols around to aim and open fire with a rapid RAT-TA-TAT-TAT. If he's using those guns *as* guns, you know he means business.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

In a way, the strange cloaked Metal Demon reminded Gwen of Kalve- all those mutterings about data, databases, samples, variables, all the science-type words. Which, in turn, reminded Gwen of Auntie Frea, who would talk about such matters, making the occasional comment to Gwen as she studied relics and ancient documents well into the late hours of the night. Or, just as often, when she was studying Gwen herself.

Good times, good times.

But, where Kalve had some restraint in his enthusiasm and Auntie Frea was... Frea, Gwen feels ill as those red eyes of Alhazred turn to focus briefly on her. Not only that, she can feel Gulliver's fear in his subtle movements and the pulse of his body. He's not that used to dealing with Metal Demons, rare cases like Zed and Riesenlied aside. Leaping down from Gulliver, the courier quickly presses her head against the horse's neck in a quick gesture of comfort, then pulls away, pursing her lips in a whistle to command the horse away. "Hyup!"

Gulliver doesn't need to be told twice; he gallops away just as Alhazred attacks, slipping just shy of the attack's field. Gwen, meanwhile, is certainly affected, wincing as the air itself seems to weigh down on her. "Rudy!" The way he presses against the field is both inspiring and distressing. Looking forward to new face of Jack, Gwen simply nods. "Rudy, let's fire on him while those two hack away." That Baskar(?) girl's hold on her sword is pretty neat; it's too bad Gwen can't watch Tethelle's swordwork right now. "I got a trick up my sleeve too. One that'll definitely help out the others too!"

"Here we go!" Rolling her sleeve all the way back to expose the rest of her right ARM, Gwen loads another cartridge into the top of her shoulder, looking back towards Rudy to help judge her own attack. "Alright! Let's show em' what we got!" WIth a crackle of lightning, Gwen shoots from the palm of her straightened arm, her body briefly jolted back from the force.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with First Shooter!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Alhazred with Coil Cannon EX!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Alhazred takes a solid hit from Gwen Whitlock's Coil Cannon EX for 127 hit points!
GS: Jam! Statuses applied to Alhazred!
GS: Malfi guards a hit from Dean Stark's First Shooter for 64 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna pauses for a second as Berserk actually elects to sneer back at her personally. She opens her mouth about half an inch before closing it.

Oh shit.

As Berserk bears down on her, Catenna bears backwards, trying to maintain the distance between herself and the immense Metal Demon - and even the blast of gravity isn't enough to keep him from getting closer. It's almost like she's trying to back away from a gigantic steamroller. Her eyes grow wider and wider, though there's defiance in them behind the fear that's rapidly beginning to mount. Soon enough, he's close enough to swing at her with a blow that could probably rip the top off a mountain even with a small amount of his power, and Catenna gasps and does the only thing she can think of.

She ducks.

At the last possible second, she goes low. Berserk's pimp hand whistles right over her head as she ducks right down and dives past him - and then Cecilia's electrical power spares her the inevitable follow-up. Cheeks pale, the Zortroa priestess breathes a sigh of relief as she once more tries to gain distance on Berserk. She sprints away, suddenly wanting nothing more than to avoid anything that even looks like a physical confrontation with someone that strong. She may be carrying a sword now, but Catenna isn't even all that good with it.

'Show me what 'everything' is, meat,' the huge monstrosity of a being screams at them. Catenna sets her jaw and levels her left hand, her Medium hanging from her belt. "Not yet," she says. "The blessing of the Guardians is with us. And this place... is not yours to do as you please with!"

She intones a couple more words in her own language. As usual, the spell doesn't come with a spectacular effect. But there's an odd distortion in the air around Berserk - one only he can see. Light seems to refract around him strangely, warping the world into odd, circling patterns for a moment - like hypnotic waves. The pull of gravity around him is not strong, but it's coming in a gently mounting wave.

Catenna's trying to pull the blood (or metal oil or whatever) out of Berserk's brain and leave his senses badly confused and warped.

GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Feeble Mind!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"IS THIS EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO GIVE?!"

Berserk is the Wrath of the Mother. He is the ultimate expression of what her Demons are meant to be. Brutal and unexpectedly cunning and filled with raw, physical might that outstrips any others amongst his kin. It was foolish to assume that he could defeat this monster alone. Cyre's eyes dilate into saucers as the enormous wrecking ball shatters the sound barrier into so many fragile shards and connects neatly with his chest.

One moment, Cyre is standing there.

The next, he is gone. A fine bloody mist lingers in the space he once was. The temple shudders as a meaty projectile is hurled into its terracotta wall.

The dust clears, and Cyre is...

Cyre is collapsed in a crater, head lolling to one side. His staff is snapped in two from where he tried to deflect Berserk's cataclysmic blow.

It was foolish to assume that he could defeat this monster alone.

This is the gruesome result.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi flinches as Dean's shots strike home, and chrome blood bursts from several places on her body, bright against her black carapace. So that...that was the power of ARM. Humans weren't even supposed to have that power, and this one is proving more difficult to kill than she expected. By all rights he should be lifeless and inert on the floor of this so-called temple, but there he was, still standing (and worse, fighting back). She snarls and attacks him all-out, attempting to stab him with her lance. Grrrrrr!

GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Power Surge!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Alhazred has posed.

"The strict definition of 'live' requires biological processes in order to confirm. I do not believe that you have sufficient documented observation to delineate between 'living' Guardians and those that simply exist as intelligent quantum uncertainties," Alhazred replies even as Tethelle lashes out at him with her blade. He brings up one arm to block her incoming slash, but the blow itself is still punishing, and he winces again from the impact of the blow. "Really now, that is unacceptable. Your performance exceeds my expected parameters by five percent at this stage in the battle, and that will not do."

One arm comes up, the claws folding around for a moment to encompass a ball of energy. "Stage one discharge - fire," the Metal Demon declares, before a beam of pure light erupts from his limb, aimed directly at Tethelle.

Jack rushes in at almost the same moment, prompting a change of focus. This one seems to be enraged, as was to be expected of someone who had potentially experienced the Artica Operation from the human side. The other claw comes around, grabbing Jack's blade and keeping him from unleashing the full force of his strike against the Metal Demon. "Disappointing. Less than twenty percent of the output attained by the Sword Princess during her last stand in the throne room. I believe that the appropriate statement to make at this point is: 'Is this all that your anger amounts to? Do you believe you can avenge anyone with such a weak heart and blade?'"

The Metal Demon tilts its head (and therefore a good chunk of its body) slightly to the side before adding: "How would you rate this particular dictum in terms of effectiveness? On a scale of one to ten if you would." It seems like merely an attempt to mock Jack, but it's actually a distraction - because several metal tendrils appear from Alhazred's hand, several with small blades and claws and they begin attacking Jack's sword arm.

Attacking is actually a misnomer. They are instead attempting to make... alterations. Unwelcome and probably painful cuts and manipulations that Jack is unlikely to appreciate.

Another shot from the blue haired young man strikes Alhazred, and his gaze swivels about in way of assessment. "Recovery from Slow Down is sixty seven percent faster than anticipated. Strange - that operation should have been considerably more effective." The damage from the shot wasn't considerable, but clearly the Drifter was picking his shots carefully.

Another, more painful attack comes as Gwen unleashes her coil rifle. The shot slams into Alhazred, knocking him to the ground for a moment from the sheer force of the impact. There is actually a hole in his covering cloak from the bullet - although rather disconcertingly it looks like the weave is beginning to repair itself within moments of actually being pierced. "That was moderately uncomfortable!" Alhazred growls, before he points one claw at the more distant fighters. "Deal with them, Esperanza!"

One of the bugs dives at Rudy, attempting to slam into him with enough force to knock the Drifter off of his feet. Gwen gets two, and neither one actually moves to attack her. Instead they just protrude small antenna from their backs...

...which Alhazred immediately forces a bolt of electricity into, which then proceeds to jump back and forth between the two for a moment. Or until Gwen grounds out the electricity via extra crispification. Alhazred is interested to see what the final outcome will be.

GS: Alhazred has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Photon Blaster!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Jack Van Burace with Unnecessary Tinkering!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Esperanza!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Electrigger!
GS: Alhazred has completed his action.
GS: Dean Stark takes a solid hit from Malfi's Power Surge for 137 hit points!
GS: Malfi takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: Malfi drains Dean Stark! Malfi gains 186 temporary hit points!
DC: MISS! Tethelle Cirdian completely evades Photon Blaster from Alhazred!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

Round: 2/5

GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Catenna's Feeble Mind for 0 hit points!
GS: Mute and Weaken! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Jack Van Burace takes a glancing hit from Alhazred's Unnecessary Tinkering for 52 hit points!
GS: Weaken! Statuses applied to Jack Van Burace!
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

"Yaro does not under stand how human not also approach stand direction?! Because Metal Demon overstand!" It... really is useless. "You are bottom of lan gauge!!" He retorts, as a pitched battle for the sake of a sensitive nerve for Filgaia briefly devolves into name calling and shaming. He kind of sounds like he's about to cry.

"Fine!! Wet wounds! Humans make wet when scared! It is so gross!!" He gibbers as Elena calls upon the powers of healing. (We're not even going to parse that.)

Rosa and Arleph take back up the offensive, and boy, do they.

He screeches as he stabs at the Luminotes Motes that flitter about him like a bunch of magical mosquitoes. There are too many. He just covers himself in his arms and shudders underneath, pathetically whimpering for a short while as the motes all burst into beautiful spherical prisms en route to dissipating back into the ether whence they came.

He remains cowering as Arleph casts the incantation to one of his heavier, nastier spells. Yarobeleedt tugs at a sheet of metallic fabric from... somewhere, as if to cover himself.

The sphere surrounds him. A great pressure crushes Yarobeleedt and his softer, more exposed flesh. His body from the waist down buckles and compresses, and he vomits all sorts of nasty-looking off-color fluids as he convulses. When the pressure relieves, his lower body fills back out as his tongue lolls while laying on his side.

They won't want to get their shoes in whatever came out of him. It's making the ground smoke. It smells terrible. Man, the Guardians are probably going to have far lower property values just for this pile of Yarobeleedt vomit.

"Kfffffthththphphgghgffftpgl," he grunts, slowly reclaiming coherency (for a given value). "Mother... Mother... Mother... weight so loooong... three long...!!" It kind of sounds like sobbing. It's even more pathetic.

Then he just surges up again, with more angry screeching, even as more ichor drips out the side of his mouth (wow the atmospheric condensation might have done some real serious internal damage), as he stabs one forearm into the ground for balance.

"No more! No more! Way less! Less! Never! None! None for Mother for all for Mother!" He seems to have lost track of metaphors, as he rears back the other forearm that turns into something of a syringe shape.

It stretches out, snapping for each and every one of them in a stabbing motion. Each time one of those arms makes contact, it attempts to inject some awful, burning, painful poison that has the upside of changing everyone's flesh tone into a cool saturated hue.

If they miss out of this attack and wnat to experience the effect anyway, there's a pile of vomit on the ground to roll around in...

GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Elena with Lily River!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Rosaline Calice with Lily River!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Arleph Ardan with Lily River!
GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
GS: Rudy Roughnight critically Guards a hit from Alhazred's Esperanza for 27 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes a solid hit from Alhazred's Electrigger for 171 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

This time, Dean isn't so lucky. Even magically enhanced speed isn't enough to defend against a Metal Demon who's attacking all-out, and when she rushes that spear around, he's not able to jump backwards far enough to avoid it. That's what lances are good at, after all: ranged combat. Malfi strikes him *hard* in the gut, and Dean screams in pain as his blood splashes in the wake of the skewering. Already heading in a backwards direction, Malfi sends him down and backwards onto the floor, where he skids several feet.

"Guh... I c-can't... fall here..." And yet-- "My friends..." --for all the strength Malfi used-- "...are counting on me..." --he still stands up again. "...to come back alive!!"

Dean snaps his bloodied head up to fix a ferocious glare on Malfi, and once again he calls upon the strength of the Sword Medium. His vision seems to grow clearer, every single motion in battle seeming to slow down so he can land a hit that much more easily--and then he opens fire with his twin ARMs, unloading a hail of bullets upon the mighty Demon soldier.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Yarobeleedt's Lily River for 138 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
GS: CRITICAL! Arleph Ardan guards a hit from Yarobeleedt's Lily River for 139 hit points!
GS: Poison and Disease! Statuses applied to Arleph Ardan!
GS: Malfi takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision for 151 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Fenrir has posed.

"Because fighting is the way the world works! You strike, you rip, you tear, you brutalize! Who needs support? Who needs whatever the hell you gave to him? You rip your opposition to PIECES!" Fenrir howls, which is really just a weird yell because she's not actually a wolf, and glares straight at Rena, retracting that chain-claw into a regular arm. It turns out her normal arm is NOT a claw, and is just...an arm. Fenrir watches, Rena, carefully, seeing how she responds. Is she going to give up?

No. Rena charges forward, forms her hands into fists, and hits Fenrir straight in the abdomen with a palm strike. For the first few miliseconds, nothing seems to happen. And then, Fenrir goes flying backwards, skidding across the ground as she coughs up a huge pile of blood. She could not block that. She could not resist that, as she is put into a heap on the ground. For just a moment, the Metal Demon may even look beaten.

And then Fenrir leaps back up. She has no idea what Claude is talking about with space stuff or his sword or his sword apparently made out of space stuff so she ignores it. Instead, as he powers up his arm with a rapid flurry of energy and strikes, Fenrir leaps straight up into it, deflecting them with her arm in a wide sweep. The blows still hit - fracturing against the bone, but she takes it in complete stride, sneering at him. "Yeah, you should really step it up, punk. The fight's just gotten good. It's time to play this seriously." Taking a stance where she's putting her pressure on her right leg...Fenrir suddenly sweeps her left leg off the ground, into a spinning kick, towards Claude. However, right before it strikes into his side, the leg shifts into a sword, moving to cut straight into him. Turning it back into a leg in another motion and dropping back to the ground, Fenrir makes a sprint towards Rena...

And punches her in the face. Just, a simple, clean punch straight for the jaw. "Hahahaha! You really do have some courage in there, don't you? What strength. Too bad it won't save you."

GS: Elena guards a hit from Yarobeleedt's Lily River for 85 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Elena!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Leg Slasher!
GS: Fenrir enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Rena Lanford with Punch!
GS: Fenrir has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

No doubt about it -- this human HURT. Malfi snarls under the twin attacks of Dean's Medium and ARM. Humans weren't supposed to be this formidable, but somehow, this one was. Even at such an apparently young age. She really did need to capture a few to study, to figure out how some of them could have such unusual abilities. She is heartened, at least, that at last she managed to stab him. Now, to finish the job! She lunges at Dean again, HARD.

GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Beyond The Impale!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Rena Lanford guards a hit from Fenrir's Punch for 58 hit points!
GS: Dean Stark takes a solid hit from Malfi's Beyond The Impale for 115 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny takes a solid hit from Fenrir's Leg Slasher for 90 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle has no idea what any of the words coming out of Alhazred's mouth (if he has a mouth) mean. Quantum uncertainty? That sounds like something that... actually Tethelle can't figure out what it sounds like, other than 'wrong'.

"My name is Tethelle Cirdian, Zoa Priestess of the Baskar who follow Equites," Tethelle growls. "I think I am more qualified than you to know what the Guardians say, for I have heard her voice, and follow her precepts. It is my role to stand against people like you, and I will do it as long as I must!"

Tethelle watches the claw come up, holding energy. She draws in a breath, pushing herself to a moment of perfect clarity. The world seems to slow around her as she becomes one with the blade; she sees/feels exactly how she must move and she does it without conscious thought.

She takes a half step, whirling her curved sword so fast it blurs. The beam of light hits the sword - and shatters, spraying to one side in a distorted cone of fractured light. Some of the energy surrounds the blade, mixed with Tethelle's fighting spirit - a pure silver light. She swings it back, firing a whirling blast of chi at Alhazred, a slash through the air that explodes on impact.

Tethelle exhales, the moment of perfect clarity and focus leaving her. The touch of the Guardian, she'd call it - but it's only showing what she could do herself, if she was as skilled as she could be. She needs to improve, to become a true blademaster. "As you see," she calls to Alhazred. "You do not understand my skills! Come, do better if you can!"

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Alhazred with Burst Strike!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
DC: The provided power level is not valid. Power levels must be between 0 and 4. [5]
GS: Alhazred critically Guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Burst Strike for 16 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jack Van Burace has posed.


Alhazred is correct in one thing. Jack does not appriciate what just happened. None of it. Espicially the words. The physical shock of what the Demon says washes over him. His reflexes, honed in so many battles fail him as the tendrils strike.

There is a snarl as he rips his blade free. Severing those tendrils before they can do serious damage to his arms.

He staggers back, assailed by memories that he would have prefered stay in the dark. His breathing quickens, eyes stare unseeing as he relives something from his past. Dreged up by the Demon's words.

Almost as if by relfex the sword is sheathed as he stands there a moment.

"...Jack?" Hanpans voice is quiet in his ear.

"You," The swordsman's begins low but quickly gains volume. "Do not get to say her name!" The last coming out as a vicious snarl, a wordless expression of rage as he tears the sword free again. The movement of the blade elegant and unspeakabily fast. Hitting two, three, four times between breaths as he shifts his grip to slash. Attempting to remove that offending arm of the Science Demon.


<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

Rena isn't naive enough to think that she'd taken down a Metal Demon with just a single well placed blow. She's still got a long way to go before she's *that* strong. So no, she stands ready and she waits for Fenrir to get back up. No matter how effective that looked. Despite not being a fan of combat, the girl's expression is grim as she holds her post palm thrust stance. Waiting... waiting...

There it is. Fenrir shoots back up to her feet, and is back in the fight. Just how durable are these people? People things demons whatever. They're clearly taking damage but they just keep getting back up. She's seen it in Adlehyde too. It's insane. But no matter how hard it looks, Rena isn't going to give up here.

She's got a purpose to see through to the end, and this all is a part of it. The elf girl stands ready as Fenrir lashes out at Claude, and then comes sprinting her way. ".......Hooooooo...." Another deep breath, and the fist that Rena had yet to strike with alights with a kaledoscope of chi.

She steps forward once, angling her body just right to throw her own punch forward!

"Haaaaaaah!"

Fist meets fist, clashing brilliantly with a thud that echoes through the environment with a pressure wave that can only be caused by two strong forces colliding. Rena bites back a grimace as she feels the force of that clash rattle the bones in her arm. But no, she pushes forward even still, taking another step as she aims to push with all her might into those deadlock of fists and toss Fenrir back again in a burst of multicolored energy!

GS: Jack Van Burace has attacked Alhazred with Slash Rave!
GS: Jack Van Burace has completed its action.
DC: MISS! Alhazred completely evades Slash Rave from Jack Van Burace!
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

"Over...stand?" Now he's speaking backwards!

Elena would throw her hands up if she wasn't holding onto a large metal object and also a precious magical crystal that as far as she knows can't be replaced. Which she is! So she doesn't. Instead she just stares flatly at Yarobeleedt, still trying to parse what he said.

"Wet... when... scared? Do you mean cry? Are you agitated that humans cry when scared?" That can't possible be what he said, right? Maybe he meant bleed? That's a kind of wet too.

Well, guess what's easier to parse than Yaro's words? It's Yaro's horrible poisonous ichor. A touch is all that's needed to make Elena feel sick, even as she attempts (and kinda sorta succeeds at, even) to shield herself. Something starts clawing at her from the inside, turning that healing against her.

"I would like you to tell me why you have come here!" Elena demands, all of a sudden. Maybe she's trying to make Yaro talk, distract him since he seems to have a lot to say? All the while her voice starts humming, a beautiful harmonic sound like a choir during a prayer. Words are mixed into the music, and light begins gathering around Arleph, golden, white and holy, trying to infuse him with power and energy to act while the Metal Demon is (hopefully) distracted.

It's up to you to use this, Arleph! And Rosaline might see an opening of her own with any luck.

GS: Elena has attacked Arleph Ardan with Hymn to Granas!
GS: Elena has completed her action.
GS: Rena Lanford has attacked Fenrir with Knuckleduster!
GS: Rena Lanford has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia dares to stare down the brute, and Berserk answers her challenge. He would have; she knew that.

The iron hammer rockets at her like from an ARM, and the Princess, thrusts her arms forward, feet square, staff lateral. It collides with an invisible, flickering barrier of force, and the Princess grits her teeth against it. She doesn't have a smart reply, just a low growl that turns slowly into a scream as the barrier cracks, awful fingers of weakness spreading across the dome...

And then she screams her defiance, whipping her staff and bursting the barrier, ricocheting Berserk's iron hammer away. She breathes, sucking in difficult breaths. Tethelle, Jack, Rudy so far away, and--

And Cyre just goes away. She was in a dungeon with that guy the other day! And now he's SUPER DEAD!

Cecilia quails; just an inch. But she sucks in a breath. Wounded later. The doors are in front of her. Maybe Berserk sees it; the way she keeps her eyes on the temple grounds beyond. She has to get in. She has to!

And so, try as she might to stay sort of...vaguely in the vicinity of Tethelle and the others, she still faces off against Berserk. Eyes cut to Catenna, as the Priestess shows off the power of a medium, powers Cecilia has scarcely tried to tap. Amazing... She finds herself straightening, huffing in agreement. "Did you not feel the western wind, Berserk? This is a place of hope. Which means you and yours have no place here!"

She raises her staff up, motes of purple light gathering around her. A crest graph leaps from her pocket, carried around her on eddying currents of magic as the magic circle builds itself around her. "GEO!" Cecilia calls out, and the icon of flickering earth flashes before her. "FRAY!"

The crests fuse as the Graph explodes with light, a bead of screaming magic forming before her. "DEVASTATE!"

It rockets outward like a missile, blasting into Berserk's core and exploding. Also like a missile, actually.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Crest Sorcery Freestyle!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Arleph Ardan takes a solid hit from Elena's Hymn to Granas for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Arleph Ardan!
GS: Reload! Arleph Ardan gains 15 extra FP from Elena!
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Crest Sorcery Freestyle for 55 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Although Dean is largely focused on his fight with Malfi, and for good reason, there are some things he can't help but notice--such as Berserk slamming Cyre nearly dead-on with that giant weapon, sending Cyre to slam into the temple wall and crater there, staff broken. "Cyre!!" Dean calls, because although he's met the Baskar only once, that's more than enough for Dean to worry about someone.

He really doesn't have time to be worrying about anyone but himself.

When Malfi lunges at Dean, he snaps his head back towards her--but his distraction was badly-timed indeed. Her lance strikes him in the exact same spot again, and Dean coughs out a spray of blood as his eyes go wide, back snapping back as the blow impacts. He's left gasping wetly for breath.

But even so, that look of determination doesn't fade from his eyes. It's so very... human.

"Not yet..." he rasps, raising his ARMs until he's pointing at Malfi at point-blank range. "I'm... not done yet!!" And, once again, with all the strength he can muster to the very end, he unloads the bullets of his ARMs upon her with the considerable force of Sword enhancing his vision. He doesn't want to kill her, or anyone--he just needs to get her to retreat!

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Malfi takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision for 154 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

A nod is given toward Gwen, her tactics sound. While Rudy doesn't like people being further up on the front line than himself, it seems that this Metal Demon is dishing out pain for everyone and it's best to let people play to their strengths. Jack and Tethelle continue their assault, Rudy loading in his own unique cartridge even as his female gun slinging companion does the same. He doesn't have time for anything more than that, however, as the Metal Demon sends his drones to do his dirty work for him.

The metal lackey collides with Roughnight's forearm, causing him to slide back a few inches. In response, the force of the push increases. The highly observant Al may notice the strength that is far from normal as Rudy's feet dig into the ground, grooves showing his resistance to be knocked back or even moved further from the fight than he'd prefer. A blow that should have sent him flying into a broken heap has only results in a few feet being pushed back, though the forearm is starting to bleed from the strength of the attacker.

The battle is heating up, people are depending on Rudy. He can't afford to try and be 'normal' anymore.

The arm used to defend himself begins to glow blue. As some sort of symbol is illuminated, even as the drone pushes onward, the Hand Cannon twirls in Rudy's hand. Once the weapon is stopped, it is swiftly leveled toward Alhazred and a single bullet fired. However, the velocity of the round is much higher, enough that it causes slight distortion of sight and sound around the bullet, small energy rings trailing after the high caliber bullet that the ARM seemed to adjust for.

Still, Rudy says nothing, in the wake of his attack, he still watches the Alhazred, seeing how he reactions not only to this attack, but also this interaction between Jack and the demon. It's clear whatever is happening, Rudy will work with Jack to see this through, even if he doesn't understand much of... any of what they are talking about.

Speaking of friends, Rudy looks around once, trying to see if he can spot a familiar princess in all the fighting. The scene appears chaotic at best, after all.


GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Alhazred with Snipe Bullet!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Rudy Roughnight's Snipe Bullet for 100 hit points!
GS: Alhazred enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny knows what quantum uncertainty is, but he's busy right now.

...

...okay, he doesn't know what quantum uncertainty is, but he knows that it's a thing, and that's basically just as good. Probably.

...

Back in the actual fight he is paying attention to, Claude's lips part in an angry snarl as Fenrir brings more blocks to the table than Claude does punches. That normally does not happen, and it makes him angry. What makes him angrier is that the Metal Wolf shifts again, kicking him in the belly with a sword leg (the jacket turns the blow again, but there are no bones there to help brace the impact, and so it hurts like hell). WHat makes him angriest, though, is that Fenrir punches Rena in the face. Because she is supposed to be punching Claude in the face! That is his job!

And so the young blonde swordsman sucks in a breath and darts after his lupine adversary, shifting his grip on his sword and trailing it behind him, low and to the right. "Okay!" he snaps at the Metal Demon. "But remember - you wanted this!" Claude waits until Rena hauls off with her punch and then descends on Fenrir's back, tearing his sword down in a powerful overhand strike before planting, turning hard to his left, and ripping it across in a vicious horizontal cut. Part of him feels bad about attacking someone in the back, but other parts of him remember his training.

'NINE YEARS AGO'

"Okay, Claude, today's training is going to be different."

"...so you're not throwing cars at me?"

"That was one time."

"It was six."

"Shut up. Anyway, we're going to train you to overcome mental barriers. So I'm going to turn around, and you're going to hit me in the back."

"...why?"

"Because if you attack me in the front, I CAN DO THIS!"

"MOMMA NO"

"NOW IT'S SEVEN TIMES, CLAUDE! WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED, CLAUDE!?"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAH"

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Fenrir with Twin Slash!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

The truth strikes home as surely as Dean's bullets, knocking Malfi backwards: this human is going to be a real challenge, the first one she's faced from one of that ilk. She pauses a moment, gathering both her breath and her wits and doing her best to ignore the fresh wounds from the most recent assault. Surely the human couldn't live much longer, surely. Even those with powers were so...fragile, or so she'd been told all her (admittedly short) life. She dips her lance towards Dean in an untoward show of respect, a warrior's salute, before charging forwards and hitting him again, or at least trying to.

GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Bring It!!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Fenrir takes a solid hit from Rena Lanford's Knuckleduster for 113 hit points!
GS: Fenrir critically Guards a hit from Claude C. Kenny's Twin Slash for 26 hit points!
GS: Dean Stark critically Guards a hit from Malfi's Bring It! for 32 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

"Heh. 'Everything.' What a load of bull. These humans... it's disgusting. How the hell do they get weaker as time goes on?!"

These words are spit out full of venom, yet for as loud as they are uttered, they seem meant wholly for the benefit of Berserk and the other Metal Demons present -- as if these drifters were no longer worth the effort of addressing directly. He stomps a foot on the ground hard enough to make a shockwave tremor through the earth, an expression of bored frustration as Cyre seems to fall to his mighty hammer.

"D'you see this, Alhazred?! This is their 'EVERYTHING'! You think trash like this is even worth your creepy experiments?! They're not even fit to stand with the Tainted! GA HA HA -- wh--?"

This is the sound of Berserk, noticing the direction Cecilia is facing. Noticing where her attention is. His head cocks to the right. He looks behind him, toward the temple. "Heh. Think you're gonna get there, huh? I--" And that is when he feels the pulse of distorting space around him. Seeing it in a flicker of light like sunburst patterns in the gaze of someone who's stared at the sun too long.

He hears Catenna's words, and Cecilia's defiance soon after -- and they elicit the most ugly, drooling snarl from his lips as that pressure just mounts and mounts.

"Guardians. Guardians. Guardians. Every god damn time with your stupid, shitty, WORTHLESS Guardians giving you SO MUCH 'hope'! It's DISGUSTING. Hnng..." The demon shakes his head, snarling in annoyance at the pulse at the back of his eyes. "How much have they helped you, eh?! How much hope they've given you?! They help save your worthless city!? They help you protect your precious Teardrop?! They can't do a DAMN. THING. You know why?!"

Catenna wants blood. And she draws it, shimmering like quicksilver, from whatever amounts for pores from the Quarter Knight, making his vision cloud in an unfocused blur. She gets it...

"BECAUSE THE WEAK ONLY EXIST FOR THE STRONG TO EAT."

... far more than she might have hoped.

Red. Red like a veil of blood EXPLODES from all around Berserk in a thick haze of violence and rage. The furnace of his annoyance is stoked into a pure, roaring fury as those vaporous contrails whip around him just as he notices the conjuration of a Crest's magic from the peripheries of his vision. "And just like your furry little friend--"

And then he starts spinning. And spinning. Faster and faster, building up more and more force at the end of that wrecking ball.

"I'M GONNA GOBBLE ALL OF YOU UP! UNTIL I HEAR YOUR BONES BREAKING BETWEEN MY TEETH!"

And then just -unleashes- that weapon, right for Cecilia. It collides with magic, breaking most of it apart until the vestiges collide with him in an explosion of earth fury that just sends that wrecking ball veering -just- off course in its collision for the princess of Adlehyde... before -swinging- with renewed, violent speed for Catenna just beyond, as everything distorts in a haze of confusion and rage for the ravenous Quarter Knight.

All things considered, he's also likely being incredibly literal with his threats right now.

GS: Berserk has attacked Berserk with Bloodrush!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Berserk's Bloodrush for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Centripetal Slaughter!
DC: MISS! Catenna completely evades Torment from Berserk!
GS: Berserk has completed his action.
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde guards a hit from Berserk's Centripetal Slaughter for 81 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

There were a few moments in her life where Gwen found herself forgetting just how potent her right arm was- when you used the same hand that could fire deadly projectiles and balls of electricity for mundane tasks like untangling rope, hauling crates, and delicately working the tangles out of a horse's mane, the mundane overpowered the sense that it was a deadly weapon.

As that bullet hits Alhazred, it finally hits Gwen. It's not just her hand. It's a weapon, from the Metal Demon War. It's made to deal with Metal Demons.The courier looks down at her ARM with a mix of astonishment and surprise, tinged slightly with-

Fear.

It's a weapon. It's a part of her. She can't exist without it.

What does that exactly mean for her?

Distracted as she is, Gwen doesn't quite have time to register the bugs that hover by her. Electricity races through Gwen's body, overloading her ARM's ability to resist it and knocking her back with a scream of pain.

Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. This isn't like that time with Ragnell. Get up, Gwen. Get. Up.

Sitting up, her eyes pulled towards the glowing arm of Rudy's.

Now. He's willing to use his own powers, regardless of their source, so why not...?

Gwen's ARM attempts to react to her body's commands, though at first it's with a resolving twitch. Light begins to pulse through the dark exterior between the metal plates, slow, then steadily faster. Gwen grunts as she gets up, feeling her heart race in her chest. If it's a weapon-

"You okay?" Gwen's voice is behind Rudy now, the courier striding to stand in a defensive position beside the younger Drifter.

It doesn't matter what her ARM is, or what she is in relation to it. Rudy's example is evidence enough of what to do next.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Bounding Flight!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes a solid hit from Gwen Whitlock's Bounding Flight for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Gwen Whitlock!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline actually feels a bit of pity for the rude space monster trying to kill them. This doesn't last very long, as it strikes at them with syringe arms this time. The Etone-in-training, who is afraid of a lot of things, recoils at the sight of the needle. Unfortunately, Yarobeleedt hits his elusive feline mark at the most terrible of times.

She screams in pain as the filthy poison courses through her body, making her vision swim as her eyes fill with tears. She staggers a bit, leaning against the wall as a part of her seriously considers joining the vomit club. The rest of herself votes against it.

She takes a deep breath, gathering her composure. She's healed long enough to know that this sort of affliction just doesn't play well with healing magic at all. She and Elena can probably take care of it, but it will take a more delicate touch than usual.

And so, instead, she notices Elena's attempt at distracting the Demon. Very well, then, she will use it!

She may not be thinking entirely straight as she charges towards Yarobeleedt, the spray of her twin ARMs' bullets made erratic by trembling hands. "Um, Um! Etone-in-Training Attack!!"

Much pewpew ensues.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Yarobeleedt with Etone-in-Training Attack!!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Yarobeleedt takes a glancing hit from Rosaline Calice's Etone-in-Training Attack! for 45 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Alhazred has posed.

If Tethelle can't understand his godless science, then Alhazred really doesn't see how that is his problem.

After all, there was nothing better than science.

"Aaaaah, a Brazkar Priestess. My apologies, but allow me to confirm that you said that you serve Equites?" The floating, gold clad figure actually sounds quite interested, even as he continues to duel with Tethelle. He brings one claw up, knocking aside the blast of chip and the blade that Tethelle throws at him in one smooth motion as he continues speaking. "I do not believe that I currently have a priestess of Equites in my collection at this point. I have several for other Guardians, but it is extremely important that my samples are properly labeled, and I dislike unnecessary repeats. Space can be so limiting at times."

Of course, it seems that he is getting underneath the swordsman's skin with the last comment he had thrown in his direction. But as Jack runs towards him, blade slashing towards the Metal Demon... Alhazred simply slides out of the way, leaving Jack to hit nothing but thin air. The motion is almost contemptuous, as if Alhazred had seen this all too often before. "Very well, I will assume that your answer to the question is somewhere between and eight and a ten. Thank you for your contribution to my observations. If you would like one for yourself, however..."

Glowing red eyes narrow in amusement. "I'm sure Helm is rolling in his grave at the job you're doing avenging his death."

Of course, sometimes talking smack gets you into trouble. In this case it gets Alhazred shot, as Rudy aims from afar and puts a bullet right into the Metal Demon. There is another hole in the cloak around him, and this time there is a splash of some foul smelling copper fluid that lands on the ground. The fact that it immediately begins to eat away at the dirt, vanishing as it corrodes the very stone itself means it's... probably not blood. Maybe. ...it's Alhazred, it's impossible to tell. The girl, on the other hand, is approaching the blue haired Drifter. That put everyone within a forty meter radius.

Excellent. Time for testing to begin.

"Transmit Unit 717," Alhazred states, and a device appears in the air in front of the Metal Demon, teleported in from... somewhere. It's impossible to say where, but it appears to be a large, bulbous device that hovers in the air with a large panel and a disk with three holes in it that match Alhazred's claws. He does look up as Berserk starts shouting, and calls out: "Remember that you're watching your sentient protein intake this week, Berserk! Try not to overdo it!"

And with that, he slams his fist into the device. His claws interlock with it's controls, and his hand turns about for a moment. "Establishing local override," he rumbles... and a pulse of energy travels outwards, fading away just beyond Rudy and Gwen. "Link completed. Gravitational flux now under local control."

And then Alhazred turns his hand to the left.

And everyone within the area of effect - those fighting him - start to float slowly into the air. It leaves just a moment to brace, to leap backwards and get away from the Quarter Knight before he chuckles. "Standard effect achieved. Reversing."

His hand turns... and gravity flips, going from repulsive to the ground to ten time stronger than usual.

"Reversing."

His hand turns the other way, to toss people into the air again.

"Reversing."

And slamming them back into the ground.

"Reversing."

And again. And again, until on the last down thrust the machine sparks and shorts out, leaving Alhazred looking a little disappointed.

GS: Alhazred has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Universe Manipulator!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Universe Manipulator!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Jack Van Burace with Universe Manipulator!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Universe Manipulator!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

Round: 3/5

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Something in the air changes.

The wind shifts. The sky suddenly roils with dark clouds. They've appeared out of nowhere, suddenly charging in from every horizon to converge at one, single point. The darkened heavens twist; wrathful crosswinds howl in reply. A tendril of atmospheric chaos reaches out of the sky and makes landfall with impossible speed. The gyre widens, a spiralling wall of angry wind swallows the world and deep thunder shakes the air.

***---***

This is the gruesome result.

Blood drips from where broken bones split his skin, painting the ruddy stone walls in colors that they haven't worn in centuries. It was folly to assume he could defeat that monster alone.

He can't do this alone.

With shaky limbs, the broken shaman reaches into his cloak and presses a thin, leathery flask to his lips and forces himself to swallow. The pain will only last for a moment.

Cyre turns his eyes to the heavens. His hand wraps tight around the Medium and presses it tight into the gaping hole that used to be his chest.

***---***

Something in the air changes.

A roar splits the sky with a voice that carries in the winds, rushes into the soul and reverberates with terrible, primordial fury.

And then, as if manifesting out of the storm-haze, He appears.

A monochromatic mass of muscle and fur and rage, menacing with claws that could split a man in two with a single swipe. Those who would know such things-- who might hear the voices of the Guardians, or who walk the path they have carved into the world-- have a sense of exactly what this creature is.

Its rage is palpable. The beast stands in the presence of those who would break the world. Those who would slay the gods. The winds scream as it takes a step forward.

This... This can only be...

BGM CHANGE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYXzvsOoQ04

Fengalon, Guardian of the Wind

The beast vanishes, only to reappear mere inches from the Quarter Knight. Golden eyes flash with incomprehensible wrath. It swings its claw in a vicious, overhead strike.

Four crescents of scouring, carve four scars across the wasteland.

"I said--" a voice, growled, howled, trembling in the very air. "I WOULD GIVE EVERYTHING!"

DC: Cyre H. Lorentz switches forms to Nahual - Fengalon!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Berserk with Gale Claw!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Gale Claw for 60 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Alhazred's Universe Manipulator for 130 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Alhazred's Universe Manipulator for 105 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Gwen Whitlock!
GS: Rudy Roughnight critically Guards a hit from Alhazred's Universe Manipulator for 76 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Even as Catenna fires her spell off, the dust clears nearby.

Her eyes widen as she realizes that Cyre isn't getting up - that he seems to be much more than just unconscious. She has about two seconds to process it because of the demands of the fight.

It has been a long time since Catenna has wanted to cry. Now, in the middle of a battle, is not the time. But the moment the spell is cast, she begins to dash towards the fallen Beastman, keeping a bead on Berserk but suddenly focused on trying to save her companion, even though it seems futile. She drops to her knee beside Cyre and reaches down to touch a hand to his cheek.

"Cyre...?" she asks. Her quiet voice has a note to it that could break a particularly hard heart, pregnant with hope and sorrow in equal parts. If those clear grey eyes, like twin full moons, could spill forth her heart, they would.

But that is not her way. Not when the chips are down. Her fingers rest on his cheek as she forces herself to think about what is immediate. Cyre would not want her to give up, or collapse. Celesdue would not want her to. The priestess lifts her head, eyes on Berserk, chin raised.

There are tears waiting to be shed. She tightens her jaw anyway.

Berserk erupts into a haze of blood and fury, like a blast furnace raging at its hottest. The vast wrecking ball spins and spins, tearing at the air. It comes for Cecilia, and then it comes for Catenna.

But the woman from Elru spots it at the last second. There's no time to think - only to leap. With as much speed as she can muster, she hurls herself into the air, sailing up and away from Cyre in a high, arcing backflip - a jump just soaring enough that she sails over the whistling chain of that immense wrecking ball. Her legs come up over her head, and then gravity pulls her back down to a landing not far from her former position near Cyre, from which she jukes back further to try and avoid that huge ball and chain.

"This was never about rewards, Metal Demon," she says as she levels her hand again, drawing on the power of the Medium. The sorrow in her voice gives way to a steely chord of determination. "What I have lost... the friends who have fallen... I give them to serve this world. I do not serve the Guardians because of greed! A monster like you could never understand what it means to live for a world!"

Gravity begins to mount -- and then, with a sudden reverberating roar that threatens to shatter the heavens, a bestial mass of muscle and power appears. Fengalon himself made manifest for just a moment. Catenna's eyes go very, very wide.

"Cyre?!" she cries out, and this time the tears do come.

He had a power she couldn't conceive of, she realizes with a flood of awe and relief even as she lets off another gravity spell, attempting to slam Berserk to the ground with a sudden, thunderous blast of pressure. The spell spills out, gravity attempting to grip and smite Berserk once more.

Catenna is smiling now. A tear drips all the way down, beading off her chin.

GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Grav!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

If Arleph was in a correct, non-adrenaline fueled state of mine, he would spend the time to make a quipe about the horrible look of all the fluids that are pushed out of the Metal Demon, commenting on his biology in a degratory way. Arleph slowly stands to his feets, his teeth gritting tightly to ignore the pain. The Droplets of Life helps, massively, but ther eis more coming their way.

It would be Yarobeleedt's panicked retailatory tantrum. Arleph lifts his arms to protect himself, the blows striking against him. As before, a grid-like shield appears beneath the strikes, bending, then breaking beneath the stabs, ripping into the sleeves of his jacket. Blood flow and poison goes in, indeed turning his color into a saturated hue, spreading fast -- and with it, the horrible sensation he felt before. It counteracts the Droplets, it's effect fading from his system, defeated by the filth.

He remains standing, bringing himself some breathing room by leaping back, coughing once upon landing. The Harmonic prayer fills him, just as suddenly as her previous spells was, which creates a spark of awe in his heart. Awe and interest. He shall have to talk to her after all this, to discover what she is doing, if it is truly magic. It feels very different than Symbology, as does Crest. "He.. may have a speech impediment. I do not think that is the only thing impeding him." He mutters, ignoring the cuts and the spreading malaise in his body, by tightening his gloves. He feels inspired by the Song, his mind clearer despite the situation. It's time to see if he can bring more pain. He slams a gloved fist into a gloved palm.

A symbological circle explodes out of the impact, as he lifts two fingers to point at Yaro, his eyes behind his spectacles widening. The lingering water after the Atmospheric Condensation, the disgusting liquid from Yaro's insides stirrs and lifts to the air, converging into a point. Arleph's voice echoes, sparks of energy flowing over his arms as he intones, much like before.

"FROM THE COLD CARLESS VOID BEYOND OUR WORLD!" Arleph screams, the various water and liquids condensing into a bubble, dense and thick, hovering over the Metal Demon, the liquid clearing by the forces being summoned, allowing for the clear, small bubble of water to hover there. "MALLEABLE WATER, EXPAND FROM A SINGLE POINT, A SINGLE SCREAM!"

At the center of the bubble, which screams at the Demon flying at him, there is a tiny nub of ice appearing, that expands violently outward, shattering violently like thunderbolt then exploding, sending calculated sharpnels, deeply freezing, aimed downward like a shotgun.

"AQUA FRIGORE!"

GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Catenna's Grav for 75 hit points!
GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Yarobeleedt with Aqua Frigore!
GS: Arleph Ardan takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: Yarobeleedt takes a solid hit from Arleph Ardan's Aqua Frigore for 180 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Yarobeleedt!
GS: Alhazred has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

The good news: Malfi is probably going to win!

The bad news: Malfi is probably going to win.

The better, or worse, depending on whose perspective you're looking at, news: for all that Malfi lands another blow, Dean manages to cross his ARM rods, harden up his stance, and tank the attack--even if it does still push him back several inches. The warrior's salute wasn't lost on Dean... but its meaning largely was, him being a fresh-faced civilian unfamiliar with the art of war. He does at least nod back at her, briefly wondering if maybe she isn't talking because she *can't* talk.

Even if that's so, though, he's got to survive this. He's got to give it his all. He's only got a scrap of energy left for this fight, after which he'll *have* to fall back or suffer the consequences (which, considering Malfi wants to kill him, would be dire indeed), so--here goes everything.

With a roar of defiance, even as blood pours down his face and torso, Dean completes the cycle: where Malfi used that battery-draining lightning attack on him three times, so too does he retaliate a third time with a hail of bullets, their force and accuracy honed by the Sonic Vision that the Sword Medium bequeaths him. He won't be able to do that again, so as long as he can keep Malfi back...!

Around them, the wind roars. If Malfi thought that Dean's attacks were something else, there's an actual Guardian actually summoned right over there at the bequest of Cyre. Even Dean pauses long enough to gape at the Wind Guardian with eyes widened in wonder, despite the danger he's in.

He's glad Cyre's okay...!

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Fenrir has posed.

Fenrir and Rena clash fists, a brilliant match of strength. While Fenrir at first thinks from Rena's grimace that she's beaten over her punch, Rena pushes back, and energy slams into her arm, throwing it backwards and causing the wolf to skid, a solid CRACK in her hand. For a moment, Fenrir is angry. Growling, grimacing. But after a moment, it twists into a smile, a crooked grin. And Fenrir's behind Claude, so he can't even see it, as he slashes twice across her back, tearing through the skin and drawing blood. But...she doesn't seem to react much, physically, as if she barely even realized it happened, despite the obvious damage. And then, Fenrir begins laughing. A howl of laughter. "Looks like humans can fight. But. You. Will never BEAT ME!

Fenrir's body suddenly spasms as she roars in a mix of joyous laughter and grievous rage, arm and legs twitching as she assumes a slightly more feral stance. Her wounds slowly begin to patch over, but they don't even seem to bother her in general right now, as she continues her howling laughter. She's enjoying the fight, as she gives in to her ego and lets out pure bravado. "I am Fenrir, and I am the strongest Metal Demon you'll ever face, as well as the LAST! I am the Wolf who will slay the Demon of Elru! I am the Beast who will tear apart anyone who gets in my way! And now, you'll DIE!"

Fenrir's arm begins twitching, about to transform again. First, into a claw, but then...it starts to grow bigger. And bigger. And bigger, until it's as long as Fenrir herself, with a hand width large enough to grab a full human. The massive claw flexes momentarily, as Fenrir turns on her heel, moving to spin it into Claude and slam him into Rena's direction. Beginning a sprint, Fenrir dashes, wildly thrashing the gargantuan claw at both of them, it functioning more as a slashing battering ram than a normal claw at this size. It flails, back and forth, up and down, occasionally attempting to grab one of the two and throw them into the other. "DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU CAN BEAT ME? I AM THE LAST THING YOU'LL EVER SEE!"

GS: Fenrir has attacked Fenrir with Bloodrage!
GS: Fenrir heals Fenrir! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Malfi guards a hit from Dean Stark's Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision for 97 hit points!
GS: Fenrir has activated a Force Action!
GS: Fenrir has activated a Force Action!
GS: Fenrir has activated a Force Action!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Claude C. Kenny with The Hand of Fenrir!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Rena Lanford with The Hand of Fenrir!
GS: Fenrir has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Once again Malfi staggers under Dean's onslaught, losing more blood than she'd think healthy. He seems to be on his last legs, she thinks. This may be my last chance to capture him alive. That was Malfi, always seeking to add to her collection...! She tries the tendril-thing again.

GS: Malfi has attacked Dean Stark with Spider's Grasp!
GS: Malfi has completed her action.
GS: Dean Stark takes a glancing hit from Malfi's Spider's Grasp for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle! Statuses applied to Dean Stark!
GS: Dean Stark enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Rena Lanford takes a solid hit from Fenrir's The Hand of Fenrir for 175 hit points!
GS: Jack Van Burace takes a glancing hit from Alhazred's Universe Manipulator for 174 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"I serve Equites," Tethelle confirms. "Guardian of Swords." There's more to it than that - it's a metaphysical swords, dammit, she doesn't just mean sharp chunks of metal. It's standing for what you believe in and being willing to fight for it, acting instead of waiting, protecting others...

...but honestly, she doesn't feel Alhazred deserves the whole explanation. And it takes longer to explain, anyway.

Tethelle tries to stay close to Alhazred, but it's hard when Alhazred slides around like that. She keeps her sword at the ready as she circles, shifting her grip as she prepares to close again, but then two things happen at once.

One, Tethelle is distracted by a feeling, across the battlefield. Fengalon... her gaze shifts to the size as she looks in Cyre's direction, not seeing him but seeing something else. She mouths a prayer, not putting voice to it. But she doesn't need two.

Second, she finds herself rising. At first she wonders if this is a side effect of Fengalon's winds, but no, it's something else - Alhazred, playing with his machine. Tethelle gets a bounding step as she pushes off the ground, making a surprisingly long leap before Alhazred slams her into the ground, dropping almost vertically.

She rises up a moment later, much more dazed, and gets even closer before - once again - she's slammed down with intense vigor.

By the third, Tethelle has an idea of what to expect, and she uses the weirdly curved sword's rear-pointed tip to push against the ground, sending her almost horizontally at Alhazred. She whirls as she's lifted up, ending with her body parallel to the ground and rotating around its long axis, her sword at full extension.

This time, when Alhazred turns the machine to pull her to the ground, Tethelle comes down at him. Sword-first, every muscle in her body protesting as she tries to slash downward at the same time she's crushed.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Alhazred with Skydrive!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Claude C. Kenny takes a solid hit from Fenrir's The Hand of Fenrir for 167 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Alhazred critically Guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Skydrive for 29 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt's lower mass shifts about underneath him as though it struggles to orient itself relative to his (largely intact) upper torso as to remain upright after going through all the nasty injecting processes, which is scientifically fascinating but also gross. Like everything else about him.

"What!!" Yarobeleedt is confused by confusion! Which serves him right. "Is to kill you all! Is to hundred kill you all!! Is to million kill you all!!! Can count on cannot count!!" Now he's frustrated with the nonsensical dialogue! Which he deserves, waving his arms in the air wildly - and then hiding his face underneath them, mistaking Elena's chanting for some oncoming attack spell that doesn't come.

He starts moving again when the gun fire from Rosaline starts to spray and take advantage of his confusiondisorientationthe fact it's her turn to attack regardless, twitching as a few more pot shots go into his soft yellow underbelly.

Arleph starts chanting again, and Yarobeleedt retreats into the shadows. He looks like he's trying to hide from... everything. From the roar of the Guardian Fengalon, to Berserk's bluster, to the repetition of the words 'reversing.' He gibbers, the sliver of his form barely visible as the bubble floats towards him.

"mother"

The expanding icy veins, too, disappear into the shadows after Yarobeleedt. It's hard to get a gauge of its effect other than a building cloud of dust and an increasing pool of that same miscolored ichor that does not match that of life on Filgaia. Maybe it killed YArobeleedt, and he had the decency to expire out of sight.

It gets too quiet. That might be it. That's one less Metal Demon--

--Wait. Rosaline might pick up sensations underneath her quicker than the other two. Something's moving. From which direction? It's not clear. Below, sure, but from when, and where, and how? Are they about to be attacked by something else, like some kind of awesome spice-filled metal worm out before the dunes?

Whether they panic or move with or without rhythm, Yarobeleedt suddenly reappears again with two stabbing blade arms preceding the rest of him, leaping out through at them at yet another nondescript peek-a-boo attack, while bleeding more gross Metal Demon quicksilver blood everywhere (...one hopes that's blood) with an ear-piercing terrified scream.

<Pose Tracker> Alisha Diphda has posed.

Artillery shells begin to rain down over the Guardian Temple. They slam into sand -- and a few into the Temple itself. Fireballs erupt, chunks of stone hurtle up into the air, as the building shakes. The source becomes clear: three land battleships, each flying the flag of Aveh, and some two dozen Gears trudging from them, rifles raised. They shimmer, like mirages, in the heat of the desert.

The artillery cannons on the ships fire again -- and flag of Aveh snaps against the masts of the ships, before fire rains down once more.

GS: Yarobeleedt has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yarobeleedt has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Elena with A Tack!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Rosaline Calice with A Tack!
GS: Yarobeleedt has attacked Arleph Ardan with A Tack!
GS: Yarobeleedt takes 4 damage from Poison!
GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Yarobeleedt's attack becomes clear!
GS: Elena critically Guards a hit from Yarobeleedt's Coward Ace! for 36 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has activated a Force Action!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has activated a Force Action!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Yarobeleedt's attack becomes clear!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Yarobeleedt's Coward Ace! for 180 hit points!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Yarobeleedt's attack becomes clear!
GS: Arleph Ardan critically Guards a hit from Yarobeleedt's Coward Ace! for 34 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean has no idea that Malfi has changed her mind about killing him and intends on capturing him instead; when she lashes her arm into a web of tendrils and lashes them out again, he thinks she's aiming to pin him down so she can finish him off. With his spell from earlier having worn off, he's not fast enough to avoid it, either. A moment later, and the tendrils have wrapped around his legs and arms.

Even so, Dean struggles. On top of being stubborn as hell, he's the type to never give up until the very end. Even when things look their worst, you can do *anything* as long as you don't give up.

And his tenacity rewards him, too, even if it's bad news for everyone else. Artillery shells rain down over the Guardian Temple, slamming into the sand nearby, spraying up the particles between him and Malfi, as Aveh land battleships and a couple dozen Gears begin to arrive on the battle. Dean doesn't know anything about Aveh, has no idea they're just as hostile as the Metal Demons in their own way; he just takes this opportunity to seize the distraction they've provided to pour all of his will through his copied Medium. Roaring with defiance, he once again calls upon the power of Crush, non-elemental power surging in one massive wave towards Malfi in an attempt to snap off her tendrils and force her to retreat.

Please retreat...!!

GS: Dean Stark has activated a Force Action!
GS: Dean Stark has activated a Force Action!
GS: Dean Stark has attacked Malfi with Elemental Crush!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Malfi takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Elemental Crush for 121 hit points!
GS: Malfi has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

Rena exhales a deep breath after she forces Fenrir back, her arm jittering from the force of that clashing of fists. But this is hardly over. Especially not once their opponent starts... cackling like a madwoman. Oh lordy lord. They got a crazy one.

The wind picks up harshly, and Rena looks aside, eyes widening as she beholds the majestic form of a giant white tiger. "What in the..." She starts, but finds herself unable to finish, because she's still got her own fight to focus on! She looks to the laughing metal wolf.

And then she sees that claw forming... bigger and bigger... and until it looks so fearsome that she can only stare with more than a little trepidation. "You cannot be serious right now...." She mutters under her breath, ears drooping at the sight. But even so, she lowers herself into a stance and breathes in. "Okay.... okay...." Fenrir rushes for them with that claw. She swings to cleave into the two of them. Rena dodges left and right, barely avoiding the strikes. She ducks, rolls, leaps into the air over a sweep. But it's when she lands that she screws up.

Turning around, she winds up not having the leverage to dodge properly, and that claw descends... Ah crap. ...SHUNK! Rena is cleaved into from the chest down, and her eyes widen, coughing up blood almost immediately as she sails backwards. She hits the ground and rolls, her blood staining the ground more and more. She's motionless.

"... ...... ......."

Almost. It almost looks as if she's down for the count. And maybe a smarter person would have stayed down, but Rena does not. She clenches her hands into fist, gathering up dirt and sand into her grasp. And with great effort, she pushes herself up, shakily, struggling to her feet, she pants slowly, trembling from the pain. Her clothes are torn up, stained with red, but she won't stop. "What's... What's wrong, Fenrir? I'm still here... I'm still alive..."

A smile forms.

"I can still...see you..." A tilt of the head. "I guess you're not... all that strong after all, huh?" As she speaks, a rainbow of chi starts to build up and flow all around the elf girl. She clenches her hands into fists at her sides. "... I'm not going to be beaten by a loser like you. Who can't even find value in anything but a fight." Her gaze hardens into a glare, and she takes a stance. "I.... I have a goal! I have a place I want to reach! And you.... You're not going to stop me! Not you... Not your metal friends... No one! Not until I... find where I want to be!"

And then her chi flares up. "My name is Rena Lanford! I'm just a country bumpkin from out in the sticks! But even still....!"

FWOOSH!

She vanishes.

No, she didn't vanish. She just moved really fast. Trails of chi flare through the air following her movements, and Rena skids to a stop right before Fenrir. She lets loose a furious punch to the chest. And then another to the side. Spin, elbow to the solar plexus, duck low and sweep kick, flow to the side and a back trust follows. But she doesn't stop there, she vanishes again, this time appearing above.

"Someone like you will never beat me!"

Fist clenched, dripping blood, she descends and falls to earth. But she doesn't punch Fenrir. No, her first strikes the ground, shattering the earth and causing a plethora of kaleidoscopic pillars of energy to blast upwards from all around and under Fenrir.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Berserk snarls at her. Gross and spittled, his spite. But she stands her ground. Forces herself to. She has allies, this time. It isn't Gylfi again. Well, that worked out alright itself, but--

His rage grows. But he screams a defiance born of anger, she sees. Feels. Because he knows what they've done, doesn't he? And she knows, too.

He explodes at her as her own magic fires off. She squares her stance, whips her staff down, bracing her entire body against it like the flimsy wooden rod were some massive wall she could cower behind, and when the hammer comes it smashes into a shielded bubble, crashing off and bouncing aside, before whirling around for another try, and then a final strike, slamming into her shield. She gives ground, this time; her boots kicking up dirt.

Her footing is stronger, this time, she thinks dully. She huffs. Her arms hurt. Direct physical damage is so far little, but her soul strains from defending such monstrous blows. How long can she withstand? She sucks in a breath. She looks up at Berserk--

Guardian Fengalon arises, or some shadow of him, and her eyes widen in awe. "Guar...dian...!?" she breathes out. She hasn't seen such a thing before. The Guardians lost their physical forms years ago! So who is this!? But she can't even think about it for long because her eyes widen as Aveh opens fire on all of them. "The temple!" she yelps, and with a rage you'd think she'd reserve for the battletoad who personally insulted her father earlier and has been trying to murder her with a mace the whole time, she seethes, "Shakhan!"

She slams her staff down, magic light exploding from the impact point and radiating away from her. "I won't let you!" she says, and maybe she's just talking to the world, now. "The sacred home of the Guardians...the Temple where our questions must be answered...I will get inside! I won't let you bar the way! BEGONE! SPREAD!"

Beads of light erupt away from Cecilia, burning across Berserk's hide - and skating across the distance to hammer into Alhazred, as well. She calls over. "Rudy! Jack! Tethelle! Rena! Claude! We have to get inside! Fend them off, but try to find a opening!"

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Spread!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Alhazred with Spread!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Alhazred takes a glancing hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Spread for 30 hit points!
GS: Rena Lanford has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rena Lanford has attacked Fenrir with Ignition Drop!
GS: Rena Lanford has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Spread for 61 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Elemental Crush was right -- the Guardian's despite literally smashes Malfi into the floor, where the lies, not moving. Her tendrils release Dean and reshape themselves into her left arm again.

<Pose Tracker> Jack Van Burace has posed.


There is a look of suprise for a moment on Jack's face as Alhazred simply dissipears from his intended strike path. He whirls quickly enough but the Demon stays one hairs breath out of reach. Then he speaks again. Flinging more memories at him. More names from a past he would rather forget. Incensed all the swordsman can do is scream and slash, technique forgotten for a moment.

Then gravity itself betrays him.

Floating in the air the random flailings of the blade seem to be almost comical at least until Hanpan, clutching to his shoulder, whispers something to the swordsman.

The rage seems to ebb in that moment as his eyes fix on Alhazred again. Even as he is slammed into the ground once.

The sword is resheathed as he floats the second time.

Then he meets the ground again.

His eyes are closed as he floats back up. Mind flying back down into his memories. Half remembered lessons by the old man known to him as Helm. Shared sword lessons with a blonde haired woman with a frown of dissaproval on her face. Half remembered teachings now long burried.

When the ground comes up to meet him the third time he is ready.

His legs launch him forwards, out of the field. The sword leaving the sheath with a ringing sound. The draw a flourish. The speed obvious. The deadly blade everything one should be focused on.

Which is exactly what Jack wanted of course.

Since its the sheath that is his weapon in this move. The heavy and reinforced piece slamming towards Alhazred's 'head' even as the sword misses by bare inches.

'Every part of the weapon is a weapon, boy. Remember that.'

"I'll have to make up for that then..."

He lands on the other side of the Demon, already spinning back towards him with a smirk. "...I'm going to enjoy making you bleed."

...artillery shells? Carriers? Gears? Battleships? Oh no. None of that matters. Jack only wants to end the damn Quarter Knight's life.

He's just a little bit focused.

Someone might want to drag him.

Hanpan is trying too, tugging at the collar and all, but he's just a little wind mouse.

GS: Jack Van Burace has attacked Alhazred with Trickster!
GS: Jack Van Burace has completed its action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Jack Van Burace's attack becomes clear!
GS: Alhazred guards a hit from Jack Van Burace's Trickster for 87 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

Brown eyes widen as Gwen pushes herself to a new level, but doesn't remark on it. At least not right now. But her question finally garners words from the mute boy. "I'm fine, Gwen. But we need to go all in. Let's do this."

As Rudy offers the sober encouragement and moves forward, the sadistic scientist unleashes his new weapon. The young man takes to the skies and is soon thrown forcefully down. Rudy lands on his feet, his impression causing him to leave footprints far deeper than they should be. He has the gall to keep walking however, preparing his weapon even as a second rise and fall cause him to land on his back on the ceiling and one knee when he hits the ground. Before he does an all out assault, however, he looks to see Gwen struggling. A pouch of healing items is thrown her way. "You got this," he offers softly, a simple encouragement given before he looks toward Alhazred. He needs a plan. If this thing is studying things, it could be bad. Gwen has special things about her, maybe his gun does too. He has to fight, but he has to keep the monster from discovering important secrets. So he tries to do something he never does.

Rudy attempts to lie and bluff.

The Hand Cannon is put away as the boy with the bandanna actually speaks to the Metal Demon. "You like studying things, don't you? Then I suppose I should let you have a rare glimpse of the True Power of...." THINK RUDY THINK "...Battle Bowie Blade of Beautiful Bounty." Yeah, he's withdrawn his weapon. So that's the first part. Then you have to shout something long to make it seem like you're doing something impressive. The bowie weapon is twirled about in a desperate attempt to make it seem like it's much more impressive than it really is. "MAY THE GODS AND DEVILS OF THIS LAND BE RELEASED IN THIS SINGLE STRIKE. LET YOUR SOUL SHAKE LIKE A PUDDING AND YOUR TEARS BE LIKE DEW ON GRASS WHEN IT'S KINDA COLD OUTSIDE."

Rudy's face is red with embarrassment as he shouts like a loon on the top of his lungs, but he goes on. It's to save his friends and hopefully provide a tactical advantage, after all. He races forward, trying to give a swift (and perhaps somewhat powerful) cut that moves past the Metal Demon in a blatant mimic attempt of Jack and Tethelle. Now the important part that comes with it: the attack name!

"Final!

Bowie Battle Blade!

Conclusion!" The knife attack is rather standard and lackluster; however, the raw power that Rudy puts behind it might be impressive. Either way, Rudy makes a simple pledge to himself in the wake of this move.

GS: Rudy Roughnight used Mystic on Gwen Whitlock! 100 Temporary HP gained! All statuses cleared!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Alhazred with He Will Never Do This Again!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Rudy Roughnight's He Will Never Do This Again for 78 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Fenrir is faster and stronger than Claude C. Kenny would like her to be - but she is a Hyadean, a Metal Demon, and Claude has become all too familiar with the unnatural speed and power that they have to offer. He tries to get his sword up to block the strike, but the lupine monster smashes into him and bowls him over; he bounces off the earth and stone before sliding to a halt. He pushes himself up to one elbow, tasting iron in his mouth. Claude spits, looks up and---

---oh boy that is not good.

Gears and battleships and artillery, oh my, Claude C. Kenny thinks to himself. And despite the fact that he is for all intents and purpose a derpy swordguy, that is not all that he is. He is also a combat officer in one of the oldest and most powerful militaries in the known universe, educated (theoretically) and trained (actually) in combat and tactics by some of the finest minds in the galaxy. Despite Claude's best efforts, some of the lessons stuck. And all of them suggest this is a bad idea. "You first, Cecilia!" he shouts, then pushes himself upward. "I've got your back!"

And then he turns to Fenrir, his expression serious. "Lady," he says, wiping blood from his mouth, "You aren't even the toughest Metal Demon I've fought this week. I've fought Zed. I've fought Siegfried. I've fought Berserk and Harken twice. And I'm still here," he points out. "So yeah, I think I can beat you. And if you're the last Metal Demon I ever see, it's only 'cause I'm gonna use you for a hat."

wait, what

"Edarl Blade Arts!" Claude shouts as he breaks into a sprint, his feet kicking up short bursts of sand. "Ultimate Technique!" Gamgee's sword drops back over Claude's shoulder as he runs, and ribbons of white energy begin to stream in toward the blade, gathering in the steel as Claude C. Kenny gathers his ki. "SUPREME!" he roars as he's a dozen yards away. "AIR!" he shouts as he reaches twenty feet. "SLAAAAAAAAAAAA---"

At five feet out, Claude cancels the Killer Move, the glow vanishing.

At 4.9 feet out, Claude immediately chains into another one, releasing the sword with a right hand that suddenly bursts into a blaze of brilliant blue light. "DRAGON'S HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWL!" he screams, driving a powerful strike toward the centre of Fenrir's mass, firing an honest-to-goodness blue energy dragon out of his arm in the process.

The dragon hates wolves.

It also breathes blue energy fire, because reasons.

GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Fenrir with Dragon's Howl!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: Fenrir takes a solid hit from Rena Lanford's Ignition Drop for 160 hit points!
GS: Rena Lanford takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
GS: Fenrir guards a hit from Claude C. Kenny's Dragon's Howl for 97 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

The thunderous explosion fades. The shadows falls in the misty cloud of dust. Arleph remains in his current position, his hand out stretched, panting for a few precious moment of break that his appears to have done. His eyes are rivetted on the cloud itself, trying to see. Is he dead? No. If he was, it would be different. He wont believe it until he see a corpse, until--

Arleph's reflexes kicks in, his eyes bursting wide as he sees the stabbing blades coming out from beneath them, reappearing to stab. There's little thing he can do beyond bringing that out stretched hand out, conjuring a circle in a catastrophe to call a shield to block the incoming, desperate stabbing from the Metal demon. In some ways, he do pity him. In others, well. No. He don't feel any pity about that one.

The stabbing slams into his shields, scrapping against his skin, still pale from the previous filth. He don't have time to warn the others, minus his own cry of surprise and his casting. "HE'S STILL ALIVE!" He screams when he get some breath, brandishing both arms as he try to step away, gaining some breathing room. He pools both hands back, conjuring water from the air around them and then slamming it against Yaro. Water pool, gathers, then erupts into a straight pressure unleashed, shattering chitin along with the lingering frost.

It also have a nice knockback!

Somewhere, Paladins are screaming in incoherent rage.

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Yarobeleedt with Pressure Cannon!
GS: Arleph Ardan has been weakened by Disease! They take 0 hit points of damage, and burn off their temporary hit points!
GS: Arleph Ardan takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

"Yeah, yeah, you're not my damn mother!" grouses Berserk in response to Alhazred. He ought to know. They've only got the one, after all.

"Fine. Whatever. I'll just eat one of 'em." This incredibly gracious compromise comes as those yellow eyes sweep the battlefield -- towards Cecilia, who has guarded his assault, and Catenna, who has skirted just beyond the boundaries of it. His slitted nostrils flare in annoyance. Lips peel back to expose an ugly row of sharp, jagged teeth.

"Yeah. You'll do," he decides, and the wrecking ball returns to his open palm with a deafening BOOM of impact.

And it's the very last thing he says before he rushes her like an unstoppable juggernaut.

Mouth gaping wide.

THOOM.

THOOM.

THOOM THOOM THOOM

THOOMTHOOMTHOOMTHOOM

Those footfalls just get LOUDER at greater frequencies at paces that would boggle most minds for a creature of Berserk's height. His eyes on fire, that red haze whipping around him like a twister's winds, he knocks over anything and everything in his way; the ruins of stone walls, trees, ANYTHING, laughing his damning laugh before he -lunges- into the air like a predator about to pounce upon its prey.

And, with those slavering jaws ready and his trajectory aimed right on a steady path for Catenna, it seems like that is EXACTLY what he is going to do--

until he is stopped, a scant handful of inches from tearing through Catenna; jaws snap with such force, so close, spittle flying with the metal-sheering force of Berserk's grinding jaws--

--stopped just shy of their mark by the unexpected, overhead smash of those familiar, yet unfamiliar claws.

"Wh--"

WHOOSH

The look. The feeling. That wind. Berserk knows all of them well. He knows, because he's felt it -all- before, that hideous, disgusting, -infuriating- --

-Guardian's power-.

The howl of rage from him is nothing short of cacophonous as he is driven into the ground by the unexpected force supplied by Fengalon's avatar. Wind scours through armor, digs furrows into the earth, and perfectly pins him in place for that expression of gravitic power from Catenna -pounding- him into the earth so forcefully that it -craters- beneath him, stone powdering and rubble collapsing across his furious frame, muting out some offensive curse for the pair... before the beads of light from Cecilia's sorcery pelt him with enough force to just completely bury him.

Dust settles. The booms of Aveh's war machines roar in the distance. This might just be their opening--

"... everything...?"

The word comes, muffled but present under all that debris. It trembles.

"... EVERYTHING...?"

And--

"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT EVERYTHING IS!"

(((BOOM)))

Rubble EXPLODES, artillery shells from beyond bursting towards the temple adding to the discordant sound of a frenzy in motion. The sight of Aveh beyond just stokes the fuel of fire as Berserk rises high, eyes blazing, jaws glistening, hatred BURNING. That wrecking ball lifts high into the air, shining in the sun.

"I LIVE FOR STRENGTH!"

And comes down, SMASHING into the ground with such titanic force the earth SHAKES.

"I LIVE TO WIPE WEAK LITTLE SHITS LIKE YOU OFF -OUR WORLD-!"

CRACK.

"I. LIVE. FOR. MOTHER!"

CRACK.

"AND I'LL BRING THIS WHOLE PLACE CRASHING DOWN TO BRING HER BACK IF I HAVE TO!"

KRA-KTHOOM.

And, through sheer, irrational, bloodthirsty ANGER...

... Berserk forges the force of a localized earthquake all around him, one blow at a time, even as Aveh begins to bury him in firepower.

There might be an opening--

--if they can escape that focused, catastrophic rage.

GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with I'm Gonna Wreck It!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with I'm Gonna Wreck It!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with I'm Gonna Wreck It!
DC: MISS! Catenna completely evades I'm Gonna Wreck It from Berserk!
GS: Berserk has completed his action.
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Berserk's I'm Gonna Wreck It for 224 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny used the Force Action Protect! He takes Berserk's attack on Cecilia Adlehyde on himself!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has activated a Force Action!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has activated a Force Action!
GS: Claude C. Kenny guards a hit from Berserk's I'm Gonna Wreck It for 127 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean's refusal to surrender pays off: the force of the Sword Medium connects, knocking out Malfi and forcing her tendrils to retreat and reform into an arm. Dean is dropped, none too gently, back onto the ground, and he staggers, knees buckling, nearly falling, but somehow managing to stay upright. His ARMs vanish in a flash of light, and he clutches at the gory wound in his stomach, panting. He looks up and around at the battle still raging in every direction. Dean might be dense and reckless, but he's not *completely* stupid; he knows he needs to get out of here, fast.

But with all those battleships coming in and shells falling, won't the Metal Demon he was fighting be in danger if he just leaves her there? The first one he ever met was Riesenlied, and she was really nice, so he's sure they can't all be bad. And even if Malfi (not that he knows her name) was trying to kill *him*, that doesn't mean he should just leave her to die.

After a moment's hesitation, Dean grabs a potion out of his pocket, downs it all in one gulp, and then hurries over to Malfi to attempt to move (read: drag) her to a spot of relative safety. Once that's done, if he can even move her at all--who knows how heavy a Metal Demon is, especially one her size with all that armor--he'll fall back, although not without repeatedly glancing over his shoulder at everyone in concern as he goes.

GS: Yarobeleedt guards a hit from Arleph Ardan's Pressure Cannon for 52 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Yarobeleedt!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

So.

Striding to stand beside Rudy in a moment of solidarity wasn't actually as much a good idea as Gwen had imagined it moments before. That becomes clear very quickly. "W-wh-!" Gwen panics and flails as she feels her boots leave the ground, but she doesn't hover very long. Alhazred is nice enough to put her down.

.... by slamming her into the ground several times. "... Gh..."

The multiple slams into the ground manage to do a number on the courier; when she takes the healing items from Rudy with a grateful nod, it's easy to believe the sudden explosions and the massive presence of what could just be a Guardian are simply a manifestation of the possible beginnings of a concussion. When Gwen looks up she gasps in shock. "Whwhwhat?!" Gwen's tongue feels too thick to properly form the words.

A few Heal Berries help soften her tongue. "WHY THE HECK ARE THEY HERE?!"

This is bad. This is bad. THIS IS REALLY BAD. "What the heck is Aveh tryin' to do, crush the damn temple? How is that helping?!"

Okay. Rudy is... brandishing his bowie knife in a way that is kind of sweet in how he is trying his best to hold it up as a proper legendary weapon style. Gwen shall just use that moment of distraction. "Okay... aiming..." Gwen's ARM crackles to life, shaking unsteadily as she points her hand at Alhazred.

"-There!"

A blast of electricity fires straight at the Metal Demon then, tipping the poor courier backwards.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Alhazred with Corona Discharge!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Alhazred completely evades Corona Discharge from Gwen Whitlock!
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi awakens just as Dean is dragging her to an out-of-the-way spot. "Why are you doing this?" she murmurs weakly. "I've just been trying to kill you..."

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Even amidst all the chaos (now including Aveh battleships and Gears?!), Rosaline feels a shift in the winds and catches sight of the Guardian Fengalon. She may not worship Guardians, and in fact thinks the practice is misguided at best, but that doesn't stop her mouth from hanging open for a moment. It IS rather awe-inspiring.

And she lets herself be taken in for a moment, as it seems their opponent has retreated, until her tail twitches, her bare feet picking up... something.

"Please look sharp!" she cries out to Elena and Arleph.

She fully realizes that this probably sounds like complete nonsense to most people, and so pivots to shove Elena right out of the way of the incoming blade storm.

The nun screams in pain as her blood splatters onto the hallowed ground, mixing in with the Metal Demon's own ichor. She collapses to the ground, her habit stained crimson, and likely giving the impression that she's down for the count... at the very least.

But once Yarobeleedt is no longer paying close attention to her (he may be moving on to stabbing her friends instead), she twitches and, with a whine, pushes herself off the ground.

"Know ye that long before the present age, man dwelled amidst the Light..."

She staggers onto her feet, clutching her cross, the Crest attached to it glowing as it gathers light.

"...and that Light was love..."

She feels it. She's keenly aware of her blood running red hot as sheer hatred for the rude THING before him threatens to take over her entire being. Instead, she focuses on the Word. It's all she has, right here and now.

"...and man called the Light Granas."

She opens her crucifix-clutching hand. Release.

"HEAVEN'S SMITE!"

A column of light descends from the sky with a deafening crash, with the Metal Demon right in its center. If he doesn't get right out of there, at least! Rosaline may not worship Guardians, but her God's power is the most awe-inspiring of all.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Yarobeleedt with Heaven's Smite!
GS: Rosaline Calice has been weakened by Disease! They take 0 hit points of damage, and burn off their temporary hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Alhazred has posed.

"Very good - please be careful to not allow too much damage to be inflicted to your skeleton, at least." Alhazred actually chuckles at his comment, as Tethelle is launched into the air once more. But rather than allow herself to be smashed into the ground, she alters her trajectory to go on the attack! Excellent. The fact that she was still able to fight following such a battering spoke well to her durability as a test subject. He would definitely have to take steps to ensure that she was properly collected, cataloged, and entered into the database.

But as she strikes, the huge clawed hand comes around and blocks the sword, leaving behind only a large gash on the burnished metal that Alhazred is using for his hands? Weapons? Who can say for certain.

But an alarm goes off - literally - in Alhazred's head as Cecilia warms up an attack to try and throw him off balance. But unfortunately for the Princess, the Master of Metal Science has some of the best anti-magic measures among the Metal Demons. "Interesting, but hardly a threat, Priestess," he declares, activating an energy barrier of some sort as the energy blasts race out towards him. "Berserk, can't you keep the attention of one little girl? This is an extremely disappointing performance on your part!"

Jack's rather clever attack does strike home, slamming into Alhazred's 'face'. The blow is enough to spin him around for a moment, the demon staggering and reaching up to rub the place where he had been struck. "That was uncalled for," he states rather blandly, although the more flat tone of voice is probably not something that would be reassuring for someone a bit less crazy than Jack to hear. Hmmm, perhaps he had pushed a bit too far last time? It was a good note for later - making the opponent too focused would not do for experiments involving driving them to the edge of berserk rage. Bah. "I may have to go back to the drawing board on this one. But unusual results are STILL quite interesting!

And then... Rudy actually gets his attention, invoking the name of some extremely strange and long winded attack. Alhazred tilts his head to the side for a moment, even as he notes the unusual coloration and physiological response on the part of the Drifter. "This does indeed sound quite interesting. Come then! Let us see the effectiveness of your special attack, so I can ensure that it is documented properly in my records."

And thus Alhazred takes Rudy's attack STRAIGHT ON, the knife slamming into his... chest? Ventral area? Well, Rudy stabs him pretty good, no matter how you want to look at it.

The sound of shells raining down nearby is something that gets Alhazred's attention, and he turns to look at the explosions for a moment. "Hmmm - this is an unexpected development. Outside intervention just throws of all of my variables. No, this won't do. This won't do at all. I'm afraid that I will have to terminate this experiment, and we will have to proceed from there. Very well, subject 3... allow me to demonstrate *my* most ultimate, long winded attack." And with that, Alhazred holds his clawed hands up to the sky. "Super."

And lightning comes down from the open air, slamming into his claws. "Transmitted." Yes, appropriate to let them know that the energy was coming from elsewhere. How will they marvel at his genius otherwise. But the hands snap down, and then aim right at Rudy. "MEGA CRASH."

And Rudy gets LOTS of lightning at that point. A moment later Alhazred turns, and doesn't bother to use the Esperanza as a channeling medium as he aims to shock the heck out of Jack and Tethelle this time. But as he is doing this, Gwen is leveling her weapon to take another shot at him. She lines up the attack, prepares to fire... and unleashes a bolt of electricity.

And as soon as she shoots one of the bug drones leaps right in front of the shot, taking it full on and exploding into pieces! Shards of metal and shrapnel pelt the girl in the face, but her attack has at least eliminated one of the drones.

GS: Alhazred has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Super Transmitted Mega Crash!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Jack Van Burace with Electrigger!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Electrigger!
GS: Alhazred has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Esperanza!
GS: Alhazred has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

There is a lot of light. Cyre does a thing.

Elena seems to be staring.

Then to make matters worse, the temple shakes. Are those... impacts? Explosions? And ships in the distance, with Gears. They look like the ones from Lahan, don't they...? The ones atop the hill, all battered and broken, that she saw when she went there with Fei, Cyre and a few others.

No, there's no time for that. Getting distracted was a mistake. Yaro comes out of the shadows like an assassin's blade. He has a sure-shot. Elena can't dodge or guard in time!

... and that's where Rosaline comes in. She shoves Elena away, and the Songstress is scratched by the blade rather than run through. She tumbles back, dropping her scepter. "S-Sister Calice!"

Elena dares not heal, for fear the Metal Demon would turn it against them again. Her Mana Egg lights up, the air around the Songstress beginning to cool down. "That is enough, Demon! Can you not see we are under attack?! If we do not stop fighting, we will all be in danger!"

She doesn't know if she can convince Yaro to back down, so she fires a blast of ice at him in an attempt to slow his movements and/or anchor him to the floor. Maybe that would make him pay attention to the bombardment.

On the other hand Rosaline just tried to blast him into oblivion so that might prevent a peaceful resolution.

GS: Elena has attacked Yarobeleedt with Crackling!
GS: Elena has been weakened by Disease! They take 0 hit points of damage, and burn off their temporary hit points!
GS: Elena has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Jack Van Burace takes a glancing hit from Alhazred's Electrigger for 108 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Jack Van Burace!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Alhazred's Electrigger for 107 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

Round: 4/5

GS: CRITICAL! Yarobeleedt critically Guards a hit from Rosaline Calice's Heaven's Smite for 41 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Rudy Roughnight guards a hit from Alhazred's Super Transmitted Mega Crash for 158 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Rudy Roughnight!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean's already turned away when he hears a voice behind him. He looks back to see Malfi, swimming back into consciousness, and he frowns, clutching his wound again. So she *can* talk. It's true that she'd been trying to kill him, but... he just tells her what he'd felt in his heart: "That doesn't mean I should just leave *you* to die." A pause. "Don't hurt any more people or blow up any more buildings in the future, okay?"

He really is naive. Even so, Dean doesn't regret his actions. He turns back and starts running back to town as fast as he can manage with several critical wounds. Malfi will have to take care of the rest on her own.

GS: Yarobeleedt guards a hit from Elena's Crackling for 25 hit points!
GS: Slow! Statuses applied to Yarobeleedt!
GS: Yarobeleedt enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The sudden thunder of artillery shatters Catenna's focus. Jumping back, the priestess snaps a look over her shoulder, catching sight of the armada closing in on the temple - battleships flying a flag Catenna only vaguely recognizes. Aveh, she realizes after a second - one of the powers on this continent.

The high of emotion she was experiencing crashes immediately into indignation. Her jaw sets like steel and she tightens her grip on her sword. They're too far off to fight right now, and there are far too many of them to begin with.

"Cyre! If you can hear me, we must follow Princess Cecilia inside!" Catenna calls towards the giant white tiger, beginning to dart forward in the hopes of moving around Berserk and out of danger.

Not that she's going to have any such luck. Berserk erupts from the debris pile, chunks of stone and masonry sailing through the air. With a gasp, Catenna shields herself with her sword arm, her eyes wide as the ground itself trembles with a rage far beyond what mere shells and bombs could muster.

Nothing she has can hope to stand against something like that. Her paltry swordsmanship couldn't even begin to protect her.

But then Berserk says something.

'our world'

Catenna's pale grey eyes darken, and she clutches her other hand into a tight fist. "It is not," she states, her voice so small that it could easily be lost.

The earth itself rumbles. The vastness of the quake threatens to tear earth and temple asunder. Stone splinters beneath Catenna's feet; she wobbles unsteadily, tryin as hard as she can to focus. "It is not your world!" she shouts over the din of bombs and grinding rock. "Your kind have no place here! And I... will do all in my power to stop you from taking one!"

Dropping to a knee, Catenna begins to utter a prayer in her own language. Words spill from her lips, but a familiar name can be heard in there - that of Celesdue. And then, at the height of her chant, as the earth rattles and rolls, Catenna bounds up from the ground - and lunges into the air.

Her leap is impossibly high. She sails upwards as though gravity has released its grip upon her. And as she does so, a pair of shimmering butterfly wings, vast and glittering, part in the air.

The luminescent wings, shimmering in blue light, part for just a second and a half. Within them, a golden crescent moon is briefly revealed. Upon the lower arc of that moon, a woman sits, dusky-skinned and with silver hair, the trail of her dress descending in a vast tail.

No -- not a woman. But someone beyond human.

In that brief, shining second, the Guardian of the Moon has held out a delicate hand, just as Catenna's jump peaks. The priestess passes in front of that shining figure - and then the butterfly wings fold closed and the ethereal figure is gone again.

But an overpowering magic still lingers. The world itself lenses around Berserk, the air visibly warping. For a moment, the Aveh ships in the distance will be unable to see the temple, so powerful is the gravitic lensing effect that it bends the very rays of light.

The gravity grip will attempt to hurl Berserk into the air and then bring him down at insane velocity.

And then it'll attempt to snare a bunch of those artillery shells and drag them into Berserk, too.

GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Material - Merciless Queen!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Catenna's Material - Merciless Queen for 133 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Fenrir has posed.

The Hand of Fenrir is Fenrir's mightiest attack. It is her finisher blow, her killing strike. No one can survive it. No one can outlast it.

Yet Rena and Claude do. And the laughter stops. It breaks. Fenrir can't comprehend - how are they alive? How did they survive HER, the strongest Metal Demon there is? Even in the background, as shells slam down and the sand is kicked around her, Fenrir pays it no heed. No. Her battle joy turns to anger, as Rena comes back up, and smiles at her, in a tone that Fenrir reads as mocking her. "Not...not that strong? What? What did you JUST SAY ABOUT ME?!" Yet, despite her rage, Rena still attacks. She skids forward, moving insanely quickly, and slams a fist into Fenrir's chest, knocking the breath out of her, before more strikes hit, shattering bones. And then, Rena lets off one last strike to the ground.

The energy wave sends Fenrir backwards, barely able to stand. Fenrir looks like she's about to react - but Claude draws her head as he says that he can beat her and will turn her into a hat, and then powers up a super slash. Even though she's feeling all the pain of their successive strikes, Fenrir raises that giant claw up, expecting an air slash - what she gets is a blue dragon made of energy breathing fire at her. It sets the claw aflame, burning brightly as the Metal Demon roars in pain and collapses to her knees, obscured by the sand. Is she down?

No. Slowly, Fenrir forces herself back up, and when looked at closely, she no longer looks like a Beastman. She looks like a twisted sculpture, jagged metal all throughout her body, arm melted in various positions, and her face a jagged crooked mess, difficult to tell her expression. Silvery blood covers her, dripping from her mouth and from all over her body. Fenrir takes a single step towards Rena, and twists her head. Her voice is pure rage, even if it can't be seen on her face. "Rena Lanford. RENA LANFORD! YOUR GOAL WILL NEVER BE ACHIEVED, AS LONG AS I LIVE! I WILL KILL YOU. I WILL CRUSH YOU INTO THE GROUND FOR THINKING ME WEAK. Die." Fenrir charges at her, her fist moving to punch Rena straight in the jaw. Except, at the last moment before impact, it's not a fist.

It's a giant wolf head. And it's moving to crunch into Rena's upper body and head, chomp down on her and mash her with its teeth. Only for a few moments, though, before Fenrir turns her attention to Claude. "You. I don't know who you are. I don't care who you are. Fall to the ground and cease to EXIST!" Her arm shifts back into a chain with a claw on it, sweeping out to grab Claude by the throat and attempt to smash him furiously into the ground.

GS: Gwen Whitlock critically Guards a hit from Alhazred's Esperanza for 26 hit points!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Rena Lanford with Punch!
GS: Fenrir has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Chain Slasher!
GS: Fenrir has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi watches as Dean runs back toward the nearest human settlement. She doesn't respond. She can't make, much less keep, those promises. She will, however, keep a wary eye on her human opponents in the future -- some of them are more capable than they look!

GS: Sneak! The true nature of Fenrir's attack becomes clear!
GS: Rena Lanford takes a solid hit from Fenrir's Walking the Dog for 157 hit points!
GS: Rena Lanford has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

After that technique, Rena is totally spent. She stands herself up, but barely seems to have the strength left to do much of anything else. All she does is pant heavily and glare at Fenrir.

Even as chaos kicks up all around them, her eyes are locked on the foe before her. Her hands aren't even clenched into fists. She's barely there. But as long as she's still here and breathing, she's got to try and do something.

Fenrir charges at her, and the elf girl gathers the strength to try and dodge the oncoming punch. But then it turns into a huge wolf head and her eyes widen. ... Well crap. She didn't dodge enough to warrant for that. And now that she's airborne, there's literally nothing she can do. She's already committed to this dodge.

Her eyes squeeze shut and she steels herself, before--

CRUNCH

A giant wolf head chomps down on her, nearly chewing her up before she's just dropped to the ground like a ragdoll. There isn't even a cry of pain. Rena is just gone. Clocked out. Off to count sheep. She hits the ground and lies there motionless and slowly staining the ground red.

The only consolation here is that she's still breathing.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

The Guardian's Power burns in his veins. "Catenna." It screams across his synapses. Every ounce of flesh strains to contain it. "I'll explain all this later." ...But contain it he does.

Fengalon-- or perhaps His Avatar-- turns its gaze from Berserk for a split second, only to watch as missiles and heavy shells pound into the sacred temple. This is a mistake. None should ever tear their eyes from the likes of Berserk.

The land explodes. Artillery shells and the full power of the Metal Demon's wrath rain down all around them. Cyre screams as rubble smashes into his battered body and raw force cascades through his bones. "Your Mother... Has birthed nothing but monsters...!" The thing that looks-- that FEELS so much like the Guardian clenches a clawed hand into a fist as another artillery shell explodes overhead. "You who live only for strength, who knows nothing but brutality. How could this ever be your world if you would never love it as that Mother-- if your heart is so full of POWER that there's nothing left for anything else!?"

Cyre rises. He leaps back towards the temple, his body clearly broken in a dozen places but still moving. Never stopping. There is too much at stake. Too much to fight for. He must protect the temple, must drive back the Metal Demons, must...

Do so much.

He entrusts his life to the Guardian, and takes his fate with both hands.

Shells burst in the air around him. His feet grip tight to the shattering stone. His hands open towards one another just over his chest. "I whose soul rises with the wind call upon the breath of the sky--" The wind answers. It howls as it gathers, twisting and pooling into a single, impossibly dense sphere clutched between the Nahual's hands. "O' gale which grinds stone to dust, which scatters flame and sea--"

Cyre's hands draw away. The sphere flickers, wavers, then erupts. "Roar! Howl! O' Cosmic Cyclone!" A cataclysmic torrent of wind tears from the sphere. Waves of red-gold gale twist through the air, scarring the land, shattering the earth, catching the artillery as it screams out of the sky and hurling it all back! Its wrath is terrible. Guided by the Guardian's will, the winds seek those who would bring ill will upon the planet and those who dwell upon it.

When it finds them, it is without mercy.

GS: Claude C. Kenny guards a hit from Fenrir's Chain Slasher for 82 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Berserk with Mega Windblast!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Fenrir with Mega Windblast!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Alhazred with Mega Windblast!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Yarobeleedt with Mega Windblast!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Alhazred guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Mega Windblast for 89 hit points!
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Mega Windblast for 70 hit points!
GS: Berserk enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Fenrir critically Guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Mega Windblast for 34 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle does have this going for her: she's tough. Alhazred has that right, at least; she can take a beating and keep on ticking. Which she is.

Scraping against Alhazred's arms, Tethelle slams into the ground one last time under the force of gravity, hard enough to leave a dent in the dirt she's landed in. It's a struggle for her to rise at all, and she's left a rough silhouette of herself in the loose - now packed, under her at least - soil.

Shells impact, but Tethelle can't do anything about them but look as they rain down. They are coming from far too far away to do anything about; she rolls to the side as gravity relents, finally scrambling to her feet afterwards. She looks beaten down, battered, bruised, and very dirty.

But still standing.

She feels the power of the Guardians - not channeled by her, but channeled nonetheless - and it's enough to inspire her. She mouths another prayer, pausing to spit dirt out of her mouth, and spares a glance for Rudy afterwards; he saved her with that even if he never wants to admit that he did it, and she respects that.

Tethelle thinks it's time to return the favour. She charges Alhazred with a roar, brandishing her rough, curved blade. She whirls it in her hands, artful arcs that seem more decorative than anything else. They are not; she is focusing herself as she did be fore. Feel the air, she tells herself. Feel the wind. It's easier than it should be.

Tethelle lashes out with a blade of air. It might seem vaguely familiar to Claude, though Tethelle is not really basing it on his slash; her constant whirling motions cause a rolling vortex before her, which - as she strikes out at Alhazred - lash out in a hundred tiny slashes of pressure, assisting her blow!

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Alhazred with Resonance Edge!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Yarobeleedt has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Yarobeleedt critically Guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Mega Windblast for 52 hit points!
GS: Alhazred guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Resonance Edge for 47 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jack Van Burace has posed.


There are artillery shells coming in. A Metal Demon just blasted him with enough lightning to power a small city. Things seem to be going to hell a lot faster than most people would think possible. Now the smart play here would be to get into the Temple Grounds. To back away from the obvious targets of the big guns. To take cover from flying shrapnel.

Jack of course does none of those things.

Jack, reasoining that running though the lighting means it hits you less, charges.

Look no one bother him with the actual science of that. He doesn't want to know the numbers.

As he goes he holds the blade out to his right. His sword seeming to draw some of the lightning with it as he makes his rush.

"You arn't getting away from me this time, monster!" he snarls as he leaps the rest of the way towards Alhazred. The sword trails sparks as he slashes it towards the tendrils of the Demon, hoping to deliever more than a bit of his charge back at him.

He'll have to talk to Rudy later about how that was the worst shouted attack name. Possibily ever. But right now he's focused on his target.


GS: Jack Van Burace has attacked Alhazred with Trickster!
GS: Jack Van Burace has completed its action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Jack Van Burace's attack becomes clear!
GS: CRITICAL! Alhazred critically Guards a hit from Jack Van Burace's Trickster for 41 hit points!
GS: Alhazred enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt lands after this cowardly little feint sneak attack, just in time to turn around and see that the three of them - all three of them - are still standing as he continues to leak whatever passes for lifeblood in the Metal Demons.

"Remain stand? Do not overstand or understand! It is not a stand! It is a sit?? Like cattle?! Dislike battle...!" ...Moving on.

Arleph pushes water onto Yarobeleedt, whom is already moving scythe-like arms in front of himself as a shield. They are thrown violently open by the pressure cannon, seeing him staggering (more like sliding) back with his arms waving in the air.

Rosaline calls upon the name of Granas, as Yarobeleedt sees himself staring up into the origin point of the light like it were (reluctantly) wishing to invite his soul up towards Granas for judgment. He screams, he cowers, and goes flat against the ground as his forearms splay out into strange fan-like shapes in an attempt to cover himself as the light crashes and crushes and also probably leaves rashes.

Whether he actually protects against Elena's attempts to root him there with freezing ice is immaterial, for it largely does that. The pulsating of his lower body slows, he quivers noticeably less, and there's crackling with every movement as he slowly, surely...

...buries himself in a blanket-like sheet of metallic fabric.

...

...

...There doesn't seem to be anything more to it than that.

Beyond the threat of being caught up in any of the bombardment surrounding them, and/or maybe a harrowing reminder that they may still be poisoned, it doesn't appear as though their scary, half-melted alien abomination wants to do anything other than try and hide in their little security blanket while all the loud BANGS and INVOKED GUARDIANS and GREAT POWERFUL SIGNATURE BLASTS erupt all over him.

One way or another, this is the chance of the three to do what they will concerning Yarobeleedt.

If they want to start chasing after the big rolling blanket cocoon that is violently ripped off from where it rests, to be carried about by the mighty gales of the Cosmic Cyclone to wherever the wind may wish to depost it.

GS: Yarobeleedt has completed its action.
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Alhazred smarms at her, and Cecilia grimaces. OK so that wasn't really her best shot, even. But that's OK, kind of!

She sees the line, for just a heartbeat. She wonders, briefly, if it is she who really saw it, but--

The point's the same, perhaps. She reaches for her Medium, though it trembles in fear. She grasps it, clutching it tight, and preparing--but it's too slow. Berserk's unbelievable rage is upon her, and she....

She closes her eyes, holding up her staff in a vain hope that it can resist. She waits for the hit. And it never comes, despite the roar rising around her. She cracks an eye open and sees her savior: "Claude...!"

For the moment, then, all she can do is breathe, "I...we go together! All of us! I won't let them separate us here! So please, hold on for just a moment more!!"

And then she slams her staff down, and throws the Medium into the air. The Aqua Wisp pulses, the whole land seeming to throb with the basic power of water. Catenna draws forth Celesdue, and the elegant Guardian of the Moon lays the power of worlds upon Berserk. Fengalon - that can't be Fengalon, the Guardians haven't had physical for in centuries, but something wearing his aspect, somehow, someway! - rages about, and screams in a voice she knows.

And Cecilia draws forth another titan as she sucks in suddenly-wetter air. "Scream at me. Hate me. Throw your hammer and your anger both! The Guardians have called to me! They are awaiting my answer! I won't let you stand in my way!"

The Medium stops pulling in its power. And Cecilia's eyes cut to the direction of the other Quarter Knight. "RUDY! JACK! TETHELLE!" ... is that gwen. "Uh, you two, Miss Whitlock! Get ready! I'm going to try and make a path!"

The Medium rises up, what looks like glowing waterfalls of magic gushing away from the thing. Cecilia throws her arms wide, and flickers, and screams, "MATERIAL!"

"ASSAULT TIDE!"

And there's a flash of light, and the princess is gone. From the waters conjured by the great flooding Medium, a tortoise the size of a small home stands, shaking itself like a dog. It looks one way; looks another, as though acquiring targets.

It screams, with a sound like a mile-high waterfall - and from nowhere and everywhere, water, crashing across the demon hordes and their commanders. A massive, unrelenting flood.

It fades only after a time, the magicked water leaving most of the battlefield be - but perhaps, clearing enough of a path for the group to rush for the gates!

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Alhazred with Material - Assault Tide!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Material - Assault Tide!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Assault Tide for 157 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

The attack actually hit and Rudy is surprised by it, but it seems the Metal Demon's hubris is more to blame than anything else. The young warrior winces to see that the Alhazred is not only surviving everyone's best efforts, but ready to attack with even more power.

The counterassault is definitely less word but more effective than the bowie knife, which is still held ineffectually as the god-like rage of the mad Metal Demon is brought to bear against him. Surprisingly, however, is the fact that Rudy still stands, his arms crossed over his head, his body showing the bad burns that come with powerful currents running through his body. His legs and arms quiver slightly, as if sheer force of will was keeping Roughnight from an all out spasm on the ground in pain. But like the swordswoman, he's tough.

In the wake of yet more explosions from Aveh, Rudy lurches forward, his knife falling from his hand onto the ground. Maybe this is a ruse by Rudy, something to draw the Metal Demon's attention, making him want to collect it instead of giving his all toward the group. Or maybe Rudy just accidently dropped it. Either way, he goes for his much more reliable weapon, even as the charge within his body makes it hard for him to aim.

Due to the pain of his injuries and perhaps the previous shame of his shouts, Rudy almost whispers to his foe, but considering how close he is now, he's allowed that luxury.

"Don't mess with my friends. I'll protect them, no matter what. If you hurt them... I'll..." Rudy leads off as his left arm glows blue once more. The right arm twirls about, the cartridge loaded with whatever ARM he had tried to use before the underwhelming melee attack. Either from pain or lack of inspiration, Rudy doesn't finish his words, but instead lets the powerful explosive blast of Hand Cannon do the talking for him.

GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Alhazred with Boosted Shell!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Alhazred takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Assault Tide for 166 hit points!
GS: Alhazred guards a hit from Rudy Roughnight's Boosted Shell for 73 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

See wolf. See wolf smash. Smash, wolf, smash!

*BAM BAM BAM BAM*

"Okay, enough of that," Claude C. Kenny sputters to Fenrir, his hand already glowing as he spinds in a circle, driving up shockwaves to keep the Metal Demon away from him. He scrambles backward toward where Rena has fallen and scoops her up over his left shoulder, still holding his sword in his right hand. "Okay," he says to himself. "Just gotta get her into the Temple and get some blueberries into her. Time to run no---"

I'M GONNA WRECK IT

"Oh god damn it," Claude groans, and then darts across the field toward Cecilia, sheathing his sword on the way. He scoops the princess up with one arm (committing lese-majeste in the process) and tosses her a little ways away from the attack (committing it again) and then raises his left hand to try and block Berserk's att--

NO CLAUDE RENA IS IN YOUR LEFT ARM DO NOT DO THAT

DO SOMETHING ELSE

AAAAAAAAAAAAAH

And so Claude C. Kenny tosses Rena away and then blocks Berserk with his face. It works exactly as well as you would expect (i.e., not very well).

By the time the Metal Demon is bounding away, Claude is weaving dangerously. But shortly after that, Cecilia summons one of the Kung Fu Kobras* to clear a path, which Claude agrees with immensely.

"All 'borda Claude train...." he mumbles through the effects of a low-graee concussion as he puts Rena back on his shoulder, then hefts Cecilia over the other (lese-majeste times three) and begins running away, trying not to fall over in the process.


* - In 3,127 SD, an archaeologist on Earth uncovered a still-functional video hosting server from pre-World War III. Upon activating it, however, he discovered that nuclear fallout had caused the server (which had hosted the only remaining copy of TMKFK 7: We're Officially Out Of Ideas And You Will Buy Anything: A Cyborg Michael Bay Joint) to digitally project characters from the film into real life. When the researcher pointed out that wasn't possible, one of the Kung Fu Kobra Cousins (in fact a capoiera-practicing skink) kicked him in the face and they all ran away. They remain at large to this date.

<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

Guardians.

Why did it have to be Guardians?

He knows the pinpricks of power on his metal-forged spine before he even sees them manifest; it's the same sensation that roll off the Fengalon-infused Cyre. The words, largely, fall on deaf ears as Berserk makes the very ground beneath him quake, makes dilapidated sections of forgotten walling crumble with his fervor. No -- he doesn't hear. Doesn't listen. Not when he senses that power on the horizon.

A gale, and a woman dressed in the regalia of the moon, the dim luminescence of her presence making a low, rumbling growl escape Berserk as his smashing stops. His grip tights on the chain of his weapon, so hard the metal forged to withstand his physical might groans in dangerous protest.

And then he starts to spin that ball.

"Not again," he snarls. "Tired of it. Tired of you. Tired of your weak little Guardians." It spins, faster and faster and faster. "C'MON! I'LL SHOW YOU WHAT I'VE GOT! YOU CAN'T EVEN--"

There it is. That damned water. That damned Schtudark. His eyes widen in obvious fury. The wrecking ball spins faster until it is little more than a smudge.

"To hell with THAT--"

FWOOSH

The power of three Guardians channeled through their respective Mediums (or otherwise) are unleashed upon Berserk all at once, colliding with artillery and Quarter Knight all in the same breadth. Winds ravage, gravity flings him airborne, slams missiles into him in a series of violent explosions -- and water -rushes-, engulfing him within its cold, raging waves.

And at the same time, that wrecking ball releases with the issuing, deafening sound of a sonic boom howling through the air.

It flies. For Catenna. For Cecilia. For Cyre. For -anyone- and -anything- in its way with speeds that defy explanation. And it would doubtless do more damage--

--but the least it can do, as those three Guardians finally, briefly overpower its owner completely and blast him away with a furious cry of rage, washing him further and further from the Guardian Temple --

--is one, last, absolutely -petty- swipe across the broadside of the temple entrance before Berserk is whisked away in a sea of enraged epithets.

The building rumbles. Stone begins to fall in short order. The entrance might collapse at any moment.

Now might be the time to start running.

GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

"Nice attack!" Poor Rudy. Gwen mistakes his wise decision to hide as much of his abilities from Alhazred as him simply trying to distract him, while Jack proves to be the one with the better taste in regards to attack names.

Gwen's bid to take advantage of Rudy's 'distraction' doesn't fare well. When one of Alhazred's drones takes the attack for its master, Gwen flinches backwards, the debris catching against her metal ARM, which she throws up in a bid to shield her face. "O-oh! Hey, I got one of the drones, guys! It-"

Oh, _poor Rudy_. Poor Jack. Poor Tethelle. POOR EVERYBODY

Wait, Cecilia's calling her name. "R-right!" When the currents of water crash into being, called forth by the Adlehyde Princess's call, Gwen pauses. Wait. Gwen still has that old medium she found in the Temple of Rejection. Could it possibly be able to be used...?

There's another thought, one her body's already putting into motion as she slings her arms out, a field of crackling transparent yellow energy forming around her person.

"This'll slow them down *even more!*" she shouts through gritted teeth, the energy wave expanding in a quick pulse, fueled by the gnarled ARM shaking at Gwen's side.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has activated a Force Action!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Alhazred with St. Elmo's Fire!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Berserk with St. Elmo's Fire!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Alhazred completely evades St. Elmo's Fire from Gwen Whitlock!
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a solid hit from Gwen Whitlock's St. Elmo's Fire for 71 hit points!
GS: Disrupt, Jam, and Jam! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Jack Van Burace with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Berserk Break!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 15 hit points!
GS: Jack Van Burace takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 151 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock guards a hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 95 hit points!
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 291 hit points!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde guards a hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 215 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Fenrir has posed.

As Rena falls, Fenrir growls, and is about to chase Claude some more even as he tries to defend - when red-gold winds fly through the air, slamming into her and giving him his escape opening. Another scream of pain, but she keeps on her feet, and begins to start charging for the source of those winds, but holds back when she notices Berserk, one of the Quarter Knights, earthquaking EVERYWHERE. Despite her frustration, her wounds are getting to her...and she won. Those who thought she was weak lost to her. And next time, she'd kill them.

Fenrir begins to retreat. She's done her part, and will join back up with the rest of the Metal Demons soon. She's shown that she's still combat-capable, right? Obviously, after this display, they'll have to reinstate her, right? (Probably not.)

GS: CRITICAL! Rudy Roughnight takes a solid hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 116 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Alhazred has posed.

The oncoming Aveh forces are a major concern, not to mention ruining all of the carefully prepared variables Alhazred had been testing. "How am I supposed to get any work done under these time constraints!?!" the Metal Scientist grumbles, floating in mid-air for a moment. "No this will not do. It will not do at all!"

Of course, there are others who are trying to grab his attention as well. First a pummeling wind roars down from the manifested Guardian - Alhazred is already taking readings, and he hopes that Siegfried is managing to remotely collect that information using his own device. This will be quite the discovery if he could find a way to summon a Guardian into some innocent victim!

But Tethelle isn't done quite yet, and she summons the power of the guardians to unleash a powerful air slash right into Alhazred's face. He activates his barrier again just in time, but it's clear from the ragged and tattered cuts that appear on his armor plating and in his enveloping cloak that even the bit that did get through had done a fair bit of damage. And Jack is hot on her heels, bringing around his sword with its trailing edge of electricity. But the Metal Demon catches the blade in his claws, turning it away with a twist of a wrist and a disappointed scoff. "None of the Fenril Knights were able to kill me at Arctica. What makes you think that a half rate Quick Draw user without a quarter of their talent will have any better luck? If you wish to hurt me, Drifter - use precision and skill. Rage has no place in scientific examination. Show me something worth studying in the future."

But his scans detect a major manifestation of magic, and Alhazred turns just as Cecilia unleashes a massive waterfall of energy, pushing him back and away from the entrance. There's little that he can do other than endure the punishing surge of magic - it seems that girl is more skilled than he had expected. The bullet from Rudy's gun follows up the massive surge of water, smashing into the Quarter Knight and adding insult to injury. ...or was it injury to insult. He would have to check how that particular idiom was processed. But Rudy declares that he'll protect his friends. Alhazred watches from his now more distant position, and replies: "We will test that hypothesis, Drifter. We will test it most thoroughly."

There is another discharge, but at this range putting up a barrier against Gwen's attack is easy enough. The discharge dissipates before it really harms the Quarter Knight, and he takes an image of the girl and files it away for future use. This one will never... further investigation, given the strange and mysterious weapon she had wielded.

But then Berserk decides to go do Berserk things at the entrance to the temple, and Alhazred just turns and stares for a moment. And then shouts, "If you bury the entrance Beserk, you're going to need to dig it out by yourself! Remember we still have work that we need to do, and breaking everything is NOT AN ACCEPTABLE OUTCOME FOR THIS EXPERIME- oh why do I bother." Alhazred just looks around for a moment, especially at the Drifters who Berserk is trying to crush as they run towards the entrance to the Temple. "Clearly performing a proper control in an experiment is too much to ask for," the Quarter Knight grumbles, floating along and picking up damaged Metal Demons or placing recall markers on them. When at least he has everything at least somewhat in order, he turns away and shouts, "I'm going to collate the results in my lab! If anyone bothers me before next month I make *no guarantees* as to how many asses you will have once I have finished experimenting on you!"

And with that, Alhazred disappears in a twisting distortion of space. Back to the Photosphere once again.

Take his parting rejoinder and... file it however you will.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

As she descends, Catenna blinks, the creature that is both Cyre and Fengalon addressing her. "Please, do," she murmurs, eyes wide.

Cecilia calls forth the thunderous tide. Catenna begins to move with it. The water doesn't harm her; it moves, instead, to clear the way to the Temple. She's sure that has to be enough - the manifest Fengalon-and-Cyre, Celesdue herself, the power of the sacred tides - surely not even a Quarter Knight of Hyades could withstand such an onslaught!

And yet, amid it all, comes that wrecking ball. Catenna widens her eyes with utter disbelief. She does the only thing she can think of.

She runs. She runs as fast as she can, sprinting towards the temple.

It isn't fast enough. She attempts to jump over the massive ball and chain again - and jumps a second too late. It slams into her back, blessedly hitting with most of its impact on the part of her that's armoured.

Armour doesn't do much against blunt force trauma. There's a sickening 'snap' - several of them, actually - before Catenna's hurled into the air and sent soaring forward, a stream of blood pouring from her mouth as she goes arcing unguided towards the entrance of the temple. She can't even cry out save for a choked sound because for a moment she simply blacks out from the pain of having most of her ribs broken at once.

She lands just inside the temple door, hits the ground and skids for about seven metres. It is not how she wanted to enter that place.

<Pose Tracker> Alisha Diphda has posed.

"Admiral Laukken!" a soldier cries out, as he climbs up onto the bridge of the land battleship Shakhan's Scythe. The soldier snaps a salute. "We've formed a cordon around the Temple. Your orders, sir? Do we move in?"

"No," the admiral says. An older man, with grey hair and a thick mustache, he turns -- and cracks a smile. "Keep firing. Don't hesitate to shoot the Drifters. If this can lure out the Yggdrasil... then it'll be worth it."

"But, Admiral--the Metal Demons..."

"We have them surrounded," Laukken says. "We hold the high ground." He stands, and motions through the forward viewport. Metal Beasts lay scattered -- and here and there, an unlucky Drifter lay on the ground, bleeding out. Dozens of Gears and the land battle ships have moved to surround the temple, cannons trained on it. The thunder of their fire makes a steady, percussive shake through the ship.

The admiral crosses his arms, then smiles. "...We'll wait. We'll wipe them out."

Laukken watches -- and sees the only hope for escape: the inside of the temple. Some were already rushing for the doors, or the holes cut into the side. It didn't matter. He could afford to wait.

He hesitates, though, as he sees a blur of blue -- and then a Gear at the front ranks. His eyes widen, and the Admiral shouts, "What--who was that!?"

"Sir! The Metal Demons are attacking our position!"

"Hold the line!"


<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

There is no response to Alhazred's claim that Rudy's desire to protect would be tested save a simple nod. He expects that. After all, this is war. But he leaves. However, when Cecilia talks of a path being opened, he turns toward her. He doesn't see her, however, but a large wrecking ball that crashes into his hip and upper right leg, which sweeps his support from under him and cause Roughnight to have a rough fall. Slowly, Rudy gets up, the pain from a powerful attack right in a hip socket enough to cause him to tear slightly.

But Rudy moves on. Because it's what expected of him to do. It's what's needed for him to do.

The brown eyes of the 'normal boy' are given to ensure a head count that everyone is alive within his group. The injured such as Rena and Claude are noted, though he doesn't really have the strength or resources to offer anything more than his attention and concern. "We need to get our injured out of this place, then a temple to get to," the outcast offers to anyone in earshot before he begins to hobble his way toward what is supposed to be the turning point in this struggle. He's almost there, he just knows it. It has to be.

GS: Yarobeleedt takes a glancing hit from Arleph Ardan's Monomolecular Icicle for 93 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre cannot maintain the Form of the Guardian for long. To dwell too long among the spirits is to lose yourself to them. But he has enough strength-- he has enough time-- to receive Alhazred's final parting blow. The avatar of wind raises a single claw to meet the wrecking ball as it sweeps up to swat him from the top of the temple.

...And straight up dunks it right back into the ground.

The tiger descends with the blow, a weakening breeze swirling around its body, closing wounds and mending shattered bones. Cyre chuffs as the Metal Demons are forced back, and only once they're gone does he turn his back to them to make his way into the temple.

...Whereupon the form of the tiger disappears in a burst of green light and the great Guardian seems to collapse inwards, resolving soon into the body of a battered, beaten and bloodied Baskar priest.

Cyre doesn't move. He doesn't talk. All he can really do right now is lay there, conveniently next to Catenna for easy retrieval.

Or, you know, someone with heal berries to shove into their mouths.

<Pose Tracker> Jack Van Burace has posed.


Jack would have killed himself fighting this Demon. Likely any demon. This one however holds a special place of hate in his heart. It's obvious, even after some part of him relised the shelling isn't picking favorites he would have fought until the breath left his body.

Beserk changes the question and the situation.

That crushing weight of the wrecking ball, flying as speeds that no human could match, smashes into the swordsman. Though he attempts a rudimentry dodge it still catches him, lifting him off his feet and into the air.

For the second time today he experiances the lurching sensation of freefall for a few seconds just before he slams into the flagstones around the temple. Rolling over and over he holds his sword in one hand and cradles Hanpan in the other. Protecting the tiny mouse with his broad shouldered form. Blood sprays as he slams against the wall of the temple and he feels multiple things give.

However he still moves.

Forcing himself to his feet, blood splattering on holy ground the swordsman turns back towards the Demons only to find the targets of his ire gone.

A howl of rage escapes him, one that he can manage only due to the adrelinine flooding his system.

Breathing heavily he starts down the steps before he sees the entrence start to give way. A curse. A decision.

"Rudy! Gwen! Cecilia! Grab who you can and get inside before it comes down ontop of us!"

He's so engrossed by that he doesn't even realise the wrappings on the scabbard of his have been torn away in the fight. Revealing the crest of Arctica gleaming in silver on the black scabbard.