2018-01-24: The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer

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Continued from 2018-01-23: Ascending Flight



<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

WHEN WE LAST LEFT OUR HEROES....

A group from the Caravan Kinship, plus Tethelle, had ventured up the bird tower called the Titan's Roost in pursuit of the Great White Bird of the Desert. The bird, which CaraKin has seen preying on villages, devouring cattle and people and flattening buildings, appears to be a massive white owl the size of the CaraKin - and while it does seem to have access to Celesdue's ritual arcana, it has also been twisted by some dark force.

Catenna called it the Demon King's Malice.


THIS TIME ON DRAGON BIRD Z....

From the top of the tower, the Great White Bird glides downwards on a sickeningly steep course. Its left wing crumples halfway along its span as if the bird had broken it... or had it broken by the attacks it weathered from the group of adventurers.

The vast foreclaws beneath its wing unfold; it lands in a griffon stance, folding its injured wing up against itself with a growl. Its left foreclaw tightens, clutching the prize it stole from above.

Namely, Catenna. The dazed priestess is trapped tightly in the Great White Bird's grip, her arms wrapped protectively around an old but pristinely white egg.

Dark power burns behind the eyes of the vast, monstrous owl as it stares down at Catenna, its bill opening to let a low, guttural hiss emerge. It considers her for a few seconds. And then, turning its head almost 180 degrees, it looks back up towards Titan's Roost.

And lets fly with an arcing blast of dark energy that comes pouring out of its eyes. The crescent-shaped beam arcs across the side of the roost; it misses the group descending by means of the elevator but does punch a hole in the tower wall. Chunks of rubble rain down on the elevator group.

Below, those left in the CaraKin itself are able to see the battle unfolding - and they're close enough to the rockslide that allows one to climb the mesa that it would be easy for friends to climb up and come to the group's rescue.

GS: Great White Bird has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Lydia Seren with Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Carina Wynne with Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Kourin with Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies!
GS: Great White Bird has completed its action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes a glancing hit from Great White Bird's Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies for 50 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Carina Wynne takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies for 132 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Carina Wynne!
GS: Kourin takes a glancing hit from Great White Bird's Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies for 49 hit points!
DC: MISS! Cyre H. Lorentz completely evades Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies from Great White Bird!
DC: MISS! Ethius Hesiod completely evades Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies from Great White Bird!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Great White Bird's Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies for 64 hit points!
GS: Lydia Seren takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Rocks Fall And Everyone Dies for 102 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

LAST TIME ON BIRB CHASERS

A cat stole another cat's salmon!

A crow was an asshole!

Cyre got abducted by harpies!

There was a giant owl to punch!

THE GIANT OWL STOLE CATENNA.

This last one is important and special. It's the exact kind of thing that drives Cyre straight up a wall with crazy. Incidentally, it's only because of the howling fury that he feels that he entirely avoids the tremendous sledge of rock and earth. He is not anywhere near it. Or the elevator. Or the mesa.

He's in the air.

Flying.

Angry.

"Give her back!" Cyre shouts, a gust of wind tossing him out of the way of that tremendous gout of dark magic just in time to avoid it completely. The shockwave sends him tumbling, rolling through the air almost uncontrollably. He compensates at the last moment, twisting in such a way that he manages to reorient himself just as he enters freefall. At these speeds, he'll hit the ground and be nothing more than a Cyre Pancake.

He does not.

The Nahual instead gathers the power of the winds within himself. He accumulates it within his lungs, filling his veins with pure Guardian energies. A pulse resonates against the inside of his ears. His mouth opens.

There's a roar that sounds like a hurricane.

And a tremendous shockwave reverberates out of the shaman's maw, slowing his fall and threatening to slam the owl's skull brutally into the stoney ground.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Great White Bird with Howling Gale!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Howling Gale for 24 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

From the top of the tower as the Great White Bird falls, the momentary lifting of the pressure allows him to pick back up his quarterstaff and get himself off of the more injured arm. He audibly has to suck in breath, as though his heart rate were as such that he can't keep the heightened adrenaline underneath that otherwise well-trained calm he can carry himself with.

He doesn't yell Catenna's name. Yelling her name will not slow down the wounded bird, or assist in her situation. Joining the rest down the elevator, he goes to a low crouch as the structure rumbles. He thinks quickly, getting the Hot Air Sack harness around his right wrist--

He straight up leaps off the elevator when the rocks blast forth. With a quick, lower-yield heat spell, he stops from falling to his death by a descent that is not the most gentle, but able to be survived without great nor lasting harm. He arcs his descent so that he has some cover from the damaged structure. He trusts that he won't be worrying the others (any more than he usually does) with this escape that temporarily separates them.

He times the spurts of Symbology-powered heat to also factor in any other probable interference from the avian creatures that might try to pick him off at the moment of separation.

He finds a temporary foothold within eyeshot of the creature that will not last under his weight. It's more distant from the target than he would prefer, but it gives him a view of where Catenna is in their grasp, and her current status. The issue is, at his current distance, his offensive options are limited.

Bending his arm inward to try and hold his quarterstaff to free a hand - the other is still inside the Hot Air Sack - he calls forth a shotgun-like blast of sand that loses much of its power thanks to his positioning, but that's the best he can manage for his present location - any cover fire is better than no cover fire.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Great White Bird with Sand Blast From The Wrong Range!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Sand Blast From The Wrong Range for 33 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Catenna!" Jacqueline shouts, terrified, as her friend is grasped by the Great White Bird. It tries to escape with her...but it's injured. It can't fly away completely. But that doesn't mean it is defenseless. As she and her friends descend through the elevator, she feels something slam into the side of the tower, sending rubble down upon them.

Quickly, Jacqueline draws a Crest and invokes it. She exerts her power over the rubble, forcing it to fly away from them. It isn't perfect, some of it will still go through, but it will at least help.

Finally, the elevator reaches the bottom and Jacqueline rushes out.

"Catenna, stay calm! We'll free you, don't worry!" She calls out. Of course, 'staying calm' was one of Catenna's most admirable traits.

Jacqueline draws out another Crest and invokes it. The air around the Great White Bird will become excited before a bolt of lightning crashes down from above. Hopefully not anywhere near where it currently grasps Catenna.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Great White Bird with Lightning Strike!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Jacqueline Barber's Lightning Strike for 40 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"What IS IT," Locus comments, "with GARBAGE BIRDS stealing our friends?"

Ugh ugh ugh. She steps into the elevator with the rest, wishing there was a way to make it go down faster without splattering the entire group. "Come on, come on, come on..."

Everything rumbles. There is now a new hole in the wall, parts of which are plummeting towards them.

"Seriously?" There isn't much room to maneuver, and so Locus opts for the best defense, namely fire punches. She winds up for an uppercut to break a boulder falling towards her...

Only to be crushed by a LARGER boulder. There is a very unpleasant metallic creak as she crumples into a heap under the stone.

"I'm okay," she wheezes out, getting back up with the stone in her hands, carrying it out of the elevator with a huff and waiting for people to clear away from her.

She spins on her heel, swinging the rock but not letting go. She performs another turn, then another, building momentum, until she lets go, letting the boulder fly in the general direction of the owl's face.

"HEY, hawkeye! How 'bout a taste of your OWN MEDICINE!"

That is, if the rock doesn't end up falling to the floor... well, like a rock, due to gravity magic shenanigans.

GS: Carina Wynne has attacked Great White Bird with Rocks Fly and Hopefully Everybody Lives!
GS: Carina Wynne takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Carina Wynne has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Carina Wynne's Rocks Fly and Hopefully Everybody Lives for 26 hit
points!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Real Birbs, Real Feelings, Total Annihilation.

Lydia considers the rocks falling for her and says aloud, "All those months throwing rocks at people's faces and now...it is my turn..."

CRUNCH!

It catches her right upside the head and sends her tumbling to the ground. Of course, her head is considerably less invulnerable as it used to be and she's still getting used to that. She lies on the floor, looking dizzy, as karma has its way with her.

But then she sees that Catenna has been seized up. "Hey!" Pause. "Hey!!" Pause. "It kidnapped Catenna!"

She hops and her arm warbles and wibbles before solidifying its shape into a blade--before growing white hot as THE ENERGY FROM THE SUN enthuses it. She lashes out right back at the bird, sending solar waves at the creature trying to abscond with her jail pal!

"Catenna! Try biting it!" Lydia suggests.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Great White Bird with Solar Slicer!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Solar Slicer for 105 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin leaps up the rest of the way to the mesa to join her friends, Spirit following closely behind. Frustratingly, the great bird is out of melee range--yet Kourin still draws forth her rapier. The young woman focuses her breathing, then, perhaps surprising everyone but Ethius, brings the blade in a crescent slash from which bursts an arc of flame, speeding towards the wings of the foebird!

"Secret Technique: Comet Slash!"

It seems that Kourin's focused training regimen has met with results!

GS: Kourin has attacked Great White Bird with Comet Slash!
GS: Kourin has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird guards a hit from Kourin's Comet Slash for 55 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle coasts the elevator down. It's a lot easier to go down than up; all she has to do is control the speed of the descent.

She is not a happy camper. The climb went about as well as could be expected, minor some cat thievery, but this - this is not how she expected it to end. Catenna grabbed, the terrible bird as powerful as it is - it's all she can do to restrain herself as the elevator barrels downward.

Chunks of rock fall against the open-sided elevator as it squeals to a stop about two feet above ground level; the pulley was hit and it's not going anywhere for a bit. That's fine; it's definitely low enough for everybody inside to leap out, which she does, deflecting another rock with the flat of the heavy sword she wields.

"Why would you bite something so corrupt?" Tethelle replies. "Kick it instead!"

Tethelle runs toward the monstrosity. It is taking her a few moments to get there, but 'a few moments' doesn't mean she's helpless; she literally winds up and throws her sword, an improbable and extremely amateur move, in a whirling arc. Or, perhaps it's not as amateur as it looks; it spins through its arced route to get there, slashing into the flank of the great bird before finishing its arc and returning, rather like a gigantic bladed boomerang.

Tethelle - somehow - manages to grab it on the way back in. She looks slightly smug about the fact that it came back.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Great White Bird with Sword Boomerang!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Sword Boomerang for 59 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Great White Bird has posed.

Caught in the talon of the bird, Catenna strains against the vicelike grip, her hips and back working as she struggles to try and free herself. She continues to hold the egg protectively close even with her arms pinned, as though trying to shield it from the avian.

"You must not do this," she calls up to it. "Can you not hear the whisper of the moon in your heart?!"

The monstrous owl just shrieks at her.

The Nahual of Fengalon calls forth a howling gale. Hurricane winds whirl around the Great White Bird, stirring its feathers and pushing it downward. With a deep, rolling rumble that might have once been a hoot, the bird bunches its wings and shoulders, shielding itself with its right wing. Then, surging into the wind, it snaps out with that wing - and attempts to swat Cyre to the ground with a thunderous blow.

Ethius fires away with a blast of sand; the bird isn't expecting it, and it roars as particles scatter across its vision and into its eyes. It recoils for a moment, swiping at its arm with its wing. That gives Jacqueline the window she needs. The lightning sings --

It crashes into the Bird's wing. Feathers singe at the point of impact - but the Bird shoulders through it, slowly lowering the wing and prowling forward with Catenna still in its grasp. Carina hurls her rock; the Bird slams into it and smashes it away with its foreclaw. In fact, it's the claw holding Catenna; she gasps as the rock hits her instead.

The avian doesn't care. Its eyes widen, dreadful malice billowing behind them -

And an enormous gravitational force suddenly seizes Jacqueline, Carina and Ethius, attempting to hurl both of them bodily towards a single spot on the ground, and then to simply crush them beneath gravity's imposing weight. The mesa itself groans beneath the pressure of it.

Blades sing in defiance as Kourin and Tethelle make their moves. The bird ducks away from the Sword Boomerang, but it rakes across its flank anyway and shears away feathers; the Comet Slash blasts into it with an arc of flame, more matted white plunage burned away. With a rumbling, half-crazed shriek, the demon owl fires another of those crescent beams of darkness from its eyes, attempting to rip through Kourin. Tethelle it handles more expediently: It swings its free foreclaw at her, aiming to tear through her with an enormous, sickle-like talon.

Lydia Seren lashes out with the light of day. The metal shaman lunges in, that radiant blade tearing feathers from the Bird's flank; it screeches horrifically as blood that's more black-violet ichor than blood pours from its side. Hissing furiously, the Bird shifts its weight -

And turns its head at an incredibly unnatural angle, then snapping it down and attempting to bite the former Asteroid the Kid with its enormous flesh-rending bill.

Catenna widens her eyes as Ludia calls out to her. Still shaken and hurt, she shifts one hand away from the egg to brace herself. Then she opens her mouth - and bites the talon in front of her as hard as she can. She swings her legs and tries to kick, too; she heard you, Tethelle.

The Bird pauses just long enough to squint at her as if wondering what the hell she thinks she's accomplishing. Then it shrieks at her - and slams her against the ground once, twice, thrice. The priestess gasps with pain, shielding the egg with her free arm even as her shoulders and back are smashed into the dirt.

GS: Great White Bird has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Wing Snap!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Carina Wynne with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Lydia Seren with Rodent Murderer!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Kourin with Crescent Slasher!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Lunar Sickle!
GS: Great White Bird takes 10 damage from Poison!
GS: Great White Bird has completed its action.
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a glancing hit from Great White Bird's Wing Snap for 71 hit points!
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 104 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod guards a hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 57 hit points!
GS: Kourin takes a glancing hit from Great White Bird's Crescent Slasher for 61 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Great White Bird's Lunar Sickle for 101 hit points!
GS: Carina Wynne takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 111 hit points!
GS: Lydia Seren takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Rodent Murderer for 120 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin hurls herself bodily aside as the Crescent Slasher slices through where she stood instants before. Not fast enough--there's a spray of blood from Kourin's shoulder. Gritting her teeth, she holds her injured arm out in front of her, and mutters the words of a spell, followed by a prayer to Althena and Celesdue. "Please, let me save my friend, Goddess, Guardian!"

A streak of icy blue bursts from her hand, forming into a razor-sharp lance of ice, whipping through the air towards the great bird's chest.

GS: Kourin has attacked Great White Bird with Ice Lance!
GS: Kourin has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Kourin's Ice Lance for 20 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle doesn't slow down once she's recovered her sword, because she fights best close-in.

Maybe that was a mistake, but Tethelle doesn't think about it as one. If it's focusing on her, it's not focusing on other people, and that's part of her goal here. Keep it busy while... okay, Catenna maybe isn't going to be doing much communication or purification from her current position. But if she can keep the egg intact...

Charging in as she is, Tethelle is almost an easy target for the Bird's great talons. Almost - because at the last moment she goes low, skidding under the strike. It could stomp on her then, if it occured to it to, but it was going for the sickle-like cut and she gets away without being crushed. Only slashed, the talon digging into her shoulder, drawing blood.

Tethelle bears the wound without complaint as she rises, closer to the Bird. "I'm sorry it has come to this," she says, more to herself than the Bird, as she adopts a different stance. Sword raised, parallel to the ground but very high, even with her forehead but held to just the side - from a side-on view it looks like she has some gigantic and weirdly curving horn.

Using the high stance, Tethelle strikes with a series of fast arcing cuts, always returning to the same position with the hanging guard. Every time she cuts at the bird and returns to parrying, she slaps at the talons with the flat, trying to progressively push it off balance - okay, it's huge, that's hard, but she's willing to try and make a pest of herself it can't ignore.

Though the burning in her arm from the shoulder wound is making it harder than it should be.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Great White Bird with Still Blade!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Still Blade for 20 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

When the Great White Bird is blinded, Ethius kicks off his temporary foothold again as he casts another heat spell to go for another descent that is, once more, not at the safest velocity - but it'll have to do. He has a clear shot towards where most the rest are gathered. He attempts to strategically determine his next position and maneuver--

In his haste, he so quickly forgets the power it holds that had nearly brought him to heel at the very top of the tower - a corruption of the same power granted by Celesdue. He starts falling, falling, falling from a height that should kill him.

Ethius' eyes widen as he hurriedly chants out a higher-yield heat spell to fight its influence. It scalds the hand within the Hot Air Sack, as it inflates ever more and more towards breaking point. It's a patchy, ratty thing - to use it as liberally as he has in order to fight the higher gravity trying to yank him down is a dangerous prospect, especially if it...

...bursts. Frayed seams of old, worn fabric flap out in the breeze as it is punctured, and Ethius tucks into a safety roll in order to diminish as much of the painful impact as he can. The timing seems to be of providence. If the timing of events between the increased gravity and attempts to fight it were any different, the fall might have knocked him unconscious, crippled him, or killed him outright.

He comes to his knees, sucking in breath and having to use his quarterstaff to pull himself back up. He's a ways off from Kourin's side as she prays, simultaneously, to both Althena and Celesdue. Something about it gives him small pause as he starts to circle the great beast. He's mindful of its wingspan (in so far as clawed arms go). He decides it is best to try and coax it to swing at him, considering further logistics of how he might yet fight against something so huge.

He paces forward slowly with the hand now free of the ruptured Hot Air Sack that flaps in the breeze at his wrist, repeating the same spell as before as he approaches. With the completion of the incantation, there's another burst of sand with a bit more appreciable of a punch - it's not point blank, but against its giant feathered flesh, it should sting some and coax it to show any of its flesh-rending, life-ending, structure-shredding claws.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Great White Bird with Sand Blast Just Shy Of Its Intended Range!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Sand Blast Just Shy Of Its Intended Range for 15 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline doesn't wait to see what effect her spell has on the Great White Bird. She quickly draws another Crest, and-

Before she can invoke it she feels an enormous force take hold of her and hurl her around like she's nothing, before slamming her down into the ground near Carina. It feels like the the weight of Filgaia itself has been placed on her shoulders. It weighs down on her, crushing her into the ground itself. She can feel the ground crack beneath her as the force presses mercilessly.

She can barely move...it feels like every bone in her body is going to be smashed into dust...

Jacqueline winces and struggles against it...and opens her eyes to see the Bird slamming Catenna into the ground.

Jacqueline shuts her eyes again, and tightens her grip on her Crest. No, she...she can't give up here. She has to fight it...

She invokes its power, causing a pillar of earth to erupt upward with the goal of slamming into the Bird. With any luck, it'll release the force holding her down, as well...

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Great White Bird with Pillar Crash!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird guards a hit from Jacqueline Barber's Pillar Crash for 88 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Like an angry chef swatting a fly, Cyre is knocked out of the air by the swift swing of the great bird's wing. Like every fly to have ever lived, he doesn't die so easily. The shaman redirects his fall at the last moment, breaking his sudden descent with a great blast of wind, turning what would have been a nearly fatal blow into something that's simply very painful. He hits the ground, bouncing once and stirring up a cloud of dry desert topsoil. Bestial musculature pulls and tugs, righting him as he rolls away, allowing him to land- as the proverbs say he must- on his feet.

He doesn't stay there for long.

He has things to do.

"Catenna!" Cyre screams as he sees her being slammed over and over into the dirt. "Hold on! I'm coming!" He is. Great bursts of air accompany every pump of his legs, blasting him forward at speeds no ordinary human could match. The wind gathers around one arm as his clawed hand curls into a fist. It swirls, howling and twisting and spiralling and narrowing until the pressure is so great that it begins to numb his arm.

"I said let go of her!" Cyre bellows, thrusting his fist forward. A great wave of raw pressure erupts at the end of the Nahual's blow, aimed at utterly pulverizing the owl's leg at the joint-- to try and force it to release the woman and her egg. "It doesn't matter what you are! I won't let you take her!"

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Great White Bird with Grand Pressure!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Grand Pressure for 153 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"FUDGE!" Locus lets out, with earnestness normally reserved for an actual swear, when her rock ends up hurting Catenna much more than her actual target. She has to be careful! Her friend is gotta get hurt if she isn't!

But there isn't that much she can do against being magically thrown onto the ground and flattened into a pancake, is there? She and her armor both scream out, as the metal creaks, parts of it having already been bent out of shape by the earlier boulder.

Thank Celesdue the gravity magic's usually on THEIR side, Carina realizes.

It is a mighty struggle to just get back up to her feet. The rest seems like it's going to be the hard part at first, but Carina realizes she can cheat. Most of the strength granted by her armor is concentrated in its legs, so if she can just LEAP away.

"LOCUS JUMP!" she shouts, as she manages, with some difficulty, to leap out of the gravitational well.

Her flight arc takes her right in the bird's direction. She prepares to swing in mid-air, and there's the sound of a shotgun being cocked.

"Hey, ugly! Let go of my friend or EAT LEAD! PRETTY SHOTGUN KICK!"

She spins in the air, swinging her foot and spraying metal pellets as it impacts-- if it does! The attack itself is rather brutal, but Locus is trailed by dancing embers and long shiny hair, plus her armor shines in the sun. That IS pretty, right?

GS: Carina Wynne has attacked Great White Bird with Pretty Shotgun Kick!
GS: Carina Wynne takes 4 damage from Poison!
GS: Carina Wynne has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Carina Wynne's Pretty Shotgun Kick for 24 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

And now the other technique Asteroid the Kid is well known for is unleashed upon Lydia. CHOMP! It slips past Lydia's guard indeed and her top half is clamped down on. Her legs flail like Android 18's as her arms are pinned to her side. Or at least, that's what you might expect would happen with arms clamped down upon with a bird that size but while this is definitely painful for Lydia and she certainly screams a lot to back it up, her metal arm shifts shape and swoops along the creature's jaw and crawls towards the beast's eyes even as the beast is able to crunch down harder due to the arm briefly becoming softly and liquidier through this process.

But eventually the metal oozes along and strikes for the beast's eyes!

Hopefully this'll encourage said beast to drop Lydia rather than writhe and gnash its teeth around her and eat her. That would be awful.

"METAL DIGGER LOCUS!" She screams in agony. "SHOW US YOUR COSMIC MIND!"

She still has no idea what it means but it obviously WORKS.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Catenna with BUTTS BUTTS BUTTS!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Lydia Seren has canceled their attack on Catenna.
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Great White Bird with BUTTS BUTTS BUTTS!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird guards a hit from Lydia Seren's BUTTS BUTTS BUTTS for 81 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Devoted though she is, Kourin's powerful ice finds itself meeting a powerful force in and of itself. The Great White Bird recoils from the shard of ice and sweeps a wing forward. It directs its gravity towards that impressively huge shard - and the shard trembles in the air, struggling to push forward as though it's being shoved through molasses. The air itself warps as the apostate priestess's magic collides with the twisted Arcana of Celesdue wielded by the Great White Bird, the Demon King's Malice warping that holy power into a demonic, tainted thing --

The ice shard shatters. Fragments of it pelt the Bird's chest; it lets out a deep, rolling hoot as it pushes through it. The mere invocation of the name of Celesdue has infuriated it; it descends upon her like a titan, a dire claw swinging.

It attempts to rip those horrific foretalons through her with a single, snappingly quick blow.

Blood runs down from Catenna's lips. "Kourin," she murmurs, tears beading in her eyes. An earnest, lonely girl who only sought peace. Is this what Celesdue shall bring her...?

"You mustn't harm her," Catenna shouts up at the bird. "If you are truly a totem of Celesdue, then your duty is to protect those who serve her!!"

The owl rears back; its beak yawns open as it screams out a long, horrific, maddened scream, blind with rage and anguish. It descends in time to confront the raging fury of Tethelle's blade. Blow after blow comes for it; several cuts mark its talons, and the bird snaps its hand back, pulling Catenna out of reach with a shriek. It recoils from that dangerous sword, then opens fire, eyes spewing malice down upon the Shaman of Equites.

As Carina opens fire, pellets pepper the Bird's underside; many of them slam into that defending wing, marking and denting it, ripping a few feathers away. It endures, however; it flicks the wing at the Metal Digger with a rending screech, aiming to swat her away.

Again Ethius hurls against the Bird with sand from range; the beast seems wiser to it this time, shielding itself with its wing to avoid the worst of the particles. Some still block its sight, though, enabling Jacqueline to slip in and invoke the earth itself.

The Bird isn't expecting a blow from below. The thunderous pillar hurls the Bird's chest up into the air with a hard slam; it nearly loses its grip on Catenna.

Lydia takes a moment to do something amazing. A quicksilver blow smashes the Bird in one of those enormous eyes - and hits just below the orbital bone. Flesh gives way; with a scream, the maddened bird recoils, oozing ichor from beneath its eye like tears.

And then comes Cyre H. Lorentz. The impossible pressure of his blow slams through the Bird's foreleg - and there is the sound of a massive, girder-like bone snapping beneath the divine force. Screeching in horrific pain, the Bird recoils, talons spasming and loosening - and Catenna tumbles free with a pained gasp, landing in a lump near Cyre.

The stricken Bird curls away with a wingbeat. It hoots sickeningly in pain, bleeding and favouring its arm - and then, suddenly, it flicks its head and snaps its beak.

> Melange Gel

...Since when can it do that? Either way, between that and the deadly power, that forearm begins to knit together again as the Bird rounds upon the party again. It focuses on Lydia; an immense, dulling pressure weighs upon her mind, her senses suddenly threatening to betray her, as if even thinking coherently or actively were too much of an effort. Jacqueline it snaps at furiously, aiming to punch its bill through her with a brutal bite.

For Cyre and Ethius, the danger is much greater. The gravitic pressure upon them mounts and mounts. Their bodies begin to grow heavier and heavier.

It doesn't stop. The bird's eyes flare with mad anger as it threatens to compress both Cyre and Ethius into, respectively, a catcube and a fleshlump.

GS: Great White Bird has attacked Great White Bird with Melange Gel!
GS: Great White Bird heals Great White Bird! It gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Kourin with Lunar Sickle!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Malicious Eyebeams!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Carina Wynne with Wing Snap!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Lydia Seren with Feeble Mind!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Rodent Murderer!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with The Weight of Malice!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Ethius Hesiod with The Weight of Malice!
GS: Great White Bird takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Great White Bird has completed its action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber critically Guards a hit from Great White Bird's Rodent Murderer for 24 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod guards a hit from Great White Bird's The Weight of Malice for 109 hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's The Weight of Malice for 187 hit points!
GS: Kourin takes a glancing hit from Great White Bird's Lunar Sickle for 73 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Great White Bird's Malicious Eyebeams for 67 hit points!
GS: Carina Wynne guards a hit from Great White Bird's Wing Snap for 76 hit points!
GS: Lydia Seren takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Feeble Mind for 0 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Lydia Seren!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

The bird shows its wing. If it were smaller, Ethius would find it an ample opportunity to prepare a Far Point strike to try and shatter it. He has no such luck, because he is a tiny little rat before it, and cannot reach that far. He takes in the grisly sights as he takes the quarterstaff in both hands anyway in a defensive posture. He may be tempted to call names, but he suppresses it in the name of measuring his next move as it screams and thrashes. His ears ring with every echo of its voice, finding himself pushed back slightly with every call.

The wingbeat pushes him back once again as it goes to take a breather - and returns to one of its mainstay, terrifying powers.

Gravity comes down upon Ethius again, who falls to a knee. That knee slams into the ground like he fell from a great height on it, and he grunts in barely-restrained agony as the quarterstaff becomes his crutch to trying to pull up against it. His stomach churns under the pressure, feeling the bends.

He starts to chant anew, because that's all he can do. It takes his everything to flex fingers, because the force of gravity is too great for him to move. On his mind is an electrical spell. Just as he rounds some of the last syllables...

He stops. Catenna remains within the beast's grasp. To unleash any of the preferred electrical assaults he would think of doing would endanger her. This... this is not normally something that would stop him? He's always been used to the idea that he was ultimately acting alone, to accomplish his goals by any means necessary in so far back as he can remember. Why hesitate now?

...

He starts chanting again, different spell, because he has to make something happen unless he wishes to be brought low by the crushing force that still has him in its grip. Fingers flutter again as he bends forward from the weight of the malice slowly winning its battle against him. Some lights from his body and the space near him later...

The heat rises around the face of the creature as he tries to turn up the ambient heat to equally scald it... and tire it, to try and put a crimp on some of its incredible strength.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Great White Bird with Overheat!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin again throws herself aside, and again, is too slow to completely avoid a raking gash across her back. The young woman cries out in pain, but rolls on and back to her feet, firing another blast of snow at the bird--though this time, wracked by pain, Kourin's focus is lessened and what is unleashed resembles more an icy snowball than the lance of ice she released moments ago. "ALTHENA, CELESDUE, HEAR ME! I WILL NOT REST UNTIL MY FRIEND IS SAFE OR I FALL! GRANT ME STRENGTH!"

GS: Kourin has attacked Great White Bird with Icy Snowball!
GS: Kourin has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Catenna!" Cyre turns, not even looking at the great bird as it staggers back. His eyes are on something else. Something more important. "Catenna," he says, shifting to catch her as she tumbles, softening her landing with his body. "Are you okay? That damn bird-- if I knew it was going to go for you, I'd..."

Beat.

"Is... Is that an egg?"

Unfortunately, while it is true that cool guys don't look at explosions (or their enemies being horrifyingly maimed), it's also true that cool guys don't get to notice when the giant monster inexplicably pops a healing item. The only warning Cyre gets is that his body begins to feel inexplicably heavy. He's able to get himself away from Catenna in time for her to avoid the pressure herself, but...

Ultimately, Cyre was too distracted to properly escape from the Weight of Malice.

He screams in agony as he feels his body buckle under the pressure. Immense power draws him downward, slamming him into the earth, popping bone and tearing sinew as muscle shreds itself apart struggling against the force. Until, with a final, gutteral, grinding noise, the shaman disappears into the earth.

...

...

...

Not yet.

A pillar of power erupts from underneath the mesa. Stone gives way, being ground away into tiny particles of dust by the cataclysmic vortex emerging from down below. Rocks the size of boulders are flung through the air as something rises from the ruined earth. A great beast of another kind, a tremendous tiger wearing a mandala upon its back. Sutras etched in arrays of emerald light glow across its limbs. The Incarnate Fengalon turns its scornful glare at the great bird. There is no more need to hold back.

The mandala on its back begins to turn. The rotations spin faster and faster as the beast rises into the air. Green light pours from the stormwind dynamo, gathering distant and unfamiliar storm clouds into the sky and setting into motion an atmospheric catastrophe. A funnel cloud like a cruel, gnarled fingertip reaches down from above and reaches for the great bird, surrounding it in a deadly gyre of wind and power. Cyre roars, the wind answers in kind.

DC: Cyre H. Lorentz switches forms to Nahual - Fengalon!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Great White Bird with Mega Windblast!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

This creature is...strong. But they knew that. They had encountered it once before, had seen and felt its terrible might. They went into this knowing it would be a fight that cost them their lives.

Her spell had helped, at least. The gravity holding her down had dissipated. With a wince Jacqueline forces herself to her feet. That's when she sees it. The Great White Bird stands, looming above her, staring down with its Malice-filled eyes. And then, its bill descends like the Reaper's scythe.

It could kill someone in an instant.

Jacqueline reaches into her bags quickly, grasping the stone tablet within, and lets out a silent plea.

'Grudiev, please...!'

...And he hears her call.

The silhouette of the great saurian Guardian appears behind Jacqueline. His great arms move in front of her, and the Bird's beak collides with them and stops, an inch before it could pierce through Jacqueline's chest.

Dust and earth is drawn into the vents on Grudiev's shoulders...and then released as a mist. It coats everyone, even Catenna, and even the egg she carries, offering them protection against the Great White Bird and the violence it is attempting to inflict upon them.

And then Grudiev vanishes.

Jacqueline stumbles back. That was a lot of power released at once...she can only hope it would be enough.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Kourin with Material - Earthen Embrace!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Material - Earthen Embrace!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Lydia Seren with Material - Earthen Embrace!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Carina Wynne with Material - Earthen Embrace!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Material - Earthen Embrace!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Material - Earthen Embrace!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Ethius Hesiod!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Ethius Hesiod! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Tethelle Cirdian!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Tethelle Cirdian! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Cyre H. Lorentz! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Carina Wynne!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Carina Wynne! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Kourin!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Kourin! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Lydia Seren!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Lydia Seren! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Eye beams. The very gaze of the Great Bird is monstrous.

whyyyy, is what Tethelle thinks.

What she actually emits is a pained grunt. Tethelle isn't that stoic. Her high guard splits the blast, dividing it in half and scattering it, but it forces her downward, unable to deflect all those energies. She pushes up against it, struggling against the force.

Swerving out from under the blast, Tethelle feels as much as sees a different kind of power erupt behind her. Cyre and Fengalion's forces, along with the slightly different taste of Jacqueline and Grudiev, seem to energize her, or at least Tethelle takes heart by feeling them stand against the Great Bird; whirling her blade, Tethelle settles into a different stance, more aggressive, blade held forward.

She only holds it for an instant before she leaps. Moving with extreme precision, Tethelle whirls her sword in great, powerful arcs. She doesn't draw on speed; instead she is an unstoppable force, her great blows carving with power as she nearly dances around the left side of the Great Bird, striking to disable - to knock it down, to keep it there, so it can't keep on the offensive. She roars as she does it, a wordless kiai.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Great White Bird with Whirling Juggernaut!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Overheat for 74 hit points!
GS: Weaken! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird guards a hit from Kourin's Icy Snowball for 90 hit points!
GS: Great White Bird guards a hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Whirling Juggernaut for 97 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is dropped onto her back which is great. She lands on the ground, bleeding considerably. Of course, a fair chunk of that metal she was driving in is pulled away with her though there's still some residue. Unfortunately for Lydia, she can't exactly remotely control this nonsense. At least, not yet.

She stares at the Bird as a pressure weighs on her mind. It makes her a little slower to think. It reminds her a little bit of when she tried to kill all her friends, though not quite as severe as that. She closes her eyes tightly, panting for breath. "Y.y..you stop that. You're a bird. Birds don't get to...ggghh....Stop arright? Stop it..." She grits her teeth. "STOP IT!"

She draws out a stone medium of SOLAIS EMSU and a man in white and red clothes appears in the sky, held aloft by strange blue wings. He gestures forward with his hand and white lines ripple into place, connecting rapidly as it forms several bright stars currounded in circles, connected together and forming a diamond and then, well--

--and then it launches a giant laser beam for the bird striking from the heavens. It's like Kingdom Hearts.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Great White Bird with Material - Solais Emsu!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird guards a hit from Lydia Seren's Material - Solais Emsu for 93 hit points!
GS: Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Mega Windblast for 31 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"I'M TRYYYYIN'!" Locus shouts back to Lydia, right before being swatted by a giant wing and sent flying in the direction she came from. Carina sees irony in this.

She skids onto the ground, holding on to a giant feather she takes a look at before letting go of it. She needs her hands free in order to gather a fireball between them.

"Don't hit Catenna, don't hit Catenna-- Oh, nice!" She resists the urge to pump a fist as the priestess goes free and Cyre... turns into a Guardian, or something?? Locus may not be showing them her cosmic mind just yet, but he's already showing them his brave heart.

Speaking of Guardians, Jacqueline calls upon the power of Grudiev, whose mist washes over them all. Cracks and dents in Locus' armor are smoothed over, and in fact it now seems even shinier than ever!

"Dang, what's this stuff? Mythril? Thanks for the solid, Miss Jay 'n' Jeff!" (Jeff?)

"ALL RIGHT! All cooked!" she declares when she deems the fireball in her hands big enough. It is now roughly the size of a beach ball. "You just try an' find a dirty trick to protect yourself from THAT, stupid bird! VOLCAAAAAAANO BLAST!"

And off it goes!

GS: Carina Wynne has attacked Great White Bird with Admirable Elemental Blast!
GS: Carina Wynne takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Carina Wynne has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Carina Wynne's Admirable Elemental Blast for 27 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

With a groan, Catenna rolls over onto her side, then struggles to her knees, moving to try and scramble away from the horrific bird.

When she turns to look up at it again, she's reaching for her Mediums. As Cyre dashes over to her, she keeps the egg cradled in one arm, her eyes wide. "Cyre... I think it is too far gone to save," she breathes.

In her mind, the statement is a cold one. A horrible, gut-churning one.

"But there is the egg," she murmurs, looking down at it. "When a totem creature passes...."

Before she can finish her sentence, there is a rumble of earth - and Grudiev comes forth from the earth to cast his protection over them all.

Immediately, the Bird whirls upon the manifest Guardian. Its eyes practically bulge out of its skull as it screams a long, wracking shriek at the Guardian of the Earth, laden with rage and horror and fear and countless other emotions too complex to place. The sound of it is overwhelming - and the Bird immediately moves to leap upon the woman who invoked the Guardian.

Jacqueline Barber will have about three seconds before the Bird descends upon her, swinging its immense talons downwards like an executioner's blade - to try and rip them through her.

Ethius cranks up the heat. Scalding air ripples around the Bird. It may be many things - a twisted monstrosity infested with the Demon King's Malice - but the animal it once was remains a snowy owl, and the vast beast sags visibly under that heavy heat, wilting a little. Its good wing slouches towards the ground. The bird growls a throaty growl before turning its eyes on Ethius. The snowball Kourin hurls helps the cause; it slams into the creature's side with startling force and hurls it to the side. It comes down awkwardly, but soon steadies itself.

And yet... yet... there are more Guardians pouring forth. Cyre manifests the power of Fengalon, and the funnel cloud blows with the fury of the Wind God. The immense, demonic owl-griffon screams that same angry-sobbing scream at the mere sight of the Incarnate Fengalon. Gravity slams back against the wind; two impossible forces collide, the wind blowing back the huge avian, but it manages to hold its ground. But so caught up in defending Cyre's mighty blow is it that it cannot hope to avoid the light of Solais Emsu. That radiant laser slices through the wind, nearly swallowing up the massive Bird beneath its fury; it screams with rage and pain, wings flaring even as feathers burn from its body. More ichorous blood spills as Tethelle swings her mighty blade with the skill only an acolyte of Equites can muster. The bird lunges away but can't avoid taking a few horrific wounds across its midsection. Metal Digger Locus adds a fiery blast; the Bird's plumage scorches and sears, the fireball hitting it in the flank, just below its injured wing.

But the creature soon wheels back, angered and all the madder. It practically steamrolls into the party, charging at them like a rabid pit bull. That enormous beak snaps and snaps as it takes a bite at Tethelle, then another at Cyre, that bill enormous enough to sever torsos from bodies. It takes a shot at Carina as it goes by, blasting her with laser eye beams.

And then it rears back. Gravity ripples and shimmers in the air - but the spell does not seem to be crushing anyone.

There is simply a deep, shuddering feeling - and those few who have not been bitten may find the protection of Grudiev filtering away.

GS: Great White Bird has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Talon of Moonfall!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Dispel!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Kourin with Dispel!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Lydia Seren with Dispel!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Rodent Murderer!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Carina Wynne with Malicious Eyebeams!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Rodent Murderer!
GS: Jacqueline Barber critically Guards a hit from Great White Bird's Talon of Moonfall for 32 hit points!
GS: Carina Wynne takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Malicious Eyebeams for 106 hit points!
DC: MISS! Cyre H. Lorentz completely evades Rodent Murderer from Great White Bird!
GS: Kourin takes a glancing hit from Great White Bird's Dispel for 0 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Kourin!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Great White Bird's Rodent Murderer for 106 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Dispel for 0 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Ethius Hesiod!
GS: Great White Bird takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Great White Bird has completed its action.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin feels strength surge into her, then the bird shrieks and the warmth fades.

Which is fine by Kourin. Right now she needs to be cold. She kneels, and works the magic to summon her golem, pouring her faith and belief into its formation. Ice forms, spikes, splits, creaking and moaning as it forms and rises up, bringing its huge, spiked fist down in a massive arc towards the bird.

Now to find out if the Goddess and the Guardian have listened to Kourin's pleas...

GS: Kourin has attacked Great White Bird with Glacial Golem!
GS: Kourin has completed her action.
GS: Lydia Seren takes a glancing hit from Great White Bird's Dispel for 0 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Lydia Seren!
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Kourin's Glacial Golem for 161 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The Great White Bird almost seems...horrified, among other things, to see Grudiev. Unfortunately, rage is among these things, and those terrible talons descend upon her. By this time, Grudiev is already gone. She has only her own power to save her.

And she tries. Jacqueline reaches into her pouch and invokes a Crest. A pillar of earth rises up to protect her...and the Bird's vicious talons shear right through it, continuing onward to Jacqueline herself.

A long cut goes across Jacqueline's front and she stumbles backward with a choked gasp. Her pillar had saved her - if she hadn't slowed its attack, that cut would have been fatally deep. But even now she bleeds, and she realizes that they must finish this quickly.

She stumbles backward, reaching into one of her bags for a bottle of grey liquid. She hurls it at the Bird and it splatters over it. With any luck, it'll reduce its defensive capabilities...assuming this creature was even susceptible to it.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Great White Bird with Softening Salve!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Great White Bird completely evades Softening Salve from Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Jacqueline Barber with YOU DO NOW!
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's YOU DO NOW for 0 hit points!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Great White Bird with Softening Salve!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Softening Salve for 56 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

'I think it's too far gone to save.'

Fengalon Incarnate chuffs softly, shutting its eyes in a contemplative gesture that's far too human for the beast that it is.

"But the egg--" Cyre's voice. The giant tiger's lips do not move, but it speaks none-the-less, "It will return, even if we're forced to do the worst to it, is what you're saying?"

"Or is it..." The tiger turns and looks to the egg. "This one's child?"

A fine layer of dust settles amidst Cyre's fur, coating the white tiger in a strangely regal sort of grime layer. The milimeter-thick patina pulses with the power of the earth, after all. There is a nobility to it. Earth and Wind and Sky and Sword and Moon. So many Guardians gathering here today.

And... What of the creature that was meant to serve them?

The Great White Bird charges into the menagerie of primitive gods full of fire and vitriol. It lunges for the figure of Fengalon, seeking to tear its throat out with that terrible, hooked beak. For its effort, it... Gets caught. The tiger's claws seize it by its collar, digging into the feathered flesh and spilling rivulets of tainted blood. "Sorry," Cyre says to the creature. "I can only give you so much time."

His eyes flash. Green light pours out from the behemoth tiger's eyes. The storm that was gathering draws downward, sucked down to earth by the might of the Guardian of the Winds. It forms a coil, then a helix, then a sphere, each shape evolving from the last until it encases the bird and tiger completely. With a roar, the entire assembly suddenly blazes with light, the raw power of elemental wind converging in its most primal form. "Catenna," Cyre's voice calls over the storm. "You are the one closest to its mistress. One more time, try to rouse it from this madness. Or else..."

The sphere pulses dangerously. Within, the storm unleashes all of its power into the two beasts. One revels in the wind, drawing power from the awakening air. The other...?

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Great White Bird with Awakening Air!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Eye beams! Possibly the worst sort of beam. Locus shields herself with her forearms which, with Grudiev's help, manage to protect the rest of her body from the attack. She can feel the Guardian's power frittering away under the corrupted beast's terrible might.

Finally, it turns its gaze away. Locus waves her hands, relieved, arms still smoking. "Hot hot hot hot..."

"You really don't know when to quit, do ya?" She takes off into another run right towards the great bird. It may be singleminded on her part, but as she sees it, her part in this fight is to punch that bird until Catenna tells them to stop. ...She will tell them to stop, right?

The heat from a moment ago is gathering around her right fist. Maybe THIS time Locus will manage to turn the tables.

"OVER HERE, BIRDBRAIN!" She leaps! "Hurry and get wrecked before I run outta bird jokes!" And she swings her fist, red-hot flames forming the shape of a large bird around it. "CUCCO PUUUUUUNCH!"

GS: Carina Wynne has attacked Great White Bird with Courageous Explosion Punch!
GS: Carina Wynne has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Awakening Air for 105 hit points!
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Carina Wynne's Courageous Explosion Punch for 75 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius is nearly overwhelmed. There is virtually nothing he can do to move to protect Jay, rooted where he is. That last spell might be all he has before the gravity claims him--

Jay calls forth a visage that lingers at the edges of his perception. A giant creature who emits an obscuring mist of dust - glittering and, in spite of itself, not violating the eyes, nose, or lungs, as it coats around Ethius. The fell creature responds by redoubling its efforts... repositioning itself, preparing to run them all down as Ethius feels his body lightening. What Grudiev's protection does for Ethius, is that it gives him cause to move again. As the protective blessing of the Guardian of Earth fights back against the crushing pressure of gravity, Ethius gets moving, for a time in tandem with the Incarnate Fengalon. He moves by the increasingly desperate Kourin. He can see that the Great White Bird is about to rush them down, trample them, slice them into ribbons, consume them. He doesn't need another reason to move.

The Great White Bird, stained by The Demon King's Malice, is quick to correct this mistake as it uses its fell powers to erode and strip away this blessing. Ethius chooses to make the most of it, coughing and staggering as he works up to a jog. With how hard he landed on his knee, a jogging pace is the best he can muster. When he descended, he took note of some of the surrounding environs. There is an elevated position he can get to...

Bit by bit, the blessing of Grudiev disintegrates and crumbles into the dust of Filgaia itself. Where the protection weakens, gravity strengthens. Ethius finds the last leg of his ascent grueling, his feet growing heavier that his any and every step feels like he's carrying sandbags against his calves.

Just a little more. Just up to this smaller rocky outcropping. So long as the creature can hold its good wing there...

That's a risk, too. A sudden flex of its wing could flick Ethius right off, and see him take a nasty tumble down. He stabs the quarterstaff into the edge of the outcropping. He sucks in breath, as fatigued muscles prepare to flex for the next maneuver...

"Tornado Strike!"

Such is his call as he leaps up, hands remaining held on a precariously balanced quarterstaff, and spins - flinging his legs out in a series of spinning kicks to try and put in a good, solid fracture against the creature's better wing, for however long it can stay in that range - if it does at all. With every rotation, Ethius risks flinging himself right on off into a dangerous freefall.

It's a calculated risk, in his attempt to tag a perceived weak point.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle is getting mad.

Well, no. She was mad before. She's getting madder.

Tethelle has not called upon Equites' power, and doesn't intend to. This is a problem she can handle by herself - not actually herself, there's plenty of other people she's fighting along and she certainly doesn't want any of them to go away. She trusts them, here and now, to engage the bird and protect the egg. She needs to focus her skills. Maybe the Sword-Saint's shrine was right, and she's calling on Equites too much.

So when the bird comes in to bite her, she deals with it in a very direct way. Tethelle doesn't literally charge the Great Bird because there's not enough room for it. She does step forward, though - towards one of the sides of the great beak, her arms outstretched, one holding the sword (but not wielding it) and one empty. And just for a moment...

Tethelle catches the bird's beak, preventing it from closing around her.

It's hard. It's damn hard; the bird is bigger and stronger than she is, and she has a wounded shoulder (which is still bleeding, even with Grudiev's power reinforcing her). But she manages it, red-faced and straining; she gets one of her hands on top of the beak and literally throws herself a good twenty feet into the air.

Tethelle comes down with a mighty two-handed slash on top of the bird, landing on top and trying to hang on for dear life. Her first blow was empowered with all the momentum of her landing; all the others, as she hangs on, are awkward and one-handed, which is not how the sword is meant to be used, but Tethelle is strong enough to swing it if she doesn't have to use it with any grace or finesse whatsoever.

This is not a good plan. Tethelle doesn't really care.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Great White Bird with Tornado Strike!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Tornado Strike for 33 hit points!
GS: Jam! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
GS: Great White Bird enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Great White Bird with Skydrive!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Skydrive for 123 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia feels better thanks to Grudiev!

The birb dispels Grudiev's assistance.

Lydia feels bad again. "Duh doi the egg is it's child." She can't help but say to Cyre. "Obviously we gotta save the egg and deal with the mom and hope that it's like a purified egg if, like, this is an important owlbird."

She hopes that's the plan anyway because she highly doubts she can subdue this thing. She doesn't enjoy moiderizing either. She may, like Jay, be actually kind of against the killing--at least for herself. It's just not how she sees herself even if she's not really the kind to object over another person's brutality.

None of these thoughts stop her from unleashing a bright burst of light right at the creature's face!

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Great White Bird with Solar Burst!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Solar Burst for 71 hit points!
GS: Poison, Break, Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The Great White Bird is massive - but Tethelle Cirdian is tough as nails and stronger than most. Its beak attempts to close down around the fiery swordswoman with all the force of a steel press. The Bird has weight and leverage on its side. Powerful muscles close; a horrifically long, forked tongue lashes out.

Until Tethelle lands her blow. The blow shears one of the horns from the Bird, then slams into its skull. Its head hits the ground; it bounces back, writhing and twitching, injured left wing spasming.

The most innocuous attacks are sometimes the deadliest. Thus it is as Jacqueline Barber hurls a potion at the Great White Bird. Grey liquid splatters across it but it barely seems to notice, so caught up is it in being hurt.

Until Kourin calls forth the golem. The colossal ice creature swings that immense spiked fist. The Bird, furious, bears into it, intent on just shouldering through it in the hopes of making Tethelle pay for her temerity -

And the grey liquid does its work. The blow lands - and there is the horrible sound of bone fracturing somewhere in the Bird's breast. Gurgling sickeningly, the stricken monster lurches backwards, bleeding from the point of impact and gagging up a blooming stream of malicious darkness.

Metal Digger Locus - brave, heroic Metal Digger Locus - gathers her heat and strikes with the fury of a flaming cucco. The fiery punch hurls the massive Bird back a few metres; snarling, it swings at her with a colossal talon, hoping to simply smash her to the ground with a rage-filled swipe.

"I-I can try," Catenna says. "The Egg does not seem to have been touched by the Demon King's Malice...!" Her eyes are wide as she watches Ethius and Cyre make their moves.

The awakened Fengalon invokes his mighty sphere. Ethius roars into it with his quarterstaff, those devastating wings blowing the Bird's wings back and buffeting it with crushing force. He swoops in - and the quarterstaff lands with a smash. The Bird's right wing twitches and goes limp as something shatters inside. Bursting from the windstorm, the huge owldemon roars with madness, malice streaming from its wounds in streams of ichor as its gravity begins to mount and mount and mount again. Immense force comes to bear on the CaraKin. It is enough to crush bodies and drive people into the dirt inch by painful inch. It is as if the Bird is simply trying to pin everyone to the ground.

Catenna groans and lifts her eyes towards the Bird. "If you... can hear the song of the Moon within you," she whispers. "Then please... please...!"

Another spark of light shines in the air, then.

A spark of serene blue, high above the field. A pair of butterfly wings flit apart from within it, momentarily revealing the arc of a golden crescent moon, and the impossibly long train of the gown of the woman sitting upon it, hands folded in her lap.

As the force of gravity pushes back against the Bird's, the power of the Moon Guardian comes to bear on her own creature. For the brief moment she is seen, before vanishing into the light again, there is an obscure sadness on Celesdue's face. Faint words ring in Catenna's thoughts as she gazes up at the Guardian she loves.

A sad creature... so lost it can no longer be found.
It is time for renewal.

A profound sadness sinks Catenna's heart, even as the Great White Bird recoils from the Guardian whose Arcana it bears. It screams with utter anguish even as Celesdue vanishes, grasping in the air as if it has lost something vital. That light fades --

And the Bird doesn't stop. It's as if it has gone utterly mad. The top of the mesa crumbles as it begins to hurl waves of gravity and malice indiscriminately. Beams rip into the nearby tower; a huge chunk of its face begins to slide down the Roost and into the desert.

Which is when Lydia Seren lunges into its face with a blast of LIGHT.

The Great White Bird screams. It recoils, covering its eyes with both talons, its broken wings flailing about madly and with bare effectiveness as it tries to hit something. The mesa begins to give way under it.

A sick feeling wells in Catenna's throat as she begins to move forward. "...All we can do is end its suffering," she whispers, her voice aching in her throat. "And...." She looks down to the egg.

GS: Great White Bird has attacked Great White Bird with Material - Merciless Queen!
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Material - Merciless Queen for 128 hit points!
GS: Great White Bird enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Lydia Seren with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Kourin with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Carina Wynne with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Gravitic Crush!
GS: Great White Bird has completed its action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 57 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 60 hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 100 hit points!
GS: Carina Wynne takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 107 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 100 hit points!
GS: Kourin takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 93 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle Cirdian keeps desperately trying to stay on the bird.

She's not that great at rodeo, but she's certainly trying. One of her hands is buried in its feathers, gripping its back more directly; the other is still holding her sword, which isn't really meant for one-handed use but she can - just barely - use it that way.

The weight intensifies. Tethelle feels something strain in her body as she's pushed downward, but it does one useful thing for her - it pushes her more firmly onto the Great White Bird, making her less likely to be thrown (though now she has to worry about rolling off and splattering into the ground).

Drawing the sword back, Tethelle's fighting energy begins to make white-silver chi dance along the blade, building toward the tip. She thrusts it at the back of the neck of the Great Bird, the energy exploding out of the tip as she tries to drive it in with a powerful blast!

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has activated a Force Action!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Great White Bird with Burst Strike!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Burst Strike for 79 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Remarkably, her potion seems to have an effect. It allows the others to land blows more effectively, forcing back. It's started to show signs of injury...but it is far from finished. It brings its power to bear once more...and once more, Jacqueline finds herself pinned to the ground. She lets out a pained cry as her already wounded body threatens to give out beneath its force.

And then, there is relief as the presence of Celesdue can be felt.

While this does lessen the grip over her, it seems to drive the Bird mad. The Roost itself is in danger...and as such, so are all of them. Catenna herself puts it best.

"...I'm so sorry...please, forgive me..." Jacqueline pleads, drawing out another Crest. Lightning surges...and Jacqueline shuts her eyes as it crashes down toward the Great White Bird.

There was nothing that could be done for it. In this instance, this was the only mercy that she could offer it.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Great White Bird with Lightning Strike!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Lydia Seren takes a solid hit from Great White Bird's Gravitic Crush for 96 hit points!
GS: Great White Bird critically Guards a hit from Jacqueline Barber's Lightning Strike for 27 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

It takes all of Kourin's concentration to maintain the golem; she doesn't move as the bird's crushing force hammers down on her. The golem, beginning to crumble, swings its arm again, striking at the Great White Bird one last time before it shatters to so much slush and ice. Kourin, breathing heavily, lowers her arm. Was this enough...?

GS: Kourin has attacked Great White Bird with Glacial Golem!
GS: Kourin has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Kourin's Glacial Golem for 247 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

When there no longer is a wing to catch Ethius' feet, it is a pure technical feat on his part that he maintain enough of his balance not to throw himself off his elevated position. His feet strike against what little footing there is as he slams a hand down to catch and cancel the rest of his momentum. He ceases with one leg dangling off an edge. He stares ahead blankly, as he parses that yes, he's not about to fall to his death.

He takes a more expedient way down across a number of ledges, skipping the last one to go into another roll against the ground, finishing into a crouch... just in time for the gravitic waves to renew themselves.

That rocky outcropping collapses and tumbles back down into the desert behind him. If he were up there but a moment longer...

Ethius struggles to move as the force tries to compress him again. He keeps using his quarterstaff to force himself up, take a step closer if only to coax his body not to compress itself in the foetal position and await compression into a fleshy, bloody lump. His heart shuts out the miracle that occurs above him in favor of self-preservation and a determination to find it in him to strike it down.

Catenna reaffirms that is all that can be done. It is enough cause and motivation that he works himself to a hunched stand, holding a hand out as he risks coming much too close to the flailing beast in wake of the blast of light from Lydia. His hair and clothes flail violently in the displaced air of its deafening screams.

He points his fingers in specific, complex patterns, chanting the syllables as lights come from his visible Symbological tattoos and the area near him.

"Recurrent Current." He caps it off with the name of the spell, as a bolt of electricity jumps from his extended hand and into the great corrupted beast.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

The call is for it to end its suffering... but this would not end everything in a merciful instant.

The shocks would, if they find purchase, continue to travel up and down the tragic creature's body, constantly delivering electrical shocks that simply will not leave. It is a large enough creature that it might survive the shocks for a prolonged time - that is even more suffering for a corrupted creature whose last moments are already to be filled with sorrow, hopelessness, and pain. In some ways, that this very spell would come forth is in itself a cruelty.

As Ethius finds himself being forced prone anew from the gravitic temper tantrums that would seek to smother him against the ground, that is the simultaneously the best and the worst he can muster in their collective efforts to put the Great White Bird to rest.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Great White Bird with Recurrent Current!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Recurrent Current for 126 hit points!
GS: Poison and Jam! Statuses applied to Great White Bird!
GS: Great White Bird has Fallen! It is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"I'm not exactly an expert on Totem Animal Physiology," the wind answers Lydia. "I only turn into one, I don't take care of them." Is that really an excuse? Kind of? Maybe?

It doesn't matter, in the end. Catenna summons the great Guardian of the Moon. Celesdue appears in the heavens and pronounces her verdict. Cyre closes his eyes, the wind howls mournfully.

And then the Great White Bird screams. It flails and writhes. Its madness seems to taint the very fabric of spacetime, twisting it in ways it was never meant to turn. Grudiev's blessing glows brilliantly over the tiger's fur, the holy power imbued in the earth diminishing as it expends itself resisting the lunatic force.

All we can do is end its suffering.

Cyre opens his eyes. A great downburst presses into the mesa, fusing the crumbling earth back together just long enough for the Avatar of Fengalon and the rest of the Carakin (plus Tethelle) to find their footing. "Catenna," Cyre says as he surges to meet the blinded bird, "I'm so sorry."

His eyes flash. Emerald light pours down over his claws. The tiger bellows as the wind blasts him forward. He sweeps down, snatching the demonic beast by one wing and somersaulting mid-air to right himself.

Cyre strikes. He cuts through. Another tiger appears a split second later, moving at speeds faster than the eye can follow. Dozens of images of the Avatar of Rising Wind appear one after another, each launching a blistering fast blow before vanishing to feed the next cycle of violence. Wind sprays blood in vast, atomized plumes with each accelerating blow...!

And then, finally, the beast reappears, images reassembling into a singular form to loom ominously over the monstrous owl. It opens its many-fanged maw and roars its rage and indignation into the earth.

The shockwave is enough to pulverize stone.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Great White Bird with Wrath of the Wind God!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is crushed by gravity shortly thereafter. It hurts like heck but gravity powers never take off more hp than you have, at least.

This doesn't stop her from being crushed into the floor with deafening power. She struggles to push herself back up to her feet but just gets crushed back down. She can't stand up. Whatever strange abilities she has, it still seems remarkable susceptible to gravity. Perhaps Catenna is part of her Robot Master weakness chain and this is just what she has to deal with, even if her head is no longer strictly spacerock based.

She raises her hand to strike at the Bird once more with something--what is something? It's a mystery because as she's about to lash out at the monster one last time she sees Catenna's eyes and--

--she lowers her head. She can't do it. Even if it's a monster, seeing Catenna's face like that.

She is pushed back down again. Hopefully Cyre's got this one.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"WHUFFFFF," Locus eloquently says as she is slammed into the ground by a combination of giant talon and deadly gravity. Grudiev's miraculous protection is gone already, and it shows. The Metal Digger armor is cracked all over again, and covered in dirt too.

Getting back up is still an ordeal, even moreso with her injuries. Really, it would be an ordeal even without the gravity shenanigans. But Lydia made such a big deal of their never giving up, right? It would be a really bad look if she did that now.

Celesdue herself appears. A weight is lifted from their shoulders.

And so, she manages to run out of the bird's grasp while her friends distract it. Carina listens to Catenna, because she's the expert. But she does see that egg. There might be hope yet. "Uh, right! I'm so sorry."

She takes a deep breath, looking down at her belt. The red bead within is flashing red.

"Running outta juice, huh? Time to switch back, then..." She produces the bead's yellow counterpart as if performing a sleight of hand trick, then places it inside her belt.

ELEMENT: LIGHTNING_

Lightning crackles all around her. She points at the Great Bird.

"Sorry, big bird! We'll try 'n' make this quick! And AFTER that, we'll be sure to give the demon king that did this to you a PIECE OF OUR MIND!" That... that might not be in the CaraKin's immediate plans, but surely it'll be on their to-do list eventually.

She breaks into a run and, once more, leaps very high into the air. At the top of her arc, lightning strikes her. THIS APPEARS TO BE PART OF THE PLAN, as she shifts her stance into a leaping kick. Rocket boosters pop out of her boot, speeding up her descent as her foot is engulfed by electricity!

"Merciful finish! SWAN SONG KIIIIIICK!"

GS: Carina Wynne has attacked Great White Bird with Finisher Kick!
GS: Carina Wynne has completed her action.
GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Wrath of the Wind God for 204 hit points!
GS: Great White Bird has Fallen! It is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Your cosmic mind?" Lydia asks. She's not above being sassy though.

GS: Great White Bird takes a solid hit from Carina Wynne's Finisher Kick for 190 hit points!
GS: Great White Bird has Fallen! It is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"YEAH," Locus answers, in the middle of an explosion.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

All Catenna can do at this point is hope. Still weakened and bloodied, she hangs back as the others move to end the Great White Bird's suffering.

The Bird thrashes wildly, blinded and charged with anguish and rage and loss and hatred and furious malice - but Tethelle manages to hold on for dear life, even as the Bird proves more than able to bear her weight. Gravity holds her in place as she builds up that chi. The sword drives home - and slices through flesh hard enough to hit a bone. Dark ichor fountains from the hideous wound, and the mad Bird screams and rears back hard enough to throw Tethelle off, finally.

This may be a good thing - because Jay calls down the thunder. The girl's gentle nature, perhaps, makes it less brutal than it could be, but the blow nevertheless hurls the Bird backwards, smouldering feathers framing a hideous lightning burn.

Kourin sends her Golem lumbering forward. Another crushing blow lands; the Bird is driven to the ground with a heavy crash. Stone and dirt crack beneath it. Ichor gushes from its beak as it croaks a weak, rolling sound, like a thin hoot, struggling to rise.

Catenna's eyes are filled with tears. This is mercy. This is kindness. This is... this is horrifying.

It becomes all the moreso as Ethius unleashes the recurrent current. Those rippling shocks rip through the twisted, maddened totem owl. Its body ripples and twitches horrifically, awful gurgling and rasping sounds caught in its throat as its body begins to arch and stiffen up, spent muscles twitching and tightening. Steam spills from its mouth, and from out around its eyes.

Those eyes have gone a cloudy, muddy grey colour, unseeing anymore. And yet, Malice continues to surge through the being in pulsating arcs - though they grow less regular.

And yet... it begins to claw its way forward again. Dreadful power begins to build along its body. Gravity surges. To the bitter end, it prepares to fight, to crush the party like insects --

Until Cyre and Carina strike. The Avatar of Fengalon unleashes blow after blow. The Bird recoils and shudders with each strike - until Metal Digger Locus makes her epic descent with a single, shocking kick that takes the creature square between the eyes.

The sheer force hurls the massive Bird across the mesa. It hits the ground on its side. A smear of violet ichor traces behind it.

From her spot beside Lydia, Catenna lowers her head and closes her eyes, tears beading freely down her cheeks.

She starts forward without a word. Tired or not, she manages to dart across the distance, coming to a stop by the huge white avian. Even before she gets there, though, the vast owl raises one claw to the sky... and then it falls, and goes still.

Curling her arms around the egg, Catenna sinks to her knees beside the fallen Bird. She watches through tearful eyes as the Malice slowly seep out of the creature over the course of a solid minute. What is left behind is much smaller - a simple, pure, very large snowy owl, perhaps as large as a man. Still, unmoving.

Soon, even that white shape fades into a single spark of pale blue light, and vanishes from view.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia quietly wraps an arm around Catenna, giving her a hug. She actually moved a bit so she could get the nice and fleshy and warm arm from her. "I'm sorry, Catenna." She could go into the practicals, but that's just not how she thinks in this moment. This is her friend, who is grieving. She doesn't need to entirely understand it to feel it, and she does understand it somewhat. The Moon and the Stars go hand in hand after all.

And then of course those weird metal tendrils twist around and hug Catenna too.

Lydia looks considerably more disturbed.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin slowly rises, and makes her way to Catenna's side. She says nothing.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

It is difficult for Ethius to stand up again, as the creature's influence over gravity wanes over the climactic combination of Cyre's and Locus' relentless assaults. Even then, Ethius stalks forward. One step at a time, one 'thud' of a quarterstaff butt against the ground at a time. His stare levels. He couldn't call himself desensitized to such a presence. Every waking moment near this creature, it took much to suppress the desire to flee and create space.

Even as it expires dramatically to a final raise and collapse of a claw, Ethius has one palm extended. Even as Catenna kneels before the fallen creature, he seems ready to visit more against a once noble beast whose corpse excises the evil that has plagued it.

He is about three yards away from Catenna when its reversion completes, palm leveled towards the true form of the man-sized owl as though he would have been willing to continue to do things to it - anything, at all, to absolutely ensure not only its demise, but its removal.

The pale light that welcomes its remains into its embrace ensures he does not have the opportunity to do so, as he lets the palm lower to his side.

He does not intrude any further on Catenna's presence, as Lydia moves in to give her a supporting hug in a time of need. He doesn't move to intercept Kourin, whom also moves in to join in the grieving.

Ethius, instead, steps backwards five steps to give Catenna her space - and allow anyone else to move in to support her as he casts his eyes out towards the horizon that welcomes the dusk.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It is done.

Jacqueline opens her eyes, observing the fallen form of the bird that once served Celesdue. They may never know what turned it so hateful, if it was just the Demon King's Malice or if there was something else in play...

She shuts her eyes as the Great White Bird fades into a pale blue light and whispers a silent prayer. She joins the others, moving to kneel down next to Catenna and rest a hand on her shoulder.

She doesn't speak, but joins the others in sombre silence, tears rolling down her cheek.

This creature didn't deserve this. If only there were some way they could remove the Demon King's Malice...

...But it was too late for that. They could only try to do what they could to prevent future cases, and future tragedies...

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Locus flips back from her thunderous kick, landing on both feet and panting. She sees the bird still skidding away from her from the impact. Carina's eyes widen behind her mask. Did... Did she seriously do that?

She would probably be more excited about it under normal circumstances.

She wipes purple ichor off her boot, disturbed, before joing up with Catenna and the rest. Her heart sinks as the animal returns to its true form only in death. Whether there really is such a thing as the Demon King or not, she is very mad at him right now.

"You tried to save it to the end," she tells Catenna, her voice soft, though choked. "That means a lot, I think."

Lydia is first to hug, but she'll also contribute her own once there's space for it, if Catenna seems all right with it.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It's over.

The avatar of the wind god descends to land at Catenna's side. It watches sorrowfully as the Great White Owl finally bleeds dry. The corruption pools around its broken body as it shrinks and diminishes until it is once again the bird that was beloved by Celesdue. Finally, it disappears into motes of familiar, soothing moonlight.

At last, the tiger relaxes and closes its eyes. It disappears in a flash of green light, revealing... a very bruised and bloodied Cyre Lorentz.

He gives Catenna a weak, empathic hug-- before collapsing against her.

He... may have pushed himself a little too close to his limit tonight.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The arm Lydia puts around Catenna helps a little. The moon priestess leans to the side a little, her cheek coming to rest on Lydia's shoulder as she closes her eyes. A few more tears drip down her cheeks. "I wish I could have done more," she murmurs.

Her normally quiet voice is still low, but her heart is in her throat.

Soon enough, the others filter in to join in and offer their support. Catenna just bows her head and tightens her arms around the egg. Finally sinking back against Cyre, she sighs, then lifts her head again and opens her eyes.

"It was very old, I think," she murmurs. "For a moment, I saw memories of a village.... It was a totem of Celesdue, once. Until something happened, and it was left alone, and mad."

Catenna's eyes dip to the egg once more. "...But this egg is not tainted. There is... at least hope."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline sits there for a moment in silence, then glances toward Catenna when she speaks. She saw the Great White Bird's memories...

Jacqueline nods in understanding. Perhaps something happened to that village...that would explain it.

"I see..." She murmurs, then glances toward that egg. "...Looks like we'll need to come up with a place to properly take care of it."

She offers Catenna a slight smile, then.

"Maybe...maybe this is meant to be. I couldn't think of anyone better to take care of it." She comments.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"You saved its child," Lydia says. "If it was any mom at all, you gave it what it wanted most. That's something, yeah?"

She gives one extra squeeze. "...You're really a sweet gal, you know, you really are."

She won't interfere with Cyre hugs, stepping back a bit so Cyre can comfort and pass out against her.

She never expected to say shit like that, she supposes, but maybe she's getting to be a little bit more like Granny these days.

Which is good, Halle gets to swear all she wants.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin still doesn't know what to say. Spirit barks once, tail wagging.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna closes her eyes and hugs the egg closer to her breast. "...Yes, we will have to find a proper way to care for it. Keep it warm and give it the light it needs... make sure that when it hatches, it is fed and cared for...." The priestess quiets, a few thoughts surfacing, then sinking again into simple sadness.

Jay's words are kind, and Lydia's hug gentle. That weight on her heart lingers, even among that spark of hope.

"...Thank you, Jay, Lydia," she murmurs. "And all of you."

Her eyes close once more, and she bows her head deeply.

She failed the mother owl. Or perhaps could never succeed. That alone would give her an obligation - if not simple compassion.

"It will not grow up alone," she says, simply.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

And now, kids, it's time for...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOCUS 4-KOMA THEATER!~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Panel 1:

CATENNA, CRADLING THE EGG:

We will have to find a proper way to care for it. Keep it warm and give it the light it needs...

Panel 2:

LOCUS, PHOTOBOMBING THE FRAME WITH A SPARKLE-TING:

Leave it to me! I'm not gonna disappoint you!

Panel 3:

LOCUS, WINDING UP AN ATTACK:

LOCUUUUUS...

CATENNA, PANICKING:

Wait, don't...!

Panel 4:

LOCUS, NOW SITTING ON THE EGG:

ROOST!!

CATENNA, WITH WATERFALL TEARS:

Don't scare me like that!


Thanks for reading...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOCUS 4-KOMA THEATER!~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~