2018-03-03: My Way

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Takes place simultaneously with 2018-03-02: Under My Skin.

===============================<* Lost July *>================================

The Seed City of July was once one of the strongest of them. Built near the mountains, it was scenic and imposing (for the Badlands). Fifty years ago, though, a mysterious event destroyed it. Now, Lost July is shattered. A crater is carved through half of the city. The city's streets are a tangle of broken and collapsed buildings. The few souls who venture here are often dangerous, mad, or both. Some whisper that Lost July is a refuge for those who would rather not be caught in civilization.

BGM: None.
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia Lynn Adlehyde, as she does sometimes, has sensed the call of a Statue. The Guardians whisper that Odoryuk is in peril; that Pleasing Garden is the place. And so she took a team in with her to get there, and sent wrod to her allies to do the same.

        AND THAT'S WHY:

A stone platform tilts precariously, fracturing and ripping itself apart as the magic holding it aloft flickers under the power of PURE ELEMENTAL FORCES (bombs) that rattled it mere moments before. A few of the people aboard manage to leap through the window of a looming tower nearby, stumbling through. The rest....the rest will be fine. Yes. Don't worry about it. One of that number is Cecilia Lynn Adlehyde, currently slightly concussed but feeling determined; she shouts, "Let's go!" and runs, navigating uncomfortably quiet corridors with the speed of a woman possessed.


The Statue of Odoryuk looms, majestic; the hallway is lined with carvings of Shamans past and sacred icons of Odoryuk. Odoryuk can occasionally seem like a silly Guardian, a youthful-looking unicorn with a heroic little scarf. Nonetheless, he cuts a striking image in this place, the lights cast just so upon marble.

Cecilia produces her sealing rod. "Maybe...just this one time, there won't be anything to stop us?" she laughs, tired, and steps up to the statue to begin the sealing ceremony.

Which is when...nothing bad at all happens. The statue flashes. The seal is secure.

Cecilia looks down at herself as if worried she'd not noticed being impaled or something. "...well. That went well!" she says, brightly.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.


        The Fereshte makes a desperate and emergency landing on one of the Pleasing Garden's platforms, roughly displacing several tonnes of dirt and ancient Elw masonry in its wake.

        The Tainted have been hard at work since then, attempting to put fires out of their poor ramshackle skyship and making field repairs on whatever hasn't erupted into a messy pile of bolts and scrap metal. Nurses and doctors are triaging desperately and keeping those that have been injured in both the fracas with Gebler and the crash landing.

        But someone still calls...

        As it has been since the first beckoning that brought her to Lost July.

        Those that were here with Riesenlied can be seen limping her way towards the east tower, with a possessed look that is rather familiar to those that are close to her...

        He calls.

        A large yurt. The candles are not lit, and the doorway had been left ajar. Cold, battering winds strike from outside.


        The young, brown-haired woman is collapsed over her writing table, blood splattered over her manuscript. Her robes flow over her. She isn't moving.


        Her cold, clammy hand violently shakes as she holds the bloodstained athame in her hand. She stares at it in disbelief. It clatters to the floor.


        She stares. Her eyes widen, as the trembling courses of energy lash and whip wildly over the entire room. A mirror shines.


        The resplendent form of the unicorn rises over her. The air is electrified from the gleam of his lifegiving flesh, his horn thunderously wreathed in a peak-white column of power.

                                 She screams.
                                   He comes.
                            She falls to her knees.
                            She clutches her head.
                                 Closer still.
                             Her mind is on fire--

        Her mind is on fire. Her throat is burning, her hands are clutched to her forehead as she writhes near the floor in front of the statue. Slicked with sweat and gazing futilely to the nearest source of the threat--


        --She raises her hands to her side, a desperate part of her consciousness constructing weaving veils of light that surround the statue in something approximating a protective barrier. It's the least she can do, while she looks to Cecilia and gazes at her attempt to seal the statue. She can only hope that they've come quickly enough.

DC: Matilda Whitehead switches forms to Compounder Matilda!
<Pose Tracker> Emma Hetfield has posed.

"Huff... hah... hooh," says Cecilia's much older sister, PROFESSOR EMMA HETFIELD, HEROINE OF THE AGE.

Cecilia pokes a statue with the rod. "Huff... phew... oh I wish I had some of that good old - dungeoneering soup - ahh, Lunata, are - huff - this is ridiculous. Cecilia, I'm sitting down."

Emma sits down. A second or two later, she seems fine. She takes a deep breath -

And jumps slightly. "Riesenlied!" Emma says. "Forgive me that I'm sitting down, but I fell on every Elw spike and needle I possibly could. You look horrible, come sit..."

Emma's brow furrows and she stops. Without further ado she pulls herself upright, brushing off her skirt and fidgeting with her torn stockings. Even an innocent heart full of the love of science can tell that problems are not far away.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.


        Three figures regroup in a hallway on the other side of that horrible, vertigo-inducing drop. One of them is Ida, her aura of caustic rage and helpless frustration draped around her like a cloak. She takes a moment to breathe, to focus. "We're not the only ones here," she says. One quick glance down the hallway reveals more shattered windows, more debris--and trails leading into what must be a massive chamber in the center of this tower. "Dim the lights, if you can. I don't want us to show our hand too soon, if we still have the element of surprise."

        Ida sucks in a breath, remembering the meditation techniques her mother taught her. Still mind, clear water. Wrestling with the Malevolence is like trying to put a leash and collar on an angry dragon--but Ida's managed it once before, remembers the choking, gagging sensation as the spiritual energy suffusing her tightens around the core in her chest. A few moments later, she stands as she was before Malevolence took her: weak-looking, haggard, frail, seemingly devoid of Malevolent taint. She smiles.

        "And if nothing else, we can make a hell of an entrance."


        Footsteps, from outside--a pair of combat boots, a pair of metal greaves, and the nigh-inaudible patter of catlike feet. Ida walks down the silent corridor as Cecilia conducts her ceremony, calm and almost reverent as the Shaman does her thing. Cecilia might not notice her until she's done--Ida waits, patiently.

        "That was remarkably painless," Ida says. "Good evening, Princess." That sounds like the Ida Cecilia knows. That looks like the Ida Cecilia knows. "How many are left, now?"

        She doesn't relax. Something bursts into the room, and Ida whirls--

        "Riesenlied," Ida says. Her eyes widen a little, and she steps forwards, on edge. "What the devil happened to you?" Emma. Ida offers the woman a polite nod. "Emma is correct. Sit down, rest. We have this handled."

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle does not arrive with Cecilia. She did not, in fact, know that Cecilia was in the room before she got there.

This is because a few minutes ago, Tethelle was with another group entirely that got literally thrown off the platform and only survived because one of her friends owns a grappling hook. She kind of clung on for a while until she got her heart back under control, because of all the things in the world Tethelle is afraid of, 'falling from several thousand feet in the air' is a lot higher than she knew it was before it presented itself as an option.

So about ten seconds before Cecilia finishes her magical operation, Tethelle Cirdian throws herself in through a completely different window and begins to drift towards the floor. She's only drifting because she has a feathered cloak behind her; she's gripping the sides with both hands and using it like a parachute, which it is doing far more usefully than it looks like it really should be able to.

She lands about twenty feet from Cecilia. "I know I told you I'd meet you at Lost July," she says, releasing her cloak and letting it fall as she looks across at the other people around, "but this seems to be more convenient for everyone."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna would love to explain to you how she got here. In fact, she--



* The Z stands for Zortroa.

Somehow or other, she got a couple of minutes to catch her breath and pop a few Heal Berries before running in here.

Just in time to watch Cecilia sealing the Statue without any actual opposition to get in her way. From her spot in the doorway, Catenna blinks, brushing a few locks of hair back. "That was much less of a problem than I expected," she says, before catching sight of someone else and widening her eyes.


Something about all of this bothers Catenna. She takes a few steps towards Riese has buried herself in that barrier, but stops as the hairs on the back of her neck begin to rise.

The Shaman of Celesdue drops her hand to her sword, drawing it with a quick rasp of metal. She whirls quickly, looking to one end of the tower, then the other, then taking out the obvious trap and looking up towards whatever's hanging up there. Then it's back to Riese and Cecilia; she makes her way towards the Princess and Tethelle at a quick pace.

"Something feels wrong," she says as soon as she's within earshot.

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily might have spent her time assisting those doctors and nurses as a medic herself... But Riesenlied heard a call, and Lily left some spare supplies with the Fereshte and followed after her mirror. She's had time to recover at least since the aerial battle, putting on her armored jacket and leaving off her gloves--buckling on her ARM, bringing her satchel...

Someone is following her, in turn. A dog, small and black, working at her heels.

Her hands glow lightly red still, in those strange patterns that some recognize by now, but she comes to a stop and looks around the platform thoughtfully. Cecilia begins to seal the Statue, and Lily is silent through that... Until she finishes. "...Your Highness," she greets, and glances to those showing concern for Riesenlied. "Did you find what you were looking for?" she asks. "...Whatever it was that was calling you this time?" She pauses again, though, looking to Ida in turn. Ida, who arrives. Ida, who is talking somewhat normally. Which is fine.

"...It's a long story," she says, and she's already talked a lot, frankly. She shakes her head. "A long story."

"...I have a bad feeling," she murmurs, looking around.

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.


Rosaline has seen better days, but that's nothing new. The flames trailing behind her are running wild, leaving scorch marks along the walls she passes by and consuming plants with impunity. And yet, they refuse to burn Rosaline herself.

"You're right," she tells Ida, mustering up some patience despite having run out several times over in the last few hours. She closes her eyes, forcing it all inwards. It's like drawing in a wildfire with sheer willpower, and it hurts accordingly, but she's done it a few times already, and seems to have more ease with this than her friends do. She can only guess at why, but maybe it's just that old habits die hard.

Flames are sucked back in, bestial features become more human again-- but not completely so, to the beastwoman's chagrin. Like Ida, she looks as haggard as on her aborted wedding day, and still in thrown-together clothes rather than her nun's habit, though... at least she's been washing her hair since.

So that's nice.


"Oh, hello there," Rosaline says with a tiny wave as she enters at Ida's side, sounding tired but strong. "Oh, it's sealed already?" She stares at the statue. "Well done, thank you so much. It seems this has been a long day for all involved."

Drifters gather, some of whom know her. She smiles to them, softly, though she doesn't offer to heal them as she normally would. A few of the people here know why that is, and likely aren't fooled. As for the rest, well...

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia left the Fereshte to explore and ended up thrown down a pit and her arm got ripped off when she tried to hold Ethius's hand.

Regardless, Lydia eventually lands in an area with two towers. She stands herself up and says, "Ah!" at that. "I sense two statues!" She looks over to Riesenlied. "Heeey!"

She runs after Riesenlied. "Heeeey!!! Riese!! Stop being possessed! I told you to not be possessed and stuff!"

And then she flops over because she's feeling woozy. "Oof."

She lays there for a moment before she hops back up to her feet and keeps running. "Don't be creepy Riese!"

She sways unsteadily and leans against one of the tower walls as she oozes silver fluid from the wound. "Ugh..."

She gets a-stumbling. before she looks over to Ida, stopping. She blinks a few times at her before she scootches down to sit herself down, panting for breath.

"Man, the Life Guardian's one of the cool ones. Because I mean--it's life, you know? And it's a cute unicorn? Yeah."

She exhales. "Yeah. Cool. I'll just make a new arm here. Okay. Arrrrrm MAKE. Arrrrrm MAKE!"

She doesn't have an arm right after that either. It didn't work just yet. Instead she looks up and over to Rosaline and says, "Oh hey Rosaline..." She waves with one hand. She doesn't notice or comment that Rosaline isn't offering healz. "You're looking pretty..."

She pauses for a moment before adding, "Honestly you look like shit. You need a fashion consultant but I'm here to help."

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.


The Weglaff is damaged. After falling behind during the final flight of the Fereshte, the Gear had to fight its way past Gebler forces that dropped down to pursue -- and then the Metal Beasts that arrived. The blue Gear practically limps into Lost July, and collapses down in the hollowed shell of a half-collapsed six story building. The robot falls to a knee, as smoke and dust stream away from the dark blue Gear. Cracks in its armor show the superstructure below.

Leon will have to pay the newest supply officer of the Black Wolves, Hammer, a small fortune. Fortunately, the Kislevi beastman is resourceful. But, that's for later. The captain descends, gripping the handheld device attached to a wire, as he descends from the Gear's cockpit.

He looks up at Weglaff. It wasn't so long since he found the Gear. He smiles, though it's small, up at it. "Hold tight, Weglaff," he says. "I don't think you can go where I'm headed."

Then he steps out into the street and looks up. The Tzadkiel and Fereshte both fly overhead -- high overhead -- and he knows where he has to go.


Another person comes running through the door. Leon's feet skid across the ground. He looks worse for wear -- his coat is brushed and scratched, and there is a line of blood running down his face, from where he was c ut on the eyebrow. He looks, first, to Cecilia. Then, he looks to Riesenlied. He glances momentarily at Ida and Rosaline, and then finally, he glances down at Lily. He walks over, and puts a hand on her shoulder. "Lily," he says. "...Dog. Riesenlied. Sorry I'm late. My appointment with a couple of Gebler Gears lasted longer than anticipated."

He looks to Cecilia's back, with a glance to her comrades, too. "...It seems we've found another statue. Princess, if you have a suggestion, I'm all ears."

<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.


A "Of course we aren't the only ones here. If we were what fun would that be." The voice of the man who was at one point Jack chuckles, the tone icy as the fallen knight glances towards Ida. His eyes close though as he grabs hold of the Malevolence inside him. Empowering him. He twists at it, shoving it down. The ice around his feet and on his armor slowly receeding as he dampens the obvious effects of that power further and further until...

He shakes himself, the swordsman most people would know as Jack standing there again. Hair unbound but its natural color. The sword in his hand a more traditional knight's broadsword that is shifted to rest against his shoulder. The armor is still there, but it looks intact. Plate armor that is different from his usual atire...


Well with what they are going into it makes sense.

"I plan to raise more hell than just an entrence."

RIGHT NOW<nowiki>~~~</nowiki>

"Painless, you wern't the one playing anchor over a bottomless drop." He comments towards Ida as he stalks out of the shadows, eyes castiing over towards the shadows. Though there is a wary eye in Cecilia's direction. After all she did try to laser him in the face last time she saw him.

...totally uneeded though. I mean look at this. He's fine. Maybe he just needed some time by himself!

Its fine. Its totally fine.

A glance up at the statue is given though and he frowns. "That was entirely too easy." A pause. "Its never this easy."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius arrives a short ways after some other noteworthy people, courtesy of a series of routes picked out by well-placed wire hooks from Catenna. A terrible ache in one shoulder and hand has to be fought every time he flexes that limb as part of the climb. But he can't let that stop him.
        Just as he didn't let multiple arrow wounds from the escape from Krosse stop him. Even with a copious amount of Heal Berries to ease the wounds and dull the pain, he fights past stress and fatigue with a sense of urgency to some underlying reason he can't put to words. The Caravan Kinship have been split up - he doesn't know if some of them are even still alive, after a last-ditch attempt to save them while they were in freefall from a chamber's floor giving out on them abruptly. (To say nothing of the challenges that came after.)
        He has Lydia's artifical arm stowed away on his person, unaware of her ultimate fate. He can't linger on it, for the time being, as he makes the final climb upwards towards the series of chambers/pathways on his route towards where the statue of Odoryuk awaits. The beauty of the well-preserved carvings are lost upon him as his route converges with so many others. He already has his quarterstaff out as a just-in case measure, keeping his back up against one of the walls of ornate carvings as he moves in...
        He hears someone's voice calling to Riese. Could it be? He takes off from the wall, one hand off the quarterstaff, as he finds it in him to go to a quicker jog.
        Then a full-on sprint, to clear the rest of the hallway. Then... he sees her familiar silhouette, in the company of Riesenlied and several others (Riese only stands out because of the name being called by a few people).
        "Miss Lydia." Ethius says, stopping a ways short of Riesenlied herself. He always puts himself at a distance from her. The light around the statue goes without commentary, as he fishes out Lydia's spare arm to extend it to her - even with the more injured arm.
        "You are not yet in need of a new arm." What a borderline emotionless way to say 'oh you're alive that's great!!!'

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        Noeline becomes suddenly aware, at some point during the mess of the Fereshte's landing, that Riese has slipped away. It's more a building sensation than any kind of concrete feeling, a familiar prickle at the back of her mind that something is wrong and someone is missing. She can even guess, from the tinge of a certain Guardian's power that lingers in the air tickling her senses, what might have ultimately drawn her partner to this place, and that thought sticks at the back of her mind, nagging at her.

        But as much as she'd like to immediately race off after Riese, as much as her fists tighten in concern, she knows it's not her partner would want - not with so many problems right in front of her. "Get the last of those fires out! Use the water from the coolant systems if you have to! It's not like we're moving anywhere any time soon!" she calls hoarsely over the din of the repairwork, wincing from the effort as she laboriously lifts a large beam away from where it blocks part of the engine room.

        A glance aside to the assembled injured lets her know that none of them seem to be in immediate dire straits - it's not like she could do anything about it herself, but at least it's a cold comfort as she hefts the lump of metal far enough away to allow others access, watching as the members of the Ebony Wings crawl over the ship.

        A breath. Now she's good to go.

        * * *

        It doesn't take her long to catch up - not when she's homing in on the Guardian Statue, rather than Riesenlied herself, assuming the destinations are one and the same. Besides, she takes it at a full run, pushing her metal demon physiology; she looks fairly bedraggled at this point, far less composed than normal, her hair half-loose, but with a distinct fire in her eyes.

        "Riese!" she calls sharply as she comes in view of both the statue and the stricken demon at its base, and at the sight of some of the people around her it takes everything she has not to add a short, sharp 'get away from her'.

        She swallows it back, and just keeps running instead.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Like many of those who escaped Wayside, Matilda is here with dearest Riesenlied, and when Riesenlied starts to stagger away from the wreck, Matilda knows better than to leave her to her own devices.

... it's honestly kind of ridiculous how different she looks right now. After losing her coat at Wayside, leaving her only with her unusual breastplate and slacks, she looks more like a mercenary than a traveling pharmacist. She's had to jury-rig up a few solutions for her gear, such as it is, in the hours since the Fereshte landed; Freischütz now bears a strap that holds it neatly on her back when not in use, and her knife has been stuffed into a belt loop. She's also missing... most, but not all, of her restoratives; she only has what she could shove in a much smaller pack than usual.

The instant she sees Ida, Matilda's hand strays down to her side, toward her knife. Her expression slowly, steadily flattens. "Hello, Ida," she says. The knife doesn't come out -- but heaven if she wouldn't like it to. Besides -- there's enough to worry about right now that Matilda can't go settling every personal upset.

Garrett mentions that it's never this easy, and Matilda nods in immediate understanding. "We should be prepared for anything..." When Ethius arrives, she glances back -- but says nothing further.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

A figure stands silhouetted in a window above the statue of Odoryuk, her arms folded in front of her. Her coat and her hair flow dramatically in the wind, as Captain Layna Manydays stares down at Cecilia as she...apparently seals the statue?

Tethelle, who had made it here alongside her, floats down on her cloak...but Layna doesn't leave her spot in the window just yet.

She glances to the side, spotting...

...Ida? Rosaline? And Jack, too.

Layna unfolds her arms. Well, well. What a surprise to see them here. They're not fooling her, with their Completely Normal disguise, but it's nice to see that they haven't completely abandoned the forms she was most familiar with.

She doesn't jump down to join the conversation just yet. No, she simply watches from a distance, waiting to see what happens.

Besides, if anything happens, it means she'll have a good vantage point to see what was going on. If anyone looks her way she'll give them a friendly wave, though.

<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

 Calmly, from the shadows, Rudy Roughnight makes his way in. Its unclear exactly how he got in, but the fact that he is alone suggests that he teamed up with some Drifters that couldnt cut it. A hand full of trinkets for people who didnt have what it took to survive. Holding a bag filled with memories, letters, and requests of the fallen, Rudy merely tucks away the bloodstained bag, keeping it behind him.
 In the end, their fate isnt really important. These people here, those with the strength to survive, didnt know them. Rudy barely knew them and he fought and worked alongside them for their eventful mission together. But hes here with his friends now and the sacrifice made wont be made in vain.
 "Hey all," comes the characteristically soft voice of Rudy as he looks to all those gathered, rubbing his slightly wounded right arm. Brown eyes look to Cecilia, then to Jack.
 Unsure what to do, he defaults to his usual choice: Dwell quietly in his thoughts, his gaze on the ground as he waits for others or seemingly Fate itself tell him what must be done. He moves toward Emma, both out of his usual desire to protect her from physical dangers as well as be protected from well, everything that isn't a physical danger.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        For Dean's part, he'd fallen from the Pleasing Garden along with Avril, Rebecca, Ethius, and several others. They'd all linked hands just before falling into the building below, and then had to recoup and recover and then find their way out... Which brings them here, just as Cecilia finishes sealing the Statue of Odoryuk. Things are... calm and peaceful! That's sincerely great.
        "Whew! And another Statue saved!" he says, turning to Avril and Rebecca with a grin. He laughs as he sees Lydia and Emma and Ethius all alive and well, brightening also when he spots Matilda, then waves to them all with enthusiasm. His enthusiasm turns to worry when he spots Riesenlied and Noeline, the former of whom looks like she's seen much better days even as she weaves a barrier of light around the Statue. He's still injured from before himself, but it looks like he'll be okay, despite. You know. Crashing into a building. Rebecca may have used up all her MP and Heal Berries healing him...
        But they're not the only ones here. When familiar faces arrive too, Dean stops in his tracks. "Ida!" he utters, wide-eyed. "You're all right?" Certainly she looks and sounds normal enough, though it's also the fact that he didn't make it to the end of that battle. ...not conscious, anyway. He looks over at her companions, and with relief mixed with concern, he adds, "Rosa, Jack... I'm glad we're all on the same side this time. Are you guys, uh... feeling okay?"
        Some of the others are suspicious of how simply and painlessly the Sealing went. "Aw, c'mon, guys, don't jinx it! Let's just be glad it went smoothly for once." He looks back at Riese and starts to jog over to her. "Hey, are you gonna be okay? Don't push yourself again..."

<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

         There is a sensation when things are becoming rather tense. Some scholars had theories, even back at his home university in quite some advanced symbology, that events often come to a head. Determinism IS a philosophical debate still in the field, as even if Symbology is rather developed, philosophy in the mind of mortals usually remains a constant change of views.
         This, is likely one of the crucial events that can change things. Or at least, the beginning of one.
         The Symbologist is is moving on ahead after Ethius, looking around with his hands shoved into his pockets, frowning. Ida's here. Several people seemingly are caught into being gathered here, apparently at the right, or wrong, moment.
         Arleph swiftly tap the side of his glasses, a symbol activating on his forearm then dimming. Things are going to get nasty real soon.

<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Things are getting bad and Ethius would find he has more support too with him as Arleph follows after him? Tess is right with him, the Dead Man's Arm at the ready. She knows that this is going to be a bad day, a very bad day but she does not run from it as she sees Arelph get ready with his symbology, while she readies her ARM moving in to get ready to give him cover when he will doubtlessly need it. There's no wit from her she seems rather grim and focused she has not forgot the Guardian trusted someone like her and ... she has to try to live up to that. Even if she's not a worshipper? They care about those who do they care about this world, a world she's come to care for a lot as well.

 "I'm with you."

DC: Garrett Stampede switches forms to Fallen Knight Garrett!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        Hands grasping hands, they plummet together.
        The landing is far from graceful or easy, but they are all alright; from there it's a matter of pulling themselves together and fording onwards through the Pleasing Garden.

        ...Which, it seems, holds (at least) a statue in its heart. "...Dean, Rebecca. It would seem that someone has arrived here ahead of us," Avril says, glancing at her friends. A slight smile graces her lips; earlier trials and mishaps seemingly forgotten with the welcome sight before them. "This is a relief..."

        Rebecca for her part exhales a sigh of relief. "Whew... I was worried for nothing."

        Only for that expression of hers to begin to drain as she sights Riesenlied before the statue. "...Riesenlied? Noeline?"
        She has seen neither of the Metal Demons for some time, but it looks as if...

        It freezes over utterly as Ida steps in. Ida, who...
        And Rosaline.

        For an instant, Avril draws herself up as if someone has just trod right onto her own tomb. Her mouth has gone dry.
        What is this... feeling...
        One hand lifts to chest height, as if she were uncertain whether to reach out or draw back.

        "...Hey, Avril? Are you feeling alright?" Rebecca's concerned face breaks into proceedings here, looking her mysterious friend over. "What we went through was pretty rough, though..." She chews on her lip, as if thinking, before the moment of decision arrives. "Dean, Avril? Stay right here. I'm going to go look for the route back up."
        With that, and a flutter of long red braids, she's off.

        Avril swallows. "...I suppose that I am a little worn out," Avril croaks at last. She still can't shake this feeling...

<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

The Pleasing Garden is a testament to both the noble intentions and ultimate folly of the Elw. Wondrous, there are few marvels like it on this or any other world, a bafflingly seamless combination of the natural world and technology that combines both into something far greater than the sum of its parts.

The hostility that clings to it, even long after it has been abandoned, however, speaks to the other side of the Elw that this place's beauty could never properly convey on its own.

There are two towers here. Two precious, important towers, housing statues hidden in the heavens far above Filgaia -- statues that must be protected, at all costs. Perhaps here, at least, nestled in the skies, forgotten in heaven, they might be safer than their earthbound counterparts. Perhaps here, they would go unnoticed.

But they were not. They could not be. After all...

To the zealous, nothing is hidden forever.

And yet, as war is waged to the west, there is little but peace in the east. A stark contrast to the sound of warfare so distant and yet so heinous that it can be heard, even from this distance. Light shards through the windows of the towers without cloud coverage to conceal them, illuminating these stonewrought, moss-caked grounds in motes of warm sunlight that send little pieces of dust aglow in their lazy, airbound dancing. Forgotten. Peaceful.

But most importantly, completely unobstructed. There is nothing that stops Cecilia Adlehyde as she makes her rough landing into the interior of the tower. There are no Demons nor their allies to suddenly descend upon her as she rushes through the winding halls. There is no Quarter Knight waiting for her at the end of the line, making grand threats about Mother or the fate of mankind or the inevitable destruction of the Statue. There is just silence. A still, stagnant quiet that has ruled this air for centuries unabated.

The sealing ceremony commences, as the others filter in. As Riesenlied staggers upon the scene, desperate to protect what seems, by all accounts, to be a completely unthreatened statue.

        ... well. That went well!


                        RiesGA HA HA HA HA!


It comes, just as everything feels too perfect to be real. A gutteral laugh to dash all those hopes like the shattering of a million shards of glass in the dawn of fresh conflict. The sound of natural masonry crying out its helpless protest as it is pummeled into so much rubble and dirt and -nothing- in the face of the overwhelming contempt that guides the weapon that strikes it, as if it existed for nothing more than to pulverize everything that the Elw desired and stood for.

And so the centuries-long peaceful silence of the Statue of Life is interrupted by the gutteral bellow of a blood-curdling laugh and the explosion of a wrecking ball demolishing the sidewall of the tower like it was little more than tissue paper.

It rips through, that distinctive mace, scarred along its curved, spike surface, attached to a long chain. It blows past anyone and -anything- in its path, on a straight shot -- to HAMMER into the barrier that Riesenlied has so desperately erected.

And there, standing within the gaping wound he has made, looms Berserk. Back lit by the sun, his figure looks so dark in contrast, a silhouette illuminate by the burning points of light that are his hateful eyes. His lips peel back into a grin. Saliva drools down his slavering, green jaw. His mace snaps back with a whistle towards his right hand as he LEAPS, landing upon the flooring with an impact that makes the earth concave beneath him.

His left arm, slightly misshapen, bound up tightly in white bandages that cover from massive, clawed hand all the way to his shoulder as if he had been partially mummified.

"Heh," grunts the Quarter Knight, head tilting towards the left. "Lookit this. All my favorite losers." His head rolls. His neck cracks, a series of awful, metallic pops.

"This is gonna be fun."

And then he marches, steadfast, towards that statue. The statue that has already been sealed. Can't he tell--?

                     M i s s i o n O b j e c t i v e

                          Protect the Statue...?

GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Centripetal Slaughter!
GS: Berserk has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rosaline Calice with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Emma Hetfield with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Noeline with Torment!
GS: Catenna takes a solid hit from Berserk's Torment for 173 hit points!
GS: Berserk has attacked Riesenlied with Torment!
GS: Berserk has completed his action.
DC: MISS! Noeline completely evades Torment from Berserk!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Torment for 85 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Berserk's Torment for 190 hit points!
GS: Rudy Roughnight guards a hit from Berserk's Torment for 126 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Torment for 90 hit points!
GS: Emma Hetfield takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Torment for 86 hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Berserk's Torment for 174 hit points!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde guards a hit from Berserk's Centripetal Slaughter for 95 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.
<SoundTracker> 'Chosen Cinder' - Alex Roe - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFCWcV0jeK0

 Really now. The fact that the Statue has survived intact was rather disappointing.
 Agatha had rather enjoyed the rampage that had occurred of late, with the Metal Demons doing their best to crush the Guardian statues and reduce those feckless gods to utter impotence. Seeing as they had disturbed some of her ongoing projects, Agatha was more than a little put out with them. And seeing one of the Guardians die would make her extremely happy, as well as advance several ongoing projects that she had been working on.
 And as she sits back, sitting atop a spire in the ruins as she watches the Drifters run to and fro, the Pyre Witch wonders if today is just going to be a day of disappointment. There were so many people whom would fall into despair at the loss of another statue, and it would present such opportunity...
 And then...
 ...and then...
 Berserk arrives.
 "Oh. Oh my," Agatha states with utter delight. It was one thing to see things go badly for the Guardians and the Drifters that followed them. It was quite another to see their hopes drawn out, for them to believe everything would work out for the best... and then for all of that to be dashed all at once. And it seemed that Berserk believed that he possessed the means to do so.
 Delicious. She actually has to fan herself for a moment.
 If Berserk possessed the means to destroy even protected statues, it was clear that this was going to go from a mere battle to a full on life or death struggle. And if the Quarter Knight can destroy even a shielded statue, he would bring those obnoxious Guardians even closer to whatever end awaits them.
 And wouldn't that serve them right?
 In the midst of the Pleasing Garden, the shadows suddenly grow darker. Like ink spilling from the walls and seeping up from the flagstones, the darkness flows and gathers like liquid night, leaving a dark foreboding chill in the veins of those they brush past. And the without warning...
 An eruption of flame.
 There are many who have encountered Agatha before - some, not in her true guise, but the black eyes with their burning yellow irises are a telling feature that is difficult to imitate. She stretches for a moment, clawed hands spread wide for a moment as she floats a good foot about the ground, her wide brimmed hat cocked jauntily to one side and her loose robes falling down around her, swirling and not quite touching the ground.
 She smiles... and then the raw wave of Malevolence that washes out from the witch is like a physical blow to those with the sensitivity to feel it. "Ah that feels nice. Believe me, when you've been on this world for a year and have to suppress your power so as not to attract any unnecessary attention, it feels good to finally relax," Agatha purrs, looking around for a moment. It isn't by chance that she's appeared near to Berserk and the others... and standing so she is somewhat between them and the rest of the Drifters.
 "This is rather interesting, Quarter Knight. I'm curious to see what will happen if you have a chance to make things difficult for those vexatious fools who call themselves gods on this world." She extends one clawed hand and blows a kiss to Berserk, a mischievous smile on her face. "Really, you've made my day. Do see that you keep making theirs worse, and I'll do what I can to help."
 And as she turns to provide the promised obstruction, the red haired woman smiles devilishly. "Well Drifters, while I don't usually like to get involved directly..." Her hands extend outwards to both sides, and flames suddenly ripple outwards in all directions, red and black whorls dancing across the ground in a burning aura that surrounds her in all directions. "...it seems I will have to make an exception. I am Agatha Pyrelight, known on the Silver Star as the Pyre Witch." She extends one clawed hand, a streamer of flame wrapping around her clawed hand before she casts it on the ground to create a wall of fire, cutting off some of the Drifters from pursuing Berserk.
 "Show me if your souls can survive without being burned to a cinder."

<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

                                 ??? Facility
                               The Photosphere

Two hooded figures nervously glance between the slick metal tablets in their hands and the glowing green tank set into the wall. That they're even called here, a place that doesn't technically exist on any blueprints or floor plans available to the rank and file, is already reason to sweat. To make sense of the dizzying array of graphs, helixes, and bar-charts on their tablets would probably require a decade of study in Hyadean medical science and physiology.

"She needs rest, my lord." one of them begins in a steady voice that hides poorly his nervousness. He's not sure whether he'll be disintegrated on the spot by one Quarter Knight, or if the comatose form of Harken in the tank behind him will suddenly come to life and rip him in half for doubting her. "There is--nothing more the regeneration tank can do. It isn't rejection, but surely, you can see we can do no more! Her physical form's repair rate has peaked under too great a demand!"

Alas, despite being a medical genius himself, he has forgotten the first rule of scientific communication: addressing your audience appropriately. Two glowering points of crimson in the darkness regard him with what might charitably be called silent disgust. Processing his report. Thinking.

Without a noise, a hole into some terrible and distant void opens in the man's chest. Cavitation of everything inside of him is instantaneous, as is his death. A bubble of nothingness where his body once was drinks deeply of the quicksilver spray, and his cloak and limbs also soon tumble into this singularity. It winks shut.

Just like that: gone without a trace.

The remaining hooded figure glances nervously between the inert form of Harken, and the monstrous Quarter Knight at the far end of the room. And then to where his companion once stood.

It is a very effective form of encouragement.

                               Pleasing Gardens
                              ----------------- Like the memories of the battle to unearth the Fereshte and the rampage inside of the Lacour coliseum before it, a foggy hole exists in Harken's mind where the vengeance that fell upon Wayside should be. Unlike the aforementioned memories, though, this one carries fragments and thoughts with it that do not normally tumble through the Quarter Knight's mind. It does not give her that much pause--to lead from the front is to open oneself up to such wounds, after all.

But even so high-ranking a soldier remains such: a soldier. And soldiers (knights) are sworn to their mission, (purpose) and no wound is too great, no indignity too large, no calling too grand for the Quarter Knight sworn to Moth---ô`¿±$ý--Lord Alhazred---<ðvÙ£«---

"Be safe." Harken cautions Berserk in the moments before he departs to lay waste to everything. As if she had never been annoyed at him before--not the once. Like that little trait had been ironed out of her. She watches the juggernaut leap, swifter than any Gear.


A (comparatively) slender silhouette remains steadfastly still against the setting sun while the force of nature better known as Berserk smashes into the assembled would-be defenders of Filgaia with meteor-strike force. But there are very few Quarter Knights to begin with, and it takes little imagination to determine who might accompany Berserk on a mission of such importance with flowing hair and a scythe larger than an average, grown man.

There is less of an arc to follow, when said silhouette decides to leave. It simply vanishes from where it stood, atop a lonely stone pillar. Gone. Reappearing some ten, fifteen paces away from the other Quarter Knight. Several paces behind, moving with a purposeful patience; a hunter's slow and steady pace. Closing in on their prey.

                                       The Statue.

"Leave some for me... is what I would normally say." Harken's voice carries not through the air, but through whatever subspace nonsense the Metal Demons use for a radio system. "But I shall do my utmost to support you. Lord Brother Berserk."

It, uh, it doesn't--she's never called him that before. It's weird. But there's little time to consider such things.

"Come, Humans." Harken calls aloud now, in a taunting, nearly braying tone. A voice ripe with the promise of laughter, eyes ripe with the promise of slaughter. She holds that tremendous scythe with one hand. "It's been a fun dance, but now it's time for you all to die.".

It sounds more like a promise than a threat. And Harken does not break her promises.

That is why the cloaked Humanoid figure suddenly blitzes forward into the throng of assembled defenders. A living tempest of blade, fist, foot, a typhoon in the flesh come to rend. To tear. As is her purpose.

GS: Lady Harken has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Azrael - Spinning Slash!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Azrael - Spinning Slash!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Odious Dance!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Dean Stark with Odious Dance!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Odious Dance!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Garrett Stampede with Azrael - Spinning Slash!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Tesni Inoue with Odious Dance!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Leon Albus with Odious Dance!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Odious Dance for 81 hit points!
GS: Dean Stark critically Guards a hit from Lady Harken's Odious Dance for 33 hit points!
GS: Lydia Seren guards a hit from Lady Harken's Odious Dance for 91 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia glances to Ida. The last time she looked at the woman, there was an overwhelming anger there.

It is at the moment tamped down to a dull frown; the look of someone who is expecting their new conversation partner to say something to piss them off but is letting things ride until that happens. "Evening," she says, tucking her staff away. She heard something new had happened with Ida, but...well, that's not out of character for the woman, as far as Cecilia's concerned, so she treats her to a nod. "I...don't know, honestly," she says, quietly. "The Guardians tell me when one is in danger, and I sense them when they are destroyed, but I don't know how many have been sealed without me there. I've personally seen to...five? Six?" She looks over to Emma, smiling a bit at her calm, and then over to Tethelle as her original bodyguard all but surfs into view. "It does seem to have worked out pretty well, don't you think?" she says. "...though I don't particularly want to go back out there until I've had a nap, honestly. The only one pleased by this place must be the trap designer..."

Lily and Leon see Cecilia smile, produce her Sealing Rod again, and tap it against the invincible stone. "No problems," she says. "I think we must have been lucky...the Guardians told me the Statue was in danger. Maybe the Garden itself is malfunctioning?" .... "oh," she says, in a small voice, having just remembered the awful power of your friend and mine, 'the gravitational pull of a planetary body.' "oh that'd be very bad."

Jack's arrival - which Cecilia is only now realizing was with a group, that included Ida and THAT DAMN CAT - sees Cecilia half-turn to look at him, eyes widening and fist clenching as if in preparation for...something? But she brightens to Rudy instead, rather than immediately start bashing JACK VAN BURACE, TRAITOR TO THE CROWN, over the head with a stick. "Rudy!" she cheers, trotting over to him. Her lips split in a wide grin. "Good work getting here. It looks like things worked out on their own this time. Are you, uhm, alright...? It's crazy in here! Let me check on the Guardian and maybe we'll take a little break?"

She turns, as light begins to gather from the statue, a presence. Shaman...

Cecilia smiles.

        GA HA HA HA HA!


Cecilia whips around, eyes widening in horror. "Berserk!" she yells, and her staff leaps to her hand in a flash of light. Her eyes cut around; Rudy, Emma, even Jack, hoping they'll be wary. She remembers - it wasn't even a week ago now that they BARELY escaped this man, and now they have to face him again!? "You're too late! Just...just run along back home! The statue is already sealed!"

Naturally she is immediately punched in the entire front for this temerity; her magic shield resists it enough that she doesn't go careening across the room, but she does skid a few steps, finding herself on the other side of the statue from Berserk. She breathes, huffing breath already. "Still so strong...he's up to something, but what!?" She doesn't dare just turn and run. Something's wrong, but what? For now, she settles for offense, pulling a Crest out of her case and thrusting it forward. The card of magic flickers and releases a magic circle from itself, engraved with the crests of Geo, before the ground at her feet surges upward and fires toward Berserk as a pair of spears. "Keep him back!" she calls.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Crest Sorcery Freestyle!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Spinning Slash for 166 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Ethius Hesiod!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna catches sight of Matilda glaring daggers at Ida, and her first thought is Let me guess: Ida said or did something to Kaguya.

She opens her mouth to say something --

And everything explodes.

Chunks of masonry rain down through the tower. A falling brick hits Catenna in the face and sends her tumbling to the ground with a yelp, hitting hard. A few more chunks of rubble slam into her while she's down there and struggling to get up - at which point Berserk starts swinging that mace, hitting her in the stomach and hurling her through the air to hit the floor with a sickening thump. Groaning in pain, she rolls onto her knees and spits out blood, looking over her shoulder towards the sound of the Quarter Knight she remembers all too well and would just as soon never see again.

Of course, she reflects bitterly. Of course it would not be easy.

With a hiss of breath, Catenna pushes herself back up to one knee, all too aware that she's in Berserk's line of fire towards the statue - and that he's still coming at it, even after it's been sealed. For a moment, that surprises her; surely he's not stupid, is he?

Then the rest of her brain kicks in: Maybe he's going to try anyway. Is the Sealing strong enough to resist someone with that kind of strength...?

And then a third part of her brain politely informs her of something more important: He's going to kill you anyway, Catenna. Along with all your friends.

"Unfortunate," Catenna murmurs to herself before pulling her way through the last of the rubble and dust. She's a little unsteady on her feet at first, but she manages to dash out to one side of Berserk, her hands moving through the air to sketch out an arcane pattern.

"We are not here to have fun with you!" Catenna shouts at Berserk as she levels her hands forward and unleashes a spell. A powerful, unseen force will buffet Berserk as gravity suddenly shifts to a spot behind him, aiming to drag him away from the statue and plough him through a wall.

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

        Riesenlied cups her mouth as she struggles, her face paler than even her usual self. She looks beleagueredly to Emma, whispering, "Professor Hetfield... I-- am glad you're all right..."

        Her heart is still pounding so hard, it feels like it could burn and explode.

        Something is wrong. Something feels wrong...

        "I-Ida," she stammers. She can hear the sound of greaves and the patter of catlike feet... Garrett, and Rosaline as well-- were they all okay now? She wasn't familiar with how Hellions could transform back into their regular forms...

        Tethelle. She doesn't know her, but she's heard of the Princess' companions before -- the Chasers... Catenna is here as well. Everyone has come here. Of course... it's a Statue -- they have to protect it from Mother.

        Her mirror. Like a dark reflection... Lily is there too. She asks if she found what she was looking for-- Lydia following after her. She answers them both.

        "It was Odoryuk. Odoryuk called me here..."

        It's just like... that time...

        "L-Leon. I'm glad you're all right," she replies in a haggard, soft tone. She doesn't sound convinced, as more people filter on through.

        She looks to Noeline, as she arrives. She bites her lip and tries to utter an apology, another one, for always making her worry -- then her eyes spike out further. She sinks into an episode. Her arms tremble violently. She casts her eyes to Dean.

        "There's... nowhere else." she shakes her head.

        "There's... nowhere... fractures... the sky...
          gate... the sky...

        She doesn't look particularly coherent right now... but...

        The meaning of her words immediately make themselves clear-- not by any notion of Riesenlied's own incoherent babbling, but rather--

        The explosive thunder of the spiked ball shredding through the barrier of the side of the tower, stone and mortar crumbling in the blink of an eye. The perfect machinations of the Elw, undone in an instant. Harken's menacing, gigantic form as her scythe and hair billow in the wind. The Malevolence seeping out of the Pyre Witch is enough to cause her to fraught and shake harder. Is she the reason she is this way at present...?

        Her eyes cast up to Berserk, silhouetted in the sun, his eyes cast upon her--

        "They should go back in the incinerator where they belong!!"

        --her knees buckle and she collapses, lifelinked to her barrier as Berserk's chain and ball strikes against her desperate shielding. It nearly buckles on the first hit; light shyly crumples into individual little pieces, then dissipates into motes.

        "Stay away... ssstay away..."

        Her voice is genuinely, deeply afraid. Some part of her does the only reflexive thing she can right now: Create more, and more, and more layers of intricate barriers of light. Borders of fundamental particles cascade around the statue and herself--

        Coincidentally creating cover for those standing close to her as well, as they billow from the statue as molted feathers do. The translucent barriers stay close, the approximate size of heater shields that float beside one's form: Emma, standing next to her to offer her a seat; Noeline, who was checking on her, as she ever has. Ida, as she checks on her. And Cecilia, who was sealing the statue she was close to.

        But will it be enough against the unstoppable object?

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Noeline with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Emma Hetfield with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Crest Sorcery Freestyle for 65 hit points!
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Catenna's Grav for 82 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied heals Emma Hetfield! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Leon Albus takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Odious Dance for 219 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"It wasn't as bad as all that," Tethelle objects, as regard the Elw traps. She mostly saw monsters. And puzzles. So many, many puzzles. "But the statue. Is it sealed?" Tethelle asks Cecilia even though she knows the answer. She can feel it. She is intensely trying to pretend she doesn't see Riesenlied because then she'd have to say some things she really doesn't feel up to dealing with right now, but if they can seal it, look around, and leave, she might not have to. Though she is kind of hoping to get a better exploration of the inside of the Pleasing Garden; when is she going to get another chance?

And then... more entrants. Lots more, but Tethelle only has eyes for some of them.

"..." Tethelle wasn't expecting to see some of the people who just walked in. Rosaline. Ida. Jack. Three people she has arguably failed and are suffering for it, though not all equally; she didn't know all of them as well as she would have liked.

"I wasn't expecting to see you here," says Tethelle Cirdian, diplomatic genius. "Though I was hoping to, soon or late. Rosaline, Ida, Jack, we have some things to speak of, if you'll listen - "

Anything else she was going to say is lost in the sound of an exploding wall.

Tethelle gets smacked by Berserk's wrecking ball. Later, thinking back on it, she won't even be sure if he was aiming at her or she was just in the way, but it was a perfect shot regardless; it impacts her as she is turning toward the sound of the breaking masonry, literally picking her up and throwing her into a distant corner of the tower with an unpleasant-sounding crunch.

That could have killed her. It would have killed most people. Tough as she is, it still takes Tethelle some time to rise from a dusty cloud of cracked stone and fallen brick; she hit the far wall hard enough to shower herself in debris. And yet she's still moving, sword already in hand.

"Berserk! You've already failed!" she croaks; her voice becomes steadier when she continues. "The Statue is sealed! Go and leave this place!" Tethelle winds up, holding her sword back and to the right, switching to a one-handed grip even though it doesn't look stable like that. And it probably isn't, for a normal strike.

Instead, Tethelle flings it in a whirling arc toward Berserk. It flies at him, threatening to hit him in the side, bounce off, and return most of the way to Tethelle - but she expected it to only get most of the way back, and she's already moving forward, hand raised to catch the sword's hilt. It's a practiced maneuver, not desperation, surprisingly.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Berserk with Sword Boomerang!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Matilda Whitehead takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Spinning Slash for 80 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Oh hey cool guy Dean." Lydia says, waving a hand towards him too only to find a hand offered to her. She blinks a few times, looks up at Ethius and naturally hugs him rather abruptly. It's a quick one, but she steps back to collect the arm which she sticks on her stump and--it just seems to seal itself back together. That's much easier than what she was trying to do there.

"You rock, Ethius! I'm so glad you're okay!" She flexes out thos e metal fingers before adding, "It looks like we sealed the statue! And that means..."

She pauses for a moment and says, "...Man, we're about to get ambushed aren't we?"

And then everybody gets ambushed.

"Knew it."

Harken swipes across Lydia's chest, only coming to a stop when it hits that very arm that Ethius just 'repaired'. She flies back and her head smacks back into a wall. "Nughh...shit...." She rubs at her eyes for a moment before she stumbles up to her feet. "Don't you dare call me human!! I'm a beastman!! And I ain't losing to you... After how you treated Riesenlied... She's too nice, so I'll just punch you for her!"


A rat beastman wearing glasses and a green cap and coat pokes his head in. "Hey boss! Ma'am! It looks like metal demons are dropping down into the other tower! I checked out your gear, Leon, it'll take a while to--uh..."

He trails off as he looks at Berserk and Lady Harken. "...We're gonna die aren't we?"

He takes in a deep breath and starts screaming and hopping up and down rapidly. But then, Agatha appears! He turns to look at Agatha for a moment.

He blinks twice. Agatha summons fire around her hand as easily as another might breathe.

And then he starts screaming and running around some more.

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline fires Lydia a withering glance. "Are you kidding me?" Well, it didn't take her very long to break character.

She gives a warmer look to Layna's DRAMATIC SILHOUETTE, which she doesn't draw attention to for now, out of courtesy. Layna might be Rosaline's closest friend present, besides of course her fellow Hellions, but she never considered the two of them particularly close to begin with. This feels like a wasted opportunity, in a way. But then, they're walking different paths now, today aside.

Dean asks if they're feeling all right. Rosaline answers with a noncommital noise. Giving the honest answer would probably make him very concerned and in probably irritating ways, she figures.

But Rosaline has years and years of training in waiting for the other shoe to drop. Several people here express having a bad feeling about this, and she quietly shares in their paranoia.

        his is why Berserk's laugh, while chilling, does not actually surprise her. And yet, even as her ears swivel and her every sense warns her about the shape of the attack coming their way, she stands there, torn between two very primal contradictory urges. Malevolence builds within her, and she has to hold it down so it won't explode out, not now--

And the flail crashes right into her, among many here, sending her skidding along the floor several feet. She only stops as she crashes into a stone wall.

She rises, bloodied and battered. She looks severely injured, like a corpse, even but no, this is only the beginning. Vengeful flames dance behind her eyes, lighting them up with a blood-red fury.

"I've been LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS REMATCH!" the beastwoman roars, a shark-toothed, fanged rictus spreading on her face. She takes off, springing forward as her legs have suddenly gained volume and covered themselves in much a thicker layer of white fur.

A second tail is now trailing behind her along with her first. They, along with Rosaline's voluminous mass of hair, are sent waving every which way by a foul purple wind, which becomes fuel for a roaring eruption of dark pink flame, almost blinding as it streaks towards the colossal Quarter Knight, then arcs into a graceful leap.

With a crack of bone and a pained cry, Rosaline's right hand explodes into a massive claw, each pointed tip inches long. She leans into her assymetry, bearing down onto Berserk with massive strength enhanced by surprising weight, not to mention a scream of bloody murder. She grasps onto the bandaged arm, grabbing hold while her second hand shifts just as painfully, and she begins tearing into it like a feral child gleefully unwrapping a present not meant for them.

Of course, can Berserk even SEE all this? Well, Rosaline certainly hopes he feels it.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Berserk with Armor Breakdown!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Tesni Inoue takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Odious Dance for 101 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Tesni Inoue!
<Pose Tracker> Emma Hetfield has posed.

Emma looks up to Ida when she speaks. Well, 'at,' because Emma got up. "When in the name of rational inquiry did YOU get here! Were you following behind us? If you were travelling in our wake like the caboose on the goose flock, I demand satisfaction in the form of a hot sandwich or cold drink."

A pause.

"Wait," Emma says, frowning in thought. "Ida -"

That other man shows up too. Emma raises an index finger, mouth opening and shutting as she considers how to broach this question. She looks to Cecilia for a moment, then at the others who are coming in. "Rudy! Huddle," Emma then decides, waving him over.

Emma tells Rudy in a low voice, "Rudy, Jack and Ida have consumed an evil energy field that I don't fully understand. I think we may need to talk them down from it or purify them or - I don't know. I don't have much experience with this field and you're better with people than I am."

And then the Devil laughs. "I don't THINK that's related OH SWEET LORD!" She jumps back with alarm at the arrival of Berserk, her eyes widening behind her glasses. Just as she lands, the ground cracks, pitches, sends her stumbling, rips open a spike injury on her leg and makes her start bleeding, AGAIN. Again, she thinks. What a pity! And I am already weary -- and also, Jack is in thrall to an evil energy field.

SHING SHING SHING SHING - Riesenlied draws on some hidden skill or arte that makes Emma glance at her in concern, but her attention soon returns to Berserk. Out comes her own weapon - the green glass pane of the Emulator.

"What's the fun part? I don't understand," Emma calls at Berserk as she heroically - bravely - with great force - stabs a button with her finger. (ow, she thinks, as the cracked nail also starts bleeding. ow!!!)

As a surging crash of water pours out of the heavens (nowhere) onto Berserk (Berselk), Emma continues with the power of tediosity. "Explain where the fun is."

GS: Emma Hetfield has attacked Berserk with Hydro Launcher!
GS: Emma Hetfield has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia starts running at Harken, looking back to Rosaline and adds, "I never kid!" and then, after Rosaline digivolves into her hellion form. "Okay now--now you're looking pretty..."

She throws a metal fist for Harken's jaw, clearly not knowing her power set here.


Okay maybe she sometimes kids.

GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Rosaline Calice's Armor Breakdown for 38 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Emma Hetfield's Hydro Launcher for 115 hit points!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Sword Boomerang for 86 hit points!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Triangle Triangle Triangle!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily turns immediately towards the explosion of rock, throwing up a barrier of ice to shield herself and Dog from the debris, staring once it passes to see... Berserk. Berserk, approaching the sealed statue. Another Quarter Knight to face, so soon after the last. "...Very well," she says. "Riesenlied--stay behind--"

The shadows deepen. Lily, attuned to Shadow as she is, notices this as surely as she would notice the sun upon her face, but in not at all the same way. It is cold, abrubtly, though Lily's barrier has faded, and suddenly there is flame. Flame, and a woman before them, floating.

But those eyes, "You--?" Lily asks, and if she recognizes, there is the spark of it in her confused expression but not the words to confirm it. ...She grits her teeth suddenly, shivering despite herself at the Malevolence assaulting her spirit, her mind both. There is so much of it, and Lily actually has to take time to gather herself from it... while Dog whines and hides behind her. Lily's eyes flicker once to Harken, acting strangely, but there is the foe before her that Leon cannot even properly sense--that Riesenlied cannot stand against, is already worsening. And the wall of fire cuts her off from the others. Lily's golden eyes return to, bore into Agatha.

"...I am not afraid of fire," the younger witch says to the older.

Then her stance shifts; her hands angle downward and to her right and there is a sword in them, a black rent in the world, a blade made of hatred and the void that is difficult to look upon for how it drains the light around Lily. Her eyes narrow.

"This isn't power," Lily says, as she gets close. "Is it really you?"

She swings up her blade and hacks across, attempting to bisect the Pyre Witch outright.

GS: Lily Keil has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Black Wolf's Claw!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: Agatha Pyrelight critically Guards a hit from Lily Keil's Black Wolf's Claw for 25 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Garrett Stampede guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Spinning Slash for 120 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Garrett Stampede!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        Running - staying on the move - turned out to be the much better plan in the end.

        "It's alright! Riese!" she calls urgently as she nears, as if that were the first and most important thing that Riesenlied needed to hear. "--stay with us, as best you can!"

        But... the hairs on the back of Noeline's neck rocket upwards at the first guttural noise from the incoming Quarter Knight, and she mutters a curse underneath her breath. Of course their day's not done. Of course. Of course.

        Time seems to slow in her perception of it, as it so often does when facing down the potential for a very messy death; she watches as cracks splinter and spider further and further through the stonework of the wall next to her, distending unnaturally outwards towards her. It's like moving through treacle, instinct making her drop down to one knee and then into a slide that carries her forwards along the floor.

        The scene resolves, and snaps back; a low thrum just above her head and then a deep, almighty boom marks the ball-and-chain rocketing through the scene to impact against the barrier, and rather than a long and hanging moment Noeline suddenly has barely a split-second to determine her next course of action. It doesn't matter that the statue is sealed - they may have won another war, but there's still the battle to contend with, and Riesenlied and the Princess both look as if they're on their last legs. Not that she's feeling any better, but she can at least hope to be a speed bump in Berserk's path.

        With nothing else presenting itself as a good idea, she acts on impulse; everything she can to do try to divert the metal demon's attention is for the better. Shooting her arm up towards the chain above her, her scythe partially melts out of her hand to form a metallic hook that catches onto the wide links - and the momentum of her slide and the grip she's just established swing her upwards and over, landing atop the chain just as Berserk begins to retract it towards him.

        Her attention snaps in the Quarter Knight's direction, as does her arm; she's aware of Riesenlied's power swirling around her and seeking to protect her, both a comfort and a means to determination. So she maintains her balance as she rides Berserk's weapon back, using the shortening chain as a means to pick up speed as the blade at her hand further extends, becoming the familiar and overblown crimson scythe she's used to using. Perhaps it would be more effective to use the heavy slab of metal instead - but she grips the haft with a solemn frown. More than anything, her scythe is an expression of her own self, and the identity she found outside the Photosphere--

        --and she lets the last flick of the chain launch her forward into a slicing strike.

        Harken, she might try to talk down. Siegfried, she might seek to subdue him. Berserk, she's aiming for the neck.

GS: Riesenlied heals Noeline! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Noeline has attacked Berserk with Pointed Commentary!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius takes stock of some of the other faces, stoically taking Lydia's praise without further commentary. Good... Avril, Dean, and their other traveling friend is all right. That puts good word for the hopes of others still being ali--
        There is a familiar laughter to Ethius. Instinctively he gets away from anywhere near walls, if he is in close proximity in the act of giving Lydia her arm back. He needs no further reminder of what ruin Berserk's ball is capable of giving by proxy as it comes craashing inside. If this were the only complication, he would be golden. Watch the ball, don't let the great green lug get too close.
        Shadows move. Malevoelnce wafts, along with an introduction of being from the Silver Star. A gaze turns upon this new stranger, recalling full well what it did to an entire nation (and that, somehow, he cares specifically about the scale of this fact above all). A firewall cuts him off from further approach. That's another complication.
        ...Then comes Harken's voice. Her first appearance is blocked by that firewall. Harken provides a third, and maybe even fatal complication - thanks to Berserk's appearance, Ethius does not have his back to a wall. He is completely exposed on all sides...
        In fact, the scythe-bearing Quarter Knight's already exploiting this fact when he's about on the word 'exposed,' a spray of crimson raking from his upper back. Only the very act of having turned to try and face something blurring from the corner of his right eye stops Azrael from stabbing his very heart as he elicits a series of pained grunts.
        His return swing of a quarterstaff in an uppercut strike seems to be one out of an adrenaline-fueled reflex rather than a calculated counterattack. He has no words for Lady Harken at present, for she could strike him down before he could stammer out one. He has seen how fast she is, how deadly her technique is, back at that fallen Tainted outpost he managed to infiltrate by helping bury some of their dead.
        He is at a disadvantage on all fronts - positionally, tactically, physically.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Lady Harken with Basic Attack Command!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        More people. There's that strange young woman who sounds a lot like Asteroid the Kid, and is bleeding... something that looks very much like Metal Demon blood. Ida narrows her eyes at Lydia's severed arm, a mixture of dire concern and suspicion on her features. "And what happened to you?" Lily, then, and Dog. Ida would be heartened by Dog's presence under most circumstances, but here, in the middle of a ruin...

        What happened? Is that related to the thunderous impact she never found the source of? Or those strange, flying Gears that look an awful lot like the ones Gebler used in Aveh?

        "No," Ida says to Garrett, "I was giving a go at being a load-bearing column, instead--" And then Ethius just sort of runs right in, removing a severed arm from his belongings and offering it back(?) to Lydia. Ida stares, momentarily puzzled--but Dean gets her attention, then. "Better," Ida says. She turns to the young man, and her face warms right up--it's subdued, but it's like the sun coming out on a cloudy, dreary day. "I'm so glad you're all right." She doesn't move to hug him, though. Matilda may be part of the reason for this. "Matilda," Ida says. Tethelle, then. Ida... smiles, and it's sad around the edges. "I know," she says, to Tethelle. "We're not going back--"

        GA HA HA HA HA HA!

        Ida knows that laugh. "DUCK!" she cries.

        The wall explodes. Chunks of Elw-wrought masonry fly inwards like shrapnel, smashing into columns and slamming into the floor. The force of the impact blows out windows for a hundred yards around, adding flying glass to the mix. Ida throws herself to the ground, covering her head and neck with her arms. A chunk of glass lodges in her right forearm like a knife, and blood splatters the floor. The sudden surge of Malevolence that trails after is... not entirely unexpected, but for the fact that it's not Ida, or Garrett, or Rosaline. Ida looks in its direction, and sees... Agatha, the Pyre Witch, in her full Malevolent glory. "Agatha," Ida says. She shoves off the floor, quickly takes stock of things. Tethelle and Catenna caught the worst of it, it seems, but Riesenlied looks like she's on the verge of having a panic attack. "I trust you're well." Harken, too. She notices the change in the Quarter Knight's demeanor, the odd little bit of respect for Berserk where previously there was none. Somehow she feels it was entirely not his doing.

        Ida grips the bloody bit of shrapnel and pulls. Riesenlied's shield settles in around her, and her eyes narrow in annoyance and pain as the glass comes free. "I'm not so ungrateful as to reject your aid," Ida says, as she bares teeth in a gleeful grin, "but as I said, we have this handled."

Her body changes.

        Violet light ignites beneath her breastbone. The scar that Lady Harken gave her at Lacour Coliseum splits open, setting off a chain reaction that opens up the rest--the sleeves of Ida's coat disintegrate into trails of shadow, revealing rents glowing with Malevolence. Her entire frame seems to grow, as if swelling with power, and her hair fades to a stark silvery-white.

        "A little treat for all of us after that misery this place put us through!" Ida cries.

        Then, she's a blur. She crosses the distance between her and Berserk in heartbeats, springs upwards, and drives her Malevolence-wreathed fist right towards the Quarer Knight's jaw. The last time Ida punched him, she barely made him budge. What about now?

[SYSTEM] Ida Everstead-Rey changed to her 'Hellion-Drifter' Description!

GS: Riesenlied heals Ida Everstead-Rey! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Berserk with Devil Fist!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        Dean stares at Riesenlied, gaze uncomprehending. "There's nowhere else... what?" he asks. Ida responds, distracting him long enough for him to smile and nod back in relief at the response--even if a look at her haggard appearance would indicate otherwise. But before he can think about that, at his back, he hears Rebecca ask Avril if she's okay, and he turns around to see Avril suddenly ghost-pale and clutching her chest.
        "Avril? What's wrong?" he says, turning back towards her. Rebecca's got a good point--they *did* just have a harrowing experience. Dean's good at getting over that kind of thing quickly, and Avril's tough, but it *has* been a lot of things all at once. He nods to Rebecca when she says she'll find the way up. "Okay. We'll be right here, Rebecca."
        He watches her go, then looks back at Avril. "She's right, though. You really don't look good... You need to sit down for a bit? Don't worry, I'm right here with y--"
        This is when Avril's ill feeling comes true.
        A booming laugh. The crumbling of masonry. An immense blow that caves an entire wall in. Dean reaches out to grab Avril's hand and pull her back to safety as needed, already looking around for Rebecca--but fortunately or unfortunately, she left just in time to miss Berserk's dynamic entry. Given all the rubble that fell the way she left, she probably won't be able to return too quickly, either. Maybe she's better off that way, though, because shadows deepen and pool, and Agatha appears in full Hellion regalia with a wave of Malevolence in her wake. Dean can't feel it--not quite--but ladies appearing out of nowhere is enough to put anyone on edge.
        A"Who *are* you?!" Dean demands. It's nice of her to promptly respond. He's never heard of Agatha before, but she certainly stands out--as does that ribbon of flame she creates to split up the room and keep everyone from piling onto Berserk and protect(?) the Statue. The Statue *should* already be protected, though... right...?
        And if *that* weren't enough? The scythe-wielding Hyadean, Lady Harken, swoops in in Berserk's wake, first on top of a pillar, then vanishing and now down a dozen-some paces away from the other Quarter Knight. Dean isn't aware of what relationship she *should* have with Berserk, having never met her before, but Twin Fenrir flash into his hands as she declares that she'll support Berserk and bring them humans death.
        That scythe of hers swings in a tempest of violent blows, and Dean crosses the combat rods of his ARMs just in time to brace the massive force that blow that lashes out his way, almost carelessly, as if he were of no particular concern, but no less potentially deadly for it. He can barely even stay on his feet; it's sheer grit and stubbornness that keeps him upright, if panting, in the wake of the attack. Rosaline might be glad that he now has no more time to pay her any attention, especially with her all the way over there with Berserk.
        "Avril--Lydie--Matilda--you guys okay?" he calls, those being those friends of his that are the closest by at the moment, as far as he can see. "We can't let these guys do whatever they want! We just Sealed the Statue, and it's gonna stay that way!!" Well technically, *Cecilia* Sealed the Statue and they all just walked in, but it's all the same to Dean. He promised the Guardians he'd do everything he could to help them. And Dean, much like Harken, keeps his promises.
        And so, heedless of the injuries he's sustained this week, he flings himself towards Harken, the combat rods of his Twin Fenrir blazing with the fury of his desire to protect and help--and perhaps setting her partially ablaze, should they connect where he aims to strike her.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Lady Harken with Burning Booster!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Noeline's Pointed Commentary for 61 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a glancing hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Devil Fist for 56 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue says "The graveyard of history says otherwise Metal Demon. You will not have this world nor the Guardians!"

 Fear of death is real in Tes but what can she can not run, she must act to panic is to die for certain and she sees how fast Harken is. Tes is quick on her feet and that's all that saves her from being cut in two, even then she's hit pretty hard she's already taking a hell of a pounding already and fight is just starting. She's luckly to not have lost a limb to be perfectly honest.


 She's still in the fight and that's when she takes the Dead Man's arm and just start opening up trying to shoot Lady Harken as the battle gets underway, if she can only last long enough for her ARM to do what it can do. She takes note of Ethius moving in and the strange creepy nature of the Malevolence is somewhat noticed by her but right now she's got to worry about Harken.

 The ARM fires round after round, as she darn well knows being up close and personal with Harken is a way to die a lot faster. Still she has some ideas some plan but she has to see how long she can last here as the brass starts to fly.

GS: Tesni Inoue has attacked Lady Harken with Rapid Fire!
GS: Tesni Inoue takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Tesni Inoue has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"As am I," Leon says to Riesenlied. "You said... the Giardian called you here? But--"

Berserk's entry creates a thundering boom that interrupts Leon. He looks across the chamber, staring at the Quarter Knight for one uncomprehending moment. Then, Berserk comes crashing down. He turns and bolts away, taking a long leap to get away from the impact zone. He does -- but when he lands, he sees Agatha standing there, and his expression registers confusion. He didn't hear what she had to say during his sprint away from her.

Nor does he have time to ask. He doesn't see Harken's silhouette, but he sees her when she lands, and she speaks aloud to them -- and then rushes in. He brings up Argent Divider, but not in time. Her foot slams into his chest -- several ribs crack, in an instant -- and he goes flying back through the air, only to smash into the wall of the tower so hard that the bricks behind him crack. He stumbles away, before he looks at the tall, comparatively slender Quarter Knight.

He rolls his neck. There is a click from one of his vertebrae, when he does.

He turns his head to look at Hammer -- a Black Wolf, now, if not a combatant. One of his own. One of his own, he reflects, is screaming and running in circles in a panic. Leon asks himself a few questions, under his breath. Then, louder: "Hammer! Get out of the tower! Don't worry, we'll protect you, but against Quarter Knights--"

He snaps Argent Divider, and the blade telescopes inward, and the barrels of the shotgun snap into place from above and below. He aims the weapon at Lady Harken. "--that will be hard!" Then, he shouts: "HARKEN! I haven't forgotten the last time! The Statue's handled! You don't have any reason to fight here!"

He fires a shot -- and a familiar, caustic glob of fluid explodes out of it, hurtling towards the newest Quarter Knight.

DC: Leon Albus switches forms to Captain Leon!
GS: Leon Albus has attacked Lady Harken with Rustshot Round!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna watches from above, curious. It was an interesting gathering, no doubt. There were a lot of familiar faces. Rosaline sends her a look, and Layna offers her a smirk and a slight nod of acknowledgment. She was glad that someone here could appreciate dramatics.

She doesn't get to keep it up for long, however, as a very familiar wrecking ball sends itself crashing through the structure. Layna's sent flying...but, this works in her favor. She gets a good view of the battlefield, particularly as a certain Pyre Witch announces herself.

A manic grin crosses her face.

"So, you're the Pyre Witch I've heard so much about! Fancy meetin' you in a place like this, aye?" She says with a grin. She's currently standing atop a piece of rubble that had been sent flying from Berserk's entry, directing its course with wind magic.

This course sends it right over the wall of fire Agatha had created.

"Hear you've been harrassin' a friend o' mine...why don't we talk about that?" Layna says, kicking off the rubble. It smashes into the ground behind her as she flies toward Agatha, a fist sailing toward her face.

She knows this probably isn't the wisest of moves - she's not yet aware of what she's capable of, besides the obvious.

Still, she's got a debt that she needs to pay back.

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Scuttle the Prey!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Agatha Pyrelight completely evades Scuttle the Prey from Layna Manydays!
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

 While Cecilia gets a smile from Rudy as she cheerfully greets him, it fades when Emma tells Rudy of what happened to Jack. The lack of surprise lets her know one simple and perhaps shocking thing: he already knows. He saw the warning signs in battles past. He could have talked to him. He should have talked to him. Let him know its okay to be a monster, to be hated, to fail, as long as you keep trying to be a good person. But he didnt. The reason of why still eludes Roughnight, self-reflection difficult when you can barely stand to look in the mirror. Still, while unable to push forward on his own accord, Emma speaks insight.
 A look is given of shock and then dull acceptance. She is right. He owes it to Jack and Ida, both people who he is assumes are good people.
 "Jack. I wish I knew exactly what the right words are,"Roughnight begins with his words still soft, his brown eyes flickering toward Jack before looking back down. "But I dont." A short pause is given before Rudy goes on. "I wish I could make it right, whatever thing caused you to hurt like this. But I cant." Another pause. "All I can tell you is one thing. I know you dont believe it now, but I hope you will one day. Just one thing to tell you: Youre better than this, I know it. Youre a better person than you ever thought you can be. I just know it. I believe it."
 With that, Rudy gives a small soft smile before he turns to say something toward Ida. Its a bitter irony that Roughnights kindness is directly followed by Berserks entrance, the force of the attack sending Rudy to his hands and knees. Barely able to bring up his defense to avoid Horrible Death, Rudy slowly gets up slowly, his body shaking. From how his eyes and facial expression appears, it is likely fear that is causing him to shake, as terror from the unstoppable force of nature makes itself known. Not now. Not here. Oddly, however, is the rest of Rudy reacting: his hands are calmly adjusting cartridges to his Hand Cannon and one of the said cartridges is firmly loaded into his weapon, as if done automatically and without thought: as if it were some sort of inborn instinct. Despite his bodys unnatural response to this event, Rudy doesnt fight back. Thats because he knows what happened the last time he fought Berserk. What happened every time he fought Berserk. Thankfully, other people are shouting, charging, and offering their heroic responses. Maybe it will mean that Rudy can just be ignored as he tries to come to grips with the demons of the past, personified by the demon right in front of him.

GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Reload!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Rudy Roughnight takes a solid hit from Rudy Roughnight's Reload for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Rudy Roughnight!
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

         The first time Arleph have seen it truly in action, it was in the Temple of the Ancients, the Guardians. He's seen lights before, he's seen the aura, but he have not connected their significance to the malignancy that affected that part of the world. Then, it affected people. Undead.
         Arleph steps up, his hands unfolding from his pockets as the Demons comes barrelling in, the Witch herself getting most of his attention. Ida get a look, one that is dissapointed in parts, largely worried in others. He can see the aura. He can see the changes. Why didn't he see it in the first time?
         Is it because he just didn't bother to look? Damn. Were her problems caused by this, or did her problems brought her TO this?
         At least, for now, she seems to be attacking Berserker. He'll have a talk with her later. He ought to. For now... there is a witch.
         "I can only imagine what it is like to hold back everything." Arleph comments, dryly, the Symbologist's fingers wriggling down at his sides, sparking with energy. To anybody but him and another person here, this might be seen as a pointless statement, sarcasm to the person in question. "We've met before, I do think." He looks at Lily, nodding at her.
         Arleph snaps a finger. A torrent of water surrounds him, condensing around his left arm, extending outward into an almost organic manner. "If we are going to make petulant introductions, I am Arleph Ardan, Doctor of Symbology. That's 'PhD' for you."
         His eyes flick over to Lanya, grinning briefly, before refocusing on Agatha, reeling his water-covered hand before snapping it onward. The water extend, screaming into the air with a loud crack to deliver it's magical kinetic energy at the fires.
         "I am the cleanser of spoiled waters! PREPARE YOUR FLAMES FOR MY TORRENTS!"

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Water Whip!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Agatha Pyrelight takes a solid hit from Arleph Ardan's Water Whip for 135 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Agatha Pyrelight!
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Dean's presence seems to get Matilda to relax -- it's almost imperceptible, but she does stop hover-handing her knife thoughtfully and glaring at Ida, which is probably an improvement given the circumstances. There's very little time to appreciate that shift, however, as Harken arrives; the massive, cloaked humanoid gets her attention right quick --

-- and Harken is off to the races in moments, Matilda catching a slash as part of the typhoon of near-instantaneous, pure violence Harken dispenses. While a quick, flat backward hop-dash saves her from the absolute worst of the pain, she's still left bloodied by the opening strike alone.

A scythe is a bit of an awkward weapon, Matilda reflects -- even its more combat-friendly variants have almost all the problems of the polearm with a much smaller number of the benefits. In the long term, she can take advantage of this -- but she knows she needs a moment for adrenaline to kick in before she can do what that suggests to her.

So for now, she hefts Freischütz instead. The ARM is light, especially with the barrel collapsed -- holding it with one arm is a little rough, but Matilda's gotten strong enough to manage. It's still loaded with debris from Wayside, and it's that which sprays out of the barrel -- rocks and masonry and dirt, all at lethal speeds. Her other hand holds her knife, now.

"I haven't come this far to fall against a Hyadean," Matilda hisses. "This world takes everything from me but me -- I'm not going to let you do as you please." ... It's significantly bravado, and even Matilda herself knows it -- the compounder is hardly the type to stand against Lady Harken. ... but maybe there's a grain or two of truth in there, around which the pearl has formed...

GS: Matilda Whitehead has attacked Lady Harken with Automatic Fire - Rocks!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.

Jack nods easily towards Rudy, a smile for the Gunman before he turns to look at the statue. Its the familiar laughter that he was waiting for. A shudder goes though his frame. His smile grows wider, more menacing, sharp as the edge of his own sword. "Told you it was too easy." He murmurs as he starts to walk forwards.

People though concern towards him. "I'm fine." A deep chuckle as his armor shfits slightly. "Better than fine...I'm just waiting for someone..."

The first Quarter Knight makes his appearance and the man hardly flinches as the hammer goes slamming into the bodies of people he should consider friends.

"Not him." He adds as he starts forwards. His free hand raisinng towards Tethelle with the palm out. "Hold that thought. Need to chat with someone first."

Of Hanpan? There is no sign either.

Harken's appearance though. Framed there in the opening of Berserk's entrence causes him to quicken his pace. "There she is..."

His sword doesn't even raise to block her. Instead he steps into the swing of Harken's scythe. Confident that Rosa and Ida can take care of the bruiser with the mace, he takes on the one target he was looking for himself.

The scythe punches though the armor along his forearm, bone and blood cut to ribons as the blade of the weapon impales his arm right though. It hurts.

But he is not of a type to revel in the pain.

"I've found you, Elmina Niet."

Malevolence suddenly explodes out of the fallen knights blade and wound, the ancient Arcticain armor frosting over in its wake. Blood from his wound freezes, the wound itself covered in ice even as Harken pulls the blade free.

His eyes are wild, blazing with a white flame as the sword in his grip twists into a cursed and unnatural blade. Violet light spreading out as the ice sheathes down the length of the blade even as he brings it off his shoulder.

There isn't any further words from the knight, just violence as spears of ice suddenly twist up from the frost around his feet, aiming to impale Harken right then and there as he uses the pain inflected on him to return the favor.

He doesn't look back. He doesn't even hesitate. However...

"No, Rudy. Right now I'm not." The swordsman's words comes as he summons the dark powers he's been granted. "You want to help me? The help me tear the heads off the Quarter Knights."

GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Lady Harken with Center of Pain!
GS: Garrett Stampede takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Garrett Stampede has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida's grin gets even wider--a little too wide, in fact, to settle comfortably on a human face. Brilliant white teeth gleam.

        "That's the spirit!" she cries, glancing over at Garrett. "We'll be right with you once we're finished!"

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        Thank goodness Ethius had caught them, or the situation might have gone more poorly.

        But back in the here and now, Avril is struggling with a bevy of feelings she can't trace the meaning for or find a reason behind. They exist, in spite of their current apparent victory for the children of Filgaia.

        Why does she feel as if...

        Mute, she shakes her head at Dean's concern, her voice feeling as if it has been rent from her. Because of those three? She had felt something similar before once.
        And... and that...
        Hadn't it come to pass?

        Her gaze is a little unfocused then when she looks over at Dean and utters, her voice low, "Dean... I feel that something terrible is about to happen."

        At that very instant a laugh rolls out.
        The wall implodes. Dean, quicker on his feet, grabs at her hand and pulls her away. There wasn't even time for her to even scream; lips parted, she stares at the wreckage as if in disbelief.

        ...It's coming true.
        It's coming true, the thought repeats like a tolling bell as she rounds towards the pool of spreading Malevolence, Absolute Zero leaping into her hand as if bid there. The blade emerges with a sudden flash; for an instant she stands back to back with Dean Stark.

        Her gaze lifts.
        Blue eyes go wide.
        "Dean! Look out--"
        She pushes back against Dean with her left hand, attempting to shove him away in those half-heartbeat seconds as the statuesque warrior descends, scythe in hand, before raising her own blade in an attempt to deflect the incoming sweep.

        Absolute Zero's blade cannot be broken, not by anything yet known. But that by no means suggests that Avril is spared hurt. She deflects a sweep with an elegant well-practiced rise of that unusual sword that might have deeply cut or even severed a limb and receives for her trouble a score of a cut across her opposite arm; a brief smear of red caught on the air.

        Her expression, already dark, gains all the warmth of the grave. She lifts the blade before her, as if facing off against a challenger in a duel. "I am alright, Dean. Are you hurt?"
        He's already beating back serious injuries, runs the pattering thought across her mind. If anything happened--

        The light in the air catches down the edge of her blade. In time with Dean as he charges at Lady Harken, so does Avril, melding a forward thrust of the sword she bears in time with his own desperate charge.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Lady Harken with Seraphic Soul!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 As the blade comes racing down towards Agatha's head, the witch turns her eyes ever so slightly as Lily brings her weapon down in what could very well be a fatal blow. The sword sings as it snaps across... and then just before striking Agatha, it comes to a sudden halt, the weapon transmitting the shock of impacting with another solid object up Lily's arm.
 Agatha looks back at her and smiles, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly as she holds the blade in one clawed hand. Her glove is split by the weapon, but instead of flesh it appears that there is some dark purple, shining hard substance that has covered her fingers and forearm. And those talons seem to grow, stretching out until her fingers have almost doubled in length as she pushes Lily's sword away.
 "Dear Lily, it pains me to see you like this. You had so much potential. I was looking forward to seeing you step up to my level." She leans forward, and adds in a seductive whisper, "I do wish I'd done more when I had the chance, before those sanctimonious fools ruined all that hard work I'd put into you."
 The strike comes from Agatha's other hand - as one of her talons suddenly extends to a good six feet long in an instant, the sharpened digit spearing out to try and punch a hole right through Lily's stomach - the location isn't lethal, but the horrifying touch of Agatha's own Malevolence combined with the flickering aura of flame that surrounds her promises to make the attack far more painful that it might initially appear.
 The sudden eruption of a piece of debris through the wall of flame would seem like the ultimate surprise attack - but one of the jewels in Agatha's oversized witch hat actually turns slightly, the shadow within flexing like some sort of malign demonic eye... and she tosses Lily's sword away and brings her claw upwards in a slashing motion. The blow splits the chuck of debris in two, the halves pushed to either side of the Pyre Witch where they fall on the ground with a pair of loud crunches.
 "'Harassing' - it sounds like your friend has been quite fortunate," Agatha comments mildly, although there is a dangerous glitter in her eyes as she turns slightly to look at Layna. "After all, there have been so many since I came to the Blue Star. If they have only been harassed, then clearly they have only made me curious, not interested." She grins, and holds up one finger, the flames that surround her breaking off and gathering into a twisting sphere balanced delicately upon the tip. With a single flick of her finger, she tosses it at Layna... and it blossoms into a shrieking flaming skull as it races through the air, gathering itself to crash into her and erupt in an torrent of red flame.
 And then she gets slammed by a torrent of water. Agatha is knocked backwards by the stream of water, the flames around her flickering for a moment before she recovers from the strike. She pauses for a moment, running one clawed hand along her cheek and scraping off a droplet of water, which she gazes at for a moment in contemplation.
 Meanwhile her cloak shakes itself, and then wraps around the lower part of her admittedly quite loose robes, stretches them to the side, and starts wringing the water out of them. Her hat twists around, moisture beading on the brim until it is all tossed away in a single large blob that scatters as it washes over the stones blow. The are faint hisses of steam as the droplets strike the ground, and Agatha flicks the drop away, allowing it to vanish in the heat that surrounds her as well. "Well, at least you are polite when attacking me," the witch states with a smile, leaning backwards into her cloak. It wraps around her, almost as if forming a floating chair for her to rest on as she descends slightly. The tip of the cloak touches the ground... and a shadow flows across the ground, headed on a curving course towards Arleph. "It's unfortunate, however, that you lack a proper medical training as a doctor."
 The puddle of shadow suddenly stretches - and a black talon erupts from it, aiming to transfix Arleph through the chest where he stands.
 "It might help you to live longer now that you've decided to irritate me."

GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Lily Keil with Talon Impale!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Layna Manydays with Red Flame!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Arleph Ardan with Talon Impale!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has completed her action.
GS: Layna Manydays takes a solid hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Red Flame for 108 hit points!
GS: Lily Keil critically Guards a hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Talon Impale for 32 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Triangle Triangle Triangle for 88 hit points!
GS: Poison, Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Basic Attack Command for 83 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Tesni Inoue's Rapid Fire for 76 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken guards a hit from Dean Stark's Burning Booster for 58 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Leon Albus's Rustshot Round for 24 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Garrett Stampede's Center of Pain for 105 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken guards a hit from Matilda Whitehead's Automatic Fire - Rocks for 52 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Seraphic Soul for 129 hit points!
GS: Arleph Ardan critically Guards a hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Talon Impale for 28 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Lydia Seren escapes being eviscerated on the first strike, swerving out of the way of that opening slash and catching the scythe blade on her less-fleshly arm. Added bonus: she can see Harken staring -directly- at her during this, locking eyes. How fun it must be to process the world that quickly. "Filgaian, then." the Quarter Knight corrects herself with a too-calm smirk upon her face.

"It's a shame about Riesenlied, but you can't abide traitors on a world already this treacherous!" Harken catches Lydia's thrown punch--with her jaw. Actually, she kind of turns her head into the strike because her skeletal structure is a state secret and can take a punch. The noise is like two trains colliding.

"But you don't know fear, and I like that... come. More!" and the Quarter Knight encourages Lydia to further violence by--headbutting her. Or at least aiming to. She moves really quickly, so it might suck to dodge. But Lydia has horns! This could go either way!

Ethius Hesiod is less quick to evade, but equally quick to return the attack. "I remember you, Harken croons at the enigmatic man with a sly smile. Not at all an angry one--though doubtless the rage that fuels her is somewhere just beneath the surface. "I had thought you one of our Veruni allies, heh. There's time yet to beg for forgiveness, and step aside!"

Azrael makes a noise not unlike the whooshing of a helicopter blade as Harken swings the staff-end of her weapon towards Ethius's own. She seems more interested in outdoing him at his own game, and her staff kata is absolutely no joke. Where he lands that upwards blow on the Quarter Knight's forearm, Harken grins like a demon possessed and traps the staff in her elbow before counterstriking him with a thrust in the chest. "Consider it, now.".

Dean Stark goes on the defensive. It's a good idea: Azrael's curved blade cannot bite what it cannot reach, but the sheer force behind each swing is a real toll-taker to begin with. "Ho~?" Harken sounds intrigued, more than she does upset, as the young man yells to his friends before forming up against her. "Look at the spirit on this one... you could surrender as well, you know." the Quarter Knight taunts with a sly richness to her tone. Each rod, ablaze with the young Drifter's righteous fury, strikes the towering Metal Demon in the midsection--but that armour is thick. "One warning, runt. One."

Spiritual flames do catch upon that scarlet plate, though, and the long-haired princess of the scythe looks down at where she can feel herself burning. Score one for Team Dean. She scowls, and lashes out at Dean with a vicious and sudden snap-kick, still holding her scythe at bay. Her upper body never moves once--it's like it just comes out of nowhere. And that's supposed to be merciful?

Tesni Inoue fires into a crowd--but does so accurately. The ARM opens up at a cyclic rate of fire, and Harken glances over her shoulder with a glowering stare at the distant gunner. "How impersonal." she seethes, sweeping her cloak across her body and holding one arm aloft as a shield. Sparks fly from the bullets impact, but there is no telltale splash of blood or shards of armour. The Quarter Knight's scythe-holding hand begins to glow with flame as her form shudders under the hailstorm of bullets. "Come here, you wouldn't want to die without one last kiss goodnight, would you?".

Harken swings her scythe at Tesni, despite the fact that she is many paces away. This at first may seem unwise, but a blistering azure wave of energy roars from the blade's tip and cuts straight towards her!

Leon makes a good point. Why -does- Harken give a shit about this place, if they've lost on the macro-scale objective? She whirls to face him, pearly whites bared. Grinning. Joyous. "Concerned for my wellbeing, Black Wolf? How touching.". she catches a chemical concoction to the right hand--a better fate than letting it hit her in the head. Even as her gauntlet sizzles, the alien steel beginning to react in strange ways. None of them good. "Would I leave you and your woman here all by yourselves? To play with my Lord Brother?"

Does she mean the other Quarter Knight? This is one for Leon to reflect on as Harken produces two kunai (sized for her, so more like throwing-machetes) from her wrist and hurls them. One for Leon and one for Hammer!

Matilda peppers the Quarter Knight with what she assumes, in the moment, to be grapeshot accelerated to relativistic speeds by some kind of coilgun arrangement. Harken jolts backwards with a smirk as a pea-sized rock leaves a baseball-sized dent in her forward plate. "It would be pathetic if you were to step aside and take it." the scarlet-haired knight agrees, and a ghostly afterimage of her--rises from her form and catches a handful of nails, before speed-pitching them back at Matilda! "But if this world has been so bad to you, what the hell do you owe it?"

Garrett Stampede takes the blow--and claims to have found someone, in Harken. The armoured knight seems insulted at the prospect. "I think you're mistaken." she scowls, showing not a flicker of memory like that one time--that one time!. As if she's insulting everything he's given up. Spears of frost form from trailing fingers of mist and soar upwards from the ground towards her!

Harken's armour does hold strong, but the impact lifts her briefly off of her feet--a motion which she uses to carry through with, striking out at him with a well-practiced spinning backfist. "Mistaking me for some floozy, Human? I'm well above your pay-grade, but you can dream of me in death if you'd like.".

Avril has yet to find anything that can shatter the enigmatic blade, as mighty as Harken might seem. The Quarter Knight sneers confidently, as she speeds up enough to simply fight everyone around her in hand-to-hand at once. A simple solution. "Look at you, the towering Demon croons, landing from her previous attack even still. Her cloak is awhirl as she does this, because of course it is. "So elegant and so concerned for him. And with such form..."

Avril's thrust is -so- close to being true, it must ache. But a Quarter Knight known for their speed is an elusive target indeed--Absolute Zero's thrust scrapes along Harken's armoured headgear, sparks showering between the two as she drops into a low sweep of the leg at her elegant foe. Just a hair closer, and she'd have been skewered by Avril's excellent swordplay. The feeling is electric.

"But have you practiced the -basics-, girl?"

GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lady Harken with Killing Intent!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Killing Intent for 0 hit points!
GS: Lock and State! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Restore! Lady Harken clears debuffs from Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Return Pitch!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Hyadean Staff Kata!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Forehead Strike!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Dean Stark with Fast Draw - Slash Rave!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Fast Draw - Slash Rave!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Garrett Stampede with Spinning Backfist!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Tesni Inoue with Fast Draw - Speed Fang!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Leon Albus with 'Dagger' Toss!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
GS: Matilda Whitehead guards a hit from Lady Harken's Return Pitch for 94 hit points!
GS: Leon Albus takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's 'Dagger' Toss for 164 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Hyadean Staff Kata for 79 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

"We have," Lily agrees with Arleph about their having met. She seems content to leave it at that--she has a fight to focus on, rather than socializing.

So Lily brings down her weapon, and then... stops. Lily's arms jar as she narrows her eyes, glancing between clawed hand and Agatha's face for a moment. Some dark substance in the way of flesh... And glowing talons. "You--" Her sword is shoved away. "...Work you'd--" Lily is cut off responding to that whisper abrubtly, as Agatha's other hand extends a claw--and pierces right through Lily, her eyes widening. The awful touch of it makes her delirious, the pain shooting through her body causing the younger witch to stumble back. Her sword disappears in an instant as Agatha tosses it away, and she coughs once. Not a lethal blow, now, but...

This is a level of magic rare to see, and Lily has the chance to watch it as she looks up, tries to gather herself. Already blood stains her clothes, front and back both, but she grits her teeth, passes a hand over the wound and lets ice crackle over both sides to stem the bleeding. "...On your level?" Lily hisses, adjusting her stance. "Unable to stay in the city for the force of Malevolence in everyone crowding into my mind? Constantly hearing those whispers?"

"It is you, 'Anna.' Be pained all you like. I can live with pain."

In fact, the wound is still excruciating--but Lily lets herself channel it, drawing power from it, as she claps her hands together--and then starts to spread them apart. Blue glows from the backs of her hands, and the space between Agatha and Lily drops in temperature precipituously--before Lily throws out her hand and ice erupts from above, crashing down in a rain of frozen spears.

She can't see Leon. She's getting angrier. The pain narrows her field of vision.

GS: Lily Keil has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Mistgleam!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Fast Draw - Slash Rave for 83 hit points!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight takes a solid hit from Lily Keil's Mistgleam for 129 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

The key problem with her plan, Layna notes, was that it was hard to change course once she had it started. And unfortunately for her, it seemed that the Pyre Witch had already prepared for her plan. Layna lands on the ground and rolls with the impact, just moment before a shrieking skull of flame collides with her, knocking her backwards to the ground.

With a grunt, Layna forces herself to her feet. That...could have gone better. With a quick incantation wind spirals around her, extinguishing the flames on her coat from where she had been struck. The burn-marks remain, evidence of the attack.

First Rosaline, and now the Pyre Witch...why did she keep picking fights with people who used fire? Well, it was too late to back out now.

"Maybe so. But don't think that means I'm gonna forgive you, aye?" Layna replies, backpedaling. She takes a moment to assess the people here. They're both people she recognizes...good. Better than complete strangers. She draws her revolver quickly and fires a couple of shots off at Agatha, trying to get a good idea of how she's adapted to the technology of Filgaia.

She couldn't be too careful. An odd statement for Layna of all people to think...but there was a reason this woman was the subject of horror stories back home.

GS: Dean Stark guards a hit from Lady Harken's Fast Draw - Slash Rave for 99 hit points!
GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Rapscallion's Revolver!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Tesni Inoue has activated a Force Action!
GS: Tesni Inoue takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Fast Draw - Speed Fang for 91 hit points!
GS: Garrett Stampede guards a hit from Lady Harken's Spinning Backfist for 92 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

But I shall do my utmost to support you. Lord Brother Berserk.

Searing, yellow eyes stare at Lady Harken for a long, silent moment. Harken, the woman who threatened to butcher him. Harken, the one who belittled him as an imbecile.

And Berserk's grin blossoms into something truly ugly.

"Heh. I just bet you will, 'Lady Sister' Harken."

And his nostrils flare, with a sound of supreme amusement.

It is then, that his hand snaps -backwards-. It is then, that the mace starts to whistle once more through the air towards him. It is then, the Quarter Knight's attention turns towards Agatha, for the briefest moment. Their ally. His head tilts. He catches the sight of a traitor, clinging to the scarred surface of his wrecking ball.

"Just keep watchin'."

And then the blade of what was once someone who could only be generously called someone Berserk considered an ally aims for his throat.

The blade curves. And Berserk TURNS into it with an abrupt suddenness, literally LAUNCHING himself into that strike as if with a reckless disregard for what it is. As if it simply were beneath him to treat it as anything approaching a real threat. The blade slices -into his neck-... and yet the momentum of his charge, the sheer, reinforced thickness of his hide, makes the blow ultimately a shallow one as he -drives- himself forward headfirst to -smash- the thick, horn-like crest of his forehead directly into Noeline just as she completes her stroke.

"-You're- the saddest of all of 'em," snarls Berserk, his voice thick with belittling contempt as he raises his mace up high. "At least we GAVE you a purpose, sad sack that you were. Their little freak of a spy. And what do you do?" The claws of his right hand dig in, dangerously tight.

"You turn fleshbag the second some broken toy gives you the time of day. You shoulda been the first one in the trash." The mace lifts.


Gravity seizes him seconds before he can complete the thought with violent finality. It grips, lurches, and deepens its well right behind him, exerting crushing force in an attempt to throw him straight back out of the tower. He -launches- through the air, -slamming- into the side as stone cracks, splinters, threatens to break...

"Heh... HA HA!"

And then the Quarter Knight -rips- himself forward, hurling his mace in a direct and ludicrous rejection of that build up of gravity, sending the weapon -hurtling- to strike Catenna roundly across the head with dizzying, concussive force.

"Doesn't matter what -you- want. Weaklings like you just SERVE AT MY PLEASURE."

It is Tethelle, next. Recognition flares in those yellow eyes as he sees her approach with the hurl of her weapon. Sword slinging through the air, it -carves- into his side, cleaving through armor, exposing the green biometal skin beneath. His reaction? Is to roar out a mocking guffaw, thundering it through the air as he -charges- for Tethelle just as she lunges for her sword, to reintroduce himself to her.


"HAH! You! The sorry Shaman trying to protect the sorrier princess in Adlehyde. I -remember- you." The Statue is sealed. He already failed.

And Berserk's response is nothing more than an unholy sneer as he turns away from Tethelle once more, as if fully intent to leave her alive. To let her see. See just what is coming.

What's the fun part? I don't understand.

Technology manipulates the flow of magic. Moisture condenses and becomes a deluge of water that -collides- with the beast of a knight as he marches towards the Guardian statue getting so much closer. As if it were inevitable. As if nothing they could do could stop him. Water engulfs him, slows him, erodes at him with its sheer force.

But his mace -punches- forth past the waterfall of liquid seconds later, thick droplets splattering through the air as his weapon careens to bash straight across Emma's skull.

"Shut up," is his single, ungraceful instruction.

The fun, after all, is not for her. Not for any of them.

No one but him. This is his day. His moment.

A moment that the Hellions who were once human and beastwoman seek to ruin, to the best of their ability. Something changes within them, something makes them -surge- forward far faster and stronger than they ever had before. The change is profound, remarkable. And yet--


--Berserk only stares, dumbfounded, as Ida and Rosaline are upon him, with intent towards violent revenge. Does he see?

The answer to that might be evident in the snarl of confusion that looses from his lips the second that Malevolence-soaked fist SLAMS into the Quarter Knight's jaw. His head -snaps- towards the right, his body staggering once step... two steps...

"You. I remember you. How the hell are you so str--"

Claws he cannot see interrupt him as they -latch- upon his massive, left arm, -SHREDDING- at those bandages. They are sturdy -- far sturdier than they rightly ought to be -- but they still begin to tear all the same, Malevolent claws -carving- into the flesh beneath. And where Rosaline tears, she might see the glimpse of something seemingly -fused- into Berserk's arm, something that almost looks like some sort of rod--

--before that tremendous hand LASHES out to grasp her with an infuriated roar.


And his arm lifts --

--seconds before he -whips- it down, intent to bludgeon Ida brutally. Whether with Rosaline, or his fist, he doesn't care. He just wants them to -hurt-. "Think you're stronger? Think this is the moment of your big revenge? Wanna know how many people thought that before YOU? Don't worry." His arm snaps back, bandages dangling across the strange, warped limb as he trudges forward.

"I'll be sure to break you of that, real soon."

Rudy starts to reload in silence. But he is not forgotten. In Berserk's way, Rudy will get to see the single-minded violence of that mace once more as it snaps through the air and then SCREAMS down for him, to swat him into the ruined stone earth like he was a bug as Berserk lurches past. Lances of rock CRASH into his chest not seconds later as he steps past the spot Rudy once occupied. They explode, and stone dust spews around him as it sends him bending backwards just slightly. The beautiful silence of this place is ruined. The statue sealed. There is no point to be here.

And yet Berserk has never seemed so sure of anything in his life, the moment his baleful stare falls upon Cecilia. But he keeps. Moving. Not stopped. Not deterred. Not to be negotiated with. Unreasonable.


"Lookit this. Just who I wanted to see. You're gonna wanna front row seat for this one, Princess."

And he is happy to oblige, with every intent of -backhanding- her away from the Statue so she can watch from a distance as he approaches it, steps shaking the earth beneath him as he gets closer, and closer, towards the desperate barriers...

"Shoulda stayed in the ruins where you belonged, Princess."

... towards Riesenlied.

"What does it feel like, knowing you were born god damn wrong?"

Clawed hands wrap around the back of Riesenlied's skull. The seek to grip, not to hurt, but to -lift- her up so that she can see. So that she can see Berserk, standing there next to the statue, bandages flowing in the stale air from his other, injured arm.

"Knowing you're a mistake? That you never shoulda been? Siegfried was too soft. That's his problem. The others were too desperate. That's theirs. Me? I knew from the start. One look at you and your silly little Tainted. You weren't gonna ever be any use to us. Trash, from the god damn beginning."

His left hand rears back, slowly. And a sickly light seethes around it.

"This is the end of it, trash. I want you to take a real good look."

And then -thrusts- forward.

"I want you to KNOW how SCREWED YOU ARE."

Barrier after barrier shatters beneath the tremendous force that is Berserk's raw strength. Motes of light crumble and blow back into a million shards of g

<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

"I want you to KNOW how SCREWED YOU ARE."

Barrier after barrier shatters beneath the tremendous force that is Berserk's raw strength. Motes of light crumble and blow back into a million shards of glassy white around his bandaged fist. His palm opens.

And he seizes hold of the face of Odoryuk.

A moment passes. A moment of silence in the storm.

And that strange light blossoms into a storm that stands at the very antithesis of everything the Guardians are, everything the Elw built.

Every foundation this world is built upon.

It is a rejection. A pure rejection of the Guardians that pours from Berserk's arm the same way they rejected his people. It is a rebuttal to every decade they spent looked down upon, scraping by, suffering, SURVIVING.

It is revenge.

And revenge shows its form as the rest of those bandages burn away -- as the Seal that Cecilia had so steadfastly made comes undone -- as it becomes -inverted- -- as that very ritual is used in reverse to turn the monumental force of a Seal against the Statue it is meant to protect...

The Statue of Odoryuk cracks down its center. From proud, regal horn towards the very end of its snout, it fissures. It glows with the light of the Guardians.

And then


Raw spiritual energy from the Statue of Life RIPS forward like a tidal wave, crashing through the entirety of the Tower with a death rattle of the end of its protective power. The sheer pent up portion of Odoryuk's power placed into that statue RELEASES as it is entirely undone.

As a Sealed Statue is destroyed.

And within the mist of white, there stands Berserk. Laughing, riotously. Left hand lifted. Warped. Fused.

Fused to what was once a Sealing Rod, now entwined with tendrils of biometal, of demonic flesh, that distends and twists it into something else. Something hideous.

An abomination that means the end of all their efforts.


And now nothing is safe.


Nothing is safe, as long as Berserk stands.


                     M i s s i o n O b j e c t i v e
                        The Secret of All Triumphs

                     Defeat Berserk, Once and for All!

GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Concussive Carnage!
GS: Berserk has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with No Kill Like Overkill!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rosaline Calice with Flatten!
GS: Berserk has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Hellacious Headbutt!
GS: Berserk has attacked Emma Hetfield with Concussive Carnage!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Concussive Carnage!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Flatten!
GS: Berserk has attacked Noeline with Hellacious Headbutt!
GS: Berserk has attacked Riesenlied with Taunt!
GS: Berserk has completed his action.
GS: Emma Hetfield critically Guards a hit from Berserk's Concussive Carnage for 14 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Berserk's Hellacious Headbutt for 112 hit points!
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Concussive Carnage for 35 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Catenna!
GS: CRITICAL! Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Berserk's No Kill Like Overkill for 164 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Harken asks Matilda what she owes the world as she whips some of Matilda's makeshift grapeshot right back at her. A nail with some caked-on brick sticks in her exposed forearm, and one eye screws shut. She almost drops her ARM, but the strap she'd attached to it provides an opportunity for a quick grab.

... She shifts it back over her shoulder as she starts to move forward again. First, she addresses Dean. "I -- I'm fine! Bleeding, but -- agh, it hurts, but I'll be fine!" she calls to the young man, before turning her attention back to Harken and her question.

 "... Nothing. I -- I don't owe this world a thing," Matilda replies, stepping up. "This world owes me -- for Father, for Mother, for Kaguya. I'm going to see Filgaia green again -- not because it deserves it --"

It's at this point that she breaks into a sprint, practically lunging for Harken. "... But because I deserve it!" The compounder seems to be going for a full frontal assault, aiming to sprint through Harken's most threatened zone while she's busy with everyone else and then going for a series of slashes with her knife.

Though she knows it's futile, the compounder also goes for a quick trip in the middle; it's really less about actually toppling -- Elmina Niet? Was that what that man had called her? -- and more about giving her something else to react to while she gets a little bit stab-happy.

GS: Matilda Whitehead has attacked Lady Harken with Planting a Seed!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

         What is it with oozes of darkness and stabbing him in the chest? Last time, beneath Wayside, he got stabbed in the chest by horrific darkness claws. Then two months before that, he got jabbed into the chest by a a wolf Metal Demon.
         That's likely why, this time, Arleph was prepared. Lily is right, there is not more else to say about meeting one another again. There's a fight to focus on.
         "I shall assume," Arleph begins, watching the shadows descend, then jerking out a hand outward to meet the stabbing shadows head on. An invisible shield bulges inward, pixelating beneath the strain of the point, before he harshly swing his hand back, gritting his teeth. "That it was supposed to be a jab, as I am certain you're more educated than that in knowing not all Doctors are Medical doctors. Here. Allow me to give you some good, proper jabs."
         Arleph slides back, his feet briefly covered in water that evaporates moments later as he swing an arm up, then slams the other down into the ground. "You COULD have said: Look at you, working on a MYSTICAL field, that's not real scientific degree."
         The fist into the ground spreads a circle outward, liquids striking against the darkness and condensing into large icicles that spreads outward against Agatha's own position, careful to not jab against Lily and Layna. Friendly fire is going to be a problem with the heavier spells. "Or, oh, my favorite: Why didn't you go into Humanities if all you wanted was to get high?"
         With a snap of his fingers, the Icicles snaps into an explosive array of shards. "I can't forget this one: Please, mister, heal me of my wounds, oh wait, YOU CAN'T. See? Good jabs."

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Icicle Ground!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: Lydia Seren takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Forehead Strike for 162 hit points!
GS: Rudy Roughnight guards a hit from Berserk's Flatten for 68 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Taunt for 0 hit points!
GS: Weaken! Statuses applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Noeline takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Hellacious Headbutt for 83 hit points!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight guards a hit from Layna Manydays's Rapscallion's Revolver for 58 hit points!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight takes a solid hit from Arleph Ardan's Icicle Ground for 90 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied heals Cecilia Adlehyde! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde guards a hit from Berserk's Concussive Carnage for 43 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Cecilia Adlehyde!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius doesn't like those first three words. Of all the details and imminent threats to his continued existence surrounding him, he knows for sure he does not like those first three words.
        The quick-footed Quarter Knight can even catch the white-haired Symbologist's gaze darkening on a slow-moving gradient. In the time she talks, he could get off a Symbological spell - but he dares not risk it at the juncture where she has her full attention on him.
        He doesn't seem intent to take her up on her offer, but there's something interesting about the noise of Azrael's blade he almost misses in the maelstrom of racket from three collective brawls at once, and the blinding blur of flames erupting everywhere over from Agatha's own quartered off (thirded-off?) playground along the chamber. If it is, could he--
        His eyes widen as she catches the staff in her elbow, jerking the injured shoulder to send pain screaming down the forearm and upper back. He has yet to feel just how deep that first gash went. He chooses not to contest her strength directly, releasing his hold of the quarterstaff as he steps back--
        Not fast enough to avoid harm. She can hear him wheeze right through the yellow bandanna that obscures his face from the nose down as she cracks that thrust dead-on in his solar plexus. He falls to a crouch, clutching his chest with his healthier hand as he becomes unarmed. Were it not for Dean and Tesni opening fire, Harken could've scythed his head clean off at the neck if she were of the mind.
        She still probably could.
        Over yonder, the statue of Odoryuk explodes, showering Ethius in a mocking spray of rubble that is too small to merit more than dull flinching on his left side. What doesn't wound him physically, pokes him harder in his very mind as he sorts out the situation within the context of still reeling from both that first gash across his upper back and losing the wind from his lungs. This is... a fourth complication. His eyes glance at another person bathed in Malevolence hurling themselves at the red-haired dervish. Fifth complication.
        He knows there is a word for this, more of an acronym. Five letters? It's not important to remember now.
        Keeping one hand at his chest, wondering if Harken is the sort to keep her eyes on weakness rather than strength, Ethius coughs once as he begins to mutter syllables. His more injured hand tries to lean out of her peripheral vision range as she deals with some other issues, twisting fingers into arcane gestures in tandem. By the time he finishes chanting, the lights that form around him will give him away.
        By then he hopes he's just faster to the draw - or at least a draw among draws, one can't hope to actually be faster than her - as he thrusts the injured hand forward to a spray of bright, blinding, kind of colorful electrical sparks to wash the red-headed duelist in.
        One guesses that's Dumb Human Symbologist for 'no, I won't beg for mercy because I am a dumb and a stupid,' and if one looks into accents, can also mean 'I'm so desperate I'm not even standing back up because I am a dumb and a stupid.'

GS: Rosaline Calice takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Flatten for 56 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Lady Harken with Sparkler!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes 9 damage from Poison!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

She sees her allies are fighting hard and she's not feeling so well from something else, the Quarter Knight must have done something else to her in the fight but she knows not what it was. As she faces down Lady Harken she has a steely look about her. She moves rapidly she pushes her body to it's limits which has been hardened by her time on this world.

 "Sorry your not my type!"

 Tess is going o have a bad day even with how fast she is for a human the wave of energy comes right at her. It's not looking too good but by a miracle she's not caught directly and the wake is still terrible to take she's in pain she's clearly hurt and burned by it.

 "Not done...yet but if you want something more persona!?"

 She readies some symbology how did it come to this she was just an archaeologist? She was no one special she was a speck and here she was against an alien terror. Maybe she was supposed to crash here? She had come to care about this world and it's people, to the point she's taking on a Quarter Knight. She reaches out with her powers attempting to use a bolt of Telekinetic force to strike at the quarter knight.

 "You'd not like it if I got all personal. Then again you have, haven't you?!"

 Here on a dying word in the most feared system in known space she stands, but she's not alone at all. She is far from alone in the fight, still how long can she take fighting someone you should really go after using a Gear.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied looks deeply stressed as Lily heads off, drawing upon that sword of hate as she heads to fight Agatha. As Leon moves to engage Harken. As Hammer panics and flails and shouts that they're gonna die. It's come to this now-- she bites her lip as she continues to shake in the self-sustained prison she's created in her mind--

        It's alright! Riese!

        What will you do?

        The voice sounds ever so clearer to her now. A voice that has become dislodged from the deepest depths of her subconscious. Her eyes widen as she stares towards a nearby shield--

        ... we have this handled.

        The Unchained Devil emerges from within Ida, and that panic settles in that much quicker. The sensation of Malevolence creeping towards her, like soft tendrils at the very edge of her mind.

        The frozen corpse shakes her head, inside her mind. She rises from the chair at the centre of their mindspace.

        There's nowhere else to go.

        Her rotted fingers, befouled with blood, reach to seize Riesenlied's face.

        Odoryuk's finally called you out. Why do you think he called you here?

        She squeezes.

        Face the truth. You can't escape it anymore. Cause. Here. He. Comes--

        Berserk's palm seizes Riesenlied's skull and lifts her up, prompting her to just-- dangle as he effortlessly pulls her up. There's very little resistance, to the point where she may as well even not try. It is the efforts of a little ant to resist the power of a tidal wave.

        Her barriers attempt to keep hold--

        But with each strike, that life link of hers prompts her to scream and thrash further, seeping back into her with a terrified, agonised scream.

        Her barriers shatter, one by one. It is as if she's been struck a mortifying wound, again and again. Her vision blurs, not that she's able to see anything but the palm of the Quarter Knight's hand.

        But where they abscond from the statue...

        Her eyes shot wide as she feels every fibre of her being trembling in fear. Towards the remnants of that Sealing Rod, now fused onto the arm of Berserk, intertwined with flesh.


        Riesenlied's question is perplexing, because there should be no question about who anyone is in this scene. Herself, Cecilia, Noeline... Berserk, Harken-- all the players are here. Accounted for. Known.

        "Who... I can't hear... I can't..."

        But helpless as it is, as the barrier cascades further off the statue, shimmering weaves of feather-like photons alight upon the winds of danger. They float, and fragments of her will find themselves to the Drifters close to the Princess--

        Towards Tethelle, and Rudy; perhaps those that would have the most misgivings of her, as a Metal Demon, as a Hyadean. But it doesn't stop her from granting a fragment of her power to them, while they're all collectively struggling against Berserk.

        And towards Leon as well, as he struggles against the blades Harken throws at him -- and towards Hammer, perhaps giving the Black Wolf Captain much needed purchase and to worry less about his escort.

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Leon Albus with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied heals Leon Albus! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Tesni Inoue has attacked Lady Harken with TK Bolt!
GS: Tesni Inoue takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Tesni Inoue has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.

"I'm not mistaken," Garrett remembers, teeth gritting as the frost in the air thickens. "You've just forgotten. But don't worry, El." She hated that nickname. He used it all the time once upon a time. When she would chase him around the grounds, younger times. Happier times.

Different times.

"I'll help you remember." The voice is quiet, soft, erased by a backfist that crashes into him. He skids backwards across his own ice. Blood drips from the corner of his mouth, staining the pale, frozen corpse of a smile crimson. "I'll peel you out of that wrapped they forced you into carve by carve if I half to!"

The actions he takes are anything but soft or gentle.

Against the backdrop of the Guardian's statue exploding, Garrett charges Harken. Intent on the woman he seems not to care for the destruction of the world, what it could mean if the other Quarter Knight can destroy sealed statues. He doesn't care, as long as Harken falls first.

"Where do you think you know me from? Where do you think you know the Knight's techniques!" As he charges the frost around him takes shape, a half dozen misty forms of great wolves of the north suddenly charging with him. They leap as he slashes, a confusion of blade and fang and magic. "I will make you remember! And then I will take Alhazad's head!"

Look he's never been good at logic.

GS: Riesenlied heals Tethelle Cirdian! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Lady Harken with Wolves of Worlds End!
GS: Garrett Stampede takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Garrett Stampede has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna widens her eyes in surprise as Rosaline Calice of all people starts spewing Malevolence. Ida's surprising too, but somehow less so - she's seemed miserable enough lately that Catenna has to admit the naturalist-turned-pugilist would've made a tempting morsel.

She breathes out her surprise in a slow sigh and momentarily gauges how many times she'd have to punch Ida in the face before she could pump the purple out of her, and how many times Ida would have to punch her back to prevent her from doing it. She stops counting when she realizes that trading punches with Ida would probably not end well.

It really wouldn't end well, actually.

The thoughts are ridiculous ones; more important is the matter of defeating Berserk. The priestess presses her lips together anxiously as the huge Metal Demon goes hurtling out of the tower. Hopefully that's it.

It isn't. Berserk lunges right back at her, out of the gravity well, and swings at her. There's a shock of pain as Catenna goes down, crumpling onto her side.

When she looks up again, it's not by much, and mostly to bring her hand up to her jaw and make sure it hasn't been dislocated. She tries to focus on actually seeing things but finds herself mostly seeing spots and stars in front of her eyes as her mind struggles to refocus through stupefying levels of pain.

The first thing she sees when her vision does clear is Berserk destroying a sealed Statue with a warped Sealing Rod.

If Catenna's blood could physically turn to ice, it would. She clicks her teeth together and lets out a soft hiss of breath through her teeth as a little voice inside her informs her in no uncertain terms that Filgaia is doomed.

She sets her aching jaw - and tightens her grip around her sword. Her fingers press into the hilt hard enough that her knuckles begin to go white - even whiter than her face is. Well, as white as her dark complexion can get.

Catenna stays down, keeping her body turned away in the hopes that Berserk will forget she's there. All the while, she's shifting her grip on her blade. She waits a moment for someone else to draw his attention, watching the way he moves that massive arm --

And then she winds up and throws her short, curved sword. It whirls through the air, spinning end over end like a buzzsaw...

...as she attempts to hit Berserk's limb with it, trying to cut his arm off without actually getting into melee range.

"Tethelle!" she shouts to the only swordswoman she knows is here. "We have to sever that arm!"

GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Close Range Slash!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

It turns out that Lydia's horns aren't stronger than Harken's face. Once again, her horns are smashed to pieces as Harken's skull slams against her and sends her skidding across the ground. Lydia lies there, coughing rapidly. "Guh...gahhh...!!" Harken is far faster than Lydia, even if she's a pretty quick beastman she just can't compare. She curls up into a ball and holds her hands against her head, whimpering in pain. She doesn't know fear, but she definitely knows pain. Those are sharp and made out of bone. They're starting to knit themselves back together, which is definitely strange, but Lydia eventually manages to stand up back to her feet and push her back up against the wall.

"Riese..." She manages, unable to strike back because of her crippling pain. "Is makin' a new world, you just wanna conquer the old one. She'll get to live happily here with her people, while the rest of you'll be fossils."

She looks over to Riese and yells at her, "So you better not give up, Riese!! Never never never...!! The future's countin' on you!"


Hammer yelps as he ducks under a knife. The knife takes off his hat and slams it firmly against the wall. Hammer is told by Leon to abscond and he says, "Ye....yessir!! B..b...but..."

He throws a pair of rosesols at Leon and Lily. "Take this!!"

And then he realizes he still has one in his hand and he looks around for someone who looks like they could really use one. He ends up flinging it at Ida. "Hey girl! Take that! On the house!"

He then runs back out the tower, no doubt hiding nearby.

GS: Lydia Seren has activated a Force Action!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lily Keil with Hammer Is Helping!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Leon Albus with Hammer Is Helping!
GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Hammer Is Helping!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Catenna's Close Range Slash for 50 hit points!
GS: Leon Albus takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Hammer Is Helping for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Leon Albus gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
GS: Lily Keil takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Hammer Is Helping for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Lily Keil gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Hammer Is Helping for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Ida Everstead-Rey gains 15 extra FP from Lydia Seren!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"I'd rather you take your dog back with you," Leon answers Harken smartly. "But I doubt you'd be so inclined."

Harken sends the kunai flying -- and the two of them slam into his stomach. Blood wells up; his white shirt and vest begin to be stained red, as he stumbles back against the wall with a hiss. Harken's attention is drawn to Matilda -- and Leon takes the moment to loosen his vest, then pull it tight around his midsection, before he bleeds out on it. "Nnh--damn it, too damned fast..."

He lifts Argent Divider up; his hand shakes, slightly, as he draws his bead on Harken. Then, he pulls the trigger, and a shotgun blast goes flying away from the barrel, hurtling towards the Quarter Knight.

He doesn't stay put after that. Leon sprints across the battlefield, ignoring the terrible burning in his stomach. The bloodied kunai are left on the ground -- and a trail of blood that falls over him. He keeps one hand pressed, tightly, over the wound.

'I've had worse,' he tries to tell himself. He wishes he could remember when that was.

The answer comes a moment later when the statue of Odoryuk explodes and a chunk of stone comes screaming through the air, straight for his head, and then bounces off a well-timed barrier of golden light. Leon keeps running, but his eyes turn towards the Wolves fighting Berserk. "He--he corrupted a sealing rod!" Leon yells. "Riesenlied, Noeline! Princess! TAKE HIM OUT!"

He keeps running, eyes on Harken -- but he keeps track of where Hammer is. He glances sideways at him, then his hand snatches the roseol out of the air. He gulps it down while moving. He does call out, though: "Good work, Hammer!"

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Lady Harken with Shotgun Blast!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: Riesenlied heals Rudy Roughnight! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        'Dean... I feel that something terrible is about to happen.'
        Dean doesn't even have the time to process Avril's ominous statement before all Berserk breaks loose, and soon they find themselves embroiled in battle against Lady Harken. Avril pushes him away in an attempt to get him to safety, and Dean moves into a defensive position that allows him to weather the worst of Harken's attack, but Avril's still open, and she gets a long cut, already bloody, along her arm.
        "Avril!! You be careful too!" he calls to his friend. Still, the two of them fall in together, and he smiles when she says she's fine. "I've had worse!" he reassures her. This may not be *that* reassuring considering he's had worse less than a week ago, and also considering that Lady Harken's only just getting started.
        "--huh?" Dean turns his widened eyes towards Ethius. He's a Veruni? Like Kaguya? Is that really true? Or is Harken mistaken? There's plenty of room for *that*, because when she addresses *him*, for some reason offering him the chance to lay down his weapons too. "Are you kidding?! Me, surrender?!" he shouts back, more offended by this than anything any Metal Demon has said to him so far. "I promised the Guardians I'd do everything I could to help them! And even if I hadn't--I'd NEVER surrender and abandon my friends!!"
        His blow strikes true, and her armor does catch flame--and in return, Harken offers him a 'warning,' then lashes out a kick at his midsection. That warning does allow him to steel himself before the blow lands, however quick it is... but some of the injuries he sustained were cracked ribs. His eyes bulge as the air escapes his lungs, and he's send careening back several feet before he lands on his back, wheezing and out of breath.
        Even so, he pulls himself to his feet, trembling. Because Dean's just not the type to give up. "Th-that's the spirit, Matilda!" he calls, rallying himself. "Even if you've been hurt a lot by things that happened in this world--there's still lots of this in the world left for you!" Now that he's steady, he charges back in towards Harken, this time aiming low at her legs and hips. She called him a runt, and that didn't bother him; Dean knows he's short. Besides, when you're short, you can unbalance bigger guys better, such as he tries to do when he WHAMS his paired pistols around towards Harken's hip armor, trying to unbalance her with double blunt force, strengthened by how he throws the weight of his entire body into the attack.
        He shoves himself back at the last second, landing nimbly on his feet, so he doesn't end up going down or backwards with Harken. "So let's keep pushing these jerks back, together! We'll show them they can't just do whatever they want to us and our friends!" He grins over his shoulder at his silver-haired friend. "Right, Avril?!"
        This touching moment is shattered just as surely as the Statue of Odoryuk by an explosion on the other side of the room, underscored by Berserk's wild laughter. Dean's grin blinks out like a dead filament as he stares in horror at the ruined Statue. That Statue that should have been sealed... is now irreparably broken into countless pieces.
        How can this be?
        Dean shakes his head like a wet dog to bring himself back to his senses, but it's clear even the usually indomitable young man has been shaken.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Lady Harken with Twin Drive!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 "Oh come now, Lily," Agatha chides her friend. "Clinging to humanity certainly makes the process less comfortable, but believe me when I say that your transition was far less difficult than mine was. The amount of power you would have gained upon completing your Hellionization would have been dramatic. With your potential, you could have rivaled the Lord of Calamity given a year or two of development and guidance. And you let it all go to waste, accepting the fetters placed upon you by the jealous trash that call themselves gods on this world."
 She seems pleased that Lily is shrugging off the blow, and as the other woman summons a cascade of ice spears from above, the slam into Agatha before she has a chance to back off. But the blows do not leave behind bleeding wounds, but instead rips in Agatha's clothing and skin that leak rivulets of liquid fire and darkness before they seal themselves closed.
 "You say that you can deal with pain, but the two of us know better, don't we Lily," the witch whispers warmly. "You push other people away because while you can deal with your own pain, the pain of others that you care for tears at your heart more deeply than you'd ever admit." The Pyre Witch rises into the air, and traces a symbol in liquid fire. It hangs before Lily for a moment, a flaming brand that shrieks of anguish...
 And then hurls off into the fighting near Berserk.
 Heading right for Leon.
 "Hatred. Suffering. All routes to freedom from the chains the gods have placed on you all. Drink it in. Be what you were meant to be, dear Lily. More than human."
 The shot from Layna's pistol slams into Agatha's cloak, and the material spirals about for a moment to rob the bullet of its momentum. And while it doesn't actually strike the witch directly, she *does* look pained by the impact - as if her sense of touch extended to her unnaturally active accoutrements instead of just her physical body.
 "Forgiveness? Such worthless sentiments, offered by those who are not strong enough to shape the destiny of others. You do not *forgive* people who oppose you - you twist them to your designs, or you destroy them," the Pyre Witch replies in a low and threatening tone of voice. "I have shaped the lives of men for generators, as a sculptor molds clay to his whims. You are no different - so consider well if you wish for me to be your enemy."
 Agatha lowers one finger, pointing it at Layna... and she speaks three words. Horrible. Black. Words.
 Words that burn the ears and shake the mind if understood, a cursed speech that only Layna can hear... and which she will regret if she does.
 And then Arleph unelashes another barrage of ice towards her - it seems that her propensity for fire is attracting them to use an opposing element. The shards crash into her, and Agatha weathers the attack, smashing through the barrage of shards and accepting that some of them are going to hit. Like before, the wounds the ice leaves behind do not bleed red, instead leaking a black and red mixture of ichor and fire. And she smiles thinly at the Doctor.
 "Ah, but why do I need you to heal me," she states, her cloak pulling in close to her and passing over the damage done to her body. There is a convulsing motion, and when she withdraws the cape the wounds have closed, leaving behind only a faint, fading line on her flesh to show their prior presence. "I am not a creature of flesh any blood, needing the comfort of medicine or magic. The younger Hellions may retain a connection to their former selves, but I am older than humanity itself. I watched the Goddess Althena first set foot onto Lunar with her ragged followers.
 "Do not think you can impress me, human."
 Agatha holds one hand above her head, and the darkness around her swirls upwards, congealing into a mass of darkness that swirls there like a black cloud. The witch smiles... and then the entire mass bursts into flames.
 Black hungry flames.
 The entire mass takes the form of a winged gargoyle, streaking forth and aiming to grab onto Arleph and drive him to the ground, savaging and burning him with a horrifying fury - the flame itself alive and malicious in its attempts to hurt him.

GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Leon Albus with Curse Sign - Lamentation!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Layna Manydays with Witch's Black Words!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Arleph Ardan with Black Flame!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Layna Manydays takes a glancing hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Witch's Black Words for 70 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Layna Manydays!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        Noeline doesn't honestly expect her killing blow to be a ... well, a killing one. Berserk is a mountain, and she's already used up most of her luck today in dealing with everything else that's come their way - far more luck than would be necessary to manage something like that from just a single strike.

        Still, she drives the full force of her strength into it nonetheless, hoping beyond hope that they might actually be able to accomplish something of worth; at the same time, she braces, instinctively knowing that a counterattack won't be far behind. She's made a point of watching how each of the Quarter Knights fight - once a spy, always a spy - and she knows that Berserk's stance is aggressive and uncaring enough for that to be the case.
True enough, her scythe doesn't bite home, not fully - and it's all she can do to jerk back in response to the lessened impact, immediately pushing away from the Quarter Knight's form to try to grasp and claw for every inch of distance. It works, but only because Berserk is there to lend a hand, the shattering blow sending her scattering back in a rather ungainly tumble. Somehow, she manages to find her feet, or at least her hands and knees, and waits the few moments she needs for the world to stop spinning around her.

        "--I don't want to hear that from you. You think I'm doing this just for the sake of humans? You think the name 'Hyadean' means anything when represented by a petty tyrant like yourself? By a monster like Alhazred? By a hatred like Mother's?!" she adds louder, spitting the names out one by one - she doesn't need to see to yell that much, and it gives her the precious instants needed to regain herself, to find her feet again.

        Even as a stalling tactic... there's genuine, heartfelt anger behind her tone, kept barely in check with the last threads of her patience.

        When she next looks up, Berserk has Riesenlied in his massive hand, pointed towards the statue - and that lifts the fire in her veins up higher, her eyes alight with the feel of it. The statue explodes around the crowing, laughing creature, but Noeline's attention has narrowed too tightly to recognize and register it, only lodging the fact at the back of her mind.

        The one virtue of Berserk's arrogance is that she can use it to her advantage. The demon is too drunk on his own victory, arm raised to the sky as he crows and already beset by several drifters - and before she consciously knows her own plan she's bolted forwards, the living metal of her scythe rearranging itself into nothing more than an overly long spike of metal protruding from her palm. It would be impossible to call it a rapier - it's too simple, too utilitarian for any word as grandiose as that...

        "--let-- her-- go," she growls softly, just behind Berserk.

        ... and she simply rams it home into Berserk's back, pressuring the point through armor and chitinous skin.

GS: Noeline has attacked Berserk with Cutting Words!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a glancing hit from Noeline's Cutting Words for 71 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Berserk!
DC: MISS! Leon Albus completely evades Curse Sign - Lamentation from Agatha Pyrelight!
GS: Arleph Ardan takes a solid hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Black Flame for 165 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon is running on adrenaline. Some of the usual refinement he expects of himself is gone -- and thus he ducks just under the terrible brand, which slams into the wall. It smokes and burns, a thick purple.

He shouts at Agatha: "Talk shit, I don't get hit!"

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Tethelle wants to talk to Rosaline, but the latter is already in ultraviolence mode. MAYBE LATER.

Rosaline has daydreamed about the look on Berserk's face. It's made the torture of her daily existence tolerable, calmed the nightmares. It's reminded her that she may have lost everything, but she gained SOMETHING in the process, something she had wished for so long.

One look at Berserk's face, and Rosaline feels something she rarely allows herself to: joy.

And so, she laughs uproariously as her claws tear into not only those surprisingly sturdy bandages, but the seemingly invincible Demon's metallic flesh. Yes. YES. YES!

And then she sees the rod.

She remembers that day in Little Twister, with Gwen, Rudy and Marcus Rider. She remembers her failure. She remembers the fear she felt upon processing the implications of the rod's theft, but that problem had just been added to the pile, just yet another dire threat to the world, to be sorted out when any of them had even one second.

A split-second's hesitation passes, and a gigantic hand crashes into her, knocking all the wind out of her and cracking several ribs in a single swipe. She sees Ida, right out the corner of her eye, sees the impdending collision, and jams her claws in Berserk's arm as leverage so she can flip out of the way and land safely a few feet away.

Ida is not so lucky.

Rosaline watches her friend get nearly pulverized. And yet, the horror is not over, as a moment later, because of her failure, Berserk has done the impossible.

"I," she says, as she breathes heavily, purple miasma pulsing from her body in billowing waves, only to be drawn back in, feeding the flames until they wreath her entirely. The supernatural heat warps the very air around her-- Berserk would have to be completely blind to miss it.

"Am going to KILL YOU!" she bellows out at the top of her lungs, screaming her throat raw as tears pour down her cheeks and flames explode out of her and wash onto the Metal Demon like a tsunami. This familiar battlecry had almost become an empty threat over time, as her foes grew more skilled and dangerous-- and who could be more dangerous than Berserk, at this very moment? But the rules have changed. She has power now, power drawn straight from the rich wellspring of rage and sorrow she has built up her entire life, and continues to with each passing day.

And yet, there is still a measure of joy in Rosaline's heart, for today, either a Quarter Knight dies, or she does, and either will be a tremendous kindness upon the world.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Berserk with Spontaneous Combustion!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a glancing hit from Rosaline Calice's Spontaneous Combustion for 160 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle catches the sword like she knew exactly what it was going to do. She probably did.

Unfortunately, she also catches Berserk. It's not as deadly as his opening blow, and doesn't send her flying across the room, but it temporarily checks her advance; she staggers back under his momentum, sliding back a foot or two before recovering.

It's hard for her to talk for a moment, having just had the wind knocked out of her. Tethelle focuses through the stunning blow and pushes forward, both physically and mentally; as Berserk turns away, she starts to move again, raising her sword despite the stiffness from her increasing injury. "I was unable to protect the Teardrop then," Tethelle acknowledges. "Call me sorry or weak if you like. But she lived, and I lived - and as long as I live, I can fight you!"

But Berserk has something that she didn't know about. Tethelle didn't even know such a thing was possible, as she sees/feels the horrible twisting of the sealing rite. She does not scream about the unfairness of such a thing, because it will not change anything. She does not cry out in despair, because despair means she's giving up.

Instead, she rallies her determination. This is a thing that should not be, a darkness that threatens the forces that sustain the world.

So she will make it not be. A sword against the darkness. Equites said she would be one, one day. Tethelle will make that day today.

Tethelle reaches for her hip, drawing out a stone tablet - a Medium, one with a complex symbol inscribed upon it. She doubts that Berserk will recognize it, but many of the others will: the symbol of Equites. She holds it against the hilt of her sword, gripping it and the two-handed blade at the same time.

"BERSERK!" Tethelle's voice booms out. Riesenlied - Riesenlied, of all people! - is sustaining her, the energy flowing into her; Tethelle almost is shocked out of what she was about to say because of it, but she lets it flow into her. The lines of the Medium begin to glow, Equites' symbol shining a pure silver. She gives Catenna a slight nod - she hears. But it will take her a moment.

The glow starts to work its way up Tethelle's arm. She swings, silver chi gathering along the blade and lashing out in a long cutting arc toward Berserk, tearing up some of the floor as it cuts its way to him.

"You have gone too far, Berserk! This - this - I will not allow it! And this time, I will not fail!"

DC: Tethelle Cirdian switches forms to Sword Shaman Tethelle!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Berserk with Blast Slash!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Blast Slash for 62 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Berserk's head snaps to the side. He staggers. the Malevolent sun in Ida's chest grows brighter at the sight of it, feeding off the feeling of SWEET VINDICATION flowing through her. "'Weasel', yes," Ida says. "I'm sure you remember me." And the explosives. Berserk evidently does, because he plows into Ida like a freight train, swinging a massive fist for center-mass. Ida's never gotten directly hit by Berserk during any previous fight, mostly because he hits hard enough that a full-on impact would pulp flesh, pulverize bone, splatter blood for dozens of yards.

        Ida is hit, dead-on. Riesenlied's shield flares brightly, as if in defiance of the thought of Berserk hurting her. Then it winks out of existence, collapsed by the force of the strike. The impact knocks Ida off her feet, sends her tumbling. She hits a pillar with a sharp crack, followed by the sound of crumbling stone. Gravity takes over, and Ida slowly slides down towards the floor, leaving a roughly Ida-sized crater in solid stone.

        Moments later, Berserk reveals his secret weapon. Ida's eyes widen, and her jaw goes slack. The flame of Malevolence in her heart dims, ever-so-slightly. Chips of stone and clouds of dust billow out into the room--five seconds ago, they were part of a sealed Statue. The game has changed.

        Berserk has demonstrated a new and world-shattering power. Ida's guts churn, queasily, inside her as she tries to take in what happened, but it's not the rage she felt when she thought Riesenlied cost everyone a Statue. It's not the gut-wrenching conflict and resigned helplessness she felt when Kalve's ferroflora destroyed the Statue of Dinoginos.

        Berserk has to die. He has to die here, and he has to die ugly. He has to die, and--for once--Ida is perfectly-placed to actually do something to save Filgaia.

        Ida rises to her feet. "Ride the wave," she says to Rosa. She shakes her head, then. "I suppose now is as good a time as any!" Both of Ida's hands dart behind her, into the shadows of her overcoat, and come up with metal objects. A thin, branched, nerve-like filament someone could mistake for wire. A hollow, metallic cylinder half an inch across, sawed on each end to reveal a honeycomb-like mesh of hexagons. A certain fang that Riesenlied would recognize. Metal Dragon remains, all of them. Bits reserved from the cache Riesenlied and Noeline and Ida retrieved, together.

        "I'm going to do the right thing, Riesenlied," Ida whispers. Malevolence licks up from Ida's palm, infusing the parts floating in the air before her. They start to warp and twist--more bits fly out of Ida's coat, seemingly of their own accord. ARM parts. Things she scrounged up but never got the chance to put together. They assemble, spontaneously, forming an ARM that looks distressingly like Devil's Due.

        "Peacemaker," Ida decides. It's as good a name as any. As Rosaline vents her fury, Ida aims at Berserk down the gun's iron-sights, and pulls the trigger. The Dragon Filament in the gun ignites, sending a tongue of flame racing at the Quarter Knight with a sound like a dragon's roar.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Berserk with Desecration Flame!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a glancing hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Desecration Flame for 72 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Then--a voice, and a Rosesol spray pitched overhand towards her. Ida snatches it out of the air without even trying, flashes Hammer a toothy grin and a thumbs-up, and presses the spray trigger.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Oh, Cecilia thinks on some low level that manifests mostly as widened eyes and an ajar mouth; them's hellions.

Ida releasing that AWFUL POWER is maybe the most jarring thing. (Rosaline is not a person Cecilia has met before and therefore only receives only marginal acknowledgement from the monarch) Seeing the two of them scream and release is awesome in the most dreadful way, and her skin crawls at the sight of it. So this is what they've let themselves become...

But Jack is even worse. Seeing the way he smiles now, the power he now releases...her lips purse together. Rudy tried, but...this may just not be a time that they can reach him. Certainly not now, with the Quarter Knights in front of him. And they're so confident that they can handle the Quarter Knights...what, just the three of them?


She flinches and feels the flow of the Leyline through this place. Something's coming. The Guardians are worried. The Demons terrify them. They know; Berserk, for all he is a brute, is no FOOL. This is not how he reacts to being stymied. He thinks he has a plan. She tenses up, throwing her barrier up again. Her staff shines in response to that attack and it blunts the blow, a faint outline of shimmering light trembling before Berserk's raw, staggering power; but she's still knocked entirely off her feet, sent flying until she hits the ground hard, the wind knocked out of her. "Ugh," she groans, struggling to rise, but she's only on her elbows when it happens. "No..." she croaks out, as she sees the lines form. She feels it, her head throbbing as the Guardians, as one, surge in alarm. "No!" she calls, rapidly rising, ignoring the way her vision swims. "NO!"

The statue explodes, the spiritual eruption cascading little streamers of Leyline light, seeking desperately to ground back into the soul of the world. She stands - transfixed by horror.


Cecilia looks up, at a gathering pinpoint of light, sparks of power gathering from the shattered statue until a mote of light gathers together into a bead, and from a bead to an orb to a flickering nexus of power.

        Life is irrepressible. Gods, Guardians, Demons and men will oppose you. Let none obstruct your way. Learn the great lesson of all that lives. If the path is blocked...break through!

The mote flashes, once, twice, pulsing with light, and then transforms; a stone medium tablet flashing into being and dropping into Cecilia's hands. Her fingers curl around it. Walk it as long as she can. "Let none obstruct our way," she murmurs, in echo, and her eyes turn up. "Berserk," she breathes, and her staff rises. "We don't have a choice this time," she breathes, staring at the horrible, twisted mess of Berserk's arm. "We have to break his defenses somehow..." she murmurs.

She doesn't call the spell, but another Medium leaps from her case, throbbing before her with light. Grudiev appears before her, shrieking his defiance. Berserk's seen this song and dance before, as the Guardian of Earth fires a pulsing bolt of light across the distance - slamming into him and ripping up the ground around him, providing some measure of protection to the people fighting.

Her fingers curl around the new Medium, tightening even more. "How...there has to be a way...!"

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Material - Magnetron Bomb!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a glancing hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Magnetron Bomb for 130 hit points!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde takes Cover! She gains 50 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

In the distance, the Statue...explodes. Layna can't see it through the wall of fire, but she can hear the people startled by it's destruction. Layna curses under her breath, but isn't comfortable taking her attention off her opponent for long.

"Well, y'know, I can't say you're wrong, there." Layna replies with a shrug. After all...she wanted nothing more than to see the entirety of Krosse crushed for what they did to her and her people. But she would do it under her own power.

"But don't think I'll let you shape me. Did you get Rosa and Ida too, or was that just a happy accident?" Layna's defiance is soon tested, however. She stands on guard as Agatha points at her, preparing to avoid another of those flaming skulls...

...But the assault that comes does not come from a direction she expects. Layna lets out a screech and recoils back, clutching her head. Those awful, maddening words reverberate inside her head.

They won't stop.

They won't stop.

She can barely hear herself think. With a hiss and an incantation she can't even hear she gestures toward Agatha, and blades of wind launch out toward her, aiming to slice and tear at her.

They're looking a little unstable...but no less dangerous for it. But can she actually reach her target...?

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Cutlass Gale!
GS: Layna Manydays takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Agatha Pyrelight takes a solid hit from Layna Manydays's Cutlass Gale for 166 hit points!
GS: Poison, Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Agatha Pyrelight!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        Indeed, it isn't precisely a comment that brings Avril any real comfort. Her mouth presses into a worried line, but, still she inclines her head in a shallow nod. "Yes..."

        Please, be safe, Dean...

        'Look at you'.
        Harken speaks to her, and as she drives that blade home, she does not at first fully parse it. Some call it flow -- when a body is consumed in action and the completion of that action, where thought is erased. Like playing an instrument is to some, the blade is to her: she doesn't think but instead does.

        Sparks rain out in a spray.
        It's close. It's so very close to being right -- a sensation that resonates somewhere down to the roots of the young woman as she drives forward, sword borne before her.

        It's been a mystery since the day she awoke -- a mystery like all the other mysteries that have ever hounded Avril Vent Fleur. Swordplay comes as easily to her as walking: she merely considers the direction in which she wishes to cut, no conscious thought required for the act whatsoever.
        But this fact by no means imparts mastery: she learns, though it feels as if she is merely retracing a drawing rather than constructing from scratch.

        She knows how this line out to go, by comparison -- or rather feels it -- but the connection -- what's correct? what's incorrect? -- does not... quite...

        As if a wall stands in her way.

        In her gaze, Harken will see it, perhaps -- the flit from near comprehension of her strike's flaws to that frustrated denial as the final realization is denied her.

        "--The basics?" she echoes.

        Another thing she doesn't know. Where did she learn the basics?

        This close, the room for error is slim. She twists her blade to catch the apparent leading curve of the scythe; twists her body away, form tight. Steps back--
        The scythe sweeps low; Avril pivots to redirect her parry. It scores a gash there before she can once again create a gap where she can exist.

        Her breathing is shallow as she falls back, blade tilted shoulder to hip in a guard.

        "...I see. The basics..." Her brow furrows, as if in vague recollection of something. "'One who does not remember the fundamentals is lost'. I remember... This is true, even in battle. You are prudent. That is admirable."
        But who was it who said such a thing?

        "But prudence or not..."
        She dips her head in a short nod, as Dean invokes perserverance even in the face of such "That's right. We cannot allow you do as you please. We will--"

        The Statue of the Life Guardian explodes.

        Avril's guarded stance falters, blade dipping as she stares on in horror at the Metal Demon laughing madly, at where a statue stood. "No..."

        And she pivots towards Harken, as if the realization has struck her that--
        --that Harken isn't about to stand by and just watch as they stare at the gaping void that a statue once occupied--

        And she swings her blade, driving it similarly low at the scythe-wielding Demon.

        "The basics... I shall show you them!"

<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Lily glances once to Layna, her other ally in this matter. ...Just the once. From there Hammer calls to her, and Lily catches his offering over the wall of flames, pointing the rosesol at herself and using it immediately to charge her magic. ...Which gives her time to look to Agatha. Her 'friend', she was, that's true. ...Is? She knows Lily better than the ex-soldier would like.

"Potential," Lily repeats, dully. She watches, looking for marks... and sees the rifts that do not show wounds. This is not enough. Not yet. The work of Berserk is briefly outside her field of vision, as Agatha whispers to her, and Agatha says something that is true.

"That's ridi--" Agatha rises. Agatha traces her symbol, and Lily prepares to defend herself... Until it goes off. It travels. Agatha's words echo in her mind as Lily turns immediately, looking through the fire to Leon as it goes for him, her heart in her throat. "LEON!"

...It doesn't hit him. He dodges it. But it could have. Over and over, it plays in Lily's mind, what almost happened, what could have happened, under the soundtrack of Agatha's voice. Be... what she was meant to be. The statue cracks, and shatters, as Lily turns to Agatha again. Her eyes are wide, her expression pale; it was a good, true hit, Agatha's to Lily's heart. She is staring, for long moments, as Arleph and Layna fight her. As Agatha speaks of how old she is, Lily only sees that spell. She only hears those words, of what will get to her. Of the weak point that she has found. Agatha's lips move, but this is what she hears, what she sees.

"You..." Her breathing is up--her hands begin to shake with rage. "You want to see... me become more than human? You want... suffering?"

Forgiveness. Agatha spoke of forgiveness. Lily does not. Those words die before they get anywhere near her lips. Older than humanity...

Lily draws in another breath, and Ether swirls about her. There is a pulse of sorcerous power drawn towards her. Her eyes are still open wide, staring at Agatha, when they suddenly cloud, inky blackness spreading within them as if through water until there is no color left... until the shades of her magic, a dark prism, become pupils, and segments appear clockwise for irises. The circuitry on her hands pulses, as more of it spreds from her eyes, up her forehead, into a lock of her hair, down her cheek, down her neck. The colors shift and move.

Lily shrieks in something like hatred, and there is fertile ground for what Agatha wishes; the contradiction, the way it twists at her insides, the way the Malevolence batters at her mind and spirit, the pain of her wound--none fade. But spectral wings erupt from her back, tearing rents in her jacket, colored in red, and blue, and orange, and violet, and gold. Lily, too, rises into the air.

And in a forgotten language intones, "<Limiters released.>"

She stares forward at Agatha. "..." There is little she can say, really. She can get out no words. Instead, she lifts a hand. The shadows around Agatha darken even further than before. ...And then a torrent of flame crashes down from above, piercing through the wall of the tower to arrive, exploding towards Agatha before Lily lifts her other hand and a sudden crash of ice erupts into a field of blades all about Lily's foe. The shadows are still darkening to something of an absolute--and a golden light erupts within the darkness. Explosions of light and dark each erupt with little rhyme or reason, just sheer power channeled into an attempt at annihilation.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Lady Harken with Misty Soul!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
DC: Lily Keil switches forms to Awakened - Omega Stage!
GS: Lily Keil has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with The Island-Grinder - Maelstrom!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Agatha Pyrelight critically Guards a hit from Lily Keil's The Island-Grinder - Maelstrom for 48 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Agatha Pyrelight!
<Pose Tracker> Emma Hetfield has posed.

Berserk's weapon comes down towards Emma's skull. She goes down, although there was a tremendous shhhing! effect that may indicate that things went harder than he thought. OR weaker? Who knows! NERD DOWN, and one fewer nerds in the cosmos is probably all for the good news.

Emma is stunned by the blow, but -- as she rises up, she thinks to herself -- that screen of hers! What power... Her eyes turn towards Riesenlied for a moment, with awe, just as Berserk rushes her. Then he rushes the Statue, and --

Emma's face is a blank mask at the feeling of that wash of power.

"I refuse," Emma says, with that same blankness, "to be complicit in silence. It is quite possible, monster, that you can kill me." As she says this she is typing something desperately and quickly into the Emulator; she presumably doesn't have a total death wish here.

Then she stops.

"Break his defenses," Emma murmurs.

The Emulator is swiftly stowed and she reaches into her jacket. Out comes - what - a half-pint glass bottle? And that paste she used in the ruins?

Oh: the explosive-acid paste. Emma crams the material into the bottle, caps it with her thumb, and shakes it violently as she mutters to herself, perhaps Rudy and Cecilia, perhaps God, "I wish I knew what to say at moments like this, it's so awful. I know Zepet said I should accept how I feel, even if I don't feel much at all, but moments like this always feel so passionate."

Then she calls to Berserk. "Behold! My ultimate attack! I bet you're too cucco to take it!"

Then she throws the glass bottle at Berserk.

When hit, struck, or looked at funny, it explodes with a weird hissing wave, because high-molar acid has been snuggled carefully inside of the detonating explosive which HAD been stable but was just deliberately and anoxically agitated. The moral: Acidic pervasion.

GS: Emma Hetfield has activated a Force Action!
GS: Emma Hetfield has attacked Berserk with Alchemic Bomb!
GS: Emma Hetfield has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Emma Hetfield's Alchemic Bomb for 20 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

 Rudy stands.
 The boy with the blue hair looks at the monster, it's crocodile like form wavy in the fires of the damned. It laughs, mockingly. Despite the fact that Rudy was gifted with a horrible power that has made him some sort of monster, some sort of freak... Its meaningless against Berserk. He didn't seem forced by Cecilia's water magics, but like he allowed it. As if he could have killed them at any time. As if he was stating what was true: that nothing Rudy (or anyone else) could do could save the Quarter Knights. Nothing he could do would make a difference. Berserk's voice rang out its merciless but true verdict:
 "... You people are too. DAMN. WEAK."
 Those words haunted Rudy as he buried the dead, giving them the respect in death as a sad substitute for being unable to protect them.
 Rudy stands.
 The Outcast improved himself, strengthened himself. Forged pacts with mysterious Guardians, but still, the rest is the same. Berserk unleashed his hate and rage and it overwhelmed Rudy, even with his newfound power. Mother, some mysterious being that seems likely capable of repeating what happened at Adlehyde, may soon loom over this land. All because Rudy failed. All because nothing he could do against Berserk could make a difference.
 "And you are still weak!"
 The chance for redemption lost, the chance to undo past errs gone forever.
 Rudy stands.
 Now Berserk is here, as if offering yet another lesson in the futility of humanity. To break the hope of the people once and for all, to show there is no stopping him or his kind. The mace meets with Rudy's left forearm, pushing him across the battlefield. Feet dig in, showing the powerful muscles that reside within the deceptively scrawny body of the lad. But the red blood that drips from Rudy's arm shows that he is far from invincible.
 But people stand against the unspeakable terror. Cecilia casts to fight for a battle that she and others claimed was already won. Emma, a woman of science and not war, gives her all to stand for what she believes in. Rosaline gives in to her powerful rage, Jack and Ida seemingly have sold their souls in exchange for the power to change the course of history. Tethelle uses the sword arts that are being refined past that of a master, increasing in power in ways that few could imagine. Even those with blood stained hands find the courage to stand with these allies and wage war for a different world as Riesenlied and Noeline offer their assistance.
 Across the way, Ethius, Lydia, Avril, Dean, Garrett Leon, Matilda, and Tensi wage their own life and death struggle in the hope of survival as does Lily and Layna. Some of these people he knows as close friends and are like family. Others just trusted allies. Some are merely strangers with like cause. And they all seem to have more courage and will to win than the young boy.
 And what does Rudy do? Backing up slowly despite the healing of his gashed arm from Riese, as if a few scant feet would mean a change in his fate, Rudy unloads a cartridge that threatens to unload a powerful explosion right at Berserk's face, though the volley's aim seems more by chance than design. There are still no words from the (temporarily) cowardly outcast, choked out of the normally quiet lad by fear.

GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Berserk with Boosted Shell!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Rudy Roughnight's Boosted Shell for 60 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

         This is the sort of Malingnancy that the older Professors spoke about. The things that lies between the rifts, fueled by emotion, bad sentiment and the excessive negativity of sentient beings. The things that lurks between spots that are not searched.
         Despite this, Arleph cannot help but to stare at Agatha with a mixture of aprhension and confusion, not too sure what to make of her reactions. "For a multi-thousand years old entity, Witch, jokes and context certainly flies straight above your head, don't it? They were statements spoken on the second person. Not actually directed at you." His eyes widens, then narrows with grim determination as the black hungry flames, condensed, swirling into a menacing cloud soars at him. He's tasted the pain of dark flames, before, unholy heat and blasphemous magic anatema to how the laws of reality behaves.
         The Gargoyle powers into Arleph, the Symbologist lets out a cry of pain and rage as it's dark claws burns accross his chest and his body. They leave several lascerations accross his body, powering through his coat and shirt, leaving sight of his labyrinthine series of tattos pulsing beneath his skin. Gritting his teeth, Arleph strikes back, screaming out in an unknown tongue on Filgaia, a large Symbological circle exploding out of his body to slam into the dark flames. He'll feel it for a long time. He'll remember, it, too.
         Then the world becomes Water.
         "JUST HOW OLD DO YOU THINK HUMANITY IS, YOU ARROGANT FIRECRACKER!?" Ardan roars, the Symbol shattering out with a torrent of water, condensed and bright, into all directions to spread against the Gargoyle, then moving by it's on volition into the air to conenses around Agatha, pushing against one another, foaming against her flames to create a mighty pressure.
         "BY MY BLOOD AND BY THE UNKNOWN OF THE DEEPS!" The Symbologist continue to screams, tainting a white glove with his caked blood from the flames, squeezing it into a circle of power from his knuckles. The blood seeps between his fingers, his eyes wide, the barely concealed tattoos beneath pulsing, shimmering and flowing through the intricate, arcane symbols, all woven into one large tapistery. "MAY NEPTUNE'S JUDGEMENT BE UPON YOU, VILE EFREET!"
         The water bubble collapses upon itself, digging and powering with the gravity that can only be found deep in the ocean -- and the amount of water above it.

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Atmospheric Condensation!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Tesni Inoue's TK Bolt for 18 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Matilda Whitehead's Planting a Seed for 108 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Sparkler for 89 hit points!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Garrett Stampede's attack becomes clear!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Garrett Stampede's Wolves of Worlds End for 138 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Leon Albus's Shotgun Blast for 66 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Misty Soul for 121 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Twin Drive for 79 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Agatha Pyrelight guards a hit from Arleph Ardan's Atmospheric Condensation for 139 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Agatha Pyrelight!
<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Matilda admits that she really doesn't owe the world anything at all. But that she does what she does, in fact, for herself. And indeed, her first assumption about when to attack is a good one: with Harken trying to fistfight half of Filgaia at once, her back is turned to the lone woman making a sprint for it with little more than a knife in-hand and a heart full of desire.

"Oh," Harken chuckles ruefully as the blade sinks between two armour plates and catches on something beneath. Matilda might recognize it as the dense feeling of flesh--if perhaps with a little more resilience than the average human flank might offer. "That's a better reason than I've come to expect from your lot."

Matilda might realize that being talked to means she's been detected. And that while Harken's blood coats her blade, she doesn't crumple in defeat. And that she has but a scarce few moments to get away before the Quarter Knight grabs her by the arm and hurls her over her shoulder into the throng of the now-shattered statue's defenders.

Tesni elects to use a very simple--and effective form of attack. Harken has a hell of a physical and spiritual presence, so targeting her with the telekinetic power doesn't take much. What's worrying is that the Quarter Knight seems to be--grappling... back!?

"Ooh, how cute... but I was hoping for something with a little less distance between us." Harken taunts, unfazed by their banter. Harken curls her gauntleted fist around the bolt of mind-driven force, eyes glowing with whatever terrible furnace burns in her heart. "I'll be waiting here..."

She clenches her hand to a fist. A wave of similar force ripples back through the air towards Tesni--but she has the advantage of noticing all the debris and rubble flying at her first!

Maybe Berserk will have to give Alhazred some cred, later. The old weirdo finally found a mixture of meds to make the damn woman bearable--she sounded downright loyal back there. And now, the youngest of the Quarter Knights laughs victoriously in the wake of the statue's thundering explosion and the dizzying ramifications this might have for Filgaia's defenders. "You see? It's pointless! Your Guardians have been bested, what hope do you have!?"

Lydia rather understandably is taking a breather after getting headbutted hard enough to send her to the ground. But she catches Harken's attention again with her shouting. Whether that's good or bad is up for debate. "You think we're going to sit atop your crumbling world and admire it? Pathetic. Riesenlied was never the only one of us with grand designs, girl!"

To Leon's credit, remaining alive after being hit by what is essentially a thrown broadsword is no mean feat. "You noticed." Harken laughs tauntingly, at his observation that the Metal Demons have indeed reverse-engineered the sealing rods. She also attempts to use Garrett as a shield against the buckshot-blast of Ardent Divider in its current form. Will Leon's aim be true enough to avoid friendly(???) fire!?

"But you don't have a chance at stopping him, heh heh..." so great is Harken's hubris that she pauses to snatch a flying piece of the shattered statue from the air and hurl it at Leon's fleeing form. It's seriously really rude of her to treat him like this, isn't it? Trying to kill such a seasoned warrior like a common game animal?

But that woman of yours, why, -she- might have a ghost of a chance~...

Harken does, after that, pause to laugh with an absolutely banal lack of gravitas for the way the Black Wolves' leader barks back at the strange and unknowable being that just tried to incinerate him. Definitely humanity's finest. "

Avril seems to be caught off-guard for a moment--and it's true, Harken's question wasn't just a taunt. That the mysterious girl can defend herself a moment longer is a preferable outcome, honestly, to defeating someone lost in remembrance. "... what a shame." the Quarter Knight rumbles, turning from laughing at Leon's fortune. Maybe the flicker of uncertainty in Avril's eyes--even if only for a moment--reminds her of herself. Not that she'd admit it.
5r"There's more to you, I wager, than meets the eye... I can -feel- it." the enormous Demon in scarlet chuckles, and--turns to meet Avril's swing with a lethal curiosity. Let the girl know what it feels like to sink her weapon into another's flesh. Absolute Zero bites into Harken's breast, the blade coated in her blood.

A good use of the basics.

Dean's normally-unquenchable well of drive looks like it's hit a little bit of a snag, with the statue's destruction. His aim is true--and his logic more sound than he might realize, the Quarter Knight harried by so many targets as she is. Harken has to take a knee and skid backwards from the impact of his strike. "You should listen to your friend," she cautions ruefully. "since you've chosen not to sensibly surrender... something terrible -is- soon to happen."

Ethius can likely surmise that Harken, in her bloodthirst and dividing her attention across so many different combatants, has not been tracking individual weaknesses yet. Indeed--as soon as he seems to go down and not move to get back up, she allots that sliver of attention to another part of the fight. A more enigmatic part of the fight.

Garrett Stampede, to be precise. Shouting nonsense and half-cocked daydreams. Yet so insistent. "I do not know you, you fool." Harken barks back at him, unsure why this irritates her so. "You -really- think your swordplay and mine--" Harken you don't even use a sword "--are the same? Persistent, I will give you that!". That is about when the fallen symbologist's spell wreathes her scarlet form in sorcerous electricity, jolting her. Giving Garrett the opening he needs to charge her, flanked by visions of ferocity as he does. It is easy to strike a momentarily paralyzed foe, sure, but

 With his blade sunk in, close enough to embrace. Ah... her face is fair just
       like hers was, you know, if you can see her holding still for--

"Lord Alhazred must not be harmed." Harken's pupils shrink slightly and she regards Garrett with new, detached disposition. Now that's an interesting reaction.

Where before, Harken seemed content to tussle with the Filgaians--if you can call such brutality so cute a term--Garrett's threat seems to have flicked a switch within her. Many are those who have tried to finish the Quarter Knight off with sword, rod, spell, staff--many of whom are within five to ten paces away.

Azrael's blade flickers a filmy purple flame, giving about a second's warning before it dances free of Harken's hands at her command and splits--not once, twice, thrice, but a seemingly endless number of times. Creating a whirling tempest of bladed strikes. Ghostly afterimages of the dreadful knight make it hard to tell--where in the hell is anyone meant to defend against this from!?

GS: Lady Harken has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Dismissive Toss!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Azrael - Reaper Slice!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Azrael - Reaper Slice!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Dean Stark with Azrael - Spinning Slash!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Azrael - Reaper Slice!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Garrett Stampede with Azrael - Cross Cut!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Tesni Inoue with Spiritual Force!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Leon Albus with Guardian Rubble!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
GS: Lydia Seren guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Reaper Slice for 116 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Ethius Hesiod guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Reaper Slice for 135 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Ethius Hesiod!
GS: Tesni Inoue takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Spiritual Force for 82 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Garrett Stampede takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Cross Cut for 263 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Garrett Stampede!
GS: Leon Albus takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Guardian Rubble for 48 hit points!
GS: Leon Albus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Matilda Whitehead takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Dismissive Toss for 103 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Matilda Whitehead!
GS: CRITICAL! Dean Stark guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Spinning Slash for 177 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Dean Stark!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Reaper Slice for 109 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 If you decide that you want to taunt Agatha, you should perhaps be aware of what might happen in that case. Lily is someone that Agatha spent quite a bit of time and effort on. She isn't going to just... let that go to waste, and for all of her desire to see humanity transformed into Hellions, the Pyre Witch is appreciative of all of the possibilities that exist when it comes to exceeding humanity's limits, and attaining their full potential.
 Hellionization was just the easiest for Agatha to achieve, for... obvious reasons.
 She didn't need to hit Leon to draw out this level of anger and terror for Lily - and that was acceptable. Because it is clear that Lily is reacting *quite* strongly to the entire situation. "Ah, I could see it in you Lily. The potential - and you're living up to it quite well. This was even more than I had expected." The witch's eyes glow in exciting as Lily casts off the limits of her humanity, pushing herself further beyond...
 All that power - and it's clear that Lily is going to unleash it in one massive strike. The Pyre Witch grins, and raises one hand...
 ...and the storm of annihilation meets a wall of darkness. At least that is what it appears to be at first, but a solid mass of shadow erupts from the ground, reaching upwards towards the heavens for a moment. It takes the brunt of the blast from Lily head on, diverting it and allowing the blast to pass around the Pyre Witch to little effect.
 And then the top of the mass extends outwards - five black clawed fingers extending outwards before the entire mass slips back into the ground, and the darkness flows back into Agatha's shadow.
 Unfortunately focusing on Lily gives Layna a chance to sneak up on Agatha, and she launches into a flurry of blows, pushing through the pain that Agatha's black speech has inflicted on her. The wind blades slam into the witch, staggering her for a moment as they strike over and over again, leaving cuts and tearing off pieces of her robe after each impact. Tiny droplets of fire spray outwards, painting the ground around Agatha for a moment with a pattern of tiny burning flames.
 The witch looks at the pirate and smiles, her mouth a slash of red across her face for a moment as those burning yellow eyes focus upon her. "People fall, you know. No matter how good or noble you might believe that they are, they cannot help but feel hatred, pain, and anger. Perhaps if you had been there for them, you might have held them back. Kept them from breaking free of the chains of humanity. Your type often laments such things, feeling that the freedom that they have attained is some sort of curse. But no matter how you look at it..."
 The malevolent grin widens.
 "You. Failed. Them."
 And then Arleph decides that he wants a piece as well. Agatha has only a moment to hear his incantation, gathering a tremendous amount of water in an attempt to wash her away. She can see that this is a considerable blow that he is preparing - and Agatha is prepared for it. Her cloaks swirls about, forming a barrier between her and then incoming torrent of water. It crashes down, hammering at the witch with a considerable amount of force. The power of it would be incredibly painful for most people - even Agatha is pushed downwards by the immense pressure, and she lands on the ground, dropping to one knee as she struggles to remain upright.
 But while water might be anathema for some witches, Agatha herself merely pushes her hands outwards, and the water erupts away from her in an expanding ring - pushed back by a wave of flame. The witch rises to her feet, and grins as she looks at her opponents.
 "It seems that I should be a bit more serious now," the witch states, adjusting her hat with one hand. And she extends both of her hands out to her sides, floating off the ground for a moment.
 In her left hand appears a black flame.
 In her right, a white flame.
 The witch brings both hands together, slamming them together. The two flames clash and rage against each other, even as Agatha presses them closer and closer together, the magicks writhing against each other in agony.
 And then they can no longer resist the witches power, and collapse into a single point of light. Utter darkness surrounded by radiant brilliance.
 Agatha lets that point fall to the ground.
 And a wave of blackness rolls out from her feet, stretching out to encompass the ground Lily, Lanya, and Arleph are standing on. At first those on the ground can feel their feet beginning to sink into the darkness...
 And then it reaches up for them.
 Clawed hands, shot through with red veins and the occasional yellow irised black eye, reach up from the ground to grasp and Lily, Arleph, and Layna. The claws dig in, trying to pull them down into the black morass below. Pulling at their bodies.
 Tugging at something deeper, trying to drag everything they have into the black abyss below. Body, spirit, magic, and will.
 All beckoning them into the endless darkness...

GS: Agatha Pyrelight has activated a Force Action!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight used Mystic on Agatha Pyrelight! 100 Temporary HP gained! All statuses cleared!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Hammer's hand briefly snakes back in and steals his hat. And Harken's kunai before he goes back into hiding.


Lydia presses her hand against the wall and says, "S-so what if you can beat our Guardians? You're forgettin'...that the Guardians aren't on their own here... We'll beat you together!"

She fans her metal arm to the side and it ripples into the form of a bright shining blade, heated along the edge with the blessing of Solais Emsu as it shines with solar power.

She's weak isn't she? They're all weak. Even Riese is weak but why is it...that she feels more comfort in that than all this appearance of strength. The way Garrett is talking though. It kind of reminds her how people talked to her when she wasn't herself. She glances at him, and then laughs faintly. "Guess this is karma."

She darts off towards Harken and adds, "Well, fine...! So you have ambition...but it's nothin' to mine! I'm going to see the moon, the stars, and everything beyond! And I ain't gonna tumble to some puppet princess!"

She swipes upward at Harken. Her bladework is really sloppy but it's a very painful looking blade and you know what they say. The thing about sloppy bladework is that it can always do something unexpected, particularly in a chaotic battlefield like this.

"And Rosaline...don't lose your cool! It's just a statue!" She adds, purely because it's fun antagonizing her. "We'll beat their 'Mommy' with zero seals if we gotta!! The Guardians don't care if we fail the statues...they care we act with integrity! No regrets!!"

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Solar Slicer!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Lily Keil with Curse of the Pyre Witch!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Layna Manydays with Curse of the Pyre Witch!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Arleph Ardan with Curse of the Pyre Witch!
GS: CRITICAL! Layna Manydays takes a glancing hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Curse of the Pyre Witch for 128 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Layna Manydays!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight drains Layna Manydays! Agatha Pyrelight gains 228 temporary hit points!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

A piece of rubble comes flying in for Leon, and he jumps over it. It clips against his leg, but that hardly matters. The ex-soldier hits the wall, and he runs up it at first, dashing a good six feet up the height of the tower's wall, before he kicks off it. Leon twists around in the air and snaps Argent Divider out to the side. The barrels unfold, sliding backward, and the longsword comes telescoping out.

"We'll handle him," Leon shouts down at Harken. "You're wrong about them--about us. It isn't about looking for hope, when Filgaia is dying."

He back flips in the air, and that puts him coming down in a diagonal line that ends in Lady Harken, even as Azrael dances with Garret Stampede. He swings the silvered blade back over his shoulder. Red light shines up the length of it; chi, brought out with the sword style taught to him in Kislev.

It leaves behind an angy, crimson streak in the air when he crashes down and slashes the blade hard for Harken's side. "--it's about making hope into something real."

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Lady Harken with Riot Crash!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
DC: MISS! Lily Keil completely evades Curse of the Pyre Witch from Agatha Pyrelight!
GS: Arleph Ardan takes a solid hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Curse of the Pyre Witch for 210 hit points!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight drains Arleph Ardan! Agatha Pyrelight gains 364 temporary hit points!
DC: MISS! Lady Harken completely evades Solar Slicer from Lydia Seren!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.


"No one, trash."

Clawed fingers curl around Riesenlied's skull, exerting a slow, steely pressure. The laughter dies slowly, the chortling glee fading into a sadistic growl rumbling at the edges of Riesenlied's existence.

"No one here to save you. No one here to care. You think you're doing something 'good,' but the truth is?"

They tighten. Further.

"That kinda crap doesn't exist. You're either strong enough to get what you want, or you're the weaklings who rot in the GUTTER."

Further. Drawing so close to a final, crushing end.

"Time to say goodbye, trash. Time to get what's been coming to you since the day you were born."

And tighter--

"Time to go BACK TO THE GUTTER! GA HA H--"


"... Eh?"

He feels it. A pressure in his back, that applies -just- hard enough to slip through plates and into the thick metal hide of his alien flesh. He feels it pushing against what accounts for his nervous system, just enough, just -hard- enough -- that his hand loosens with the sudden surprise of it. That Riesenlied falls from his grasp, to hit ground beneath him as unceremoniously as he picked her up, seconds before that final, fatal exertion.

--let-- her-- go.

"Heh. You talk all fancy, but lookit you there."

And he suddenly -spins- with a speed that a creature so large and cumbersome as him should not posses. He suddenly -lashes- to ensnare Noeline by the body with his left, warped hand, letting her feel the broiling sensation of a thing that should not be, of all Alhazred's warped implants toying with the very nature of one of the Guardians' precious protective tools.


And he seeks to -hurl- her into the air, seconds later...

A thing that heralds violence in the form of a spiked mace screaming towards her at velocities that should simply not be possible.


Mist of Leyline energies swirl, desperately trying to find a place to go, a place to belong. It fills the tower like a hazy fog of yellowish white as Berserk crushes rubble underfoot, grasping the shattered clump that was once Odoryuk's head. He lifts it, within the bristling wrongness that churns within his left palm, glaring at it. "Pathetic. I keep waiting. For SOMETHING. TO ENTERTAIN ME. AND NONE OF YOU GIVE ME A GOD DAMN THING! HIT ME! HURT ME! I WANNA FEEL SOMETHING BEFORE YOU FLESHBAGS DIE! I WANT YOU TO KNOW YOU TRIED YOUR HARDEST AND YOU STILL LOST BECAUSE -THAT'S JUST WHAT YOU ARE-! WEAK AND UGLY AND--"



A shining blade of silver slices through the air before him. At the same time, Catenna lunges up, hidden amongst the rubble, her blade brandished and thrown with precision towards that all important point -- the junction between arm and shoulder on the massive Quarter Knight.

It never quite makes it.

"What the hell is this--?!" Silvery chi COLLIDES with him in a burning BURST of Equites' power, churning stone and rock to pelt into him as the Catenna's impacts harshly with his shoulder.

"ALL you LOSERS ever DO is FAIL!"

His left hand swings. And Catenna can see her sword there, lodged into that joint just enough to be stuck within, as Berserk ROARS out those deafening insults and -slams- his left fist into that mass of silvery light. As if its antithesis were surged into existence in response, the strange powers of the altered Rod -blow- it all away, leaving an ugly gash across his torso as he continues -onward- -- intent to -piston- that rod-melded fist directly into Tethelle's body in a blow that will leech at her and burn away the strengths of the barriers that Riesenlied has provided for her, -shattering- the remains of the statue's splintered head in his grasp in the process.


And it is the lash of the right hand that follows soon after, building up its momentum to unleash its weapon upon Catenna in a hurricane of spiked momentum.

A roar. A tongue of flame. A grave pronouncement. Peacemaker. He can see it, in that moment -- the barest instances of rage and fury manifesting themselves in smudges of ghastly flames at the edges of his perception. Yellow eyes squint in incredulous mockery as they stare upon Rosaline, upon Ida.

"What the hell ARE you weasels--?"

It's an almost wondering, almost baffled sentiment, muttered mere seconds before he is engulfed in twin tides of flames not composed of fire. A spark igniting by warped sentiment, that envelopes and burns at his flesh as readily as it tries to turn whatever amounts to his soul to cinders.


Body awash in purple fire, Berserk's howl is one of annoyed fury as he grips at his head with his hands, stomping earth in repeated blows of his feet that make the entire tower tremble precariously with every motion. The roar of a dragon matches his own, gutteral rage as he -snaps- himself to the side -- just in time to have a glass bottle -shatter- itself across his face. Acid explodes amidst the flames, intensifying them even as the corrosive material eats away at his thickened hide, attempts to weaken him through the sheer power of entropic chemistry in action. His hiss fills the air as he paws acid from his face, flinging globs of it through the air as the fiery demon snaps a furious stare upon Emma Hetfield.

"What was that, you precious little idiot, a nice DRINK--"

The Guardians. He felt it before, with the ebb of Tethelle's blade. He feels it again, throbbing across his alien senses in a way he knows and experiences only through his hatred as he turns his gaze towards Cecilia. "You coulda lived a nice, ignorant life before the end, princess," he utters as the flames roll off his body in Malevolent licks, as his muscles tense beneath melting armor. "Now, I'm gonna drag your sorry carcass with me and make you watch while I smash EACH and EVERY one of those statues that are so important to you! I'M GONNA ENJOY SEEING YOUR FACE WHEN MOTHER BURNS ALL YOU IMPOTENT MEATBAGS AWAY! AND WHEN IT'S ALL DONE, I'M GONNA TURN YOUR SHIN BONE INTO A GOD DAMN SCEPTER AND LORD OVER YOUR DADDY'S THRONE!"

He HURLS himself at Cecilia, eyes wide and ravenous and intent to -stop- her seconds before she can manage to summon forth Grudiev.

And he never reaches, thanks to the explosive shell that rips across his face from the barrel of a scared boy's ARM mere seconds before his clawed, warped hand can reach Cecilia.


Grudiev comes as Berserk staggers, his momentum diverted by the explosive force of that shell until he is sent barreling into a wall with the sound of a BOOM. And so arrives the Guardian, same as ever. Light screams through the air, impacting the floor beneath him in an EXPLOSION that engulfs him. Before, this would launch him away, likely off the tower. It would be the end, for them to worry about him another day. But they cannot worry about him another day. Not anymore. And besides...


... he has no intention of leaving this battleground until -everyone- here is -broken-.

"You're still. SO. WEAK!"

A whistling sound in the air. The rush of winds, building and building and building.


And that wrecking ball is UNLOADED, screaming across the battlefield to DRIVE into Cecilia, to WHIP into Rudy, to HAMMER through Riesenlied, to HOWL through Ida and Rosaline, to SLAM into Emma, each one growing stronger and more relentless the more Berserk's laughter fills the air, emerging from his hole, body smoking, red mist rising from him...

... but looking so much more -wild- than he does -injured-.


GS: Berserk has attacked Berserk with Bloodrush!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Berserk's Bloodrush for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rudy Roughnight with No Kill Like Overkill!
GS: Berserk has attacked Noeline with Disrupt Hammer!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rosaline Calice with Centripetal Slaughter!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Centripetal Slaughter!
GS: Berserk has attacked Emma Hetfield with No Kill Like Overkill!
GS: Berserk has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Riesenlied with Torment!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with No Kill Like Overkill!
GS: Berserk has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Will-Crusher!
GS: Berserk takes 9 damage from Poison!
GS: Berserk has completed his action.
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Centripetal Slaughter for 66 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Torment for 87 hit points!
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Berserk's Disrupt Hammer for 200 hit points!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian guards a hit from Berserk's Will-Crusher for 59 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Tethelle Cirdian!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Where the hell is anyone meant to defend against this from? That is a fine question Ethius is about to answer, rising up as the flames start to shine off the scythe's blade.
        If it's just him standing up, that's not a good answer... oh, that's speaking too soon.
        Ethius tests the theory to this question as he raises his healthier hand from his chest and curves it inward to a slurring of three or four syllables that - if any tiny mistake or deviance on his tongue happens - he is merely offering himself to execution.
        There is the telltale sign of Symbological spellcasting lights in the air, on the ground, from those Symbological tattoos visible from his forearms, but no follow-up beams of heat or crazy lightning storms or dust devils or anything of the sort. The very sight of Azrael's purple flames washing over him might obscure them...
        But Harken will see harsh, noisy flickers of off-white electricity every time the ghostly blades or sickly flames make contact with the Symbologist's body. Each one delivers back a forceful push upon impact against the myriad ghostly afterimages bearing all her strength, speed, cunning, and cruelty.
        Ethius keeps that forearm - flesh, blood, and Symbological inking - positioned where he is as it meets each and every blow. Just one should slice a human body into neatly divided sections. This man, somehow, avoids bisection (trisection? Polysection?) with every sharp-edged phantom that takes their whack at him.
        A sound defense. Harken may or may not have the sight to see the flickering body of electricity surrounding Ethius upon adopting that posture with the spell, but that'll be easy enough to see when the storm subsides.
        ...As is the spatters of blood and newfound gashes running up his forearm, staining his clothes at his left hip...
        This very trick is Ethius' trump card against technological threats - a Symbological shield spell that requires him to bear no heavy armor. So far, it has rendered him virtually impervious to serious injury by gunsmoke ARMs... and even heavier caliber weaponry. It made him appear that much more implacable to the rank-and-file bandits, soldiers, and other gunslingers of the Filgaian wastes.
        Against Azrael... the best it manages is a pyrrhic stalemate as that arm goes limp and his posture slumps. For a man who seems so stoic, so unflappable, so capable of simply seeing himself through grievous harm and duress through sheer grit and determination to a cause he knows he has but cannot identify the full character of, the Lady Harken strips away yet another layer or front the man can put up.
        He can't reach for his dropped quarterstaff. She would probably cut him down if he tried. He has new wounds in which to bleed out of. By all appearances, he is only human. He only has so much blood in there.
        He doesn't dare blink, as he stares forward. Destruction rains all around and behind him. Something deep down keeps shoving him.
        I can't be weak.
        It is not out of the delicious despair Agatha might seek over there. It is not out of the disbelief in his inability to muster enough power in which to strike down the Quarter Knight in front of him - or over yonder, beyond the blinding veil of flames put up by Agatha - though he had seen ample evidence that Berserk is virtually impervious to even sustained harm from the best most can muster.
        He steps past the pebbles that once made up Odoryuk's statue as they crunch under his boots, a reminder that the primary objective in which to keep the Metal Demons at bay has a new complication that could erase their previous successes. He still has yet to play his trump card in full.
        I can't be weak.
        Not when...
        Blatantly, he throws his previously more-injured arm which is now, post-ghostly-Harkenings, the less-injured arm, and twists his fingertips to the telltale signs of a heat spell. He steps forward not out of defiance, but because he doesn't want to fall over from blood loss. Any ability to verbally quip back is sacrificed so he can chant the needed syllables. Light shines anew across the surrounding air, the ground, from the crests upon his forearms.
        He moves to turn up the heat around the red-haired hot-headed duelist - to try and rob her of her pluck, to take a spring out of her step, as she gleefully overwhelms her many opponents with... speed, with technology, with...
        ...True devotion to her mission....?
        He has his own he must hold onto, for as long as he can - and then longer than that. That is what the mind says, addled as it may be with gaps.
        His body may be about to disagree.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde takes a solid hit from Berserk's No Kill Like Overkill for 229 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rudy Roughnight guards a hit from Berserk's No Kill Like Overkill for 235 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Lady Harken with Overheat!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Things do not go as well as she hoped but she's not dead yet, she did not expect the quarter knight to grapple back, oh this just got bad and she needs to up up the power on this it looks bad she feels Harken's spiritual presence it's powerful. The counter attack comes, it's brutal she's hit by not only the force of the wave but also the debris that are carried along with it. She's torn up she's bleeding at this point but this human is still standing.

 "You really think so little of us?"

 She keeps going pushing herself on-wards but it doesn't look too good for her from the looks of it, still she's got the Dead Man's arm up again and snaps off several shots at Lady Harken before she gets on the move again, more brass goes flying as she keeps moving, She fights along side people for the most part she's only known for days. Lydia, Cateanna, and Ethius. She's cut off form Arleph but she heard his chanting her find is fighting hard.

 "We do not understand how to give up as a species. Push us down we come back. Worse has tried to wipe us out and failed, and the Guardisn are just as stubborn as we are!"

GS: Tesni Inoue has attacked Lady Harken with Rapid Fire!
GS: Tesni Inoue takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Tesni Inoue has completed her action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Leon Albus's Riot Crash for 161 hit points!
GS: Emma Hetfield takes a solid hit from Berserk's No Kill Like Overkill for 143 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        "Avril? You remembered something?" Dean doesn't know the source of that quote, and as someone whose combat knowhow is all self-taught--it helps that he has a pair of ARMs that feel so *right* to him that they respond to his every motion and touch, as if they were literally made for him--but it seems like Harken's words resonated with Avril, and that, at least, brings a smile to Dean's lips. "That's great!" This is even moreso when he sees the others over where Berserk is, beyond Agatha's flames, refusing to give in--continuing to press the attack against the vicious Hyadean.
        "Bested?! What do *you* know?! The Guardians asked us all for help--and we're all still here!" he shouts, turning back towards Harken. "And you're darn right there's more to Avril than meets the eye! Even at a time like this, us humans--me, and Avril, and all of our friends--we still find it in us to keep fighting for ourself and for this world, each of us for our own reasons! Avril to reclaim her past, and me to take hold of my future!"
        Harken's scythe blade slashes and slices and whips in every which way, creating filmy flames that slice through the air, and anything they impact, as sure as if the blade itself had contacted flesh. Dean snarls in pain as one such slice tears through his side as he refuses to back away but continues to chase after the Quarter Knight with all of his strength and resolve. Blood splatters in his wake--but even so, he pushes forward, feeling the hammer-beat of his pulse in his chest, in his legs, in his lungs and throat. It's *because* of Harken's immense power that he has to give this everything he's got... because who knows how long he can keep this up?
        "Maybe something terrible... is going to happen," he gasps, head hanging for a moment as he grabs for a certain Medium from his jacket pocket. When he looks back up at Harken, it's with blazing eyes, sharpened by the power of the copy Sword Medium like the edge of a blade, focusing in on even the most minute of potential weak spots in her otherwise magnificent armor. "But you know what? Even so, the one who ought to surrender--is *you*! You guys will never get what you want if you just try to take everything by force! There'll always be people like us who won't stand for it, who'll fight back! Matilda, and Kaguya, and Ida, and Riesenlied, and everybody who's felt bent back and trod on... We've *all* got a place in this world, if we can just let ourselves and each other find a place!"
        He lifts Twin Fenrir up, each of them aimed towards the Quarter Knight, each of them aimed with his heart and will to bring this fight to an end. His fingers twitch, and in rapid succession, the pistols fire, BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM, as many times as he can pull the triggers, aimed right for where that sharp vision guided him, as he leaps up for greater height.
        "And that's why, no matter how many times you try to beat us down, no matter how many times you try to break us--we'll NEVER surrender! We'll keep trying until we find a way to save this world, no matter what reasons we've got for doing it! We won't give up, no matter how hard it gets... because anything is possible--"
        BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM, go the last of the bullets. Dean lands near Avril on his feet, body and head light, but the fire no less intense in his searing glare.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Lady Harken with Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision!
GS: Dean Stark takes 5 damage from Poison!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        The battlefield continues to erupt further around Riesenlied, even as she finds her consciousness waning and waning further. Berserk's fist is suffocating, and she feels as if she could soon collapse into darkness within it.

        Noeline tries to come to her rescue from behind, manifesting her scythe into an impaling lance. Rosaline's swarm of Malevolent flame causes her to jitter further--

        I'm going to do the right thing, Riesenlied.

        Her mind is being pulled in eight different directions, as the howl of the newly christened Peacemaker seizes upon her senses and tears away at her. It's a weapon on a level she hadn't seen before, composed of the bones of her ancestors. It's frightening.

        Lily activates Omega Stage -- a characteristic sensation in the air that continues to tug at her, as flame and ice come in a horrid release across the field. It is fortunate she's far enough away from it... Cecilia summons Grudiev, the Guardian of Earth coming to the aid of another at a desperate stage. Tethelle lashes forth with her wave of silvered chi, and Rudy fires a deeply powered shell from his mysterious ARM.

        She can barely hear them. She collapses, moments before Berserk has a chance to finally crush her, once... and for all.

        A broken toy...

                                   Who am I?
                                Who... am I?
             "Ahahahaha! Trash like you deserves no name! Begone!"
                         I wanted to be... someone...
                         "Nazgul... Nazgul al-Rashid.
                              Do you ... like it?
                        I want you to have that name."
                 "You are a melody that humbles even giants."
                         "You shall have the name..."
                          "A machine needs no name...
                           Dragon Unit No. 1 Type R."

GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Berserk's Centripetal Slaughter for 130 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Berserk's Torment for 168 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

It very nearly happened. ...Lily's purification was almost an accident, perhaps fate in a grand scheme but certainly not something she had planned. Prior to that point, she was well on her way to being lost to Malevolence, the contradictions within her, the greater passions than one would imagine from a taciturn woman, each contributing towards that darkness. ...But it wasn't to be.

A different Lily in some ways than the one 'Anna' knew stands before her, watches that grin of hers. 'Beyond' is right; she is... shaped human, now, but is strange, radiating Etheric power. And she is extending it straight for Agatha, stretching her limits to bring blasts of magic enough to annihilate lesser opponents. ...But Agatha is not a lesser opponent. The Pyre Witch calls up her shadow, and Lily destroys that... But not her target. The mass becomes a claw, and Lily's black-and-prism eyes widen. "What--"

She wonders, for a moment, if that 'power' is truly this significant--if it is what she needed after all, despite everything. She watches Layna's attack slide home, Arleph's manipulation of Water crashing towards her opponent, but for long moments herself she just keeps staring. This is a great deal of power that she's brought out, and it was simply blocked. ...A lesson calls to her mind...


"...But Father," the young girl says at the table, looking down at their game board, "You blocked every assault I have. The game's over, isn't it!? What am I supposed to do!?" Her golden eyes squint in frustration as she stares up at the man across the table from her. She can't be more than twelve, if that.

Dietrich Keil shakes his head. "...Remember. You'll be frustrated, when you fail in battle. ...If you let that stop you... Then you've already lost. When the enemy keeps defending..."

Dietrich leans closer, "You find a weak point. You go around. Now, where on the board have I not defended?"

Little Lily Keil bites her lip. "Um..." She squints, down at the board, thinking. "You..."

"Oh!" she says. "Over here!" She starts to move on the board.

Dietrich smiles at his daughter. "Much better. Now come at me."


Agatha brings together her strange flames, her contradiction, and Lily sees it. She remembers, as the point goes, and the ground is encompassed. The ground begins to sink... And Lily looks down at it, bends at the knee, and leaps into the air, her energy wings beating hard as she banks upward to evade the clawed hands, spinning in place and rushing to the side in a dive to get away from it.

Her will is being pulled. She can feel the darkness sapping into her mind, clouding her, dulling her. ...Drawing on her hatred.

If your foe keeps defending...

Lily stops behind Agatha, closer this time, close enough suddenly to be clawed. "You helped me realize one thing, at least," Lily says, and extends a red-glowing hand, brilliant and painful.

"I won't be held down by any authority anymore."

Her magic erupts again, and there's a crackle of black power before a red aura seeks to surround Agatha--and drive rents into that flesh, drain rivulets of shadow, create wounds out of nothing with an infusion of deathly energy anathema to all life.

...As she reaches out to grab Agatha and touch her directly with that power.

GS: Lily Keil has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with The Tracks of Wound-Fires - Wounds!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Tesni Inoue's Rapid Fire for 67 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Overheat for 80 hit points!
GS: Weaken and Jam! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Twin Fenrir - Sonic Vision for 148 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda gets tossed -- and tries to stop herself from getting bowled into anyone else. This, unfortunately, proves a mistake; while she does manage to catch a minor pit in the ground as she tumbles end-over-end, the resultant fall she takes smashes the ARM at her back into the back of her head and her head into the ground. She lies there for a few moments, able to watch everyone else move on Lady Harken instead. Confidence, dismissiveness -- Harken cuts an imposing figure over the rest of them, to be --

--'Lord Alhazred must not be harmed.'--

That's... interesting, Matilda thinks, as she watches Harken's disposition shift. Instantly, her mind is ablaze with possibilities. (Constricting pupils -- brain hemorrhage? no, that's not it -- no one's exposed her to any obvious toxins, either -- remote introduction of something into the bloodstream...? Plausible -- or an ARM that mimics such an effect...? more likely, given Hyadean physiology -- ugh, need to know better what she'll react to --)

Matilda finally gets herself back to her feet, with a glance to Garrett. "... I'm going to try something," she offers. "Don't -- get upset --" She starts to circle around Harken again, holding Freischütz steady. "Why are you so protective of this man?" she asks of Harken, grip white-knuckled. "I'm... over some of the anger I had -- at the Hyadeans -- but... really, every time I've heard anything about Alhazred I've been given a new reason to want to see his head above that man's mantle." A brief one-handed gesture to Garrett -- professional courtesy, perhaps.

She hastily swaps out her ARM's magazine for something a little higher-impact; she moves around Harken at an even pace, firing bullets. "I'm -- sure," she says, between shots, "-- that he's no less vulnerable to a dagger in the dark than anyone else..." Her shooting rhythm is consistent, measured.

After the fifth bullet -- aimed for a knee -- Matilda adds, "And I hardly think you --" One final shot, aimed right for center of mass. "-- can protect him from something like that."

GS: Matilda Whitehead has attacked Lady Harken with Seven Bullets!
GS: Matilda Whitehead takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.

Well good news is that Garrett got through to her.

...bad news is that was not the intended effect.

She slides in close. So close he can see every curve of her face. The scale is larger but...how could he have missed this the first time. How could he have not seen it.

The moves. The style. Its her...but...its not her...

Her blood on his hands again.

Lord Alhazred must not be harmed.

His eyes fly wide at that. "What did he do to you..." The sword in his hands, blade still driven though her, pulses with anger. With hate. With rage. The emotion given form by the Maleovlence of the blade itself in a violet miasma that leaks from the weapon, turning all it touches to frost and ice.


He would say more but his rage is interrupted by a sudden burning pain in his side. He stares down at the blade of her scythe piercing though his side. Just before it is ripped free in a spray of blood, bone, and Malevolent magic. His armor torn, that pulse of rage begins to fade as the Fallen Knight sinks to one knee in front of the Quarter Knight.

Was this worth it? Was it worth dying for? For a chance to find her again?

He would say yes.

The grip on the blade strengthens for a moment as he screams and rips the blade free, trailing spires of ice crystals.

He's a bit beyond hearing Matilda's words over the roar of his last bit of blood in his ears but really. He's fine with shooting.

GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Lady Harken with Pain and Suffering!
GS: Garrett Stampede takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Garrett Stampede has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda gets tossed -- and tries to stop herself from getting bowled into anyone else. This, unfortunately, proves a mistake; while she does manage to catch a minor pit in the ground as she tumbles end-over-end, the resultant fall she takes smashes the ARM at her back into the back of her head and her head into the ground. She lies there for a few moments, able to watch everyone else move on Lady Harken instead. Confidence, dismissiveness -- Harken cuts an imposing figure over the rest of them, to be --

--'Lord Alhazred must not be harmed.'--

That's... interesting, Matilda thinks, as she watches Harken's disposition shift. Instantly, her mind is ablaze with possibilities. (Constricting pupils -- brain hemorrhage? no, that's not it -- no one's exposed her to any obvious toxins, either -- remote introduction of something into the bloodstream...? Plausible -- or an ARM that mimics such an effect...? more likely, given Hyadean physiology -- ugh, need to know better what she'll react to --)

Matilda finally gets herself back to her feet, with a glance to Garrett. "... I'm going to try something," she offers. "Don't -- get upset --" She starts to circle around Harken again, holding Freischütz steady. "Why are you so protective of this man?" she asks of Harken, grip white-knuckled. "I'm... over some of the anger I had -- at the Hyadeans -- but... really, every time I've heard anything about Alhazred I've been given a new reason to want to see his head above that man's mantle." A brief one-handed gesture to Garrett -- professional courtesy, perhaps.

She hastily swaps out her ARM's magazine for something a little higher-impact; she moves around Harken at an even pace, firing bullets. "I'm -- sure," she says, between shots, "-- that he's no less vulnerable to a dagger in the dark than anyone else..." Her shooting rhythm is consistent, measured.

After the fifth bullet -- aimed for a knee -- Matilda adds, "And I hardly think you --" One final shot, aimed right for center of mass. "-- can protect him from something like that."

GS: Agatha Pyrelight takes a glancing hit from Lily Keil's The Tracks of Wound-Fires - Wounds for 73 hit points!
GS: Poison and Disease! Statuses applied to Agatha Pyrelight!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Agatha's words pierce right through the veil of madness that had been planted in her head.

Those words.

Those three, maddening words.

Layna, normally the talkative type...

...doesn't quite have a response to that.

Something tears through the walls of the tower, a great torrent of flame followed by a crash of ice. Layna would be concerned...if it wasn't being directed toward her enemy. It's soon followed up by a wave of torrential water.

She doesn't react to it.

And then, the curse of the Pyre Witch is upon her.

Clawed hands shoot from the ground. They pierce through her, trying to grab her and drag her down into the darkness.

Her mind, already wracked with searing pain, briefly considers giving in.


She's Layna Manydays.

She's Captain Layna Manydays, of the Ruby Empress. She can't surrender here. She's failed once. A part of her acknowledges that this isn't the first time she failed someone like this.

...But she carried on. She took responsibility for her failure.

She can't surrender here. Not like this.

"...Aye." Layna says, reaching down. She grasps one of the clawed hands. Her body is coated in a faint, green aura as she grips it tightly, crushing it and dispersing it. Blood spatters the stone below as she falls back to it. She goes to her knees for a moment and draws a deep breath before forcing herself back up. "Aye, I failed them. I can't deny that that."

"...But they're still here. In their own ways, they're fighting for this world. ...They're not that far gone yet. Gives me hope that maybe it's not too late. Everyone fails, every now and then. Even me. Hell, maybe even you." Layna grins. The wind picks up around her, building into a howl.

"...I shoulda been there for them, aye. ...But I can still be here for 'em now. And I'll start...by getting rid of you!"

Layna charges toward Agatha, wind building around her fists, the force of a deadly cycle localized in a single area. Her right fist comes in first, straight toward Agatha's gut, before following up with her left to capitalize on the first strike.

It was an impressive show...but the truth was, she knew she probably wouldn't last much longer with the wounds that had been inflicted on her mind and body.

Well, she might as well make a show of it, right?

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Boom About!
GS: Layna Manydays takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Oh. There's where Catenna's sword went. She presses her lips together tightly as she realizes she's not going to be able to get it out - not without grabbing it and physically wrenching it out of Berserk's arm.

Once again, she's fallen short of stopping this creature. They all have.

They can't afford to keep doing this. Uselessly swinging at the most ferocious of the Quarter Knights, praying to do something - not when the blows he swings back at them are anything but useless.

Driven by an ungodly force, the weight of that spiked ball and chain hurtles through the air, arcing with sufficient force to crush a body. Aching, straining against the protests of her body as she tries to bear the injuries Berserk has already leveled upon her, Catenna throws herself to the side, hitting the ground on her shoulder - and the spiked morningstar plows into the ground just inches from her. Chunks of rubble explode from the ground and slam into her, digging into exposed skin and tearing through fabric. She winces, trailing blood from a few deep cuts and some smaller ones. The pain adds up. It always does, when Berserk is involved.

But she's alive. She comes through it, her eyes watering as she struggles to balance both the pain and the horror of this situation.

Nothing Catenna has in her arsenal can stop this Quarter Knight. Not even calling Celesdue down upon him could rip him from this world.

Perhaps there is another way, she thinks.

"I do not find your power very impressive, Quarter Knight," Catenna breathes from her place on her knees. "Nor do I find your threats intimidating. For all your strength, you are simply a weapon with no thought behind it. Like a battle-axe Siegfried can take off the rack and throw at someone when he has better things to do."

Catenna levels her right hand and focuses. "Perhaps I will lose to you every time in a battle of strength," she whispers.

"But I do not need muscle to take things from you."

Channeling the power of Celesdue, Catenna begins to chant intently in her own language. Her words are low, taking on a subtle echo. She's pouring a lot of power into the spell - enough that a shimmering silver-blue light begins to coruscate around her. It winds itself into the shape of a runic circle, letters in the Zortroan language interspersed with crescent shapes.

Catenna's eyes open - and she splays her fingers.

And that radiant silver-blue light begins to shine around Berserk. The light flickers - undulates as Catenna struggles mightily to direct it. She chants out a few more words, and the light contracts - to engulf Berserk's arm. The arm with the twisted Sealing Rod bound up in it. Catenna's chanting grows louder and louder.

Motes of lunar magic begin to filter into the air as Catenna attempts to Dispel all the magic within Berserk's new Unsealing Weapon.

GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Dispel!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a glancing hit from Catenna's Dispel for 0 hit points!
GS: Weaken! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: CRITICAL! Agatha Pyrelight takes a glancing hit from Layna Manydays's Boom About for 159 hit points!
GS: Poison, Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Agatha Pyrelight!
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

         And then things gets worse. So much worse. There is several things going through Arleph's mind as he watches the Dark Magics comes into being, unleashing like a contradiction all around them. One of them is 'Oh, Void.'. Another is 'How?'. A third is 'This is going to be hard.'
         His third thought was quite correct on that department.
         Arleph attempts to raise barriers up, gritting his teeth as he pushes against the incoming flames. They shatter beneath his grasp, pixelating away around his hands. Already bloodied, already beaten, the claws seizes upon him, gripping into his body, barely contained by the protections around his flesh and dragging him.
         A last thought surfaces on his mind as he struggle against the darkness, the numbness and the nihilistic sensations.
         'It's like watching a Black hole devour a star.'
         A Black Hole? Gods. When was the last time he's seen space? When was the last time he thought of the 'Sun' as 'The Sun', and not just 'A Sun'?
         A Black Hole. A Black Hole?
         A shudder of will seizes Arleph's mind, adrenaline kicking in as he wriggles into his ruined pockets to take out a ball, cracking it between his fingers the glass dome. There is a confused shimmering like, a circle growing around and below him... until he is violently ejected out of the seeping darkness and light. He lands, rolls on the ground with a loud, sharp, dry gasp while a very economical three-seated Sofa sinks beneath where he was. Too bad. He liked that sofa.
         "You heard the young lady." Arleph breaths, coughing out some blood, a hand over his heart, bloodied gloves gripping at his tattooed chest. "Don't push your little rhetorics on us. We're still fighting, even if it's hard! This World's a lot more resilient than I ever gave it credit for! Also:"
         Arleph swings his free hand horizontally, his hand flat. A circle spirals out of the motion, spreading out before him. "You're not the only one with High Magic."
         His hand over his heart is raised, squeezing the tattered remains of his clothes a he gather energy and power. The atmosphere gets colder, as all that water he summoned begins to condense around and above Agatha, forming thick, concentrated bubbles of water to appear above.
         Arleph twists his wrists, his foot sliding back as he thrusts a palm outward at the floating pressured bubble of water. At the center, perfectly at the center, a tiny point of ice appears, spreading outward to freeze the entire sphere in a flash, shudder and explodes into mere moments from all pressure of condensed water pushed outward by crystalisation. Violently.
         Obviously, the explosion of ice and water is concentrated downward, at Agatha.
         "AQUA FRIGORE!"

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Aqua Frigore!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Matilda Whitehead's Seven Bullets for 130 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Garrett Stampede's Pain and Suffering for 152 hit points!
GS: Garrett Stampede drains Lady Harken! Garrett Stampede gains 152 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        "More... like a familiar feeling," Avril answers Dean, her gaze focused on Lady Harken.'There's more to you, I wager, than meets the eye...'

        "Perhaps so. But--"
        Dean presents Harken with an alternate answer for what that special quality that Avril presents might just be. And here, Avril's gaze slips sidelong at him, as if she's just been surprised.
        Even though she's known Dean for a year already--
        ...Is that right?

        The basics.

        In the art of the sword, what can be more basic than a sword, thrust into a body?
        Absolute Zero sinks into Harken's chest.
        It's easy.
        Fierce determination lingers on Avril's face as she, still intent, slowly begins to realize how deeply her blade has cut. Muted horror? Shock, as she meets Lady Harken's gaze? Her blue eyes stare up at the Metal Demon.

        I've done this before... haven't I, speaks the mute realization in her gaze. She remembers it. The feeling of it. Cold satisfaction. An interference, finally cut away.
        ...How many times?

        She withdraws as if shaken, blood dripping from sword's edge. A shallow breath follows: Avril seeks steadier mental terrain.

        But the sword remains grasped, perfectly poised before her in a guard, regardless of how her psyche may waver.

        But her blade has not cut deeply enough. Harken still stands, bearing that wound.

        "Dean... be careful," she cautions her friend, taking still another breath as she turns her gaze upon the Quarter Knight. "Whatever happens here next... we cannot lose. Please." Even if they shatter every statue, she's sure he wouldn't give up.
        And she knows they can't lose. They must succeed here if they're to continue to fight.

        In a flash, Lady Harken appears to split into a multitude of afterimages. Where is anyone meant to defend this from?
        Nowhere. As a wise man once said, at times the best way to guard against an attack is to not be there when it strikes home.
        Avril nearly manages it, springing sidelong as one of those incoming ghostly strikes swings.
        But alas, nearly is not good enough in the arts of war.
        Midflight, it catches her up, tosses her aside. Flings her to the platform to land heavily. Avril's only consolation may be that at least this was a mere clip of the ghostly scythe's edge that so flung her rather than a full-bodied hit. Nevertheless, as she pulls herself up, she does so with care.

        They can't lose. But how long can they keep this up?

        Silently, Avril straightens behind Dean, readjusting the grip on her sword as she appears to fall in behind him. In her left hand, the Sea Medium blazes with a quiet determined light.

        Rising briefly in the air is a gust of sea-scented air, enough to catch the hair aflutter and soothe all aches: a small blessing of Lucadia. It descends upon Avril, alone for now.

        "Whatever may happen here, we shall continue to strive. It is as simple as that. Dean--" she speaks, preparing to invoke the Medium's power again.

        "Let us do our best."

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Ocean's Blessing!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur heals Avril Vent Fleur! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

The voice comes at her in the most of unconsciousness. But she feels as if she
               can see the spirit of Life emanating within her.
   That was what I called you, back then. But...you have a name, do you not?

        She is pulled, feeling as if she's brought to flight across a great midst. The unicorn whose visage she only saw once before, before she collapsed of fear, is beside her. She knows this landscape well. This is the landscape of...

            Lily's scowl is evident amidst the look of concern as she bandages her.
  The least that you can do is stay back and help us with the talents that
                               work for you.
 Elhaym smiles at her as they practice archery and nibble on lunch, behind the
You're a kind person. You care for others. People love you... I can see it in
                    their eyes, in how they speak to you.
    Leon throws her a roguish grin, tossing his jacket back from where he's
                         handling the Kislevi servos.
We wouldn't have abandoned you or Wayside. I'll accept your thanks, but... it
              was the least we could do. You're one of us, now.
  Fei looks at her from above, a patient smile as Hammer croons on about his
                               warez behind him.
Some people never get to be who they want to be, but you've come farther than
 Vash places a gloved hand on her head, as she works hard at tying her capelet
                              to his wounded arm.
  We're going to get you better. Promise. I wouldn't let my sidekick down,
               Noeline holds her hand. Her smile is resplendent.
I joined you on this path, knowing full well that it would be difficult. I am
                       not about to quail from it now.

        Riesenlied drifts as she succumbs back into a flowery garden, the visage of Odoryuk descending next to her. It tilts its head and peers deep within her eyes.

        I do not need to look deep into your memories to witness it...
  These people all believe in you. You need not quiver or cast yourself into
                  Rise to your feet... the Shaman is waiting.

GS: Agatha Pyrelight takes a solid hit from Arleph Ardan's Aqua Frigore for 182 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle's blade does not stop glowing once she swings the great blade. Nor does her Medium, the strange six-pointed symbol intermixed with a bird in the lower half, with a series of simple lines to represent a blade blade rising straight up to the edge of the Medium from the top half, that is the symbol she uses for Equites. The lines are all ablaze with the silver light.

Even Berserk's strike against her, shattering through Riesenlied's barrier, does not cause the light to dim. The light shines with the power of the Guardians, channeled through the Medium and Tethelle as a priestess of Equites - the only priestess of Equites, as far as she knows, on Ignas. The only one tasked by Equites herself to fight against the Metal Demons, to stand against the darkness.

To be a swordmaster, as of old. Equites' Swordmasters. She can do this. She has to be able to do this. What Berserk has - what Berserk is - cannot be allowed.

Berserk's strike rocks Tethelle, the piston-like use of the rod throwing her back - but she can't let it disrupt her focus. She holds onto it like a lifeline even as she lands, stumbling backwards, still clenching sword and Medium together.

And the power comes.

Tethelle's blade ripples. Light radiates down it; green at the base, shading to gold and then white-silver as it gets closer to the blade, a pattern etching itself across the flat. It shines with the blessing of Equites, no longer Tethelle's sword but the divine blade of the Guardian.

Bigger, Tethelle thinks.

The sword... shifts. The blade expands, lengthening and broadening; it reaches perhaps eight feet, the gradient of colour more intense. The medium burns even brighter, painfully; it hums in Tethelle's grip, vibrating against her fingertips. She has never drawn this deeply before.

And yet, to destroy Berserk, she needs more.

The blade expands again, perhaps twelve feet long - and that's just the blade, not the hilt, which Tethelle still has to hold in both hands. The Medium is now so bright it hurts to look upon, blazing with the same tricolour gradient as the sword, which is brilliantly intense. It's not just the stone tablet that's vibrating now; she feels the sword hum in her hands, and there's a faint sound on the edge of hearing.

Tethelle reaches even deeper. Not just power from Equites, now, but from herself as well.

A new colour pushes itself up from the base as the blade lengthens yet again: blue, from Tethelle herself. Blue, green, gold, and silver-white, and the sword blade is now so intensely coloured that it looks unreal. The power of the Guardians around her is intense; even the barely sensitive can feel the power.

But it's almost too much. The Medium begins to burn Tethelle's fingers, a faint sizzling sound as it literally chars the stone tablet along the lines of the symbol. There's a metallic burning smell too as the pattern in the blade begins to burn itself into Tethelle's sword, still somewhere in the center of the impossible weapon: the sword of Equites herself, as much as Tethelle is capable of wielding.

"BERSERK!" Tethelle roars. "FILGAIA RESISTS!" There's nothing else.

She swings her blade - Equites' blade - almost straight vertically, at only a slight slant. The weapon is almost twenty feet long as she attempts to carve into Berserk - through his shoulder, down through his body, and out somewhere along his legs. She doubts she can get all the way through without deflection - but she has to try.

GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Berserk with Material - Divine Blade!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Material - Divine Blade for 163 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Emma Hetfield has posed.

Chaos is howling around them. Emma struggles to stay focused. Then she answers Berserk.

"I'm glad you asked."

Emma takes a deep breath...

"I've been studying you, by which I mean the individuals we know as Metal Demons, for some time," Emma X-Plains, in a way that transcends conventional time. "Your bodies are composed of complex metallo-organic compounds, correct? Now, you control vast powers, and your capabilities transcend our technologies, but I have intuited that while you may represent a form of life operating on a fundamentally different chemistry than our own, you do operate on a chemistry..."

"Which means that your bodies are composed of matter. The actions of an acid on a physical object do not care about passion, Mr. Rudeboy--"

-- For you see, Emma has never learned Berserk's name! --

"-- They do not care about anger or outrage or superiority! Heat, available surface area, these can matter... but all the things that you bellow will not change the acid itself. Can a King hold back the tide? No more so can you prevent my 'Alchemic Bomb' from corroding your carapace!"

Berserk's immediate comeback of "bodychecking Emma in her nerd body" shuts her up. She twirls around like a broken ragdoll and indeed something loud goes POP as she ends up sprawling on her ass.

Agony wheels around her. The world wheels around her. For a moment she is a staggering, broken fool. She struggles to rise, stumbles to her knees - another loud pop as her hip gets back into the joint - and she gasps for breath. Her glasses are fogged from the flush this brought to her face. She grits her teeth.

"You... FOOL," she says, finally.

"Miserable fool! Proof that age doesn't bring wisdom," Emma pants, as she fumbles for her emulator. She's talking to herself or perhaps an audience in her head. Oh, Zepet, what should I do, she thinks desperately. I can't run, I can't summon the Gear. Stupid, stupid.

"You're older than most of our political entities and you haven't learned a single fundamental truth of population ecologies that is apparent to the merest novice. Say that you murder all of us and play with our dead bodies and then you set fire to our structures and dance all night," Emma huffs out, tapping desperately on the green pane of glass that, very likely, predates even the departure of the Hyadaens from their star.

Emma glances to Rudy then, to Cecilia, desperately. She sketches with her fingertips. A little blood drips from the broken nail.

"Then what. You haven't done a single thing about Lunar, and whether it takes them ten years or five thousand, eventually they'll come back to this 'Blue Star'. Do you expect them to be your friends? And if there are two inhabited worlds this close together, in a single star system --"

peep! Yellow light starts to criss cross around Emma and the two near her, the two who, perhaps, she thought she could save. Emma rises upwards as the material forms itself around her legs, up along her hips (twice; oh what a relief, she thinks, at the bracing). Her arms raise up to let it flow over her jacket with blurring speed. A glittering honey-yellow carapace, complete with a visored helmet.

Emma points an armored finger towards Berserk. "Then how many more are there around all these stars?! Will you be angry enough for all of them? SILHOUETTE EMMA'S FIRST LAW OF BIODYNAMICS!"

Emma swivels her legs around and twirls on a heel (the armor has heels, because of course it does) before coming to a guarded pose, arms half crossed.

"There will always be a bigger fish!"

("Rudy, Cecilia, this is ablative material. There's stretchy parts, but it's going to break if it hits you. That's what it's supposed to do. Don't resist it. Sometimes things only last just long enough!")

Thanks, Ida's boyfriend, Emma thinks to herself.

GS: Emma Hetfield has attacked Emma Hetfield with Silhouette Emit!
GS: Emma Hetfield has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Silhouette Emit!
GS: Emma Hetfield has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Silhouette Emit!
GS: Emma Hetfield has completed her action.
GS: Emma Hetfield takes a solid hit from Emma Hetfield's Silhouette Emit for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Emma Hetfield!
GS: Rudy Roughnight takes a solid hit from Emma Hetfield's Silhouette Emit for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Rudy Roughnight!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline's flames wash over Berserk, in tandem with Ida's mechanical dragonfire. She flashes a sharp-toothed smile to her friend, savoring the moment. She is advised to ride the wave, and doesn't have to be told twice. Lydia is trying to annoy her (or cheer her up?) on purpose, which predictably fuels the flame even further. Rosaline lets the mix of exilaration, rage, hope, sorrow and fear churn inside her, reacting to one another in destructively potent ways. Purple miasma swirls around her, threatening to tear her very soul apart if she lets go of her fury for even a moment--

Which might be why she's too slow to react to the wrecking ball.

Once again it slams into her, and she hears the sound of her own bones crunching. Amidst all this, she finds it in herself to think of the satisfaction Berserk must be feeling at her suffering right now.

And it fuels her.

She crashes into a column, the firestorm within her briefly dissipated in favor of a sharp, raw feeling of overwhelming pain catching up to her all at once.

She is, for one shining moment, out of the colossal terror's sight. She takes in a single, labored breath, focusing to knit herself back together, evoking what she knows very well is a hideous parody of the healing abilities she once had. It doesn't dull the pain, on the contrary--

She gets back up, drenched in her own blood but still somehow standing, the very ground igniting beneath her every step. The Malevolent storm rolls and burns around her. She reaches for her holstered shotgun, Mother's Mercy, already warped into a bizarre semi-organic construct, and some of the miasma is drawn into the weapon.

Rosaline raises it, and blasts away at Berserk, explosive pellets meant to dig into him and pump him full of that Lunarian plague.

But a moment later, she lets go, though the weapon is still unloading and reloading itself, as it is carried by shining red strings. Rosaline extends her hands to each side and projects more red strings from each claw. They start out a few, then more join in, until there are too many to count. But instead of homing for anything here, they instead sink into the very ground.

What is she planning? Berserk will soon find out-- If he doesn't completely crush her first.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Berserk with Mother's Mercy!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde takes a solid hit from Emma Hetfield's Silhouette Emit for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Cecilia Adlehyde!
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Rosaline Calice's Mother's Mercy for 123 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        Noeline's spike drives home with a sickening sort of crunch, causing Berserk to drop Riesenlied out of sheer surprise rather than actual pain; there's a grim satisfaction in that outcome, even if it's not exactly for the reasons she wants. The fact that Berserk is still moving, even bearing down on her for the affront-- doesn't matter, not at the moment; she's not out of plans yet, even if the metal demon moves faster than she anticipates, even if Berserk sweeps her unceremoniously up into the air before she has the chance to really bring the Errant Blade to bear inside of Berserk's body.

        "--you don't even see the idiocy behind your own words!" she roars back; she's hanging in the air, limbs pinwheeling as she tries to catch up to the surprise of it. She could try to bring up her arms to attempt to block, but that ultimately isn't an option - going on the defensive won't help them here. If they want to match Berserk, they're going to have to do it with everything they've got, and she knows that much, pushing forwards and down to meet the wrecking ball coming straight for her, as if in a mirror of Berserk's own actions.

        The impact is terrible; she feels synthetic bones move and crunch in ways they shouldn't, her form collapsing around the weapon's head as it seeks to punch straight through her. Were she a Tainted, that might be the end of her; were she a human, it would be absolutely certain. But-- when it comes down to it, Berserk is right about at least one thing. Photosphere made her - trained her - did everything it could, right down to the packs who enjoyed hunting the 'weak', to ensure that she had the willpower to push through.

        Right now, the world seems a collection of 'buts'. Her hand is numb, flat against the macehead, but she finds the strength to curl it into a fist. Silvery blood streams down her body and arm, but she concentrates with a grimace and an effort of will, pulling it back into herself. Beneath her, Noeline can see Riesenlied collapse at the foot of the statue she's revered, felt guilt and contriteness for all this time - but she can feel a swell in the air through her own Medium, and for a moment she can imagine Duras Drum's quiet, amused chuckle.

        And so she slips from the wild strike, letting herself simply fall towards Berserk's grinning, terrible maw - meeting his mocking scowl and his laughter with a roar of her own. "--for all your talk - we're all still here!"

        Noeline pulls her hand back as she descends, again allowing the overly simple spike of metal to extrude from her palm, long and thin and completely focused towards a single purpose. Perhaps this form of the Errant Blade was what the Photosphere had in mind for her from day one, she absently wonders in a backwards part of her mind - after all, from a Metal Demon's point of view, what is a spy but an assassin waiting to happen?

        But even if that were the case, she's learnt a few things in her time amongst humans. How to be flexible. How to use absolutely everything you have, with every inch of yourself. Moments before impact, the spike billows outwards and begins to liquefy. Noeline still seeks to ram it home somewhere on the demon's body - but it's now truly a living thing, tendrils of it tearing and ripping against Berserk's skin, aiming to blink and suffocate as much as tear away the demon's armour.

GS: Noeline has attacked Berserk with The Errant Blade!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Noeline's The Errant Blade for 174 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.
<SoundTracker> 'All for One' - Alex Roe - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qY-gWF9AF8

 Drawing in the very essence of her foes was... well, to call it pleasurable would be something of an understatement. Agatha had been willing to unleash true horrors upon her opponents, but she was clearly enjoying herself at this point. The look on her face is one of ecstasy, and Agatha laughs in a malicious, entirely too pleased with herself manner.
 "Oh I'd considered the possibilities. There are so many things to be done, so many possibilities. But the more I fight..."
 And there is a strange ripple that passes over the witch. As if her entire being had shuddered somehow.
 "...the harder it is to contain myself."
 Her voice is strange. Because unlike her usual slightly husky alto, there are several voices speaking at once. Each one speaks at a different octave. A different register. Several voices speaking in discordant unison.
 Layna rushes in, her fists slamming into the Pyre Witch and leaving behind gashes in her body from the repeated impacts. Ichor flows, but it pours down into the dark morass below, vanishing without a trace as it is absorbed by the swirling mass of darkness below. Agatha laughs, her voice still holding that multi-toned chorus as she turns to look at the pirate. A particularly fierce blow cuts along the witch's shoulder, leaving a wide gash that would be a gory mess on a normal human.
 What Layna sees is blackness and swirling ichor.
 Before a burning yellow iris opens from within and gazes at her.
 The shimmering cascade of ice slams down into the witch, continuing to carve deep gashes into her body. And Arleph watches as one blade of ice slams into her arm at the elbow... and the limb sheers off, the forearm and hand falling to the ground in a spray of that black ichor. But within a moment they are swallowed by the darkness, vanishing from view as the witch continues to laugh uproariously.
 "Yes! Yes! Oh this feeling! This pain! This suffering! How long has it been since you humans opposed me with such vigor and determination!" She turns to look at Arden, her face gashed several times by his attack, her body almost looking as if it is falling apart.
 And then Lily reaches out to grasp Agatha with a hand of burning flame, intending to do terrible harm to her. To unleash some terrible pain that would probably wrack her very being with flame and destruction. And as she channels that energy into the witch, Agatha simply laughs with her chorus of voices. "Attempting to harm me with such malefic power? A worthy effort - that ruthlessness suits you dear Lily.
 "But please tell me that you didn't think this was my *real* body."
 And Agatha reaches up with her remaining hand, grabbing onto Lily's wrist. Her fingers come apart, tendrils of dark ichor wrapping around Lily's forearm and elbow, even as another black tendril erupts from the stump of Agatha's arm. She reaches for Lily... and at the same time falls backwards, pulling her towards the horrifying mass of churning darkness below.
 Agatha vanishes beneath the surface. The grip she tries to maintain on Lily is inexorable, and despite the fact that the floor is solid stone, Lily finds herself being *pulled down into it*. Clawed, bladed tendrils erupt from the ground, lashing out at Layna, and Arlpeh is only spared by being further away from the center of that writhing mass than the others. But the surge of darkness along the ground rises up as a wave, rolling towards him with a terrible purpose.
 More and more tendrils erupt from the black mass, trying to wrap around Lily and drag her down. And her foes can hear Agatha's multi-voiced laugh coming from all around them, as burning yellow eyes open across the entire flood of darkness around them.

DC: Agatha Pyrelight switches forms to Agatha the Hellion!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Lily Keil with Devoured by Darkness!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has attacked Layna Manydays with Strike from Darkness!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Agatha Pyrelight has completed her action.
GS: Lily Keil takes a solid hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Devoured by Darkness for 374 hit points!
GS: Layna Manydays takes a glancing hit from Agatha Pyrelight's Strike from Darkness for 58 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Acid! Cecilia watches it splash across Berserk. That's not even a bad idea. But...she can feel it. That's not enough. The whole Leyline surges; this must be done. Take it. Take it...

The last time she answered the Leyline's call like that she was left barely alive, her body unready for it. Her fingers hesitate.

Which is when Berserk screams. Her legs lock in immediate panic. No matter how many times she sees it, that great brute galumphing toward her, malice occupying every one of his thoughts, is absolutely terrifying. She doesn't even have a response to his violent oath. She tries to scream and just warbles out a startled yelp - which is when Rudy does the job, blasting Berserk across the bow with enough time for Grudiev to stymie the man. She takes a shuddering breath.

And then he slams her anyway, that wrecking ball wrecking her indeed. It slams into her barrier and finally shatters entirely through, crashing entirely through Grudiev's protections and sending her ragdolling clear across the room, slamming into a wall with a horrific series of cracks and crunches. She makes a horrible gurgling noise in her throat.

And then forces herself over and upward, fingers trembling against the stones. Shaking, she rises, knees trembling even as she dares to turn her eyes back up to Berserk. Saying she's waiting may be a bit of optimism on the Guardian of Life's part...but she can sense its presence.

The silhouette rising around her helps her find some measure of security in her feet as she walks, the new Medium clutched in trembling fingers. The Leyline throbs in her head, but for once it doesn't quite stagger her as she moves up to a better position. A way. Break his defenses. Acid isn't enough, spears and stones and flames will never do it. It must be torn away; stripped from him in total. The Guardians who do that best are not at her fingertips now. But one...

She holds the Medium forth and it throbs, pulses with energy as the Leyline surges into it, brings it to life. "All any of us want is to live," she breathes. "Filgaia is a planet that clings to life, and every one of us here is just as stubborn!" Her mouth tastes like copper as her staff thrusts forth, the Medium glowing, glowing, blinding --


"We will live, Berserk. Even if that means you have to die! Material!"

And in tandem, beside Riesenlied, a second Odoryuk; the little heroic unicorn, like some child's rendition of a hero, a bright red scarf wrapped around its neck. It speaks nothing, but that gaze is resolute. The Guardian of Life is a healer; a protector, a guardian of the lower-case kind. But as its light shines across Berserk...

It burns.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied rises to her feet. Despite everything else. Despite the wounds that Berserk have inflicted upon her, upon her barrier.

        She extends her hand -- her misshapen, distorted Dragon hand -- and sucks a shallow breath in. Her tattered wings spread to either side of her.

        The hallow glow of magic erupts around her feet. And for once... this is not the kindling power of her photonic emanation, her unstable body that breaks apart and lets her reach others at a distance.



        "That rod... rejects you..."

        The life-surge of Guardian magic burns around her in an intricate mandala, wreathing her from the tip of her scaled toe to the ends of her hair. It scant burns for a moment, and then releases as it well intertwines with the petal-like weave of her photons.

        Her head lowers as she holds the Dragon's Tear and clasps it to her clean, human hand. She knows a thing or two about malformed arms.

        "Alhazred may have contorted it to suit your ends. But..."

        She looks to Cecilia, and finds her eyes. She knows the Shaman was contacted by the Guardian, as well. She knows what to do here... now, despite the seeming contradiction of her presence. Her existence.

        "Life... is stronger than that."

        Her lips purse as she speaks words unknown to the Hyadeans.


        A manifestation surges from out of her shoulders, and the eminent form of Odoryuk can be seen writhing into the battlefield. There is a hiss from Riesenlied, as she feels the uncomfortable distortion of her anathema and Filgaia's contradicting--

                          Such boundaries can eventually be overcome.

        The demi-Odoryuk calmly steps onto the battlefield, an incandescent unicorn of white-blue hue laced with legs with the patterned wings of butterflies. White-noise and static sparks here, and there... but...

   The life in the collective wills of those who eke an existence despite the
 The life in the Drifters that struggle to discover the truths of the Ruins...
      The life in the souls that continue to provide for those in need..."

        She lays her hand down. A light surrounds the horn of the demi-Odoryuk, and laces with that of the rod in Berserk's arm. It begins to shine, shine brighter... brighter...!

                           "Life... will continue."

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Material - Odoryuk's Theory Of Life!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Berserk with First Material - Life will Continue!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Odoryuk's Theory Of Life for 53 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's First Material - Life will Continue for 115 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Lydia's ambitions, her dreams, her aspirations to leave Filgaia behind her--to visit the stars and hell, maybe one day explore the galaxy... ...find no purchase with Lady Harken, the nightmare executioner of the Photosphere. Even if she doesn't know her that well, the young beastgal can probably tell that something is clearly different with the strange, demonic lady-knight. That acerbic cheer is absent. "If only they all had ambition like yours."

Harken catches Lydia's blade with the shaft of her scythe and shoves backwards--with no followup. Now that's insulting. "If only your strength matche."

Harken's head whips around to face Matilda with wariness. Following her as she circle-strafes. "You really wonder why my fellow Quarter Knight commands my loyalty." the Demon sounds darkly amused, though her face shows none of it. The first shot causes Harken's tremendous mane of hair to split apart cleanly, but no more.

"You misjudge something very fundamental." Harken points out to Matilda. She meets the second shot with a sweep of her scythe--almost too quick to see. The bullet splits in half and digs into a distant stone block somewhere. The third and fourth rattle Harken's gauntlets. She stalks now towards Matilda like some great and unstoppable apex predator. "Alhazred could vanish you, and I, destroy us utterly..." and then raises a foot to axe-kick that final bullet. It's some real Wuxia shit, I assure you. "With a thought."

Azrael's blade reaves towards Matilda from an impossible angle--behind her? But Harken is still in front and--

"My loyalty is not born ofFEAR!"

Leon parkours up a wall despite his grevious wounds--a feat which would normally draw at least bitter praise from the Quarter Knight, but now there is none. She turns at the waist and looks into the air where he hangs. Seemingly fearless. Driven. Powerful. Azrael's blade sits upon the ground, the weapon resting in her hand like nothing more dangerous than a cane.

Contrast this against the rampaging, shrieking tempest of Berserk in the background. They are worlds apart.

Time resumes from this cinematic sweep. The strange ARM in Leon's hands comes alive, shining the same scarlet as the Lady Harken's armor. Her hair. A pulsing shine that surely must come from somewhere deep in the man's soul. Harken's blade cleaves through the air where the Black Wolf was just moments ago, her whole body turning with the force of the blow. The perfect opening!

"Hope is a poor substitute for strength." the Quarter Knight snaps back at Leon, even as his weapon cleaves clean through armour and into her side. At first it is hard to see the damage from such an impact--but she staggers soon after, almost curiously delayed. Like someone who forgot how to be injured. "You should try finding something sterner to work with!".

Ethius is in possession of a hell of a weapon right now: the element of surprise. His assumptions about how quickly he would be cut down if he got up straight away are likely correct--but now is also the time to act, as Leon has bravely shown. She talks a big game, but is not beyond wounding. Is not invincible. Is not too fast to be touched.

He needn't charge her to prove his point. He needn't sling loud and brash spells painting a target on himself. No, anyone with knowledge of the day's events would doubtless think Ethius has proven himself even as he braces himself on his quarterstaff and almost-silently hexes the Quarter Knight. It's hard to tell if it works, isn't it? With such tricky symbology? But the runes take hold and the telltale shimmer of heat ripples around her form... surely, it must have.

Tesni relies on the human spirit to keep standing--and voices her disbelief in Harken's dismissive attitude. The Quarter Knight scowls darkly, turning to face her--but making no move to block those bullets this time. "I do think that little of you. My Lord Alhazred, too." she catches a round in an open wound--it's a little gory to describe here, and her tremendous form rocks back from the impact.

But Harken does not fall.

        She accelerates.

"There's much you don't understand as a species--more than you'll ever realize, as extinction claims you!" the towering lady in scarlet armour doesn't need to close the distance: she simply throws her scythe at Tesni. It flies with a quite frankly unreasonable level of speed like some kind of horrid boomerang.

You..." Harken breathes a -very- baleful syllable aloud in Deans direction, regarding him with too-large eyes and ever-shrinking pupils. Her face scrunches in what looks like revulsion. It makes the wounds at her side ignorable.


The first fanning burst of fire strikes the Quarter Knight along her forearms--because she's now moving fast enough to actually stop a speeding bullet, yes.

        "no idea"

His every word makes her want to claw her ears off. Claw his heart out. Rend him limb from limb from limb. A pistol-bullet strikes Lady Harken in the side of the jaw; the round squashes into a metal puddle, fragments, and traces ribboning carves along her pretty face. A better fate than befalls most who get shot in the head, on Filgaia.


The Quarter Knight's own fury is impressive to behold, unleashed. Garrett declares that he will have Harken back, and finds that--

"You will die."

is his answer, with malevolent power and sorcerous ice biting through the Quarter Knight's armour at such a range. But it does not slow her. She still shows no signs of recognition. Was it--really worth it...?

Moments before, Harken seemingly split into a dozen ghostly apparitions in some very martial magic. There is very little of that, this time.

But surprisingly, the Quarter Knight's first target is--Avril. The mysterious girl who seemingly captured her attention so thoroughly, and who backed away for a moment invoke the Medium's power and find new resolve. With her as her first target, Harken simply reaves one TREMENDOUS arc around herself. One titanic swing at speed unimaginable.

Someone's been paying attention to the Berserk method.

GS: Lady Harken has attacked Leon Albus with Tempest's Reave!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lady Harken with Lethal Momentum!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Lethal Momentum for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Azrael - Reaper Slice!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Dean Stark with Fast Draw - Slash Rave!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Tesni Inoue with Fast Draw - Slash Rave!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Azrael - Reaper Slice!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Garrett Stampede with Unbridled Fury!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Azrael - Guillotine!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Azrael - Guillotine!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
GS: Leon Albus takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Tempest's Reave for 50 hit points!
GS: Dean Stark guards a hit from Lady Harken's Fast Draw - Slash Rave for 101 hit points!
GS: Lydia Seren guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Reaper Slice for 121 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Well...that was different. Agatha's voice changes. Layna doesn't think too much about it at first, as she's laying on the punches...

But then she stares in the blackness.

A burning yellow iris stares back at her.

...Thaaat's not normal.

And then Agatha says something very interesting and very worrying.

This isn't her real body.

The Pyre Witch splits into tendrils of dark ichor and vanishes into the darkness below, trying to drag Lily with it. Layna curses and leaps back, a gust of wind aiding her escape.

Tendrils lash out at her, too, sending bloody cuts across her clothing. She's not sure if they were trying to grasp here, as well...but she doesn't like the thought of whatever that entails.

"Lily! Hang in there, lass!" Layna calls out, then glances toward Arleph.

"Doc, if you've got another one of those big spells rollin' around in that noggin o' yours now's the time to use it, aye!? Don't be stingy!" She calls out, alarm creeping into her voice.

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Lily Keil with Captain's Orders!!
GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Arleph Ardan with Captain's Orders!!
GS: Layna Manydays takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Dean Stark used the Force Action Protect! He takes Lady Harken's attack on Avril Vent Fleur on himself!
GS: Dean Stark has activated a Force Action!
GS: Dean Stark critically Guards a hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Guillotine for 54 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Garrett Stampede takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Unbridled Fury for 0 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Garrett Stampede!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Reaper Slice for 98 hit points!
GS: Arleph Ardan takes a solid hit from Layna Manydays's Captain's Orders! for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Arleph Ardan gains 15 extra FP from Layna Manydays!
GS: Matilda Whitehead takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Azrael - Guillotine for 264 hit points!
GS: Matilda Whitehead has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Lily Keil takes a solid hit from Layna Manydays's Captain's Orders! for 0 hit points!
GS: Reload! Lily Keil gains 15 extra FP from Layna Manydays!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        'What the hell ARE you weasels--?'

        "Something you can neither see nor understand," Ida says. The spent brass from Peacemaker obediently hops off the floor, and into her pocket, guided by lingering Malevolence from the gun. Something that is not Malevolence scratches against Ida's senses. She doesn't recognize it at all, and it feels like static in the midst of the familiar sensation of Agatha; she chances a glance in her direction, and through the flame she sees--

        Lily Keil, speaking in a language Ida knows she can read, floating at least a foot off the ground. Technicolor wings glimmer behind her.

        "...Lily?" Ida whispers. It may look strange, to those who can see both Ida's Hellion form and whatever the hell just happened to Lily--one inhuman entity staring at another's transformation. And then, as if trying to top that, Agatha Pyrelight dissolves horrifically, her form melting into a writhing, consuming void. Ida has to tear her gaze away, and when she does, she's breathing hard, the Malevolent star in her chest pulsing. She doesn't have long to recover. Out of the corner of her eye, Ida sees Riesenlied collapse, and while her expression becomes unreadable, the Malevolent star in her chest does not. It grows brighter, then darker, then brighter again, an erratic flickering. Bitter jealousy and stubborn pride clash with the dull, sickening sensation of seeing a wounded, weakened woman brought to her knees, struggling.

        Conflict. Malevolence grows in it.

        "Riesenlied, get out of here!" Ida cries. She rushes the woman, but in the process, she loses track of Berserk's hammer for a few crucial seconds. The sheer wave of miht washing off Tethelle does not help. The net result is that Ida takes that hammer full in the side, and it knocks her off her feet, throwing her for distance. Weak, weak, weak! Berserk's voice echoes inside her head even as it bounces off the floor with enough force to make her see stars.

        As if jarred loose, a memory flickers into the forefront of her consciousness. Kalve's voice, reciting something:

"A student is tested over and over.
A warrior is struck again and again.
From this testing comes success.
From this pain comes victory.

        Ida slides to a stop, leaving a smear of red across the stones. The one mercy is that her ribs feel less awful than they did after that hit than they did after Kaguya and Matilda spent several minutes giving them their undivided attention.

These are one and the same:
        a challenge to be overcome,
        a pinnacle to stand atop,
        with defeat cast aside."

And so the master says.

But a student will ever be tested.

But a warrior will ever be struck.

What truth does the master speak?

        "I don't know," Ida whispers. Her voice is a hiss. She struggles to her feet, wobbling--she's been tested over and over again, beaten bloody, and she feels like she's learned nothing. She's still nothing. She's--

        Ida watches Cecilia and Riesenlied... do something. Something patently impossible for at least one of them. The Guardian's light sears afterimages into her retinas. It should be inspiring. It should be a display of the power of life and hope to solve all problems. Instead, Ida sees a sense of hope that she has been entirely unable to grasp. She sees people who are about to succeed where she has failed. Failure. Failure. Failure. Weakling.

        Hope and envy and petulent fury and anger and despair and self-loathing boil inside Ida like a toxic stew. The Malevolent star in her chest flares like a second sun, and Malevolence traces its way down the scars in her arm, into the newly-christened peacemaker. Ida's face contorts in a rictus of fury, and she pulls the trigger.

        The light seems to dim around her as the gun's muzzle flashes. A moment later, the horrific roar of the bullet hits, and trails of Malevolent smoke flow outwards from the careening projectile. It, too, is glowing brilliantly.

        The bright hue of rage at the world mixed with rage at oneself.

GS: Tesni Inoue guards a hit from Lady Harken's Fast Draw - Slash Rave for 99 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Berserk with Hell-Heart Furnace Shot!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lily Keil has posed.

Possibilities, Agatha says. ...Lily can still imagine another; her mind is swirling with Malevolence and with power, the emotions of the battlefield a roar past the sheer suffusion of Ether. She sees that strange ripple, hears the extra voices, and the younger witch draws a breath to steady herself, looks for that weak point, considers her strategies. ...The lessons of a traitor Father.

Agatha speaks strangely, as she loses a limb, as she's suffused in darkness, but Lily cannot let such disturbing sights and sounds stop her. She reaches forward, instead, with the power that she can muster, with the power blazing in every circuit on her body, red, red, and black. Lily does not see the iris as she stares into Agatha laughing. She does not need to. She stares at the Pyre Witch as she channels the inversion of her healing magic.

'That ruthlessness suits you dear Lily.'

"You're right--"

She stops, suddenly, as Agatha mentions that it isn't her body, as she grabs Lily's wrist, and black-and-prism eyes widen once again. "W-what--" The stump trails darkness, which rushes towards Lily-her arm is taken, by what used to be a hand. The darkness churns beneath, and it is not Lily's darkness. It is a soul-cleaving, terrifying thing; Lily looks into the abyss, for that moment, and the abyss is hungry.

"Ah--" The grip is harden than iron, and Lily's wings beat vainly as she tries to free herself, as her ankle slips beneath the floor. "No--You--" Rising panic, a rare sound for the young sorceress, enters her voice. ...But her mind blots out. Her mind blanks... and shows something else, just flashes.

She does not hear Layna calling for her.

There is a flash of something that crosses Lily's vision. As if something else were super-imposed atop what she could see. What she could feel.

A black hole in the ground, surrounded by rough cut stones in a circle. A vast stone cap has been shoved aside, and lies at a cant next to the hole.

Round hands pushing her forward, to the very edge of the pit.

The sensation of falling. The light up above vanishing at a frightening rate of speed.

Landing, vanishing under water for a moment, only to surface with that tiny thimble of light still shining up above.

And the light vanishing as the stone cover is shoved across the entrance of the pit once more.

And from the darkness all around - the howls of the damned. Creatures stalking the darkness, moving on silent feet as they pace the edge of the small pond at the bottom.

Waiting for her to emerge.

Lily screams again, and the great swell of Ether surrounding her disappears in an instant, her form flickering in the darkness and the lights going out. Drowning. Drowning, she is sure, and Lily flails out with her hand to grip the floor, but can find no purchase. Her heart rises into her throat, and she feels herself falling, falling--

Before flames erupt from her person, a conflagration so great that it blots out her presence, scorches rock, sends her flying away to land, bouncing, clattering and rolling to a stop along the ground.


DC: Lily Keil switches forms to Lieutenant Lily!
GS: Lily Keil has attacked Lily Keil with Conflagration!
GS: Lily Keil has completed her action.
GS: Lily Keil takes a solid hit from Lily Keil's Conflagration for 150 hit points!
GS: Lily Keil has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Hell-Heart Furnace Shot for 87 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

 Despair works its poison in the young warrior. His brown eyes look for escape, maybe the group could flee. Then his gaze looks toward his allies. Perhaps if he goes after them with a powerful and sudden attack, could give them a swift death so dont have suffer under Berserk's sadistic urges. Maybe he could end it here and give his allies a better chance of doing whatever they want to do while Rudy makes his life meaningful and matter with some sort of sacrifice.
 While these destructive urges beacon him to something not becoming of a hero or a friend, Berserk's powerful mace clips him with a solid impact to the chest. Perhaps it is only Riese's protection that kept him alive, a hilarious turn of events for those keeping track of such things. As the mace continues its destructive path, Roughnight is spun around a couple of times before he hits the ground with a lifeless with a simple cry of pain, the first sound Rudy has offered this entire battle. Rudys body seems more like a heap for a moment, the fallen form given light in the backdrop of the powerful magics of Catenna and Arleph.
 Rudy doesn't move at first. Maybe he doesn't want to move. As if hoping that somehow, he can just remain there and everything would work itself out. Slowly, Rudy's eyes begin to close, the sounds of battle begin to dim. Then a voice bellows out, Dean's voice breaking through the white noise of war and suffering: 'Anything is possible -- as long as you don't give up!' The advice, it sounds so similar to the man that loved him. Emma offers her specialist magi-err science, and as she does, it is as if reads her mind. Rudy's thoughts go to that special, sacred, painful place.
 The silver of metal shines brightly as the sunset hits it and sways from its necklace as the wind caresses it. It stands as a testament as the necklace hangs on the cross. The grave marker is simple and rustic, surrounded by the beauty of the reds of the valley and the descending sun. Tears trickle down, as if Rudy's face were leaking from the eyes. A couple of ragged heaves of sorrow hit the orphan's chest. But the painful memory is all that is needed to restart his mindset. His friends and those depending on him strengthen him as he rises up.
 Finally, the ARMslinger speaks softly, "I'm sorry I havent been pulling my weight. I'll do my share from here on out."
 The slightly bloodied left forearm glows a bright blue with unknown symbols as Rudy twirls his weapon around with his right hand. As he takes aim and fires, it isn't with the explosive shell or anything special ammo. Just a powerful round aimed for a part of Berserk's armored hide, a very particular place on his skin that seems out of place.
 The shot's result is noted, whatever it might be, Rudy taking it in with seemingly methodical calm. As Lily falls, Rudy doesn't even look, only gritting his teeth slightly to steel himself for whatever is to come next.
 It's clear that Rudy is planning something with the probing attack, but the question is what?
 The curse of working with the strong silent types, but what.... He says something to Berserk in this moment. A plea of mercy? An attempt of a ruse? A spiteful insult?
 "Thank you, Berserk," Rudy offers with his usual gentle soft tone, even as he keeps his ARM trained on the powerful monster.

GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Berserk with Snipe Bullet!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Berserk takes a glancing hit from Rudy Roughnight's Snipe Bullet for 55 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

A world that is dying, it's clear this world may not have much time left for being habitable and yet it fights to stay alive, it's people, it's gods. All of them fight trying to press on to the future. She has not got close to many but she's seen people here stand up dust themselves off over and over again. They do not give up, she is a part of this world now too. She is here. She is a part of th is world and maybe she's been too blind to see it for so long. If she's got to live out hte rest of her life on Falgaia? She might just be starting to think of it as a palce she could call home.

 Still she is a child of the world known by so many names the Pale Blue Dot, Gaia, Terra or just plain old Earth. She has an idea of what could be she can see where some of the people might Lead Falgaia.

 "I will not... go quietly."

 The attack comes the horrible Scyth boomerang catyches Tes, cuts into her flesh and she goes down. Is that it for her? She hit the ground bleeding still clutching her ARM. So much for her apparnet last words, her world is a good deal of pain right now as she slowly maker herself focus as Lady Harken's rampage contiuynes this one more seeming corpse slowly rises back to her feet.

 "Do ... not ... screw with the human race. We fight we fall we die but in the end we over come because we do not fight alone we do not stnad alone and for you?! It's come up Aces and Eights."

 She readies the Dead Man's ARM. She shifts something on it and inside something happens technology that should not be on this planet comes on line and starts to forge something she levels the weapon. She lines up the shots and opens fire on Lady Harken but there's something strange about these rounds, they will explode a bit after impact. Tess has loaded Anti-Gear Rounds in desperation against Lady Harken and she's going to work it for all she can as she let each shot go.

 It is clear Tess may be on her feet only because of will power at this point. There is a look in her eyes it's defiant even if she may be about to die.

 "This world deserve a chance it keeps trying to get back up. It's people are getting back up."

 She's got a brave face on but she does not know how much longer she can stnad she will push her body as long as she can she has to there is no choice, if she will meet her end here to night? It will be on her feet.

GS: Tesni Inoue has attacked Lady Harken with Dead Man's Hand!
GS: Tesni Inoue has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

         Arleph, without any arrogance or presumption, have seen likely more of the Universe than most people present here. Likely a wider view of what existence is, what lies beyond the confines of this Solar System. He can, without a shred of a doubt, say the following:
         He's never seen this particular shit before.
         For a few precious moments, Arleph can only stand and stare, his jaw setting tighter as he grit his teeth, acknowledging that he's spared this horror directly by only a bit of luck of not being straight in it's path on the ground. He watches Agatha transform, melt into a base componment of evil, seeping into a pool on the ground of the Gardens. His mind is blank, stunned.
         Layna's words makes him snap back to reality, the older man staring at her with wide eyes, that narrows back into focus. Ground. Garden. Pool. "Oh yes I do, Captain Manydays." He replies, sucking in a deep breath, shoving the horror into a closet in his mind so he can freak out about it later. "Yes, I do."
         Arleph stands straighter, gripping on his bloodied gloves, pulling them tighter with a loud snap as he stares at the laughing mass of darkness. He watches with a dull expression the horrible thing that is happening to Lily, he struggles, his green eyes hard on the sight as he concentrates. He can feel the circuits of his Symbological tattoos aching, energy flowing through, light visibly flowing through them beneath his tattered clothing.
         "Here's hoping I get it right." Arleph lifts a hand, his fist tight, his voice clear, firm, precise.
         The ground shakes behind him, a coccon of stone emerging from the ground, shattering with energy, sending shards everywhere. And lo, there stands, albit a bit smaller, an apparition of the Guardian of the Earth, snarling in it's almost draconian fury, staring down.
         Arleph snaps his fingers pointing at the seeping pool of Darkness, where the prisoner Lily is stuck at.
         The Guardian is not really here, as it is per the laws of the MAterials. But he is here enough to take a deep breath, roaring out as he steps forward, raising a foot, then slamming it down in the direction of Agatha's pool form. The ground around them shatters, grinding and almost melting, much like an invisible blender sweeping through the otherwise immobile earth, churning, spinning, glowing with purificating light and water, added in by a flick of the wrist by Arleph himself.
         "You are not the only one with knowledge older than this planet, Agatha -- and I don't mean the Guardian. MAY YOUR FETID CORPSE BRING FORTH A BED OF FLOWER, HARDY AND POWERFUL!"
         With a swing of his hand, Arleph mimic Gruediev by slamming his foot on the ground, sending forth a last fissure of explosion to help expulse Lily out. This spell have been something hard, something negociated and worked with the spirit. It's hard. It involved his own knowledge of things not very well known in his world and his actual work: Terraforming. Giving life to a barren world, so that people may live on them. This wont fix everything.
         But at least, it purifies impurities and give life a chance.
         This probably is going to be a problem to Agatha's current state of being.

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Agatha Pyrelight with Material - Terrain Transfiguration!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Agatha Pyrelight takes a solid hit from Arleph Ardan's Material - Terrain Transfiguration for 217 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Agatha Pyrelight!
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda, to put it lightly, pokes the bear. She doesn't get the results she wanted -- no further probing of that strange, almost physiological response. The shift in her demeanor is persistent, but doesn't increase -- which itself suggests some things to Matilda... though she only has a few short moments to reflect on it -- the faint disconnect between speech and demeanor...

As Harken moves in, almost too fast to see, Matilda has a split second to realize her miscalculation. Sure, in situations where one's speed and size are comparable, a scythe is a laughable weapon.

Harken is much bigger and much faster. The armor over Matilda's torso saves her from an immediate death, but that's about all it does; Harken's hooking slash shatters the plate, shards digging into Matilda's back as she hits the ground, rolling forward to make sure Harken doesn't increase her follow-through and actually bisect her.

She starts to roll and crawl away, stubborn refusal to die practically the only thing that keeps her alive to do so. She looks to the Hellion who seems to know Harken so well... then to Dean...

... and collapses, blood running down her back.

<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.

It didn't stop her.

Garret tried, but he can feel his strength leaving him. All he can do is stand and...

...and he slips to one knee.

He can't even do that. That voice of hers. So angry. So robotic now. Its nnot her. Is she dead? Does this thing just wear her face. Have her memories. But is her soul gone? Torn out by the Quarter Knight behind all this. The one she's protecting so fiercely now. Protecting with such violence and will that doesn't seem natural at all.

I mean Harken was always mouthy but this is something else entirely.

He struggles to raise, struggles to get out of the way of that whirling scythe. That brutal stroke, he's not fast enough in this armor. If he ever was fast enough. He'll die here...

...the sword pulses.

He won't be able to do anything.

The blade, tip against the ice being to glow.

The last of the Fenrir Knights.

The sword in his hand explodes into violet light. Sheets of mist pour from the cursed blade, the pain and suffering of an entire dead city resonating inside a blade bathed in Melovelance. That mist swirls up and over Garrett. Whirling around him as the scythe comes to end his life.

The ring of steel on steel echos from that mist as Harken's blade enters it and is stopped.

It whirls away and in its place is a tall man, broad of shoulder. He wears armor similar to Garrett, the wounds that killed him visible in the brestplate and around his neck, where Alhazred took his head.

But a little thing like death doesn't stop Coldbird Lennox.

THe man's single eye, frosted over with rime. Sunken in its dead socket fixes on Harken. A greatsword holds her scythe at bay as he glowers at her, the dead man and the Quarter Knight.

"Elmina, Garrett." His voice coming as if from a distance, crackling from the depths of that blade. "What have a told you two about fighting."

GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Lady Harken with Ashes of the Past!
GS: Garrett Stampede takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Garrett Stampede has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon hits the ground and scrapes across it, boots slamming into the now cracked and chipped flagstones of the inside of the chamber. When he lands, there is more blood dripping from his side--where Azrael struck a second time. "Sterner stuff? I don't think you've seen the limits of what we're capable of, yet, Quarter Knight!"

But he is breathing hard, sweat running down his face. The wounds that he took are severe; he can only do this so much longer. Odoryuk is invoked behind him, a brilliant shine that casts shadows that elongate, as he faces Lady Harken. His teeth grit together, and he holds Argent Divider in his hands. The ARM is comforting, there, somehow, in the midst of the battle.

He glances to the side when he sees the fire erupt from around Lily. His eyes widen as she falls over, a cold feeling forming in the pit of his stomach when she falls over like that -- unmoving. "Lily--LILY!" he yells, before he looks up. He can't just run to her. Lady Harken is between them -- and he doubts she would let him pass unscathed. Which, in a way, makes this simple. It removes the choice for Leon.

His eyes narrow.

He holds Argent Divider out to his side, and light floods up the length of the blade. It glows a brilliant silver, burning brightly, as Leon grips the hilt -- and then charges forward. He rushes in closer to Harken, before he swings the sword downward.

The blade of silver light wavers -- and then ignites, before he chops it down for Harken in one massive overhead arc.

GS: Leon Albus has attacked Lady Harken with Code.26 CLARENT!
GS: Leon Albus has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Leon Albus's Code.26 CLARENT for 210 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Lady Harken critically Guards a hit from Tesni Inoue's Dead Man's Hand for 25 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken guards a hit from Garrett Stampede's Ashes of the Past for 97 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        "A familiar feeling, huh... I guess I wouldn't know," Dean says. But that's always been how it is. How can you possibly understand an amnesiac's experiences if you've never lost any memories yourself? But even so: "But still, I'm happy for you! You're another step closer to getting your memories back!"
        Even at a time like this, he can be positive. Even at a time like this, he can hold onto hope. And so, while Avril cautions him, practically pleads with him, he only gives her a fierce smile. "Of course! We're not gonna fall here!"
        Famous last words, perhaps, but even so, he nods firmly at Avril and replies, "You know it!!" Because Dean Stark always does his best.
        Matilda cottons on to something strange about Harken's loyalty to Alhazred, something Dean never would have noticed due to simply not knowing the people in question. He has no time to contemplate this, though, because Harken returns Matilda's inquiries with hardcore violence.
        "Matilda!!" he screams, reaching out to his friend to no avail as Matilda collapses from her injuries, appalled by the sheer bloody force that Harken wields against her. She looks to still be *alive*, thank god or gods or Guardians or Althena or *whoever*, because that's the part that's important. It's appalling--and it's a warning, in its own way, because before Dean can try to rush to Matilda's side to try to help, Harken next turns her rage on him... and on Avril. Dean has no idea how much his vehement appeals to hope have enraged Harken, let alone why, but he can feel it in the jangling of every body in his body when Harken SLICES past him at a speed excelling even *actual bullets*. Even with the rods of Twin Fenrir to protect him partially, it still feels EXACTLY like he was cut in half, and the blast of blood that sprays out from his sides would even seem to indicate that.
        But as long as Harken seeks to vent this volcanic ire on *Avril*, Dean can't just stand and let it happen. With a grunt of utter pain and unyielding willpower, he moves with Harken. Avril's already sought refuge at his back; he just needs to keep her there. And he'll do anything to do that--even remain in Harken's path as she aims for his friend, weapon-guard at the ready, as ready as he'll ever be.
        Perhaps it's his sheer stubbornness that keeps him alive. Perhaps it's his burning desire to protect his friend. But as Dean drops heavily to his knees, Twin Fenrir vanishing from his grip as his wounds pour blood, nearly collapsing as he falls to his palms, panting like his lungs have been set ablaze... somehow, Dean manages to stay conscious.
        "I j-just said... we're not... gonna fall here," he gasps. "I told you..."
        Dean's bloody hand grips a Medium.
        "we'll never..."
        It's different from the earlier one--this one bears not the crest of the Sword Guardian--
        --but that of the Guardian of Flame. "...EVER give up!!"
        Moor Gault bursts into brilliant scarlet existence, wings spread broad and wide, piercing cry cutting through the air like the clearest of bells. The Guardian of Fire soars through the air, and while unable to stay long to grant more than a few people its blessing, those motes of vermilion light still rain down upon Avril, Lydia, and Ida--three good friends that Dean cares about, still fighting their hardest against would-be insurmountable odds--to raise their strength to keep fighting.
        To give them the strength to melt the mountains that block their way to slag and ash.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Material - Blazing True Hearts!
GS: Dean Stark has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Material - Blazing True Hearts!
GS: Dean Stark has attacked Lydia Seren with Material - Blazing True Hearts!
GS: Dean Stark takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Lydia Seren takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Material - Blazing True Hearts for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Lydia Seren!
GS: Reload! Lydia Seren gains 15 extra FP from Dean Stark!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Material - Blazing True Hearts for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Reload! Ida Everstead-Rey gains 15 extra FP from Dean Stark!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Horror and miracles erupt all around Ethius. He hasn't time to heed them all, as Harken verbally and physically lays out everything to those who stil ldare to stand against one of the Quarter Knights. Her threats are heard, backed up with every skillful defense and frightening blow. He grunts as his posture worsens. When Harken moves in to make good on her threats anew, with Avril's positioning as Ground Zero(tm) of a massive swing... he brings out the other key part of his arsenal against... what, exactly?
        His other weapon, against... a threat he does not quite remember the character of.
        Somehow, few technological constructs ever truly get the jump on Ethius. He needs scant little visual information to work from, in the more traditional forms they take - trigger, barrel, angle, magnitude, range...
        Filgaia, for the last two years of his recollection, is... noisy. It always has been, to his senses. Why it would be equal parts novel and overwhelming to the senses if he's lived on this dirt ball for significantly longer than two years, he does not know. Every click, every slide, every swish.
        Few could hide the signs they would be about to pull the trigger on him, or hide what they have. Somehow, he could just follow. Every day, every person he passes, in eyesight, in earshot, these thoughts keep filling into Ethius' head. What could they be carrying? Where on their person? When will they draw it? Do they intend to fire? Is it loaded?
        Azrael is a technological construct - but not of the sort he seems... familiar with. This, and the wider range of movement and applications of such a weapon make this knowledge that works on more solidly defined concepts of cause and effect - pull trigger, shoot thing - do not apply one-for-one.
        And yet, whatever it is that grants him this knowledge, this finely-honed instinct that seems to lay equal alongside breathing, movement, and very thought...
        It is enough that her accleration is not a guarantee of success. Some vague click he picks up over the chaos, some glint of purple light he gets over the gamut. Base insticts act.
        He leaps. Instict was that Azrael would be reactivated prior to a swing - prior to the release of more ghostly images.
        The rest is within the realm of guesswork as to when and how, as he takes leave of terra firma and dives forward, twisting his body in an upward arc to try and clear an angle he calculates as probable within fractions of a fraction of a second. Within the very natural limits of a human's reflexes--
        He does not guess correctly, in full, as an encroaching apparation cuts another open gash into his side. Numb warmth fills the new wound. Shock threatens to overtake him--
        He rolls against the ground, grasping the quarterstaff in shaking hands past the etheral executioner that would eliniate him, coming within arm's (...leg's) reach of Harken herself. He plants it against the battle-damaged ancient stone carved and engineered by Elw hands. For the first time this entire encounter, he blinks.
        No, his eyes wish to close. His body is at limit. Between the arrow wounds from Krosse, the kink in his shoulder from catching himself when he almost fell off the Fereshte, the burning sting in his hand from when he went into overdrive to save his traveling party with that makeshift hot air balloon that wasn't meant to carry that much weight... and all the open wounds Harken inflicts.
        He coaxes one last push of strength from his legs to leap off the ground, balancing precariously upon that quarterstaff. He might only have it left in him for one last attack. Through a trick of balance and momentum, he moves to turn that one attack into several as he leans further within Harken's range to strike and batter her with a series of spinning kicks, gripping onto that quarterstaff for as long as he can keep hold.
        "Tornado Stri-" His voice chokes before he can finish those words. He grips that quarterstaff for as long as he can, a vice-grip of resolve that has carried him so far.
        It should say enough that he doesn't lose his grip of the quarterstaff for the entirety of the repeated rotating kicks. When his strength leaves him, he maintains that white-knuckle clutch as blood loss overtakes his very consciousness - becoming the verge of being yet another notch on the tally.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Lady Harken with Tornado Strike!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

"All you idiots,"

"preach about peace and harmony and building your stupid, worthless bridges."


"Well, you know what?"

"Your inclusiveness is a sad sack of lies."


Berserk wades into the battlefield he has made of a once sacred place, his every step crushing stone and ruined masonry of what was once a monument to the Elw and the Guardians' achievements on Filgaia. Now? Now, it is a blighted, ugly tribute to the glory of wars and violence.

It is a shrine to Berserk.

"You wanna be the strong ones. You wanna be the ones who can make everyone think like you. Act like you. Toe your pansy-ass line."

He spits on his shrine, the thick globule of alien saliva splattering against a shard of Odoryuk's sealed statue. The tendriling veins of biomechanical technology threading through his arm pulse and throb like the beat of a heart, encasing and tying the Sealing Rod to his very essence.

"Problem is, you don't have the -spines- to do it. And that's all there is to it. Deal. With. IT."

His attention turns towards violence. Or is assuredly about to, until Emma speaks. Until she diverts his attention, his stare snapping towards her. Most of what she says receives nothing but a blank look. But the rest? All the rest of it?

What then?

What -then-?

"Isn't it obvious, worm?"

He asks it almost honestly. As if he couldn't comprehend anyone -not- knowing. As if the answer was right in front of her face the entire time if she just -looked-.

"If those idiots from the moon come, good. We'll fight them. If they don't, we'll -come to them-. We'll wage war on their stupid little rock and burn everything and when it and all of this dying, dustbowl -piece of shit- planet is under our bootheel, I'll wage war against SIEGFRIED. ALHAZRED. EVEN THE FREAK. IT DOESN'T MATTER. WE'LL FIGHT, AND WE'LL DIE, AND IF I DON'T FIND MY GLORIOUS DEATH AT THE END OF SIEGFRIED'S BLADE--"

His grin is wild. But his stare is not the look of madness. It's the look of LIFE.

"--it's like you said, isn't it? SO MANY OTHER STARS OUT THERE!"

Because this is the ONLY way he can live.

"This is what we ARE. This is what we DO. This. Is. HYADES. And we will NEVER STOP--"

Rosaline strikes. His burning gaze snaps to her, raging and violent and full of an incalculable hate that doesn't even seem to hone in on her so much as -everything around him-. She points her shotgun, warped to a point that he cannot recognize. He can't see the oddness. The swell of Malevolence. And so he does what he always does.

She fires those pellets.

And Berserk lunges forward and eats them.

"GA HA! Tasty! You wann--urphk--" BOOM goes those pellets, one by one, exploding in his mouth each with an unpleasant -surge- of Malevolence all their own. He cannot sense it -- he can barely even feel it -- and it cannot latch to what amounts to his heart, cannot plague it like it does others. But he feels the -pain-. He feels the -fury- pumping through him and it HURTS as he staggers backwards, his sharp-teethed maw gaping open and glowing violet with the ebbing surge of Malevolence within him as he belches smoke of the stuff into the air. He crashes into a pillar, making it shatter, stumbling -- and then his head -snaps- up with a snarl as he focuses the sum whole of his violent attention onto Rosaline.

And then he feels it. The twinge of Guardians' magic that snakes itself along his left arm. He blinks. He looks down, slowly, towards the flow of lunar sorcery that weaves itself in through his flesh, along the perverted Sealing Rod nestled within it.


And he feels it try to unmake it.

Pain spikes violently through him as the Guardian's magic engulfs his limb in an array of silvers and blues, attempting to unwork, unravel, the painstaking technological work that has gone into blending that mystical artifact into him. He thrashes, SMASHING the pillar beside him into so much rubble, sending the entire thing CRASHING down with a horrible, cacophonous BURST. The tower shakes down towards its core. "You BASKAR WITCH!" he howls. "I'M GONNA WRECK YOU!" It is not enough. Not alone.

But it opens the gates.

And as the golden white mists join in its silvery white light, he feels the power of the ley energy here move.

<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.


He moves. He moves -IMMEDIATELY-. He turns in the direction of Catenna, Riesenlied, Cecilia. The shaman who refuses to just -give up- and -die-. The princess, always in his way, the one he should have -killed- while the rest of her life burned down. The Tainted.


        THE TAINTED.


The ground thunders beneath him with every step of his charge as he -lunges- himself towards them, intent to flatten all outright. He sees them, from the corner of his eye. Those people who would try to stop him. They always try. They ALWAYS. TRY. And he -- he REFUSES. He sees the magnificent blade of Tethelle, streaming a vibrant plethora of prismatic colors dragged from the depths of Equites, the Guardians -- herself. It can stop him. He won't let it. His direction diverts, intent to hammer a fist into the woman, to crush her under his enormous force.

And that is when a gun flashes its muzzle. Malevolent smoke he cannot perceive SHOOTS him across the side of his head, the burst of that bullet hits, the roar screaming across what amounts to the creature's ear as fragments of his living metal crest is blown asunder. He staggers, but -moves-, skull smoking, Malevolence aching painful paths throuh his skin and billowing from his mouth. The wrecking ball lifts --

--and it is the shot of a bullet that stops him in his tracks, as his wide yellow gaze looks. Towards. Rudy. That silent boy. That strange fleshbag. No. There's something else with him. Berserk can FEEL it. He can SMELL it. Thank you, says Rudy.


It is the liquid metal that springs upon him in those last, precious seconds. He feels it seize him, tendrils lacing through his body, tearing through his flesh. His fury is an incoherent roar as he turns his attention towards Tethelle...

... too late.

And the skies scream fury and force within that contact.

His wrecking ball meets Tethelle's massive blade. He struggles against it, feeling it scar deep into his weapon, BURN into his flesh as he pushes harder, and harder, and HARDER...

... only to feel the caress of Odoryuk upon his soul two-fold.

One upon his body. The other, upon his arm, already weakened and ripe from the magics Catenna weaved through it. He feels the power of -life itself- twining and working its way through him two-fold. He feels the spark of the Sealing Rod, already struggling against him from the dispelling work, flash to life within its binded tendrils.

He feels it reject him.


And the world fills with white.

The stroke of Tethelle's sword completes itself. It carves through flesh as Berserk is lost within the blue-white haze that consumes him utterly. The last thing that can be seen is the Metal Demon flying.

The last thing that can be heard is his thunderous crash.

Within that haze, there is nothing. Silence. Serenity, returning. Returning...

"... gonna... no... gonna kill... all of you..."

... but not gone.


That wrecking ball RIPS free, breaking the sound barrier as its sonic booms chase after it desperately. It SHRIEKS, scarred and fractured and on the verge of breaking as he EXPLODES pillar after pillar and TEARS through anything and everything in its way with force unimaginable. Powered by rage. Fury.


And through the haze stumbles Berserk, his armor blown apart, his body mauled -- the Sealing Rod at his arm mangled and throbbing with a dull white light that seems to weaken the very fabric of him as he heaves out slow, wheezing, rattling breaths. Damaged. Defiant. He will not stop. Never. NOT EVER.


Because he is Berserk.

                     M i s s i o n O b j e c t i v e
                              For The Future

                    Bring an end to the Quarter Knight.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia blinks as her blade fails to connect. "Wha..."

There's no followup. At least not for a moment. Harken just insults her strength. Lydia looks down for a moment, stunned by the words. The morale damage is enough to make her stumble back and hit the wall. It isn't that she failed to stab someone that bugs her, Lydia knows she's not a fighter in the same way as these other people. She never learned how to stab people properly and she's not sure she wants to know.

She sees Riesenlied succumbing to her despair and looks down at the floor. Maybe she wanted to believe that it didn't take the ability to harm others to change the world, or to reach your ambitions. She'd fight, fight as much as she needed to, but she couldn't enjoy it. Training held no joy for her. Even in ruins, she'd let other people do the fighting most of the time. Perhaps some part of her was just lazy, but the other part just hated the rhetoric.

Why couldn't her people live in the cities? Because the world was stronger than the Baskar. They would view them with supicious gazes.

Why did Janey and Mikaia have to suffer? Because that old bat was stronger than them. And in the end, it was because of Rosaline that she was able to get those kids out of there.

Alexander Castle said she was a weapon. Everybody told her that she wasn't a weapon, she was a friend. That made her happy, but if even Riesenlied can't stand up to a beast that's all power and no style, then what can she do?

The Guardian of Life aids Cecilia and Riesenlied

Lydia blinks upward and looks at them for a long moment. A Metal Demon that's also a Shaman? She can't believe her eyes. No... No she can believe it! Riesenlied dreamed an impossible dream and she made it happen! Rigdobrite whispers to her.

One star in the sky... doesn't make for such a pretty sight

"But there are many stars..." Lydia murmurs. "..Heh... I took it too literally."

Harken's scythe slams through her and out her back in a smooth motion. She sinks to her knee and hacks out red and silver fluids. She does not fall over. She has her own kind of training she has to do. She has to learn how she works. It's like a martial art, sure, but it's her own style. But until then--

It's Dean of all people. He channels the power of the Fire Guardian into her, keeping her up just barely. "Dean..." She manages. He has his own ambitions that are pretty darn impressive. She stands. She steps forward. "Hey...it's true... heroes die all the time, and never giving up... is something said by a whole lotta corpses. Maybe I'll be one of 'em..."

She grins widely, bloodily. "But even if a star winks out, the sky will never go completely black!"

She draws out a simple stone tablet. Despite being a self-styled Star Shaman, these stone tablets were handed out quite a fair bit in fact.


Nothing seems to happen. That is, until a bright light ray of lasery doom crashes down through the tower's roof for Harken's body.

Ethius falls, but Lydia knows that deep down, Ethius would probably want her to break shit anyway.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Material - Solais Emsu!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has activated a Force Action!
GS: Berserk has attacked Riesenlied with I'm Gonna Wreck It!
GS: Berserk has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with I'm Gonna Wreck It!
GS: Berserk has attacked Tethelle Cirdian with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Emma Hetfield with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Noeline with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rosaline Calice with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Catenna with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Berserk Break!
GS: Berserk has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Berserk Break!
GS: Catenna takes a solid hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 180 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Berserk's I'm Gonna Wreck It for 187 hit points!
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 240 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Agatha Pyrelight has posed.

 It felt good to stretch out and be herself again. It felt good to lash out, to punish those who would oppose her.
 The surge of darkness lets Lily go somewhat reluctantly - despite the fact that she is willing to go so far as to set herself on fire, she would be a wonderful acquisition. And really, it felt so good to stretch out and be themselves again. To leash out, and punish those who would oppose them all.
 Her. Them all. Her. Them all.
 All. One. All. Oneallonealloneallselfonealloneall-
 The upheaval of the ground is certainly problematic, and spread out over such a wide area it does a considerable amount of damage to the black mass that makes up Agatha's body. However, her response to the attack is perhaps nothing the best thing that could happen.
 Because while the rock pillar surge upwards from below, piercing the darkness in places, it surges up and rises in a solid mass, arms, teeth and claws growing from the edges and lashing out for a moment.
 Agatha's Hellion form is a seething mass of darkness and chaos, the occasional shape of something bubbling to the surface before being pulled back inside. Other monsters, strange creatures with myriad shapes appear to lash out towards Arleph and Layna for a moment, and then Agatha pauses and seems to contract down for a moment.
 "I have go give you three credit - I didn't expect to be pushed this far, and this form is..." And then there is a growl, a shriek, a hundred other babbling, shrieking voices. The eyes across the mass of darkness turn to look at Lily consideringly for a moment.
 And then they look to the sky.
 "We will settle this another time," Agatha states, and her voice is both honey and venom to the pair still on their feet before her. "Please don't die until then - I look forward to having the chance to flay the flesh from your bones until you both give in to Malevolence in the future. Until then..."
 And Agatha laughs, her form contracting into a human sized mass which plunges off the side of the platform and down the side of one of the supports. Vanishing from the battle... and leaving the Quarter Knights to their fate in the face of the Drifter forces.

GS: CRITICAL! Cecilia Adlehyde takes a solid hit from Berserk's I'm Gonna Wreck It for 388 hit points!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has activated a Force Action!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Material - Blazing True Hearts for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Reload! Avril Vent Fleur gains 15 extra FP from Dean Stark!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian takes a solid hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 158 hit points!
GS: Rudy Roughnight guards a hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 162 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Material - Solais Emsu for 145 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Tornado Strike for 131 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.
<SoundTracker> Motoi Sakuraba - Darklurker / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibT_ZVjGQ1s

        One step closer.
        It's as much as can be hoped for. Yes. One step at a time--

        Malevolence makes a foul writhe of an inky black pit, aiming to consume all it touches.
        This Avril sees.

        "Yes. We must not lose hope, regardless of how desperate the situation may seem."

        Riesenlied stands firm, joining her intent with Cecilia's own; though the statue is shattered, Odoryuk makes their presence known.

        "We must continue to stand--"

        She focuses, drawing out the power of the Guardian latent in the artificial Medium.

        Wrothful, Harken declares her intent. Her gaze lifts; the shock and realization of who is the focus come at a slightly later remove.
        Too late.
        Avril, too late, slips back a step, lifting her sword in a guard.
        The attack does not hit.

        Because Dean stands before her.

        Dean... stands...
        The world pitches slow.


        Absolute Zero slips from her grasp with a clatter. With that hand, she touches her cheek.
        Shaking, she stares down at that hand, smeared with Dean's blood, expression a mute mask of horror.

        And Avril... breathes deep.

        An eyeblink. A heartbeat.
        Clarity descends.
        Nothing, to the passing glance, has changed about Avril. She stands up that much straighter, to be certain. Her expression smooths into naught more than calm intent. When she takes that first step forward, it's determined, steady. Slow. As if she had all the time in the world.
        But other than that, there is no change.

        None but the slow pitch downwards of the ambient temperature, the frost crackling under her feet as Avril advances towards Lady Harken as if an army were at her side.

        The power burns off her. So like the force known as ether, and yet, so much unlike it.
        Cold, cold. So cold.
        Perhaps that, too, is the better name for the look on her face now.

        She's already paced past Dean, as if unheeding of the fact that he yet stands. Or of the flame, flickering, burning, a roar of heat embracing her unyielding frost.

        She stops only after pacing two steps more, raising her chin imperiously as she regards the Quarter Knight. "You."

        That look in the eyes has changed. That voice has changed. Fury, as cold and as terrible as the storm-tossed sea. As endless.

        "How dare you hurt him?"

        Ice rimes her hand as she lifts one single hand towards Harken, slowly uncurling her fingers, palm forward.

        "Begone from my sight," proclaims Avril Vent Fleur. The sudden crackling tear beneath Harken's feet may be the only warning of what is yet to come. The ice has already begun to seep into the platform, to shread the whole thing apart beneath her feet.

        To pour upwards into a tearing frostbloom spire.

DC: Avril Vent Fleur switches forms to The Ice Queen!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has activated a Force Action!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Lady Harken with Fleur de Glace!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Emma Hetfield critically Guards a hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 108 hit points!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Fleur de Glace for 165 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Rosaline Calice takes a glancing hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 112 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey guards a hit from Berserk's Berserk Break for 148 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Arleph certainly does have another spell to call upon, and what a spell it is - it tears up the ground, in pillars of stone. It's impressive...and it gives them a view of the chaos roiling inside Agatha's Hellion form. Strange creatres try to lash out...

...But Agatha pulls them back in.

Layna watches her carefully, fists clenched. She waits, waiting for another trick...but it seems that Agatha is done - at least for now.

She doesn't relax.

"Got no intention of dying any time soon, Pyrelight. You're welcome to try." She replies.

Agatha's hellion form contracts into a smaller, human-sized mass and plunges off the platform. Layna approaches the edge, staring down and watching it leave.

...She was going to have an interesting story for Talise and Sephilia next time she saw them, that was for sure. But of course, this fight wasn't over yet. With Agatha gone, the firewall starts to recede, and she can see it still waging strong...

"Ahoy there! Come on, me hearties! Keep it up! I know you've got it in you!" She calls out. Rosaline especially gets a grin, but she sends one Emma and Rudy's way, too.

Just a little bit further, everyone.

GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Rosaline Calice with Prepare to Board!!
GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Emma Hetfield with Prepare to Board!!
GS: Layna Manydays has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Prepare to Board!!
GS: Layna Manydays takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Layna Manydays has completed her action.
GS: Emma Hetfield takes a solid hit from Layna Manydays's Prepare to Board! for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Emma Hetfield!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna's enchantment of Dispellation is not one she normally uses for so specific a task, against so powerful a spell. Narrowing her Arcana to work against the twisted magitech of the Metal Demons forces her to draw on the energy of Celesdue to an incredible extent. She trembles as she tries her damnedest to bleed the magic out of that arm of Berserk's, mote of light by mote of light. More and more magic pours into the spell as Catenna keeps on channeling the power through herself.

A few sparkles of silvering blue drift through the air around her. They dance like little butterflies in the moonlight.

From the pouch belted at her side, there is a ripple of soft white light.

Not so far away, Odoryuk is called forth. Catenna cannot fully take the time to appreciate it, but there is a certain awe in her eyes even as she continues to chant. She wishes with all her heart that she could embrace Riesenlied and call her sister.

She cannot, until the danger Berserk presents has been neutralized.


Berserk is turning to bear down on her. Catenna sets her jaw - still aching from the blow Berserk delivered to her. She squares herself to the incoming embrace of death... but she keeps that hand leveled.

The radiant white glow from her side grows brighter.

The Quarter Knight is hurled away - the Sealing Rod rejecting him all the while. Catenna breathes out, letting the spell taper off. Her head sags a little.

Untill the wrecking ball comes screaming through that haze.

So worn down is Catenna by that exertion that she cannot even begin to elude something so fast that it shatters the sound barrier. The sonic boom blows her hair backwards - and the spiked ball hits her square in the chest.

A spike erupts out of Catenna's back in a spray of blood and gore.

The impact hurls her off of it instantly. Blood fountains from between her lips, streaming in the air behind her like a sickening red contrail. Her eyes are wide and vacant of anything but pain as she sails through the air, more blood oozing from the deep puncture wound that hit her just below a lung. Motes of lunar light mingle with that blood, evidence enough of just how much power she was pouring through herself to force that Sealing Rod to reject the Quarter Knight.

And yet, it wasn't enough. Even with this much, it wasn't enough. And now, the Shamaness hits the ground like a dead weight, skids, and leaves a crimson smear on the masonry behind her. The pouch at her side tears loose, scattering its contents through the air and across the ground around Catenna. Pouches of cooking spice; a small tiffin case of curry; one of Matilda Whitehead's blueberry muffins; several Heal Berries; her rope; her stick of incense. And a wrapped bundle of warm-looking cloth. A bundle which unravels.

From that bundle, something rolls. A single, pristinely white Egg.

             White light streams from little cracks in its shell.

As Catenna struggles to her knees, she finds she can't support herself. Her muscles give way; she crumples, lying there on her side. Tears stream from her eyes.

The white light glints in them. The Egg sits directly in her field of vision.

As the dying priestess - for she knows she is dead - lies there, her eyes wide and barely seeing what is before her, that light builds and builds. For a single pristine moment, a ray of shimmering moonlight radiates towards the heavens. It is thin, but it can be seen like a beacon from the other tower.

And then it fades... and tiny fragments of shell give way. From within the remnants of the Egg, a pair of eyes, big and yellow with huge black irises, struggle to open. They gaze upwards, at Celesdue's Priestess.

Cheeks wet with tears, Catenna reaches out with an unfeeling hand to cradle the remnants of the Egg, and the newborn snowy owl within. She draws it closer to her, close enough to let her hear the faint sound of its breathing. The agony rioting through her senses grapples with something else at the sight of it. A small, vulnerable thing, the child of a Totem Bird of Celesdue. A Great White Bird too far gone to be saved, leaving behind only an Egg.

And an obligation.

                          There is at least hope.

With trembling fingers, Catenna draws the baby owl into her hand... and she nods down to it. Her throat swells as she swallows her sadness, though she cannot swallow her tears. She can cry with the world even as she does what she can. Long dark hair veils her face as she bows her head close to the tiny bird, but she cannot find the words.

Only the will. That spark begins to build. There is at least hope.

It shines out of her - and pours outward, into the shapes of immense butterfly wings. The light blooms into the air and whirls higher, those wings whirling into a crescent shape high above. Perched astride that golden crescent, stands the shape of a woman in a shimmering gown, holding one hand towards the Quarter Knight. And yet, her eyes descend towards Catenna.

                 Perhaps you see more than ever... Shaman.

Catenna gazes up at the Guardian of the Moon with her lower lip open - and then, heart thudding in her chest, she levels her hand towards Berserk, just as Celesdue does. Cradling the baby owl to her chest, she lets the magic flow.

Silver-blue moonlight radiates around Berserk - and then gravity grips him. The force of it inverts the world for him. It drags him towards some invisible ceiling at incredible speed, then pulls him back down again - and then inverts the world once more. Even as Celesdue folds her butterfly wings around herself and vanishes from view, the Guardian power unveils its work - seeking to hurl Berserk back and forth, to slam him into the sky and then the earth, until he is broken and vanquished.

Catenna keeps her hand held out, and the baby owl clutched close to her breast. The Bird can feel the steady beat of her heart.

GS: Catenna has attacked Berserk with Material - Merciless Queen!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Layna Manydays's Prepare to Board! for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.


Tethelle expected resistance from Berserk. The Divine Blade is caught by the Quarter Knight - caught and held, impossibly, by the Metal Demon, Equites' power challenged by the sheer might possessed by her opponent.

At this point, Tethelle can't stop even if she wants to. The power can't be restrained now that she's unleashed it; her hands are locked around the hilt, holding it in a death grip, sealed by her own Medium. The stroke will finish, or the blade will break; one or the other of them has to give out. She feels the thrumming sensation where she is holding the Medium intensify as it burns her glove by sheer power.

"No matter what - we stand - against everything you stand for!"

Tethelle feels multiple Guardians summoned, along with lesser expressions of the power, some of which are very complex. This includes Odoryuk, not once but twice, despite the destruction of his statue and the fact that, as far as she knows, nobody had his Medium; if she was capable of opening her hand she would drop her blade in shock from what the second source was. That's not possible. It stands in stark opposition everything she believes, everything she knew - and yet it is true.

Tethelle's spirit soars - and her blade breaks through Berserk's guard.

The aura around Tethelle's sword shatters, but not until it connects with the ground, having sheared through part of Berserk and thrown the rest of him elsewhere. It leaves a rather ragged-looking swordswoman, holding a sword with a twisting pattern scorched onto the blade. Her Medium looks scorched at first but sheds some black flecks as Tethelle's hands unclench and shake, looking as pristine as the day she acquired it, as it cannot be damaged by its own power - but she's burned a perfect image of part of Equites' pattern onto her glove where she'd clenched the tablet.

Tethelle gasps for breath, going to one knee. It takes her effort to rise, and she looks across the group she fought with, a slight smile on her face. "Thank you," she says...

...but Berserk still lives.

The wrecking ball flies for Tethelle, and she interposes the flat of her sword, catching it in a mirror of how Berserk caught her blade. There's no energy along the blade anymore, but there's less power from Berserk in the state he is in, too; Tethelle is less overmatched than she might be under other circumstances.

She is forced back, smashed again - but she doesn't fall. She won't let herself fall. Tethelle groans as she feels more bruises blossom, but her eyes are clear when she looks at Berserk for what she feels may be the last time, the strange energies dancing along his twisted arm.

"I'm sorry," she says, which may be the last words he expects out of her mouth.

"I'm sorry." she repeats, more firmly, but this time finishes her thoughts. "Perhaps some Metal Demons are not as bad as I thought." She glances toward Riesenlied but doesn't follow that train of thought far, not here and not now. "But you are. You are a threat to Filgaia's people, a darkness in the world, and it is my duty to stand against it. You are a mad dog, Berserk - and to protect everyone else, you must be put down."

Tethelle raises her sword as she rushes forward. There's no magic this time because she can't manage any more; even the thought of it makes her mind throb with pain. There is only a single blow, again almost vertical - the other direction, forming an X if it's allowed to meet the other one without resistance.

DC: Tethelle Cirdian switches forms to Warrior-Priest Tethelle!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has attacked Berserk with Great Divide!
GS: Tethelle Cirdian has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Catenna's Material - Merciless Queen for 143 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Berserk!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Tethelle Cirdian's Great Divide for 129 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied feels ready. More ready than she ever has been, even as her body aches profusely, throbbing with a pain that exceeds her limits. But she is not alone -- not at this moment, when Odoryuk is quite literally still sustaining her, through the lifelink of her Material...

        ... which is intricately bound with the errant energies released by the Statue, as well as her own quantum state of being.

        Berserk thunders towards them with his charge, thrashing as he -SLAMS- his way into them. His fist, his ball and spike shatters at her and presses her right back up to the edge of the statue, her spine screaming in pain as she does so.

        The Demi-Odoryuk beside her steps towards her, and their eyes meet.

        "In... so many ways..."

        Her voice is timorous and trembling, but it is filled with a clarity that was not there before. She steps beside Noeline, feeling encouraged to be by her side. She looks to Lydia, smiling faintly towards the shaman.

        "I pity you. The only way you've ever been able to live... is to fight. Lord Siegfried and Mother have indoctrinated that thought into your mind since a thousand years ago, when we first landed here..."

        She presses her lips together.

        "Bear witness to us, Berserk."

        She thrusts her hand aside and raises the Dragon's Tear up to the air--

        And an eruption of light surrounds the entire tower as she brings forth a weave of life-energy veiled by the emotions of her own power. It alights softly upon the mind and soul, empowering one with a sense of clarity and empowerment.

        It was as if, for a moment, their hearts and thoughts could be as one.

        "For too long now our culture has been poisoned in the name of vengeance!
         No more shall our young be indoctrined into martial discipline!
         We shall espouse cooperation and empathy!
         We shall pour our efforts to remand those we have wronged!
         We be free of the shackles of Mother's all-consuming war!
         All this, upon the Geas I swore with Equites...!"

        She raises the Tear aloft, as the empathic band reverberates ever more passionately, strongly... and the shine of Odoryuk dissipates as the unicorn -- seemingly content and pleased -- disappears towards the Ley veil in the wake of the Material summon.

        "This... is the new world that I seek!"

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Cecilia Adlehyde with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Noeline with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Rosaline Calice with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Lily Keil with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Lydia Seren with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Rudy Roughnight with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Dean Stark with Rising Heart - 'Seek the New World'!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied heals Dean Stark! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Riesenlied heals Cecilia Adlehyde! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Riesenlied heals Rosaline Calice! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Riesenlied heals Noeline! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Rudy Roughnight takes a solid hit from Layna Manydays's Prepare to Board! for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Rudy Roughnight!
GS: Riesenlied heals Rudy Roughnight! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Riesenlied heals Lydia Seren! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Everyone around Rosaline is unleashing their own flavor of Armageddon in a desperate effort to stop Berkserk once and for all. Lily has unleashed a terrible, mysterious power. Several people summon the Guardians. (Of course.) Even Riesenlied does the impossible by calling upon her own in a powerfully symbolic gesture. Agatha becomes... something that has clearly not been human in a long time. Ida and Garrett, of course, weaponize their own sorrows into spectacular feats and impossible blasphemies. Rosaline should be moved by these displays, somehow.

But she doesn't care. More important than all of these things, more important than Filgaia's survival, or the others', or her own, right now, is the pure, petty desire to personally make Berserk finally suffer and die for his crimes.

He unleashes his apocalyptic might once more, perhaps going out but doing so in a terrible blaze of glory. Rosaline is still holding on to red strings, channeling forbidden sorceries she barely understands. She cannot very well dodge or brace herself, she cannot call upon Garrett once again, so all she can do...

Is be knocked aside like a ragdoll, bloodied yet again, while she frantically murmurs incantations meant to desperately keep her alive for just one more minute. She must stand. Nothing matters more than this. Revenge. For the Metal Demon Wars? Adlehyde? Her friends? Maybe.

All that matters is that she get back up through the blistering pain. Riesenlied helps her through this, against all of her expectations. Yes. Good. Then Layna flashes her a grin, which seems insane to the beastwoman right now, but the sort of insane she needs right now. Rosaline returns that smile, blood-red eyes wild. She hasn't let go of those red strings, still clutching them in a death grip.

She returns her attention to the Quarter Knight.

"Berserk," the blood-covered Rosaline says, her fury having evened out to something superficially resembling calm.

She opens her hands and raises them palm-first, drawing back the shining red strings she sank into the ground like a fisherwoman raising her nets. Trailing after them are countless, Will-o'-the-Wisp-like blue flames.

"A moment ago, you said you wanted to feel something," she states, as flames keep appearing all around her, the first arrivals taking on faintly humanoid shapes. "I will grant you that wish."

The humanoid blue flames fly straight for Berserk, piling up upon him with cries of anguish. Their touch burns, of course it does. Individually, they are flies to him, easy to swat and dissipate, but they keep coming. They do not stop. Is Rosaline conjuring up an illusion, or did she somehow bring back the dead as Garrett appears to have?

Does it matter? It's unlikely Berserk ever cared enough to remember the faces filling his vision right now. But CAN HE EVEN SEE THEM AT ALL? If not, then she will MAKE HIM--

"FEEL THE PAIN OF ALL YOU'VE KILLED. Experience their anguish," she spits, "cry their tears, SCREAM THEIR SCREAMS."

Her voice is choked up with tears, her throat already raw and bloody. While Rosaline's fury is more palbable than ever, the spirits' wrath seems to be their own. From the Hellion's point of view, all she needed was the strength to open the door. The souls burn with incalculable heat, they pull at Berserk every which way, attempting to drag him down to his well-deserved grave.

"As you BURN IN HELL!"

GS: Rosaline Calice has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rosaline Calice has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Berserk with Flames of Perdition!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Rosaline Calice's Flames of Perdition for 151 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        Her Errant Blade, brought out in full, isn't dissimilar to Kalve's Method Mercury - the shifting and twisting of her own living metal as if it were part of her, shaping it as she likes at a whim. Still, it's evidently more localized, and with a far more singular purpose in mind than the scientist's more philosophical style. The metal tears against Berserk's skin as it forms a constant series of blades; none of them are lengthy or powerful enough on their own to get far through the demon's armor, but that's alright.

        Wildly, Noeline rides the ferocious creature, thrashing to and fro as she takes Berserk's rage upon herself. It hurts terribly - it's all she can to do grit her teeth and hang on against the pain as the metal demon under her vents an impossible anger, as the gigantic wrecking ball slams into her side and nearly dislodges her all over again.

        But she manages, somehow, to hang on. Letting go simply isn't an option, and the tendrils of the Errant Blade carving down into the Quarter Knight's skin have her practically anchored in place anyway. She rasps out a gagged kind of yelp at the next impact, feeling the edges of unconsciousness creep into her vision as her breath leaves her - but still, with the Guardian of Life's energy washing over her, she finds a way to desperately hang on.

        And then, more important than anything else - Riesenlied's voice, calling over the din of battle with an impossible strength and clarity. Berserk isn't wholly wrong - that voice has been her guiding light all along, that which she was drawn to so long ago, and pledged herself to upon her return. She lifts her head - and meets her partner's eyes for a silent moment, a thousand words of pride held in her gaze as she sucks in a breath and wilfully pulls back to herself.

        "--that is fear," she challenges when she realizes it, still managing a sharp edge to her voice. "The same fear that binds each and every one of the demons in the Photosphere. We learnt. We found others. We got stronger, together. You're about to be brought down by your 'trash'."

        Two hundred years ago, Noeline screamed in pain as a Medium tore itself to miniscule pieces, exploded against her as a thousand little bits of shrapnel that lodged inexorably into the metal that constitutes her. Two years ago, she felt Sorcery prick at her fingertips, an impossible display that would mark her for death were any Quarter Knight to find out. Two months ago, a Guardian told her that it had all been done on purpose - to place a bet that perhaps just a few sufficiently resourceful Metal Demons might inspire hope, might start an avalanche that would change the course of their race forever.

        Use everything you've got, she smirks to herself.

        Noeline's form explodes into a blackened flame, its form shifting and flicking and almost unreal; this isn't any power of Malevolence, nor is it Lily Keil's unique flame. It's simply Noeline digging deep within herself, channeling what she can of Duras Drum's sealed but leaking power to ignite herself - all of herself, including every bit laying against and lodged into Berserk's hide.

GS: Noeline has activated a Force Action!
GS: Noeline has attacked Berserk with Errant Blade Extension - Pyrrhic Flame!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

         And then, it ends. Not an end that Arleph really wished to have, but at least, she's gone for there. The Symbologist lets out a breath of relief as the darkness seeps away, at least content in the knowledge that it's been a huge inconvenience. Who knows, maybe losing herself further into that darkness will actually be a huge problem, a strain, for that Witch. "See you another time, Hellion. Next time, I'll be ready for you."
         Arleph straightens, throwing a grin in Layna's direction. Her shouts do snaps him to attention, his ears ringing again at the sound of rage and battle around them. Right. The horrific darkness wasn't the only thing here.
         There's a redhead with a scythe and a crazy murderous monster on the prowl. The statue have already suffered the might and beligerence of one. A very, very frightening one.
         "I'm going to feel this tomorrow." Arleph mutters, pulling himself up to his feet again by pushing on his knuckles, breathing out as he focuses his mind on the next spell. Chanining High Arts have been one of his specialties, but it always a very draining process to take part of. The achings and pains of the last battle are catching up to him, the caked blood loss, the wounds. Still, he tighten a darkened glove into another's palm, forming a circle around his fist.
         Previously summoned water, corruped, tainted by blood or other detritus begins to rise, as he focuses on the melee ahead with a narrowed, twitching eye. It's going to be a little difficult to aim, with all the people focusing on Berserk. Fortunately, the Quarter Knight is a big, huge, excuse me the latin, hell of a huge #*$&@er. It flows into a bubble in front of Arleph's extended palm, that he flings upward with a flick of his wrist.
         The bubble homes for the Quarter Knight, slamming into hopefully at the right time where the center of it freezes, expands, the flash-frozen ball of water exploding outward giving in from the intense pressure of water expanding from said freezing. Arleph's out stretched hand is shaking, one eye closed and covered in his blood. The smart thing might've been to lie down and recover. Nobody said all Doctors are smart everytimes.
         "A...AQUA FRIGORE!"

GS: Arleph Ardan has attacked Berserk with Aqua Frigore!
GS: Arleph Ardan has completed his action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Arleph Ardan's Aqua Frigore for 163 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Berserk takes a solid hit from Noeline's Errant Blade Extension - Pyrrhic Flame for 102 hit points!
GS: Cripple! Statuses applied to Berserk!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        That shot vented some of the Malevolence building within Ida's heart--but not enough. Not nearly enough. Phantom visions flash through her mind's eye--earth like the land outside the Boneyards, dry and cracked and completely devoid of life. Purged clean of it by acrid, festering spite that lingers in the soil for generations.

        Hope. That's funny.

        Ida's whole body suddenly seizes up, and lifts a good half a food into the air--as if she were a marionette being jerked upwards on a puppeteer's strings. Her mouth falls open. She can hear Lily's agonized scream, hear Dean's innocent, hopeful insistence--both of those things happening around her. The brilliant glow of Malevolence shines from her mouth and eyes.

        That thing you can't feel anymore, not honestly--not enough to drag yourself out of this.

        Ida's mouth moves. A hideous, inhuman scratching noise is all that comes out. The vents in her body start to deepen, outgassing Malevolence into the air around her like volcanic ash.

        You will never win, because you lost hope. Because you lost yourself. Because that's what let the Malevolence in, and now it can do whatever it wants to you, see?

        She can her Berserk's voice through it all, and she realizes, on some level, what he is doing. This is a man who has known nothing but war--who has lived for nothing but war--pouring out his heart. This is a man living the Third Method--

        Ida can almost hear the tap tap tap of the combat rod Kalve uses instead of a master's cane. She can almost hear Kalve asking her to point out the flaws in Berserk's argument. It's a purpose. It's something she can use to pull her thoughts together, to reclaim them.

        "Untempered fool, Ida spits. "Has anything in your life truly challenged you? Have you been at the top so long you've forgotten what the climb was like--or did you simply not have to climb at all?" The horrible, shuddering pulse of Ida's heart slows to one that is merely 'manic', and she feels solid ground beneath her boots again.

        Berserk's mace comes down at her, and it is like the moon falling. It is unstoppable, crushing force. Ida knows she should try and dodge, but she does not. She turns on her heels, pulls bloody lips away from her teeth, and draws back her right fist. A sound like thunder tears free from her throat as her fist races towards Berserk's wrecking ball, intent on meeting it head-on. It's ridiculous. It cannot be stopped.

        Ida's fist shatters instantly. The bones in her arm break, one after another, as the impact travels up her arm. She grits her teeth as it reaches her shoulder--silently thankful to Kaguya for helping show her that she can do this--and she simply wills her shattered arm back into shape. Flesh twists and writhes beneath her skin, and bones knit themselves back together--only for both to be torn and broken once again, because that wrecking ball isn't stopping. The process plays out for what feels like an eternity--Berserk breaks Ida, Ida knits herself back together. It feels almost unreal when Dean Stark calls down the blessing of Moor Gault, the same Guardian who deigned to choose her. A spark of warmth that isn't Malevolence fills her heart. The mace finally carries through, knocking her aside. One last, horrid twist of flesh, and Ida's arm is free.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        "I see now," Ida says. Like Rosaline, the look on her face is... dissonantly calm, despite the circumstances. Perhaps Dean has helped her think more clearly, yet again. She glances over at Riesenlied, who calls Berserk indoctrinated. That may be true, but--it's leaving things out. Crucial things. Ida sees them. "You and I are more alike than I wanted to admit. Because, hell, who wants to admit they have things in common with a brute?" Ida's hand finishes regenerating, and she clenches her fingers, experimentally. Everything is in working order. Good. "You're never satisfied. There always must be something greater, something for you to strive for. And yet, you've spent your whole life at the top, and you don't know what it's like to be powerless. To feel like you've lost everything, despite everything still being there, because for the first time you're no longer the one with all the power, and you know it."

        "And that's why you'll die here, Berserk," Ida says. She sounds almost sad. As if she regrets what she's about to do. She does. She's going to do it anyway, and the Malevolence roils within her at the thought of it.


        Ida entwines her hands in a little mudra, and bends at the waist--a Hyadean martial bow.

        "Thank you for helping me towards this knowledge," Ida says, as Rosaline conjures wil-o-the-wisps from nothing, declares Berserk damned. "I suppose you've accomplished at least one good thing. But as Rosaline said--" And here, the anger creeps back into Ida's voice. "The weight of your sins is crushing. And it is that, and not my fists, that will kill you."


        In the time she's spoken those words, Ida has blurred across the floor, charging towards the Quarter Knight like an onrushing train. She drives at him fist-first, a wild haymaker strike with everything she can muster behind it. The shadows congeal, giving the scene around the two an eerie look--drowning out things that don't emphasize the brutality Ida is unleashing on Berserk. The haymaker turns into a chain of punches. The chain of punches turns into a blur of punches, too fast for most to follow, hammering against Berserk's already-battered frame. Ida kicks off the big Demon's chest, drops down at him with a double axe handle, twists back in mid-air, goes for a backhand. Malevolence boils off her fist as she draws it back for one last punch, for old time's sake.

        The passage of Ida's fist is enough to make a shockwave in the air around it. The blow is powerful enough to cripple a Metal Dragon, to blow a hole in a Gear, to pulverize flesh and blood into a fine red mist.

        It might just be enough to break Berserk's neck.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

She has to stand strong even against his screaming; his cutting, biting curses, his brutal, hateful words. She's trembling just the same. Especially as those EYES come upon her. But Odoryuk is with her. The Guardian is here - and she watches as twin flashes of glory, the light of Life blasting into Berserk and searing away his poisoned power. Tethelle carves him apart. Is he gone? No...no his defenses are stripped. The rod is turned against him. But he's weak.

This is their chance. "We have to," she says, before a wrecking ball slams flush into her face. Emma's Silhouette defense immediately shatters. Her defensive barrier doesn't really even seem to slow it down. The hit sends her careening entirely across the room. She hits the floor at speed, pinwheels off it, slams into the far wall and crashes into it with enough force to fracture even this invincible stone.

Her body probably faired worse. She peels off it, almost comical except for the rattle of what is probably bone as she does, and collapses forward on her face. She should probably be dead.

But she still had some of Odoryuk's light in her; streaming Leyline light from her limbs as she jabs her staff down. Riesenlied speaks of hopes and cares; an earnest rebuke of everything that made him. Cecilia's shattered fingers reach for her crest case, and one of them jumps up, eager to serve. She guides it, hovering on magic, to the fore, the emblem shining there. She stares at him as he screams. She whispers, "None of this...none of this will ever improve...so long as you are alive. You're right about one thing, Berserk." She mouths the next words, too silent to hear.

But they are heard by what must; the Medium before her explodes with light, Fengalon's turbulent form tearing into existence, barreling down the gap between Cecilia and Berserk. Cecilia can barely talk. Fortunately, Fengalon is the wind, and it will not be silenced; a scream like a tornado roaring across the distance, before the massive tiger beast draws in with claws bared. There is no mercy; there is no play.

The Guardian of Wind seeks to tear Berserk in half.

It has barely enough time to follow through before it puffs into motes of leyline light. At the back of the room, Cecilia Adlehyde is barely breathing, her teeth stained red and her skin an ugly color.

GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has activated a Force Action!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has attacked Berserk with Material - Hi-Speed Ripper!
GS: Cecilia Adlehyde has completed her action.
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Berserk with Gleeful Cessation Of Restraint!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

Indeed--for Leon, there isn't any choice at all, is there? Two mirror situations play out upon the shattered battlefield. Two dear ones fall, and two hearts burn with purpose renewed. One with frigid, azure flames--the other with pulverizing, silver light.

"You're not worthy of her!" Harken's voice is not a deafening scream like it was--back then, at the temple--it is just oddly strained. Like an engine burning, straining under too much weight. She moves to parry the Argent Divider, but even the fel blade of Azrael is pushed aside with an ease the Quarter Knight is unused to. A sword of light and force scythes through her hand--potentially taking it right off.

                         >> Blood pressure dropping.

A phenomenal amount of blood loss doesn't appear to slow Harken a great deal. She wields the scythe with her other hand effortlessly, reeling--almost stepping on Matilda's fallen form, but thankfully not--as the world around her turns bitterly cold. Frost cracks the ancient stone, tendrils of ice race like spiralling fireflies towards the Quarter Knight's foot--curling around her boots and kissing her armour with frigid breath. Her egress ceases.

                      >> Internal temperature dropping.

'You.' speaks the girl of mysteries. Avril confronts the ancient?demon without fear. With unknowable fury and purpose. 'Begone from my sight,' it commands Harken's attention. She locks eyes with her again, but there is no fear. Recognition, in those hateful eyes, possibly acknowledgement--but not a shred of remorse.

The demon smugly dismissed the power of things like hope, ambition, spirit. Toyed with her prey, and now: she pays the price. Lydia, who Harken treated as a curiosity and not a threat summons power unimaginable from the Heavens. The dim sky briefly fills with a blinding glory, before it focuses to a single point and--
--the Quarter Knight through with a spear of the Guardians' heavenly fury. Blood--scarlet, striking upon her delicate and pale skin--runs in thick rivulets from Harken's nose as something important is punctured.

           >> Internal bleeding detected. Clotting systems offline.

The ghastly, bloodied Quarter Knight stares balefully at the misty figure which whorls into existence like a protective shield before Garrett. There is a distant glint in her eyes that suggests his silhouette means--something, maybe--but her face remains a hateful stare of silence. "The dead should stay in the grave." she spits.

The dread scythe sweeps through the mist. Its wielder is beginning to slow down, harried by so many lethal wounds as she is. Harken barks at Ethius, "That woeful technique doesn't deserve a -name-." she spits again--not out of disgust, but because blood fills her mouth and lungs. Her armour is shattered, and an easy target for even the beleaguered symbologist's staff-strikes. Holding Azrael by the head, she savagely swings the blunt end at him like a club as if to knock him unconscious once and for all.

                   >> Break detected: second, seventh ribs.

Tesni's words bring about a filthy scowl from the Quarter Knight. "Please, spare me your 'hopes and dreams' drivel, if you'd -damn- our entire race in the same breath." Harken snaps back at her. Such an advanced ARM in the woman's hands shears the whole of the Demon's left pauldron off--which would be impressive by Filgaian standards, but maybe spacefarers are instead just kind of scared that it isn't -more- effective against foes on this backwater dustbowl.

                        >> Bullet cavitation detected.
>> Status: Critical)]

A PIERCING tower of ice thunders upwards from beneath Harken's feet. It sunders the ground she stands on, the ground she's been rooted to, but there is no time to escape--Avril's mastery over the elements traps the Quarter Knight in an ever-blossoming fractal explosion of ice. As beautiful as it is deadly. Carries her skyward on a spear of... I almost typed Absolute Zero but that's her sword. Sorry.


        It's still...



Berserk still draws breath.

Berserk still fights on--at any cost. Regardless of allegiance, of purpose, of reason.

Is that what the real apex predator looks like...?

Two points of burning scarlet from within the cloud of ice atop the spire begin to burn brighter. "Y o u . h a v e n ' t . w o n . y e t. . ."

"I ' m . . ."

That scythe. That horrible, dreadful, stupid scythe shrieks like being flayed alive as it lashes out from afar. It sinks into the beautiful spear of ice Avril pierced Harken on, and cracks begin to spread through it. There's a deep, bass-heavy pulse of *feeling*, the very concept of the calm before the storm given shape.

And then, the ice--and the cloud of fragments and frozen shards and bars encaging the Youngest of the Quarter Knights, the Freak, Elmina Niet

                           "S t i l l . h e r e ."

Upon all those who faced her.

GS: Lady Harken has activated a Force Action!
GS: Lady Harken has activated a Force Action!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Leon Albus with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Dean Stark with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Lydia Seren with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Garrett Stampede with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Matilda Whitehead with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has attacked Tesni Inoue with Hateful Blizzard!
GS: Lady Harken has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Emma Hetfield has posed.

Emma flips up her visor when Berserk begins talking. He can at least see she's paying attention.

Well, she thinks to herself, I hope they do something with this time I'm buying, because I'm probably about to die. Boy, this is getting almost familiar. Maybe I really am becoming a 'Drifter'. I don't want to, of course, Emma thinks further -

And her gauntleted hand reaches out to touch Rudy's shoulder. "You've nothing to apologize for. If this does go bad," she says, flipping the faceplate back down, "keep an eye on Meredin for me, would you? And Lunata, but I'm confident she can take care of herself."

Berserk explains himself. Emma feels her face blanch. Her reply is thus:

"I'm not going to apologize, because you've killed bucketloads of live people with hopes and dreams; but I regret whatever brought you to this view of society." Emma folds her arms before her, tilting back her yellow-plastic-helmeted head a little. "To live only for this... did you say something about Siegfr-" Emma skips a beat, then two, and then the storm is coming.

When Berserk hits her there is a snap like a tree branch breaking. Emma does not fall over this time; she reels, twisting around. Hot iron feels like it's filling her arm and the wrenching agony makes her clutch the Emulator to the plate of her chest, a massive crack appearing in the material of the arm plating as well as a huge shearing bloom along that very front. When Emma moves herself, hissing for breath - (I won't scream in front of Rudy. I won't. I won't. This ARM I can master, at least. Heh heh - ow -)

- she is able to reach in and fumble for something. Not the Emulator, which, peculiarly, seems to float next to her for a second or two before remembering to go back into her hand. Something else is drawn out; something more primitive. A rock? Will she revert to the most human of techniques and beat Berserk in the head with a rock?

Sort of.

"Rudy," Emma explains through a tightened jaw, "I'm going to perform a standardized routine positioning. I've discovered there's a temporary modification in the permitivity of free space in the environs of these manifestations that will allow you to - it's not important - shoot through where the thingy WAS. Do you get me?"

Layna encourages her. Emma turns her head at her and winks knowingly. (The mesh visor in front of her face means this is completely concealed. Basically, Science Ranger Yellow just looked at Layna briefly.)

"Last time pays for all," Emma says as she raises -- her own Medium!?

"Noua Shax! Let's make it happen!"

Thunder strikes and there is a momentary appearance of the mighty leonine Guardian, his paws spread out. He roars thunder and the lightning breaches causality's usual sequence, arcing out towards Berserk. It is a telling blow, perhaps, but Berserk has probably ripped off the heads of people with comparable equipment.

But... As the Guardian fades, there's an after-image. A [Space].

"For the old man, and everyone's dream. Come on, Rudy!" Emma cheers, before sucking in breath through her teeth as her broken arm screams at her. But she won't let it get her down.

As the wave of pain abates, Emma says, to no one in particular, "'The strongest'... What does that mean? Perhaps we should say, 'the best adapted' - or the bravest dreamer." Then she sees Lady Harken explode into ice shards in the distance and thinks to herself: Who were the ones that got killed in the war?

GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Hateful Blizzard for 173 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Emma Hetfield has attacked Berserk with Material - NouSUPER CO-OP WEAPON!!
GS: Emma Hetfield has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Avril Vent Fleur takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Hateful Blizzard for 163 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: CRITICAL! Lydia Seren takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Hateful Blizzard for 201 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Lydia Seren!
GS: Leon Albus has activated a Force Action!
GS: Leon Albus takes a glancing hit from Lady Harken's Hateful Blizzard for 80 hit points!
GS: Leon Albus has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Dean Stark guards a hit from Lady Harken's Hateful Blizzard for 98 hit points!
GS: Garrett Stampede guards a hit from Lady Harken's Hateful Blizzard for 94 hit points!
GS: Garrett Stampede has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Riesenlied with CrItIcal IdentIty FaIlure...!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied has canceled their attack on Riesenlied.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Emma Hetfield's Material - NouSUPER CO-OP WEAPON! for 76 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Silver light tears through flame, smoke and debris rising around Leon. However, Argent Divider cannot maintain such power forever. The silver blade flickers, like a flame, before it winks out. Motes of light drift away from Leon Albus behind him, and his fingers stay gripped on the sword as he faces down Harken -- and looks at the bloody, ripped hand that he almost cut off. His eyes narrow.

"Not worthy of her?" he says. "Not worthy of Lily?" Perhaps Leon misunderstands. "Don't make me laugh! What would you know about being worthy of someone? It isn't something earned. It's something given."

She is pierced, gashed, and torn into -- and Harken, even through a smashing tower of ice, stays there. She stays on her feet -- and talks in that eerie, fleeting way, and her scythe comes whipping out for the ice that Avril summoned. Leon swings Argent Divider up to parry, but the blade is not wreathed in silver light this time. The ice cuts -- and slashes along the side of it, leaving a nick in the blade.

And it carves a gash into his side. Blood sprays out onto the ground, and the Black Wolf crumples forward into a heap. Blood pools under him.

<Pose Tracker> Rudy Roughnight has posed.

The powerful mace of Berserk lashes out once more. It tears and it rends all that try and flee it. But what about those that charge it?
 The answer is soon given as Rudy Roughnight does the unthinkable and HEADBUTTS the mace. The force of the attack forces Rudy to skid back about ten feet, but his footing holds true despite the sheer power of the Quarter Knight. The bold defensive move is not without cost, Rudy's brow bloodied and mangled, with the crimson following around his face as if he were dead. And maybe some part of Rudy is dead for he seems ready to fight like a different sort of man.
 But before Rudy raises for battle, he moves back to see that Cecilia is still alive even in the wake of her attack.
 "Get some rest," the young man offers with a smile as he rests a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I think weve got this."
 The cartridge of the gun is replaced even as his strength is restored by Riesenlied. It seems like Rudy's normal bullet magazine, but larger. Much larger. The ka-clack rings out as the Hand Canon is swiftly adjusted on the fly, such things now second nature to the young gunslinger. As Rudy prepares and walks forward toward the last moments of this battle, the ARMslinger hears and feels Layna's encouragement. He watches as the many offer their attacks, so many that are making their mark. He waits, but most know that Rudy is a patient soul. Only when they have spoken, only when they have had a chance to unleash their cathartic finishing moves does the young boy speak to the one that plagued him for so long: Berserk, his boogie-man, the nightmare given form.
 "You've made me stronger."
 The light glows on Rudy's left forearm, the blue symbols becoming bright enough to be read and then? It becomes almost blinding. As if this were something on a whole new level for Roughnight.
 "Made us stronger."
 The Hand Cannon twirls about, though arcs of electricity jump from the boy to the gun... As if Rudy was somehow enhancing it. White light bellows out from the failed defender of Adlehyde in waves for a brief second.
 "Now we have what it takes to fight the rest of your kind and win. So again, I say-"
 The trigger is pulled as there is a half beat pause in the young man's words. For the first time ever in battle: the Gattling Raid begins. The powerful boom of Rudy's Hand Cannon can be heard, but not as a single powerful shot, but over and over again as a flood of firepower. One would think that it is the power and rate of fire that makes this attack fearsome, which would be made clear from the fact that the recoil is enough to cause Rudy to be pushed back inch by inch for every couple of rounds he fires. But there is something else going on as well, as each shot seems to be in a tactically placed area, as it is clear that Rudy is taking Berserk down systematically, going after joints and or previously wounded areas with an insight and instinct that seems unnatural as if made for a war such as this. Throughout the assault there is the usual calm countenance of the young warrior. in the wake of the incredible onslaught does he continue.
 "-thank you."
 With serene yet slightly melancholy look in his brown eyes, Rudy marches toward Berserk, reloading his normal cartridge for one final round. That is, if Berserk isn't dead already due to the powerful assault of others. If he still lives, the words will be followed with a mercy shot, as Rudy doesn't wish anyone to suffer. Even monsters. If the fearsome foe has already passed, the final words will be post-mortem.
 "Goodbye, Berserk."

GS: Rudy Roughnight has activated a Force Action!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has attacked Berserk with Gatling Raid!
GS: Rudy Roughnight has completed his action.
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Rudy Roughnight's Gatling Raid for 148 hit points!
GS: Berserk has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Gleeful Cessation Of Restraint for 183 hit points!
GS: Berserk has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Berserk takes a solid hit from Cecilia Adlehyde's Material - Hi-Speed Ripper for 172 hit points!
GS: Berserk has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        This isn't the first time.
        That's the thought that pierces through the muddied haze of Dean's increasingly distant thoughts as Avril steps past him. This isn't the first time he's seen this. He's seen Avril like this before. That one time with Janus... and then the other time with Kaguya... and now, with Harken. She suddenly becomes *cold*, glacial even, like she's a completely different person.
        "A-Avril," he croaks, looking up at her back even as blood pours in rivulets down his face. But... what can he say to her? Don't go? Get a hold of yourself? She's so *calm*, though. She's just... angry. Angry like the killing frost of the dead of winter...
        Dean's vision blurs, hazes, and starts to darken... and then the light of Riesenlied's power envelopes him, surges through him, energizes him, and most importantly, closes a good chunk of Dean's open, bleeding wounds. His consciousness crystallizes at least enough for him to get a bead on what's going on. When Harken takes on all the attacks sent her way and *hurls* them back, Dean can only duck his head down as shards of ice tear at his back. It *hurts*, but thanks ot Riese's healing, he's gotten enough of hismelf together that he can grin and bear it... for now. He's *so* going to need to crash out for a week or two after this.
        The only way to end this fighting... to get Avril to return to her senses... is to take the Quarter Knights out, or at least get them to retreat. Dean, even in this state, doesn't think they'll retreat. That weird witch, Agatha, did, but it seemed like she didn't have the same stake in the matter as Berserk and Harken do. At least it's only the two of them, but so many on their own side have fallen... Quarter Knights really are terrifying, he reflects.
        Which does not in any way stop Dean from trading out his Mediums again, then squeezing the copy Sword in his palm tight.
        The ambient ice in the wake of Avril's attack merges with the concussive energies the Sword Medium summons up. An instant later, physical manifestations of rock-hard ice SLAM into what remains of Harken, to try to get her to just *go* already.
        No words. Dean's on the verge of collapsing, healing or no healing; he just can't brain enough for words right now.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Lady Harken with Elemental Crush!
GS: Dean Stark takes 10 damage from Poison!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius is 'awakened' from the beginnings of unconsciousness by a concussion, for ambivalent measure - a flash of white filling his world as the butt of her scythe lifts him up from his face-down collapse to flip him up to a seated position against a nearby wall. That's... not a small distance. He can feel warmth pour down the side of his head. He's not sure where he finds the strength to take a hand up to it.
        His focus, singularly fixated upon Harken's movements, drift. Over yonder, the great green fiend that is Berserk's presence seems miniscule for his size, surrounded in the bathing light of those who stand tall amongst one another - with support from their Guardians. Powers of the moon, fire, life, water... less-reassuring purple hues of a word that contains multiple syllables he can't cognize...
        His other hand holds a vice grip on that quarterstaff still. Can he get up? He has to. A man subject to such transcendent strength and technique beyond what he can muster, let alone perceive, should be filled with fear about the inevitability of the very end. He doesn't manage.
        He looks upon it all blearily. So many stand strong, yet, even fighting to their very limits. The Drifters assembled are a hardy, powerful bunch.
        But he doesn't...
        ...trust them?
        What other explanation is there, then, that he keeps trying to stand up as Harken fights through her wounds, clinging onto the simple fact that she remains standing as a fact? The chilling ice surrounding her form intensifies.
        For the last... year, almost to the day, Ethius has found himself making more frequent contacts with some Drifters out of necessity, towards... whatever end. Time and time again, they would come to his aid. They still do now - if any one of them remain standing, they will see to him without fail. That is certain.
        Yet, there is that missing sense of trust in this, as the ice explodes outward. I cannot allow...
        ...What? What is so important that he, himself, cannot allow... what? That he cannot fail, or else... what? He curls one leg upward. He might even get some lift, this time, to get his seat off the ground in pursuit of not being able to allow...
        Elder Halle's words echo. They do not echo clearly, but some words she said leave some impression that trigger to this context. Back when he showed her... ... ... ...after some discussion about the Veruni, making sure that the others did not... ... ... ...and because of that, he cannot...
        The frozen ice shards take care of the rest, battering him over and over until he can no longer maintain consciousness, and slumps against the wall to this incomplete thought of dread - to some greater fear that seems to exceed his personal well-being.

GS: CRITICAL! Tesni Inoue takes a solid hit from Lady Harken's Hateful Blizzard for 198 hit points!
GS: Poison and Cripple! Statuses applied to Tesni Inoue!
GS: Tesni Inoue has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia smiles back at Riesenlied. "Riese... I'm really proud of you... Not only were you able to get the approval of the Guardians... you were able to get Granny to like you." She rubs at her nose once with her wrist. "You even took in m'fellow beastmen. I'm glad--"

She hesitates for just a moment. Is it over? It has to be over, right? Riesenlied's healing energies help her stand up on her own too feet. "--I'm grateful, that you made my world so much larger than it would've been. Welcome to the shaman team! I--"

Ice stabs through her back and out her chest. She stumbles forward, hacking out more lifeblood.

But then the ice vanishes from her body. The wounds knit shut. In moment's, that vicious blow against Lydia is almost entirely eradicated thanks to the power of the Life Guardian.

Even after falling so many times, Lydia thinks, they still give me chances.

She turns back around, narrowing her eyes. She sees Ethius fall, and it only fuels her anger--no, it's not her anger that's fueled. It's her determination!

"Didn't I tell ya? I'm not gonna fall to some puppet!! I've gone through all that and came out the other side. I ain't gonna lose to someone who hasn't! I will live the rest of my days among my friends and family! Those days will be filled with joy! Sadness! Anger! Hardship! Mirth! And at the end of our time together, it'll be as if you never existed!"

She draws her OTHER Guardian Tablet. That's right it's Chain Summons time. "MATERIAL: RIGDOBRITE!" She yells.

A meteor falls from the sky, powered by the Star Guardian as Lydia leaps up into the air to meet it. It bursts into flames thanks to Dean's power still an ember within her.

She snaps her foot into it, granting it a hefty spin.

"You can use that Fast Draw Technique... but this is... My Hissatsu Technique!"

She kicks the meteor down and it flies down towards the ice erupting Harken.


"GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL!" Lydia adds pointlessly.

GS: Lydia Seren has attacked Lady Harken with Meteor Crash!
GS: Lydia Seren takes 8 damage from Poison!
GS: Lydia Seren has completed her action.
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Elemental Crush for 108 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Lydia Seren's Meteor Crash for 169 hit points!
GS: Poison, Cripple, Jam, and Mute! Statuses applied to Lady Harken!
<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.

Garrett Stampede(NO RELATION TO VASH THE STAMPEDE. I mean look guys. One is a title. One is a family name. LEARN THE DIFFERENCE) did not expect that. No no not at all. The image of his old swordmaster returned to save him. The Frozen Knight staring up at him in shock as he held tight to the cursed sword in his hand.

Its hard to tell if he even makes the connection between the two.

Others pile onto Harken, driving her away as he watches the ghost of the past dissipear. That familiar look of disappointment on the First Knight's face angled towards both of them. Telling both of them that they should be better than this.

Even in death he dissaproves of spats between his Knights.

The next second the ghost is gone. Blasted away my Harken's hate and rage. By her overwhelming desire to see the humans burn. By whatever else Alhazred put into her head.

...but he saw it. He saw that look. That regocnition there. He knows she knew who that was. Some part of The Knight of Swords is still in Harken...

...and when he realises that. He isn't sure if that makes things better or worse.

A second later it doesn't matter. Harken's rage washes over him, the shattering of her perch blowing him across the room to slam against the wall with bone crunching force. The wet sound that makes can't be good.

When he slides down that wall there is a bloody streak left in his wake. Crimson mixed with shards of armor, bone, and ice.

Garrett doesn't get back up, but one hand still clutches that sword. Even as his minds decends screaming into his own nightmares.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        It isn't the first time.
        Not even the second time.
        Perhaps not the last time Avril will enter this strange state, where she becomes so much unlike the young woman her friends have come to know.

        She is, right now, as merciless as the arctic winds themselves.
        So too, it seems, she may not be so easily stopped.

        The blowback from the spell she invoked is intense, sending Avril's long silver hair adrift in a rising halo about her. Frost washes out in a spray around her.

        Yet she stands, unmoved, unflinching, staring into intent into the heart of the icy spire she has crafted with her will.

        Her hand drops back to her side. For an instant, someone have the impression that Avril -- is this Avril, anymore? -- was about to turn, to speak.

        The ice shudders, a fell purpose stirring amidst the gripping chill.

        There is a rising creak.
        The crack of an iceshelf just as it calves.

        Avril Vent Fleur stares into the heart of the retaliatory storm of ice and cold as it rains down.
        As Lady Harken rides in after it, as furious and unrelenting as any natural hazard.

        Avril does not move.
        Is it confidence or hubris? ...Both?
        The shards run right through her, piercing her body in a half-dozen places. She jerks, once, a gasp escaping her lips.

        That proud figure soon staggers, blood dripping in a patter from the wounds. She looks, for all the world, as if she were about to fall.

        But her gaze meets Harken's. Something in those cold blue eyes is hard. Bitter.

        She takes a step.

        The ice...

        The ice still lingers.

        She moves. In spite of her wounds, she moves, one slow step after another. Blood shedding on the frost beneath her feet, she fixes Lady Harken with a stare.

        "As," she says, "am I."

        She lifts her hand, curling the fingers upwards. In sympathy, the ice around her similarly begins to rise in a series of jutting sharped-edged shards.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Lady Harken with Cristaux de Glace!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes 6 damage from Poison!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Avril Vent Fleur's attack becomes clear!
GS: Lady Harken takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Glace Noire for 178 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

I pity you.

Quicksilver paints a thick, metallic sheen on the ground beneath Berserk as his wrecking ball snaps backwards towards his hand. His head lowered, his body slouched, he barely even registers the sound of a crunch as it smacks against his palm. Fractured, fragile, it trembles within the growing tension of his grip.

"You pity me."

Hairline fractures form. Scars from old battles and the blow of Tethelle's sword grow.

"YOU... pity... ME."

Everything drowns out in that single instant. Everything except those three words. Like the greatest wound he could ever suffer. His hand clenches.


And the mace of the Quarter Knight Berserk shatters under the weight of his own rage.


You're about to be brought down by your 'trash.'

Black fire ignites beneath him a spark found within the depths of something that should never have had the tinder to feed its fury. He knows that power. He knows because he knows the things he has spent a thousand years learning to HATE with every scrap of what he is. Not born by man, not shaman, not even that damn Princess--

--but like Riesenlied before her, it is Noeline who wields his hated enemies' strength against him. He can't understand it. He can't grasp how either of them are capable of such a thing -- WHY either of them ever WOULD. And he doesn't try. His eyes just ignite in their fury.


Before the bits of metal inside of him ignite with the flame of Duras Drum.

The Quarter Knight roars, his furious agony igniting every part of his body as he grips and -rips- those pieces of Noeline's weapon within him -out- of him with the splatter of burning mercury and the shorn chunks of living metal. He brings his right hand backwards, still clenching jagged shards of his ruined weapon within his grasp. It plunges down to kill her, to end this -mistake- once and for all--

He never does. Gravity, by blessing of the Guardians and the one blessed to channel them, seizes hold of Berserk. By Catenna's will, Celesdue manifests herself seconds before the blade can reach the flesh of the other Metal Demon, and HURLS the Quarter Knight into the air only to SLAM him back towards the ground. Again and again, as crunching fills the air, as rubble powders beneath him, as that silvery fluid pools the ground below. And with the final one...

Berserk slowly drags himself back up, tempered fury in his gaze.

"... kill... every one of you Baskars... make you watch them burn...!"

It's spite, weak and blindly lobbed as he stumbles forward. His body weakened from what it once was by the effect of Odoryuk and the dispelling magics still ebbing through him, that hide of his is something far more fragile, far more weak, than it once was. A fact shown true as Rosaline spits her fury and unleashes those blue flames upon him, burning phantasms of lives lost as they burn and grip and -boil- his metal flesh until it starts to -melt-, dragging at him. Pulling at him. He resists, through sheer willpower alone, struggling forward. -Stepping- forward. Can he even see them?

"What the hell is this?!"

Of course he can't.

They're all nothing but things to be crushed to him. Flames he will not rest until he has smothered.

And maybe that's all anyone ever was in that burning gaze.

But the way they clench, the way they hold, the way they try to -pin- him towards the ground to drag him down within their burning embrace, holds him in place for the wrath and vengeance and necessity and WILL of the others. Tethelle rushes forward, and Berserk cannot even -move- himself out of the way as that single stroke becomes doubled in a furious X that -carves- its scar into his massive, weak torso, the flesh of his titanic body not offering near the resistance it had before, it always had before now. Quicksilver spills. He coughs, pent up Malevolence in his throat gushing out with the splatter of his lifeblood as he is dragged further and further back.

"I don't need -- apologies -- from weak--"

Lightning from the depths of Noua Shax's power surges through him, conducting through living metal flesh in a way that stops his rant outright. He belches smoke in the incomprehensible fury of his growl, stumbling ever backward as he hears Emma's words -- and all he can offer is a stare of pure, unbridled hatred.

<Pose Tracker> Berserk has posed.

And he can hear the rest of them. Telling him why he'll fail. Why he'll die here. He refuses to hear any of it. Even as Ida makes her proclamations, he refuses to listen, roaring a simple, "I'LL SHOW YOU A CHALLENGE, WEASEL--" Before congealing shadows STRIKES him in that first, brutal haymaker. Punches land home, again and again, each blow sending him further back with the grasping hands of Rosaline's phantasms to aid her efforts. And with that final, mighty blow, force expunges itself violently from all around them, kicking up debris, throwing aside rubble. His head snaps. The sound of crunching metal can be heard.

His neck breaks. But demons...

"... Kill you..."

... demons are not humans.

A hand -snaps- forward, seeking to -grip- Ida by the face. "Think... you're strong now? Think... anyone cares? You're gonna be worm food... your struggling is POINTLESS... everything you do is NOTHING but WASTING TIME... and if I am going to DIE here... I'm TAKING YOU WITH ME--"

He doesn't even see Fengalon, conjured by a princess he was sure was dead. He doesn't even see the Gatling Raid, targetting his every joint.

Not until it is slicing him straight down his midsection. Not until bullets are riddling his flesh, narrowly avoiding Ida.

The Guardian of the Wind -rushes- through Berserk, -blowing- past Ida. The air fills with the sound of a ceaseless storm of gunfire. And whatever his intentions for her... he pauses, as if stopped in the midst of his angry, violent efforts. The pressure around her slackens, droops, and drops her outright. He feels... nothing. Numb.

Numb, as he stares at those motes of ley energy. As he sees Riesenlied's world. Cecilia's world. Catenna, Ida, Rosaline... their future, glowing in radiant mists of light like a promise of hope.

And the last thing he feels--
        "... I'd rather die than live in that kind of world."
                --is disgust.

A gun trained on him. A young boy who survived things no young boy should ever be able to do. Burning yellow eyes stare, for a brief moment, within the silence.

-thank you.

        "Fuck your thanks. Bet you don't even know what you are, run--"

One final shot. A mercy that Berserk despises with every fiber of his beings.

And the phantasms of those he killed do the rest as he wobbles, and falls...

... separating in two as he crashes off the edge of the collapsing ruin of the tower that would be his grand stand.

He sees it all, in his dimming vision. That floating world, falling further and further away from him. A life of chaos and sadism and violence.

"... heh... really wanted to get the chance to kill you, Sie..."

And as the burning yellow light in his eyes fades, he regrets absolutely nothing save for this moment.

                               M i s s i o n


<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue was running on fumes when she let lose with hte heavy weapon. The Anti-Gear Rounds do something, this is not a case of they just bounce off they get a peice of the Metal Demon all right, a pretty. She sees the damage her rounds do but not as much as she expected the Metal Demons are truly monsterous to be hold even like this. Tess then sees the strorm coming she braces herelf and the only saving saving grace she has right now? Is her duster which she made before she fled her ship. It does not save her from going down, it does save her from fatal injury though but she falls still gripping her ARM, her body impaled by ice and other things that should not be in a body, as she hits the ground her hat falls from her head landing near her fallen prone form. The last thing she recalls is seeing Berserk go down out of the corner of her eye but?

 If any of her allies surive she might just make it but her flesh is weak and can't take anymore as she passes out entirely.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

        But, as always with the cold, it's the ice that remains unseen that proves the most deadly. From below, the frost bled into the platform's bearings rushes upwards as a forest of knives, stabbing for the heavens.

        Avril Vent Fleur pushes her everything into it, her breathing for this moment labored.

        A faint, frozen smile toys at the edge of her lips.

        Before it wipes from her expression entirely.

        And as a marionette with her strings cut, Avril collapses.

DC: Avril Vent Fleur switches forms to The Amnesiac Girl!
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

        "--Avril!" Dean croaks, seeing his friend not only run through with ice but turning that ice once again against Harken, before collapsing to the platform. He finds the strength in him to rise halfway to his feet, scramble over to her side, and collapse next to her... and the moment he confirms she's alive, he nearly passes out from relief.
        He doesn't, just yet. First he looks over to the other side of the platform, where Berserk is besieged with every manner of attack until finally he's shot clean off the edge, sending him plummeting to his death. Then Dean looks over at Harken, weary, worn, and soaked in his own blood... but no less determined to protect his friends if that's what it comes to. The determination in his blue eyes says it all.
        Only once Harken is gone too one way or another, and all the threats cleared, will Dean let himself pass the heck out.

<Pose Tracker> Lady Harken has posed.

A falling star follows the ray from the Heavens. It slams into the cloud of ice at the centre of which resides a hateful beast, propelled there by the fervent power of beliefs that the Demons so readily dismiss. The ragged, humanoid shadow within the cloud punches the meteor with a gauntlet that shatters--as do the bones beneath it. Pulverized into dust. The meteor also shatters, but hypersonic rock strips the being known as Harken of her headgear, her weapon, her breath. The winner of the exchange is clear. It isn't the youngest Quarter Knight.

She lands. It is graceless, the movements of a wounded animal on all fours--one-handed, bloodied, dying. There is no time for argument--Dean's Copy Sword fuses with the wrath of his dearest friends, wreathed in energies anathema to the Hyadeans. Harken's mouth opens--but she is robbed of comment. Sorcerous ice from the young Drifter SLAMs into the beleaguered Quarter Knight's temple. Her sight is robbed temporarily, and she reels, a pathetic sight.

When her vision returns--hazy--white--indistinct, she can see:

A body.
        A corpse
                The still form of Berserk.

The personification of rage has been stilled. Forever. It is a defeat the magnitude of which she has never known.

The scarlet-haired woman does not recover her scythe. Her eyes dart to and fro, as she staggers backwards, too low on blood to think. It reminds her of that time--the arena, what is she doing here? What is this--this place? These people? This

There is only panic. Pure. Unadulterated. Human. Harken clutches her wounded arm and crouches--then leaps, disappearing over the edge. Perhaps she doesn't care if she falls forever. But she makes no move to recover the body of the fallen.

She can only stare at the monstrous, still form as she falls--until it is eclipsed behind the rising platform.

In her mission, Lady Harken has finally failed.


<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Berserk's massive hand reaches out. It's big enough to enclose Ida's entire head, and strong enough, even in his death throes, to /squeeze/, even as he hefts her off the ground. Ida bites back a cry of surprise and pain, her hands grabbing for Berserk's fingers. She hears gunshots, behind her, and the roaring of a tornado; suddenly, Berserk's let go of her. Suddenly, she's falling, landing, watching him sway uneasily. His torso is a mass of mangled flesh, dripping quicksilver.

        Rudy does what Ida hoped he wouldn't have to do--what she /dearly wanted to do herself/. Somehow, he manages to do it with more grace than she's ever had. As she watches Berserk fall, she thinks back to a workshop floor and the body of a man dissolving into Malevolence. She thinks back to a dusty street in Lost July, and a corpse she buried under a makeshift rubble cairn because she couldn't bear to leave it to the scavengers. She sees Harken. A moment later, she sees Garrett lying on the floor, and her heart leaps into her throat.

        "You did the right thing," Ida says, to Rudy. "I don't know if it was a good thing, but it was the right thing." With that, the newly-minted Hellion turns away from Rudy in the others, and rushes over to help Rosa with Garrett.

        But not before the others can see a shimmering of tears in her eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

It's over. Layna exhales. Berserk has fallen. And Lady Harken has fled.

They won. But...

She glances around. Looks out at all those collapsed on the ground. Looks out at the rubble of the statue of Odoryuk.

Berserk was dead, or so it seemed, but the cost was great. He had not made it easy - he could probably take solace in that, in whatever afterlife the Metal Demons had.

...Assuming they had one.

With a sigh she reaches into her coat, pulls out a bottle, and drinks deep.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren lands on her feet. She watches Lady Harken stumble backwards, but she doesn't try to keep hitting her or give chase. She can't. She doesn't think she can move without falling over, let alone try to catch Harken.

She looks over her shoulder towards the remains of Berserk and lowers her head.

"War hungry fools." She says, though she doesn't sound happy about it.

She sinks to one knee, coughing and wheezing instead. All that adrenaline is running out, she realizes, and her wounds are numerous and deep enough that she can't patch it all with her level of skill or talent.

"Is this it...?" She manages. "I just wish... I could've just seen what it's like...there... on the moon,"

Her body gives out and she tumbles forward a moment later.


Hammer sneaks back in and quietly pulls Leon and Lily to safety. "oh god oh god oh god oh god if you bite it bro will punch my head off oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god"