2018-05-16: A Little Light Reading

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<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The Magic Guild is one of the few buildings in Vane that is still remotely intact, and even that is a little generous. Even in its decrepit state, its libraries and vaults contain a great many things found nowhere else. It's only a matter of time before someone realizes that the place isn't nearly as well-defended as it should be, and takes advantage. That time is now.

    A pair of figures stand in the window of a building across the street from the Guild--a dilapidated reagent store. One of them is a tall, lanky young man who looks every bit the Neo-Vane adept, complete with beard, staff, and robes. The other is almost as tall and more solidly-built, but the dark grey cloak and featureless brass mask make them difficult to identify.

    "She's certainly been in there a while," says the wizard, his voice tightening.

    "We would know if they caught her," says the other figure. Their voice is indistinct. "I trust her with my life. She'll get the job done."

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

So far it's been going... better than expected.

It's not that Rosaline isn't confident in her abilities. Her particular form of Malevolence has made it so that, despite looking ostentatious in several ways, she can dim her flames and walk into the shadows just so and avoid most detection. It's made her rather effective at... well, cat burglary. But Rosaline is the sort of person who is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, even when things are going very smoothly.

And they are, as padded feet make their way across the floor of the library's restricted area, carefully avoiding the occasional flickering alarm spell-triggering rune. This place is in terrible repair, Rosaline notes. Really, the hardest part so far has been making sure not to step on a floorboard that would creak or snap off entirely, taking her leg along for the ride. She slips from one shadow to another gracefully, and towards the last one on her list.

She looks left and right as she reaches for the tome, holding her breath. This is when things are going to go sour, right? She pulls the book out, slowly, gritting her teeth and narrowing her pupils, and...

Nothing?

Well, all right. She puts the tome in her bundle with the rest, rare texts on a variety of magical subjects, mainly centered on necromancy and geomancy. This should be very interesting, she thinks--

Her ears twitch. Golden light flickers on from the opening left by the book, as magic finally hums to life.

Well, there we go, Rosaline things, with horrified satisfaction.

A moment later, the sound of an explosion resounds as the Great Library of Vane's most intact wall finds itself with an exciting new hole in it. Rosaline dashes out, clinging to the bundle of books for dear life with one hand while holding a still-smoking Mother's Mercy in the other.

A second after that particular moment, a SECOND thunderous sound makes itself heard throughout the streets surrounding the library, as the golem-like LIBRARY PROTECTOR 3000 construct crashes through the wall behind Rosaline, the hole it leaves dwarfing her own.

"HALT -- THE AMOUNT OF BOOKS YOU ARE CHECKING OUT IS -- OVER THE LIMIT"

The Hellion turns on her heels, her pink flames flaring up for all to see, including her friends on the roof. The good news is that, now that she's outside, she can well and truly CUT LOOSE--

"WARNING -- THE PARCHMENT YOU HAVE CHECKED OUT IS -- 314 YEARS OVERDUE"

The automaton lumbers past Rosaline as if it was no longer noticing her.

"...What?"

"PLEASE PRESENT -- WARNING! NO SUCH NUMBER EXISTS! -- IN LATE FEES OR FACE FORCEFUL EXPULSION"

The beastwoman turns around to see the Library Protector vanish into an alley. It might be a problem for another time. But her problems are probably not over yet, as now just about EVERYONE definitely knows a CRIME HAS BEEN COMMITED!

Good. She feels like shooting someone right now.

<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.


In a little cafe near the library. Outside on the patio seating, sits a man. A knight really. Not all that uncommon in the City of Vane. Knights of various kinds walk its streets are guards, sightseers, and just about anything else inbetween. The tall and lanky man in the sky blue armor only has one thing that really marks him as different, and that is the snow white hair of his.

Its a good thing that Garrett Stampede is sitting on the roof above the little place, or else he might think he has a long lost twin.

The fallen knight has kept his own Malevolence muted. He doesn't look all that different than he used too, beyond the white hair and the long cursed blade that he keeps always close at hand.

Its lying on the roof beside him right now, not far from hand. This is because his hand is currently occupied with a bottle of whiskey he's 'liberated' from a bandits stash.

Bandits. Always good for the loot.

The bottom of the bottle resting against his leg as his feet dangle over the edge of the roof, the knight smirks just slightly. "So...what are the odds on this going sideways? I think you were going with 'sure thing' and I was going with 'inevitable'." He drawls towards his compaion upon said roof.

The prospect of violence doesn't seem to bother him in the least.

"If I finished my sculpture in time, we could have arrived with enough dramatics to scare half the town away. But I suppose leaping down from the roof when the time is right will have to do."

The man seems content to wait till the most likely chain of events happens.

...and it does...

...compleatly unexpectedly as a hole is torn in the side of the building by a rampaging golem...that...rampages right down a side street.

There is a deep sigh as Garrett clambers to his feet.

"Well. That is our queue I think...though I have to admit. I'll give Firehair a 8 out of 10 for entrences."

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Theft! In Vane!!

Lemina is sleeping all hours of the day because Lemina Ausa, while she is the sort to keep her nose to the grindstone, has been keeping her nose to the grindstone at night and as a result tends to spend her days drooling into her pillow.

It's kind of hard to sleep through a sufficiently loud crash, though. Lemina, clad in her bright green nightclothes complete with adorable floppy cap, staggers out of the guildhouse and looks at the rubble.

Her fists clench, and she staggers back into the guildhouse to retrieve her staff. She emerges a few moments later with a staff.

... Still in her nightclothes though. The little doodad of the hat flops unceremoniously into her face, which really ruins the effect when she shouts, "Hey! Mega-jerks! Put down all thebooks and scrolls!"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"What in the name of the Moon," Catenna murmurs from where she's holed up elsewhere in the library, hunched over one of the scrolls that's told her a lot but not helped her to find what she wants to know. Leaving her scrolls on the table, the Shaman of Celesdue pushes her chair back.

    ~

Not long after the LIBRARY PROTECTOR 3000 busts out through the hole in the wall, someone else follows it out. That someone is Catenna, in a Zortroan-style dress - she wasn't ready for a fight here in Vane and didn't dress for it, though she's got her sword in hand anyway. With a blink, she squints out through the ring of smouldering masonry left behind.

The LIBRARY PROTECTOR 3000 seems to be going its own way. It's the least of Catenna's concerns. What's more concerning is that someone's stealing knowledge instead of just sitting down and reading it like a normal person!

And that someone turns out to be a fiery pink Hellion who may or may not be Rosaline Calice. Catenna presses her lips together. The woman's rosy flame is pretty difficult to miss, as is the feeling of Malevolence tugging at her senses and whispering horrible things to her.

She steels herself against the feeling, tenses her shoulders a little, and clears her throat.

"Excuse me," she says, as if to alert Rosaline that, yes, someone is there. She is very polite about it.

She's even polite about the way she lays her left hand on her Medium, holds out her right hand, and murmurs a couple of words in Zortroan - and as she does, Rosaline can feel the spell working its magic. Gravity attempts to snag the fiery pink hellcat and anchor her right where she's standing. Certainly it'll be a lot harder to get away when one's legs feel like lead.

"I can't let you do that, miss," Catenna remarks mildly.

GS: Catenna has attacked Rosaline Calice with Encumber!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The advantage of living so close to Vane was the fact that she was able to easily access its library. When Jacqueline wasn't off busy with her work or doing something with the Carakin itself, she was probably in the library, reading something or other.

Tonight, she may have kind of...found herself falling asleep in the corner she had chosen, the book she was reading having slipped gently out of her hand to the floor below.

Of course, she finds herself suddenly awakened in a rather rude fashion as an explosion sounds somewhere nearby. Before she can wonder whether or not she was imagining it, there's the sound of yet another hole being put in the wall.

This second one was less explosion-y and more...the sort of sound one would expect to hear when something big and heavy went crashing through the wall.

Naturally, she jolts to her feet, but not before quickly picking up the book she had been reading and slotting it carefully back into place where she had found it.

Once that's done, however, she bolts out. The damage that had been done to the library...it was completely unforgiveable! Once she found who was responsible for this blasphemy, they would get such a talking to!

She quickly downs a potion to pep herself back up before rushing out, quickly exiting through the smaller hole in the library wall.

She exits to find...someone with a rather distinct mane of flaming pink hair.

"R-Rosaline...?" Jacqueline says - surprised, shocked, and a little disappointed...especially after what she had done for Lunata. "Why...?"

She thought Rosaline liked books! Why would she do this to a library?

She hears Catenna nearby attempting to slow Rosaline down, but...Jacqueline's a little too off-kilter to do anything about it just yet.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong basically lives in Vane at the moment so when DANGER begins he is naturally inclined to investigate (he is also inclined to ignore it, but investigate wins today). He runs out of the Wolfsbane posthaste.

He first sees Rosaline because she's on fire and considerably more glowy than the others. He looks at her for a moment but doesn't advance, nor does he retreat. What is going on in his mind? He doesn't say anything.

???

A small boy pushes Fei back into the chair but Fei jumps back out and throws the boy into the chair. The boy and Fei glare at each other. A standoff.

But surprisingly to Fei, the boy eventually relents and sits back down in the chair, leaning back in it so only the back two legs were touching the 'floor'. Fei looked at him for a moment but ultimately focused at the task at hand.

HERE

Fei shakes his head, clearing his thoughts. No, there's going to be more than just Rosaline. He scans the rooftops. They always fight as a team.

And instead of who he expects, he sees two he doesn't recognize. His eyes settle on the mask.

Fei's eyes narrow as his one chief sticking point in life has a metaphorical knife slammed into it once more. He starts running, and runnin', and then flat out jumpkicks through the window, throwing himself for the masked individual out of the blue with no warning whatsoever. He actually can't be entirely sure that the individual is involved.

"This is your doing isn't it?" He asks as he lands.

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Hoten!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Catenna's Encumber for 0 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Hoten for 115 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Somewhere around old Vane, Seraph Lanval's stumbled a ways away from his usual group of friends after making sure a certain two of them were okay after that incident at Meribia. Normally he just follows them around like a lost puppy, occasionally begging to be held or given foodstuffs when he's not passed out, laughing too loud, or otherwise being wholly unhelpful and carefree in countless deadly situations within dungeons.
     Why would he break ranks in a moment of quiet and rest? He sits up against the wall of some building or another, taking another sip from his gourd.
     "There'sh no gettin' 'round it," he murmurs to himself, "'m gonna have--"
     An automaton stomps his way, down an alley, yelling warnings and demands and something about parchments or another. The automaton doesn't seem to recognize him, he doesn't antagonize it, he just lets it past. He doesn't remember seeing anyone run by him. Leaving that alley...
     Bright pink flames. Dark violet haze. Also, a huge hole into the Great Library of Vane.
     "Mmmmph. Guessh I can't hold the lasht one againsht 'em... ha ha ha!" There's nothing funny about this!!! He has another drink. "Ahhhhh. Can't take 'em for granted either... yep." Lanval stretches out his limbs. Rolling shoulders, stretching legs, the whole works... and then continues to stagger like he could tip over at any moment (and actually does, tumbling along a few times) out in the open like there isn't a major incident brewing all around him.
     "Air'sh niche here," Lanval comments, "'m shure they'll keep it that way." Whoever or whatever's he's talking about. He flops down on some specific point along the way, flopped on his back, the gourd on his lips with that shut-eyed flushed face and that dumb cat-like smile of his.
     ...
     Then one aquamarine eye opens, half-lidded, staring up at the roof of the little cafe. Something about where that partially open eye looks...
     Like he's looking directly at that armored knight up there.

GS: Catenna has attacked Rosaline Calice with Encumber!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Catenna's Encumber for 0 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

If Catenna fights in the name of the moon, then where is her tuxedo-ed, rose-wielding love interest!?

In another anime, as it tuns out.

Who appears in what look to be a set of tasteful, orange cat-print pajamas with a hefty tome tucked under his arm is none other than...

SOME JERK WITH A BIG GUN!?

Yes, it's definitely Cyre H. Lorentz.

A robot stomps right out through a nearby wall, revealing said bepajamaed man tugging a clattering longarm out from behind a pile of rubble. He looks... not aghast necessarily-- this really isn't the most horrible thing that's happened to him in the past several months. More disturbed, surprised, and most definitely grumpy.

"What in Althena's patented bustier line is going on out here!?" Cyre growls, taking aim downrange with that Big Ol' Gun of his like he were some overprotective father stomping out onto his porch to fire a few parting shots at the rascal trying to get at his girl. "What are you jerks doing, waking a guy up in the middle of the night!?" Cyre fires again for good measure. "Rude!"

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Rosaline Calice with Deadly Sequence!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a glancing hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Deadly Sequence for 57 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Noelineoeline skims through the Vane streets, running at speeds faster than a human really ought to be able to; rather than try to control her turn around a corner, she instead simply elects to plant the slim spear she's carrying into the ground, using the force of it to pivot on the spot and push off towards the library. Having set herself up as one of Vane's guards, she's been doing a remarkably good job cleaning up some of the errant monsters as of late - but certainly never expected this level of hubbub to come from within the quietly melancholic city.

    Her Filgaian saloon dresses are gone; here on Lunar, she's taken to styling herself as some kind of dark knight instead, though in typical Noeline style her armor is more decorative than it is protective - a short black dress with layers of crimson underneath, covered by a light breastplate and armored boots and gauntlets. As disguises go, it isn't much of one, especially given her insistence on keeping her most recognizable feature - the pair of messy twintails - entirely intact.

    At first, she's heading for the yell of the golem, the most obvious problem around... but as she gets closer it rapidly becomes clear that it's more of a distraction than anything else. Her resonance may be dulled by her being a Metal Demon, but Duras Drum's Medium inside of her is happy to pick up the slack, alerting her to a trio of Malevolent sources; it isn't exactly a major leap of logic from there to pick out the prime suspects, especially when she skids around the next corner and bears down on one of them in particular.

    "--you're robbing a library?" she blurts in disbelief, letting herself skid to a halt as she sights Garrett casually standing on a roof keeping watch. Any other time she'd be more diplomatic to the Hellion with a grudge against her kind, but her astonishment is overriding that a little. "Can you not just go in and read the damn thing?! This is hardly Guard territory!"

    The idea of forcing a conflict against this man, especially without Riesenlied around, is a dangerous one. Noeline knows full well that she's not as empathic a soul, that she's not going to ever be able to purify Malevolence - she's too pragmatic and aloof. ... but her hands tighten on her spear. This isn't exactly a situation she can leave alone.

GS: Noeline has attacked Noeline with Even Without You...!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Noeline's Even Without You... for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Beast has posed.

    It is remarkably difficult to hold a book in giant claws. It is, in fact, a downright comical affair, at least until a librarian gets wind of how the pages are getting savaged.

    For this, and many other reasons, the Beast of Lohgrin does not visit the library. It would be a rather silly affair.

    No - she's just passing through, as she has through so many other places. She's asking about a particular woman, everywhere she goes. Her search has not been exact, or expert, or even particularly efficient - she's never tried to seek out one particular mortal, amongst the throng of them. Never before has she had reason to quicken her pace, to try and chase a mayfly down.

    (It is remarkably difficult to catch a mayfly in giant claws. It is, in fact, a downright comical affair, at least until they close in on something so small and fragile.)

    But there is no fragility, in that moment between normality and sound. There is only the rush which comes from explosives sucking in, breathing out. The Beast locks her constituent pieces together, shielding a boy who had, for all intents and purposes, just wanted to go to the library. He falls to the ground, staring at the horrific creature emerging, and the golem which pursues.

    In an instant, the Beast of Lohgrin has decided her course of action. She doesn't strike at the Hellion - she scoops that bystander up, in her wingplates, deposits him on her back as she leaps away, bolstered by the power of Althena's Wind.

    The roof she deposits him on, thankfully, is not the roof the masked assailant is on, nor the fellow who attacks them.

    It just happens to be nearby.

    Leap - leap - and leap again, metal somehow not impacting heavily with the ground despite the sheer bulk of it. Fei seems to think that this masked figure is behind it all.

    The Beast of Lohgrin is a little more skeptical.

    "Hold on -" A huge metal statue lands on the roof, with a gust of wind which seems to keep it in place despite its momentum. It has no lungs with which to be out of breath, and yet it speaks quickly anyway. "- hold on just a moment! You cannot just... leap into action and attack anyone who happens to be lurking!" There is no emotion, reflected in those cast-iron dragon's jaws, but her voice is alarmed. "... though surely it is impressive you have managed to simply leap up in this way, but - no matter!"

    She rounds, now, on the masked figure, metal clacking against the rooftop. "Please, explain yourself before this foolishness goes any further. There is a Hellion attacking, and I must see to it!"

    ... she doesn't know. She really, truly doesn't know.

GS: Seraph Beast has attacked Seraph Beast with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Beast has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Beast takes a solid hit from Seraph Beast's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick and Shield! Statuses applied to Seraph Beast!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    MOMENTS BEFORE A VARIETY OF VERY DISRUPTIVE AND NON-LIBRARIAN-APPROVED THINGS OCCUR:

    "...I see. Then, by applying my focus like so..."

    Judging by the array of magical texts before her, open to a staggering arrangement of chapters on elemental theory and practical application (and more than a few beginners' texts, because even when you're relearning how to ride a bike as it were it's good to start from somewhere easy) Avril has been hard at work studying magic.
    It's Lunarian magic, which truth be told has some... differences from the vaguely familiar pathway she's treading herself, but it's close enough. Good enough that it's been in fact highly useful.

    She lifts a hand, and a breath and a moment later, a perfect faceted crystal of ice blossoms in her outstretched left hand. She stares into its depths, as if she could thereby find the answers she's been seeking.

    And then the trio begins their assault and that's the end of that.

    "Aah--?"

    THer chair clatters to the ground; Avril rises from her seat with force, already abandoning her studies as she races through the stacks.

    The fact that she has, already, a blade in hand suggests she may have made up her mind about what's happening, and what she's planning to do about it.

    ...Stopping up short as the golem rages out into the streets through the wall in front of her.

    "..."

    Once that hazard is, well, out of the way, it's a matter of making her way upwards towards the apparent source of destruction.
    Namely: out through the hole. And up, with the help of a well-placed barrel and cratestack all the way up onto the roof alongside the building.
    Despite her appearance, it seems that the mysterious Ms. Vent Fleur has quite the grounding in parkour--

    A metallic figure alights not far off; she glances sidelong at it.

    But in a moment like this, pragmatics take priority. "Explain yourself," Avril states calmly, as she presses in on the white-haired man, blade first.

    Yes, speaks the impulse. This is the correct path.

    His face is--
    Oh, it's familiar, Avril realizes, blue eyes widening, but it's no longer possible for her to stop what she has started. The blade arcs through the air--

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Garrett Stampede with Spirit Saber!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The sound of a thunderous crash makes the wizardly-looking fellow jump bolt upright. At the second crash, the masked figure standing next to him turns their head, ever-so-slightly, to see the flame-haired Beastwoman being chased by some sort of sorcerous guardian. "What the--" says the wizard, as the thing suddenly decides to go off and bother someone who is not the escaping thief.

    "Convenient," says the masked woman. "And it looks like she has the package."

    "If--if--" the wizardly fellow says. His face contorts, as though he's trying to swallow something that doesn't want him to swallow it. He coughs, and liquid Malevolence spatters the floor.

    "Go," the masked figure says. "I know this must be difficult. It always is." The wizard manages a look of gratitude, fades into the shadows behind his companion, and is gone.

    And then, footsteps. The masked figure sees Lemina Ausa running out of the guildhouse, and while someone else might settle for being amused at the sight, this person knows her. Lemina is tough enough to hold her own, and it sounds like she has backup. The figure's head jerks in Fei's direction, but it's too late to do anything more. The martial artist crashes through the window like he was fired out of a cannon, shattering what's left of the pane and knocking the figure off their feet. The impact jars their teeth, sends them flying backwards. They hit the creaky floorboards with a smash of splintering wood, and stay there a moment. Fei almost put the mystery figure into the building's basement. A familiar Malevolent aura flares up around them, a many-layered thing--rage, self-loathing, and helplessness around a core of despair. It's visible around the masked figure's body to those sensitive.

    Must've hit my head, Ida thinks, as she struggles for breath. Fei hits hard. That sounded like-- No.

    The big Hellion reaches out to grab Fei's face, and shoves with all their considerable might. They scramble to their feet, nearly putting a foot through the hole Fei just made in the floorboards with their body--and they stare at that statue, for a moment. More voices, from afar. Rosaline's in trouble. "This is none of your concern," they say, but their voice--anonymous as it is--almost breaks. Nevertheless, they waste no further time. Their feet pound out a rhythm on the creaky floorboards as they charge the statue, trying to shoulder-check the Beast through the wall and into Lemina as she makes her mega-irate entrance.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Unnecessary Roughness!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Lemina Ausa with Unnecessary Roughness!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Seraph Beast with Unnecessary Roughness!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Garrett Stampede critically Guards a hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Spirit Saber for 21 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Unnecessary Roughness for 102 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline's ears turn as the short post-golem silence is broken by a very polite voice she hasn't heard in some time. Her head turns to see the source, and--

She doesn't have the time to leap away, or rather, she coils her body to do so, but sheer gravital force pins her to the ground before she can actually jump back onto the rooftops. Well, then.

A second later, Rosaline is, much more loudly, called a MEGA-JERK. This hurts, because she likes to think of herself only as a regular jerk! But there isn't much she can do about it, because now she's being SHOT AT. What a night.

This she manages to roll away from despite the impediment, but the bullets clip at her two tails painfully. She looks over her shoulder to see Jacqueline standing there, giving her this... look. Rosaline grits her teeth. Of course this had to happen right after the Lunata ritual, too. Of course, she couldn't have someone keeping a positive opinion of her for more than a week.

"Can't you let a poor cat burglar do her job?" Rosaline calls out, raising her hands with a frustrated expression. Her hands, it should be specified, are holding a shotgun and a bag full of very precious books, respectively.

"Please, just leave me alone!" she says, doing her best to back away even under the strain of the gravity spell, while a wave of flames rises out of the ground in front of her and towards the three CaraKin members, burning everything in its wake!

One silver lining to this is that she aimed her attack away from the building. Maybe Rosaline isn't so far gone yet as to be indifferent to the potential destruction of countless pieces of millenia-old wisdom. That would be something a MEGA-JERK would do!

...or maybe it's just a coincidence.

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Catenna with Curtain of Flames!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Curtain of Flames!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Curtain of Flames!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Unnecessary Roughness for 70 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Rosaline Calice's Curtain of Flames for 70 hit points!
GS: Seraph Beast guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Unnecessary Roughness for 58 hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a glancing hit from Rosaline Calice's Curtain of Flames for 73 hit points!
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes a solid hit from Rosaline Calice's Curtain of Flames for 134 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Cyre?" Catenna gasps as her favourite cat in the world wakes up.

In his orange kitty pajamas. Catenna cups a hand over her mouth and blushes warmly, resisting the urge to squee a bit.

The gravitational force lingers even as Catenna momentarily takes her eye off the ball to admire her lover's silly pajamas. Then Cyre actually acts, and she shakes herself a little and snaps her gaze back towards Rosaline - who has rolled away despite the tugging of the spell Catenna put on her.

"I am sorry, but we really can't let you steal things," Catenna protests with a quick blink, before those flames swell and rise into being. She widens her eyes and leaps away.

Or tries to. Flames scorch the hem of Catenna's dress as she lunges back; embers bite against the legs beneath. She hisses and swats out a few burning parts of her dress with the flat of her sword. With a quick glance to ensure Cyre and Jay are alright, she beats a couple more little tongues of flame down with some effort, trying not to ruin her dress any more than it already is.

"Miss Calice, please!" she calls out a bit more tensely. "Why are you doing this? Knowledge is meant to be shared!" There's genuine indignation in her tone - a flash of honest-to-Celesdue horror that someone she nominally likes would try to deprive the world of ancient wisdom.

The fire's going to be a problem. Catenna steals a look to one side - there are two more apparent Hellions involved, she realizes as she catches a few glimpses - but she doesn't have time to digest it all. What's important is dousing Rosaline and getting the tomes back from her.

She traces her hand over her other Medium, holding her sword out and whispering a small prayer to the Guardian whom the moon acts upon to create the tide.

Magic surges. Fire is suddenly confronted by something else. Surging up from around Catenna, an enormous spray of sea water swells until it's formed a huge, cresting wave, soaring high above Rosaline. That wave of divine arcana crashes down towards the Hellcat and her flames, as if to try and drench her.

Unlike most involved in this tussle, Catenna can purify Malevolence. The downside is, she's going to have to beat Rosaline Calice almost to death before she can do it. And she really doesn't like that idea very much. Maybe quenching her fire will be a more humane way to do it.

GS: Catenna has attacked Rosaline Calice with Tidal Wave!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Fortunately, Cyre's here, too. Internally, Jacqueline is glad that her friends are here. She doesn't quite like the idea of having to face Rosaline alone.

Case in point - before she can recover from her shaken state, a wall of flame arises around them, engulfing Jacqueline before she can escape.

"A-ah!" A quick gesture of her left hand and an incantation prevent her from getting roasted, as ice forms around her to quench the flames. Though she was pretending to use Althena's Blessing, Rosaline would able to easily recognize it as Crest Sorcery.

"It's...it's not too late, Rosaline. Please, just...leave everything you've taken and go. I won't tell anyone where you went. These people have lost so much already...this knowledge is all they have left. Don't take it away from them." She pleads. It was as Catenna said - it was meant to be shared. It wasn't just about the books themselves - those were just physical objects. But the contents...those were more precious than any treasure.

As she speaks she rummages through her bags, pulling out a few potion bottles. One she keeps for herself, while the next two are tossed to Catenna and Cyre.

Hey, she has a really good throwing arm. It's okay.

She can tell there's more going on here than she can see, but...right now, she has to focus on what's in front of her.

"A-ah, Catenna, be careful...!" She adds. ...She wasn't sure how much it would take to accidentally damage the books.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Catenna with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Jacqueline Barber! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Catenna! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.


The Knight puts one boot on the edge of the roof before he senses something. Some flash of movement, some sixth sense honed in the world of combat makes itself known. He whirls, his forarm coming up and Avril's sword meeting armor instead of something more vulnerable. Not just armor though, jagged shards of ice spring into being from that armor, catching her blade. Pinning it in place for a moment.

There is a look of surpise on his face. A flicker of a smile.

"Ah, the ice princess! I didn't know you where here as well. It seems I'm meeting plenty of old faces lately."

He doesn't seem bothered in the least that she just tried to kill him. In fact he seems almost...cheerful. The smile, the bright clear eyes. He doesn't seem at all the madman that some think...

...and then Noeline has to make her presence known.

Slowly his head turns towards her as the Malevolent taint in the air around him raises. A tang pone can feel in the back of the throat. Blood and metal made manifest. Ice, jagged black-tinged spikes of it slowly grow from his armor as the smile on his face takes on an all together different manifestation. Something more sinister, broken.

Though he doesn't raise his voice. "Ah, little demon." He drawls slowly. "Are you sure you want to do this? No dragon around to stop me from indulging myself this time..."

He's almost forgotten about Avril it seems.

Almost.

His eyes snap back towards the swordswoman with a smile that is somewhere between teasing and wicked. "As much as I would love to fight across the rooftops with so fetching a partner...my friends need me on the ground....and I wish to test that little demon."

And his hand snakes out, the bottle of whiskey tossed casually aside as he seeks to pull Avril with him as he leaps from the roof, possibily unbalancing her to send her tumbling away as he bears his full attention on Noeline.

...as frost gathers round the Metal Demon, frost that forms the shapes of wolves, snapping and nipping at the Demon's limbs as a distraction.

...and speaking of distractions. Garrett has paid little heed to the drunk looking at him, which could be bad for him. However his bottle though? That he has almost casually flung with almost unerring accuracy for the drunks face.

...he's helping.

GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Noeline with Wolves of World's End!
GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Arctica's Finest!
DC: MISS! Avril Vent Fleur completely evades Arctica's Finest from Garrett Stampede!
GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Seraph Lanval with LOOK! BOOZE!!
GS: Garrett Stampede has completed his action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Cyre H. Lorentz! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Seraph Lanval takes a glancing hit from Garrett Stampede's LOOK! BOOZE! for 56 hit points!
DC: MISS! Noeline completely evades Wolves of World's End from Garrett Stampede!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei's face is easily seized with Ida's strength. He opens his mouth to answer Ida but he realizses the mysterious figure is actually talking to someone else. He glances upwards at The Beast of Lohgrin and then back down at the mysterious figure with a perplexed expression. That's plenty of time in which to face slam him into the dirt. Fei groans on the floor for a moment, holding his head. When that aura flares up, he curls inward and grabs at his skull with both hands as if it hurts even MORE than the floor slam. Considering Shadowy Figure's strength here, that's gotta be some pain.

Fei lays there while Ida beats up her other friends.

But then he stumbles up, still holding his head. "It's...so...loud..." Fei manages, fanning a hand out to the side to steady himself. The aura is familiar, but he couldn't say it was unique. "These are my neighbors. I can't let you rob 'em after what they did for us!"

He darts after the Shadowy Figure, launching several palm strikes before twisting for a snapkick. He's come out the gate swingin' here, though his forward momentum is a bit stymied by the presence of Beast who is the strangest individual he's seen yet.

"Are you--" He asks of Beast. "Are you another golem?"

Part of her feels familiar but--

"--We can talk later," He settles. "Mask over there first."

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Hagan!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It's true, Cyre's pajamas are pretty much the best. They're extra comfy, too. Perfect for falling over for an evening's snooze in! Also, for the sake of rating, they are also fireproof.

This proves useful when Rosaline Calice decides to attack her DEAR and IRREPLACABLE friends with a wall of fire.

Cyre yells as the flames wash over him, scorching flesh and singing hair. For a moment, it seems as though he's disappeared into the inferno... Before a hand, ensconced in a screaming whirlwind, erupts from the blaze and snatches Jay's potion out of the air.

Cyre flips through the flames, quaffing the potion mid-leap like some kind of super cool guy.

"Yeah, what Catenna said!" Cyre shouts over the din of crackling fire and breaking waves. "This just isn't right, Rosaline. I mean, of all places to break into, you guys pick Vane? That's just kicking a man when he's down!"

Cyre sweeps a hand across the space in front of him. Circles of brilliant, technicolor light lens open and proceed to disgorge a storm of brightly colored energy bolts into Rosaline's general area. "Drop what you took and leave! I owe you that much."

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Rosaline Calice with Valkyrie!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Beast has posed.

    Naturally, the Beast of Lohgrin comes through a window, broken from the force of her entry. She'll have to apologise for this property damage later. But it's not the only way this building is being damaged.

    It is being damaged by a Hellion. It wasn't a Hellion when she noticed the attack, surely - and yet -

    - there's no time to think about that. "It surely is!" The Beast insists, and now there is an unkind edge to her tone. It makes sense. It makes a terrible amount of sense, that the Beast of Lohgrin would be unkind to a Hellion.

    It makes a terrible amount of sense, that a Hellion would be unkind to its natural enemy.

    Because the Beast of Lohgrin is large indeed, but she is many pieces, kept in place by air and breeze. And the unapproachable statue, well - someone's approached her, before. Someone's even hugged her, once.

    Someone like that might know that the very broadest part of her chestplates are... right... there. Might know that's the surest way to push her back.

    It's effective. Even as the Beast of Lohgrin braces herself, locks her pieces together, the sheer power of the Hellion before her pushes her out of her sentinel position. Everything seems to slide over itself, for a moment - each plate displaced from its proper spot in the order the Beast has set for herself.

    And as she slides back, she slides into something behind her. "No!" She snaps, denying it, denying a future where her bulk crushes another creature. Before the pressure can become too great, there is a mighty gust of wind, blowing back at her - past her, to the Hellion before them.

    It centres her, grounds her, stops her from going too far and causing undue harm to whomever has the misfortune of being behind her. Hopefully, she wasn't hurt too badly by it.

    And it courses out, striking at the Hellion with wind which whips and tears. It is a buffeting thing, stiff Autumn winds in the wake of a storm. It seems, now, that there is no argument to be had; it seems, now, that the stranger's Malevolence has condemned them.

    "No," she answers Fei, firmly, as the wind blows. "I am the Beast of Lohgrin, spirit of wind, and I will not see you hurt by this monster."

GS: Seraph Beast has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Buffeting Headwind!
GS: Seraph Beast has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Ida Everstead-Rey completely evades Hagan from Fei Fong Wong!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Seraph Beast's Buffeting Headwind for 105 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Catenna's Tidal Wave for 137 hit points!
DC: MISS! Rosaline Calice completely evades Valkyrie from Cyre H. Lorentz!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    That single brightly-colored eye, even just half-open, seems to take in a lot more of the world around him than it looks like it should. Walls of fire... a divine wave of water over there? Hm. Wait, there's a draconic metal Hellion jumping on the roof and getting thr-- wait, that one's not a Hellion, that's... hrm. It's a lot to take in, as he watches a mysterious white-haired woman and a dark-haired one leaping into a pitched battle of blades with the Hellion knight. Does he see the bottle being flung for his face?
     From where the drunkard lies, he rolls lazily face-down, extending an arm as the whiskey bottle rolls across the length of his arm, across his back, up the other arm which he curves upwards to flick it up--
     --then it comes down and bounces off his head anyway, mercifully electing not to shatter. His attempt to claim it is far less graceful than this little stunt, an arm batting in the air until he catches it by its neck. He rises up, the cat-like smile on his face growing wider.
     "Hm, hm, hmmm," Lanval chortles, "thish one'sh shtill good." Whatever's left of the whiskey after that stunt, he downs the rest of it as he staggers towards a place where any errant swing of a blade could cut him in twain.
     Noeline nor Avril have to worry about collateral. He sways and dips exactly as needed to avoid any of their weapons making contact with him as they deftly maneuver about. Far too carefree and sluggish in his approach to suggest any hint of battle readiness, the drunkard comes up by the flank of the knight's off-hand.
     "Ahh, hey there. Shorry to interrupt ya. Ya dropped shomethin'." A magical light fills the air - some sort of magic is being cast. A Seraphic Arte, of some stripe.
     He points the neck of the bottle back towards Garrett. It doesn't quite matter if he deems it fit to take it out of his hand or not, because the end result is the same -
     The discarded whiskey bottle is now vomiting back a burst of more water than it looks like it could ever feasibly contain within itself, all while the fat drunken Seraph maintains that cheerful, flushed, closed-eye look with that cat-like smile of his.

GS: Seraph Lanval has attacked Garrett Stampede with Ancient Lunarian Practical Joke!
GS: Seraph Lanval has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Lemina gets a statue shoulder-checked into her. The actual impact isn't that bad; the problem is that she's not ready for it, and gets knocked squarely on her ass. "A -- aah!" she stammers out, using her staff to pry herself up off the ground and get herself stable quickly. She moves toward the mysterious masked figure, still looking extremely annoyed and about 10% like she really wants to get back to napping.

"Ugghhh, why are you even doing this!!" she half-asks, half-frustratedly exclaims as she tries to figure out what her game plan is. This close to the library, she really doesn't want to just open up with fire magic... ice isn't that much better a call, either... Light isn't a real big winner especially..

... ice is probably the least bad of the available options. Lemina gives her staff a quick twirl, looking at the masked Hellion. "It's definitely my concern, so start talking!" she shouts, before hurling a spike of ice in the Hellion's direction.

She stays behind the Beast; Lemina knows how marching order works.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Ice Lance!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: Garrett Stampede guards a hit from Seraph Lanval's Ancient Lunarian Practical Joke for 51 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Lemina Ausa's Ice Lance for 121 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    He's changed, run her thoughts.
    But the face is the same.

    Absolute Zero cuts through the air, driving towards an erstwhile ally of a sort--
    But her blade does not cut deeply enough. The strange edge of the ancient blade is caught, neatly pinned in place by the strange jagged manifestations of frost protruding from 'Jack's' armor.

    Understanding blossoms after a moment's span of silence.
    "Oh. Jack, you are a..."
    Oh.
    She pulls back, freeing her blade, immediately assuming a guard stance with the sword held hip to shoulder. Her gaze is intent, the 'ice princess' comment sliding off her as she holds her ground like so much water off a duck. "What has become of you? Was it because of this land?"

    She has felt it often in this world. Malevolence clings to most places, always there if you're looking for it.

    "--Noeline. Be cautious. He is a--"

    The warning may not be soon enough.

    Avril takes one step forward, as if about to strike to try and pin him down before he can attack Noeline, but finds quite quickly she has her own concerns to worry about.

    He lunges out with a hand and seizes her by the wrist.
    He leaps.
    With him, she goes over the edge.

    And there in the seconds and half-seconds as they plummet to the earth below, she twists her wrist away from him, breaking his grasp. Arcs her body with all the grace of the gymnast. Folds herself inwards, righting herself as she continues to descend. And lands, as delicately as a cat from a great height.

    She turns the empty hilt of her ARM towards Garrett and, as a flicker of light announces the reemergence of the sword, holds an en garde stance as she faces him down.

    "I do not understand your intentions today, Jack," Avril continues, using the only name she knows for the man. Her gaze treks across those he has named as his friends.
    Her hand tightens on the ARM's hilt. Rosaline... So it was true.
    Her face is as a grim mask. "...Nevertheless, I cannot permit this destruction, whatever reasons you may present to me. Prepare yourself."

    She treads a step forward, blade barely dipping as she advances almost overly formally, as if this were a duel or a dance rather than a pitched battle in a city street. She herself may as well be an animate statue.

    Step. Step. Slowly now.

    And with blinding speed comes the lunge, pinpointed for whatever crevice she may find in his armor.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Garrett Stampede with White Blade!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Garrett Stampede critically Guards a hit from Avril Vent Fleur's White Blade for 10 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

With the wave of flames as a distraction, Rosaline wants to make a quick escape and be done with this, but a more traditional sort of wave breaks through, parting it with a massive hiss of steam.

Rosaline, too, hisses as she hears and soon sees the wave threatening to crash upon her. With the gravitational pull weakening, she has an easier time escaping the wave before it crests, but not avoiding it entirely. It washes over her, causing her to scream as it flash-boils away from her.

And once the wave is gone, her flames are in disarray but still present, and her expression is haggard as she raises a kimono sleeve-- which she had been using like a curtain to protect the bundle of books.

"Those things are fragile!" she cries out, not immediately addressing the others' points on knowledge and the sharing thereof. "And they were just collecting dust in there. Now they'll be in the hands of people who will actually use them!"

"They have their lives," she yells back at Jay and Cyre, her voice strained, as her flames roar back to life and quickly dry her off. "Sometimes that's a blessing in itself, and all you can ask for."

But soon, she's concentrating more on evading the barrage of multicolored beams of light flying towards her than on talking. "Tch-- Watch it!" Her steps are taking the form of a strange ritual dance, which is surprisingly effective at letting her avoid the light.

But finally, she's had it with protecting the books. "Hey, Garrett! CATCH!" And with a full-body twirl, she hurls the bundle of books in the knight's direction. Will they be any safer with him, though?

Returning her attention to the trio, she cracks her knuckles. "Anyway, I told you, Jacqueline. I don't do charity anymore."

She then snaps her fingers, and spectral figures appear out of thin air to grab for each of the three with scalding-hot hands. And if they reach in far enough, the magic giving them form may leave Jay's potions with a bitter aftertaste...

GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Catenna with Phantoms' Curse!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Phantoms' Curse!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Phantoms' Curse!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Catenna completely evades Phantoms' Curse from Rosaline Calice!
GS: Jacqueline Barber critically Guards a hit from Rosaline Calice's Phantoms' Curse for 27 hit points!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has been weakened by Disease! They take 14.6 damage, and burn off their temporary hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Rosaline Calice's Phantoms' Curse for 146 hit points!
GS: Disease! Statuses applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has been weakened by Disease! They take 0 damage, and burn off their temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    Immediately, Noeline can feel a light headache start to build at the back of her mind. Partially, it's the sensation of Malevolence tickling at the back of her mind. Partially, it's the irritation that she didn't ask for this fight, didn't even want this fight, but is being thrown into it anyway. It's particularly the fact that this is all over a collection of books that Miria would probably just allow you access to if you asked nicely enough and brought her a gift.

    Were it a month ago, she would be much too haggard to really fight effectively - but there's been ample time to convalesce and recover fully from the events in the Floating Garden, and it's fair to say she's fighting fit. The fact that she's changed weapons entirely from her time on Filgaia doesn't seem to affect her in any way - her spear bites out in rapid stabs, piercing and shattering several of the ice wolves before she plants the tip into the ground to lever herself upwards and away from the rest of them.

    The jump gives her an instant to take stock of the situation she's in. With Garrett focusing on her she really can't hope to keep an eye out for Rosaline or Ida, but there's enough noise around her to indicate that other people have that well in hand. Avril's presence-- is unexpected, and she wonders if she ought to try to draw the Hellion away to save her the danger, a feeling that only grows as she catches sight of the sodden drunk that's decided to forcibly interject.

    Fortunately, being annoying comes really, really easy. "A test? And what kind of test will you offer when all you've got now is raw power, thrown about haphazardly?" she declares as she lands, using the momentum to hop forward in a dance, one step and then two - and then a sudden, abrupt push into a lightning-fast lunge, aiming to puncture straight through the man's guard. "Where is your control?"

GS: Noeline has attacked Garrett Stampede with Black Velvet!
GS: Noeline has entered a Reflect stance!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    A brilliant Malevolent sun ignites within the figure's chest as they hear Beast's shout of protest. Brute. Betrayer. Petty little creature.

    "I know," the figure says, as Fei gives his rationale for jumping in. The figure raises gloved hands, keeping them open and mobile as the other martial artist comes in with an aggressive, relentless assault. Fei is quick, and extremely skilled--it takes every ounce of effort just to keep up with him, to turn his palm-strikes aside with their forearms. This has the side-effect of keeping the masked person busy while the Beast sets up her own attack. The wind tears off the stranger's cloak in one fell swoop, sending it flying across the street, to where it tangles in the remains of a window. Long, silvery-white hair billows out from behind the mask. The figure's body is feminine, perhaps, but not in the conventional sense--they're solidly-built, beneath the blue-and-gold silk shirt and black slacks they're wearing. Beast's winds tear into the figure's body, forcing her back and away from Fei--and giving Lemina the chance she needs to line up her shot. The icicle comes out of nowhere, slamming into the figure's side--only a last-second dodge keeps it from being a gut shot. The impact sends her staggering backwards, into the wall of the building behind her. Bits of old, flaking paint and wooden splinters rain down around her.

    Lemina is mad. Are you even going to look her in the eye? Can you, idiot child? The masked woman reaches down and half-wrenches, half-breaks the icicle out of her flesh. She throws it to the ground. Blood drips down from a dozen separate wounds. The figure reaches back behind her, into the shadow she's casting against the wall, and pulls something out. It's a heavy-barreled pistol made from a material that Lunar has never seen until extremely recently--Dragonbone. She lowers the gun at Beast, pulls the trigger, and tries not to flinch as a tongue of violet flame rushes from the barrel. She twists on her heels, aims at Lemina, and fires off a second shot--this one, a more conventional bullet. She turns on a heel again, and suddenly surges forwards at Fei, driving her knee upwards in a violent strike for his gut.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Raging Thunderbolt!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Seraph Beast with Desecration Flame!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Lemina Ausa with Devil Bullet!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Raging Thunderbolt for 76 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Garrett Stampede has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Garrett Stampede guards a hit from Noeline's Black Velvet for 81 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Noeline!
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Beast critically Guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Desecration Flame for 30 hit points!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"I will!" Catenna calls back to Jay with a blush, reaching out to snag the thrown potion. She unstops it and takes a quick drag, letting the healing warmth of it flow through her.

As the wave washes over Rosaline, Catenna worries at her lower lip - but she can see that the books are still intact, fortunately enough, even if the poor Hellcat in front of her looks awfully bedraggled. "Then may I suggest putting them down!" she calls back a bit tartly.

Rosaline does - but it's to fling them at someone she doesn't know. Catenna had never met Garrett before he embraced Malevolence and she wouldn't recognize him even if he were being up front with his identity.

Rosaline is another story - and Rosaline wasn't able to send scalding ghosts after her before! With a gasp, Catenna recoils from the fiery Hellion's summons, the grasping hands of those dreadful ghouls seeking to drain away the benefits of Jacqueline's love and care.

Celesdue, please, save my soul, she prays inwardly, trusting the goddess to help her as she begins to dart away - but what saves her as much as Celesdue's fortune is all that dancing she's been doing.

Grasping hands clutch for her; they come within millimetres as Catenna twists, spinning away past one phantasm, then between another two. In the clear, she bounds upwards, flipping out of the circle of ghosts. Scorching talons trail after her, brushing against the train of her dress and leaving a few hot clawmarks, but not marking the body beneath it - barely. When she lands, Catenna's breathing heavily, opening her eyes; her face has lost some of its colour.

This is not very Etone-like. Is this the power of Malevolence...? And... is this what she could have become, had she and Cyre succumbed back in Wehaca?

"The doubt in your heart is natural," she murmurs as she draws her Medium into her left hand - the one with the emblem of Celesdue on it. "You always seemed so uncertain of yourself, Miss Calice... but all of us are. And I wonder if you really feel better by lashing out... or if you are a little embarrassed when it is all over?"

As she speaks, her voice takes on a hint of an echo. From that last question, she continues into a soft chant in Zortroan, the words blurring together. Gravity groans softly around Rosaline.

Catenna is not trying to crush her body. She's trying to disorient her - gravity attempting to burden her mind, as if the spell were trying to drain blood out of her brain, dull her senses and dip her deep into confusion.

GS: Catenna has attacked Rosaline Calice with Feeble Mind!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
DC: MISS! Rosaline Calice completely evades Feeble Mind from Catenna!
GS: Lemina Ausa guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Devil Bullet for 92 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.


There is a deep chuckle, a rumble from the armor as Malevolence swirls around the man most know as Jack. "My intentions are to keep my friend over there, the one with the flames for hair, safe. And to complete our little mission. Well...and to crush Noeline over there into a fine paste if she decides to get in my way." There is a smirk as that as he lands, spinning towards the swordswoman as he does so.

Her slim weapon comes in only to be met with the thicker blade of the fallen knight's. Its different now from what Avril would remember. Somehow black around the jagged edges, the ornate hilt once holding a sigil on it. Now cracked and twisted with the Malevolence that seems to drip from the blade itself like blood from a wound.

His parry though still holds all of his skill.

"Garrett," He corrects her as he lets her blade slip by, angled by his own weapon to scrape by his armor instead of his.

"And let me guess. No one told you? Oh no, no it wasn't this world that changed me. It was her kind."

That jerk of his head is towards Noeline.

"I was shown a single truth. Something their kind deserves to die for." There is a flicker of something in his eyes, almost as if he's trying to convince himself of that fact before Noeline herself comes diving in.

Her piercing blade slices though his defenses, but layers of ice form between her spear and his flesh to lesson the brunt of the blow. Even so though it knocks him to the side and his eyes snap towards the pair of them.

"Is this the kind of control you showed when you burned my city to the ground? When you butchered my people? DID YOU SHOW CONTROL THEN?"

His voice raises in a shout as ice and ash suddenly swirl around him as his Hellion powers manifest fully.

He's kinda mad.

"Did you ask her about that, Avril?"

He asks the swordswoman but his eyes are locked on Noeline.

Even as Rosa shouts towards him snapping him out of it.

Which might be a good thing.

"FINE! I got it!" He calls back as suddenly he slams his sword into the ground. Great tears of ice explode out from the impact intending to spike into Noeline from every angle and force Avril back as he reaches for the thrown prize.

Gauntlet curls around it as he spins to fling it in the masked ones direction.

"You can hold this better! It's apparently fragile!" He calls out towards the third of the trio. "I need both hands!"

With a spinning toss he sends it in Ida's direction. Which means as he stops he is staring right...at...a drunk with a bottle of whiskey that he threw.

"What?"

He looks confused for all of a second before the jet of water hammers into him and knocks him back on his heels.

"Who even are you?!" Sputters the knight. "I'd say this is a private fight, but I have to confess I love a bit of violence!"

GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Noeline with Pain and Suffering!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"That's little comfort, to people who have found life stomping on them at every opportunity. Please, Rosaline - take an honest look at this place!" Jacqueline replies, shaking her head. "If you want to use them, you can check them out through the proper channels like everyone else! I can vouch for you!"

But, Jacqueline can see that she probably isn't going to get through to her. Especially when she hurls the books away.

"A-ah! The books! Someone, please catch them!" Jacqueline calls out, hoping there's someone around who isn't too distracted by combat to do so.

Unfortunately, this grabs her attention just long enough for Rosaline to work her sorcery. Jacqueline finds herself accosted by a spectral figure and retaliates, once more coating herself in a protective layer of ice. It wards off the scalding heat...but she feels something unpleasant still go through, something that forces her to a knee.

"Ch-charity? What does this have to do with charity?" Jacqueline sputters, trying to make her way to her feet. "I understand asking for payment for Lunata's ritual, and I accept that...but not taking that which doesn't belong to you is charity?"

...She's...a little incredulous at that. Had Rosaline really fallen so far already...? She felt a touch of sorrow enter her heart at this.

"Please - it's not too late. This is for your own good - and that of your friends, as well. Please, just stand down!" She pleads...but this time, she draws out another set of bottles. It's not a healing potion, however, as Rosaline will soon find out. She pours the contents of one bottle into the other before hurling it at her feet, at which point the contents will detonate.

Flames will erupt from it...but the fire was only one part of the payload - the flames emit fumes that sap stamina, and can cause one to tire out pretty quickly if exposed for too long."

GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Wolf's Bite!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Rosaline Calice with Apothecary's Fire!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Seraph Lanval with Winter's Reaping!
GS: Garrett Stampede has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Avril Vent Fleur takes a glancing hit from Garrett Stampede's Wolf's Bite for 70 hit points!
DC: MISS! Noeline completely evades Pain and Suffering from Garrett Stampede!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Apothecary's Fire for 133 hit points!
GS: Toxin! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
GS: Seraph Lanval takes a solid hit from Garrett Stampede's Winter's Reaping for 140 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

    "They have their lives, sure, but why steal more from them? That's just needless cruelty and you know it," Cyre snarls back, fighting down a curse as Rosaline jukes and weaves between his barrage of magical missiles. "You could have just gone to Neo Vane, taken from people who might actually have something to give-- but instead you three came here to take from these folks instead. That's just wrong!"

A trio of spectres sweep up at Cyre as he leaps closer to keep up his pursuit. With a sudden snarl, he dives through them, feeling the burn of the dark magic tear open fresh wounds and reopen ones that only recently closed. But he knows well that to try and escape this kind of magic is to give it the opportunity to sink its teeth into you.

Burns, pain, these things are well worth not suffering an affliction of the soul.

The shaman roars as he feels the spectres dig their ghostly fingers into him. It's a tangible, deafening thing, one that blasts outwards with a sudden flare of high-pressure air and raw, physical force that carries the spiritual imprint of the Guardian of the Winds. It blasts the incarnate curse back, tearing it apart before it can truly sink in-- at the cost of half a body covered in burns.

It just so happens that the pressure wave is just directed enough to threaten to hammer Rosaline into the ground. Or a wall. Either will do.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Rosaline Calice with Grand Pressure!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei is shocked when The Shadowy Figure seems to be able to just turn his attacks aside as if they are nothing. It feels familiar. On many levels. Not just from the individual before him, but from that mysterious Wiseman. Yes, he's felt those parries before. He can't be entirely certain of course. There aren't even that many who can match him in a fist fight even if they might out-technique him or out-power him, it's rarely both. Fei slides a foot back when the cape is detangled from the wind. Long hair. it's not Grahf. It's not K.K.

It's so loud. It's so bright. It's trying to bore into his head.

Fei stumbles backwards not from any blow from the mysterious individual but it seems to be from something else. It's like an exploding head syndrome trying to punch its way into his skull. Or out of it.

Fei's eyes slant towards the dragon bone.

He barely gets a guard up to avoid Ida bursting his stomache open but the strength of the blow still sends him slamming into a wall, cracking it like a meteor struck it before collapsing forward onto his hands and knees, panting for breath. It's stronger than before, Fei thinks, but these sensations aren't strange.

They aren't unusual.

He's felt the code running behind his eye sockets before. He stands up. Slowly.

"You--" He says. "Why..." He takes a hazy step forward. "Stop it."

Fei darts in towards Ida, desperation in his eyes. Already desperation. He screams, "STOP IT ALREADY!"

He feints with a palm strike but Fei leaps up at the last moment to drive both feet for the mask, his face a combination of rage and despair as he drives both towards the mask with earth-shattering force or perhaps more accurately--mask-shattering force.

Fei flubs the rebound and lands on his back, grabbing at his head with both hands. "Just please..." He wheezes.

"Please stop calling yourself that."

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Tenbu!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Grand Pressure for 137 hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Tenbu for 159 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Beast has posed.

    It is not impossible to describe the Beast of Lohgrin as a brute, faced opposite that tearing wind, those savage claws. It's so very plausible to describe her as horrifying.

    No wonder she's so bad at making friends.

    White hair earns no recognition - neither does the build of a solid woman. The gun, at least, is something the Beast of Lohgrin understands. Some form of Hellion devilry, no doubt.

    No doubt to its devilry comes when violet flame spews from the Dragonbone barrel. A weapon made from the bones of dragons is, surely, the best method to put down a false dragon - but the Beast of Lohgrin locks her plates together, and lets the flame wash over her, allowing her metal to take the brunt of it so that the woman behind her will be safe.

    There is no flesh to burn, beyond those plates. There is no heart to clutch and desecrate, no blood nor veins to pollute. Iron glows hot, and then fades.

    "Strike me until your dark heart is satisfied," the Beast of Lohgrin rumbles. "I am iron - I will not fall."

    But it's pointless, to try and redirect a Hellion's aggression, as the Beast finds a moment later, that masked figure stepping to fire around her at the woman behind. Her gaze snaps behind her, neckplates and headplates turning bonelessly. "No!" Always, always they go for the small creatures, the ones under her protection -

    The Beast of Lohgrin turns her hollow eyes back to the Hellion - mask staring into mask.

    There is nothing betrayed, in a mask. Not a hint of righteous anger, of sentinel's worry, of mortal pain. Not a hint that the Beast is about to leap forward.

    Because she is a facsimile, after all. An arrangement of plates, artfully placed. She does not need to tense nonexistent muscles, to leap - does not need to crouch, or build up momentum. Wind holds her in place - and wind carries her, whip-quick, to set upon the masked stranger. She will knock them down, and she will tear them apart.

    Even if Hellions can be humanoid, the principles should be the same.

    She doesn't see her face - doesn't see her face until she's upon her at all.

GS: Seraph Beast has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Leap and Tear!
GS: Seraph Beast has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    At Garrett's acceptance of this intrusion, the counterattack seems swift - swifter than the eye can catch. A fat, out-of-sorts wastrel can't stand a chance against that.
     The hefty bearded fellow topples over onto his back anew, cut down in his... er... prime? Past his prime? Before he could turn things around in life and-- er, wait a tick. There's no further blood on that blade from the drunkard who appears to have been cut down? That went right through him! A clean blow as anything! They continue to stir, in their, um, dying throes?
     "Ohhh, yeah, I should introduce myshelf... huh," the words are a bit pained. Maybe he can be forgiven for not introducing himself if he's about to... not bleed out but somehow do the equivalent of that? Except he doesn't seem to be dying in the least. He stays low to the ground as he lets the pain settle about as well as it's going to, and also to nicely stay out of the way of the riposte between Avril, Noeline, and this interrupted knight. The gourd rolls ahead of him, from under Garrett's legs. One hand rests on the rope it's connected to. Lanval gives it a small tug to arrest its forward rolling.
     All this while he's trying to process what he's been hearing. They seem to know this Hellion, discussing weird events he's not sure he's heard a thing about. Sure, he's always kind of, er, kept to himself. In a sense.
     While he lies prone, he does also take note of something being flung from the Hellion knight towards someone else. Not much he can do about that one, while he lies there.
     "Aaaaanyway, my name'sh Lanval. I'd ashk for yersh, buuuuut," the dying(?) drunkard's smile widens a bit more as he waves his free hand in the air nonchalantly as he mumbles something that seems to end in warm-hearted, silly laughter.
     "Shoundsh ta me yer about ta leave!"
     One Seraphic Arte later, remember where the gourd rolled? One more tug of its rope, and it is upright. Another small tug, the neck is pointing in Garrett's direction as to not douse the other two fighting him in a great huge geyser of water that just keeps going and going, drenching both Garrett and himself if Garrett stays there. (Also if Lanval stays there, of which he's inclined to stay.)
     "Ha ha ha ha... ha... ha..." The laughter slows a bit. Wow that thing stung!

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

The bullet bites into Lemina's side -- it's just a flesh wound, but there's so little she can do about bullets... she's not particularly well-suited to dealing with gunfire. Her face scrunches up in pain for a few moments, and she lists to her side a bit.

"Nnnh," she groans, pressing her arm up against the wall and trying to steady herself. ... honestly, she doesn't have a lot of options for how to proceed -- she really doesn't want to just start setting her own objects on fire, and big magic feels very demanding with the amount of pain she's in at the moment, frankly.

... so it looks like it's ice again. Just. Slightly bigger ice this time. Lemina starts a low chant, waiting for Fei to dart in and finish his initial strike. "Just -- get out of here! Just go!" she insists, before saying, "Mega-magic ice! Freeze claw!" Her own magic presses forward a split second before Beast's does, icy blades springing out of the floor to destabilize Ida's footing for Beast's attack.

GS: Lemina Ausa has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Freeze Claw!
GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Lanval has attacked Garrett Stampede with Unending Fountain!
GS: Seraph Lanval has completed his action.
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Lemina Ausa's Freeze Claw for 79 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey loses a Combo from Interrupt!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Seraph Beast's Leap and Tear for 61 hit points!
GS: Weaken! Statuses applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    --Noeline isn't as empathic as Riesenlied. She knows that full well - she knows that she can't hope to face Malevolence with understanding and peace, not the way she tends to operate. Where possible, she deals with facts and figures, dances around her own feelings, rises to challenges like Jack's with a taunting kind of logic, one that tends to throw someone's feelings back in her face. She's seen it fail with Ida and is quite sure it will fail with Jack as well.

    Still--

    She faces the explosion and fury of the ice head on, her spear whirling in front of her so fast it almost blurs; the motion shatters each the spears of ice before they can fully form, and while she's showered with chips and flakes of sharp water, none of them are quite enough to pierce straight through to assault her. Twisting around into a final spin, she slams her spear against the bulk of the forming ice and then plants a boot into it for good measure, smashing the block away to one side.

    When she whirls back to face the Hellion, it's with a drawn face; there is none of her usual light humour in her eyes, nothing in the way of mirth on her face. "Yes," she simply intones, as her spear lowers. "I did. I never touched a single hair on the head of an Arctican. All I could do was watch from afar as my kind ravaged that city, knowing I would die immediately if I so much as raised a hand against them."

    It's difficult to not spit the words in anger, to keep the tremble in her voice steady - but she's at least aware that this is something she needs to admit to the man in front of her. She takes another step, keeping her gaze locked on Jack-- on Garrett. "I loved that city. It was my home. It was where I learnt to live. I remember each and every stall down the main street as if it were yesterday, and the smell of chestnuts from my room, and the woman who ran the bookshop. If you were to ask when I started to turn against my kind, it would be that day."

    She grips her spear so tightly her knuckles whiten, and heaves out a breath. "... I have done what I can to atone. I still will. At people's demand - at yours - I've turned against everything I was." When it comes, the strike is lightning fast and all but silent; one moment she's there, the next she's taken a step forward in another rushing stab, this time combined with the arcing darkness of Duras Drum's sorcery streaming out behind it. "--so what about you?!"

GS: Noeline has activated a Force Action!
GS: Noeline has attacked Garrett Stampede with Whispered Silk!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Garrett Stampede critically Guards a hit from Seraph Lanval's Unending Fountain for 22 hit points!
GS: Garrett Stampede has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Garrett Stampede critically Guards a hit from Noeline's Whispered Silk for 32 hit points!
GS: Quick! Statuses applied to Noeline!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    She presses in with all the strength her swordarm can muster. For all the extraneous flourish, there is skill behind that arm, but...
    When parried away from the gap she sought, there is little she can do except there press in, shifting her stance as she prepares to ultimately relinquish whatever feeble advantage she may have gained. Her sword might scrape his armor, but it's not enough, it's not enough.
    The trick now is to fall back without sustaining significant injury. He, having guarded her strike, has the advantage.

    "Garrett," she echoes, holding her ground against him for now. "I see."

    That grim calm suffuses her still when he asks her point-blank whether anyone told her.

    "I do not believe so. Then it was not this world--"

    "Her kind."

    Her gaze darts towards Noeline.

    She had heard about Adlehyde.
    And there were others before that--

    "All of them deserve to die," she repeats, as if quoting the statement from a book. Neutral, no weight or confusion behind it. It's a fact alone.

    "All of them? Every single one of them, Garrett?"
    "I'm not saying we should just suddenly be her enemy again or anything."
    "I do understand that you want to have faith in her."
    "I'd rather be nice to people and get hurt because of it than protect myself by being cold or indifferent."

    How easy should 'forgiveness' be?

    "I want to be certain that I understand. Even the old, the young, the sickly, the wounded? All of them?"

    Whatever answer he may have to that may be found in the burst of power he unleashes, a roar of ice ripping up and past her in a wave. There is a flash of red from her corner; there as the ashes and frost fade does Avril stand several feet away from him, hand tinged red where she clasps it to her side. "Ha..."

    The blade of Absolute Zero vanishes without so much as a flicker in the moments that follow. It's simply gone.

    What does 'forgiveness' mean?

    ...Does it start always with regret, she thinks, glancing over at Noeline.
    Her heart seems to beat in kinship here, somehow, to what the demon warrior says.

    "Noeline..."
    How do you say 'I understand', when you don't remember what you've done?

    Instead, the young woman inclines her head in a nod and, with all the grace of a courtly dancer, takes a series of rapid steps towards Garrett. There is no blade. What she holds in her hand may as well not be a weapon. It dips down low towards the path beneath their feet. No blade, no blade at all--

    But, ah, there is light.

    Plasma sizzles as she discharges the force of the ARM weapon's secondary mode. Once, perhaps even twice should it strike true -- she will bring down the cascade of photons upon her opponent.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Garrett Stampede with Absolute Zero - Plasma Arc!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Why are you doing this. Why are you even doing this?

    Fei might be out of the fight for a moment, but the masked woman doesn't have any time to breathe. Garrett's throwing the books at her, and she steps to the side, snatching the tied end of the sack. It's not the most graceful of catches, but she doesn't drop them, and she oh-so-gingerly one-hands the bag into her shadow. The sack seems to meld with the absence of light behind her, melting into it. Fei starts to protest. The masked woman looks back at him, even though she has no idea what he's talking about.

    'Mega-magic ice! Freeze claw!'

    The air around the woman grows chill. She twists to the side, and it is barely enough to keep the ice razors from tearing into her lower legs. Blood drips from the fresh cuts torn into her leather boots, slicking the icicles with crimson. The woman hisses out a curse, takes aim with that heavy pistol, and fires. The bullet races from the barrel and shatters in mid-air, splintering into bits of white-hot shrapnel, and sublimating into Malevolence. Rather than do anything sensible, they trace out a pattern around Lemina, a strange sort of orbit--before speeding at her from all directions. The Malevolence seeps in, and burns.

    Fei strikes before the woman can recover. His feet slam into her masked face with a horrific crunch. Did he just snap her neck? It sounds like it--but she takes a step back, recoils, and as Fei's feet slide off, the strange, not-quite-metal mask shatters. The face beneath is a bit broader than it usually is, and a bit less fine-boned. Her eyes are wide, and unfocused, as though she'd been knocked silly.

    The Beast doesn't get a chance to realize it's Ida until her fangs are tearing into the Hellion's shoulder.

    It's no good. She just keeps going. Her flesh starts to knit itself back together, starting with the wound Lemina made in her side. Ida can feel the Malevolence draining from her heart to repair the rest of her, but with the conflict in her heart reaching a fever-pitch, it replenishes itself as quickly as it's consumed.

    "I told you," Ida says, her voice breaking, "I wasn't a good person. And I'm so very sick of being helpless." Her eyes glisten with tears and Malevolence.

    Do it, you hateful little child. Stab them in the back.

    Hateful, self-destructive thoughts coil around Ida's mind like a constrictor snake. She surges upwards, shoving the Beast back, planting her feet on the ground. She drives her fist forwards and upwards, towards the statue's sternum, hopefully knocking her into the air. Ida leaps into the air after her, bringing both hands down at her in a double axe handle. She is literally trying to smash the Seraph into the dirt.

    Fei does not earn further reprisal. Perhaps the damage has already been done in a different way.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Lemina Ausa with Mandala of Hellish Noon!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Seraph Beast with Gleeful Cessation Of Restraint!
GS: CRITICAL! Garrett Stampede guards a hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Absolute Zero - Plasma Arc for 102 hit points!
GS: Break! Statuses applied to Garrett Stampede!
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline watches the books sail from one teammate to another while her phantoms cause a distraction. But her head snaps back to the three in front of her.

It's not just because Catenna's graceful dance of dodging is mysteriously fascinating. The Zortroan's words cause Rosaline's scowl to deepen. She seems about to answer something for a pregnant second or two, and then--

"SHUT UP!" she snaps. She might as well have just said 'yes', she immediately realizes.

She hears that echo, feels that hum of potent magic through her all-too-sensitive senses. Her eyes pop wider as she realizes what Catenna is attempting, and she leaps backwards away from the presumed center of the gentle gravity well. Crushing her body is one thing. Making her lose her mind even further is another.

"I know all about life stomping you at every opportunity!" she yells to Jacqueline, tears starting to bead in her eyes, immediately evaporating away as tiny wisps of vapor. "And don't get me wrong, I am not a good person! I never was! Do you know I much I have to hold back so no one gets hurt by every single thing I do?!"

Flames kick up and swirl around her body, and the alchemist's concoction finds itself lost within, by the real payload is the gas, which prompts a loud coughing fit, making Rosaline stagger and struggle for breath.

Cyre roars in response to her spectres' assault, which is all for the best, because she's in no position to answer further banter. A wave of pressure crashes right into her before what is happening fully registers in her mind, sending her flying into a nearby building's wall. For what it's worth, this one was in too advanced a state of disrepair as to already be unlivable to begin with.

She crashes into and through the brick. She has vanished for a moment, and for several seconds the only sign that she is still around is the occasional, faint flicker of pink flame. If Rosaline was in a cooler-headed state, she would take this as an opportunity to slip away.

And so, of course she leaps right back out, flying towards Cyre, trailing a massive jet of flame and roaring right back.

She aims to drive a massive claw right into his chest, but as she does, the flames she trailed don't disappear. No, they billow out and swirl away, homing in towards Jacqueline and Catenna. There is something odd to these flames, which don't burn the body, but rather the spirit, as they'll soon find out.

"SHUT UP! SHUT UP!" she cries out, swinging her enormous claws. "I CAN'T DO THIS! I CAN'T BE THE PERSON YOU WANT ME TO BE! WHY CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?!" Her cries are pained. These flames are burning her own spirit, too. Perhaps this is normal for her.

GS: Rosaline Calice enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with From the Shadows!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Catenna with Spontaneous Combustion!
GS: Rosaline Calice has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Spontaneous Combustion!
GS: Rosaline Calice has completed her action.
GS: Lemina Ausa critically Guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Mandala of Hellish Noon for 29 hit points!
GS: Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Rosaline Calice's Spontaneous Combustion for 0 hit points!
GS: Toxin! Statuses applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Rosaline Calice's Spontaneous Combustion for 0 hit points!
GS: Toxin! Statuses applied to Catenna!
GS: Seraph Beast takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Gleeful Cessation Of Restraint for 281 hit points!
GS: Seraph Beast loses a Combo from Interrupt!
GS: CRITICAL! Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Rosaline Calice's From the Shadows for 132 hit points!
GS: Poison! Statuses applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Hyper! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.


The drunk is what is in front of Garrett, and so the drunk is what Garrett focuses on first. There is a incrudulous look to the knight as he just stares at the strange man. Looking between the figure and the blade of his. "You know, most people would have the decency to at least bleed a little bit when I hit them." Garrett comments with a touch of a smirk. "But I'm running into more and more of those that aren't 'most people'." His drawl holding a touch of amusement now that Rosa's call for help had actually drawn him out of the rage spiral he was beginning.

"...I'm not planning on leaving tho--"

The knight's statement is cut short as he is suddenly slammed by a geyser. He stumbles several feet to one side, breath knocked out of him before he can manage to freeze the water itself, deflecting the spray...that seems to now be chunks of ice back towards the laughing Seraph.

Only to have Noeline blur towards him.

His eyes snap towards her and the sword slickers out to catch her strike at the last possible second. "Compared to her. You're still slow."

There is hesitation in that moment though. The reposte pulled for a moment as a dark smile escape him. "Well then. We both share something then. We both should have died there." A pause. "Did you see the rest of my Order fall? One at a time? Trying as they might to stop your people? Futile but honorable. Glorious and doomed." A shake of his head. "I'll kill your Quarter knights for them. Every one of them."

He might say more but suddenly Avril is there with her quiet words and her not very quiet energy. It lashes into him and he staggers, being covered in water is not a great defense against Plasma Arcs. Did anyone else know that?

Steam raises from the strikes, fresh black marks in the overly scored armor. Armor that now shows the rents and damages from the fall of his kingdom so long ago. The Plasma scores him, but its Avril's simple question that causes him to jerk as if truly struck.

'All of them?'

Hesitation for a second before the hate returns, over riding the other emotion in a red tide. "They are Metal Demons. They have no old, no sickly, no young. And if I have anything to say about it. No future."

His voice raises. "Ida! Rosa! Are we done here yet?"

He couples the word with a wide sweep of the cursed blade, a miasma curling away from the weapon to sling pure Melovelance towards Noeline, manifesting in shadows of long dead Knights that fly towards the little demon, figures she might recognize from long ago. Shadows of Garrett's companions, now long dead.

The edges of that psychic attack resonate out towards the other two, echos slamming into the mind more than the physical body.

GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Noeline with Ashes of the Past!
GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Seraph Lanval with Pain and Suffering!
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna's eyes soften a little at Jacqueline's heartfelt appeal. "Miss Calice, please," she urges the fiery Hellion. A memory flickers in her thoughts - a young Etone she had never met before, approaching her sweetly and shyly, appealing for aid to raise funds for a home reft from her by flame --

But Cyre H. Lorentz is in pain, and Catenna gasps at the sound of him roaring out as those spectres grasp him. "Cyre!" she cries, instinctively beginning to move towards him - and taking her attention off Rosaline for a crucial moment.

Until Rosaline screams at her to shut up. Catenna clicks her teeth together and whirls, darting to one side to try and gain a better angle of attack - but while words hang on the tip of her tongue, the whirl of flame silences her before she can speak them. Rosy fire ripples around her - and pours into her even as she attempts to dart back from them. She inhales; horrible corruption pours into her, and she staggers with a choked shriek, doubling and dropping to one knee. Clutching a hand to her chest, she pants heavily, her eyes wide and vague as that horrific fire burns not through flesh, but through her soul.

As if trying to burn away her faith and leave nothing more than a hollow, bitter husk, no different than any Hellion.

"Y-you are better than you think you are," she whispers, her voice pinched with agony as she lifts her head - and Rosaline can see the anguish and hurt in her expression, not just the pain, but a genuine sadness that her usual dignity conceals. "The young Etone who came to me... --ah-- seeking aid to rebuild a lost orphanage... you understand like I do what it is to lose a home...." She clenches her teeth, bowing her head and shuddering with pain as the soulfire scorches her. Tears bead at the corners of her eyes.

"...But you chose to pass on love," she whispers. "Do you truly feel better, when the darkness tells you to become the monster you once hated...?"

Fighting through spiritual anguish sufficient to rend her soul, Catenna clutches her Medium to her breast, praying with all her heart that her faith can withstand that horrible, hellacious fire within her. She whispers a prayer to her Guardian - and, subtle at first, but growing - the Medium pulses with a shimmering moonlight.

In the air high above the city, a shining spark of blue manifests. Within, a pair of shimmering blue butterfly wings unfold for a moment. It is difficult to miss the figure of a caramel-skinned woman in a long gown, seated atop a golden crescent moon. Even the villagers of Vane may witness it. But it is not Althena who is made manifest for just that second - though she could be mistaken so by iconography alone.

The Guardian of the Moon holds a hand out only briefly - enough for gravity around Rosaline to suddenly suspend itself long enough to try and float her into the air.

And then it clenches in again. Immense forces grip at Rosaline. Gravity clutches down around her limbs and body, failing her utterly. Even as Celesdue again fades to light, her power, channeled through Catenna, seeks to hold the Hellcat helpless in midair...!

GS: Catenna has attacked Rosaline Calice with Material - Merciless Queen!
GS: Catenna takes 12 damage from Toxin!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Garrett Stampede has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Pain and Suffering!
GS: Garrett Stampede has completed his action.
DC: MISS! Avril Vent Fleur completely evades Pain and Suffering from Garrett Stampede!
GS: CRITICAL! Noeline takes a solid hit from Garrett Stampede's Ashes of the Past for 184 hit points!
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Catenna's Material - Merciless Queen for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle and Shieldbreak! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
DC: MISS! Seraph Lanval completely evades Pain and Suffering from Garrett Stampede!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Beast has posed.

    The mask falls away, and the Beast of Lohgrin does not press her attack, after that first bite into Ida's shoulder. Despite having the Hellion right where any sensible attacker would want her, when she sees their face - her face - she just stops. Stops, those iron teeth only inches away from bedeviled flesh, flesh which pulls together without any further argument from the Beast. The mask falls away, and so too does the fierceness in those protective tones fall in an instant. Distress, alarm, concern: all these replace it, in descending order. "Ida?!"

    She has no lungs, to take in sharp breath. She has no face, to show her dismay. She has no hands, to reach out to her first mortal friend.

    She's not a good person.

    "N-no," says the Beast, and it is not forceful or defiant, this time. It is small, it is fragile, it is uncertain. This ancient, unknowable being stammers. "No, you are not - Ida -"

    She has no lungs to knock air out of, when Ida rises, shoves her back. "Ida -" She has no lungs with which to gasp, as the full strength of a tormented Hellion slams into her sternum-plate. "Ida-!!" She has no lungs with which to scream, as she is slammed, down, pieces scattering on the ground discordantly for a moment before they gather up underneath Ida again. Perhaps it's a mercy, the way her voice doesn't seem affected by the horrific violence inflicted upon her at all.

    Because suddenly, the Beast of Lohgrin, that sentinel who had braced against everything this Hellion had thrown at her... isn't defending herself at all.

    No lungs. No face. No hands. She has no way to express herself, but the shaking timbre of her voice. It is frightened - not of Ida, but for her. "... Ida, w-what - what is - please, you must explain..."

    It was hundreds of years ago, but she still remembers her voice so plainly, the desperation and the fear. 'Mama, look, I am like you! Listen to me, Mama!' She's been here before. She's stood here before. She's begged before, she's pleaded before. She's had no idea what to do before.

    'Something has gone horribly wrong! Let us go back, Mama!'

    It was hundreds of years ago, when last she spoke with such desperation and fear.

    "I-Ida - Ida - something has gone terribly wrong. Please, please... let us go back. You will speak to me of this method to purify Malevolence and I will help you fix this and we can stop this foolishness here and now!" She has no lungs with which to draw breath, and yet still the words pour out in a rush, as if she had to get them out before they burned with lack of air.

    But the Beast of Lohgrin cannot possibly suffer a lack of air; she is air, ineffable and constant. It's all her mind, her mind setting her to a rush, the panic of realising how little she understands, the terror of someone she knows being infused with such evil energy.

    She didn't know. She really, truly didn't know.

GS: Seraph Beast has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline is taken aback - both by Rosaline's outburst, and by Rosaline's tears. She shuts her eyes tight, and shakes her head.

"...I don't believe that. I think you are...or, at the very least, I think you have the potential to be. If you weren't, you wouldn't worry about holding back - you wouldn't worry about hurting people." She replies. Rosaline may not be in the right state of mind to respond to her, though, especially when their combined magic sends her flying into a building. Jacqueline winces sympathetically...but she soon finds herself wincing for an entirely different reason as Rosaline crashes back out of the building, leaving flames in her wake.

These flames billow and seek her and Catenna. Jacqueline attempts to defend herself - but these are flames of an entirely different kind. She feels like its burning away at something ahead of her, and she chokes back a gasp and she tries to fight it off.

It's difficult...but someone's voice draws her out of it.

Catenna. She hears her earnest entreatment to Rosaline...and then she sees that light - she sees Celesdue respond to Catenna's plea.

It gives her a spark of hope.

"...I'm sorry, Rosaline. I...I didn't mean to force my expectations on you. I just...I didn't want to hurt you." Jacqueline murmurs quietly. ...Even so, however...she's drawing out some bottles from her bags once more.

"I still don't. But...I meant what I said. I think you can be a good person. I really do! So...please don't hate me for this!" With that, Jacqueline mixes the bottles once more and then hurls it toward Rosaline. The moment its pulled into Celesdue's gravity, it'll erupt with electricity, like a bottled lightning storm.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Rosaline Calice with Apothecary's Lightning!
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes 13 damage from Toxin!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Apothecary's Lightning for 144 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

???

Hurts don't it?

Even this inner Fei is holding his head, trembling in pain. "Why," He asks. "Why does it hurt so much...?"

The boy reaches down and wraps his small fingers around his head. "Feeling the raw unfiltered emotions through malevolence takes some getting used to. You're barely awake. I was willing to carry that burden for you, but--"

The boy starts to lift Fei up but changes his mind and lets him drop to the ground.

"You've been trying to tune it out, pretend it isn't there. So I got to deal with it. I've traveled everywhere and no matter where I turned, the poison lurked in even the air we breathe."

HERE

Fei pants for breath, staring at Ida. He wasn't surprised by the reveal so he must've expected it. The clues were there, Fei just followed them, but even though he isn't surprised, he was hoping that it wasn't what he thought it was, that it was someone else but--then again--Ida already beat the snot out of him once. What is a second time?

He hears Avril's questions. They are good questions, really. His gaze shifts towards Beast who offered her protection even though they didn't even know each other. He lowers his head, and then he laughs.

"I can't believe we thought this place would be a vacation." Fei says. "We just brought it with us. It doesn't matter if we're on Lunar, or on Filgaia. Home is awful, here is awful..."

He laughs into his hand, tears dripping from his eyes as he struggles to stand. He can't quite manage it. He looks towards Seraph Beast. Another punch of pain hits him in the center of the forehead. Helplessness breeds helplessness, he realizes, in this moment.

???

"You're starting to understand, eh junior?"

Fei looks back to the boy and then back forward.

"I thought I could only understand others through destruction...but it just so turns out I'm not the only one who feels that way."

The boy sits back down in the chair, leaning back in it. "Enjoy letting that sink in. This time, you're the one who can't relate! But I can!! Me!! Because I know what it's like, thanks to you, thanks to that coward. I know what it feels like! You've only begun to feel it, but I've lived a thousand lifetimes of it!"

HERE

Is it Fei? Is it him? But he looks up, looks square in Ida's eyes and he says, simply, "You and me both."

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Lemina sees that Malevolence coming toward her, and her response is to slam her staff straight into the floor. Floorboards splinter as a bright white light emits from her, meeting the Malevolence and intertwining with it; it licks at her arms just barely, but it dissipates before it can really sink in, can really twist around and do what it wants.

The statue begins to rout, to plead, and Lemina winces a little bit, in spite of herself. It's... kind of heartbreaking to hear this, really. Nevertheless -- Lemina has hundreds of years of culture and tradition to defend, and that... has to take priority.

"... Just go," she half-pleads, at this point. "Get out." She considers whether to even attack -- and decides in the end that no, it's best if she, like Beast, gives Ida a chance to take that extended kindness.

GS: Lemina Ausa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    The magical water - sparkly, clean, and ever-flowing - corrupts to Garrett's considerable skill and influence as it hardens in form.
     The drunkard kicks his legs up and rolls backward onto his feet with an alacrity that has not been displayed prior as crystalized suffering and anguish - approximated as ice - crash all around him, splintering out into further regrets and lingering sentiments that bear strong resemblances to smaller shards of frozen water. The interesting visual factors of what just came from the white-haired woman's... blade-that-sometimes-has-a-blade is lost to the distortion of the ice-ifying. There's just so much of it, reflecting the depths of the anger of one man. Anger of a grave injustice, being spoken out loud out and about Lanval as he is but a rude eavesdropper on the drama.
     Lanval sways back as more of that ice splinters around him, largely without harm. From his vantage point as he drags his gourd back through the rope, he can see - hear - feel all the screaming and fury that carries over. It is beyond the great flames of the Mourning Nekomata, or the beating star-heart of the Unchained Devil. Though the Malevolence is much thinner in Vane than it is in a lot of other places, when it crops up in any significant quantity at all... somehow, it just seems louder for it.
     The laughing drunkard goes quiet as he takes in the dramas, the words. He doesn't quite understand what, exactly, is going on. Who is the knight Hellion avenging? Whose people does the dark-haired woman belong to? What is--
     He sees it. Up above, the shining spark of blue that manifests.
     ...The emergence of Celesdue, the Guardian of the Moon. A female figure on a crescent moon.
     Lanval's eyes open up in awe of what he sees. But... he realizes, soon after, no, that's not Her. He's seen Her. He remembers the day. What the hey is he even looking at...?
     ...
     Lanval strokes his beard, closes his eyes. He doesn't know what's going on, but he knows what he's here for, and what he's got to do.
     So he just lies back down and lets himself be out of Garrett's hair for a while. Lie back and snore. Sounds like whatever mortal things are going on, the dark-haried woman and the white-haired one know what makes him tick. He doesn't really need to talk up a piece in this. He just needs to do what comes natural.
     Which appears to be snoring, which helps nothing, ever.
     Until a soft glow of magic surrounds the prone portly wastrel's form, and a growing bubble of water seems to escape his nostril, growing ever bigger, ever brighter, ever closer---
     Closer? Yes, closer, for it escapes his nose and looks to drift towards where the blighted swordsman continues to let his emotions and doubts run rampant, where it will look to pop upon him with explosive (and wet) results.

GS: Seraph Lanval has activated a Force Action!
GS: Seraph Lanval has attacked Garrett Stampede with Sleepy Bubble!
GS: Seraph Lanval has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    "... yeah, I am," Noeline mutters as she dances backwards. It's something she's keenly aware of; she's just a scout - a spy - and was never exactly supposed to be a upfront warrior. By Metal Demon standards, she's at a disadvantage, something that was starkly apparent when they faced off against Berserk and needed, more or less, an army. Still, she holds her ground, her spear set defensively in place in front of her.

    Garrett's words reach her, though perhaps her answer is not exactly helpful: "And what fat lot of good would that do?" she scoffs automatically, practically unbidden. "If I'd laid down to die, nothing would have changed. Not an single iota of a difference. And I dare say you'd just hate me even more because of it," she adds with a mirthless snort - that becomes a bark of astonished, dry laughter as the Malevolence takes hold, as Garrett proclaims there are no sick and young. "--excuse me-- have you even seen Riese as of late?!"

    Even that isn't enough to set her off balance; she's prepared when the wave of Malevolent energy suddenly washes over her, gritting her teeth against the clawing, cloying sensation. Attempting to defend against it is useless; instead, she does her best to simply steel her mind against the grasping darkness. Noeline's always put a great deal of stock in knowing herself, knowing her own mind - but there's still regret there, regret over what she could and couldn't do for Arctica and Adlehyde. It's an anchor for the Malevolence to latch onto, and it sears across her, sending her scattering backwards as her armor smokes.

    Her spear-tip hits ground, and she leans on the shaft for long enough to concentrate on the feeling of the Medium within her, using it as a guide; the air around her blurs a little as she channels the Guardian's power, using it as a momentary shield with which to get her bearings again. Above her, there is a light that captures the Seraph's attention; nearby, Avril is looking at her with consternation, and she feels a bit of appreciation for that much.

    Garrett's yell indicates the battle may be over, and she can't find it within herself to press the attack. She's said a little, at least - something got through, as she made her feelings on Arctica clear. Maybe it's a start. "... kill Alhazred and you'll have my thanks, at the very least," she mutters, some of her fire gone.

GS: Noeline has attacked Noeline with If The World Turns Against Us!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Noeline heals Noeline! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida staggers back as the statue just comes apart beneath her fists. She knows, on some level, that it's not the end for the Beast of Lohgrin, but God, it feels like it might as well be. Ida stands there as the Seraph pulls herself together, her legs rubbery beneath her. She tries to speak, but her mouth can't form the words. The Malevolent star in her chest flares violently, ejecting Malevolence like plumes of coronal mass. You didn't need to do this. But this is how it worked out, didn't it? You had to have this, because anyone denying you power is holding you down. Is that it?

    'Ida! Rosa! Are we done here yet?'

    Ida doesn't answer, immediately. "Beast," she whispers. "I--" She liked it when they were just two travelers on the road to Pendrago and she didn't have to worry about the Trial Knight or the Siegfried or Harken or Alhazred or Gebler or whether or not she could ever be with the man she loved or feeling helpless and hopeless or being forced to be what everyone else demanded she be.

    Ida can't find the words. She doesn't answer Garrett, but she might as well have. With Fei clutching at his head--something Ida will only realize in the aftermath, and feel awful about--and Lemina and Beast displaying forbearance, now is as good a time as any.

    Ida runs.

    That's right, coward. Run.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre H. Lorentz is in pain.

That's a bit of an understatement. The shaman's tremendous outpouring of shear force unfortunately resulted in a moment where he was forced to take a moment and catch his breath. For that briefest of moments, he was on the back foot. Vulnerable to a sudden attack.

And Rosaline, in all her wrath, decided to deliver just that.

Cyre's eyes go wide a split second before the hellion's claw hits home. She can see the flash of fear and defiance in his gaze before her talons slip through the button-down gap in his shirt and plunge deep into the hollow of his chest. A wet, gasping wheeze accompanies a sudden tide of red that erupts from his throat and flows down his neck.

From her vantage point, her unique position there, Rosaline can see the life drain from the shaman's eyes as his body falls limp around her arm.

...

...

There is a quickening.

The winds of Lunar howl their fury. Cataclysmic tempest gales surge out from the gaping hole near the shaman's heart. There. Near the tip of her claw, a runic tablet has been shoved deep into the hollow of Cyre's chest. The flesh closes around it, fusing together, knitting, fusing, and then--

A hand, larger than it aught to be, seizes around her wrist.

The eyes of the dying man are gone. Rosaline's gaze is met by a different one now. As the light of glorious Celesdue pours down from the heavens, winds of another, much more wrathful kind of divinity stir with renewed fury.

"Fool," a voice rumbles in the wind. The half-bestial thing that was a dying shaman lunges forward with a claw of its own, driving those divine winds through the Hellion's breast, "Your holding back is proof of your kindness. Deny it all you like. You hurt yourself more than any wound you can inflict on us."

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    The trailing edge of the beam whip hisses in the air, lingering sun-bright for an instant.
    Then it's simply gone, as if it had never been.

    Avril treads back a step, lifting that empty hilt heavenwards. An eyeblink, and there the blade holds once again, lifted in what is at once a challenge, a guard, and a pivot point -- a place from where one form melds into the next.

    "Then you do not know the ones you name your enemy, if you think them thus," Avril declares, gazing at the man once called Jack from beyond her blade. "It is said of battle, those who do not know their enemy are doomed to suffer a defeat, one for each and every victory they may claim. Are you prepared for such loss, Garrett?"

    It's a flicker of forewarning, a hint of what is to come. Some movement of the blade -- some churn of the Malevolence along the weapon's edge -- serves as suggestion to Avril (a memory/familiarity: has she seen something like this before? faced someone in battle like this once?) of what is to come. Her body tenses half-seconds before the blade sweeps out and dredges up those shades from the past; she simply leaps, soaring overhead to land in a neat crouch to the far side of Garrett and Noeline.

    Absolute Zero dips and swings up in a guard, but here she halts rather than drive onwards again into melee with the Hellion-knight; she instead, blade at the ready, draws out an octagonal artifact from the depths of her gown and raises it with her bloodied left hand. "Lucadia. Please, hear me."

    It shines.

    Briefly there is the impression of a great wave wall rising in a ghostly crash. The scent of the ocean.
    And there as it parts, a small fragment of the ocean's endurance, for her and Noeline.

    "Noeline... allow me."

    Swordplay may be her forte, but she can at least offer her support in this, as the battle appears to reach its point of potential ebb.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Rosaline Calice with Tornado Fang!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes 7 damage from Poison!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Tidal Wall!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Noeline with Tidal Wall!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Tidal Wall for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Tidal Wall for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! Statuses applied to Noeline!
GS: CRITICAL! Rosaline Calice takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Tornado Fang for 165 hit points!
GS: Mute! Statuses applied to Rosaline Calice!
GS: Hyper and Quick! Statuses applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Rosaline Calice enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Garrett Stampede critically Guards a hit from Seraph Lanval's Sleepy Bubble for 23 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Beast has posed.

    'Beast, I--'

    So much.

    So much, in those two words.

    They are not a scream. They are not senseless, wordless. They come from - from a person. A person with a mind and -

    - and a horrific capacity for violence, reminds that vicious part of her mind, her good sense from years of fighting bestial Hellions. Does it matter if the ones who were human can think? Does it matter if they cry? She attacked these two strangers. Perhaps she would have killed them. Certainly she was associated with that other Hellion who blew a hole in the library. How many could have been hurt, there? How many have they already hurt, working together like this? Planning these things? This is the terrible truth of an intelligent Hellion - not that they can be saved but that they are dangerous.

    The Beast of Lohgrin knows this.

    And yet. And yet.

    ... and yet.

    If she could turn back time - if she could go back - if she could save her -

    "Ida," calls the Beast of Lohgrin to her retreating form, and she does not have lungs to be winded, cannot be out of breath. The words carry on the air. "Ida, I will find you..!"

    It is desperation, it is belief, it is certainty.

    But is she finding Ida to save her - or to save the world from her?

    That voice is so distant, behind Ida, because the Beast of Lohgrin doesn't have the will to stand, doesn't have the will to follow. She so desperately doesn't want to know which one it is, in this moment.

    She wants to believe. She wants them to be safe.

    She wants... she wants...

    Those headplates settle on the ground, with a light clatter. It seems the Beast of Lohgrin is quite done.

<Pose Tracker> Garrett Stampede has posed.


Garrett jumps back from the bubble of...something...that comes from the strange drunk's nose. There is a suprised and slightly unhappy look on his face as he does so. "...you are a strange little man..." He mutters.

But then Ida is running, and Rosa is ghosting, and Garrett smirks slightly. "And now, its been fun. But it looks like I need to leave as well. So..." And he blows a shrill whistle.

The beast that crashes though a stall looks like a warhorse of impressive size, with impressive armor. But there is something unnatural about the beast. Mostly because it can hardly be seen under all that armor.

"Noeline, give Reisenlied my best." He says mockingly as he swings into the saddle. From there he salutes Avril with a casual flick of his blade. "Lady," He drawls. "We should meet for a drink sometime. When you don't feel the need to kill me."

Dark amusement dances in his eyes. "And strange little man." A pause. A shrug. "Stay strange."

With that, and a backwards wave towards the rest of the combatants standing shocked in the midst of the Hellion's appearance he hurls forwards on the charger.

...exiting though a different wall. And stall.

...because property damage is always the best idea.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei stands and watches after Ida. He doesn't call out to her. It may be cruel but the last thing he can handle right now is more of--of THAT. He closes his eyes for a moment and then looks once more towards the battle between Garrett and the others. To a man who has lost everything, what can you really say? The scars are forever.

But he ultimately approaches Seraph Beast, reaches up, and tries to awkwardly pat one of her headplates.

"Thanks for the help," He says, hesitantly before looking back after Ida and then back to Seraph Beast.

"I'm...glad she made a friend here."

He then starts walking away himself, having spent the remainder of his good will on the total stranger.

<Pose Tracker> Lemina Ausa has posed.

Lemina... does not try to comfort a sad statue. That would be weird. Right now, honestly, she simultaneously really wants to go back to napping and really feels way too keyed up to nap.

She settles for slumping against the ruined wall of the library looking totally miserable.

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline plunges her claw into Cyre's chest. The feeling is exilarating, the rush of blood satisfying something primal within her. She falls on her feet and draws her claws back out, but celebration turns to horror as she realizes what she has just done.

She just...

She just came here to pick up some books.

She had wanted to burn her bridges, to leave behind the people she couldn't help but hurt, again and again. But every time, they came back to her, pleading. And by helping Lunata, a part of her had let her foolishly hope again, stirred the flames of her inner conflict.

And now they fan out, threatening to cause another Krosse guard station incident.

But even through the fire and the flames of Rosaline's despair, Catenna pleads in her favor, in favor of love. She calls upon a miracle. Rosaline has seen, or at least glimpsed this one before, but even amidst her rage and pain, the beastwoman can't help but look up. She has come to detest the Guardians, but the beauty she sees over the city is undeniable. Which makes it hurt all the more, in a sense.

She struggles against gravity's suspension, but it's already too late. Already, she is floating in mid-air, trying to pull herself away, but she has nothing to hold on to. She sees Cyre undergoing his transformation, having life gifted back to him by his own patron Guardian. She hisses and spits, her gratitude and regret mixed with jealousy and spite.

Jacqueline fights through the flames as well, and even apologizes to Rosaline. She still believes the beastwoman can be a good person, though she knows by now that even words are rarely enough to tame a Hellion, and hurls another potent concoction at Rosaline. Electricity courses through her, racking her body with pain and paralyzing her further.

Cyre's transformation is complete. He grabs her wrist, calls her a fool. Argues for her kindness. And then... he pays her attack back in kind, driving a claw through her chest, infusing it with a powerful gust of wind.

The flames around her die down.

She drops to the ground.

She isn't dead. She isn't dead and they know it. Her curse won't let her die so easily, for better and for worse. She puts a hand to her chest, gasping for air, her skin white as a sheet, and already her own skin is knitting back. She looks up, hazily. Celesdue and Fengalon are made manifest before her. While all she can rely on is... Herself, really.

But just then, Garrett calls for a retreat, which at the very least reminds her she isn't alone. She continues to refuse the kindness offered to her by the others, even as weakened as she is, but this, at least, brings her back to some semblance of her senses.

"I," she rasps, backing away towards the shadows of a nearby sidestreet, "I'm s..."

She trails off, only mouthing the word before she loses herself in the fallen city once again.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Lanval has plenty of time to look. Catenna's power cannot keep Celesdue here indefinitely... but she seems, somehow, more clearly-defined than ever here, the aura of PRESENCE palpably felt before those butterfly wings close and the Guardian's presence begins to fade from the senses.

As for Catenna, she can feel the sadness roiling off of Seraph Beast. All she wants to do is run over and hug her.

But she can't do it. Her soul is on fire right now. And her focus has been diverted by something else. As Cyre is struck, Catenna widens her eyes at the sight of him going limp and lifeless against Rosaline's talonious strike.

"CYRE!!!" she shrieks, her voice peaking with absolute horror until it actually cracks. She reaches out towards him with a grasping hand, as if she could somehow save his life when it's already been reft from him, even in her weakened state. "No," she sobs in disbelief as the tears begin to flow.

But Fengalon is with him. The tears continue to flow down Catenna's cheeks, but they're tears of relief and amazement at the sight of the man dearer to her than any other surging back to life - and laying into Rosaline Calice, a good woman enslaved by her most horrible impulses, by the dark power endemic to Lunar.

Even love is tempered here by horror and despair. A good man brought to the brink of death by a good woman. A good woman driven to madness and rage by the hideous violet fuel that feeds her doubts. Doubts not alien to her. Fears she can understand.

She doesn't pursue the escaping Rosaline; she throws a look after her, though. It's all she can spare as she rushes towards Cyre, stumbling as she dashes across the scorched and battered patch of land they were fighting on. The normally dignified priestess nearly trips. She rights herself, staggering the last way towards the Nahual of Fengalon.

When Rosaline does look back, she'll see Catenna rushing to cradle Cyre in her arms and bury her face in his shoulder for a moment. She draws him in close as she begins to sink to her knees, to guide him with her and make sure he's alive.

The Moon Shaman, her lover in her arms, looks one last time in the direction Rosaline fled. There is no accusation in those eyes.

Just a raw, horrified sadness.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    The Garrett-christened 'strange little man' lies where he does as chaos and emotion continue to boil in the aftermath of the attacking Hellions calling for a retreat. He doesn't go out of his way to draw further attention to himself from the others he fought alongside. He just... is. A strange, fat, drunken lout who just happened to come by, intrude on some conflict whose overall depth he does not appear to comprehend, all in the name of...
     "Can't shay I know for shure 'bout their livesh," Lanval says to himself, being company to just... so many stories, so many tragedies, all unfolding right here... but he seems confident and optimistic about one thing.
     "But for here... they'll take care of the resht." Lanval murmurs almost inaudibly. "Bet they're prob'ly here right 'bout--"
     Two Seraphim emerge from elsewhere around Vane. One male, one female, going by appearances. The former has a more muted orange color scheme to go with his clean, simple clothing for his visual manifestation. The latter, a more brilliant yellow, who follows equally non-showy clothing tastes beyond the use of their predominant colorations in which to determine their elemental affiliations.
     Earth and Lightning, respectively.
     Their expressions are aggressively neutral, their emotions well-controlled. The lingering Malevolence from the Hellions' presence starts to thin out. Though their eyes betray almost no emotion to speak of, it is unquestionable that the fat, blue-clad barefoot Seraphim presently lying on the ground has their attention.
     Lanval turns where he rests, looking up to them. He is deathly silent. No silly laughter, no relaxed lounging.
     The other two Seraphim extend hands. The Earth Seraphim's left, the Lightning Seraphim's right.
          "Leave."
               "Leave."
     Blasts of rock and lightning shower the Water Seraphim. The former pushes him away. The latter jolts him back upright. Lanval, helped up to his feet in the rudest and most painful way possible, takes off in an actual, honest-to-Goddess proper jog before slowing his steps to a more careful, measured walk away from Vane.
     The other two Seraphim stand their ground and watch the direction Lanval leaves from, before they disappear in brilliant lights of a duller yellow and a brighter yellow to tend to some other part of Vane.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline can tell that Rosaline isn't dead...though for a brief, horrific moment, it looks like she might be. Jacqueline can hear the call to retreat, and when Rosaline answers it...

She doesn't follow her, or try to stop her. She just looks at her, with those sad, apologetic eyes.

...This'll probably make things a little awkward when they get around to discussing payment for Lunata's ritual.

But she does not linger. Instead, she hurries over to where Catenna is cradling Cyre, rooting through her bags as she does so.

"Catenna, how is he? We need to stabilize him quickly and get him back to the Carakin, just in case he needs further treatment." She says. ...She's, admittedly, feeling a little numb at the moment. The best she can do is just...focus on what needs to be done, here and now.

And what needed to be done was saving the life of a friend.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

There's tragedy in this. That's all it is. Tragedy. Malevolence might be some aspect of humanity gone absolutely out of control, but that's exactly the problem. When it compels good people to succumb to their darker emotions, it proves exactly why humanity's greatest enemy is ultimately itself.

Cyre watches with the tiger-god's eyes as Rosaline flees into the city. He says nothing as she vanishes into the streets, or as Catenna runs up to take him into her arms. This is for good reason. As the Cyre abandons the shintai, he falls limp into Catenna's embrace, with a massive, sucking chest wound only barely healed to the point where it will not be immediately lethal. A medium thrums with power at the center of the wound.

Fengalon saved his life-- but only just barely.

The rest is up to his friends.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Beast has posed.

    One of the mortals who fought alongside her comforts her; the other does not. So it's Fei, who gets the unsettling sensation that the light green light which floods the joints of those plates and those hollow eyesockets is watching him.

    "I am... sorry I misjudged this situation. Your intuitions, I suppose... were quite correct." Her voice is quiet, now; wounded, in ways her iron body cannot be.

    He's glad she made a friend.

    "I- I thought..." But her voice wavers, fades, and he walks away.

    She would have been happy, to simply lie there. Content, to wallow in her despair.

    But she hears Catenna's voice, horrified and piercing. The Beast of Lohgrin bids her winds pick herself up - and she does, slowly, lumbering. She cannot possibly be injured, without flesh, and yet her spirit...

    Her spirit has been dealt a terrible blow.

    As a spirit, it hurts so much more than blood ever could.

    Metal clinks as the Beast of Lohgrin rushes out - just in time to see two unknown Seraphim evicting a third. It's a story she doesn't know, a story she cannot question, because those hollow eyes fall on Cyre and Catenna, the approaching Jaqueline. She hurries over, as quickly as she can.

    She hasn't done this for so long. She hasn't healed for so long. It just doesn't work for her. She's just not good at it. She just - can't - save - anyone.

    But there is a hole in Cyre, a hole where there oughtn't be.

    "Please, let me help," says the Beast of Lohgrin, and it is a plea to herself and it is an offer to them both.

    She does not have lungs, with which to take a suspenseful breath. She just summons the breeze, gentle and merciful. Cyre is one with the wind; surely she can help him. Surely, if no one else, she could help him.

    It wavers. It is uncertain. She pours more into the Seraphic arte, focuses.

    ... and maybe she helps. Hopefully, she helps.

    And when she's done, when they're all done helping him, she'll help to carry him back to their Caravan in her broad saddle. That, at least, she can offer with confidence.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

He's alive. He's alive, thank Celesdue. But barely. There is a chance, but a faint one. Catenna lowers her head for a moment to sob a few sobs into Cyre's shoulder. A wound that deep-- she feels so damned helpless to do anything about it, even with the power of Lucadia at her fingertips.

When she lifts her head again, she draws in a breath to try and compose herself. It sounds more like a sniffle. "He is dying," she manages, her voice small.

She fumbles for her second Medium - but the Beast of Lohgrin, burdened already by so much sadness, is there. Catenna clutches the stone tablet of Lucadia, swallowing a lump in her throat and nodding to the other sad entity among them.

"Thank you," she murmurs. "We must...." She trails off. The Beast knows what must be done, even through the pain she must be feeling. Catenna wants so, so much to embrace her and tell her that it will be okay.

But not yet. Not until Cyre survives.

The Beast's breeze blows. As it does, Catenna bows her head and touches her Medium to Cyre's body - and that breeze is joined by a tender whisper of sea air, the scent of crisp water and warm sunshine mingling with a subtle sound like the surf coming in and washing across the sand, like a gentle wave rolling across the ocean surface. Little beads of magical water stream across Cyre's wound, beginning to mend flesh and cleanse dark blood.

Between Beast and Catenna, the power is... enough to keep Cyre from dying on the spot. Enough to stabilize him. Enough to ensure they can get him to the CaraKin.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It is as Jacqueline is rummaging through her bags that someone familiar appears - the Beast of Lohgrin in all her metallic glory. With a nod Jacqueline steps aside. If she believes she can do something, Jacqueline will give her that chance.

And she does, but she isn't alone. Jacqueline watches as Catenna calls upon the power of Lucadia.

"...Thank you, Beast. We're in your debt." She says and then, once Cyre is properly situated, will lead the way back to the Carakin.

This was all she could do, now.