2019-08-30: The Land Bleeds

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==============================<* Djose Temple *>==============================

Djose Temple is one of the Temples of Yevon, though unlike some, it is near no settlement. A small refugee camp has appeared near Djose Temple in the wake of the failure of Operation Mi'ihen. At the very northern edge of Mushroom Rock Road, it is surrounded by the tall, stacked mushroom-like cliffs.

The refugee camp is built around a small outpost; tents and temporary buildings make it up. The Temple itself is often encased in rock, and requires lightning-aspected mana to open it. That makes the rocks around it fly out, and unveil the structure.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ohpdy99kEc
DC: Belize switches forms to Summoner Belize!
DC: Noeline switches forms to Chevalier of Wayside!
DC: Catenna switches forms to Moon Shaman Catenna!
DC: Mariel switches forms to Herbalist Mariel!
DC: Riesenlied switches forms to Heritor of Wayside!
DC: Rikku switches forms to The Merriest!
DC: White Knight Leo switches forms to White Knight Leo!
DC: Elvis switches forms to THE PROFESSOR!
<Pose Tracker> Blue Master Lunn has posed.

It is not the full might of Althena's Guard that comes to Djose Temple.

It is, instead, a small strike force. An elite group of Neo-Vane mages, which is flanked by some of the finest of the Guard, knights from Glenwood, and even a handful of disciples of the Blue Dragon Fist. There is a small magical platform, with a trio of mages, which floats up first.

A former Crusader spots it flying down the road -- and then the group of Guard coming after. At their head is a man with greying hair, a drooping mustache, and a blue gi on. Blue Master Lunn leads the way, stalking forward with a glower.

"We will protect the mages at all cost!" he says. "Secure the area. Let us see what this new device of Borgan's can do...!"

For the Guard present, the "device" is familiar: suspended on the platform, floating up above, is a wooden rod. It has feathers and charms, marking it as a Baskar Sealing Rod, and yet there are runes and metal workings now added to it. The trio of mages hold their hands out.

The rod begins to glow -- and then a pulse of light erupts from around the Temple. Then, more tellingly, a massive barrier appears overhead.

Lunn stops before the refugee camp. Then, he bellows at them: "Clear out! We of Althena's Chosen must secure this area, to enact the will of the Goddess."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Standing close for now to the man in the blue gi, the Duchess Alathfar steps along, armored but not slowed by it. A pair of thick-bladed swords share a sheath at her hip; a number of pockets conceal weapons of other kind. Her noble crest is prominent, naturally...

And she glances to the 'device', as Lunn directs people forward--scowls, and shakes her head. "All right," she says, "One nerd shield, coming right up." ...She says this mostly under her breath. Mostly.

The small, blonde woman is the picture of youth by comparison to the Blue Master though, and the green accents of her attire stand out well. ...About as well as her strange eyes, as her sharp teeth--

Those not from Spira may well know Kaguya, after all, for other reasons completely. She raises her voice--

"You heard him! Stay out of the way, and you don't need to be harmed!" Pulling her weapons, Kaguya splits one into each hand, adopting a light martial stance, hands close to the body, movements difficult to read with how loose she seems.

"Really going to encourage you to take the out while you can. I don't have time to go easy on folks today."

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Lunn is not the only Hero here. White Knight Leo rides alongside him, perched atop one of the chocobos the Guard has claimed for their own. Straight-backed and grim-faced, the Beastman is the spitting image of a resolute commander. He gazes out at the tents, and at the people gathered beneath them--Spiran civilians, most of them displaced by the fall of Luca. Leo swallows. Doubt is poison, he reminds himself. All he and the others need is a little time, then the people can resume their lives.

        Leo pulls his foot from the stirrup, swings his leg across his bird's back, and dismounts. A squire takes the chocobo's reins for him as he continues on foot, walking forwards to stand beside the platform. Light gleams off his horn, and the metal on his uniform. As the field snaps into place, Leo allows himself a grim little smile. "It will do," he says, to Lunn. Kaguya's comment causes him to furrow his brow. "Your Eminence," Leo says, "I trust you will let your sense of virtue guide you."

        Oh Leo, no.

DC: Ena switches forms to Aspiring Summoner Ena!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

 It wouldn't be the Guards if they didn't have at least one healer on the scene. Actually, knowing how likely this might turn into a fight, Skylr suspects that there's a squad of fellow healers around a corner somewhere, conveniently dressed up as chocobos. Her quarterstaff is held in front of her at a horizontal angle, her bow on her back as always. She's bristling with weaponry.
 
 ... and a desire to not be here, but, hey. Once A Guard, Always A Guard.
 
 Oo-rah.
 
 "Please stand back. It's for the best." Skylr urges everyone, softly.

<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

Was Kaguya still going for this odd ruse with the Althena's Guard? So be it. He can keep going with it as long as needed.

"What would be the best use of my abilities be? I can barricade the road if need be, though I wouldn't want to impede your friend's efforts," states Elvis, sitting nearby Kaguya. The man has a pile of... let's jsut say something. It looks jagged and bone-like, like an ancient fossil entombed in stone. A portion of a dinosaur-like skull is in the stone, shaved smooth by hand, time or mysterious forces.

It emits an ominous aura.

Elvis seems to be documenting something about it in a giant, metalbound tome. The size of it cleanly fits his giantesque hands though others may need to wear it like a backpack with straps to move it.

"According to what I have gleamed, the creature hunted has been ritualistically defeated numerous times, albeit temporarily each time. A most ineffective method, then." He looks to the temple. "These locations are involved in the process. Perhaps I can learn something within its depths to help us. There isn't a problem I cannot solve!" Elvis boasts, holding a quill high.

"...Except find Carol..." The uplifting self turns to moping for a few seconds. "No! Can't get distracted now..." He continues to scribble. "Just say the word and I will upturn the road for you all," he calls over to Leo and Lunn with a louder voice. He remains stationary for now.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan has a Lot of Other Things On His Mind Right Now, but getting tapped for something a little more intense than just patrolling conquered territory probably isn't the worst thing for his jangling nerves. Should be be thinking more carefully about what he does and doesn't want to do, rather than mindlessly following orders? ... ... probably! But that's a problem for future Ivan to deal with, if he's still alive.

In the meantime, they've got a morally dubious sealing ritual to protect.

He takes note of Kaguya trying to intimidate people into just staying back, and decides to try to back that up with some threatening pyrotechnics, raising his hands out to either side and summoning an unstable miniature fireball over each that swirls round a bit before shuddering and exploding with a warning boom.

DC: Kaguya Alathfar switches forms to Damsel of Distress Kaguya!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied has long stressed about this day.

        In the wake of the incoming Guard, small and elite as their force is, panic has freshly onset onto the refugees. And in the wake of this, similarly, the worst-realised fears of the Outreach and their allies have been realised. As Lunn brings his voice up and tells them to clear out.

        The Azadians and other Outreach have been busy at work setting up ramps to get as many people onboard the Fereshte, parked not terribly far from Djose Temple, to get them out of the path of the Guard's march. The Dragon-headed airship is overloaded, and yet they have no more choice anymore -- there was no path on land away for the refugees. Yet in the middle of this...

        Ever since she came to Spira.

        Ever since she was received warmly by the Al Bhed aboard the Carnot. Ever since she was warmly received by the people of Besaid, then Kilika...

        Then the Guard came, and they had to flee, all of them. From occupation in the Island of Kilika, to Luca... and then war came to Luca as well, and they further fled, joined by even more displaced people. There were many that have joined their ranks from Luca, and yet... and yet...

        Riesenlied has long stressed about this outcome.

        Where next were they to run to? To Besaid, and overcrowd a small community with too many people? To Bevelle, risking the health of so many who can't pass through such dangerous places like the Thunder Plains, like the elderly and ill?

        They were close to the breaking point.

        She has been running... all this time...

        But...

        Onboard the Fereshte, Janey whips her head around and frantically beckons as she pushes up an elderly woman up her wheelchair. "Where's mom?!"

        Mikaia frowns and glances around. "I--I don't know... she's..." Her face falls. "She... she never left the Temple."

        Janey's face drops to a gawk as well as she turns her head around. "Oooooooooh fudgeknock--"

        DJOSE TEMPLE

        Riesenlied isn't running anymore.

        She's parked her wheelchair in front of one of the bridges that lead to the Temple. She's breathing laboriously, pale as a sheet and sweating from the fever building inside her body. She cups her mouth and stares on in horror as she sees the Sealing Rod -- it has been a long time since she last saw one. How was it that they now--

        The pulse of light erupts over the temple and surrounds it. She grimaces, eyes lowering. "No more..."

        She uncorks one of the bottles that Jacqueline has given her, that Mikaia has been desperately trying to reproduce. A concoction that lets her have her Walking Days, to hobble around and try to exercise on her legs...

        But being able to limp around is a far cry from being able to fight.

        "No more..." she whispers, fighting back her tears. She quaffs the bottle, drinking the blue liquid in one gulp -- cupping her mouth to choke back the coughing. She presses her palm to the armrest and pushes herself up-- her knees buckle, her calves scream and ache...

        She collapses back down to her chair.

        It's no use. Even with the dosage, she can't muster enough strength to stand. She winces a little as she hears the alchemist's warnings on overdosing, but uncorks a second bottle -- and forces that down too. She wants to gag and ratch even further. Another attempt. As she pushes herself. Slowly, laboriously, painfully--

        "They cannot... run any further. Just how long... do you want to add to their grief? The people of Luca... the people of Kilika... and everyone caught inbetween..."

        She finally, finally makes it up to her feet. She remembers Ragnell's words. The difference betwen someone who's doing... and someone who's just trying. Perhaps she was a fool in the latter category in the end.

        She looks to Lunn, to everyone assembled, face stricken with pain. A look of pain Kaguya and Elvis both are too familiar with, as she looks towards her daughter and the scientist. She doesn't want to have to confront her right now. It's painful... but nothing about this isn't painful. Towards Leo, too, eyes flickering as she tries to appeal to his inner good. She does not know Skylr, but... she knows Ivan. And something hurts deep in her with that.

        "There is nowhere else these people have to clear out to. Not without risking and hurting the most vulnerable. The elderly. The sick. The injured. They're starved, they're weak, they're exhausted, exposed to the elements. We are at our breaking point.

        Kaguya... Sentinel Elvis. White Knight Leo. Blue Master Lunn. Everyone. Please... stop this.

        Please.

        Leave the people the Guard has displaced be. That is all I am asking."

DC: Marivel Armitage switches forms to Crimson Noble Marivel!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel has been interested in this thing the Guard is doing.

'Interested' is an understatement. She managed to gain access to the exterior of the temple, once but was promptly arrested by the Guard; only the intercession of the Carakin, and a convenient murder, got her out.

(Mariel did not commit the murder. She is staunchly opposed to that kind of thing.)

She wasn't able to get back to the Temple to find out if she saw what she thought she saw. But when she heard that another Temple was underattack, and her not that far away - well. She thought she might learn what she needed to from that. And, more - there's the refugees to worry about.

Mariel is rarely found on the battlefield until the battle is over. She is a medic; she treats the wounded as they're brought to her. She has more decades of experience as an herbalist and a surgeon than most of the humans have years. But she has no experience as a soldier. Most of the combat experience she has is running away from it. She is not well-suited to defending the refugees - but if there is anything else she can do, she has to do it.

Her inexperience may be why she seems a little oblivious to danger as she watches the platform go up from the relative safety of underbrush, with the aid of a cunningly designed set of folding binoculars that look a little too advanced to be Filgaian. This is because they predate the Day of Collapse - not because they are excavated but because Mariel has owned them for seven hundred years. She recieved them as a gift, for birdwatching.

As she sees the Rod, Mariel frowns. She could tell it was in use, but it's no better to have confirmation. Still, at this distance, she can't tell much about it other than it is powered - and she could have told that with no knowledge at all, given the barrier.

She tracks downward to look at the soldiers before folding the binoculars up - they get really small - and tucking them back in their case, in a side pocket of her satchel. "There aren't as many as I expected," she says, a little uncertainly. "I thought they would bring a whole army... I would like to get closer and see what I can."

Mariel ducks out of the underbrush, which doesn't impede her at all despite being a thorny bush - there are no snags on that robe of hers - and starts to circle around, ducking behind trees and bushes - she has a preference for greenery as cover rather than, say, rocks. She isn't trying to get in the Guards' way, but that may not be something they care about if they spot her.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

There were sightings of movements from Althena's Guard. Rather than heading towards the bulk of Yevon's forces... they were heading here. Toward the refugee camp the Caravan Kinship and the Wayside Outreach were maintaining, to look after those displaced by the war.

Jacqueline takes a deep breath. It looked like Mariel's fears were accurate. She had hoped this place would be safe, but...it may be that there was no safety anywhere in Spira.

Jacqueline takes a deep breath, and gives an order - while others pile into the Fereshte with the help of the Wayside Outreach, she orders some able-bodied individuals to help the refugees who are less capable of handling ocean travel into the Carakin, so that they can evacuated swiftly should the worst come to pass.

And then, she looks toward Riese. There's sympathy in Jacqueline's eyes. She knows how difficult this must be.

"...Be careful with that, okay...?" She warns.

With that done, she marches out to meet the members of Althena's Guard who have come here today, alongside Riesenlied and the others. Her stance isn't aggressive, though she is dressed in her more protective adventuring gear. There's a sharp intake of breath at the sight of Blue Master Lunn in particular, and the Sealing Rod they invoke, but she stands strong.

"...Please." She pleads. "These people have been through enough, haven't they? You've forced them to relocate once before already."

Will they listen? She isn't sure...but she can't acquiesce to their demands. She might not want anything with their war, but she couldn't just stand aside, either - even if just to make sure there was enough time to get the refugees out safely.

"If there is any kindness, any mercy left in your hearts, then please turn back, go the way you came, and leave these people alone. Does Althena truly wish this?" She says.

She just had to hope everyone would be okay...

She tries, very hard, not to look over in the direction Mariel is currently running off to, so as to not draw attention to her. ...But she can't help but worry about her, at the same time.

<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

GUADOSALAM

Some of the tunnels can be downright claustrophobic, especially in the commercial district, especially at peak shopping times.

When Yuna stops abruptly in the middle of the path, some unfortunate local slams right into her, unable to stop in time. It isn't at all their fault, but they're still treated to a low warning growl by an immediately-looming Kimahri, who reached out with a gigantic forearm to catch his ward before she could fall.

Normally she would immediately turn and apologize, diffusing the tension and reassuring everyone that any mishap was all her fault (rarely true, but this time, it is). But instead she doesn't react at all. Her lids have drooped halfway down, and the eyes behind them are cloudy with distance.

Then, all at once, she returns to the present.

"Djose," she exhales. Squirming within Kimahri's grip, she cranes her neck up to look at him, searching his face with inexplicable urgency. "It's... hard for me to explain, but... we have to go... right away. As fast as we can."

Back on her own feet, she sways, then inhales sharply, summoning an untapped reserve. Lifting her chin to a more composed angle, she squares her jaw and shoulders.

"Right now."

The local is still stammering; the crowd that has gathered, murmurs. Yuna's halfway down the block before the ducks finish eating dots across the surface of her mind.

"!"

She spins, she bows. Blue and pink stream and swirl.

"Sir, I'm so terribly sorry!"

---

NOW

Light blooms in the sky, and Yuna emerges from Djose Temple at a run, confusion and comprehension warring for primacy on her features. Finally she knows why she was called here. And yet, she still doesn't understand at all, not beyond the fact that through some mysterious, magical means, the temple is under attack.

"What could it be?" she asks Rikku, bewildered.

The summoner wiggles her fingers cautiously, watching the way the strange sky-radiance runneth over and pours down -- she casts strange shadows -- but it doesn't hurt. It's academic anyway; she rushed straight into it before she even knew it was there.

Now she rushes OUT of it, past the edge of the light, just in time to hear Lunn bellow at the refugees, and Kaguya threaten them.

When someone shows you who she is, believe her:

"Leave them alone!" shouts one of Spira's Most Wanted, at least on one side of the conflict.

Not leave the temple alone.

It's the people who are, immediately and instinctively, Yuna's first concern. And the people are who she interposes herself between, arms spread wide. Back to them.

Face to the Guard.

"You made these people homeless once already. You must not drive them away from the only home they have left -- the home the Wayside Outreach has made."

She inclines her head at Riesenlied's heartfelt words, at Jacqueline's, struck by their shared truth.

"Please," she agrees. But there's a firmness in her voice that belies the statement -- it is not a request. "No more."

It is a promise.

<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

They approach the refugee camp, the floating mages and their martial-artist allies. "Clear out! We of Althena's Chosen must secure this area, to enact the will of the Goddess," their leader roars.

Well, Violet can only think of one response to that. She bears no love for the Guard or their prudish goddess -- though, to be honest, she finds the Yevonites just as mindlessly devoted. This "Yevon" hasn't answered her prayers. What marks the gods' favored? So far, she hasn't found a sensible answer to this question. And now the Guard want to displace the refugees, people who have already lost their homes?

That seems so...unjust.

        But there was no reasoning with fanatics. She notices with surprise that one of their other leaders is a Beastman. She had rarely seen one of her own kind in any position of authority.

Violet listens as Riesenlied and Jacqueline and Yuna plead for the refugees. She sighs. The Guard are unlikely to listen. She prepares for a fight, unwrapping Jeremiah's bundle from her meager possessions and checking its readiness. The fundamentalists weren't going to back down without, at a minimum, a show of strength, she'd wager.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        For once, Noeline can find no words at all. She can only stare for a long moment, her jaw tightening as she swallows back a fear and trepidation she'd hoped to never feel again. The Guard, she'd expected. Veruni troops, she'd expected. Leo at their head was an obvious prospect after what happened at Luca - Noeline isn't really sure how many allies they have left among the Guard, if any. If she'd even accept them past her disdain.

        Kaguya at their head... she had hoped they might be spared that sight.

        There's a rueful chuckle from the voice in the back of her mind, the one where she's never sure if it's Duras Drum's bone-dry amusement or her own cynical side tucked carefully away. Does the situation feel different, knowing that her daughter is doing this willingly rather than at the behest of Hyadean duplicity? Can she fight her daughter, if she has to - and what would that do to Riese's flagging spirits? What has the sight of her already done?

        And can she really be so resolute as to not have the same happen to her?

        The rest of her drags a long, slow breath out from between her teeth. She'd clenched them at some point, but doesn't remember when. Suddenly, all those times facing down Id and the Quarter Knights feel like a million years ago, when she was a very different person. "Form a perimeter - don't let anyone in, but be ready to get clear. I don't like what they're trying to do," she mutters into her radio, almost acting on automatic as her eyes briefly lock onto the sight of the modified Sealing Rod.

        The last time she'd seen one of those--

        With an effort and an angry hiss, she shakes away the premonition, almost gasping for breath; she reaches for Riesenlied's hand in a sudden spasm, seeking comfort as much for herself as for her beloved, hoping she can give as much strength as she takes from the touch. What might happen in the future is impossible to know - right now, even the next ten minutes are a complete mystery to her.

        But she can at least focus on one promise - on the people here right this instant that she cannot let come to harm.

        That thought is what makes her take a single step forward, shifting so that she can place an arm around her partner's waist to cover her balance. Where before she was unarmed, there is now an enormous blade suddenly in her hands; wide and flat and thick and as large as she is. She hefts it, one-handed, and rams it into the bridge in front of the pair of them, covering both herself and Riesenlied with the makeshift wall. "I believe in you," she mutters softly. "Whatever happens, I will be there to help you stand."

        Tension runs clear through her frame. "We have injured that cannot be moved. Will you run roughshod over them?" she adds to the entreaties of the alchemist next to them, and of her partner, biting back the bitter lump in her throat as she does so. She can't pull any more words than that out.

GS: Noeline has spent 1 Combo on Reload!
GS: Noeline has attacked Riesenlied with When I'm With You...!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Noeline's When I'm With You... for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Reload! Riesenlied gains 15 extra FP from Noeline!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Noeline with ...I won't be Afraid...!
GS: Riesenlied has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

She'd done what she could to help the innocent - fed and clothed them, kept them entertained, told stories. But more than anything, Catenna had wanted to keep it at that and stay out of the war. Fate refused to let her.

Looking up from where she's settled not far from the temple, the Moon Shaman rises to her feet. She reaches to pick up the long, recurved bow lying on the turf beside her. It's a new one - one carved with stronger materials and a few metal reinforcements here and there. Sliding her hand around it, she draws a breath, then lets it out, before reaching back to tease her fingers over the fletching of a couple of arrows.

What Mariel had told them about the temple in Kilika had made it inevitable that Catenna would have to fight the Guard. The powers they're toying with are powers near to her. And that comes into evidence as she peers through the crowd and gets a glance as what can be seen on the platform.

<They've done something to it. I wonder how they obtained one of those?> Perched somewhere up above, Saarda-Shanta's voice carries a note of concern. <This is hardly what they were meant to do.>

Catenna's stomach tightens, the image racing through her mind of a rampaging Berserk with a rod grafted into his arm. The breath that leaves her is slow, resigned, but determined, driven by a simple knowledge: She can no longer write off this war as a mere spat between two different varieties of heathens, even with refugees caught in the middle.

A snarky voice in the ranks reaches her ears, and she takes a couple of steps forward, drawing an arrow with an expression of ice. "Kaguya," she calls out, her voice ringing but level. "As much as you are my friend, you also know that there are limits. You know that we will not allow you to harm the innocent who stay here - innocents you have harmed enough already. And more than that, I will not let you twist the relics of our faith to your sick ends."

Getting close enough to Dispel the rod will be the challenge. She was able to do it against Berserk, with Riesenlied there to assist. Perhaps here--

As Yuna makes her presence known, Catenna nods slowly and grimly, then takes a step to one side, moving into formation with the Summoner. Planting one heel, Celesdue's Shaman raises her bow and sets arrow to string with a steady scowl.

"You said once that I had reached the limits of my ideals," Catenna says, eyes on Kaguya. "But it extends beyond that."

GS: Catenna has attacked Catenna with The Limit of Ideals!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied heals Noeline! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Catenna takes a solid hit from Catenna's The Limit of Ideals for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Catenna!
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Ashton misses fighting monsters. Actual, real monsters rather than people who act like them.
 
A new world means new things, however. And this is what has been forced.
 
Standing with the rest before Djose Temple, Ashton lightly tosses the swords in his hands to test the weight for the seven millionth time. He's restless, even as the Guard advances. "You know," he idly points out to the air, "I don't even particularly -like- this Church of Yevon. There is a certain irony in all of this."
 
Cries go out. Challenges, orders. He mostly ignores them. At this point, does it truly matter? A part of him hopes that the empassioned pleas will do something. Slow the advance. Most of him is sure it won't.
 
Out of respect for the appeals - for Riesenlied and Jay and Yuna the others - Ashton doesn't move to strike yet. But he's visible there, prowling like a cat with blades drawn. The Blue Master said 'protect the mages', and that's exactly where the sellsword's eyes are locked. Ready for a beeline once it all happens.
 
Among the words? What he adds his voice to is simple. "No further, servants of Althena. Choose carefully if you are willing to spill your blood just to inflict suffering on unarmed innocents. It will be, if you force it to be so."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius has been quietly attempting to tail the Guards' momvent since he managed to catch notice of a small number of their biggest names on the move. Not a full-on army movement, but a small force. Lower visibility must be of import, then - and then Ethius catches sight of who is with them. That, and the particular make of what was a Baskar Sealing Rod...
        ...But the amount of available cover to him at that point of their journey is minimal at best, and he has to disengage early lest any counter-scouts catch him, forcing him to 'catch up' with most the rest of the Drifters that eventually come to resist the advance. (He may have been a reason some may have become aware of the movement.)
        'Secure the area,' comes Lunn's command somewhere around the time the strange Symbologist is able to work out an approach about the oddly-shaped rocks with difficult elevation-related challenges, where Ethius catches sight of Kaguya outright suggesting the gathered refugees just get out of the way.
        "The only reason she would hesitate to use force," Ethius murmurs to himself, "is if because their operation is too delicate to risk through a more conventional battle." From his vantage point, he can see Riesenlied struggling to walk with medicinal help, as she pleads to them. As Jay, master merchant that she is, works her negotiation skills from the heart. As Yuna, pure soul that she is among her people, speaks from the perspective of a disrupted native of Spira.
        All of them, pleading to their better natures. Time and time again, the Drifters of Filgaia and Lunar share a cultural openness to others.
        A fact he has personally exploited to ill effect more than once.
        Ethius positions himself atop a rock, cloaked in the daytime's shadow next to another rock as he draws his weapon - a strange, sort of evil-looking quarterstaff with one slot of eight filled with a colorful energy.
        From somewhere among the shouts, Ethius uses the raised voices as his aural cover from when he tries to leap from on high, driving downward upon one distracted, open back he can find.
        A veritable mountain of muscle, a gentlemanly warrior of ability and accomplishment few humans would ever match within the span of their own natural lifetimes - or even if they had the span of life the Veruni had.
        One quick, decisive, downward blow as if to try and stab right through their back in an ambush that would be the closing act of their illustrious history, to remove them cleanly from the stage of Spira's - and the greater part of Lunar's - history.
        An act done in complete confidence and expectation of its uncompromising success.

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Ashton Anchors with Crescendo Stance!
GS: Ashton Anchors has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
GS: Ashton Anchors takes a solid hit from Ashton Anchors's Crescendo Stance for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

        Having been exploring the area around Djose for interesting materials, a short red spiral-curled haired elf ended up swept into helping a quick defense of the local Spiran temple. She'd helped here and there with direction construction of palisades and the like. As the Guard and their allies showed up, she'd slipped away to help the fighting giving confidence helping talks to various people and directing others to hopefully safe locations.

        Now Chime has somehow slipped out and up the road ending up standing infront of Elvis who is distracted by his work. Through at this point he might notice the short ARMs Meister standing on her tip-toes looking over the top of his book squinting slightly as she tries to make out the Vernui language he's writting in.

        If he hasn't, when she askes "So, found Carol yet?" in a cheerfully amused and warm voice it'll be impossible to miss her presence. "Ooooh, nice fossil by the way. Mmmm, I don't think I've seen that one before. Hrrmm, might be dragon?" as she smiles at the prodigiously large professor.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Elvis with This Maneuver Is Batting A Zero Average - Nth Time Is The Charm!!!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Chime Isa has attacked Chime Isa with Survey!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
GS: Chime Isa takes a solid hit from Chime Isa's Survey for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel really is kind of like that party member who shows up periodically as a guest and you can't remove her equipment and usually something dire happens and she leaves for a while before coming back to be dire again. She has not been very pushy in direction for ARMS as pertains to this particular conflict, allowing 'the dogs of ARMS' to do what they will. It turns out that what they will seems to be more or less on the same page regardless of direction.

It's a good sign as far as Marivel is concerned.

She has crouched down with Mariel, having apparently dropped into this situation with her. For what purpose? It's unclear.

"Good luck, my dear friend," Marivel murmurs to Mariel, pressing a hand on her shoulder. "I will try to draw as many eyes away from your work as I can but you need but whisper my name and I will by your side should you need me."

She steps out from behind the brush and starts approaching the Veruni/Guard coalition, fully intent on approaching on her own. It seems for once she hasn't come alongside Yuna and her Guardians nor even Riesenlied and Crimson Noble From Another Species Noeline.

She listens to Riesenlied's speech. She doesn't interrupt it in the slightest. She doesn't argue with her or contradict her either.

But she does speak when Riesenlied is done.

"I admire your faith. To believe, to believe so powerfully. Tis a precious thing that ought be protected for once your faith wavers, tis very difficult to obtain it again. Tis always tragic to stop believing... but sometimes..." Her eyes narrow faintly. "Sometimes we leave in tragic times."

She knows damn well they won't take Riesenlied up on her offer so she proceeds as if they aren't going to.

"White Knight Leo!" Marivel shouts suddenly, drawing the thin blade of her Devil Arm and swinging it to her side. "You know I seek Althena's head! I wish to grant you, today, an opportunity! An opportunity to save your Goddess, right here and now!"

Of course, Leo already knows that Marivel's feelings regarding Althena are much more nuanced than that.

"I wish to see the power of your faith. Whether that faith can withstand the full might of the Crimson Nobles, the holders of power who can even rend thy soul if their claws couldst reach! I wish to taste your blood, White Knight Leo, and taste your light. I grant you the greatest opportunity to a Guardsman: The chance to die on behalf of their Goddess."

She swings her blade back and adds, "I already know that your faith is stronger than your love for the people of Spira." Marivel says. "I see no reason to discuss that further. You believe it will be worth it, I do not. Let our fangs decide the future here and now!"

She looks towards Yuna for a moment, then, and smiles at her.

Hob and Nob flit out from their hiding places and return to Marivel, hovering at her side. They aren't chirping now.

"Yuna," Marivel says. "I would apologize preemptively for frightening you with my true nature today, but I suspect you've already seen it. I'm glad you are here."

And then she shifts into a fighting stance. Odds are if Leo doesn't get ready she won't wait for long.

GS: Elvis critically Guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's This Maneuver Is Batting A Zero Average - Nth Time Is The Charm!!
for 0 hit points!
GS: Yuna has spent 1 Combo on Reload!
GS: Yuna has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Hymn of the Fayth!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Yuna has canceled their attack on Jacqueline Barber.
GS: Yuna has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Hymn of the People!
GS: Yuna has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Yuna heals Jacqueline Barber! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked White Knight Leo with A Vampiric Challenge!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.

        Huddled among the defenders of the temple is a would-be summoner who looks terrified. She's been close to combat before, but never this close. Ena grips her wooden staff tightly, looking around at those she is standing with. There's an awful lot of people here that can't defend themselves. She looks up at the flying form of the Fereshte, that the refugees are being ferried in to.

        And then a barrier encases the temple and things get much more desperate.

        "W-what is that?" Ena sounds startled, and unsure. She thrusts her staff out in front of her, defensively, even as the forces of the Guard march closer. Her eyes flick from invader to invader, settling on the Blue Master. She is obviously shaking. If you wanted an example of someone scared out of their wits, Ena would be an almost textbook example.

        "D-don't come any closer!" She yells, with all the intimidation factor of baby rabbit trying to scare off a wolf. It's not particularly convincing. But for the moment, she doesn't do anything more. Maybe the pleas of the others will hit home?

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Some days, Cyre wishes that violence would come easily. It'd certainly make a lot of things considerably easier. But the events that are unfolding at the far end of the glassy scope make what Cyre is about to do considerably more difficult.

Impassioned pleas ring out over the impending battlefield, even as a crowd of fanatics gather to work terrible magics upon this center of faith. Of course, it's exactly what they're using to do that which makes any other course of action impossible. He has to do this. He needs to. If their faith demands that they perform this heresy, then his faith demands that he takes action.

But.

Even Catenna is holding back. Jay is right there on the front line. There, hidden beneath a dirt-covered cloak, finger twitching near the trigger, Cyre holds his breath. He has to. He has to. He was just on overwatch, but this-- this is an affront to too much.

And then fuckin' Ethius Hesiod makes battle absolutely inevitable anyway, and suddenly Cyre feels an overwhelming sense of relief just cascade over him.

"Thank the winds for your terrible timing and overwhelming bloodlust, you damn lump," Cyre whispers in a voice only he can hear as he focuses his shot, mutters a prayer to the Guardian of Gun, and squeezes the trigger.

A slug, propelled not by black powder but by ultra-compressed air, suddenly erupts from its barrel with a nearly-silent *phoomph!* It sails through the air at incredible speeds on a dead-on collision couse with...

Nobody.

Cyre isn't aiming at anybody at all.

He's aiming at the sealing rod and the profane modifications strapped to it.

If he can cut this ritual off at the source, then it's already their victory...!!

<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.

 
Rikku seems confused at Yuna's abrupt change in plans, at least briefly. "Well I was looking forward to figuring out why this place smells so nice..."
 
She says a little casually as Yuna makes her apologies to the locals, "But if it's hard to explain. You don't have to Yunie. I trust you. Let's go!"
 
-=-=-
 
"Twist our arms why don't ya...?" Rikku mutters as she hears Lunn's command.
 
Rikku is not fond of this temple. For mysterious reasons. Mysterious. Reasons. However, she's here all the same, because while she's not the fondest of Yevon on any given day.
 
She reveres the Fayth.
 
She loves the Summoner.
 
She loves this Summoner.
 
And she hardly wants innocent refugees to be trampled by whatever the Guard is aiming to do.
 
She'd been looking at the device when Yuna asks, scrutinizing it, pose shifting as if in thought. Eventually leading to her putting her hands behind her head. "I'd like to say it's an improvement they didn't bring those Giant Machina but... well it's not a Machina- I really don't have any idea what it is Yunie."
 
Rikku says to the others after observing the device.
 
"... he did mention the mages though. Maybe they need them to make it work?"
 
And then Yuna rushes out, "Yunie-!" Rikku takes off after her out the temple doors. Not really adding much to her speech other than adding simply a- "Yeah! Leave these people alone!"
 
In agreement after Yuna's finished addressing them, followed by her gaze really taking in the forces arrayed against them, "Hi Kaguya..." Before adding in response to her taking up a fighting stance in her true form, "Hi Marivel."
 
A beat and you can feel the moment when her pupils dilate just a little thinking about what's about to happen. Suddenly at a loss for what to say...
 
"How's Nob?"
 
Yeah that'll do.
 

<Pose Tracker> Blue Master Lunn has posed.

Lunn pays Ivan a brief glance. Only, it seems, a brief one. It likely means nothing.

His eyes are back onto Riesenlied. He looks at her for a moment, and then he straightens his back out. Part of being the lord of a city is making hard decisions; about knowing when you must harden your heart to certain truths.

"Where," he says, softly, to Riesenlied, "do you think this ends? We have made our intention clear. Spira poses a threat to the entire world--to our peace."

He clenches a fist. He raises his voice, so that Jay and Yuna can hear it. "I do what I must for my city. For the ones I am sworn to protect. Not them. So let them move, today, to other land."

Then, he looks at Noeline: "Without question. I am here for the ones that their demon ran roughshod over, not them. I care for those I must, rather than waste my heart on the multitudes."

His head snaps to the left, which might make Ena jump all the more. Lunn sees Mariel. And then, suddenly, he is gone in a burst of light. He appears, and throws out an open palmed punch right for the young woman's midsection, trying to throw her backward. "You... you were the one they caught, at Kilika!"

He looks down at Mariel. "You will draw no closer!"

He steps back, and faces them. He raises his hand, and there is a crackle of blue light that rolls over his form. "Come," he says. "You would resolve this without violence? This land of Spira..."

He extends a hand, and beckons them forward. "...is violence itself."

The barrier, it seems, is quite solid. The attacks against it bounce off -- though it appears the mages inside must concentrate considerably to keep the barrier up.

GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Mariel with Blue Dragon Fist!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has spent 1 Combo on Reload, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Way of the Traveled Road!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Blue Master Lunn's Way of the Traveled Road for 0 hit points!
GS: Blue Master Lunn's Reload flag cannot target himself!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has canceled their attack on Mariel.
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Mariel with Blue Dragon Fist!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Blue Dragon Mantra!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Mantra for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Blue Master Lunn!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Mariel takes a solid hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Fist for 182 hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked White Knight Leo with Sniper No Sniping!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's A Vampiric Challenge for 0 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Sniper No Sniping for 53 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

        In deosil march go the refugees, and in desolate time Seraphs follow. And as the sun sets and rises, one day the path led to Djose - and their sufferings to Djose - and their recumbency to Djose.

        Which is to say: Boudicca followed the stragglers here, eventually.

        She wished to offer aid where she might; here, now, the placement of might is obvious. The Guard and its strange bedfellows march on Djose, and Boudicca stands with those who would get between them.

        A few worlds prior, her own bedfellows would have struck her just as strange. She stands with someone declaring her intention to slay the Goddess - and a man condemned by her. But that was worlds ago, and this is now: Cyre is her friend, and Marivel has proven herself just the same.

        And on the other side...

        "Leo," Boudicca says, voice grave. "I beg you now: take your leave of us. There is naught here but the wounded and the weeping. Would you crush them underfoot for your task? This is not a Godly task. I will not believe it."

        She shakes her helmed head, sadly. There's light to glint off this armor, too.

        And then a wind's sigil alights under Cyre, as she sees his motion, and a warm breeze erupts around him. It might feel a little familiar, somehow. A little more like home, because she's working with his people, too.

<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

        Belize is here with Yuna, who had passed by them in Guadosalam in her rush to reach Djose Temple, to determine the source of the wrongness of her feeling. After hearing the basics of the situation, Belize decided to come with her and her Guardians. They have faith in Yuna's instincts, and she has communed with Djose's fayth besides; there is plenty of reason to think that there is some deep trouble brewing.
        
        And naturally, there is. Yuna might leap forward to interpose herself between the incoming Guards and the displaced peoples around Djose Temple, but Belize narrows their eyes, looking over the incoming Guards with a curled lip and open, contemptuous disgust. They draw their bow from their back and nock it with an arrow, though they don't fire just yet; that strange rod, covered in feathers and inscriptions... Though they know not what the Baskar sealing rod is, it gives them a bad feeling, and they don't believe for one second that the Guard will stop just because they were asked *really, really* nicely. If they were such good people, they wouldn't have invaded Luca in the first place.
        
        Instead, they inspect the incoming attackers. Their gaze stops on Ivan, and their nostrils flare with anger. They recognize him--he was one of those foul Guardsmen who'd attempted to murder Maester Seymour back in Luca...! They still remember Seymour's anguished (enraged) cries, his shouts for justice (blood).
        
        Well. There is one here who will fight for rage and blood. Belize may be a shame as a Summoner, but they will not lie down and let the damnable Guard do as their wicked goddess wills. They draw their arrow back now, aiming for the assassin boy. He just demonstrated some skill with fire magic, so--time to dampen his enthusiasm.

GS: Belize has attacked Ivan with Silence Attack!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Summer Breeze!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Belize's Silence Attack for 44 hit points!
GS: Mute! applied to Ivan!
GS: Ivan has adjusted their boss level for 2 opponents!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has adjusted their boss level for 4 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        And there they are. Leo watches Riesenlied, affecting a stony face as best as he can. He wants to tell her to turn around, to tend to her health instead of risking everything, but he can't. Especially not when Noeline is right there beside her, reminding him of another, simpler time, when things were very different.

        Were they so different, hisses the treasonous voice of doubt. Leo smothers it, instinctively.

        "We are not here for your charges," says Leo. "We are here for the Temple." His eyes darken. Behind him, the modified Sealing Rod pulses with energies. The barrier around Djose Temple grows denser, more tangible with each passing moment. "There is something in there that must needs be cleansed."

        Leo's gaze flicks over to Marivel. "I accept your challenge," he says. He draws his blade, the bell-like ringing tone lingering in the air. "I've seen you die once, creature of darkness. Our fangs will--"

        What is like Leo is the way he launches himself into action at the crack of Cyre's rifle. Leo blurs into the bullet's path. Metal strikes metal with a horrible sound. Cyre's shot ricochets, traces a line of red down Leo's cheek, and flies off into the distance. He traces its path, sees the eruption of Seraphic power as Boudicca unintentionally gives away his position. "You," Leo snarls. Anger bleeds into his voice, and his face. "We have unfinished business." The White Knight gestures violently, clenching his fingers and thrusting his hand upwards. The ground beneath Cyre surges upwards, twisting into a mess of jagged obsidian spikes.

        For a moment, Leo wonders if he actually can kill Marivel, if Mauri couldn't--but then, Mauri killing someone wouldn't make sense, would it?

        Distractions!

        Leo surges to the side. The Beastman raises his blade, and it drops like a falling guillotine. "DEMON FANG!" Leo roars. A wave of golden energy snaps free from the blade, racing at Marivel--and carrying through to Boudicca if they stay lined up.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Demon Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 2 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Marivel Armitage with Demon Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 3 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Rock Viper!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Marivel Armitage guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Demon Fang for 100 hit points!
GS: Seraph Boudicca guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Demon Fang for 102 hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz completely evades a hit from Seraph Boudicca's Summer Breeze!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a glancing hit from White Knight Leo's Rock Viper for 66 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

Even as he asks the Guard the question of more fortification, in comes the cavalry. "I'm not done writing yet and they show up? I MUST get what is on my mind on paper...!" The quill is going a mile a minute. He hears the plea from afar form a familiar voice, but is too engrossed in his work to pay it any mind.

He seems oblivious to his surroundings as he quickly finishes calculations and diagrams. Chime gets a good look at what is i nthe book before she talks. The language is consonant gibberish, in a language she doesn't speak, but there are numerious alphanumeric equations akin to some advanced calculus, including common magical symbols among them. There is a detailed illustration of a crature though:

 https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/finalfantasy/images/b/b2/Demonolithe.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20100313041949

Looks terrifying. Speaking of terrifying... "AHHH!" the man screams, hearing a voice practically in his ear. The book goes flying. And has he reaches for it, he somehow blocks Ethius' attack as he flaisl to catch it! He then suddenly notices the strange individual! "What... Ethuis, right? What are you doing here?! And you two, uh." He takes a second the recall what others called her. "Chime! And NO I HAVENT THANK YOU." A manly lip quivers once. "You both need to leave right now! We are trying to figure out something very important!"

And toward Chime as he catches his book, sees her reaching for the small fossil. His eyes go bloodshot. "No don't touch that!!! I don't know what it will do to you!" He does notice Ethius has a weapon drawn though. "What exactly do you plan to do with that?" Elvis asks as if he already knows. He folds his arms after the book is put away in a satchel.

"So many wish to interfere!" the Sentinel states with disbelief hanging on his voice.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ah, shit, there are people Ivan knows here!! The guilt hits him like an arrow with Riesenlied's plea in particular, and he looks backward over his shoulder JUST IN CASE all of the Guard leadership suddenly changed their minds. Looks like... no such luck. A flash of apology comes over his face as he turns back to the crowd, before he thinks better of it and returns to trying to look grim and intimidating.

... ... is that Marivel here, too? Did Marivel just threaten to taste Lord Leo? ...focus, Ivan!

With enough people gathered and readying to fight or trying to plead or shout the Guard from their purpose, Ivan doesn't realize that the nocked arrow is for him until it flies forth, and then he's hit with... well, an actual arrow, which sends a burst of pain as it bites into his shoulder, even as it simultaneously seems to sap the strength from his magic, causing it to dim and flicker.

His gaze snaps to the arrow's source, and he lobs what's left of the fireballs toward the aggressor, though the second fireball goes wide, crashing toward a green-haired, cowering girl somewhere behind.

Sure, okay, that might as well happen. Ivan totally wanted to feel like a monster at least one last time before he faces his stupid karma or whatever.

GS: Ivan has attacked Belize with Fire Swarm!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"For now, Professor," Kaguya answers Elvis, "I think the best thing we can do is the direct approach--keep their heavy combatants away from our saboteurs until the work's done." She steps forward, though--steps forward, to see those who will come from the temple, those who will stand in their way, and...

She sees a number. She sees a woman sitting. And her eyes widen, briefly. ...Risenlied stands, as she speaks, eventually, and she recognizes that expression, all right. But her own goes pale, and her lips press together hard. What is it that she's feeling, there? As a feeling is enough to broadcast itself, almost?

...That's not a simple question.

Before Kaguya finishes processing that, another familiar face comes, and Kaguya's hand on her weapon twitches slightly as she recognizes Yuna more by emotion at this point than by face. She, after all--could see the other girl's face, then. She speaks of a home...

She makes a promise.

The short blonde sees Noeline with her great weapon, a wall marking protection of the both of them. She is not the first to answer any of them, of course--not with Lunn here, taking point. "...Could've expected you," she admits, but there is not her usual venom in it at first--she is... processing something.

A plea; a promise; a wall. ...And a challenge, As Catenna, too, calls for her. Strange green eyes turn towards the woman from Elru then. She mentions her faith, and Kaguya makes a noise that could almost be a laugh if it had any humor or breath in it. "...Right. Timing. Because it all had to be here, and now."

She stares into Rikku's eyes for a long few moments, because of course--of course she's there with Yuna, again. A hope, maybe. "..." She doesn't return the greeting. Instead, her fingers curl, more tightly, around the grips of her swords.

"You..."

Theoretically, she could allocate the manpower. If all they worry about is the condition of the injured, then that can be worked with. ...But is it? And can it be done, while maintaining her grip on what of the Guard she has? Forget how long it would take--would it even be possible, among the zealots, without losing what she's built? Being a leader comes with these questions. And Lunn, of course, has already started to answer.

"You... idiots," Kaguya's voice hisses as she stares at Riesenlied and Noeline. "You had to make a big show of it, make a scene. You couldn't have gotten them out by now. Even when--"

No.

Her eyes turn to Catenna. "You think it was my idea to use one of those things? I wouldn't spit on it to put out a fire. The tools of your faith aren't so reliable that I'd ever put stock in them myself."

But there's a tightness at her chest that is a memory--the memory of Luca--and it is more than seeing sad Riesenlied and worried Noeline, because on top of all of that, the one girl who seemed to seep through that--

"...You said, Summoner. You said you see me. That you know me. But this? This is the opposite of hope. You should never have come here."

"ANY of you! Do you think we're going to stop? Do you think a war is going to hold off because people might get hurt!? Innocent people die all the time in these conflicts! They get in the way, and they get crushed! I spare them today, and there's just another set of them ready to take their place as the next sacrifice."

"...Fine. If you want to bring it there? Then that's where it's going to go!" She practically snarls this, as she puts out a hand--and green energy starts to collect around that hand. "Do you have any IDEA," she hisses through her teeth now at Riesenlied and Noeline, "How hard I've been working to avoid--"

"Stop being stupid and just go move them! With as old as you are, why do you think you can rely on mercy when there's a battle objective in play!? After EVERYTHING you've seen--"

A wave of green light crashes towards the two of them--but it's only light. It will not knock them down, it will not batter their bodies. However..

Kaguya surges forward under that light's cover. She ducks down, rushes to Catenna, "You don't get it," she says, "A limit isn't something you can overcome because you want to." She rises, whirling, and swings not her blades but abrubtly her heel, in a kick aimed to shove the priestess back with terrible force.

The blade comes up, suddenly glowing as Kaguya slashes the air with one, right in Rikku's direction--"DEMON FANG!"

"You should've stayed away," Kaguya says to her--to Yuna, really. "I'm nothing like you think I am! I know what this takes!" She bends at the knee--

And leaps, slamming straight into the ground a few yards ahead of Yuna, hard enough that the ground itself shakes under her impact--and rising into a ready countering position. "So go ahead. Hit me if you think you can convince me otherwise."

GS: Ivan enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ivan has attacked Ena with Fire Swarm!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Riesenlied with Get Out!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Noeline with Go Away!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Catenna with Spin Kick!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Rikku with Demon Fang!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar enters a Counter stance!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Yuna with Meteor Stance!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Spin Kick for 66 hit points!
GS: Rikku takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Demon Fang for 119 hit points!
GS: Mute! applied to Rikku!
GS: Ena takes a solid hit from Ivan's Fire Swarm for 115 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Ena!
GS: CRITICAL! Noeline takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Go Away for 0 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Get Out for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline was not expecting Yuna's presence here, considering her situation. But here she is, standing with them to protect the people with a firm promise.

Jacqueline sends her a smile. It's only a faint one, but her gratitude is clear.

But then, the Blue Master speaks, and Jacqueline turns a frown onto him.

"And how does this protect them? How does removing these people from their homes and waging war against Spira help them?" Jacqueline asks. "How does Spira threaten them, when before you arrived they did not even know you existed?"

And then, he strikes at Mariel. Jacqueline gasps in surprise.

"M-Mariel!" She shouts, concerned, and then turns a glare toward Lunn.

"I don't buy that. People say the same about Filgaia - that violence is its native language. ...But I don't believe that, either." She says, shaking her head. "You're the ones who brought violence here - these people were just trying their best to live. I can understand wanting to protect the people important to you, but this can't be the way you go about it!"

And with that, she reaches into her bags, drawing out a flask of purple liquid, affixed with a spray nozzle.

"So please - let's just calm down and discuss this peacefully. If your people are in danger, we can talk about it." With that, she points it at Lunn and presses down. It emits a cloud of liquid with a pleasant lavendar scent to it. It's pleasant...but there's also a tiring effect to it that saps at one's strength, though it doesn't cause any physical harm.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Sapping Solution!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Belize guards a hit from Ivan's Fire Swarm for 72 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Belize!
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Things... go about as Ashton expected they would. The pleas fall on deaf ears, just as they have before time after time.
 
He's starting to really dislike the Guard.
 
"If this land is violence, then bringing it to peace is what we must do." Two dragon heads loom up over his shoulders. "It is unfortunate that your Goddess has decided that the path can only be gained through murder. But if we must--"
 
And then Lunn does the Big No No. He goes for the healer. One that's (basically) (kinda) unarmed. Instantly, Ashton's face contorts into an angry snarl.
 
"That will be QUITE enough!" There's a burst of static in the air as Ashton ceases to be - and suddenly IS between Lunn and Mariel. Blades flash - though more to force the Blue Master back than to harm. "If you wish to keep striking the unarmed, you will find steel ready to deny you! Or perhaps you would prefer to simply continue to posture? You are certainly brave to do so, given how easily that sail of a popped collar you have would catch the hot air you blow!"

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Guard Sword!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"I'll try not to need it," is Mariel's response to Marivel before she goes.

But that was then and this was now.

Now, Mariel is hustling toward the platform, and indeed she made it some distance toward that before Lunn pops up out of nowhere. Mariel is so surprised by this that she lets out a squeaking sound of surprise, reflexively bringing up both of her gloved hands in an attempt to catch or, more probably, dampen the blow.

Lunn is too fast for her. Mariel has no martial arts training, and it shows; the blow hits her in the stomach and sends her flying back a good twenty feet to land in a bush. It looked like a soft landing, at least - the branches were springy and yielding - but that in no way makes up for the hard blow in the first place!

Mariel pulls herself out of the bush, a flower inexplicably perched on top of her hat until it slides off and catches at the intersection of hair and furred ear. She tries to speak, but she's having trouble catching her breath for some completely mysterious reason.

It thus takes her two tries to get any intelligible words out, and she still has to stop to breathe once in a while: "Do you even know - what your mages - are doing?" She reaches into her satchel, hand digging in until she finds a precisely shaped bottle; a hemispherical bulb at the bottom, a vertical length, a broad corked cap. Without looking at it, she pulls it out, uncapping it and flinging it in a high, slow arc. It gets past Ashton before it starts to fall, dousing Lunn (hopefully) with faintly anaesthetic oil.

Still hunched over in pain, Mariel keeps digging in her bag, looking for something else with a bit more intent. "Do you know where they got that Rod?"

GS: Mariel has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Paralysis Oil!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Yuna takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Meteor Stance for 111 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar's  stance ends. She enters the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel Armitage is asked how Nob is doing. Nob chirps at that merrily and tries to lick Rikku's cheek like a dog before floating back to Marivel. Marivel says, "You should try to bribe Kaguya," to Rikku. "Give it even odds of it working." Rikku is a charming gal. Reminds her of her school days. But she isn't going to say that here.

Killing Marivel is not as hard as it might seem. Keeping Marivel dead, however, is tricky business.

Leo is on the move and Marivel is forced to focus on the task at hand. The golden energy is, at least, not intrinsically solar powered but it still slams into Marivel and sends her skidding backwards--but she does not fall. When the light fades, it becomes clear that Hob and Nob intercepted the blast and protected Marivel's body. Not entirely, but enough so that she wouldn't have been thrown on her back so quickly.

She knows there is doubt within Leo. The doubt must be shaped before it is faced. She hops back a few times to keep space open between her and Leo. Despite carrying a blade, that is definitely not her main avenue of attack. Perhaps her father could have--

--that's right, Ivan. Marivel did threaten to taste Lord Leo. What are you gonna do about it?? BITE HIM FIRST?

"If they did not try to make you stop peacefully, Kaguya, they would not be themselves."

Her hands can dip in the blood for them. She says, "I like that name. Demon Fang," to Leo before she swings her blade back and her eyes flash red. Her form feels just quite like the one Leo was in moment's before as she narrows her glowing red eyes towards Leo. "I think I shall take it. RED POWER!"

She swings the blade forward, unleashing a wave of light right back at Leo--relying on the surprise of unleashing such a move than strictly the technique here.

"DEMON FANG!"

There is a lot of demon fang today, buds. Ashton lending his aid to Mariel is frankly a relief but for the time being, Marivel focuses on trying not to be sent back to Anastasia for the third time on Lunar.

<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

        Chime's voice is lilting sweet as she giggles watching Elvis. She calms down as the tall Vernui begins to grasp the situtation and shots a warm smile up at the man. "That is unfortunate, I've not heard anything about any girls matching her description myself I fear." with a little shake of her head.

        "That said~ A whisper told me that it would be less than ideal to allow this operation to succeed, and as always I find myself helping to stop what seems to be a bad thing. Sorry~" she says sweetly, her hands having been clasped behind her back one is now in her unique toolbox.

        And then the area explodes in a hazy grey, black, and white smoke with a floral scent that barely maskes the small of gunpowder and chemicals. Or the irrating sensation it's slowly provokes. More impressive is that the cloud doesn't seem to thin out so much as just end and it's managing to somewhat resist being blown about by the wind.

        "You could just, I dunno, walk away? But none of us probably will which is how it should be. Fight for what you believe in~" the short elf's voice calls out from inside the smoke "We can do no more or less~."

GS: Chime Isa has attacked Elvis with Smoke Bomb!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked White Knight Leo with Demon Fang!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Jacqueline Barber's Sapping Solution for 0 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to Blue Master Lunn!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Ashton Anchors's Guard Sword for 73 hit points!
GS: Cover! applied to Ashton Anchors!
GS: Ashton Anchors assumes the Stoic stance!
<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.

        A peaceful resolution was never onf the cards, was it. No, it was foolish to think that was a possibility. When the battle officially opens, Ena is surprisingly quick to react, starting to run forward rather than away from the fight. It's this that leads her straight to the battle between Belize and Ivan. Her eyes widen. "Summoner Belize, be careful!" She yells to her superior, even as he unleashes magic towards the assassin.

        This is when Ena realises too late that she's also drawn the ire of the dread and evil assassin that tried to kill the summoner, and finds herself too slow to evade Ivan's magic. The fireball crashes home, and Ena lets out a cry of pain- but something feels off about it, almost as though it was forced.

        She brings her staff to bear towards Ivan, still shaky, as the flames subside. "Why? Why are you doing this?" She asks, pain in her voice. Unlike Belize, she seems to still be looking for reasons. But all the reasons in the world won't stop this fight.

        Ena raises her staff, pointing it at Ivan. "Beware your own darkness! Spiteful Shadow!" The charge of magic goes off, but the attack doesn't come from the front. Instead, a spike of darkness rises toward Ivan from the shadow he casts on the battlefield. It's an underhanded attack, perhaps, but this is a war.

GS: Ena has attacked Ivan with Spiteful Shadow!
GS: Ena has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ena has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

'So let them move, today, to other land.'

Catenna clenches her jaw. For just a moment, she debates entirely taking her eyes off of Kaguya and putting an arrow between Lunn's eyes.

One white conqueror is much the same in attitude as another, she reflects bitterly. The only ones who suffer are regular people. People like the Zortroa must have been, long ago.

As Kaguya dismisses her so bluntly, Catenna sets her shoulders and scowls. "I do not care whose idea it was, only that you are doing it."

The other woman demands that they just go move the refugees. Catenna's eyes harden all the more - and then comes the light.

Kaguya comes surging through it - but the easy kill of their last encounter is denied to the Veruni this time as Catenna leaps backwards and a little to the left. That sweeping heel kick jabs close, but only the edge of it clips her, glancing off of her hip. With a wince of pain, Catenna bounds back and hits the ground with one heel--

And she boosts herself into the air. It's a jump higher than she was able to deliver last time she traveled with Catenna. At the crest of it, Catenna twists and flips, her legs coming up over her head before she descends in a swift arc to gain distance on the Veruni turned Duchess. Heels hit the ground with a click as she sweeps around, bringing a hand to bear.

Evidently Catenna gained some new skills last time she and Kaguya fought for real - or perhaps the agility she gained training with a certain caravan dancer paid off.

"You claim the right to move them wherever you want, but all you are is just another would-be despot who thinks her own stupid plotting matters more than anything," Catenna growls as power builds in her palm. "You want me to just let you move these people, Kaguya? Who do you think you're talking to, exactly?"

Planting her heel, Catenna shifts her bow to her off hand, holding the right one forward. The air between herself and Kaguya ripples, a bassy groan rumbling in the ears as the force of gravity attempts to seize the Veruni girl and hurl her up into the air before reversing to try and slam her into the ground like a discarded piece of trash.

Catenna keeps her hand leveled. "You made the wrong demand of a Zortroa with the blood of Fereshte in her veins, Kaguya."

GS: Catenna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Grav!
GS: Catenna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet watches in horror as the Guard's leader attacks Mariel, and with concern as Ashton interposes himself between them, aiming a blow against the blond stranger. Violet will help out as she can, but she'll be cautious.

You didn't get to her age by being reckless.

She takes painstaking aim with her ARM, trying desperately to avoid hitting the draconic swordsman or the girl he was trying to protect. It wouldn't surprise her if her target had supernatural protection, though. The Chosen often did.

GS: Violet Salazar has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Buckshot!
GS: Violet Salazar has completed her action.
GS: Ivan guards a hit from Ena's Spiteful Shadow for 86 hit points!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Mariel's Paralysis Oil for 0 hit points!
GS: Cripple! applied to Blue Master Lunn!
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Chime Isa's Smoke Bomb for 17 hit points!
GS: Break! applied to Elvis!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre totally does not dodge Boudicca's helpful Seraphic magic. He doesn't! Really! He just sort of... Absorbs it, maybe? Maybe the essence aspected into that particular spell resonates too well with his overall spiritual vibe, or something. One way or another, Cyre feels better about everything in general! It's great.

The feeling is short lived as Leo proves that swords are indeed mightier than off-spec guns.

"Ah crap," Cyre hisses as the catfight begins in earnest. "It's that guy." The earth trembles beneath him and abruptly surges upwards in a torrent of stone blades. Cyre uses the blast to vault himself into the air and out of the way of the worst of the attack. Though a thin red line etched across his cheek in a position almost mirror to that on Leo's is all the proof needed to suggest that he didn't get out of it completely unscathed. "Damnit Leo, you blocked that shot and call yourself a priest!? What you're doing here is cultural appropriation you big jerk! That rod is ours by right!"

Chances are just accusing the White Knight of Althena of being a big, cape-wearing jerk isn't going to be nearly enough. But that's what magic is for. A burst of air sends Cyre surging toward the ground. His heel slams into the earth, sending thundering shockwaves of compressed atmosphere vaguely Leo-wards.

"Come on, just take your people and go! And leave the rod! There are plenty of other temples for you all to desecrate, this one's off limits!"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius' descent collides (surprisingly) against the mighty fist of the Professor. The impact of staff against their fist sends a rattling force all the way through the enigmatic man (who does not understand that insta-death attacks do not work against major bosses!!) and has the cumulative effect of making his landing seem rife for some other distant advanced society's fixation on injurious actions caught on film. The deflection stops Ethius' descent from causing crippling harm against the rock - but it gives him a case of whiplash and a backwards tumble of no less than three yards away from Elvis.
        He slams the butt of his weapon against the rock to catch himself, somehow maintaining presence of mind through all this - as if to pretend that he didn't almost irreversibly shatter his shins right then and there.
        He looks up to Elvis, of whom he catchs those bloodshot eyes as he lectures the curious Chime.
        "You saved me from a particular dangerous tumble, Professor," Ethius blatantly lies straight-faced. (This is also the man who interposed himself between Elvis and the altar at Love's Cradle in spite of Elvis being able to squish him like a grape - unflinchingly.)
        "Miss Chime," Ethius remarks, "perhaps you would be interested in further discussing your scholastic curi--" Chime throws down a smoke bomb. Of all the times for the others' predisposition towardss casual discussion to come to an inconvenient cease (LOOK WHO'S THINKING). By habit, Ethius decides to attempt to make a break forward, with one problem - there's Elvis in the way.
        Somehow, drawing one of the satchels from his belt and hastily going through the Symbological spellcasting rituals, Ethius appears to have decided that throwing a second smoke cover on top of that is the way to go, as the Powder Grenade goes off and spews forth even more dust (of a more beige-and-brown bent).

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied won't be able to apologise to Jacqueline enough. She knows her warnings, she knows her limits... and yet right now she knows she has to do this. She looks relieved, though -- to have the alchemist, to have the Moon Shaman, Catenna, at her side. Fellow sisters of Elru...

        She hasn't spotted Mariel, nor does she know what she knows. But the Sealing Rod is a familiar fear -- and it reminds her of Berserk all over again, as she no doubt thinks the other people are thinking.

        But she wasn't expecting Yuna -- she understood the duty she had to progress her pilgrimage... but when the Summoner stands by them, she smiles softer. And... Rikku, too, right? She remembers her -- perhaps embarrassingly from the episode of the smelling salts, but regardless.

        "Thank you... Miss Yuna, Miss Rikku," she whispers. The confidence in their words, to not be alone.

        That counts for a lot.

        And then Noeline has her hand, as she expected her to do -- looking at first apologetically... but she knows she doesn't have to.

        Because she'll be by her side, even if the world turns against them.

        "Yes," she answers Noeline, with the kind of certainty of two people who've united their hearts together, leaning a little against Noeline's arm where she's supported her waist. You can positively see the lillies sprouding around their pose.

        It's Hecka Gay.

        But Lunn's words are as barbs to her. "I have heard those words once. I have heard them in the Photosphere's halls. I once believed such words, unseen to the world as I was. ... So no more," she echoes Yuna's promise.

        She sees Kaguya's own paleness, the way her lips purse. Her daughter's pain hurts her too, because she doesn't want to do this.

        She yells at her.

        "... I tried, for months now, Kaguya. I tried. I remember our meeting in Kilika. I know what you yourself have tried to pull on your side too, how the Guard hasn't beset upon us and the Fereshte thus far. That hasn't gone unnoticed to me... and I thank you for that."

        She has to give credit where it's due.

        "But we can't. People are going to die if we have to run any further... and I know you are trapped with the hand you have been dealt with. Yet..."

        She gasps and stumbles against that green light, as she falters and has to rely against Noeline to keep her uprigth. She's dizzy already.

        "Please forgive your stubborn mother, who cannot stay away. Who cannot let things be. Perhaps I am only someone who tries in the end, and yet..."

        Light begins to filtrate in from underneath her capelet -- the Medium grafted in her is acting. She looks towards the others that Kaguya's attacked -- Rikku in particular.

        "Let the Ley manifest... even this far away--" she lets out a nauseous noise, and yet the magic does take hold, as that ever-familiar blue presence of the Leyline seeps in under her feet... and coalesces--

        --as the light of Life suffuses throughout Rikku, even so far away from Filgaia.

        She's quietly relieved. She didn't know if it would work.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked White Knight Leo with Grand Pressure!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Rikku with Ley Channeling - Border of Life!
GS: Riesenlied has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

        The assassin retaliates by lobbing what remains of that fireball at Belize--and at Ena, somewhere to their back. "Ena!" they call sharply, even as they raise their sleeves to attempt to block the worst of the attack. It's still scorching hot, and they stagger back, bow still in hand. Ena, meanwhile, runs *towards* them, trying to give warning. Quite a pair they make. They grimace as they lower their arm, but still they look at her. "Are you all right? Come, we shall fight this monster together! Your quest to avenge your homeland begins here!"
        
        They turn back towards Ivan with violence in their sea green eyes. "I saw that man during the attack on Luca," they continue, still addressing the fledgling summoner. Speaking of, if there's anything off about Ena's cries, Belize absolutely is too up in their own head to notice. But surely there's nothing to worry about. "He and another attempted to murder Maester Seymour. An unforgivable crime alone, and now he seeks to compound to his sins by attacking the helpless and destitute!" They raise an arm, gathering up magical energy. "There's no need for mercy towards one such as he, Ena. Let us teach him and his foul Guard compatriots that the faithful of Yevon will not lie down and be conquered by their evil Goddess!"
        
        They slash their hand *up*, and viscous green-purple-black liquid bubbles around Ivan. If he doesn't manage to avoid it, it will stick to him and leech away at his vitality with its poison.

GS: Belize has spent 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Belize has attacked Ivan with Bio!
GS: Belize has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Elvis with DUAL TECH UNLOCKED - X Smoke Bomb!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's DUAL TECH UNLOCKED - X Smoke Bomb for 57 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied heals Rikku! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Violet Salazar's Buckshot for 48 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

 They ask for consideration. Of the ones that were displaced. Of the ones that cannot go anywhere. Of the ones who make this their home, and Skylr's heart aches. She gets it - she gets it all too well. Yet, however, they're hear, and doing something that Leo believes in.. Lunn. Skylr inhales, but the crack from Cyre's sniper rifle sends her with a skitter across the ground towards Leo. A pause. Wait, fire...
 
 "Don't attack the Rod! It's happening, there's no telling what's going to happen if you disrupt this now!" A pause. "Leo! I'm coming, sir!"

<Pose Tracker> Blue Master Lunn has posed.

"You mistake me," Lunn says to Jay. "I am not protecting these people. I am protecting the people of Meribia! I saw the devastation of Azado -- I saw what Sin did -- and I have seen the fool's venture that these people call a religion. I will have no part of it. I lead my city--and the mantle of leadership does not permit me to consider false ideals!"

Her flask's spray washes over him; Lunn actually stumbles a moment, his very energy sapped. He doesn't fall, though. Instead, he finds that Ashton has interposed himself.

"Brave--and you shall pay the price for that bravery!"

Ashton's blade bites into Lunn, cutting into an armored bracer. That holds it back, but his other hand slams forward, palm aimed at his midsection. "Hyaaah!"

He looks down at Mariel, and he scowls once at her -- and then shakes his head sharply. "I do not. I merely trust them to work well!" He sputters, as the oil splashes over him -- and then slams his hand to one side. Then, he turns as Violet fires -- and inclines his head slightly. A thin, bloody graze on his cheek is all that results from her gunshot.

He launches forward, thrusting a two-fingered strike at Mariel's neck -- and tries to hit a pressure point. (Perhaps the Elw won't have it.)

Then he rushes, and lands before Jacqueline. He slams three quick blows out -- one knife-hand at her neck, one at her left hip, and the last at her solar plexus. It threatens to make her seize up, before he does a backflip--

--and lands on Violet Salazar's head, punching one open palm down for the top of her head, then bouncing off.

GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Ashton Anchors with Blue Dragon Fist!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Mariel with The Spider's Web!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Pressure Point!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Violet Salazar with Blue Dragon Fist!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

"You could never frighten me," Yuna promises Marivel softly. The smallest flicker of a smile kindles on her lips at Rikku's reinforcement, and gentle question.

It fades at Lunn's words -- at his choice, his choice to choose. But Leo's banishes it entirely, into full dismay. She takes his meaning immediately, and her eyes fly to the temple, then back to the mages, the rod.

"The fayth," she gasps through whitened lips, taking his meaning immediately.

Amazement dawns. Horror.

The equivalent would be to somehow mount an operation to tear their Goddess Althena out of the sky.

Unthinkable.

Kaguya's words break through her shock like a brick thrown through glass. Or maybe that was the ground, which slams into her -- she slams into it -- much the same way.

"It's you," she whispers, having never before seen the pilot of the great machina that Ixion battled at the invasion of Luca.

The girl who is her mirror. The girl who knows what she knows.

"I will always come here," she promises Kaguya, quietly but with an adamant core. "I will defend the people. I will defend the Otherworlders. I will defend the fayth! I," somehow her awareness seems to flick towards Lunn, without her eyes ever leaving Kaguya's, "Will not pick and choose who does and does not deserve my protection."

She smiles, and reality itself seems unable to resist the strength of her feelings, as power -- like and totally unlike the barrier in the sky, the one threatening Djose Temple -- materalizes around each of her allies in the fight against the Veruni.

It feels... warm. And the the lightshow vanishes, but the warmth, it remains, beneath the skin.

"I choose everyone! I choose them all!"

Her eyes linger on Kaguya's.

I choose you, too.

GS: Violet Salazar critically Guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Fist for 35 hit points!
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Belize's Bio for 52 hit points!
GS: Ivan suffers an additional 18 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Poison! applied to Ivan!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        It's as simple as that, it seems. It doesn't matter that they're however many hundreds of miles away from any kind of peace the Guard might claim. It doesn't matter that they were the ones to shatter the peace of Luca, as uneasy as it might have been. It doesn't matter that Lunn is the first one to make a move towards violence - his claim is that Spira is the violent one. It doesn't matter that there are civilians present - ah, but she knew that part already. The Guard isn't one for benevolent religion so much as an iron fist.

        The heavy sigh drags out of Noeline before she can stop it. Part of her longs desperately for simpler days, or perhaps just going back to Filgaia and smashing every single Elw transporter that she can find then following up with the Sorcery Globe. Petty, but still pleasant to think about. "Understandable. You don't appear to have much heart to waste, after all," she mutters back, but she can't find a way to put her own into it. The dull throb of anger is spreading behind her eyes.

        She catches herself the next moment, and it takes an effort of will to force the next sigh to be lighter, for her to try to focus her gaze. There's too many worries swirling around her; Riesenlied, the refugees, the state of things back in Filgaia, what will happen here on Spira, whether they will ever manage to find a place where they can carve out a home for themselves without someone coming and disrupting it. But she's aware she needs to stay strong - that even if the world turns against the two of them, the things they've accomplished together still have meaning.

        Noeline doesn't move as the wave of light sweeps towards her - as it washes over her and her guard, the equivalent of a warning shot. She expects to buckle; you can see it in the way she braces. Even then, she nearly does - not from the strength of Kaguya's attack, but the fervour in her voice. But her own teeth grit, and her knuckles tighten on the hilt of her sword.

        "And then what?" she challenges Kaguya in return, her eyes alight. "Say we even manage to move the refugees in time, as some of them 'mercifully' die on the way because we have not the supplies or the manpower to get them all safe and stable no matter how much we might hope otherwise. What then? Where do we go? What about the time after that, and the next, and the next, as we trickle away into a slow death?"

        She doesn't move forwards from where she stands covering Riesenlied, impassive in her stance - especially when Riesenlied buckles, and Noeline hisses again under her breath out of concern, her arm tightening around her partner's waist. "The Tainted were persecuted such for centuries. Left trapped in a corner, constantly in fear and under the control of those that stuck them there. They learned to live like that, certainly... but I will be damned if I simply let it happen to any others, not if I can stand against it."

        She lifts her sword, one-handed despite its size; the air shimmers and shifts around it as Noeline draws upon the power of her medium, the space it cuts through left oddly indistinct and difficult to perceive. "... so if you want to move me from this spot, you will have to do a lot more than call me an idiot," she intones, as she steps forward just enough to sweep the sword forward. What should be a lumbering swing is instead lightning-fast, the shockwave more aimed at the barrier than Kaguya herself. It does its job either way, as she erects a barrier of her own across the bridge they stand upon.

GS: Ashton Anchors used Defend! He takes Blue Master Lunn's attack on Mariel on himself!
GS: Noeline has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Material Adept - Border of Shadow!
GS: Noeline has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
GS: Yuna has spent 2 Combo on Inspire and Reload!
GS: Yuna has attacked Rikku with Strength, Everyone!!
GS: Yuna has attacked Noeline with Strength, Everyone!!
GS: Yuna has attacked Riesenlied with Strength, Everyone!!
GS: Yuna has attacked Catenna with Strength, Everyone!!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Rikku takes a solid hit from Yuna's Strength, Everyone! for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Rikku!
GS: Reload! Rikku gains 15 extra FP from Yuna!
GS: Rikku gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Yuna's Strength, Everyone! for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Noeline!
GS: Reload! Noeline gains 15 extra FP from Yuna!
GS: Noeline gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Riesenlied takes a solid hit from Yuna's Strength, Everyone! for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Reload! Riesenlied gains 15 extra FP from Yuna!
GS: Riesenlied gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Fist for 103 hit points!
GS: Ashton Anchors critically Guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's The Spider's Web for 22 hit points!
GS: Catenna takes a solid hit from Yuna's Strength, Everyone! for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Catenna!
GS: Reload! Catenna gains 15 extra FP from Yuna!
GS: Catenna gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Jacqueline Barber critically Guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Pressure Point for 0 hit points!
GS: Mariel completely evades a hit from Blue Master Lunn's The Spider's Web!
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.

 
Rikku is frozen for a few long moments. Like she's just now comprehending the scale of this battle she's followed Yuna into. After Luca. She thought it'd be easier and now she's assessing that it's going to be way harder. "Bribe her..." She says absently, "... right."
 
This inaction costs her, as when Kaguya calls them all out, she's unprepared. And her reaction is slow. Kaguya's Demon Fang rockets towards her, knocking her back with a shriek as she's knocked backwards to skid across the rocky ground.
 
"Ow... ow... hnn..."
 
The girl is trying to get up from a terrible case of road rash when Riesenlied's spell suddenly makes that simple. "That didn't feel like Yunie's-" Then blinks as she realizes it wasn't, "Oh! Thanks! Real lifesaver."
 
Even though it isn't Yuna's heal though, she hears her words. "That's what a Summoner does." She agrees, with a note of reverence, of awe.
 
Rikku is suddenly darting back into the fight at full speed, curving around to move on an intercept course towards her flanks.
 
"Oh Kaguya."
 
Using the arm covered in a claw gauntlet, she jabs forward a punch at the Veruni's blade, twisting her hand in an attempt to lock her up in a parry that's hard to divest herself from, "Does telling yourself that make doing things like this easier?"
 
Her other hand flips up with a curved object within it. Kaguya may recognize the premise of it before it happens. It's like a hidden needle from an assassin.
 
It's like she's going to jab it right into the gap of her armor with her hand.
 
Except then her forefinger simply flicks it forward, while the Al Bhed Guardian herself leaps backwards.
 
The needle like fang discolors strangely in the minute space of time when it's flying towards Kaguya, then ruptures into a miasmic green cloud of poison.
 
"You act like you don't care about if normal people get hurt - but you cared about Temrood. You know he wasn't some soldier right?"
 
She's still backpeddling, as she accuses, "So I think you're exactly the kind of person Yunie thinks you are."
 

GS: Rikku has spent 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Rikku has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Use: Poison Fang!
GS: Rikku has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Demon Fang for 25 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Grand Pressure for 76 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

The Guard's leader backflips dramatically and smacks Violet in the head. It connects, but she is able to partially parry it with the only thing in her hands, her ARM. She backs away, wanting to put some distance between herself and this martial artist as quickly as possible. Violet's a ranged fighter, and she already knows from watching that he has special, perhaps magical, powers. She takes cover behind a boulder and takes a potshot at him. Her last shot barely grazed his check -- due, she is sure, to his supernatural abilities. It would've felled a normal person. She wishes, not for the first time, that she had some magical abilities of her own. Maybe a slug will work better than scattershot...

GS: Violet Salazar has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Wildcat Cartridge!
GS: Violet Salazar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Violet Salazar has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Catenna's Grav for 63 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has been weakened by Disease! Kaguya Alathfar can't gain THP until the Disease is cured!
GS: Disease! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
GS: COUNTER! Kaguya Alathfar counterattacks Noelinewith Counter Attack!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Noeline's Material Adept - Border of Shadow for 161 hit points!
GS: Noeline assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a glancing hit from Rikku's Use: Poison Fang for 54 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has been weakened by Disease! Kaguya Alathfar can't gain THP until the Disease is cured!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar suffers an additional 20 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
GS: Noeline takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Counter Attack for 128 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar assumes the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

        Shockingly, a Seraph who is used to being seen is not very good at stealth. At least she helped Cyre!

        The Demon Fang falls like conviction, and Boudicca crosses her tonfa and her gauntlets and braces against it: her greaves scrape into the ground, sinking back, and she does not fall. "For - the Temple," she says, a little skip to the words as she straightens from the force. "Do you know so little of your devastation, that you think they might be moved?!"

        Creature of darkness - you - she hears the invectives with which he speaks of the others. Equally she hears how he speaks to her.

        Later she will reflect on this, and she will be greatly saddened.

        Now she knows how she must proceed.

        With all the alacrity of the wind, Boudicca does not send shockwave or light towards Leo. Rather, with all her physical imposition, she charges him: tonfa to sword, one weapon parrying and the other seeking to strike at the arm holding his weapon, in an attempt to weaken his offence. It is not, in itself, a particularly damaging thing, but...

        She declares, fierce of face and voice: "I will not allow you to take the Temple! I am the one in your path, Leo-!!"

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked White Knight Leo with Martial Ministry!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Blue Master Lunn completely evades a hit from Violet Salazar's Wildcat Cartridge!
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

An open palm slams into Ashton's stomach. There's no gentleness in the strike, despite there being no weapon. (Then again, Lunn certainly IS a weapon himself.)
 
The hand impacts the armor hidden under Ashton's robes - though there is a satisfying crunch as the metal buckles slightly. But better that than bone.
 
It's difficult to follow how the Blue Master moves after that - Ashton tries to keep himself between the man and the Elw. Speed is not Ashton's forte, however. He's simply not fast enough. A quick sorcerous teleport here and there, sure, but on foot? He's a glacier.
 
The same cannot be said for his erstwhile companions, however. There's a blue blur as Weepy strikes like a snake - the force of the movement practically yanks the rest of Ashton's body off-balance as it does so. But the intent is true and the speed swift enough. And truthfully, while the Elw may have the pressure point that Lunn is seeking? A dragon certainly does not.
 
Weepy simply turns his head and grins a fangy, saucy grin.
 
"A fair attempt, but that headband seems to be cutting off your brain!" Two short swords wave in front of Ashton, leaving thin white-blue traces in the air behind them. "Allow me to retort!" The lines form a cross of ice - a diamond - a pyramid - a spear. "Chill of the distant lands - star to guide the lost! Northern Cross!" The wall of ice shatters into a barrage of chilling flechettes that fill the air.

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Northern Cross!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan has way too much on his plate right now to worry about who is or isn't biting Leo (even if he was literally worrying about that very thing only moments ago) -- because it turns out that the girl he took for an innocent bystander is... not quite such a bystander after all, and has some considerable bite.

She summons forth a magical attack -- he can see that something is coming -- but what he doesn't expect is his own shadow turning on him, shooting a spike into his back.

His eyes shoot open wider, and he staggers forward as the attack recedes, finding the retreating shadow instead of an attacker. His eyes dart back to Ena with new understanding -- though really he doesn't grasp even half of the true situation.

Why? Why are you doing this?

His mouth works silently for a moment, because she couldn't have picked a trickier question if she'd tried.

"I just am!" he shouts back. "Try someone more important if you want a real reason!"

Belize -- not someone Ivan recognizes -- speaks of having seen Ivan during his fight with Seymour. Ivan can't say the stranger is wrong exactly, as they go on at length about how awful he is -- in fact it's almost a little gratifying to have someone finally call him out on all his shit -- but he frowns nonetheless, as uncertain about what to do with it as if it had been a string of compliments.

"You're not wrong," he tells Belize, "But do you actually talk like that?!"

Ivan feels like he should have some of those fancy insults embroidered onto a pillow or something.

There's no need for mercy for one such as me...

Surrounded by flowers and curliques, probably.

But all of that aside, this person is trying to kill him! Ivan pivots away from some nasty, threatening looking fluid as it bubbles up toward him. The bulk of it misses him, but what little sprays onto his hand seems to seep too swiftly into the skin, tracing a sense of wrongness up his arm.

"...Ah, shit," he says. "All right!! That's enough from you two. Get the message and go home."

He throws his hands into the air and makes a motion as if pulling something down from the sky. "Turbulent cloud, unleash your rage... Scorching Rain!"

The air over Ena and Belize lights with power, as it begins to rain molten fire from above.

GS: Ivan has attacked Ena with Scorching Rain!
GS: Ivan has attacked Belize with Scorching Rain!
GS: Ivan takes 20 damage from Poison!
GS: Mute expired!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Ena takes a glancing hit from Ivan's Scorching Rain for 68 hit points!
GS: Ivan assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Belize critically Guards a hit from Ivan's Scorching Rain for 25 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

"I will find her, don't you worry! I plan to find her, take her back home and keep her safe from the rapscallions out there that would do her harm!" he says as a REAL PROUD DAD.

And then smoke everywhere. "BUH!" the giant man exclaims, batting his large hands around to clear it. It is dispersing a bit jsut due to the pressure he can exude, but not enough to un-obscure his vision. "This has to be done! My research indicates this is the proper method to go about this! Not necessarily hurting people mind you, but the end goal still holds to my interests!"

"Unlike most of my kind Ethius, I dont make a habit out of pummeling others into submission or killing those less fortunate in prowss than ourselves." he says, sputtering among the cloud. It gets worse as another bomb goes off almost right in his face!

There are a series of annoyed screams coming from the odd tinted cloud. "OKAY, TIME OUT." There is the sound of a loud cracking noise as a metal heel hits stone, and a localised tremor peals out from the cloud, cracking and shifting the ground jarringly all around the site. "I may not seek to inflict violence for its own sake, but I will most certainly put those misbehaving on their rump!" The shockwave fro mthe stomp begins to clear out the cloud quickly. Elvis' face can be seen, practically covered in Ethius powder grenade innards. Must have been a direct hit!

GS: Elvis has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Hi-Crush!
GS: Elvis has attacked Chime Isa with Hi-Crush!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a solid hit from Elvis's Hi-Crush for 122 hit points!
GS: Chime Isa completely evades a hit from Elvis's Hi-Crush!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel does indeed have all the pressure points a human would.

Which means it's very good that Ashton saves her from getting jabbed by it, because she wasn't moving fast enough to get out of the way herself, tied down by digging in her bag as she is. Sure, she found what she was looking for - a bundle of herbs, tied together with a green cloth, but she left herself a little open to do it.

She really does need to learn how to do this better. All she ever remembers from battles, after the fact, is moments of terror. "Thank you!" Mariel calls to Ashton and Jacqueline, before focusing on Lunn again.

"The rod comes from a people called the Baskar," Mariel says, "who used it for a different purpose. It is a kind of magic different than your own - but it has been stolen before. However you got it, you took it, and changed it to work with your own people's magic."

"But..."

Mariel pauses, for a moment, to light the herbs on fire. This seems like a bad decision except that, at the same time, she does something small but remarkable; a minute adjustment in the energy bound in the herbs, and when they burn, along with the smoke they trail small points of pink light, like fireflies. The wisps spread from Mariel in a broadening field, never lasting long - but they settle on Ashton, on Jacqueline, on Violet, and especially on Mariel herself, holding the herbs.

"...how it was changed... It was never meant to hurt people! And there is something wrong with your seal, deep inside. Why must the temples be bound? Why must you attack the Spirans? Why must you do any of this? Does Althena demand it? Or does someone else?"

GS: Mariel has attacked Violet Salazar with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Mariel with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Ashton Anchors with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Mariel heals Jacqueline Barber! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Mariel heals Violet Salazar! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Seraph Boudicca's Martial Ministry for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"False ideals?" Jacqueline repeats, her eyes narrowing. "I have people to look after, too. Even so, it's because you're a leader that you can't ignore the plight of others! Your actions reflect on your people - people who look to you for guidance and protection!"

And then, she frowns.

"...I saw Azado. And I've talked with its people - people who joined us here, to look after the refugees your war dislodged from Luca." She says. "Say what you will about their religion...but to them, the events at Azado are something they always live in fear of. To them, it's always been a stark reality that could happen at any moment - and yet, they've made the best things. Found ways to survive and thrive despite that!"

And then, Lunn attacks. After striking at the others he descends upon her. Jacqueline backpedals quickly, and with a gesture of her left hand a pillar of stone rises in her place.

Three blows strike it - blows that were meant for her. Each one sends cracks rippling through it's form from the point of impact through the sheer force and skill of Lunn's strikes, until the third and final one shatters it into rubble.

Rubble that Jacqueline sends flying toward Lunn with a gesture of her right hand, invoking another earth-based Crest.

"I didn't want to fight...but if I must to protect these people, then so be it!" She says.

Mariel raises a good point, though - why? Jacqueline sends a glance in her direction as she asks her questions, but doesn't say anything - just sends her a smile, as she feels the healing wisps emanating from the herb settle over her.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Rubble-Rouser!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Rubble-Rouser for 105 hit points!
GS: Quick and Shield! applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Ashton Anchors's Northern Cross for 53 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Mariel heals Ashton Anchors! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        'I think I shall take it.'

        The Demon Fang, as noted by one Claude Kenny, has derivatives scattered throughout the blade arts of both Lunar and Filgaia. It's a fairly basic application of martial skill, utilizing both raw energy and a single, precise strike--it's flashy and impressive, but elementary. And even if it weren't, Leo recognizes that stance the moment Marivel slides into it--he could recognize it even if she hadn't telegraphed it with her chatter. The White Knight steps forward, driving his blade towards her in a narrow, precise chop--not quite a thrust, since it's not built for it. Energy surges off Leo's sword, slams dead-on into Marivel's Demon Fang, and washes it out in a flash of golden-white light.

        Leo doesn't stop there. The big Beastman drives forwards, leaping across the distance between him and Marivel. His blade whips around, flowing into a horizontal strike and trailing energy as it goes. It's aimed at roughly neck-height.

        Cyre stops him before he can press the attack. Waves of pressurized air slam into Leo's calves and ankles, forcing him to step away from Marivel, or be knocked to the ground. He looks Cyre dead in the eye, fangs bared in a horrible snarl. "This is for Mauri!" he growls. The bruising Cyre inflicted doesn't seem to matter anymore. He turns on a heel, tenses, prepares to spring--

        Boudicca comes out of nowhere. Her tonfa locks around Leo's blade, and she matches his fierce look with one of her own. For a moment, she has him pinned, and it's a dramatic one. But Leo's a heartbeat faster than her, and he twists his blade free before she can strike home--the tonfa glances off the White Knight's mail. Leo steps back and swings again. His blade slashes the air, turns in his grip, and then executes a second slash. A pair of Demon Fangs race across the intervening distance, towards Boudicca. Cyre gets a bit more pressure in the form of a barrage of smaller swipes--almost like miniature Demon Fangs--assailing him. Leo's blade is moving too fast to see.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Buzz Blade!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 2 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Double Demon Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 2 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Marivel Armitage with Flash Blade!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a glancing hit from White Knight Leo's Buzz Blade for 83 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: CRITICAL! Marivel Armitage takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Flash Blade for 285 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a glancing hit from White Knight Leo's Double Demon Fang for 53 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Blue Master Lunn has posed.

Violet Salazar fires a slug at Blue Master Lunn. The round flies at him, hurtling straight for his chest -- the type of shot that would leave a Badlands bandit sprawled dying on the ground. His eyes widen a fraction. His hand lifts--

--and he snatches the bullet from the air with his hand.

"Tch!" he snaps. "Such trifles... will not work on me!" He throws the bullet back at Violet -- with the very same velocity that he threw it with. Then, he looks back at Mariel.

"We defend ourselves! Althena guides us... but we must look after our own cities. We must stop Sin -- and avenge the comrades that Yevon led to be slain, not so far from here," Lunn says. "And if that tool of a false god will help... then so be it. What you sense is the righteousness of the Goddess!"

He surges forward, slamming up a knee to slam for Mariel's chin. Then, he looks at Jacqueline. "And am I to commend you for giving them no hope of defense? No protection? You cite your own weakness as a reason to stop!"

Jacqueline closes in on him. He grunts, sharply, when a powerful series of rock pillars rise up. Lunn smashes through a couple, but the final one shatters on him -- and drives him backward. He skids over the ground, breathing hard. Then, Lunn launches forward. He does a rotating mid-air spin kick, and slams his feet at Jay quickly -- and ends with a punch at her head.

He comes to a stop in time to catch the wall of ice that Ashton sends for him. He turns, and throws a punch at it -- and it shatters into diamond dust about him, shards of ice cutting into that arm. He turns to look at Ashton, his head cocked to the side.

"Did you require three heads to think of that one?"

He practically vanishes -- and appears right next to Ashton. His elbow slams for the swordsman's neck, and then his hand slams up in a backhand, before he launches a quick series of kicks to him, spinning to face Ashton while kicking at him.

GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Violet Salazar with Waterfall Breaks the Boulder!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Mariel with Mountain to Dust!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Rushing Water! Whipping Winds!!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Ashton Anchors with Two Steps! Thousand Blows!!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

        There's a giggling sound as both a shockwave and a backflipping elf emerge from the cloud of smoke before it starts to become less dense as the shockwave causes it billow out losing it's strength against the wind.

        "Sorry Professor~ No timeouts left in this round~" she calls out as her left crossbow snaps up, an angry looking orange bolt glowing in the opening before the twang snap sound can be heard as that orange bolt is sent flying at Elvis. It'll shatter on contact with anything, imparting it's unique effect on whatever it hits.

        "So what happens if I destroy that rod out of curiousity Professor? Sounds like it's important~" Chime comments casually as draws her other crossbow and sets off in at a loose jog pace in a circle around Elvis watching him and Ethius. "I mean, the shield's kinda annoying because it was a nice blue sky today." says explains cheerfully.

GS: Chime Isa has attacked Elvis with Shield Breaker!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber critically Guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Rushing Water! Whipping Winds! for 36 hit points!
GS: Violet Salazar takes a solid hit from Blue Master Lunn's Waterfall Breaks the Boulder for 191 hit points!
GS: Mariel heals Mariel! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.

        "I'll be okay." Ena tries to assure Belize that she's still up and fighting. She looks somewhat singed for her troubles, but none of the burns are bad enough to add to her masked collection of scars. That's lucky, at least. But then Belize says the magic words-

        'Your quest to avenge your homeland begins here!'

        Her grey eyes turn back to Ivan, a fresh determination in them. "He tried to kill the Maester?" She looks shocked, shocked that anyone would dare try such a thing. "Then..." She takes a second to muster up the righteous fury she feels she should have. "Then let him face the might of Yevon's righteous!" She manages, and shadow magic again flies toward Ivan. "Darkra!"

        This time, it is a sphere of pure darkness, descending from above at speed. It's more obvious than her first magic attack. It's a simple spell, straightforward and to the point. "This is for Kilika!" She shouts, as it bears down towards Ivan, aiming to engulf him and strike fierce.

GS: Ena has attacked Ivan with Darkra!
GS: Ena has completed her action.

GS: Mariel guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Mountain to Dust for 68 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Mariel!
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Ena's Darkra for 72 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius knows of the Professor's prodigious physical strength and intellectual curiosity - and of his bombastic nature that sometimes borders on the out-and-out juvenile. He was not present the day that Elvis and a squirrelly Hyadean remnant decided they wanted to abduct and interrogate Summoners. He did not get to see, first-hand, the level of power and control they can inflict across the element of earth. The terrain may well be as putty to one of the Sentinels - one of the single greatest combatants to walk either world, appearances and manners aside.
        Before that, what stops Ethius from moving forward through the distraction is Elvis outright talking to him with acute awareness of a grievance, and why.
        He is noteworthy enough in the eyes of a people who could casually bat aside the indigenous populations with but whimsy for his manner and means to be discussed among what he understands to be among the uppermost echelon of the Veruni. (A part of him recognizes this might be... normal?)
        (But also very bad.)
        Ethius is wordless because the shockwave voids his balance - the same shockwave turns the terrain jagged, jutting rocks underneath sending the strange Symbologist off his feet once again. He hits a protruding rocky formation from the seismic shockwave right in the ribs, and Ethius lies sprawled for all of two seconds before jabbing his staff down at the ground as a means to balance his return to a stand.
        A moment's hesitation follows - unintentionally fulfilling Elvis' wishes for a TIME OUT - as he brings his right hand to his head. Something about the discourse is... off. Why would Elvis deign to plead his case to him... specifically? That he would do so, at all. That... anyone would?
        ...
        "Miss Chime," Ethius remarks, "I suppose it would do to honor the Professor's wishes. I am sure there are as many timeouts left in this round as he needs." His voice carries that same nearly emotionless inflection. The tempo, the stresses, everything. It's disconcerting. Ethius removes his hand from his forehead. "I would suggest lowering your weapon, then, Miss Chime." Ethius turns his right side away out of Elvis' sight (though there's the displaced dust everywhere).
        He starts to murmur complex syllable sequences under his breath as he twists his right hand's fingers into cramp-inducing gestures, rapid-fire. The glow of his Symbological tattoos towards the end of all this gives away about a second in advance that this is a ruse.
        "Dust Compress." That's the name of the spell. What does it do? It takes all the ambient, loose-flying particulate matter and compresses it all upon one point. That one point is Elvis, burying him (exceedingly briefly) in a high-pressure earthen cocoon of dust.
        That's why he suggests for Chime to lower her weapon for but a moment, so it doesn't get all jammed up.
        "It matters not what their answer on what could happen," Ethius adds. "It matters that it should not be here." He starts taking a few steps towards that direction, with one momentary stumble because he catches his foot in a crack on the ground.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Elvis with Dust Compress!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet waves her thanks to Mariel as the healing energies wash over her. "I don't suppose you could teach me to do that later?" she calls. She can't take Symbols, but maybe she could learn to use herbs. What a benefit to her patients that would be!

The stranger does something AMAZING -- he snatches her slug-bullet from the air and THROWS IT BACK AT HER. Unfortunately for her, it connects with her lower ribcage. She staggers backwards, bleeding and coughing blood. He must've struck her left lung, or near it. And he aimed right over the boulder she was hiding behind!

Violet takes a few minutes to assess and bind her wounds. They won't be fatal, at least not immediately. She has time for a counterattack. He likes to toss things, does he? Perhaps she can return the favor. She throws several grenades at his feet, trusting that he can't dodge them all -- and even if he does, the explosions can still do some damage. Maybe. If she's lucky. And if his powers don't give him super dodging speed.

GS: Violet Salazar has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Fire in the Hole!
GS: Violet Salazar has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Violet Salazar has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

        "You *just are*?" Belize demands, tone boiling with anger, even though that response of Ivan's was to Ena's question. "Haven't you even the excuse of faith to bolster your wickedness? Are you but a shell of a human being, so content with blood that you would spill it for no reason?! Is THIS the true form of Althena's so-called faithful?!" At least, they're wholly willing to believe that he is emblematic of Althena's faithful at large, i.e. having no real faith of their own and only blindly following the leaders of the religion into bloodshed and war simply because they're told to. Belize is super unbiased.
        
        Either way, their lip curls at Ivan's attempt at counter-criticism. "Obviously," they reply, voice dripping with scorn. "Is that your only defense? To dance around some attempted insult at how I speak? As if that is in any way equivalent to your murder of innocent people? *Disgusting*. You are a Fiend in human skin."
        
        Maybe with tassels and a little golden rope on the edges of that embroidered pillow.
        
        "Good," they say to Ena, their tone to her noticably kinder. It, and their expression, hardens when Ena confirms Ivan's attempted assassination. "Indeed. I saw it with my own eyes--though I had been unable to go to his aid, due to attempting to fight off the Guard's machinae with my Aeons." They shake their head in clear anger, though Ena's seeming passion gets her a grim smile. "Indeed!"
        
        Molten fire rains down from above, as opposed to from below or from the side. Belize once again guards themself with their sleeve and the armguard that protects them therein. The attack singes through their clothes, burning their skin, but only in parts; overall, they manage to weather the Scorching Rain well. They stand proud and tall, chin lifted so they may look down their nose at Ivan as they call up another spell. "Begone, Fiend. May your empty soul find peace in the Farplane!" they growl, before unleashing said spell. The ground beneath Ivan starts to rumble, and if he's not quick enough, blocks and spikes of stone will smash upwards into his legs, potentially slowing him down as well as doing damage.

GS: Belize has attacked Ivan with Quake!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: Pierce!! Blue Master Lunn's attack breaks through 100 temporary hit points! 0 remain!
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Two Steps! Thousand Blows! for 116 hit points!
GS: Elvis critically Guards a hit from Chime Isa's Shield Breaker for 5 hit points!
GS: Healthy! For entering Condition Green, Elvis receives 50 temporary hit points.
GS: Elvis enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Dust Compress for 89 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"Well 'themselves' are really getting on my nerves!" Kaguya snaps back at Marivel across the battlefield. But Catenna is more immediate for now--having learned well from their last encounter, where Kaguya struck with surprise. It will not be as simple... But she is less patient.

"I don't care where they go!" Kaguya shouts back, before delivering a mirthless, harsh laugh. "I'm doing this because I haven't taken them over!" the Veruni answers her natural enemy, a woman she used to travel with. "You're just like your stupid Guardians--you assume you know what's going on, and charge on ahead anyway! But did they ever protect those people of yours from anything!?"

The air ripples. A sound so low as to defy the eardrums roars through the intervening space, and it's the strangest thing--those watching can see Kaguya's sleeves, her armor shift as if gripped by some unseen force. She starts off the ground--and shoves back down, breaking free of the spell's hold as the plate on her upper arms cracks under the strain of conflicting forces, the air above her shattering loudly as she pries herself free of Catenna's spell. "I gave you the chance to stay out of this. Remember that."

But Riesenlied, too--Riesenlied, standing with Noeline, retorts to Lunn, and... to her. Worse, she acknowledges that Kaguya has any feelings about this at all--

"If you noticed, then you shouldn't be here!" Kaguya demands back. "People are going to die either way! From Sin, from something else--At least my way, it'll be safe eventually!"

"You..." She looks to one of her mothers. The Medium--Kaguya covers her eyes with her forearm for an instant, as if bothered by the light of the Ley Riesenlied is using even in healing. "Then you know I can't just let you stay in the way, right?"

Leo said--something about her morality, guiding her actions. Kaguya reflects, in the moment, that he wouldn't say that if he knew her better. Not with what she just decided. "I'm getting really tired of the concept of forgiveness in the first place."

But--if it were easy, if it were just a conversation, it wouldn't be as complicated as it is. Yuna realizes what they're after--but more to the point, that whisper shows that she has realized what Kaguya did before. Is there a way the pilot of a great war machina should look? Not this one, who couldn't be older than a teenager, tiny by the standards of her people, delicate. But her expression twists. "...It's like that, huh?" she asks, with barely-restrained emotion of some kind that is hard to divine, too complex to name.

Yuna chooses--her eyes linger, and it feels like longer moments than it is as Kaguya stares back, eyes wide, with pain and rage both. And the words that snap from the smaller girl's throat are familiar, if raw and with emotion instead of firm with certainty--

"You CAN'T!" Kaguya corrects Yuna loudly. "If you choose everyone--you'll end up with NO ONE! That's reality! You don't have the power to make that true!"

But Noeline also speaks--and moves, and her weapon is larger than a human's weapon. "Do you think I'm doing anything for centuries?" The Veruni asks Noeline. "Some of them will die. There's no way around it. But I have a plan! Some die now--and how many more are saved later? I won't let it come to what you're saying."

It's all the easier to choose action, when Noeline draws on a Medium's power. Indistict, hard to perceive... She steps forward enough. The shockwave moves for the barrier--

The Veruni bends at the knee and leaps. Mid-air, she takes the brunt of the attack herself, fast enough to get between it and the barrier, a dark shockwave slamming through her and knocking her backwards to let her hit the ground at a crouch and still slide back, soles making furrows in the ground--and leaving her holding a portion of that shadow. "If that's how you want it--" She grips the spectral energy somehow, carrying it between her hands as she whirls for momentum and throws it back as a beam of force somehow. Maybe she can't do away with the entirety of that barrier...

"It doesn't matter anyway. It just proves my point, doesn't it? You can't have it all."

She looks to Rikku, then, plotting her next move--and unfortunately, before Kaguya has even turned towards her, Rikku has moved from her spot, rushing forward with a speed she would expect of nobody outside herself. Immediately she moves to block the first strike--and it's a success... for both. Rikku has her blade locked at an angle that prevents Kaguya from brute forcing her way out in time. "What," she starts to ask--

Ah. So that's what. Kaguya scowls at Rikku rather than moving to block an attack that she figures is too close to change. And the thing explodes--

Leaving the small warrior coughing as she steps back, between this and the compression of her whole torso. "Gh--"

"Shut UP!" Kaguya shouts back, swinging out while blinded to stomp the ground in front of her and leave a crack in the rock. "He was different! None of these people are like that!"

The kind of person Yuna thinks, is it?

"I was just thinking, maybe I had the luxury to be a little magnanimous here. But clearly I don't! Clearly none of you are going to GET it if I don't shove in your faces how unfair the world can be! But that's fine. You won't be the first."

Kaguya reaches behind her back--and there's a faint whine, as she pulls something metal and plastic with blinking green lights. "Hey, Mom! Think fast!" She throws it straight for Riesenlied and Noeline both, a small explosive that will send a whine through its systems, echo, and explode in a wave of concussive force as green as anything, straight against the barrier shielding them. She finishes the movement to put her hands together, and a strange, malign magic gathers about her like a shadowy aura.

"Like I said, Catenna. It's not about wishing. ...It's about power."

She breathes in, and the light blooms around her hands, strange and green--with a core of red. "O violet gale born of fear, come!"

Her weapons sheathed, she puts up both of her hands as wind begins to whip her hair, erupt around her. "To the void! Fearful Storm!"

A small tornado bursts from her person, carrying up dust and rock and dirt with a core of malignant red in its green winds. Even as it comes loose, she pulls something from her belt, breaks off the cork, and drinks.

<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.

        Ena is swifter this time, as Ivan's molten fire descends upon her and Belize. It strikes less accurately than the fireball that went flying into her, but it hurts nonetheless. Her arms bear the brunt of it, the long purple sleeves she wears catching light, and she frantically tries to pat them out. It leaves her open to more fire, or something else coming from the assassin. That lack of combat experience seems to be starting to show.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Riesenlied with Harmonic Impulse Bomb!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Noeline with Harmonic Impulse Bomb!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Yuna with Fearful Storm!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Rikku with Fearful Storm!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Catenna with Fearful Storm!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Elixir!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes 26 damage from Poison!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Elixir for  hit points!
GS:  Restore reduces negative status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar's Avenger stance ends.
GS: Riesenlied guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Harmonic Impulse Bomb for 150 hit points!
GS: Healthy! For entering Condition Green, Riesenlied receives 50 temporary hit points.
GS: Riesenlied enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Catenna takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Fearful Storm for 270 hit points!
GS: Catenna enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Rikku takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Fearful Storm for 99 hit points!
GS: Noeline critically Guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Harmonic Impulse Bomb for 94 hit points!
GS: Noeline enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Violet Salazar's Fire in the Hole for 17 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The 'righteousness of the goddess', was it. A slow frown begins to cross over Jacqueline's face, particularly when he looks toward her.

"Do not mistake a disinclination for violence as weakness, Blue Master." She replies. "I don't want to hurt people, if I can help it. My hands are meant for tending to the sick and wounded - to support those with no one else to support them. So, if I can avoid violence by appealing to the good nature of others, then that is what I prefer. But-"

He launches toward her then with a rotating spin kick. She backpedals quickly, forced to adjust from the aggressive approach. He plants a foot into her gut, forcing a sharp exhale out of her, finishing with a punch toward her head - which is intercepted by a pillar of stone that rises to meet it, preventing what would have no doubt been a serious injury.

"But, if I must, then I will." She says. Suddenly, the air around Lunn begins to crackle with electricity. This is the only warning he will get before Jacqueline swings her right hand down like a descending blade, causing a flurry of lightning bolts from the heavens to crash down toward his present location.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Lightning Strike!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

"No," Ashton blithely retorts, "Creepy says I should just bite you. But I prefer my food with a bit more--"
 
Then Lunn is beside him. Elbow - backhand - kick - kick - kick - kick.
 
Ashton has the good courtesy to go down after that barrage. From his hands and knees, he spits out a bit of blood. "--Kick, you know you didn't have to take that quite so literally."
 
Rising to his feet while Lunn beats up everybody else, Ashton flexes. There's a moment of internal dialogue.
 
I told you that you should have bit him.
I am not biting people.
How about setting him on fire?
You're a dragon, he's probably expecting that. I mean, I'd be expecting that.
Can we get on with this, please? I already have a headache from him.
Fine, fine. Let's do this together. After all, I know you don't like the minions of the Dragon Master either.
 
The two dragons glow - red and blue. That energy brightens, seeping down to Ashton himself. It encircles him like a helix, wrapping around and around in a whirl - until it merges into a white glow. One that abruptly is pulled inwards, sucked into Ashton's body.
 
Then he cracks his neck and resets his stance.

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Ashton Anchors with Draconic Might!
GS: Ashton Anchors has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cover expired!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
GS: Ashton Anchors heals Ashton Anchors! He gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Mighty! applied to Ashton Anchors!
GS: Blue Master Lunn completely evades a hit from Jacqueline Barber's Lightning Strike!
GS: Yuna takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Fearful Storm for 190 hit points!
GS: Ivan guards a hit from Belize's Quake for 55 hit points!
GS: Slow! applied to Ivan!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        So many things hurt and prickle at Riesenlied right now. Indeed, it would be easier to go away, to get out, to get lost, get on out of here. But because it is painful that she knows it has to be done... because as Noeline points out -- where do they go? They run, away, again and again, exposing the weakest and most vulnerable of them to a slow death... that said, hearing Noeline and Kaguya trade barbs hurts her in a personal kind of way too, even if she can't tell her to stop.

        It has happened for so long to the Tainted. So much that their adaptation has become one of their characteristic traits. And yet...

        "I can't expect anyone else to have to suffer what the Tainted had to," she whispers. Yuna's power comes over her...

        It is warm, familiar.

        It's entirely not unlike hers...

        And it gives her hope.

        She hears Rikku's call towards her, and she nods in turn. She hears Yuna and Rikku's imploring towards her.

        Then Kaguya asks if she knows she can't let her stay in the way.

        "... That's right. I know. And... you know what I've said to you all this time -- for so long now. When we first met. I can still recall those days... and..."

        Her eyes gain that resolve as she steps forward. Taking that actual, firm, resolved step, enhanced by the strength of Jacqueline's potions -- but not just that; Yuna's own resolve, Rikku's cheer... Catenna's defiance, and Noeline's own rebuttal.

        And Kaguya... Kaguya admits that she's tired of the concept of forgiveness.

        "I am still resolved to defend and argue your plight to the Guardians. To Filgaia. To the very own Ley coursing, burning through my vessel. Because I will not give up on you. Because I fervently believe in the good in you..."

        There is a flash-- as Kaguya's bomb explodes that whirr and send her sprawling and coughing aloud for a moment; her very ears are rattling at that. Noeline has got her own to worry about, she knows, so she pushes herself up as much as she can.

        And the crystalline sword of the Heritor is manifest, mercifully not from her chest this time.

        Her eyes close for a moment.

        She sees K.K. and Ragnell within the Forgotten Sanctum. At that time, when she was praying to the Ley, for the world. She sees all the Drifters gathered, from the clouded viewpoint she has from her altar...

        "Kaguya... What is it that I must do... when I truly love someone -- because I love you? This conondrum that They have taught me to answer over these past two years... As Fei once said to me... a love that will not get angry, a love that will not fight when those you care about are hurting..."

        A lustrous light has gathered over the tip of the crystalline blade as she charges an impulse of energy within it.

        It is a familiar technique to some.

        "Right now, even if-- no, especially because it hurts me to do so... it is not enough for love that I turn a blind eye! I must stop you from doing something you will truly regret, Kaguya."

        The energy has gathered... and she holds the blade up as she looses it -- and it wanders, almost lazy-like, to Kaguya--

        ~*~

        The Blue Knight stands over her, twice her size. The difference in size is almost comical, the way he has to kneel and coil his armored fingers to prepare the little sword around the Fereshte-garbed girl and make her hold it.

        "{Listen well, Riesenlied. Never lose sight of what it means to take up a sword...}"

        He turns towards a spherical target in the near distance. He takes grip of Glumzambor, drawing it out of the ground. Energy gathers around his spear as he demonstrates.

        "Sieg--"

        ~*~

        "--Impulse!" Riesenlied calls out, the sphere washing out into a Glumzambor-like spear of light that, unlike her father's... does not directly harm, but seeks to overwhelm Kaguya's defences with its intangible force.

        To make her have to think twice about her position, coax her away from the attack.

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Ley Channeling - Sieg Impulse!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel's train of thought is momentarily derailed by Violet asking for lessons. "Um... probably not," she says. On one hand, yes, Mariel could theoretically teach the uses of herbs and poultices. She's done it before, she's even written a book (though, admittedly, it's not for sale because she only wrote it for herself; there is only one copy).

On the other hand, it took Mariel longer than a normal lifetime to learn everything she knows and she is using powers that, as far as she knows, no human has ever wielded. So, probably not. It's probably easier just to take advantage of them.

And speaking of taking advantage of them, Mariel has found something else in her bag. She grips it tight as Lunn comes for her, and manages to keep ahold of it when he hits her; she jerked away in time to avoid being smashed in the face by a knee, instead taking the length of his leg to her shoulder and down her front. It's still a powerful blow even if it's no longer crippling, and bowls her over backwards to land on her back.

It hurts, and judging by the feel of it she smacked her head on her way down (she did; she lost her hat and her flower, and one of her floppy ears has flopped behind her head in an uncomfortable but not painful manner). Mariel just kind of wants to lie there for a while, dazed, but she can't let herself; she pushes herself up, painfully at first, but more fluidly as she moves.

"It isn't," she says. "It is not the blessing of the Goddess - or, at least, there is something else, too! I felt it, so you cannot tell me that that is all it is! It is something malicious, something that wants to *take things away* from the people of Spira - and, yes, your people too! Ask them!" Mariel jabs her finger at the mages, or at least in their general direction. "Ask them! I have been a part of one sin against a planet - I don't think I can bear to let anything happen to a second!"

With her other hand, Mariel finally pulls out the object she was holding: an apple, but an unnatural apple, coloured in red and green and yellow and, oddly, blue. It is less a true apple and more a bundle of energy held in an apple, and Mariel cups her hands around it.

When she opens them, there are more of those pink sparks. Not a wispy rise but a veritable cloud of them, whirling up from her opening hands like dust or swirling pollen caught on the wind; they stream outward, a pulse of life energies, a similar feel to the natural places of Filgaia. The pulse almost immediately begins to fade, no longer bound into the apple, diffusing outward and leaving only an energized feeling in their wake.

But a faint stream of it reaches up toward the platform, too, as if trying to touch it - feel it, as Mariel's less physical senses are as extended as they go.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

There's something that feels right about fighting alongside an Ellurian companion. Catenna's eyes dart to Riesenlied, and she manages a tight, reassuring smile for the Hyadean who's become something of a sister in spirit to her.

The warmth of Yuna's desire shines line a rising sun, and even the Moon can't resist that incredible desire. Catenna inhales for a moment, bolstered by the pulse of power that the Summoner evokes with seemingly little more than a smile and a wish. Again her eyes dart, meeting Yuna's a moment, and she nods slowly, emphatically.

There's more to the warmth in her eyes than mere approval of her crusade against Obsession. Here, they share a goal, and a spirit.

The smile hardens as she fights to keep her spell on Kaguya - but the woman's bounding out of it quickly, and Catenna moves to one side to try and stay on her. "You drew me into it the moment you whipped out that rod," she snaps back. "But even without it--"

She's only doing this because she hasn't taken them over, she says. Catenna clenches her hand around her bow and pivots.

Before she can let an attack fly, the air screams to life with a tornado of malignant vengeance, driving home the fact that it's always been about this: The strong exerting their will over the weak. Huge chunks of earth tear out of the earth and slam into the Moon Shaman, driving her relentlessly backwards. The wind itself expands and swallows her, tearing at limbs and hair, slashing and pounding and finally hurling her off her feet into the maelstrom. Another chunk of rock comes hurtling in and plows right into her.

It's hard to see Catenna in the midst of the tornado. There are glimpses. One can see the Moon Shaman limply riding on the wind, helpless in front of the sheer level of power being brought to bear.

"Is that what it's about," Catenna manages. Her voice is a little thin, but there.

Within the tornado, something... surges.

The red malice at the heart of the winds is suddenly tinged with something else - a bright, radiant oceanic blue. It spreads throughout the green winds, the colour and tenor shifting until, winding in with that tornado, a waterspout dances. The column of wind and column of water dance about one another in a double helix, the waterspout leaving shimmering sparks hanging behind it - droplets of ocean water.

With a roar, the water column winds in upon itself and bursts upwards. For just a moment, it takes on a great, serpentine shape - the form of a vast sea serpent, coiling up towards an apex high above - and then that shape bursts in a vast wave of blue light, like a sea wave breaking down towards the turf below. It washes across Riesenlied and Noeline, over Yuna and Rikku.

"Has it occurred to you, Kaguya, that there might be people in this world with more power than even you?" Catenna's voice comes. The Moon Shaman, battered but agleam with little droplets of ocean water that dance in the air around her, stands atop a large rock not too far away, her left hand on the Stone Medium hanging from her beltline. "The Guardians may not be saviors. But no god is a savior. Just as not even Althena will save you when the time comes.

"My friend."

GS: Catenna has spent 1 Combo on Inspire, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Catenna has attacked Catenna with Material - Sovereign of the Deep!
GS: Catenna has attacked Riesenlied with Material - Sovereign of the Deep!
GS: Catenna has attacked Noeline with Material - Sovereign of the Deep!
GS: Catenna has attacked Yuna with Material - Sovereign of the Deep!
GS: Catenna has attacked Rikku with Material - Sovereign of the Deep!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
GS: Catenna heals Catenna! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Catenna gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Catenna heals Riesenlied! She gains 250 temporary hit points!
GS: Riesenlied gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Catenna heals Yuna! She gains 250 temporary hit points!
GS: Yuna gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Mariel has activated a Force Action!
GS: Mariel has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Ashton Anchors with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Violet Salazar with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has attacked Mariel with Status Apple!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Violet Salazar takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Violet Salazar!
GS: Ashton Anchors takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Ashton Anchors!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"SHE SET ME ON FIRE," Cyre says in his defense. "Leo! You can't fault a guy for defending himself from a body-arsonist! Besides, this is the third time your people are profaning mine, so I'm pretty sure we're even!" The art of manipulating wind is something that comes all too naturally to the beastman. A hurricane of demon fangs swirls around him. One slices into his flank, another pair cut into his legs, but the vast majority are being drawn away as if by a siphon of wind. Cyre stands, arms crossed defensively, at the veritable eye of the storm, even as he flinches away from one blade just in time to avoid losing an eye. "Are you really doing this to avenge your sister, or are you just pissed that you weren't there to defend her?"

Perhaps taunting the angry older brother of the crazy fire priestess is not the best move.

Cyre doesn't care.

His adrenaline is running on full blast. Rage overwhelms concerns about paltry things like self-preservation, but even it can't completely block him away from the world. He sees it, out of the corner of his eye, a vast windstorm sweeping into Catenna. How long can they keep this up? They need to break through quickly-- before it's too late.

"This ritual--" Cyre braces, his body tensing against the cage of razor wind. A spark of prismatic energy suddenly ignites close to his heart before shooting into the sky like a flare. "--Must end! O' spirit of the sun and sky, hear me! Solais Emsu, sage of heaven who smiles upon the world, grant us the gift of thine searing wisdom! CELESTIAL LORE!"

The sky erupts. A torrent of multicolored light pours down like the moon's angriest rainbow. It floods down, right overtop of the White Knight.

GS: Jacqueline Barber takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has spent 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked White Knight Leo with Celestial Lore!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Catenna heals Rikku! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Rikku gains a Combo from Inspire!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Trying to get out of the way of Ena's righteous fury takes some hard work from Ivan, who leans into his acrobatic training as the sphere of darkness races down from the sky, throwing himself into a flip. Even the outer aura of the spell packs a whallop, and a shockwave from the orb seems to ring through his bones. He sways on his feet for a moment before re-gathering himself.

"I can't do anything about Kilika for you, but I've got one of those, too," he offers back, forming his two hands in the shape of an orb and then pushing them forward.

An orb of a different kind rises forth from the ground, translucent and broiling hot on the inside as it rushes forward to try to envelop her.

Meanwhile, Belize is laying it on staggeringly thick. This person who he does not know at all seems to hate him possibly more than he hates himself, and -- what does he even think of that. Is it offensive? Validating? It's almost... funny.

Somewhere around, Are you but a shell of a human being, so content with blood that you would spill it for no reason?! Ivan's jaw just kind of drops open, and he starts laughing. Is this how he sounds to other people?

"Damn, it's like you know me!" says Ivan. "Have we met?"

Of course, laughing at your enemy and having some strange epiphany in the middle of a fight isn't usually the wisest course, and the rocks from below take him unawares, slashing into his legs and making the ground underfoot treacherous enough to bog him down in extricating himself.

"I'm not planning to die today, though!" he says, as he climbs over pillars and jagged outcroppings of rock. "I've got a few things left to do, sorry! If you're set on killing me, you're going to have to burn."

He perches on one of the shorter rock pillars, then, and summons a blade into his hand. With it, he slices a cut across the air with a snap of his arm, opening a portal to a place of roiling flame. The fire bursts forth from the portal, firing a cannon-like burst of magma toward Belize.

GS: Ivan has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Ena with Searing Sphere!
GS: Ivan has attacked Belize with Molten Roar!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan takes 23 damage from Poison!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Catenna heals Noeline! She gains 200 temporary hit points!
GS: Noeline gains a Combo from Inspire!
GS: Ena takes a solid hit from Ivan's Searing Sphere for 141 hit points!
GS: Ena suffers an additional 30 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Poison! applied to Ena!
<Pose Tracker> Blue Master Lunn has posed.

Once again, Lunn moves in a near-blur. The grenades that Violet throws explode -- but the Blue Master has already leapt away, fire licking at his feet, before he lands on both feet and shoots her a brief glance. Then, he steps -- and reappears next to her. He lets out a bellowing cry, and then throws enough punches that they practically become a blur as he strikes at the midwife.

He whirls to face Jay -- having bounded away. The air about him crackles, the sensation of lightning a surprise...

"...ah," he says.

And then he vanishes just as the ground he stood on explodes with lightning. He comes down with an axe kick for Jay's head, followed by a rapid-series of punches for her, and concluding with a roundhouse kick.

"What else would I call it? I have never found that healing and talk, alone, will change things," Lunn says to her. He glances at Ashton -- sees him surge with power. He rushes, and then slams a hand out, trying to punch him just as he resets his stance -- and pitch him across the field, before he whips about to face Mariel.

He watches the apple -- and his eyes narrow.

"I hear what you say... and I do not believe you," he says. "Why should I? You find reasons to stop us--reasons that benefit your own goals!"

He slams his hand into the ground -- and this Blue Dragon Fist comes as a wave of blue chi, exploding straight across the ground and towards Mariel.

Up above, though, one of the mages hesitates -- until her fellow shouts: "Focus!"

The barrier flickers -- and the glow around the Temple abates only for a moment.

GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Violet Salazar with Two Steps! Thousand Blows!!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Two Steps! Thousand Blows!!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Ashton Anchors with Blue Dragon Fist!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Mariel with Blue Dragon Fist!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Blue Dragon Mantra!
GS: Cripple and Weaken expired!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has completed his action.
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Mantra for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Blue Master Lunn!
GS: Violet Salazar takes a glancing hit from Blue Master Lunn's Two Steps! Thousand Blows! for 95 hit points!
GS: Pierce!! Blue Master Lunn's attack breaks through 100 temporary hit points! 114 remain!
GS: Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Two Steps! Thousand Blows! for 111 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

This stuff was suffocating and clyoing to each breath! Who would just keep a bag of powdery catalytic substance on them like that?!

 Oh right, Elvis would. In fact, he has like four different kinds of them on his person. Though they were for alchemcial uses.

"This would be over quite a bit faster if you both would just step back for and let the adults work!" The snap of a crossbow and a glowing light signal Elvis he is being shot at. As the bolt closes i, a massive hand lashes out and just snatches it from the air. The interior of his hand gets cut a little from the sudden loss of moment from the ammunition, but does not take the shot to center mass. "You should have such dangerous toys!" he calls to Chime.

He shakes the bolt toward Chime like a rule or stick, when it becomes difficult to move. "What's this?" His movements stiffen and hold him immobile. It is stressing to shift around. "Since when did you learn such a cantrip?" he asks Ethius, from the fading smoke. The dust compresses, contracts upon him. It takes a strong efort to break his particular shackles, scattering it again. He has to take a few long breaths. "Impressive! I won't give you that chance again!"

A small working of the hands, and a large amount of water wells out of the ground and swirls about it. It grabs the dust fro mthe air, and Elvis casts it all aside, in Chimes direction. From what little smoke remains, Elvis erupts from it toward Ethius, a giant hand outstretched. "How is your close quarters defense, though?!

The hand isn't wrapped, and looks like it could encircle a tree trunk on its own. He is definitely going for a grab. And if it lands, they are going for a trip.

Mostly going up, and then going down. Ethius will win the race to the floor.

GS: Elvis has attacked Chime Isa with Hydro Pressure!
GS: Mariel takes a solid hit from Mariel's Status Apple for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield! applied to Mariel!
GS: Elvis has spent 4 Combo on Link and Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Elvis has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Lariat Grab!
GS: Elvis has launched an attack Link!
GS: Mariel guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Fist for 103 hit points!
GS: Elvis has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Stunning Suplex!
GS: Chime Isa completely evades a hit from Elvis's Hydro Pressure!
GS: White Knight Leo critically Guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Celestial Lore for 29 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet overhears Jay address her opponent as "Blue Master." Ah. It's good to have a name, or as it happens, a title. She winces in pain, not sure how much longer she can keep this up.

He appears before her in a blur and showers her with blows. She manages to use the big rock to deflect some, but enough strike home that she falls back, staggering. Blood stains the front of her ragged blue gown. She hopes she won't die her, not on Spira. She knows what happens to the dead. They coagulate into monsters, rife with envy and spite for the living. Spira was full of them. That was no way to end up. And she'd be separated from Eduardo. Hang on, she kept telling herself. You've got to live.

This Blue Master has shrugged off her bullets and her grenades, pretty much. Maybe his powers are what the goddess offered him, why he follows her. But he is -- or appears -- human, and humans have weaknesses. Their bodies are particularly weak. Violet aims Jeremiah dead center at her foe's vital areas and fires. Desperate times, desperate measures. Almost too late, she notices the flow of vital energies coursing over her from Mariel's Apple. "Thank you," she gasps -- though she wishes there were a healing element among them. She could use one! She isn't sure Mariel can hear her, crouching behind her boulder... She aimes to keep the stone between her and Blue Master. It's not much of a shield but it will have to do...

GS: Violet Salazar has activated a Force Action!
GS: Violet Salazar has spent 4 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Violet Salazar has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Finishing Touch!
GS: Violet Salazar has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a glancing hit from Riesenlied's Ley Channeling - Sieg Impulse for 0 hit points!
GS: Break! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Aw," Marivel can't help it. Yuna is sweeter than sugar. She considers the fayth, the rod--what do those souls, she wonders, actually desire? She has had no opportunity to investigate them properly but perhaps after today she ought to. Why is there so much unrest amongst the dead?

She wonders if Yuna knows Auron's beliefs regarding the church--no, she imagines she may not know everything but she surely can't be ignorant of it. She has lived through both the church and the worst aspects of it. She is not ignorant and that is why she is strong.

Attempting to fight Leo with Leo's techniques doesn't seem to be working out for Marivel. Leo darts in. He aims for the neck.

"Ahh--! The common form of slaying monsters!" Marivel says, darting back--

--but too slow! Leo's blade rips through Marivel's neck and slices off her head in a single quick motion as if it were the Dragon Blade slicing through butter.

Marivel's head tumbles towards the ground and splots to the floor, staring lifelessly up at Leo.

But not so lifelessly that its mouth is unmoving. "Tis the evening, Leo. Not day. The difference is as cosmic as the heavens."

The head suddenly melts into thick molten red blood as it spreads along the floor.

Meanwhile at Marivel's neck, thick red strands rip out of her neck and vine around annd tighten into musculature, into form, into flesh. Tis not so dark this evening that the thinnest drifts of black smoke can be missed, but the evening sky means Marivel will not burn today even if her body might not manage. Before too long, Marivel's head has returned to its proper position, but when the face turns to look towards Leo--her eyes are absent, only two red orbs pulsing with inky blackness around their edges remain where her eyes once were.

"You and your sister... we are linked in ways you do not yet understand, Leo. I have spoken around it, yet I have avoided being direct. Mariel is correct. There is a darkness to what you are doing here that is unmistakeable. And believe me, my friend, I know darkness well."

She starts approaching, blood and drifting smoke dripping from her neck and splooshing to the ground profusely, trailing behind Marivel even as the last remains of the neck seal themselves shut. That surely MUST have taken a lot out of Marivel but 95 percent of ancient magic is the con.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70v-ZBAxH2k

More eyes open up along that face, vibrant red eyes that all stare right at White Knight Leo.

No wait--not staring. Rarely, not at any human interval, those eyes blink. Somehow without a mouth she speaks.

"Anastasia and Luceid are the ones remembered today while I became a fond subject of young adventure novels and trash erotica." Marivel 'says'. "But Kamui and I fought together as well. And the four of us, yes! Four! A number that appears again and again."

She stops, that freakish form her head has taken looks right back at Yuna for a moment, just a moment, as if daring her to still say she could never be afraid--or perhaps hesitating because no matter how much Yuna seemed to mean it, one can't help but wonder just how far that extends.

"The four of us and Althena. We saved town after town, country after country. We did not see ourselves as heroes, Leo, not like you four seem to. We were called as such, but each and every one of us learned to grow to detest that term: Hero."

A mouth opens up in the shadow, grinning. Many sharp teeth.

"That's right, White Knight Leo."

The smile broadens further.

"The Four Heroes of Althena. And you shared her color...and your skill with the blade is quite comparable."

Marivel darts forward suddenly, all those fangs clamping down for Leo's throat. It's about as gentle as it sounds.

"I will not forget..why Love carries a blade. I will fight for it, fight through anything, for my love. You told me of the dangers of K.K, of malevolence, my friend, but the truth of the matter is."

"I doubt that I am all too different from them."

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked White Knight Leo with Life Drain!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Fist for 98 hit points!
GS: Ashton Anchors enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ethius Hesiod guards a hit from Elvis's Lariat Grab for 48 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a glancing hit from Elvis's Stunning Suplex for 48 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Lost entirely from sight within the voidstorm summoned by the Veruni, Yuna cannot see, but she can still hear.

Rikku and Riesenlied accuse Kaguya of caring. They know the pilot in ways Yuna herself has never had the opportunity to. Theirs is solely a relationship of battle, thusfar. Though there are some lessons that can only be learned within the classroom of war.

The latter ally rushes past her, crystalline blade aglow, but it is her meditations upon love that strike Yuna, not her battle prowess in itself. The reason, not the action. Her heart squeezes.

Everything squeezes. Everything hurts. The void tears at her -- and she can feel something gathering around her, something being woven from all sides, like a straightjacket in warp and weft. Like a wall being constructed, a row at a time, around all the doors and windows of her self.

Catenna's power disrupts the storm -- washes over her soothingly -- but the terrible, terrifying feeling of IMPRISONMENT does not abate --

-- which is when Yuna realizes that she isn't just feeling her feelings. The fayth...

The cyclone disperses further; Yuna is nowhere to be seen. Instead, in the wake of the watery force, there is only... blue.

(Kaguya told her that she can't choose to protect everyone; that she'll wind up with no one.)

Blue fur.

(Perhaps it's appropriate that her answer comes at the end of a halberd.)

Bright steel.

(She can choose to protect everyone -- because everyone has chosen to protect her.)

Kimahri roars in Kaguya's face.

(She's not alone.)

GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with L1!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a glancing hit from Yuna's L1 for 45 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Blue Master Lunn completely evades a hit from Violet Salazar's Finishing Touch!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

        Perhaps it's just a matter of conviction.

        Boudicca, for all her doubt, does not truly want to bring Leo to harm. He is mortal, too - one of Althena's children, and that is still worth something, even now. She does not think he is a bad man, let alone an evil one; rather she has seen with her own eyes his good deeds.

        Ferocity meets ferocity and she's the one to flinch. It's a costly mistake. He breaks away, and the distance is closed by Demon Fangs again: and this time Boudicca does move, now standing firm is not a statement of solidarity. She springs aside of the first slice, and the second comes at her too quickly to abjure; she turns with the blow, and it glances off her armor, sending her cape fluttering in the wake of gold light.

        The shuddering force would give her pause, if she had lungs to knock the air from. But the air is intrinsic, and the lungs a metaphor.

        So is the gut, which is a boon when Marivel's head flies askance. "Marivel-!" Boudicca cries, and remembers the smoke a moment later. The talking head cut at the neck. Ah, yes.

        At least... she seems... as if she can repair herself. Boudicca, at least, has no wish to leave it to chance: she weaves another sigil, and a soft spring breeze eddies around Marivel's regenerating form, like the scent of new blossoms.

        (Four, Boudicca reflects. Again, that number. Four. Always four. It was four when she was introduced to this world: it is four now. Four, four, four.)

        There's a call across the battlefield: choose everyone and no one will survive.

        Another to join a hundred sorrows.

        No God is a saviour, Catenna says, in her own battle, and this will join the consideration too.

        Here, now, in the world of Man...

        "For Mauri," Boudicca says, for now, turning to face Leo again. "It is all for Mauri, then? All for the Goddess? All for - for some great other!" She exclaims, frustration edging into her words. "Now I understand Nimue's frustration! Is this - oh!"

        Belay that self-reflection: Marivel has gone right for the throat, metaphorically and very, very literally.

        Frozen between stopping her and stopping him, Boudicca does nothing at all, watching with a shade of horror on her face.

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Marivel Armitage with Soothing Breeze!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Boudicca heals Marivel Armitage! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Belize takes a glancing hit from Ivan's Molten Roar for 78 hit points!
GS: Disrupt and Shieldbreak! applied to Belize!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline looks toward Mariel as she speaks. Something malicious... If Mariel says it, Jacqueline can believe it. She had mentioned something about it before - so that must be what it was.

But, Mariel has something else for them - she pulls out an apple, and Jacqueline can feel a pulse of life rushing over her, leaving her energized.

This proves fortuitous as Lunn rushes her again. She tries to protect herself with another pillar of stone, but he manages to get past it this time - perhaps he's adjusted to it, by now. She dodges to the side, wincing as that axe-kick meant for her head strikes her shoulder instead, and then drawing her cloak around herself as he launches into a rapid-fire series of punches before knocking her away with a roundhouse kick.

Striking that cloak feels like hitting steel - but even that only somewhat softens the blows. Pain blossoms through her body, but she remains standing.

"You'd be surprised. Healing and talk...it might seem small, but even those small kindnesses can be a profound ripple that can make great things happen." Jacqueline replies. "There are more ways to bring about change than force of arms. That's my belief!"

She seems renewed as she speaks, and when she lets her cloak fall away again, she's holding another bottle of liquid.

"Someday, even your strength will fail you - and where will you be, Blue Master?" Jacqueline says, hurling the bottle at his feet. Rather than a cloud, it erupts in a plume of tranquilizing fog in a cool blue color. Those who breathe it in for too long will find themselves weakening, as they feel the pull of sleep fall over them.

GS: Jacqueline Barber used Mystic on Jacqueline Barber! Status effect durations increased by 2! Temporary HP duration
increased by 2!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has activated a Force Action!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Diminishing Draught!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

        "Sorry~" Chime calls out cheerfully as she nimbly tumbles to the side, taking advantage of her absurdly long roll range and extra iframes to clip through the wall of water and dust thrown her way. As she comes up there's a loud clang as she slams one crossbow ontop of the other forcibly reloading them one after the other.

        "They are fun ARMs through right? So verastility~" as she unloads an impressive seeming endless barrage of regular crossbow bolts at Elvis this time. Whatever Ethius had done, it didn't seem to have affected Chime's crossbows, unless her tumble and reloading undid it.

        But that barrage is too slow to completely save Ethius from the lariat and smash and Chime calls out "Oooo, 2 points to the Professor~ You okay grumpy pants?" her last statement cheerfully called out at Ethius as she glances him over likely pondering if she should pull one of her crest cards out. "Sooo, before I try it myself, what'll happen if I shot that rod to pieces? Or perhaps drop a bunch of bolts on the mages around it?" she'll ask Elvis again in an amused curious voice.

GS: Chime Isa has attacked Elvis with Heavy Barrage!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

 Leo doesn't really respond to her. That's not too surprising, as far as Skylr is concerned: Leo, being, well, Leo, means that sometimes he's fighting five people with his arms tied behind his back. Unfortunately, that also means that instead of him responding to her, well, she has to adjust to him. Annoyingly, however, there's multiple earth users around here, and, well...
 
 There's a bit of a wonky moment, when, as, she stares at Leo. There is normal Leo.
 
 *This* is the Leo that worries her.
 
 She stops near the group of Trio Vs. Leo and she stares at them all awkwardly. "Um..."

GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Diminishing Draught for 127 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to Blue Master Lunn!
<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.


        Ena is left wide open for the next attack, and the ball of flame catches her completely off guard. There is another scream, if a few moments delayed, and Ena hits the ground hard. She lets out a low whimper as the flames subside. She clings to her staff, trying to haul herself back upright, but it seems to be taking all her effort just to stand. She looks at Ivan as he doesn't even try to deny being a monster. He doesn't deny what he is, instead he seems to embrace it. Something about that chafes at Ena.

        Ena eventually gets back to her feet, struggling. Tears are in her eyes, apparently from the pain. She looks towards Summoner Belize, to see if they are still standing. She should be more worried about herself, obviously. "Do you... enjoy this?" She asks, with heavy breaths between the words. She doesn't seem to have the strength to summon up more magic at the moment. She looks straight at Ivan, as she repeats the question. "Do you enjoy attacking those who are just trying to save those who can't fight for themselves?" She doesn't expect a satisfactory answer. But she finds herself asking it regardless.

        She gives Belize one more pained look, unsure if there's anything she can say.Nonetheless, staggering though she is, Ena intends to continue fighting.

        She stumbles forward, and swings out wildly with her staff. It's hard to call it an attack, really. More of the reckless swing of someone who doesn't entirely know what they're doing. It's clumsy, it's inelegant, it's foolish.

        It's also, strangely enough, on a collision course with Ivan's windpipe if he doesn't stop it. There's no way it could be that precisely aimed, surely.

GS: Ena has spent 2 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Ena has attacked Ivan with Lucky Strike!
GS: Ena has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ena takes 23 damage from Poison!
GS: Disrupt expired!
GS: Ena has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Wisps of pink energy float from Mariel and surround the Drifters. Ashton - who just powered himself up - finds his already surging body filled with even more. The grin on his face grows gigantic. "Lady Mariel, once we are done here? Please remind me that I must buy you a drink in thanks. I haven't felt this good in months."
 
Another palm strike comes in, and this time Ashton's ready for it. Brimming with power, he bends his pauldron into it - and the grin grows wider. "Idiot."
 
"What goals? You damn fool! Most of us just want to go HOME, and you whine as if we were some conspiracy to undermine you? All the moreso, we stood with you before you decided to start murdering innocents! Bled with you! You cry about your people lost in the same battle we stood with you! If this is the will of your Goddess, then she is MAD."
 
The stance reset, the power banked - Ashton surges forward after Lunn as he dances through the hectic battlefield. The sleeves of his dark robe flutter, giving glances to the searing brightness of symbological tattoos under.
 
The first strike comes in - a scissoring horizontal double-slice. Then another - a two-fisted downwards smash. But those are just the opening. A rush to break the intial defenses and force the Blue Master onto the defensive.
 
It is followed by a spinning barrage of strikes - a cacophony of steel. Stabs, slashes and hilt-strikes coming fast and frantic from every angle as Ashton presses his attack.
 
Ironically, it stops not when the blades meet flesh but when Marivel speaks. Something in her words makes Ashton pause, distracted for a moment and mouthing the name 'Anastasia'.

GS: Ashton Anchors has spent 1 Combo on Link, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Cross Slash!
GS: Ashton Anchors has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashton Anchors has launched an attack Link!
GS: Ashton Anchors has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ashton Anchors has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Sword Dance!
GS: Ashton Anchors has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Ashton Anchors's Cross Slash for 70 hit points!
GS: Ashton Anchors's Stoic stance ends. He enters the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"Blue Master Lunn..." Mariel has nothing in common with the man's philosophy, she can tell that now. He does not understand her and she cannot imagine understanding him. In some ways he's right; action has to be taken. She found that out the hard way. But to just ignore them entirely - she can't accept that. She cannot. Rather than try to hurt him, she tosses something else at him - a bundle of powdered herbs that puffs open on contact, softening metal and making leather brittle, eating away at armour.

It is for the best that Mariel cannot see what Marivel is doing right now. ...Definitely for the best.

Mariel's attention is focused through the burst of energy. It won't last long; Mariel can't hold it together in face of... well, the natural energies of Lunar. Nor would she want to; it is not her way to force the natural world into compliance.

But while it is there, she can feel as well as if she was on Filgaia - as if Filgaia was well again. Her bond, her resonance with that life, is pure. And she can feel the mages' momentary hesitation, but she can also feel what she was looking for, like a dirty thumbprint on something beautiful. Like -

A wave of chi bowls over Mariel, and she loses focus in a tumble of colour as the world spins around her. The energy from the apple (or 'apple') finally fades as Mariel finds herself on her side again, a new bruise on her ribs.

From her position on the ground, Mariel calls, as loud as she can, "Don't put the seal up! The Destroyer has altered the Baskar bindings!" And she crosses her fingers, hoping that she is wrong but mostly hoping they listen to her.

GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Ashton Anchors's Sword Dance for 82 hit points!
GS: Blue Master Lunn enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Mariel has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Smarna Weed!
GS: Shieldbreak expired!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a glancing hit from Mariel's Smarna Weed for 0 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak! applied to Blue Master Lunn!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Life Drain for 111 hit points!
GS: Marivel Armitage drains White Knight Leo! Marivel Armitage gains 56 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        Noeline is grateful for Yuna and Rikku's presence, even if she doesn't really have the werewithal to show it right now, just as she's grateful for Catenna and the rest of the Drifters who have arrived ready to defend the Temple. Her own strength has always been a little more inwards focused than Riesenlied; whereas Riesenlied takes comfort and strength from others, she's always kind of considered her speciality to be the ability to pick herself up time and time again - focused out of a sheer stubbornness and pique, if she's candid about it.

        (Part of her looks at Rikku and remembers how she used to be, dancing across Filgaia - but she should be more charitable than that, she chuckles at the back of her mind. Rikku's putting a lot more on the line than she did, back then.)

        Whatever she's about to say to Kaguya next is cut off by a sudden outpouring of energy from their daughter, and her sorcerous attack is met, caught, and then surpassed - into the lancing bolt of force that Kaguya throws back at her. She's quick to swing her sword back around to place it in the way of the ray, aiming to use it as a shield - but it punches through the block of metal regardless, earning a drawn-out hiss as she finds herself propelled backwards several steps.

        No sooner has she caught herself than there's a dangerous 'tink' sound of metal against stone just next to her, a little noise that instantly raises the hairs on the back of her neck. She knows how Kaguya fights, and to be honest her daughter fights a lot like she would were she not trying to be the person she is. "Riese--!" she starts to say in warning, and then her vision shimmers green as a sudden rush of sound leaves her world spinning and ringing.

        It tears away the Guardian's power around her, the shape of the bridge reasserting itself abruptly - but it's thankfully chased by a wash of spectral water that washes over her. A marker that sometimes hope does win out - as a Guardian's sorcery knits a Hyadean's wounds.

        Noeline rises in the wake of it, her gaze set forward once more as she grits her teeth, levering herself back up by the hilt of her sword. She doesn't need to look to feel the strength of Riesenlied's conviction through their link; she swells in pride at the sensation of it, feels it buoy her up in turn. It feels like cresting a wave - like she's awake again after weeks of dozing along, a shot of clarity in her upper arm.

        "I still hope," she decides, as she finds her feet. "I still want to believe. In the people trapped inside this Temple. In the people standing here with us. In you," she stresses towards her daughter. "I will not make the assumption that this world is unfair - not when we have changed it for ourselves, little by little, and not when I still have hope that we can change it for you as well. Thank you for what you've done to shield us, but..."

        She pulls out a breath, watching as Riesenlied of all people seeks to overwhelm Kaguya's defences with a spear of light. Suddenly she can find it within herself to grin; it's more grim than she'd like, and it doesn't quite meet her eyes, but it's still there as she darts forwards. Riesenlied's is a tight, focused spear of light; in return, hers is a living, chaotic swell of shadow that follows it in tandem, tearing where the Impulse pierces. "... it's our job to look after you, too!"

GS: Noeline has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Material Adept - De Le Metalica!
GS: Noeline has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Noeline has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

        Fire erupts from a portal in front of Ivan towards Belize. This they attempt to evade, but while they avoid a direct hit from the sideways geyser of magma, the sheer heat of the attack scorches their clothes and makes their skin bubble and peel underneath. They scream in rage and pain, clutching their injuries tenderly with their other hand. They gasp for breath, strands of copper hair falling from their long braid as they glare over at Ivan. Ivan, who... laughs, and laughs, like this is all one big joke.
        
        "Yes. Once. Passingly," Belize says tightly. "When you attempted to assassinate a CHERISHED MAESTER OF YEVON!!"
        
        Ena, meanwhile, asks Ivan a more wounded question, both emotionally and physically. Belize shoots them a glance, both sharp and concerned. Still, they won't tell her to fall back. The fight has only just begun, and if they were her, they would hate having to run already. Instead, they give her a precise nod, then focus back on the enemy. "I needn't kill you," they say tightly, an edge in their voice as they nock three arrows. "Leaving you bereft of any ability to harm the harmless again would satisfy me plenty!"
        
        The triple attack is loosed, and flies towards Ivan, each arrow distorted with a different slightly murky color. Should they hit, Ivan might find his body not quite responding well...

GS: Ivan completely evades a hit from Ena's Lucky Strike!
GS: Belize has attacked Ivan with Triple Distress!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        "SILENCE!" Leo bellows. "You know NOTHING of what she's endured! Of what WE'VE endured! A craven fiend like you would NEVER understand!" Did Cyre get even deeper under Leo's skin, there? He did. This may prove costly for him. As if to underscore the point, Marivel's head hits the ground independently of her body. Leo's stomach lurches, and he can picture the rest of the sequence in his mind's eye. It doesn't happen. The Beastman whirls, and flat-out stares at Marivel a moment, mouth dropping open. It turns out he won that particular gamble, but it doesn't make him feel any better.

        Light pours from the heavens. It's answered by a wave of pearly light that washes out from the crest around Leo's neck. The fury of Solais Esmu meets with the power of the White Dragon, and the latter forces a stalemate. A light show of rainbow sparks erupts at the edges of the White Knight's shield, which only collapses once the Shaman's barrage stops. Leo turns to Marivel, and is about to snarl something when Skylr suddenly steps forwards. Leo... stops. He looks at the young shepherdess, face tight.

        What is she--

        What is he--

        "See to the magi!" Leo says. He's about to say more when Marivel is suddenly right there. Fangs dig into his neck before he even realizes what's happening to him. Bright, coppery liquid flows into Marivel's mouth as Leo sags against her, eyes going glassy with incomprehension. He looks at Skylr from over Marivel's shoulder. He feels blood trickling down his neck.

=================<* Mi'ihen Highroad Battle - Against Yevon *>==================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Mapping and Networking *>====================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Your keen eyes and attention to the surroundings catch another of those       
 tunnels, used by groups of Guado Guardians. This one is not particularly      
 large; it seems the Guado used this to move a small squadron, like the one    
 that attacked you earlier. The tunnel leads into a small network of them      
 that ultimately connects to a larger one.                                     
                                                                               
 If you map it out, you might be able to get an idea of where they come from   
 -- and, more importantly, where they are headed to. This could help prepare   
 other outbases for being hit by these Guado strike teams.                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
============<* Mi'ihen Highroad Battle - Against Yevon - Round 5 *>=============
======================< Results - Mapping and Networking >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margaret                            0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Travelers Cards                     2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Naelle Sylkirk                      30 --(0)--> 30                 Pass
Big Book o'Blueprints               2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                196 --(0)--> 196               Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Margaret                    120 --(5)--> 125               Pass
Conditions: Stupify(2)
Effects: 
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: Ivan is too exhausted to continue!
DG: The party led by Margaret has successfully explored Mi'ihen Highroad Battle - Against Yevon!
=================<* Mi'ihen Highroad Battle - Against Yevon *>==================
================<* CHALLENGE - Spoils of War - Antarctic Wind *>================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Within the tunnels, before you make your way out -- and potentially collapse  
 them -- you catch sight of several dark blue stones, each with a sculpted     
 portion of white rock around a tiny cyan sphere. These are Antarctic Winds,   
 items that -- when thrown -- unleash a powerful blast of ice and cold at      
 whatever they strike.                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.

 
"Different how!?" Rikku demands in indignation. "All these people want what he wanted! A life free from Sin!"
 
She shouts back at her, "You can say a lot of things made him different, but in the end he died - all those Crusaders died - for people like them! Sin creates people like him every day from people like them!"
 
Then comes the tornado, it erupts out of Kaguya and Rikku suddenly dives, hugging onto a rock that seems particularly attached to the ground. "KA-" Whatever she says next is lost to the howling of the tornado, as her back is scoured by the dust and debris of the tornado.
 
It is hard to say if it is her grip or Catenna's Shamanistic arts that save her. The shape of a vast blue light that rushes into her.
 
As the storm fades, Rikku unlaces her arms from around the rock, and stands up and whispers, "...Don't tell Yunie that she can't save everyone."
 
It is hard to say what she means by that. That the world can't be that cruel, despite all the evidence that it is. That it's Yuna's choice. That Kaguya has no right to tell her that.

However she then sees Yuna's state, and Kimahri's rush for them, and Rikku has this small moment of panic.
 
Rikku bends over to the side, her hands working in frantic motions with several objects. "Hang on Yunie - just hang on... just need a few moments..." She pats her pouches down until finally she brings out a Hypello Potion she bought along the Moonflow. "Not what it's meant for but..." Double taking at it, she says quickly, "It'll do!"
 
Popping the cap, she pours it inside the metal casing she's working with, before finally rising up, rearing her arm back as she takes one step, then a hop forward, feinting once - twice... "Kaguya - catch!"
 
... again.
 
And finally pitches it her way. "... Actually don't - since this isn't good for your health ... Kimahri - take like ten steps back?"
 
It hits the ground just behind where she marked Kaguya's position to be, and it rolls around until it comes to a stop facing upwards. Something erupts out of it into the air overhead, showering the area with this yellow, caustic spray that burns on contact - and on inhalation.
 
"Yow... guess it works better than I thought - uh... guess I'm sending a thank you letter to a Hypello..."
 
A beat, a nervous titter.
 
"...those little guys are going to be so confused."
 

GS: CRITICAL! Ivan completely evades a hit from Belize's Triple Distress!
GS: Rikku has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with  Mix: Hazardous Shell!
GS: Rikku has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Rikku has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a glancing hit from Noeline's Material Adept - De Le Metalica for 92 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Rikku's  Mix: Hazardous Shell for 170 hit points!
GS:  Infect extends negative status by 1 round!
GS: Cripple! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
<Pose Tracker> Blue Master Lunn has posed.

Violet fires at him again. The bullet comes for his heart -- and Lunn spins, then slaps the bullet down open-handed. It hits with all its speed, sending up a burst of dirt into the air. He waves his hand -- and there isn't so much as blood. His reflexes, it seems, are without peer.

"If my strength fails me, then many will suffer. I won't accept such an outcome!" Lunn snaps back at Jay. He does breathe in that fog -- and hacks, covering his face with an arm. He backpedals away from her, and is forced to face Ashton. "You speak as if Yevon is innocent! Tell me, boy--is it not convenient that they saw a rival in us... and lured us to face Sin, yet did not commit their own forces?"

Lunn shakes his head. "No. We did not start this war--we are finishing it!"

His attention must all be on Ashton, then. His blade flashes, a double slice, both just met with his armored braces and a spray of sparks with each. Blue Master Lunn, for one precious moment, is driven back--and then his assault intensifies, blade flashing and slashing.

Some blows get through his defenses. Slashes erupt here and there across his gi, blood splashing on the ground. Lunn snarls, though--

And then he spits, as the bundle of herbs breaks across his face. He spits, keeping some of it from getting into his face -- and then he rushes forward, with a surge of power. He throws a high kick up for Ashton's chin -- then two punches, one after the other, and then breaks past. Creepy gets one blow for his head; Weepy gets a backhand. Ashton has an elbow fly, before Lunn turns.

He kicks for the swordsman's back.

And he rises into the air, hands raised. A bead of blue-white light swirls into existence. Lunn cries out, a roaring bellow--

--and then he hurls it down, before it explodes in the midst of them all with a titanic explosion of white energy burning blue at the edges.

GS: Blue Master Lunn has activated a Force Action!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has activated a Force Action!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has spent 4 Combo on Link and Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Ashton Anchors with Blue Dragon Perfected Kata!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has launched an attack Link!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Ashton Anchors with Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Violet Salazar with Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has attacked Mariel with Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius gets showered with some of that compressed dust from Elvis' bursting escape, striking him like it were a hard shove and forcing him to a momentary kneel. The odd man with that unyielding, sharp stare turns over his shoulder. He knew he had scant time to break away. The margin of time he had to work with in the aftermath of that is so small as though he would've covered the same distance just standing still where he was.
        Ethius doesn't even blink and he comes in too fast for his mind to even track, and the eyes give way to an emotion - pain, shock - just from the grab. His staff is technically in the way. It doesn't stop that big hand from just pressing it into Ethius and getting those fingers around him. If Elvis squeezes any harder, he could shatter wherever those fingers clench. From the Professor's educated knowledge, Ethius' manner of dress leaves him inadequately armored against much of anything. He doesn't dress in any more complex or layered armor than whatever the natives here provide. Which means he is, in elementary terms, exactly as defenseless against their physical might as a native might be.
        Ethius cannot physically struggle hard enough to even so much as tickle the Professor in his grasp as he's taken up, up, up, and down, down, down, against the stone road. The stone road that should so much as turn Ethius into a strawberry pancake. (is it strawberry? Maybe it's raspberry. Once the pancake is made someone should go taste it to be sure.)
        The earlier seismic shenanigans ensures the rock's foundation from where Ethius is suplexed doesn't provide resistance to the Symbologist's body hitting it. The ground crumbles underneath, sort-of cushioning the impact. Emphasis on 'sort-of.'
        The only 'definite' is 'there is no strawberryraspberryunidentified red fruit jam pancake.'
        Ethius still gets suplexed into stone, and that is an astoundingly deep crater - one that Chime cheerfully mocks Ethius for being suplexed into. Blood pours down the side of his head. His vision, and his hearing, all swim. Loud, unfocused, whooshing noise and blurry colors, as Chime asks if 'grumpy pants' is okay. He... doesn't look it.
        It's pure adrenaline that keeps him from succumbing to a blow comparable to what Kaguya pulled on him so long ago. (That and the ground giving out enough that it dampened the impact a bit, but shh.) That tone of sing-song amusement in her voice somehow carries through the haze, but it is not one that encourages nor enrages so much as helps him snap to a logical thought to start reclaiming scrambled senses. Chime is there, a bit higher up, I'm... down here, the big shadow is...
        Ethius can't climb up this crater in a short amount of time, but details come into clarity. He notes the direction Chime is looking as she talks and asks questions. Line of sight. Who was she talking t--
        ...Him.
        Casting for someone or something not in line of sight is difficult. Ethius falls to a kneel, but after stammering through a set of syllables a few times, he finds a rhythm. He has to stop and start over one more time because he flubs a gesture with his right hand, but soon enough, Elvis might see a small bit of light from the crater...
        "Overheat." Ethius murmurs out, aiming at the general area in the direction of where Chime is looking and talking, subjecting this area - whether or not Elvis is in it - to a large uptick of sweltering, tiring, enervating heat, even as he is stuck in a crater with limited mobility or any easy means of climbing back out under his own power.
        At least, for now.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Elvis with Overheat!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb for 120 hit points!
GS: Violet Salazar takes a glancing hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb for 102 hit points!
GS: Mariel completely evades a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb!
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Perfected Kata for 114 hit points!
GS: Ashton Anchors enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Blue Master Lunn assumes the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet gazes on in despair as Blue Master deftly sidesteps her attack. His agility is unnatural, like his strength and speed. She has no chance against him hand-to-hand: and wouldn't have, even if she were younger. He attacks with a glowing blue sphere of energy. It dissolves her boulder and still has power enough to leave her drained, burned and smarting. Violet continues using her ARM because it's all she has. With more alacrity than a Human her age would have, she whirls, aims, and fires.

GS: Violet Salazar has attacked Blue Master Lunn with ULTRA VIOLET!
GS: Violet Salazar has completed her action.
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Violet Salazar's ULTRA VIOLET for 160 hit points!
GS: Ashton Anchors takes a solid hit from Blue Master Lunn's Blue Dragon Spirit Bomb for 206 hit points!
GS: Elvis critically Guards a hit from Chime Isa's Heavy Barrage for 27 hit points!
GS: Elvis guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Overheat for 53 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to Elvis!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

For once, it isn't the blatant disregard for proper holy magic that wrenches Cyre's attention away from the foremost battle at hand, but rather...

"You... You knew Althena too?" That's... That's important information. Extremely important. Cyre stares agog at Marivel, looking through her in disbelief. He barely even notices the blood draining from Leo's neck-- or maybe it's more accurate to say that he's surprised it took this long to happen.

"...Of course. It's always been four, hasn't it? The old stories-- they say that the Guardians used to walk amongst us as heroes. And even then! Even then there were four! Fengalon the White, Schturdark the Black, Grudiev the Blue, Moa-Gault the Red!" Cyre's words are less spoken and more breathed. "If the pattern really does repeat throughout history-- then it only makes sense that there'd be a connection there. Guardians above, the implications are..."

Oh no, the Baskar priest is getting stuck in a theological loop.

Fortunately for everyone involved, the detection of shenanigans snaps Cyre abruptly out of his stupor. Ordinarily, such a thing wouldn't be enough, but it's not ordinary chichanery, it's chichanery being purpotrated by the Carakin's most adorable little Elw. Hearing such terrible lies pouring from her lips is almost something... sacriligious. But.

Well. Fengalon does probably have the Trickery domain in some interpretations of scripture.

"...That's right!" Cyre shouts, suddenly! With all the conviction and utter surety of an expert preacher who is utterly convinced both in his words and in his desire to avoid letting an adorable puppy-eared Elw go into the business of lying all on her own*. "Do you not see? In the course of transforming this sacred relic, you inadvertently opened a crack for the powers of the Destroyer to infiltrate and corrupt its holy energies, turning it against all!" He clenches a fist into the sky! "We need to work quickly, before all is lost!"

And so Cyre points right at the 'tainted' instrument... and conjures a great big downburst of wind overtop of it.

Hopefully the sheer chutzpah of it all is enough to buy him the opportunity to disrupt this nonsense...!

(*Cyre is clearly an awful, terrible influence on the people around him)

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"You don't have to accept it. It'll happen one day, whether you like it or not. ...And when that time comes, that's when you'll see the repercussions of your actions. For your sake, and the sake of your people, I hope they're good ones." Jacqueline replies, shaking her head.

She watches as he unleashes a barrage of blows at Ashton, then rises into the air...before hurling down a ball of blue-white light into the ground that explodes. Jacqueline pulls her cloak around herself to protect against it, but the sheer force of it is enough to blow her back and off of her feet. She crashes into the ground with a wince as she forces herself back up.

He's powerful, even with the potions she's been inflicting him with. There was a reason he commanded respect.

She takes a deep breath, trying to stabilize herself. She draws a Crest from the gauntlet on her left hand and sets it into one of the slots before calling upon its power.

Suddenly, energy begins to tear through the ground beneath Lunn's feet, sending debris flying upward - and even the Blue Master himself, if he isn't careful. And then, before the spell concludes, she slashes down with her right hand, invoking a second Crest - her Lightning Crest.

At her call a bolt of lightning strikes downward from the heavens, sending the debris rocketing back toward the earth - and Lunn - with great force.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Dualcast - Voltaic Quake!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Dualcast - Voltaic Quake for 182 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

"I've no love for Yevon, but you do not speak to his people! You-- ack!"
 
Ashton doesn't complete his comment. Blows rain down - the Blue Master strikes thrice. Once to each head. The hits themselves are brutal, staggering the sellsword. It staggers him, leaving him open to the kick.
 
It sprawls Ashton out on the ground.... and he's at the epicenter of the explosion. The Draconic Cerberus disappears in the burst of power and light.
 
It fades - and he's still on the ground.
 
For a moment.
 
But when Ashton rises, it's obvious something is wrong. He moves like a puppet - jerky, arms hangling limp and wobbling. At least the human parts do. His entire form is almost being held up by the two dragons.
 
Perhaps the most unnerving part is that his eyes are no longer green but red and blue.
 
The marionette-Ashton straightens up, head lolling.
 
The serpents glow once more - and grow. And grow. In moments they dwarf Ashton himself. For a brief few moments, they regain their size as true dragons. No longer Creepy and Weepy but Gyoro and Ururun.
 
All three heads at once let out a beastial roar. And both dragons turn themselves not just to Lunn - but foremost to the mages he has shouted to be defended. The roar becomes a bellow of dragonflame and hoarfrost, washing over the battlefield.
 
Burn it all! Rend them to cinders!
Freeze their bones! Let their flesh wither!
 
The Blue Master himself is almost mere collateral damage - the dragons are angry and pained. At heart, they are petty and childish. The dragons want the one who hurt them to suffer in ways not merely physical. He wishes the mages protected - they want them D E S T R O Y E D

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Blue Master Lunn with Dragon Breath!
GS: Ashton Anchors has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan recoils a little from the sight of his spell's impact on Ena, tensing with guilt at her whimper of pain. But he can't pretend like suffering wasn't his intention...

Do you enjoy this?

His expression goes more guarded. "I enjoy winning," he says, flatly. He also APPARENTLY enjoys being poetically called to account for his sins, which isn't a thing he knew about himself until now but is probably something a lot of people could have guessed about him. Fortunately(?) there probably won't be much time ahead for Ivan to feel obligated to unpack that.

Ena unleashes an attack with her staff that appears at first blush to be reckless--clumsy-- but Ivan's attention is quickly pulled from the inelegant execution to the potentially deadly trajectory. As the staff swings towards his throat, Ivan goes into a controlled fall to one side that becomes a cartwheel, and the staff whooshes past him.

He lands on his feet again, heaving a breath of relief.

Belize turns their rage toward Ivan again, accusing him of attempting to assassinate Seymour Guado. Ivan has been wondering for a while if that's what he did.

"Is it assassination if you do it openly during a battle?" he asks, with open curiosity rather than defensiveness. Though there seems little point in asking Belize after they've made their perspective on the matter so clear already. But, to think, Ivan has been desperate to hide being an assassin in the Guard all this time, and all this time people have been thinking he openly tried to assassinate an enemy... His life is just a mess, isn't it!

Leaving you bereft of any ability to harm the harmless again would satisfy me plenty!

"Uh--" says Ivan, "What's the plan, then, are you hoping to cut off my arms?"

The answer seems instead to take the form of three arrows, each surging with its own ominous power. While Ivan may not have his life together, his reflexes at least are in rare form today, and as the arrows whizz closer, his intuition pings, and he turns to one side, narrowing his silhouette, and manages to slide into the space just between two of the three projectiles, the closest one scraping across his armor as it flies past, but not breaking skin.

Ivan makes a wordless sound of stress associated with realizing one almost took an arrow to the heart.

But okay. Time to get serious before one of these guys does kill him, purposefully or otherwise. Even if they are in the right, and he is hurting them for the sake of helping the Guard threaten innocents, he has to get to tomorrow. Or the day after. Or whenever it is. Then he can find out if he's able to earn the right to be someone less deserving of passionately embroidered insults. Until then, he'll have to be a monster and a fiend.

He sweeps his hand in a pattern around himself, calling to life a warm wind filled with shimmering sparks. Popping, fizzing sparks, whose sound becomes more dire, like that of a lighted fuse, as they fly toward Ena and Belize. When they arrive, they detonate into a gauntlet of explosions.

GS: Ivan has spent 2 Combo on Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Belize with Stars of Fury!
GS: Ivan has attacked Ena with Stars of Fury!
GS: Ivan takes 28 damage from Poison!
GS: Poison expired!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Ena completely evades a hit from Ivan's Stars of Fury!
GS: Belize takes a glancing hit from Ivan's Stars of Fury for 86 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel is less distracted by Skylr because she was focused at the task at hand, but after she clamps down on Leo more beast than woman in this moment her many eyes slant towards Skylr in this moment and this time they actually are staring at her. Skylr has surprised the actual fiend.

Blink. Blink. She is reminded of Anastasia's warning to her. She can't expect time to stay the same as her meddling becomes more prevalent.

"Young elf," Marivel whispers to Skylr. "Why do you stammer? Why do you hesitate? A monster lies before you, your mentor endangered...Slay the beast ere you lose all you hold dear."

Boudicca lent some aid to Marivel moments earlier, but it's only now the sigils really take effect. The spring breeze reminds Marivel of a life beyond the war and violence before her. It eases her mind, her body, in ways that mostly shows in the eyes.

She sees the look of horror on Boudicca's face. Is it because of her appearance right now? Because of what she is? Or what she is doing?

They don't understand, she knows, but how could they understand? She can talk around the truth forever but speaking of the most painful of kernels she avoids just as much as any young Drifter.

But every time she tries to share the truth, she finds herself disappointed. Called a liar. Suspected. But being on Lunar drags that pain out of her like nobody's business.

"Luceid has a new friend, Kamui forgets and ought to move on from me, Ana is gone..." Marivel murmurs, many eyes tightening, blood dripping out of each like tears. "All I have is the Filgaia we saved. The first and last time we fought together."

All she needs to do in this moment is to force her mouth to close more. That's all she needs to do and then Yevon might actually have a bloody chance in this conflict.

"I never got to say goodbye," Marivel says. Cyre freaks out about the plot but to Marivel it isn't plot at all. It's just her life. His theological marveling carves more deeply into Marivel than any hero's blade.

"I never got to apologize." Marivel finds that this strange random little interruption from Skylr has prevented her from doing what she was going to do: End it. Nothing feels more difficult right now than to clamp down on that neck any further.

The blood does not make Marivel gag or grimace. It's simple beastman blood, same as any other. Leo is one of the Heroes, but he is also just a man. Just like Ana was just a woman. Marivel's mouth opens up and pulls away from Leo. The shadowy creature shrinks away, eyes staring out at the White Knight.

"Why didn't she..." Marivel begins but cuts hereself off. Whatever she was going to say, she doesn't finish.

"...Yes, to doubt...tis a fearful thing, Leo." Marivel's shadowy face reforms gradually back into a true Marivel head, hair and only two eyes. "I certainly don't enjoy it. Yet those doubts make us who we are. I am not afraid to be weak--that is my strength."

"...I can't let any more be sacrificed. Not even for her. Don't you understand? Not for anyone! No heroes, no refugees, no innocents, no ... no more teammates. You who martyr yourself so willingly, mayhaps you know what tis like to be sacrificed, but do you know what tis like to be the ones left behind? Tis too much, the torture, tis too much to be left behind."

Her eyes narrow at Skylr. "Strike the demon down," They slant back to Leo. "I cannot hesitate anymore."

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"Please, you must listen! I felt it - that is why I went to the temple!"

Mariel says nothing else to the mages above - because she can't; anything she might have said was drowned out in the enormous burst of energy from Lunn. Mariel knows she cannot counter that with pure force - either physical or magical, she doesn't have the energy to stand up to that directly and wouldn't even if she was in her best condition, which she isn't. She loses head-on challenges like that.

That's why she didn't try.

Mariel, already lying on the ground, did her best impression of a burrowing creature; she rolled to one side, down a little roll to the lowest point nearby, ending up on her stomach; then she pressed herself face-first into the dirt as hard downward as she could. She feels the blast over her, tearing at her long hair and her robes, but the blast mostly passes over her rather than pressing down into the little hollow she's in.

So it may be a bit of a surprise when she pushes herself up, not noticably the worse for wear from the explosion (the previous impacts are a different story; every one of those hurts awfully). Her ears are ringing, though it's already starting to clear; she's not deafened, at least, but it makes conversation awkward for a few moments.

Also, she has found out that she is going to have to talk to Cyre later. A lot. But that's a job for Future Mariel; Present Mariel has plenty on her plate already, thank you. Her allies are hurt, and so almost on autopilot Mariel reaches into her bag, finding items she needs there; a powder held in a liquid suspension, the whole thing in a small vial.

Mariel can see what is happening to Ashton, and she has an idea. Unfortunately, that means she has to actually land a difficult throw - because she has to wind up and pitch the vial (container and all) into one of the dragon heads. With the vial open, because she can't guarantee that the dragon will be cooperative and break it by biting.

She picks Ururun, mostly because the solution will work fine frozen but probably not boiled away. And she only opens the vial a little, so it won't spill in transit. Mariel whistles sharply at the dragon-head to get it to look her way before she tosses. Hopefully her throwing arm is good!

GS: Mariel has attacked Ashton Anchors with Holy Root!
GS: Mariel has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Mariel heals Ashton Anchors! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS:  Restore reduces negative status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Blue Master Lunn takes a solid hit from Ashton Anchors's Dragon Breath for 147 hit points!
GS: Blue Master Lunn has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"Because he fought back! Because--SHUT UP, that's why!" With a shout at Rikku, Kaguya throws the fine glass bottle away, where it shatters on the stones behind her. "...What has 'love' ever really saved?" Kaguya asks Riesenlied, for a moment a touch of something emptier in her expression. She looks to Riesenlied's blade, and to Riesenlied herself. "Don't you think I'd regret not acting?"

...But she does know--she knows that maneuver. With surprise she regards it, and she braces herself--but as the spear of light crashes against her, it opens no wounds. Instead, she can feel the difference--feel the way the light cascades about her limbs, changes the air. "Tch," she answers, realizing the point of the maneuever--

"You don't understand! All you see is what's right in front of you--what you can accept, what you can't!"

She shifts to the side, moving to try to take better ground and make up for the clear vulnerability that will remain until she can shrug off this interference.

"What else does it come down to?" Kaguya demands of Catenna. "Pretty ideals and nice hopes don't do anything without power. None of it matters if you can't back it up!"

She recognizes the light immediately. Perhaps there is a special connection; perhaps she just knows what to look for. But she sees water overtaking wind, and her eyes narrow. There, that shape--and Kaguya stares daggers at it. If merely intending it were enough to do harm, her gaze alone might pin the Guardian's apparition in place--as it stands, she doesn't move for an instant, staring at her real foe. And there--there, the voice--

"Who asked her to?" Kaguya retorts to Catenna. "...Who gave you the idea I think anyone is going to? There's always someone stronger. ...At least... There used to be. But don't misunderstand me. If you think I'm fighting so Althena will work her magic on me... I'm not. ...As a friend, I want to be sure you understand."

...Kaguya does not feel the emotions of the Fayth, but she lashes out at Yuna like someone wounded all the same. She looks over her foes, re-gauging the situation in the face of Lucadia's power--

A shining halberd speartip rushes from the blue. Kaguya shifts just slightly, and it impacts a ruined pauldron with enough force that it knocks it all the way off with a groan of shearing metal as it impacts armor and slides up to shatter another piece of defense. But perhaps the battery of that attack, that forces Kaguya into a partial turn from sheer momentum, isn't the real strike--but instead, the defiance itself.

In formless rage, Kaguya screams right back, her sharpened canines more obviously inhuman than usual--and shifts immediately to the side, guard up, as she moves out of the much, much larger Ronso's immediate range. She simply doesn't have a retort that satisfies her beyond clear feeling, and there's something of a snarl in her expression still after. "RRRAAAH!"

No, she's not alone. ...Maybe they really believe she's different. It makes Kaguya... angrier. But not only that.

"It's nice to want things," Kaguya practically sneers at Noeline in her talk of belief, all the more twisted in feeling because of where she has to direct it, a knife gripped by the blade. "I didn't ask you to shield me! I just want you to LET ME HANDLE IT! I don't share your optimism! I'll settle things MYSELF!"

She doesn't skip shouting, through the swell of shadow--it impacts her, tears and crashes, and she doesn't move from it. If anything, she steps into it, defiant, a wave of some inner darkness strengthening her as it tears around her. Yet more of her armor crashes and breaks.

Don't tell her? "Why not?" Kaguya asks. "Because you want her to stay like she is? ...No. No, that doesn't make sense. Not with how she is..."

Something is missing--something tears at her understanding, something she doesn't get yet. But there's a throw, and--

And in fact she doesn't catch, because she knows that trick. She starts away from it without even looking, but unfortunately--the gas spreads too quickly, the force of her movement only bringing the vapors faster. It burns, and she coughs for the next few moments, feeling her muscles burn. She hits a knee, briefly immobilized by the fit she seems to undergo, ugly noises of illness as she covers her mouth with a hand that comes back bloody, not just because of attacks.

"You..." She breathes in, unsteadily, but forcefully--and brings up a hand to wipe blood from her lips as she stands up again. "You don't get it," she seethes. "We need to take this a step at a time--methodically. Thinking with your emotions won't get you anywhere. You'll see. It'll hurt, but you'll probably all live through it. Probably..."

She thinks; she recalls, and it seems--no, it's clearer, to some, the way she seems to be focusing on something faraway. There is a pulse, from a different direction--from all around. It is something dark, and terrible, before mist spreads from the Veruni's feet, vaguely purple, rushing for Catenna and Yuna alike as an awful fog--Kimahri, too. It smells of rot, of worse than natural but something festering, eats away at spells and life all, and the sickening feeling it gives for just an instant darkens vision, causes the air itself to shimmer ominously, horribly.

But she rises, and suddenly she's holding something--an ARM, of strange materials in black and white. She extends her arm and the shotgun-shaped weapon gleams--before she pulls the trigger, once-twice, sending great recoiling blasts for Noeline and Rikku both. "Fine--you want to make it hard to move--"

"I'll make it hard to move!" Throwing her hand out, her usual magic can be felt--and strange, alien plants unfamiliar to... most outside the CaraKin, really--erupt to try to pen in Riesenlied, to keep her from interfeing further--as Kaguya pulls another strange, dark bottle, and downs this one too. "You have no idea," she snarls, voice grinding, "What you're interfering in! What you're RISKING!"

...That mist starts to waft back towards her.

GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Yuna with Withering Sigh!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Catenna with Withering Sigh!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Rikku with Forbidden ARM: Otherworldly Blitz!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Noeline with Forbidden ARM: Otherworldly Blitz!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has spent 1 Combo on Poison, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Riesenlied with Crimson Bloom!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Dark Bottle!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar has completed her action.
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Dark Bottle for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper! applied to Kaguya Alathfar!
GS: Riesenlied guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Crimson Bloom for 101 hit points!
GS: Riesenlied suffers an additional 23 from Poison's Combo effect!
GS: Entangle and Poison! applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Noeline guards a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Forbidden ARM: Otherworldly Blitz for 112 hit points!
GS: Yuna takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Withering Sigh for 0 hit points!
GS: Yuna has been weakened by Disease! Yuna can't gain THP until the Disease is cured!
GS: Disease! applied to Yuna!
GS: Catenna takes a glancing hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Withering Sigh for 0 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Catenna has been weakened by Disease! Catenna can't gain THP until the Disease is cured!
GS: Disease! applied to Catenna!
GS: Rikku completely evades a hit from Kaguya Alathfar's Forbidden ARM: Otherworldly Blitz!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

 "I am not a harm, nor a hurt. I am a heal, but not at peace. A mystery of life and death: oonly when one is possible do we find hope in the other." Skylr says, staring at Marivel, at the blood coming from Leo. "I wouldn't have a job were it not for what you all were doing ... but neither would I be without." She says, gravely.
 
 Cyre's wind is met with a burst of her own, not sure what is going to happen there, but nonetheless, she tries.
 
 "Striking you down is not my job. I would hope it never is."

<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

A jump up, and a fall downward into a body slam. Perfect form. Whether it is hubris, pride, or actual concern for Ethius is anyone's guess, but Elvis stands up after the attack and takes a few steps backward. He offers no immediate follow-up attack. "Fisticuffs, pins, and hand-to-hand is what I am good at! I spent years, decades honing the art. The ways the ancestors defended themselves!"

Indeed the torrent slung Chime's way crashes and abates, a large swimming pool's worth of water surging and cutting through dirt and lesser material. "I suppose they have their uses! Though if I had my pick and had to use them, it would be a duelist's longsword. Fencing is another fine art to be celebrated and practiced!" Elvis states matter-of-factly. At her comment, he looks toward the crater. "He should be okay."

A thought about the rod. "I did not construct it, but I would assume it would cause a pulse of magic feedback that would disable when it currently is doing. That is the best case scenarion. Worst is it would cause a backlash that would disintegrate everything in a ninety meter radi-- HEY OW!" Multiple bits of ammunition stick in Elvis' forearms, a bit of blood forming where they connect. They don't go nearly as deep as one normally would, an attribute to his dense muscle structure. But they still look painful. "Careful, you could put an eye out!" Having pried each out with the pains on his face aking to pulling out cactus needles, the Veruni takes the bolts and ptch them back at Chime, dart-style. They care significant force with them.

As he throws the last one, light from the impact site gets his attention. through the settling silt. The incoming wave of heat is downright awful. Elvis is wearing a twill suit at the moment, so heat is quite effective, which the man does his best to endure! "Stop messing with the temperature! This is swltering! Unfair!"

The man pulls off his jacket, and does his beast to suck it up and take the heat. After all, he won't hit a man whil he is down.

GS: Break expired!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Elvis has attacked Chime Isa with Rapid Punch!
GS: Elvis has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Elvis has attacked Elvis with Power Guard!
GS: Elvis has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Elvis has completed his action.
GS: Elvis heals Elvis! He gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Mighty! applied to Elvis!
GS: Chime Isa takes a solid hit from Elvis's Rapid Punch for 156 hit points!
GS: Chime Isa enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Blue Master Lunn has posed.

When Lunn slams into the ground, he has a few bullet wounds in the torso from Violet. He stumbles, a little, before standing back to his full height. He glances sideways, at Jay -- and then lightning smashes down from the heaven, and earth explodes under him.

It rocks him. He steps away from it, blood running down from a split lip. He wipes it on the back of his hand. Ashton is back in there, a moment later. The twin streams of dragon breath slam into the Blue Master.

He gets thrown back, crouching down. He doesn't listen to Mariel.

But someone else does. The young mage on the platform looks down -- and she makes a subtle motion.

And the barrier, raising around the temple, suddenly shimmers -- and flickers -- and then falls into shards and beads of light. "Ah--"

"No!" one of the other mages cries out. "We--we're losing control--"

"Damnation!" Lunn snarls.

He starts to move backward -- and then calls out. "Fall back! Fall back, the sealing is failing!"

He flashes a final glower at Mariel, then he turns, and leaps away in a flash of blue.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

        Boudicca may be a scion of the wind, but she is guileless: she is worth little in the art of Cyre's deception.

        Even if she had a mind to help, she is distracted, in this moment, by Marivel. Marivel, who holds Leo's life in her inhuman jowls. Who speaks on pain long past, long and long, before this war and the one it followed, before Boudicca and before...

        Time ceases to mean a thing past a certain span.

        Pain never stops meaning something.

        Just as Marivel isn't quite sure why Boudicca is horrified, Boudicca isn't quite sure why Marivel lets go. One old mystery is like another: obscure. And she claims her weakness for her strength, and stands against sacrifice, and --

        And there is a demand, and there is a warning.

        And the Seraph Boudicca finds her will and steps forward, closes the space between her and Marivel, and reaches out

        towards Skylr, who claims she is no force of destruction.

        Likewise, the Seraphic glyph beneath her is no ill portent: rather the tailwind curls about her like armor, bracing like a brisk Autumn day. It is protection; the best protection Althena's chosen can offer. With it comes an issued demand of her own: "Do you think her words a feint? You must take him and go - at once!"

        ... if Marivel starts fighting in earnest, Boudicca does not think she could stop her.

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Skylr Paer with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Ashton vanquishes Blue Master. He will fight no more today, and the Guard is in retreat.

Violet sighs with relief and pulls a Heal Berry from her belt pouch and devours it, the sweet-tart purple juice staining her teeth temporarily. More relief floods her as the Berry's magic courses through her, knitting her right lung back together and soothing burns and bruises. She gives herself the once-over as well as she can while being fully dressed in public, scanning her body for further damage. That done, she can finally relax a bit. She frowns as she contemplates her dwindling reserves of Berries and ammunition. The Guard has been driven back, good. But what had they wanted in the first place? Violet doesn't know what a Baskar Sealing Rod is or what it's used for, only that the Guard seemed to attach great significance to it. Maybe one of her companions will know something. She'll make a point of asking later.

But first, she has wounded to attend to! She makes the rounds, tending the patients that can benefit from conventional medicine and referring the others to the magically-gifted healers. She applies bandages and splints; she sets bones. A healer's work is never done, particularly on a violent monster-infested world like Filgaia. Or Spira...

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

With a blue shimmer, the coiling shape of the Sea Guardian is gone, leaving Catenna standing with her heels together, drawn up, bow in hand. A stern frown tugs at the corners of her mouth as she flicks her head, sending lustrous black curls spilling over her shoulder. "You're under a misapprehension, Kaguya. And I tell you that as your friend. That for all the power you think you have, you're missing a few things that are pretty important."

She holds her hand out, fingers splayed dramatically. "Like the fact that you think I can't back up what I say to you. Or that none of us can."

Terrible mist begins to spread. Catenna clicks her teeth together and drops back, but dodging mist isn't an easy prospect, and she's left with the simple expedient of raising one arm over her face, burying her nose and mouth in the crook of her elbow. The sickening scent of it tugs at her stomach, and her eyes begin to water and her limbs begin to sag as the hideous miasma threatens to gnaw away at not just her magic, but her life force. If the Veruni girl could share a taste of her illness, Catenna can't help but imagine it like this.

"Kaguya," she says, her voice low and a little tired. Slowly, she lowers her elbow, her hand falling back to her side. "Do you remember how things went in the Sunken City? When you sought to break Lucadia's statue?"

If the memories weren't etched into her mind, they were carved into her body. Catenna'd placed herself between Kaguya and the statue and refused to strike her - merely to take every blow the girl could muster. Striking a friend was unthinkable.

A friend....

Power begins to build around Catenna as she murmurs a few words in Zortroan. Her shape distorts visibly as light itself begins to bend around an orb of gravitational force in her palm. Beyond the twisting light and warped images she's creating, though, a steady, dagger-like gaze cuts, fixed on the Veruni girl.

"I held back for one reason, Kaguya," says the Shaman of Celesdue, her voice quiet. "And that reason is my sister, Riesenlied. The love that I have for her, a Hyadean with a heart of kindness. The pathway that she has built between her heart and mine."

"I held back because I love you, Kaguya," Catenna says.

She snaps her arm back, clutching the gravity sphere like a ball. "But if you will not extend that pathway," she shouts, "then I'll SHOW you my power!! KAGUYA!!"

Catenna's arm slams forward with an audible snap. Gravity groans around the orb of force as she hurls it towards Kaguya, arcing it through the air. Debris hurtles from the ground towards that orb, trailing behind it like a comet tail.

Upon closing in on the Veruni girl, the sphere suddenly bursts. It erupts into a vast, roiling maw - an enormous black abyss about five feet wide that sucks debris in towards it. Anything that vanishes into its shadow compresses and disappears. Trees begin to tilt dangerously towards the gaping singularity, branches streaming under the insane gravitational force - a force that threatens to suck Kaguya in and crush her.

GS: Catenna has spent 2 Combo on Headshot, including 1 on Gatling!
GS: Catenna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Grand Singularity!
GS: Catenna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius has some problems getting on steady feet as he turns up the temperature, but in that wake, he starts moving. He grabs at a jutting bit of rock--
        --which collapses under his hold. It bounces down and, as if mocking, brushes painfully against a foot. Ethius punts it, and shakily finds another stone to hold onto - which hold. One by one, bit by bit, through every inconvenience or accident that could happen in the climb, Ethius endures.
        It's not a hugely time-consuming climb out, but being wounded does not do wonders for reflexes or strength. All the while, all the bandying, all the pontificating, all the reasoning. Words start flooding in with greater clarity. He can hear the calls, the pleadings.
        Each one gives Ethius more impetus to exercise a stronger grip, to fight building lactic acids weakening it. Stubborn. Even as some of his blood gets in his eye. Elvis continues to sharply ask that Ethius stop messing with the temperature. Sweltering. Unfair. The people of Filgaia and Lunar, alike, share a similarity amongst them - at least among the gathered.
        They have always found some way, some time, to shout their reasons for doing as they do, for why they must. Often, with genuine hopes the others will see things their way. As Ethius crests the top of the crater and makes his escape, he stands in the wake of the Blue Master Lunn calling for everyone to fall back. A minor inconvenience in that he can't clearly see what the weapon is, with all the attention around it.
        Sight and sound sharpen back into regular focus, and the comparatively scrawnier, shorter, softer, younger, weaker, dumber, less charming, less upstanding, less virtually everything against Elvis - or any Veruni, for that matter - and the strange man's stare gives way to a singular retort.
        "No."
        Not even saying why, not even wavering in voice or in posture as he stands upright with his quarterstaff held vertically like one might plant a flag. Like he had authority, in all of the sheer audacity, to tell the Sentinel just that one word. That one, single word, as he effectively subjects himself to the same sweltering heat he created without so much as looking distressed or haggard for it, while the billowing clouds of ash and dust float by him.
        While blood continues to flow down his face. It's a nasty wound.

GS: Ethius Hesiod enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Elvis with Ethius Says No!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied catches Catenna's smile, and gives her a nod. In ways, she is her senior -- more focused in her Baskar heritage than the odd way in which she was brought back towards the Photosphere after the disaster that befell the Fereshte village, that traumatised her for so long. She has much to learn...

        And Catenna has more than just Celesdue too. Riesenlied isn't certain she'll ever be able to manifest more than just Odoryuk, so she is in awe of that power. When she gathers her strength to summon Lucadia, her power washing over and protecting her and giving her strength--

        She also thinks of Avril, Dean and Rebecca, in this moment. Of those not assembled here, with them right now, but no doubt fighting hard in their own right.

        "... be safe, all of you ..."

        She's nearly overwhelmed when she sees another kind of blue out of the water -- blue fur. Bright steel. "You are...!"

        His roar shakes her heart. But not in a terrifying way... in a way that inspires, she knows, in the way Yuna doesn't know Kaguya the way she does -- that Kimahri stands fervently for Yuna.

        It is warming to have such steadfast allies.

        And she hears Rikku's own expression. All these people wanted... was a life free from Sin. She doesn't know of who she speaks of, but... she does not have to live in Spira all her life to have known a glimpse of that. From Operation Mi'ihen, from Azado...

        What has love ever really saved?

        "Love... has saved me," Riesenlied expresses firmly. "And love has brought me so many more insights to those-- especially to those that were hurting this world that I could never have reached with hatred."

        Catenna speaks of how she held back because of love. For her, as a sister... for Kaguya herself. "Catenna..."

        She lowers her head, coughing aloud as she finds her own condition interfering, even before Kaguya's plants come for her.

        "... love also killed my father, in the end. When he fell before my eyes, when I wasn't even able to stand... and yet... I will continue to believe in it."

        She holds at her chest and weakly grapples against them, feeling that alien poison sinking against her. They're effective -- Riesenlied has never had any defence against poisons in her.

        "Yet I know you are too smart and too eager to do nothing. No, what I would ask you to do is turn your intelligence to a better end, Kaguya..."

        Her tired eyes, so full of resolve, turn towards her daughter. There's a faint shimmer as she slips enough -- enough out of the plants to move... even if that poison still courses through her, so painfully.

        "Because..."

        Noeline has joined her Impulse with a living, chaotic swell of shadow -- and she turns towards her partner for a moment as she breathes out, "I..."

        She holds her hand, ring shimmering in her hand.

        "I will give all of myself to you, Noeline... let us go."

        They have practiced this manuever once in Krosse. And she will once more, for her words are no exaggeration or metaphor. She closes her eyes, lets out a gentle exhale as she hangs her head back--

        And begins to float gently as a thin shimmering line bands between her and her soulmate, intertwined between the Rings made out of herself.

        "Let Eosphoros and Hesperos yield as from a Sky,
         Like Starry Lamps and Blazing Cressets whole.
         Let Dawn and Dusk's colours both entwine...
         For I am your all. In body, mind and soul..."

        And the two Hyadeans move -- with Riesenlied deferring direct control of herself, through their soul-link, through their Rings. When they move, it is in perfect tandem, of someone who is in such unbridled and unconditional trust in the other that they have no fears of what it is they make them do.

        It is movements Riesenlied couldn't make on her own, with Noeline being her greater. A feint. A flourish. Strikes charged with the proverbial light of the morning star, seeking to add duress to what Rikku has already breached, what Kimahri has already pressed the offence on. Not to wound Kaguya, but to breach her defence, to give her pause, once more.

        And in turn...

        "Because... I am certain to never be able to reach you through hatred! Because the world has shown you enough hatred... so I will fervently hold onto love! That is... a mother's prerogative!"

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Eosphoros - The Morning Star!
GS: Riesenlied takes 30 damage from Poison!
GS: Shield expired!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        "Kh!--" the noise comes as she meets Kaguya's assault with the flat of her blade, pushing against it; seeking to hold her position even as she feels the metal creak and the force of the ARM shot push her backwards. In the moment, she can't find what to say to immediately respond - but then she's not sure if she should. There's much more to convey here than she could ever manage in mere words.

        Her eyes closed before Riesenlied's hand even meets hers, it doesn't take Noeline any time at all to nod her head. Time and time again, she's trusted Riesenlied to guide her, taken strength and inspiration from her partner's courage. Even now, so far away from home, so far away from who she once was, that still holds true. "And I am already yours," she responds in a soft whisper, the pain and suffering of the fight momentarily far away as the two of them share a private moment. "Let us go... together."

        Noeline follows Riese upwards, letting the flow of the power pulse and rise around her; as much as she's used to wielding the Guardian's power and touching on the sensation of the Ley, this level of control and power is still breathtakingly new to her. Almost swept up by it, saved only by the way er hand is clungs to Riesenlied's, she lets out an almost disbelieving breath - and then realizes that she can follow the current of it - begin to twist it, shape it, guide the two of them upwards.

        She does not echo Riesenlied's chant at first, her attention captured by the sudden cognitive load of moving and concentrating for the both of them. The Hyadean pair circle around each other for a moment as if carried on the wind - but there's a duality to it that's unmistakable as they maintain an arm's length from each other, still linked by their hands.

        Eyes still closed, Noeline lets out a breath, slow and resolved-- and then the two of them are sweeping forwards in flight, borne on a mixture of sorcery and the Ley. The edge of her weapon gutters with twilight as she slams it into the ground in front of Kaguya, but not as an offensive strike - as a means to catch her attention, as Riesenlied's sword glitters with the light of the morning sun.

        No sooner has Riesenlied struck than Noeline is moving again, pressing her attack forwards as Riesenlied's form soars backwards, then races back in at an oblique angle to try to work past Kaguya's guard. Together, the pair of them entwined in a complicated dance that only grows faster as she acclimatizes to their link, a swell of power begins to build between them. It's with a finality that they abruptly break off, swinging out wide away from the Veruni girl - before the paired auras around them flare with power. Borne by it--

        "For the twilight is nothing without the dawn. With everything I have...
         And with Hesperos and Eosphoros together...!"

        --the air explodes. With an almost tangible sensation of hope and light; with the full power of Riesenlied's feelings, backed by the strength of Noeline's conviction in her behind it.

GS: Noeline has spent 1 Combo on Link, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Noeline has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Hesperos - The Evening Star!
GS: Noeline has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Noeline has launched an attack Link!
GS: Noeline has spent 3 Combo on Gatling, including 3 on Gatling!
GS: Noeline has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Let the Two Stars now Gather!
GS: Noeline has gained 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Leo's hand reaches up, inch by agonizing inch, and comes to rest on Marivel's shoulder. With her fangs in his neck, he can't turn to look at her. Instead, he grips her tightly, his hand shaking. "Let go," Leo chokes out. She didn't get his carotid, but she came perilously close. One wrong move, and things could get so much worse. "Skylr--the barrier!" He can hear Cyre talking, which means he's either sassing or getting up to something. Possibly both. "What are you..."

        Leo shoves. He falls away from Marivel, tripping over his own legs. He throws an arm out to catch himself. Pain shoots from palm to shoulder as his hand hits the turf. Leo twists over, scrabbling away from Marivel.

        And then the barrier begins to break apart. Leo stares at it, wide-eyed, face twisted in a grim look. He's... probably going to need some help getting out of here. (Skylr's work is not yet done.)

<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

There is victory! Gyoro and Ururun roar loudly, unleashing another torrent skywards. Flush with power, they turn their eyes to the Guard's forces as they pull back.
 
Such lovely, wonderful things to toy with. To twist and turn and tear.
 
It is fortunate that Mariel makes her move here: the little vial spirals through the air. At her whistle, the blue head turns - and the bottle goes into the maw.
 
Both sets of lidless eyes blink in confusion. Then, between them, the young swordsman's eyes flutter.
 
Um. Hey. Calm down, you two.
Oh! Yes, sorry. I think we got a little carried away there.
I guess. It worked, though!
No. Eating. People.
Fiiiiiiiiiiiine.
And give me control back. My everything hurts right now and I think I broke a rib.
 
The dragons shrink once more, deflating like silent balloons until they are once more their original size. Ashton himself shakes his limbs as feeling returns to them. Then he stares at the expanse of flame and frost. "...Well, they were effecticve, I'll give them that."
 
Holding his side tenderly, Ashton half-stumbles over to the Elw. "Lady Mariel. You have my most sincere thanks. Are you alright? I know he struck you quite solidly."

<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

        Chime says cheerfully, "Well, guess I'll hope for a best- Hey!" as she suddenly goes into a tumble to avoid her own bolts being pitched back at her. Her surprise at the fact the bolts continued to exist long enough for that to work catches her off guard and she takes several solid hits. "Oww.. I didn't realize those ones lasted that long." she says with a puffed out cheek for a moment.

        "That said~" she says cheerfully as a white light begins to well inside the crossbows. "These ones won't last long enough to be thrown back, and they have a much better range of coverage~" her tone playful. She swings both crossbows up with a smile as she sees the barrier falling apart. "Even better! Now I don't have to do this the hard way~" as she aims into the sky, clearly making a calculation in her head as she eyes one then the other crossbow.

        The ARMs Meister pulls the triggers of both her crossbows and unleashes a flurry of a dozen bolts that arc high out of sight, only to come crashing back down as lanced sized bolts of white energy with devastating energy before falling apart on impact with the ground or coming to a stop. The majority come piling down on top of and around Elvis, but several come striking down among the Guard near the rod as Chime attempts to further disrupt the appearently collasping ritual.

GS: Chime Isa has attacked Elvis with Arrows of Light!
GS: Chime Isa has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
GS: Skylr Paer takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick and Shield! applied to Skylr Paer!
GS: Elvis critically Guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Ethius Says No for 0 hit points!
GS: Elvis critically Guards a hit from Chime Isa's Arrows of Light for 36 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline watches as the barrier shimmers, flickers, and then breaks into shards of light. ...Had it been stopped? Jacqueline looks to Mariel.

"Mariel, what's going on? Has it been stopped, or do we need to do something else?" Jacqueline asks. She knows more about this than any of them - she'll trust and follow her judgment. "Is there any way we can stop it from happening again?"

The fight isn't done yet, however - Kaguya and Elvis are still standing, and the two of them alone could be enough to put a stop to everything they'd worked toward here.

They couldn't rest just yet.

<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

 "What in--" Skylr knows gentle winds. She uses them. She looks down, sees the glyph, and looks over at Boudicca. "Got it!" Irregardless of grips or anything, Skylr finds herself hastily putting her hands on his arm. "Hey, boss. We gotta stop meeting like this." She teases Leo tightly.
 
 Then, White Knight Leo finds himself pulled to safety by White Mage Skylr, who is muttering vaguely unkind things in the direction of no one in particular.

<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

trigger warning: suicidal ideation

SECONDS AGO

The voidstorm is disrupted by Catenna's aquamantic invocation, then disperses... revealing Kimahri.

He and Kaguya exchange roars, and blows.

Meanwhile, Yuna has popped back up next to the merriest Guardian -- the merriest cousin -- the merriest friend a girl could ever ask for. Even if things aren't very merry right now.

She is almost translucent with terror and pain, even though her wounds are not, yet, severe. It is more than it should be. More than this battle, alone, can explain.

"I can feel it," she whispers to Rikku, hoarsely. "I can feel them... sealing away the fayth. It feels..."

Her voice wavers, quavers, and dies.

But the light in her eyes does not. Not entirely.

She inhales deeply, and on the exhale, sparks dwell within them, electricity incarnate.

"We'll distract her -- and you sneak around and go for the ritual?" The inflection makes it a plea for help but not an order. Your mission, should you choose to accept it. "The mages, their summoning rod," she would think it is that, what does she know of Baskar? "Anything. I pray you can stop it in time. But... be careful, Rikku."

And then she wades back into the battle proper.

NOW

Spins and twirls.

Sweeps and swirls.

Pink and blue.

The rustling of silk... and the rising smell of ozone.

The summoner's art of Spira is controversial; the Altheneans hate it without even knowing its true price; and those who do know it have an entirely different layer of feelings about it;
--

--but no one could deny that it is beautiful.

Lines of magnetic force explode visibly around Yuna. Yevonite runes flash first in her palms, gathering around her rod, and then are echoed in midair.

A path. She is forging -- dancing -- a path, between herself and Ixion's fayth.

It is beautiful but it is not easy. The sickening magic, its terrible wrongness, seeps into her every pore. Kimahri is on the retreat, moving out of the expected path of the aeon, as they've trained, but she is also glad to see him achieve some measure of safety in the moment...

...even as her heart wrenches at the thought of sending Rikku into the heart of that danger.

Neither feeling so much disrupts her focus as it enhances it. Deeper, deeper, she descends into the core of herself, where she isn't only herself, not anymore. The others dance with her; the others feel with her, and she with them.

Externally it is spectacular. There is yet traces of a barrier in the sky, but now there is something else competing for space and attention.

A flash of light.

Wait quietly and count the seconds, the way that you've been taught. One, two, three.

It's quiet, distant.

Again!

One, two. A firmer timpani.

The third time pays for all.

A devastating sonic crash and a payload of heavenly judgement -- the sound and the fury, now simultaneous -- because we're here, and so is he:

Ixion, the heart of the storm.

Whickering, his snort is an ion cloud. The crystals upon his horn chime softly as he tosses his head, braids ruffling.

Eyes glittering with a promise. If Kaguya makes one wrong move...

...lightning will strike the same place twice.

Yuna, next to him, is so easily an afterthought. She looks away from Riesenlied and Noeline -- if anyone caught her expression in that moment, they'd see that it was stricken in both an extremely understandable way, by awe, and also in another, more complex way, by... something else.

Rikku knows why.

And, maybe, even if only instinctively, so does Kaguya.

Yuna looks away from the vanguards of love, and back towards her twin in their shared mirror of inevitable demise.

"There is power," she says simply, gently, so, so kindly, "In the choice that I have made."

How are you going to spend your life?

How are you going to spend your death?

"It's not too late... for you to make another one... look at all these people who love you. Look at how alone you're not, Miss Kaguya."

DC: Yuna switches forms to Ixion!
GS: Yuna has spent 3 Combo on Link and Gatling, including 2 on Gatling!
GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Rolling Thunder!
GS: Yuna has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Yuna has launched an attack Link!
GS: Yuna enters a Counter stance!
GS: Yuna has attacked Kaguya Alathfar with Judgement Bolt!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.

        Ena seems almost... surprised that her reckless swing doesn't find it's mark, and she stumbles forward on the followthrough, as Ivan rolls under her staff. She lands roughly, falling to her knees and holding herself up with one arm. She's surprised at how much punishment she has taken here. Once again, she finds herself prone to a counterattack. "Winning? Is that all this is?" She manages, between pained breaths.

        But when the sparks comes, she hits the ground completely. From that flat position she rolls; not a dignified combat roll, but more the roll a child might do down a hill. It's not dignifed. The sparks scorch into the ground, the flame scorching holes into the earth. Had she been but a moment slower, those would be burning through her flesh. She stares at the still smouldering ground. But a moment indeed.

        She drags herself to her feet again, slowly, pained. She leans on her staff for strength. "You really are empty, aren't you?" She asks, once again not expecting an answer. She extends a hand outward, and small balls of dark magic are summoned into the air. They fall in Ivan's direction, not a carefully aimed spell but a barrage of darkness aimed in Ivan's general direction. Many of the spheres fall harmlessly to the ground, but there are just so many of them.

        But it is evident that Ena is starting to falter. She doesn't have much left in the tank. Her staff shifts on the ground, as she continues to lean against it for support. The fact that Belize is still standing is a comfort- perhaps a proper summoner will be able to do what she could not.

GS: Ena has attacked Ivan with Dark Barrage!
GS: Ena takes 24 damage from Poison!
GS: Ena has completed her action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Ena's attack becomes clear!
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Ena's Shadow Glyph for 86 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel is pushed away further from Leo. She kind of adorably ends up tumbling back--she was already pulling away but it's probably a good idea to be forceful lest she change her mindd. She does seem to be struck by whimsy from time to time.

Skylr speaks to Marivel and she listens. It's a philosophy that contradicts itself but Marivel hardly has any room to talk there.

But nevertheless, "Then your ideals are not that of the Guard's. Those who fail to fight for their ideals lose the chance to make them true." Marivel is never done lecturing.

She then approaches Boudicca. If it weren't Boudicca, she might have thought that was part of her plan. Marivel looks up at the Seraph studiously.

Then she hobbles towards Mariel. "Mariel... I am tired. If you are to make a move, best do it now..."

There's blood on her chin. She wipes it free with a hand and then after a moment puts that hand in her mouth.

She gives one last glance to Yuna. Yuna who would never fear her. And it seems, once more, she has proven to be true.

"Gravity is the weakest force in the univere," Marivel says, glancing towards Catenna for a moment before looking back to Yuna. "Yet in all my years as a keeper of power, I have yet to see any match the power to move others."

<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.

        The spheres on the ground reveal what they are hiding. As Ivan tries to dodge away, a glyph on the ground lights up, and then a burst of shadow magic flies straight up at him. It's not impossible to dodge, but it's hard to get completely clear of. The other spheres fade, revealing similar glyphs littering the ground. The goal was not to destroy him outright.

        Ena's goal instead was to make the ground too dangerous to walk in any direction apart from 'away'.

<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet pauses over the wounded person she's bandaging at the e x p l o s i o n of power from Yuna, and the summoning of the Fayth. It's equine!

The first she's seen here on Spira!

That captures Violet's attention.

The saddlebirds they use here are SO WEIRD! She'll never be used to them. Everything about them is so...off.

She'll have to find out more about this manifestation later...

<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

        A Fiend *in human skin*, thank you. Just 'a fiend' is such a dull invective.
        
        "Are you seriously trying to debate the semantics of **murder**?" Belize utters, beyond incredulous. They're outcredulous. Ivan is probably right about that and that seriously makes them extracredulous. This is not a conversation that is going to go anywhere.
        
        'What's the plan, then, are you hoping to cut off my arms?'
        
        "Don't be ridiculous," Belize huffs.
        
        "It would be much easier and more expedient to burn out your tongue instead!!"
        
        This might not be the best of moves, since Ivan has made it clear he has an affinity with flame--and makes it clear anew when he casts another arte and sends forth sparks that explode upon Belize, knocking them backwards to slam into the structure of the Djose Temple. They cough and sputter and stagger forward...
        
        But magic surges around them as well, until the twist their bow-carrying arm up in a crescent and sent a powerful burst of flame up and around Ivan's head. Maybe they won't actually sear his tongue, but that's as good a 'shut your damn face' as any.
        
        They look again over at Ena, though, and seeing her leaning so hard on her staff has them knit their eyebrows. "Ena, fall back if you need to," they tell her. "The refugees still need--ah!"
        
        That would be Belize reacting both to the unexpected effects of Ena's shadow magic, as well as the Guard command to fall back. They eyeball Ivan--is he going to follow orders, or keep trying to 'win'?

GS: Belize has attacked Ivan with Fira!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Shieldbreak expired!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: Ivan guards a hit from Belize's Fira for 67 hit points!
GS:  Infect extends negative status by 1 round!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel was not expecting that to actually work.

She collapses - not into unconsciousness, but she just kind of plops down where she is, down on her knees. She's breathing hard. Fights take a lot out of her, even if she's not exactly the most aggressive in the world.

"I'm all right," she assures Ashton, and indeed she doesn't seem to have any grevious wounds; Mariel is worn out, bruised, might have a cracked rib (she'll check later) but nothing crippling and nothing mortal, which is about all she can ask for. "Thank you. You saved me... twice."

Mariel rises again. "They have left," she says to Jay - and Marivel, as she comes over, though Mariel looks concerned at her ... damage. With the blood... "The Sealing Rod isn't here and neither are the mages. I don't think... they can do anything without them. I don't know where their spell would start without a Rod. So... we've done it, once the rest of them have left the refugee camp."

For now. Until they come back, if they come back. With an army. Her anxiety comes back. But: "Thank you...! For coming with me."

<Pose Tracker> Rikku has posed.

 
Kaguya tells her to SHUT Up that's why - "Wow the way you argue you'd think you were a part of my family."
 
However she can see how Kaguya is becoming increasingly enraged. And Rikku starts trying to stay away as much as she can, hopping from foot to foot in a desperate dance to stay out of her range, knowing with her strength she'll cave her face in if she gets a single shot in.
 
"Oh Yunie-!" And then she whispers that and Rikku says, "They can do that...?! They can really do th-" The implications are pretty dire there. She may be an Al Bhed, but the Al Bhed revere the Fayth. "... You can count on me. Just... be careful while I'm not covering you."
 
Breaking into a jog, she stops short as she sees the ARM enter into Kaguya's hand. "Oh. Nice crudkih."
 
Then she remembers that that thing will be pointed at her a few seconds later and dives behind a rock formation. A recoiling blast slams into the rock, pulverizing it, showering her in debris as she scrambles in a crawl out of the way. "EVEN NICER THAN I THOUGHT!"
 
Ending up with her back against a part of it that's still whole, she takes in long, deep breaths before calling out to the other side.
 
"You know probably all live through it isn't that reassuring! When someone says something like that - you don't really need to know what you're risking!"
 
However then Rikku falls quiet, for she can feel the summoning. The pulse of Yuna's magic. It's even familiar - in so much as that a lightning bolt is familiar. A clash of thunder.
 
A primal fear wells up in her.
 
And yet at the same time she remembers the warmth of the familiarity. And while Yuna speaks... Rikku suddenly creeps out from behind her cover. At first it's a walk, then it's a jog, though her hands are working the whole time. Nervously shaking as she tries to combine several explosives. She does this all the time. It's second nature to her.
 
Yet right now she's nervous. What if Ixion is sealed? What if she lets Yuna down? What if she lets the Fayth down?
 
The Guard is in retreat, but there's no telling if the Sealing will still happen or not because of it.
 
She tries not to think of any of that. She called herself the Merriest for a reason. She tries to imagine this plan of the Guard's merrily blowing up instead.
 
The Guard is starting to retreat, Lunn makes the call...
 
"You're gonna blow up you're gonna blow up you're gonna blow up..." That's her mantra, rather than 'please hit'. That is the level of optimism she expects of herself.
 
She cocks back her arm and-
 
They're gone. They're out of range.
 
Rikku feels something swell up in her throat, then gets this look of disappointment that reaches only her eyes, as she smiles and says quietly to herself, "You would have blown up."
 

<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

The heat becomes less of an issue as Elvis focuses his own concentration to try and ignore it, and gentle shifting of water based magics within. Still hot and agitating though to some degree. "Wh... why not?! Come on, Ethi-- uh." The Sentinel gets a good look at him and his head wound. Did he really get him that bad. "You might want to get that looked at. I suggest antiseptics! Especially in this strange land-- I would offer some of mine own creations, but sadly they only function on us."

There are several implaing noises that can be heard as Elvis faces Ethius. His face turns rather red, and puffs up. "Ouch..." Oh his back got hit pretty hard. He reaches back to touch the struck spots, and finds no bolts present. "Energy!"

He spins and faces Chime, raising a very pointed finger, about ready to shout. When a lightning horse shows up across the battlefield. A damn lightning horse.

"Uh. What is that?" he can only ask, as he haphazardly fumbles for his tome and just starts to go nuts drawing. Yeah, it is aiming at Kaguya, but she is strong. She will be fine. She's the kind that if she is in real trouble, she will call. Probably. Maybe.

Hm. "Oh thay looked painful." A look around. Did Lunn and his casters leave? "Oh, guess we are done here? I swear I don't know if I will ever understand Human decision making..."

GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Catenna's Grand Singularity for 100 hit points!
GS:  Dispel reduces positive status durations by 3 rounds each!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Riesenlied's Eosphoros - The Morning Star for 79 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar takes a solid hit from Noeline's Hesperos - The Evening Star for 216 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Noeline's Let the Two Stars now Gather for 133 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Yuna's Rolling Thunder for 186 hit points!
GS: Kaguya Alathfar guards a hit from Yuna's Judgement Bolt for 109 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Well," Marivel admits sheepishly. "I did say I was tired." She wipes briefly at her eyes.

They haven't noticed it yet, she thinks as she looks towards Kaguya and those fighting her. But then...how would they?

What will they do, she wonders, when they see it?

Marivel closes her eyes before flopping onto her back and soaking in the night.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius doesn't answer 'why not,' as he stands there and is... given sincere medical information pertaining to his well-being. That should be disarming - on the inside, it is. The words spoken and the actions in accordance... something does not mesh with... something else he can't voice. (Shouldn't? Can't? Both?) It is a credit to the strange man's poker face that he does not let this confusion for the Veruni's manner come to the surface.
        Electricity crackles through the air behind him, where Yuna brings forth the lightning Aeon, Ixion. A miracle by the Summoners of Yevon, a strength given to them for their holy journey - a miracle Ethius does not turn to watch in action as a decisive clash seems to ramp up towards a climax, as though such were simply not of import, or out of the ordinary.
        "It is not for you to understand." Ethius remarks, unflinching. He would not make much of a physical bulwark against Elvis allowing curiosity to get the better of him. He is lighter and easy to remove. (Also, Elvis could just walk around him to get a better look at the pretty electricity horsey.)
        "It is for you to leave alone."

GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Elvis with Ethius Says No In A More Round About Way - Second Level No Spell 'Nora'!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

You really are empty, aren't you?

"I...I guess?" Ivan admits. As much as he was enjoying Belize's insults, hearing exactly his own words from Ena strikes something in his gut that unsettles him. Perhaps he really is seen by the two of them in a way that is difficult to let roll off his back completely.

Ena calls a rain of projectiles made of darkness, their uncertain pathways forcing Ivan to dance around them, his attention caught up in staying out of their paths. He does a capable enough job evading them until -- a glyph comes to life beneath his feet. He moves, but not fast enough, and the burst of shadow power knocks him off his feet. Similar glyphs shimmer around him, blocking the pathway to step any closer to her.

Belize, meanwhile, finds new heights of non-credulousness, finally offering a solution for Ivan's evils, which is to remove his tongue. Ivan makes a face at that, even as he's still kneeling amongst Ena's glyphs. "I don't really need my tongue to murder innocents," he protests. But, too late-- a burst of Fira is coming for him. A fire mage though Ivan might be, flames aside from his own can still burn him, and he raises his arms to shield his face (and... his tongue?) from the worst of the flames, but they still lash at his arms and the sides of his face.

At the same time, shouts are going up. The barrier is falling, and they're being told to fall back. A part of Ivan does want to stay and fight, just to prove... ... something. The battle is wearing on him, though, and it's doubtful he'd be able to withstand much more time with the two of them. Still, that's not the kind of thing he likes to stop and aknowledge, and he'd happily brush it aside until the reality forced its way in.

But the other side of mindlessly following orders is that sometimes they save you from yourself.

"Well, it looks like I have to go," he says, a little breathlessly. "Thanks for all the honesty!"

He picks himself up off the ground, a little more slowly and creakily than he'd like, and rushes off to join the others.

GS: Elvis critically Guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Ethius Says No In A More Round About Way - Second Level No Spell
'Nora' for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

        Chime rests one crossbow on her shoulder, the other gripped loosely by her thigh as she squints at Elvis. Then she shakes her head saying "I thought that would've done something more. Hrrrm, Maybe tune for more speed and force." she says as she lifts one crossbow to glance over before turning sideways to watch the the aftermath of Yuna's summoning attack.

        "Yeah, that did look painfully. You know, if ya wanted to learn more just talk to them Yevon priests. Some of them like to talk yer ear off. Without getting drunk first." she says cheerfully. Then Ethius is doing something!

        Chime turns back to Elvis and Ethius to watch with mild curiousity as she realizes somethings about to happen. She also casually holsters one of the crossbows onto it's boot holster and begins to rummage through her vest pockets for her Heal crest card in case she needs it in a minute for either of the pair Ethius or Elvis.

GS: Chime Isa enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Chime Isa has attacked Chime Isa with Survey!
GS: Chime Isa has completed her action.
GS: Chime Isa takes a solid hit from Chime Isa's Survey for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

        Chime stops partway through searching for her crest card to squint at Elvis, the Ethius. Then Elvis again. Then Ethius again. Then shake her head with a bemused smile letting her hand drop empty to her side.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

The shield falters and cracks like an egg. Whether it was a result of Mariel's adorable and desperate pleas, or Cyre's blatant and yet utterly straight-faced deception, it doesn't matter. The seal shatters, and Cyre can immediately feel the change in the air.

Also the gorgeous lightning unicorn that that priestess-looking-lady just pulled out of the aether. That... is one of those so-called Aeons, then. Cyre's expression turns thoughtful, then concerned. Not necessarily for the battle at hand- that seems well handled at the moment- but there are still people back there. People who might have been caught in the crossfire of some of the more devastating magics. Someone needs to see to them, or at least to make sure nobody's on the brink of death and in desperate need of a healing potion.

Leo's gone. He can quit the battlefield, too.

...With more questions than ever before, perhaps, but still...!

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"I remember," Kaguya answers Catenna simply, about that time, at the Sunken City, around the Statue of Lucadia. "I remember it clearly. The whole thing. How it felt... what happened. Before, and after." There's a tension in her voice--she has not relaxed to go down memory lane, just acknowledged. She watches Catenna, as she speaks--as she builds her power. Some of it is familiar. ...Some of it is not.

She held back... because she loves her, she says. Kaguya looks back at her, and says without venom, "There's your mistake."

She shows power--her arm slams forward, and that orb of force arcs through the air towards the Veruni. Debris wrapped around it, the explosion comes next. Kaguya's very form is blotted out through the darkness at hand, broken rock and fallen tree limbs rocketing towards the center, hitting her along the way. And the force comes--

When the shadow fades, Kaguya's feet hit the ground again, her arms still crossed in front of herself; all the broken pieces of metal hanging about her arms are deformed and crunched where they aren't simply gone, exposing too-thin arms, wild hair. Nothing but smooth, cored-out rock remains at her feet in the moment.

"...And mine, I guess. You are stronger than I gave you credit for. ...I didn't know you felt that way." Her voice is quiet, and tight still. It seems to take a bit of focus to stand up completely straight again.

...To look into the next set of eyes. Love saved Riesenlied--brought her insights. Made her able to reach. "...Look..." It killed Siegfried, too. Kaguya's jaw sets, as she watches Riesenlied then. Too eager? It's true. But--

She does not ask the obvious question, immediately. Instead she sets her jaw, lifts her chin. Certainty, there-- There is a combined approach, here--Kaguya can't really react to it otherwise, cannot so simply split it apart. Flourishing, following... The twin lights shine in Kaguya's eyes like the stars she once lived among, as she turns to Noeline at the movement of her weapon. "You--"

Kaguya strikes back, naturally--moves to block strikes, some of which are feints, some of which aren't. She moves more quickly than she should be able, and from each of those clashes brilliant starlight bursts. But where Riesenlied's moves are blocked, Noeline's take advantage of the openings, working in perfect sync until the light is too bright to see beyond, is too brilliant for anything, and when that fades, too--then Kaguya hits a knee, smoking, not with paltry, consuming fire but with a light of feeling. "It's nice that you're having fun," Kaguya finally answers Rikku, rising to her feet. "Nicer than you like my weapon. You know, I fixed it up myself." She's still too angry, still too something, moody and wroth to really enjoy the pride of the moment. It's not quite enough to make her smile, that devastation around Rikku. Instead, she just says, "If you wanted to be reassured, you should've gotten out when I said earlier!"

"...You two have gotten closer, since I left."

But she says it bitterly, because everything is bitter just this moment. As the attacks come--together, not all separately like the paltry limits of time might suggest--she sees, feels, too, the work on Yuna, pushing against the forming barrier. Kaguya does not wish, in these moments, to see beauty. She does not wish to consider brilliance, and light. She is not interested in a dance of feet or the dance of particles and energy washing about the fading barrier. ...But sound and fury both erupt before her. Kaguya's baleful gaze turns upon Ixion, her opponent once before in a city where she rode a terrible armor of her own devising. ...And then there is only movement, and the storm, in the instants that the appearance comes--there is no pause, no long look before the attack.

She shows teeth as she moves to block the initial blast, swings her weaponless hand straight for Ixion while the lightning strikes--and instead, a greater burst of magic than she may have realized explodes against her, sending her sailing from the newly formed cloud of electrons through the air, followed by the great bolts of lightning that crackle all around her, rush across metal, course through her and into the ground, the ones that even now wait for her to move, to take action, to strike again--

"...Tch...." Kaguya--burned, battered, at a crouch, seethes for the moment, as the mist she was gathering that was pushed away by all the attacks stabilizes, settles--starts to shif t towards her again. "...Power," Kaguya murmurs, in answer to Yuna this time. She lifts her eyes. She looks up at Yuna, in that moment, and cannot entirely shield herself from that understanding. "...You have, haven't you...?" She does understand it--understand a choice that she herself knows something like. "...I think... you'd all get along," she murmurs, shaking her head and looking down again. "You, and them..."

Catenna hopes to show Kaguya the depth of her sincerity; Riesenlied, and Noeline, to reach in ways that defy their people's history. ...Rikku's words linger. And Yuna... Yuna, a mirror, one that for a moment, she's obligated to look into.

"...I know," she says. "They'd be fine with it," she says, gesturing to Noeline and Riesenlied with her head. "But I..."

"I..." She breathes, and looks into nothing for a moment, before--

"I hate this world so much." Her voice sounds strange, distorted for a moment. "You don't--you can't understand. I have to change it. I have to fix it--"

She starts to stand, and the mist comes closer. She doesn't stop being wounded, but she starts to breathe in regardless. "I don't claim you aren't powerful. But--" She stops, then. She stops, as she feels it, and looks up as if finally noticing... "You...?"

"Damn," she hisses, "You come this far and you run!?" Kaguya's fists curl together--and the strange, horrifying effect of the light itself dimming around her starts to abate. After an instant she's just ordinary again, insofar as she ever was, and looks to the ones she was fighting before.

"...I don't expect someone to save me," she finishes instead, shaking her head. "But you'll see. What I have in mind... It's best for everyone."

She starts to turn. "...Don't count on me being able to shield you anymore. I can see that I've been too kind already."

Kaguya starts to step away without another word.

<Pose Tracker> Elvis has posed.

Elvis looks back to his book for a secon-- a glance to Chime to make sure more holes aren't going to be pricked in his back first-- and goes back to drawing the horse in his research tome. He stops when Ethius speaks.

The book gets shut a few seconds after he incants the stronger spell of wording. "What? You can't tell me that if you could take your magics and summon a giant horse made of lightning that you wouldn't?" A pause. "I have no need to, though I ca nsee Humans reaching to a stronger power to perform deeds. It is what the whole historical pattern is based off of."

"I feel it needs a different take. If that creature is to be stopped, a different formula must needs be mused over. It is the simple use of one's mind!"

The man makes sure everything is attached to him, and cinches his tome to his side, going and picking up that odd stone fragment with a clouth. He sees Kaguya beginning to leave. A look toward Ethius and Chime. "The definition of Insanity is peforming the exact same task or equation numerous times and expecting different results."

"I must go. I am sure I will see you lot out there again."

And with that, Elvis begins to head out. Well, not before turning back to Chime. "And stop shooting people with those!"

Then he leaves.

<Pose Tracker> Ena has posed.


        There is a tense few moments, Ena watching to see what will happen. She doesn't have that much left in her. Fortunately, with the fleeing of the guard, Ivan too- finally, after too many moments- retreats, "You don't like winning that much, then." Ena mutters, quietly.

        Then she drops to her knees, her staff being the only thing stopping her from collapsing completely. She's not a mighty warrior, or a valiant summoner. Not yet. She's for all intents and purposes a barely trained novice. It's a wonder she's still upright, perhaps. "We managed to hold them off, right?" She asks, looking up at Belize. A part of her is wondering if they'll need a Sending here tonight. Perhaps they will be lucky.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The spell's not one Catenna has pulled out of herself before. She has been content, in the past, to stand by and support others stronger than herself.

But the Moon hangs alone in the sky even on a dark night.

The thunderous power of the black hole passes, and evidence is shown of the severity of its tearing, pulling power - and yet, Kaguya's still alive and talking. In her heart, Catenna can't be upset about that. The girl is a friend, for all that she's doing something - many things - that Catenna detests with every fiber of her being. She can say nothing, even when Kaguya speaks to her. All she can do is listen to the outpouring of not just power, but hearts.

The litany of scars Kaguya has inflicted on her run deep. The demolition of the statue and the wounds Kaguya inflicted upon her. The betrayal itself. The blade to the kidneys, just months before. Assaults upon dear friends and well-wishers. And yet, the feelings do not abate.

As Kaguya pronounces her hatred of this world, Catenna closes her eyes, drawing in a slow breath, then letting it out. Something was there for just a moment - she could hear it. When she opens her eyes once more, she fixes her gaze on the Veruni girl, the ligt around her dimming, then abating, as if some dread secret had shown itself for just a moment.

She can't find words - not until Kaguya's well out of range. By that time, though, Catenna just slumps to a knee and sighs heavily, supporting herself with the help of her bow.

"You believe so much that you're doing the right thing," she murmurs. "And that's what makes this so hard.

"...Kaguya...."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Somehow - it could just be a trick of the light - as Elvis gets his last words in towards the bleeding statue of a man who is not a statue and is actually bleeding and should do something about that...
        It's sort of a strange thing. Over on this end of the battleground for Djose, Ethius' shadow seems to cast something of a dividing line. That he is somehow, in some way, standing in obstruction of a glimpse into a fantastical world whose exotic ways and troubled present. Ethius keeps his back faced to those proceedings at all times, not once looking over to ask if everything is all right. Not once making his presence particularly known to the rest who are dealing with complex feelings as regards an angry young woman with big plans for this very world.
        As if this primitive man believes he could stand against the need for a radical new idea or some sort of progress necessary to break the cycle of sadness - a cycle he should well be just as invested in ending, by all measures, as a Filgaian whose patron deities quake in fear of the threat shown. All the while, Ethius' staring never relents. He'll watch the back of Elvis as he walks off with his theories and truths he promises to bring to the forefront. He doesn't face the smiling, patient Chime.
        The next time Ethius has the gall to tell Elvis 'no,' does he honestly believe he'll hear it? Does he honestly believe that he can overturn the will of a Sentinel just with a statement he will not defend with spoken reason?
        Ethius does not move from where he stands until he can confirm that all hostile presences are gone, in some sort of quiet vigil no one asks for, nor will many acknowledge in the wake of more pressing concerns and vibrant personalities among the Drifters gathered.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied has something of a bad habit of tunnneling her vision... such that she hasn't exactly paid too much heed to what has been happening to the barrier. She will have to thank Mariel and the Caravan Kinship later, for their efforts there. When the Guard begins to flee.

        Catenna has brought the very element of the Merciless Queen to bear again, and the firmness in which she delivers it makes her wonder if she will stand side by side with her own element one day like that.

        And she witnesses the awe-inspiring nature of Yuna's summon... to see the lines be drawn, to watch thunder roll and lightning dance -- and also Rikku's merry cavalcade of explosives, she also really can't forget about that!

        She is in awe, in part because of the shaking nature of such a display of power...

        But perhaps it's more in their connection to the world.

        She is a channeler of the Ley. That is now her primary purpose. Yet to bring forth that very blood of the world... She has so much she still needs to learn, of whom that blood belongs to.

        And there is Noeline as well, she would never forget. The way in which she is moved, by the very virtue of her thoughts, emotions and feelings -- feels more fluid and at home than she ever could do under her own power.

        "We have," Riesenlied answers Kaguya. "We have gone past extremely fearful things about ourselves that we've shied away from... we have even argued as a result of it," she blushes towards Noeline as she recalls her teasing.

        "But as a result... our bond has grown deeper."

        But Kaguya sincerely expresses her feelings, when she has been pushed to her limit -- a sight that does halt her heart, to see her daughter burned, battered... part of her just wants to reach out and heal her, yet...

        I hate this world so much.

        There is a faint gasp as she draws back at that.

        You can't understand. I have to change it. I have to fix it--

        "Kaguya..." she looks to Noeline, to Catenna -- to Yuna and Rikku. She winces as she holds onto her heart again; something about that distortion truly rippled through her, disconcerted her.

        Did she feel a feeling like that before?

        "... maybe I can't fully understand. To say I do risks being arrogant. But I'll never stop trying. I'll never give up. That was the spirit that Avril, Dean and Rebecca taught me..."

        She pauses and expresses, as that adrenaline starts to leave her, "I will not stop trying for your sake... daughter--"

        And the last of the brewte force dissipates, and her knees buckle and give way. She'll know Noeline to be there to catch her, because that's how far they've come...

        ...

        Hopefully the wheelchair survived this time.

<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

        The Guard retreats, rods and mages and Ivan and all. Belize breathes out a sigh, eyes still narrowed dangerously... but there's no point in chasing after the enemy that came to them. Instead, they go over to Ena when she drops to her knees, resting a hand on her shoulder. "Yes, we did. You fought bravely," Belize tells them, the corners of their lips slightly up. "Will you be all right? We've both sustained injuries, but you look to be in worse shape than me..."
        
        They look around at the battlefield--at Yuna and Ixion in particular. Whatever the Guard was trying to do to the Temple, it seems like they failed. Praise be to Yevon. They hook their bow around their chest again. Hopefully there won't be a need for any Sendings tonight, but... there will certainly be a need for white mages and doctors and potions. "Let's join the others for now," they add to Ena. "It will make things easier for the healers if all of the injured are together."
        
        Then, if Ena accepts their help, they'll walk with them to join the other injured, where there everyone can rest and have their wounds tended to.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

        Noeline is too swept up in her dance to truly pay attention to the world around her; she feels the sensations as if in a dream, registering swells of power around her and the weight on the Ley that is Catenna's Material summon and the slightly different sensation of Ixion's presence, with Rikku and Yuna nearby.

        She's touched ground at some point, breathing heavily. Part of her is aware she's going to need to catch Riesenlied, but most of her is only aware of where she is. Direction and distance is a little muddled, and she's just trying to figure out which way is up-- when Kaguya's declaration rips through her consciousness like a knife through butter, turning everything suddenly back into cold clarity.

        "You..." she mutters towards the Veruni girl, her brow furrowed. Something feels immediately off, and she blinks a few times. "... you thought Lunar was wonderful. We parted here exactly because you--..." She doesn't trust herself to say more than that, not yet. It's almost too convenient an answer to their conflict, a scapegoat that she'd love to leap towards, and she knows she has to be careful.

        Instead, she pushes herself forwards - catching Riesenlied in her arms to keep her safe. It sort of works, but her own legs almost immediately give out instead. At least the way they sink to the bridge is not immediate so much as a slow flop.