2021-01-06: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

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==============================<* Bikanel Island *>==============================

Bikanel is an island to the west of the mainland of Spira. It is a large, arid desert with one (singular) oasis, featuring palm trees and a drinkable water source. The rest of it is just desert, desert, and more desert. Some ruins and sand-swept camp sites dot the landscape, but other than that - desert. Definitely nothing else here. Why are you here, anyway?

Ku yfyo bmayca.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3rjtbrIJNM&ab_channel=Ultimatefighter343


<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

LAST TIME ON DREAM CHASERS:
    
    The Sealing Rod is broken, but all that can be seen is a haze of red and steam, for the longest time.
    
    ... until there is a crackle of something wrong.
    
    It isn't light. It isn't heat. It isn't anything light that. There is a crackle of negative space. Things that should not be and yet undeniably -are- right -now- churn in little electrical arcs of unlight within that red, steamy haze. Tiny little sparks. Nothing. Nauseous nothing.
    
    It sparks once. Twice. Three times.
    
    And then tendrils of something that -should not be- spill forth from where the broken rod was, inky, shimmering, undulating black covered in red eyes that spreads out far and wide now that it has been freed from its vessel. Something spiritual and deeply, deeply wrong in a way malevolently familiar.
    
    It grows. It seeks something new to occupy. And though half-formed, it thus turns on the fayth, still singing their hymn, and opens a gaping void of a maw--
    
    SPLASH. A great tentacle breaches the surface of the waters and slaps up towards the fayth. The Fiend Kraken bursts forth the next instant, sending up a shower of seawater that promptly rains down again. The dark energy latches, not onto the fayth, but to the *Fiend*--and it screams in anger, pyreflies whorling wildly, as its horrid beak snaps and even worse eyes glare. As yet more tentacles wrap up and slap down... one of them coils around the crane and *cracks* it.
    
    With enough strength to break the crane off entirely, and pull down the priceless fayth still in its net, the Fiend nonetheless first turns on the assembled mortals present. An undying anger wavers in their two eyes, large as a person curled up. And in fact, shadows of something very much like that seem to lurk within those fetid orbs. Something... like...
    
    Belize sucks in a horrified gasp, clasping a hand to their mouth. "This can't be. It can't--" they rasp, barely above a whisper.
    "Cambria? Ryuggu...?"
    
    The Zopharian Fiend Kraken that has haunted Uijundo Temple opens its beak and screams with the regretful voices of the drowned dead.
    
    
NOW:
    
    It is a unique horror, perhaps. Fiends are already known well to the land of Spira--the spirits of the dead, unable to accept their deaths and resentful of the living--and a few, even some present, have before encountered the power of the wicked god Zophar. But has that god's power ever taken a Fiend as its host?
    
    Well, maybe. History is long indeed. But it's certainly the first time in *known* history, and that's bad enough.
    
    The kraken, already a Fiend made up of the souls of the drowned dead, might have been mistaken for a regular denizen of the deep but for the shadows in its eyeballs of the strong-willed souls of two somewhat more recently deceased. One is a brown-haired woman with fair skin and sharp features, dressed in navy blue warrior monk's robes recognizable from Bevelle, a katana at her hip; the other is a black-haired man with bronze skin and a well-kempt beard, dressed in loose pants and a vest in the style of Kilika, a harpoon on his back. The living, malevolent darkness that is Zophar's power makes the kraken--not so much skeletal, for encephalopods have no bones, as see-through. And thus one can *see* the grasping, moaning, gnashing souls of the dead that link together the kraken, pyreflies whorling as the Fiend itself screams in rage and agony.
    
    A tentacle--a hundred bloated, grasping hands--wraps around the crane and *cracks* it with one flex. The crane creaks over, swinging the net violently, dangerously, as the fayth within sings on undeterred. One might admire their resolve in the face of such evil, but who knows if the statues can even *stop* singing?
    
    It's a strange counterpoint, dissonant in its soothing strength, to such a horrifying sight.
    
    "Cambria... Ryuggu... everyone!!" Belize cries out, removing their hand as they rush forward, heedless of the dangerous. "This... *this* is what became of you? You became this horrible Fiend...?"
    
    Even possessed with Zopharian energy, the Fiend Kraken's howling slows, and its shadowy eyes focus on the Unsent Summoner before them. It's hard to say if it recognizes them, but the waving of its tentacles calms as it croons and considers them.
    
    They sink to their knees, tears beading in their eyes. "Forgive me... If I'd been stronger--if I'd been less impetuous... perhaps I could have at least Sent you and spared you this fate..." They take a deep, shuddering breath through gritted teeth, their fingers curling in to dig nails into their palms.
    
    "Yuna!" they shout. "Please!
    
    "Send them!!"
    
    While it's still unclear how much the Kraken understands, it at least understands that much. With a furious howl, it rotates one of its tentacles with disarming speed and *slams* it into Belize, sending them flying to crash into the side of the ship, where they crumple. A look reveals they're still conscious--it helps, already being dead--but they gasp for breath and grimace with pain. They won't be able to join the battle... yet.
    
    But "yet" might be more than enough, considering how the Zopharian Fiend Kraken is screaming defiance against any that would sunder its bonds to this world, egged on by the malevolent power coursing through it. Four of its tentacles latch onto the nearby boats and Golems, and the other four rise up, waving like the human forms within, in preparation to wreak utter destruction.

DC: You switch forms to Zopharian Fiend Kraken!
DC: Belize switches forms to Zopharian Fiend Kraken!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Marivel warned him. Mariel did, too. Just how many people told him there was something dark and sinister lurking within those rods? Leo didn't wholly believe them at first, and even after his talk with Marivel, he wondered if those claims were exaggerated.

    Now, he sees it with his own eyes.

    White Knight Leo stands on the pitching deck of the Yevonite ship, his face frozen in a look of shock and horror. His blade is in hand, and he stands over the prone form of Prime Lord Liath, but it's uncertain if he has the strength to fight.

    Marivel was right. Beneath the terror and surprise lies the sting of betrayal.

    The horrific cloud goes for the Fayth. "NO!" Leo roars, and he steps forwards--

    Then the kraken rises from the deep. The mass of wrongness changes course. Leo stops in his tracks, grabs the railing, and holds on for dear life as the Fiend shakes the ship like a dog worrying a bone. He looks into its eyes, and sees those silhouettes. Some Fiends hide their true nature well; one would be hard-pressed to recognize them as lost souls. This is not one of those Fiends.

    'Yuna! Please! Send them!!'

    Leo's jaw trembles. He looks back at Belize, and swallows down his pride. "Summoners!" he cries, raising his voice to be heard over the lashing waves and roars of the Fiend. "We stand ready!" Be better, Yuna told him. "We send it to its final rest, together!"

    Leo steps forward, raising his blade into a fighting stance as one of those tentacles grabs hold of the railing ahead. "HYAAAH--!" the Beastman roars. He brings down his blade in a single, violent strike, intent on hacking through the limb in a single blow. It's characteristic of Lion's Howl.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Rising Falcon!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Belize guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Rising Falcon for 99 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

Something terrible had happened. The Sealing Rod had been broken, and something awful, something that shouldn't be, had spilled forth. This would be bad enough in and of itself... until a Fiend had appeared, and become consumed by that evil energy.

The sight of that Fiend, lost soils roiling within its transparent form... how could her priorities not change?

"I stand with you!" Hilde calls out in answer to Leo's shout. They would join forces with the Summoners today. After that... well, there would certainly be things she needed to think about.

"Try to sever the tentacles! Do not let it drag us under!" Hilde calls out. She rushes down the nearest one grabbing for the boat, going for a quick horizontal slash.

GS: Hilde has attacked Belize with Silver Arc!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

LAST TIME...

"You see, Boudicca?" Marivel asks. "Now Leo too knows what it is to be betrayed by her." ...... "I wish he didn't have to."

She stares up at the fiend, now possessed with Zopharian energy. She hears from Belize that this Kraken is not just a fiend, but a fiend composed of friends of theirs. She has been here to assist Yuna and the Guardians in order to assist Belize today but she doesn't seem to expect that events have turned this course.

It doesn't stop her from sending a call out via her empathite radio. <It's been released already...>

Asgard (mk Marivel-I) floats in the water, continuing to rely on its water wings of Hob and Nob.

Marivel is not an adept healer. She'd argue that she isn't really a healer at all so much as a ...rewinder. The Canceller spell finishes its work with Boudicca and she flicks out her wrist, drawing out a ... a carrot? ... It's just a carrot.

She bites down upon it and she feels its energies fill her. She takes in a deep breath and says, "Be right back!" to Boudicca as she rushes over to... Seraph Liath?

She crouches down and extends a hand, unleashing a second wave of temporal reduction of wounds received. It might be strange to see because Marivel certainly wasn't holding back while fighting Seraph Liath. You can't fake that kind of despair or wrath.

She gives one lasts look towards Leo. Her fingers curl into a fist. "Hob. Nob."

Asgard's eyes flare up, glowing brightly while Marivel is watching and promptly--

--fires a rocket punch towards the Kraken. Because of course it does. Marivel is a huge golpla nerd.

"Welp." Marivel adds.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Belize with Hob And Nob - Secretly Capable of Violence?!!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

As unspeakable evil is released from the Sealing Rod into the world -- and merges with unspeakable tragedy -- one might expect Yuna to gasp (which she does), eyes gigantic in her pale face (which they are), and wish she could take back what she just did.

The Hymn of the Fayth continues to ring out across the waves; the Seraph who threatened that Fayth with this same unspeakable evil seems to be down but not destroyed; and so Yuna regrets nothing. Yuna would do it again.

There's a lot of horror in Spira.

The young summoner from Besaid prefers the kind that she can FIGHT.

"Yes," she agrees, quietly but firmly, to Belize; no smaller than before, but very focused now, her eyes are level with purpose. "I promise."

Kneeling beside them, power gathers, first in her hands and then in the other summoner's body, where it blooms outwards, as much supernova as flower. Every unfurling petal of white-indigo ombre -- every swirling, intricate arc of this explosive, gentle mandala -- is filled with her feelings for Belize.

Her admiration for a mentor who taught her things she could never imagine about what it means to be a summoner.

Her compassion for an ally who's just been forced to lose -- to fight! -- the most precious thing all over again: their Guardians, their friends.

Her affection for a dear, dear friend.

Radiance spills from her and into Belize until it overflows them both.

"Rest a moment," she murmurs, as she stands. Straightening to her full lack of height, she inclines her head towards Leo, and towards the Yevonites as well, who just got to see her tend to their mission's leader.

She swallows. Public speaking is a thing she's had to do since she was a child, but it isn't really her thing. She suddenly desperately wishes that Tidus were here.

The fiend fills her vision, and just like that, she's glad he's not.

"We will always protect them -- the fayth, one another, this world we love," she repeats in self-paraphrase to everyone at battlefield pitch; what she said to Lulu and Belize almost moments before is only more relevant now. "Together!"

Her skirts swirl as she crosses the deck to a relatively tentacle-free spot -- a spot big enough to dance in -- and raises her summoner's rod.

GS: Yuna has attacked Belize with Cutscene Healing!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    Last time, all Gon could do - when finding the grim resolution to attempt to withstand Hilde's overwhelming, giant-slaying might for as long as he could hold just moments prior - was gawk dumbstruck. The stoic grace the Guado oft find themselves characterized with has melted away to pure, wide-eyed, primal, vulnerable fear. (This is to say nothing of a man who has often found himself better defined, even in the throes of one of Yevon's very last hopes being endangered, finding himself afloat largely on exasperation and irritation from circumstances he simply could not find anything short of ridiculous.)
     Belize, over on another boat, gets swatted aside. That impact does not register to a man who has spent the better part of his adult years cultivating his reputation as a Guardian who never had a charge lose their life on the Pilgrimage. Beholding all this, whatever this is, overwhelms most any sense the man has other than stammering to tell his mortal foe to 'turn back,' pause, 'around.'
     It is the White Knight Leo - the de-facto head of the forces of Althena's Guard - who gives the rallying cry as he finds his courage to face an ugly truth head-on. Rallying the 'Summoners,' as naturally as a Yevon commander of his stature would... if one such existed.
     One by one on the boat he and Hilde had their not-at-all fair fight on, War Monks start to mobilize anew as if better grasping just how severe this situation has become. That moments before, they were ready to fight to the last (and for some, beyond) to repel Althena's champions and other strange Otherworlder interlopers.
     "What..." Gon does not find a flame of courage, but a breeze of further exasperation as his enduring defenses lower and the faint chill in the air around him fades. He will also find a splash of seawater without emotional metaphor because a kraken's just got a tentacle around the ship he's on - by necessity now, he stands side-by-side with Hilde (also physically) as his arms go slack.
     Hilde comes fully to before he can, and is already taking charge of the tactics - go for the tentacle. Several War Monks are already on it with her, giving support fire - it is the Guado Guardian who falls behind in decisive action, as if the scenario itself... even life and death... simply overwhelms.

GS: Gon Guado has attacked Belize with When The Mooks Rise Up To The Occasion Faster Than You!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    There is only more swamp beyond the mountains.

    It's dark.

    But in the meantime, do you want to get out of this depressing place and find a warmer place to be?

    That isn't necessarily bad.

    T-this -- is surely the nadir of our descent.It's deeper than black.

    Take this flame, now, and consume the darkness.

    Who are you protecting?

    Wake up.

    And all at once the intercession of what was ceases its intrusion to the world-which-is, cut back, rewind, as the shade which sought to revitalise Boudicca finds purchase in her own tired magics.

    Yes, Malevolence feels familiar. How could it not, ascending that mountain? But there is Malevolence and then there is this, so many eyes spilling out into a shell which never seemed to suit it. Boudicca's eyes scrunch, and open; look past Marivel, to the screaming.

    Ida is not here, she thinks. Dean is not here. Oh, why did she not send for them!

    Because, she goes on to think: she never would have expected this. Malevolence has no seat in Spira. She has seen it in this land, yes, but not -- not like this.

    And in this she is silent. She is so, so silent, as she pushes herself standing, as she looks to the people she came here to protect and the people she has protected. Her expression is drawn, like a bowstring or a line or a bridge.

    Send them, Belize cries. Would that..?

    "My strength is yours," she says, at length; and the words do not tremble now, the way they did, though there is a tonal consistency to them which speaks of something screwed down very, very tight. "By mortal hands be cleansed."

    The breeze picks up, around Yuna, as she raises her rod; a sigil lights beneath her feet, the sign of her Seraphic arte. How lies the whim of the breeze? The breeze, the breeze, she sends the breeze.

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Yuna with Thousand Sky!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Yuna accepts Seraph Boudicca's Thousand Sky for 0 hit points!
GS: Pray grants a random effect! Amplify and Lock State applied to Yuna!
<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

Lulu draws in a breath as she watches the Something churning in red steam, and then the Fiend appearing. Lulu sees the figures within its eyes--she doesn't need a special talent to see that anger in its eyes, much less the negative space all around--but suddenly the something from the rod destroyed turns on not the Fayth... but the Fiend. The crane cracks--and Lulu hears the names in Belize's voice.

She hears the Hymn continue, too.

And more to the point she sees Belize struck out to, crumbling, and narrows her eyes. Even as Leo takes up the fight, Lulu looks first to Yuna--and nods. She regrets nothing, either. They did what they needed--and will do yet what they need to do.

Lulu has experienced, explained the nature of Fiends many times. It is not the first time she has wondered of some who might have been left behind. But now, looking to Belize, she regards the Kraken. "...It's time," she says.

"We will free you," Lulu promises the two Guardians lost within this Fiend. "And your charge."

Lulu extends her hands, then--the tentacles before her are mighty, but size is not an asset in a battle against a Black Mage. She draws in a breath, and so draws on the power of the land far distant--the rock below, the earth under the sea, the weight of the ocean itself. A black dot appears before the Kraken, and implodes, black and gray and purple gravitic energy growing and growing into negative space, as Lulua ttempts to wrench the Fiend back unto itself and pull it farther from Yuna.

GS: Lulu has attacked Belize with Demi!
GS: Lulu has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lulu has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel does not like to fight people. She isn't good at it, she hates every time she gets roped into it, and even with the whole Sealing Rod in use, she would have avoided it if she could.

But she came along with Marivel anyway. She brought a full set of herbalist's supplies, just in case, and for afterwards; she wouldn't let people die on her watch if she could help it, and just because she doesn't want to fight doesn't mean there is nothing she could do. She couldn't just stand by entirely. It felt... wrong.

Which is why she spent at least some time inside Asgard's cockpit. Until SOMEONE whose name shall not be spoken sends a line-of-sight message to her, anyway. She barely needed to. Mariel felt it from inside.

A few moments later, and Asgard fires a rocket punch. Mariel waits for it to steady after doing so before exiting the Golem, stepping onto its head and balancing there. She has her satchel in place, and is already holding what appears to be a bundle of herbs in one hand and a bottle in the other. Mariel does not drink the contents of bottle - she dumps it all over herself, waits five heartbeats, and then jumps off Asgard.

Mariel's speed of descent is far slower than it should be, and it's slowing down further as she descends. Her long braids of hair drift like they were weightless as she falls, her robe billowing around her knees (she has sensible pants on underneath, as always). She wouldn't make the jump under normal circumstances, but with gravity's lesser hold on her, she lands on the ship with relative ease.

Relative, because Mariel actually skids across the surface, unable to stop herself until she makes a concerted effort to dig her heels in. She is actually 'standing' about an inch above the deck, though she's descending still and it's not too long before she touches down. Gravity still seems to be a bit odd though; her hair is still floating rather than falling neatly down her back. "I hope... I'm not too late...! I brought - " She holds up her healing bag, by way of explanation.

GS: Mariel has attacked Mariel with Modified Levisalve!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    A tentacle wraps itself about one of the ships. Mere moments after, a single figure races from the deck and up along that arm. At a distance, the most anyone would be able to see would be the person's long silver hair--

    And the arc of a blade as it's swung towards the Zopharian Fiend's flesh.

    Avril Vent Fleur had been prompted to come as a matter of a premonition, taking to one of the ships in the hopes that it would not come to pass.

    Unfortunately, her sense of things has been true once again: doom has come to the harbor.

    But she is as a blade in this matter as well and does not hesitate. Particularly not because--

    ...she can feel the spirits within this one. She had learned after all what came of those who were Unsent some time ago, and it is clear that those within seek the answer to their prayer in the same sense that they seek to unleash their curse.

    It's the presence of another -- one other than those she had traveled to this place alongside, atop a Golem -- that draws her eye as she races along that cephalopodian limb, in those moments before she swings her blade. Boudicca. Is Dean-- she had not--
    He's not here, Avril realizes. And this feeling, this darkness...

    It is no wonder she had such a terrible premonition.

    For now she does only what she can. This creature must be stopped.

    "Boudicca--" she calls, after swinging her blade.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Belize with Innocent Saber!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Belize critically guards Hilde's Silver Arc for 33 hit points!
GS: Belize activates Guard bonus!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Hob And Nob - Secretly Capable of Violence?! for 100 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Belize accepts Yuna's Cutscene Healing for 0 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Belize takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's When The Mooks Rise Up To The Occasion Faster Than You for 102
hit points!
GS: Belize guards a hit from Lulu's Demi for 96 hit points!
GS: Belize activates Guard bonus and Arcane Font!
GS: CRITICAL! Belize guards a hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Innocent Saber for 92 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      Skylr's been missing from the Guard for awhile now. She often gets sent on little reassignments; she's a well healer with just her magic, but throw in her herbery thanks to her mom and just her being... well, Skylr, and it's not a surprise that she's gone for a day or two. Up to a week. It's been a lot longer than that, though, now; but she's not been found. Lost sheep posters can be taken down after this.

      In a small boat by the sea, I, and Skylr Paer; fighting the rising waves by the sea, I and Skylr Paer. Upon finding the Destiny (but none of the Big Bosses seem to be around), is Skylr pointed in the way where the people left might have heard about things going down. So she's trekked, long and fair and far...

     ... why is it always creatures from the sea?

     On one of the random ships did she pass out for a brief bout as everything rocks and waves... finally, however, does Skylr Paer make herself known, fingers cold as she shakes her fingers, relatively keeping them dry as she strings her bow in a swift motion, arrows pulled to the front of her. With a far smoother motion than many are used to, she's got one notched, exhales, and her greeting to the party is a arrow flying over heads-

      "For seas, the skies, and our lights, for we both share and love them all the same!"

GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Belize with Simple Shot!
GS: Skylr Paer has completed her action.
GS: Belize guards a hit from Skylr Paer's Simple Shot for 66 hit points!
GS: Belize activates Guard bonus!
GS: Mariel accepts Mariel's Modified Levisalve for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick applied to Mariel!
GS: Belize has adjusted their boss level for 11 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    A mandala of soothing power blossoms like a lotus beneath Belize and sends its power up into their battered body. Though they are already dead, that doesn't mean they aren't capable of dying a second time; fiends are slain and dissolve into pyreflies all the time, and what is an Unsent but a glorified fiend? This at least ensures that they won't fall apart--literally--during the battle. They lift their chin to look upon their follow Summoner with gratitude gleaming in their sea green eyes; then they glance over at Leo in surprise when he does an about face and rallies both sides together to attack the kraken.
    
    "White Knight Leo..." they murmur. They hadn't expected this from him. Perhaps... he really can change...?
    
    They focus then on Yuna before them--to her promise, to her gentle urge to rest. "...Thank you," they murmur back, and though they cast no spell, she can perhaps sense their feelings for her in their words: their fondness for a young pupil, their friendship with a Summoner equal, their hopes and expectations for one who would one day become *High* Summoner. They glance at Lulu when she promises they'll free the Guardians and their charge both; they bow their head and do not argue. If this were to be their last day...
    
    As long as they can see Leviathan's fayth to safety, they could accept it. But that moment has not yet come.
    
    New combatants arrive: Mariel from Asgard (Marivel edition) to offer healing goods, Skylr shooting an arrow into the side of the creature from her little ship, and Avril off one of the beleagered ships, up the kraken, and down its front, blade-first. The other ships sway and rock dangerously as tentacles wrap around them, but many hack away at those tentacles to release their grip: Leo, Hilde, Gon's squad (while Gon himself stands around, too Gonsmacked to act), even Tidus who *had* been present but helping to fight off Althena's Guardsmen off one of the other ships. It's not as though his pep talks can help Yuna from two ships away. Perhaps Rikku and Margaret will join him off where he fights conveniently just off-camera. Too bad Dean and Ida couldn't be just off-camera, too...
    
    Meanwhile, Mariel lands on the ship with a bag of healing swag, while Boudicca sends up her healing wind. Lulu casts Demi, yanking at the great fiend kraken with its gravitational pull. Marivel orders Asgard (Marivel Edition) fire, and it launches a massive rocket punch to WHALLOP the kraken right in its face. There is an impact of a fist left behind. While the tentacles are not outright severed, despite everyone's best efforts, they do loosen their grips on the ships and leave them to splash hard into the water.
    
    And Yuna... prepares to dance. To Send.
    
    But fiends are not so easily dismissed--especially not one imbued with the powers of darkness. Those translucent eyes wheel for a second before focusing on her; a great, malevolent aura flares up around the sea beast, suffusing it with even greater strength. Its tentacles, both injured and intact, snake up out of the waters and lash out. One shoots out to attempt to grab Yuna, right off the deck where she prepares her Sending dance, while another seeks to snatch up Lulu and her troubling magics; whether it grabs either of them or someone else, it will feel like being accosted by a thousand damp, doughy fingers. Another tentacle slams directly down into Hilde and Gon's warrior monk friends, then slides around to smash into Leo and potentially send him careening into Avril. The kraken then spits a glob of... *something* into the air, something foul and rotten and disgusting even at just the sight of it, let alone the smell. The bulk of it falls towards Marivel, and Goddess--or whomever, really--help her if it hits; the rest spatters down around Mariel and Boudicca in an absolutely revolting, acidic rain. Magical power whorls out of the fiend and into the water beneath Skylr's boat, which begins to spin in an abrupt whirlpool.
    
    Liath, who is still recovering from where she slammed onto the deck, is ignored for the moment... and Belize is similarly overlooked.

GS: Belize has attacked Belize with Killing Intent!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: Belize accepts Belize's Killing Intent for 0 hit points!
GS: Amplify, Burst, Hyper, and Surge applied to Belize!
GS: Belize has attacked Yuna with Grab!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has attacked Lulu with Grab!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Belize has attacked Hilde with Slam!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Belize has attacked Gon Guado with Slam!
GS: Belize has attacked White Knight Leo with Throw!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Throw!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Belize has attacked Marivel Armitage with Venom!
GS: Belize has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Belize has attacked Mariel with Acid Rain!
GS: Belize has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Acid Rain!
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Skylr Paer with Whirlpool!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: Seraph Boudicca guards a hit from Belize's Acid Rain for 41 hit points!
GS: Reaper applied to Seraph Boudicca!
GS: Seraph Boudicca activates Power Burst!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes an additional 25 damage from Reaper!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a glancing hit from Belize's Venom for 37 hit points!
GS: Misery inflicts a random effect! Disease and Poison applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Marivel Armitage activates Evade bonus!
GS: Gon Guado has activated a Force Action!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Belize's Slam for 143 hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer takes a solid hit from Belize's Whirlpool for 138 hit points!
GS: Poison applied to Skylr Paer!
GS: Skylr Paer activates Arcane Font!
GS: CRITICAL! Mariel critically guards Belize's Acid Rain for 17 hit points!
GS: Mariel activates Guard bonus!
GS: Gon Guado used Defend! He takes Belize's Slam attack on Hilde on himself!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Belize's Slam for 147 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo used Defend! He takes Belize's Grab attack on Yuna on himself!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Belize's Throw for 55 hit points!
GS: Cripple applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur takes a solid hit from Belize's Throw for 101 hit points!
GS: Cripple applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Lulu takes a glancing hit from Belize's Grab for 54 hit points!
GS: Mute applied to Lulu!
GS: Lulu activates Evade bonus!
GS: White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from Belize's Grab for 82 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Mute applied to White Knight Leo!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Leo sees Marivel out of the corner of his eye as she moves to Liath's side. His throat tightens for a moment, and he risks a glance back at them--

    But no, Marivel is just healing the downed Prime Lord. A look of genuine gratitude lights up Leo's face, for a moment--and then it's back to his norm of daring and resolve. "You heard the Knight-Protector!" Leo cries. "Sever those tentacles!" But the Fiend, of course, isn't just going to sit back and let them do that. A tentacle lashes out at Leo, backed by enough force to snap a ship's mast in half. In it, Leo sees the souls of the dead, linked hand-to-foot like a chain of the damned. The White Knight sets his feet, grits his teeth, and meets the fiendish flesh with steel. There's a tremendous, fleshy thwack, and Leo skids back a pace or two. The impact reverberates through his arms--it hurt.

    And then a familiar voice catches Leo's ear. "Guardswoman Paer!" he shouts, alarm crossing his features as he realizes where she is. "CATCH!" Leo dashes to the railing, and fumbles a rope ladder free from his belt with tingling fingers. He ties one end around the wood, and throws the other end down, towards Skylr.

    But the Kraken has sensed something amiss. Leo watches as a tentacle snakes out, grabbing for the one person who can put the Fiend to rest. "LADY YUNA!" he roars.

    Leo is hurt. The deck is slick, and pitching violently from the Kraken's attacks. Despite these, he's at Yuna's side in a heartbeat, shielding her with his own body even as he places a hand on her shoulder and gives her a firm, gentle push--a motion that should, theoretically, get her to relative safety.

    The tentacle wraps around Leo's midsection instead, and squeezes. The White Knight lets out a strangled grunt as his breath nearly leaves him. He looks the kraken square in its eyes--at the twin silhouettes of Belize's Guardians--and raises his blade. "Demon Fang," he says, his voice breathy and pained. He sweeps his blade down, striking at--and hopefully through--the tentacle holding him. Energy leaps from the blade at the lowest point of the swing, racing down the Kraken's tentacle right towards its face!

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Demon Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 2 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    * * * SLAM * * *

     The damage the descending tentacle does on the deck is severe. There is nothing for one to take footing with, as the violent rocking that follows tosses those War Monks right off their feet. None have tumbled off the deck in which they stand... but the beast's tentacle is right to their collective left. All it can take is one sweep. One sweep, and that part of the fight would be as good as over. One sweep, and all of those on that end would join the drowned.
     Gon is just shy of point blank as he is floored, and it looks for a moment he might be trapped under that massive tentacle. Bloodied, battered, bruised, bewildered... there is scant little to suggest that he'll be anything more than just another of the victims of Spira's endless cycle of death. A cycle that his people have largely benefitted and profited off of, even being subject to it themselves.
     Then... there is a squelchy slash noise, and a small break. An opening, just enough, that the next movement by that tentacle might just miss the gathered.
     Hilde won't get slammed, or slapped, or anything of the sort - this time.
     The savior of the moment does not stand tall, defiant, or triumphant. The savior of the moment stands covered in horrid Fiend-produced gunge, down to a kneel, and pressing a gauntlet-clad left hand against his right arm.
     It does not look like the product of a well-timed upward deflecting claw strike to redirect a tentacle. It is more of a barely acceptably-timed upward deflecting claw strike - but it is one that was made, allowing that moment of reprieve for the War Monk forces.
     ...and, by proxy, the Knight-Protector of Hyland.
     Rather than turn around and have some sort of pithy remark, the wounded Gon pats himself for a Potion he can pop and consume as if an automatic process, for he could use a chaser to get that pride that's currently choking his throat.
     Bloodied, battered, bruised, bewildered...
     ...But belligerent. If nothing else, Gon's belligerence keeps him there in the moment.

GS: Gon Guado has attacked Gon Guado with Auto-Potion!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: Gon Guado heals Gon Guado! He gains 150 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel, now on board the correct ship, takes stock. Battle is always chaos to her; a stream of disjointed images that don't always make sense. But to her one thing is clear, right now:

That thing is angry. And it needs to be stopped. She can *feel* it, like an angry presence...

Mariel raises her bag over her head like she was taking cover from rain under it. Perhaps she is; what drops splatter down on her are mostly caught by the bag, though the outer layer of it sizzles and some kind of coating on it begins to sizzle and emit a foul smell from the acid. The coating holds, though; the splotches don't eat through the material, which means Mariel mostly has to deal with the fumes.

Which are bad. She coughs, recoiling; if the levisalve wasn't still reducing her weight, that combined with the Kraken rocking the boat would send her to the deck. Fortunately, it is, so all she does is skid backwards a little further than she meant to, like she's moving on ice - her feet aren't making contact with the deck the way she's used to.

Mariel looks around again, trying to find something - anything - she can focus on. Yuna and Leo prove to be it. Mariel isn't enough of a jerk to tell Leo 'I told you so', *especially* at a time like this; instead she says, more quietly, "I'm sorry you had to see it this way. Knight Leo!" She raised her voice at that one. "Please keep her safe!"

Mariel raises those herbs she was carrying the whole way across, drawing out their power. They shimmer with pink light, flecks and pinpoints of shining energy rising up from them and into the air; a matching storm of tiny points of life-giving power erupts around Leo, Boudicca (who is nearish to Mariel), and some others nearby.

GS: Mariel has attacked White Knight Leo with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Lulu with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Healing Herb!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Mariel heals Lulu! She gains 110 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel Armitage never blamed the Guard for the actions of their Goddess. She cannot know for sure if Liath intended to shatter that rod--she has a feeling, sure, but even with that she can't presume the reason as to why. She wants to tell Liath of Althena some day. ... More than that, she wants to know this woman. She worries for this woman. She knows well the power of faith but in this moment, her own faith is weaker than everr. She looks to Mariel for a moment. She nods to her, allowing a small smile. She is about to say something when--

--GLOB--A noxious ball of poison goop slams into her and sends her sprawling over. Her magic completes itself--prematurely perhaps, but it finishes.

She stands up slowly, pushing herself up.

"Leo, I--" Marivel begins, perhaps a confession of a sort. But then Leo shouts Yuna's name and she doesn't finish the thought. Instead she flicks bits of goo off her body with her hand.


"Boudicca," Marivel says. "Somehow..."

"Somehow I'm calmer than ever, right now."

She extends her hand. "I'm furious, but... I still weirdly feel... Fine."

She flicks her hand one more time, a buzzsaw materializing in her hand as she channels a new Red Power into her hand.

She swings her hand back and flings it towards one of the Kraken's Tentacles like Metal Man. She'll send a few more after it, because Metal Man's power is very weapon energy friendly.

"Yuna," Marivel says. "Is it strange for me...to be calm right now, do you think?"

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Belize with Buzzsaw Thrower!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes 18 damage from Poison!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Mariel heals White Knight Leo! He gains 110 temporary hit points!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Demon Fang for 164 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Charge!! You gain 40 FP!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Buzzsaw Thrower for 163 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 40 FP!
GS: Belize activates Arcane Font!
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

A tentacle descends for Hilde and the Warrior Monks. She goes through the plan in her head - how can she ensure that she can cover all of them from the strike...? A blue aura begins to surge into being as she moves to defend them...

...and fades just as quickly as someone else moves to defend. Hilde's eye opens wide in surprise as Gon - the man she was fighting just moments before - moves to the defense, intercepting and redirecting the tentacle. She hadn't expected that... but she is certainly thankful.

"...You have my gratitude, Sir Guado!" Hilde says sincerely. She steps around him, then, her sword drawn.

"I will attempt to open it up to further attack! Be ready!" Hilde alerts and then lunges forward. Her blade flashes blue for a moment as she unleashes several practiced swings - not so much to deal direct damage, but to weaken its defenses and allow the others a better opportunity to attack.

GS: Hilde has attacked Belize with Rend Armor!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
GS: Belize guards a hit from Hilde's Rend Armor for 47 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shieldbreak applied to Belize!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Boudicca sends the breeze. It embraces Yuna, making her sleeves and skirt billow, tugging her beaded earring free of her hair, and she lifts her face to the sky in gratitude and breathes, just for a brief, perfect moment, surrounded by the Seraph's support.

And then Leo interposes himself -- and pays an immediate price, lifted up and away from the deck.

"Thank you," Yuna murmurs, to them both. "I'm glad you're calm, Marivel. I don't think it would be good for you to try to consume... that."

And then she takes a single step forward, back into the space that the White Knight just defended for her.

Not to Send.

To Summon.

He will not be held for long.

 <SoundTracker> Ixion's Theme: Thunderstruck - ACDC - https:'www.youtube.comwatch?v=v2AC41dglnM

Magnetic force pulses in her hands, growing beautifully in shades of violet and teal into a perfect sphere. Then pillars of lightning spin around her, and finally converge, collecting at the crown of her raised rod.

A moment later, it is hidden by a coalescence of white light too bright to look at directly -- so white that it's a little bit black, too.

Yuna is not afraid. Violet lightning explodes off the symbol of her station and into midair, where the summoning rune of Djose pulses. It continues far longer than any single strike, an electric tether between her palms and Ixion's horn. Ultimately she tugs, a two-handed overhead sweep, and the aeon shatters through the wall of existence and actualizes on the deck of the ship with a shattering whinny.

Tangling her fingers in Ixion's mane, summoner and aeon exchange another brief, perfect moment, staring at one another.

And then she climbs aboard.

More too-bright light gathers at the aeon's horn -- light which detonates into a pair of slicing energy discs, which snicker-snack across the tentacles holding her Guardians (both big and little G). The ki-rin charges, a wave of teal sparks ignited by every hovering hoof, in the wake of his own Aerospark, Yuna holding on for dear life with one hand -- and extending her other to anyone who'd care to grasp it and be pulled up behind her onto the somewhat carapaceous back of Djose's aeon. It is vast, and there is room for more than one or two riders upon the storm.

(Lulu first.)

"Take my hand!"

DC: Yuna switches forms to Ixion!
GS: Yuna has attacked Belize with Aerospark!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Liath has posed.

When one is set upon the wrong path, how do you change their mind?

There is a foul presence unleashed here by what would seem, on its face, to be a perilous accident gone terribly awry. It's something that can be felt as easily as it can be seen, now -- the prickly-pear pins-and-needles tingling their way along the spine from the most primal parts of the brain.

Like Malevolence, but... not. Malevolence, after all, no matter its origins, is ultimately a human affliction, born of human passions. This...

... this is alien.

But now, like its distant, more sadly relatable cousin, it has seized upon something to infest as a host. The Kraken rages, empowered by dark gods from dark places. A creature borne out from the rigors of tragedy finds itself festered and spurred by something altogether more hideous. The sight of it draws yevonites and heretics to work side by side.

The reality of it inspires enemies to become allies.

And...

                  "O sword of conviction, loose the might
                        of your brilliant colors!"

Six gleaming crystals ebbing with the flow of magical might fall from the sky as if compelled from some distant heavens. They land, forming a grand, star-shaped perimeter around the kraken just as it spews its foul ichor at Marivel. Light refracts between each ephemeral prism in a dazzling spectacle of colors, bouncing between each other and potentially through the kraken proper --

                              "Prism Sword!"

-- before a seventh, larger crystal comes crashing down into the center of that formation, right atop the kraken's head, like a harmonious, more explosive version of a guillotine flying for the neck of a fiend.

It's in that multi-colored haze that a green-shrouded knight falls into place beside Marivel, booted heels shoulder-width apart, sword swinging defiantly to her side. Bright gold eyes staring steadfast at the fiend's fell form before her.

It does not stop her from sparing a glance Marivel's way; for all they were fighting sincerely before, and for all the fury Marivel brought to bear --

The warmth of Liath's smile is like one might reserve for a trusted companion.

"My thanks for your peculiar benedictions, Lady Marivel," offers the Light Seraph. "I would ask after the nature of it, but... later. We've a more pressing matter, do we not?"

Her eyes refocus upon the kraken in the distance. They narrow. There is a brief glimmer of something like sorrow and pity for that thing...

... and then something more incendiary sparks in that molten gaze in a way that would suggest it is reserved for something beyond that kraken. Whatever brought that rod to shatter--

"You do not belong in this world, nor any other," she says, slowly. Flatly. Fingers tense along the hilt of her weapon.

"Flee or fight, villain -- no matter what you do, no matter where you fester, I will see you out of every last one of them."

Liath's spite is assuredly real.

GS: Seraph Liath has attacked Belize with Prism Sword!
GS: Seraph Liath has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Liath has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    "Avril!" Boudicca calls, in concert, as that chill warrior appears at just the right moment. She scarcely has the time to tell her Dean is not present, though - the kraken is on the attack. She throws up a gauntlet, against the acid; it hisses, as it meets steel. Sizzle, sizzle.

    She lashes a gust of wind out at the tentacles threatening Avril; takes a step forward. (The hull, at least, can't feel so much about that acid.) "Malevolence seethes here," she calls, to her, "but it is deeper, Avril. That - that is a Fiend! Born from..."

    Boudicca quiets herself, as she looks to find Belize in the field, and does not quite finish her sentence.

    "This is of Spira," she says, instead. "Darkened still!" And perhaps that thing which was screwed in so very tightly loosens just a little, at the emotion which sneaks into the rising tone. But Marivel says she's calm, and Boudicca looks to her - and nods.

    "Then, let us... be calm." The thing she has buried is fear.

    (Over its shallow grave, the compassion she feels for what they were.)

    Healing settles over her, and she turns to Mariel, bows her head in a nod. "Ah... we must stop meeting on the battlefield." Time beats - she adds; "... but I am glad you are here, Mariel." See, now? They all stand together.

GS: Mariel heals Seraph Boudicca! She gains 110 temporary hit points!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes an additional 5 damage from Reaper!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Belize with Beaufort's Prediction!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes an additional 30 damage from Reaper!
GS: Seraph Boudicca gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Yuna's Aerospark for 152 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Dispel! Amplify, Burst, Hyper, and Surge removed!
GS: Charge!! You gain 40 FP!
GS: Belize activates Arcane Font!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Seraph Liath's Prism Sword for 168 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Belize activates Arcane Font!
GS: Belize guards a hit from Seraph Boudicca's Beaufort's Prediction for 71 hit points!
GS: Quick applied to Seraph Boudicca!
GS: Belize activates Arcane Font!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      She hears her name, and Skylr's head snaps up, her gaze falling on Leo. There he is. A little, almost painful knot that she wasn't aware she had loosens in her chest. A bridge comes her way and she attaches it, although she gives it a bit of a look, and her look trails down it to Leo on the other side. Leo, who knows Skylr the best, really; Leo, who knows her largest failing. The look she gives him says...

      '... really? REALLY?'

      However, the boat slowly starts spinning- "Oh no." Skylr says. The spinning picks up. "Oh no." She says, with more emphasis. At a certain point, she can't do anything, and instead nestles down into the bottom of her little faithful ship-companion and promptly gets thrown to and fro in it. She eventually manages to stagger onto the bridge, practically crawling across it; there's a faint noise, and she can be heard going 'ooogh' by the time she finally joins the rest of her company. At their feet.

      "Hrrgh..."

      Seasickness is a terrible thing. Dragging herself enough to a kneeling position, she drags her bow to herself, quietly dragging her fingers against the smooth wood. She digs around for something, breathing in, breathing out, notching an arrow to it, exhaling long, slow, her brown eyes roving as she looks for something-

      "By thy feet, you walk along with us..."

GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Belize with Althena's Heel!
GS: Skylr Paer takes 23 damage from Poison!
GS: Skylr Paer has completed her action.
GS: Belize fully evades Skylr Paer's Althena's Heel for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Belize activates Evade bonus!
<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

Lulu is battered by the Fiend's tentacle, but not grasped tightly enough--before it can coil around her she sweeps to the side, slowed. There may not be another chance to dodge as it comes back-- Pink light rains down on her next, restoring the energy she'd used to evade--but Lulu does not have much time to answer Mariel's light. Instead, she notices Marivel's strange calm... and more to the point recognizes the familiar power of Summoning. Ixion's power buys her the extra time she needs, and then the space to keep moving. "Right!" Lulu answers Yuna, reaching out to be pulled onto Ixion's back once again, turning to look over the battlefield and form her strategy. "I appreciate it," she tells Yuna first, almost lightly despite the difficulty--but that's just the way she talks while she's thinking. And what she thinks is this--

"I think you have the right idea," she remarks, doll under her arm as she focuses. Riding the storm, Lulu adds to it for herself--

And lightning crashes down as her hand rises towards the Kraken, thunderous force slamming down towards it as they move.

GS: Lulu has attacked Belize with Thundara!
GS: Lulu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lulu has completed her action.
GS: Belize guards a hit from Lulu's Thundara for 96 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Disrupt applied to Belize!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Her current position is not one that the Kraken is likely to ignore--
    Indeed, it does not, swiping for her with one of its mighty arms.

    The only thing that saves her from being flung into the harbor proper is the wall of wind that rises at Boudicca's behest: Avril staggers under the blow, her grip tightening on the hilt of her blade, but gains the moments needed to right her stance atop the Fiend's flesh.

    "Yes... I can feel it, Boudicca," she calls back, all eyes on the Fiend as it continues to lash out (and her, here, in a perilous position atop it). "Not merely Malevolence but something darker--"

    And in Spira, still. What was it that had nestled deep in that Rod?

    She shakes her head, long hair set aflutter in the passing wind. "Whatever its origins, we must end it here. This cannot continue."

    And though she bears her blade before it, it is not another strike from it that she drives at the altered Fiend: ice crystals dance in the air about her, swirling downwards in a vortex to sink deep into the flesh at her feet. They're only the prelude to what is to come: a calvacade of ice sheets form to try and chain the alien limb place where it twitches.

GS: Mariel heals Avril Vent Fleur! She gains 110 temporary hit points!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Belize with Surge Glaciaire!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
GS: Belize fully evades Avril Vent Fleur's Surge Glaciaire for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    Hilde, defended at great expense by Gon, takes advantage of the opening he affords her to shoot several thrusts forward, perforating the creature's skin and leaving several openings for the others to take advantage of. Promptly, Marivel summons buzzsaws and chuckes them at that tentacle, which promptly becomes several tentacles and/or calamari for the damned. A bolt of energy runs from Leo's sword down the tentacle grabbing him and slashes into the kraken's face, nearly puncturing clean through as it just barely misses one of those enormous eyeballs. Meanwhile, Boudicca unleashes a gust of wind to knock that tentacle away from Avril. Avril swings her blade and unleashes ice crystals to freeze the creature in place, while Skylr unleashes another arrow. Both of their attacks fly true--until the kraken swings its tentacles around to whip the arrow around and get frozen in its place. A large crystal drops with a loud PLOP into the ocean, then bobs to the surface a moment later.
    
    As Gon heals himself and Mariel heals others with their respective potion and herbs, the kraken rears that tentacle pain, screaming out its pain--just as Yuna takes advantage of the moment Leo gave *her* to Summon forth Ixion, aeon of lightning. He unleashes that Aerospark, and it whirls forth and *slices* off tentacle tips, releasing Leo and Lulu to relative safety. The kraken, now spitting mad, turns again towards Yuna... but now Liath returns to the fray and calls down crystals of prismatic might to shatter and slice through its wet and darkened skin. As it rears back, Lulu follows up with something even more devastating, due to elemental weaknesses: a localized thunderstorm, arcing down the heavens and reducing one of the tentacles Yuna had sliced to barbeque. Really, really bad barbeque...
    
    But while a pair of its tentacles may have been destroyed, bursting apart into pyreflies that sail away from the sickening darkness, it still has six left--as well as its head, no matter how battered and assaulted it may be. It makes a truly nauseating hawking noise, and another glob of something foul--it might be fish carcasses, it might be human carcasses, but it's definitely something that used to be alive and no longer is--rockets into the air and falls down towards Gon. This time, the splatter effect rains towards Hilde and the unfortunate Skylr, raining down strips of bloated rot.
    
    The tentacle on which Avril continues to perch despite the kraken's best efforts jerks and snaps to one side, attempting to hurl Avril off in a more decisive fashion. Those massive eyes rove around and then focus in on Boudicca, the one who'd kept Avril from getting swept away in the first place, and bore in on her with a force almost physical. For a spiritual being like her, it might be worse than physical.
    
    Marivel might be too calm to try to devour the kraken, but the same can't be said in reverse; a different sort of magic roils about her, that unclean, horrible thing of Zophar, to strike her with darkness beyond twilight and leech her life force off of her--see how *she* likes it for once. Liath, standing at her side, receives the same treatment, perhaps to worse effect given that she's a Seraph of Light. The kraken then focuses on Mariel and breaths out from its beak a cloud of darkness... no, of *ink*, somehow both liquid and gas at the same time. It sticks. It *clings*. It will be seven hells to wash out of her clothes later, assuming she ever actually manages it.
    
    The piece of tentacle tip that remains around Leo squeezes hard and breath-stealingly tight in its death throes before it bursts apart into pyreflies. Lulu ascends onto Ixion with Yuna, and the kraken seems to ignore them as it glares at Boudicca... but to believe that sincerely is folly. When its magic surges again, the ocean stirs once more--but this time the whirlpool is a waterspout, climbing up into the sky and attempting to knock them both and their Aeon mount down.
    
    The crane leans dangerously to one side as the battle ensues, the net rocking back and forth, back and forth, over the deck, over the ocean. Belize, watching the battle as they catch their breath, looks the fayth's way and sucks in a breath as they see their situation. On shaking feet, they force themselves up, then stumble towards the crane, their heart in their throat--so to speak.

GS: Belize has attacked Marivel Armitage with Devour!
GS: Belize has attacked Seraph Liath with Devour!
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Yuna with Whirlpool!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Lulu with Whirlpool!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has attacked White Knight Leo with Squeeze!
GS: Belize has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Belize has attacked Gon Guado with Venom!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has attacked Hilde with Acid Rain!
GS: Belize has attacked Skylr Paer with Acid Rain!
GS: Belize has attacked Mariel with Ink Cloud!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Eyes!
GS: Belize has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Throw!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: CRITICAL! Hilde critically guards Belize's Acid Rain for 17 hit points!
GS: Mariel takes a glancing hit from Belize's Ink Cloud for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Mariel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Break, Cripple, Hex, Jam, Mute, Slow, and Weaken applied to Mariel!
GS: CRITICAL! Yuna takes a solid hit from Belize's Whirlpool for 243 hit points!
GS: Poison applied to Yuna!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a solid hit from Belize's Eyes for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Boudicca gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Ruin! Quick and Reaper removed!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Seraph Boudicca!
GS: Gon Guado has activated a Force Action!
GS: Gon Guado critically guards Belize's Venom for 14 hit points!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Belize's Squeeze for 56 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Entangle applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Guard bonus!
GS: White Knight Leo enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Yuna used Defend! She takes Belize's Whirlpool attack on Lulu on herself!
GS: CRITICAL! Avril Vent Fleur takes a glancing hit from Belize's Throw for 70 hit points!
GS: Cripple applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: CRITICAL! Yuna takes a solid hit from Belize's Whirlpool for 239 hit points!
GS: Poison applied to Yuna!
GS: Belize heals Seraph Liath! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Skylr Paer guards a hit from Belize's Acid Rain for 64 hit points!
GS: Reaper applied to Skylr Paer!
GS: Skylr Paer takes an additional 15 damage from Reaper!
GS: Belize has canceled their attack on Marivel Armitage.
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Marivel Armitage with Whirlpool!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage critically guards Belize's Whirlpool for 27 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Marivel Armitage gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

I don't think it would be good for you to try to consume that.

"I'm not one for seafood," Marivel quips without thinking too hard about it. Marivel hears Boudicca's own assent of chillitude. "...It...isn't like I hated you or anything." Marivel says to Liath. "You said you wanted to hear about her and I agreed so--you should stay healthy, 'least till then."

A pause. "Or...longer." Her cheeks blue-en a bit and nods. "But we have work to do. You're right."

Light. A sword of light. A warm smile. It reminds her of those days. Days that she feels closer to claiming once more and yet, at the same time, farther away than ever. She watches Liath carefully. She sees something that allows her thoughts to settle and she turns her focus back to the fiend before them.

Reminds her off some relatives, Marivel thinks, but worse.

She feels the magic rolling around her and she shouts, "Magic Seal!!" And a barier crackles around her body. The creature attempts to draw energy out from Marivel--but that force can't break through the barrier. It takes effort from Marivel to keep up, but it holds. This sort of magic is Marivel's specialty. Maybe she'd be rather fighting this fiendish thing than Liath. At least her body ought to make it out today. Maybe. She isn't going to hope too much for that.

Asgard, despite now missing a fist, seems capable of chilling out in the water but it doesn't seem to be engaging again just yet. Marivel is hesitant to really rely on its power right now.

What she is willing to do is to say, "Escape Down," with faintly glowing crimson eyes as she extendds her hand and thick black tendrils erupt out from her and aim to latch onto the Kraken. It isn't trying to sap its power and bring it to Marivel. Marivel is accepting that, yes, maybe she doesn't want to put this in her mouth.

But it is going to try and sap its power, rapidly oozing over the creature and expanding as it seeks to envelop it utterly.

"The defenses of the fiend should be weakened...! But I suppose we'll find out!" Marivel shouts.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Belize with Escape Down!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes 21 damage from Poison!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    It is deeper and darker still, and can the flame touch such a thing--?

    Boudicca has no time to wonder, and is flint without steel nonetheless. "Avril!" She gasps, again, as she is thrown, and turns to follow her trajectory, to offer some buffering wind --

    -- turns, and sees the eyes.

    "A-ah--" The noise shutter-steps in her throat, pinned through with a thing which pierces. (No hole, in her neck.) One step back, another, and she springs up, the breeze billowing under her and sending her high. High, high up, she sails down - to find the safety of Ixion.

    "Oh," Boudicca remarks, as she comes to a landing. "Is it my turn?"

    It's a silly little aside, which can't even make sense, to the Spirans who never saw the Beast of iron and its silk-trimmed saddle. She has not spoken of her history to them, after all.

    (It's a silly little aside, but it's better than being afraid.)

    "Please accept my thanks," she bows her head to Yuna, "and my protection. Access palisade decree --"

    The sigil lights - and from it the spring breeze, to whirl about the mortals who would stand against this thing which is more than Malevolent and more than the dead. "Fortifying Tailwind!"

GS: Seraph Boudicca has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Belize takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Escape Down for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Disease, Entangle, and Shieldbreak applied to Belize!
GS: Charge!! You gain 30 FP!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Yuna with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Lulu with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Skylr Paer with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Gon Guado with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked White Knight Leo with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Hilde with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Lulu accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Lulu!
GS: Yuna accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Yuna!
GS: Hilde accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Hilde!
GS: Skylr Paer accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Skylr Paer!
GS: Skylr Paer takes an additional 5 damage from Reaper!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Leo's vision starts to blur. He raises his blade again--

    Electricity rips through the air. The tip of the tentacle holding him spasms violently, and comes free from the Fiend with a sickening ripping noise. Leo falls back onto the ship's deck, landing in a three-point crouch next to the prone Skylr. "Ghh--" he chokes out. The tentacle-tip is still wrapped around him, and squeezing. The White Knight digs into his reserves, reverses his grip on his sword, and slices through the gummy, Fiendish flesh. The tentacle dissipates into so many Pyreflies. He can breathe again. "Take a moment--if you need it--" he says to Skylr, between gasps for breath.

    'I'm sorry you had to see it this way. Knight Leo!'

    Sparkles of pink light play across Leo's body, dulling the pain. Despite the noxious stench of the kraken's acid, he finds his breath coming easier. He looks back across the rocking deck, his lips pulled into a regretful smile as he looks at Mariel.

    "And I regret doubting you," the White Knight says, his voice still a little raspy. But then something happens. Yuna offers him her hand, again. Leo hesitates a moment--does he deserve her kindness, after everything he's done? Would Ixion buck him from his back, into the waves below?

    It's only a moment. It passes. Leo takes Yuna's hand, again, using the leverage to hoist himself onto the Aeon behind her and Lulu. An electrical tingle runs through him as soon as he touches the great beast, runing from the tip of his horn to his toes. That's it. Ixion does not electrocute him, or throw him off. "Forward!" Leo cries, thrusting his blade at the enemy as if he were leading cavalry. "For Ryuugu! For Cambria!"

    And the moment Ixion draws near enough to strike, Leo leans in the Fiend's direction, gripping Ixion tighter with his legs. He hasn't had much time to practice Waning Crescent on horseback, but the motions come naturally regardless--a high strike for a tentacle that's drawn too close to them, and then a wide, slashing cut towards the Kraken's head. The third strike goes low as Leo tries to put out one of the thing's eyes. His technique leaves very few openings, and when he pulls his blade back to guard, there's a tension in the way he holds it--coiled like a spring, ready to strike.

GS: White Knight Leo accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to White Knight Leo!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    Gon is not dead. He does not wish to be dead, but there are few things he can think of worse than already being covered in what he is just by having bodily redirected a tentacle strike. He exhales, snorting, wiping a sleeve across his face to get some of the excess gunk off lest any of it get in his eyes.
     Hilde's gratitude does not come off from wiping one's sleeve, though he might wish it does. His recent gesture was a move born of pragmatism. Yevon's own forces are at their limit and can not overturn this by themselves - and this... this is what they are steadily being reduced to.
     Having to find common ground with their most hated of enemies, just to survive.
     "As long as--" Gon is cut off by the screams of the Kraken, as if now this were a joint conspiracy by existence at large to not allow him to have his full say of things (irrespective of whether there is value in saying whatever it is he was going to - and odds are there wasn't much). Its tortured shriek sees him taking a step back with one palm over his eyes as the scent of death blows into him.
     The War Monks are still scrambling to reposition.
     A foul glob of something is hawked up, coming down upon Gon and finding itself met with an upward palm strike at an angle. Ichor splatters and scatters in gut-wrenching quantity, but very little lands on him - at least, not enough to do more than accomplish a strong desire to burn what he's wearing at the earliest opportunity. It has the side-effect of reducing the splash-down that Hilde needs to deal with over on their end.
     Reasserting a stance by slamming his foot down (...into some of the muck, forcing him to stagger off two steps and then try again), his back is not far off from Hilde's own as he is given a momentary look of the battle as it happens between boats and other conveyances. Of the heretical Yuna who would be their savior, of spirits native to their world but not their corner of it, of a Yevon War Monk giving cover fire for sake of an injured swordsman of Althena's Guard...
     Of Belize, still struggling over there by the crane. He needs to come to their aid, at once--
     A tentacle gets in the way, incidentally, allowing Gon to abandon thought about how he might even cross that distance where some of it is ocean.
     The White Knight's rallying cries can be heard so clearly he can't hear his inner voice. Gon swings his hands inward in a sweeping motion to try and flay off a layer of flesh from the nearest tentacle and assume a more sturdy, reliable defensive stance in its wake as he breathes in and out the pain that the Potion is helping dull but not reverse.
     "Do not fall here," he asides to Hilde.

GS: Gon Guado accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Gon Guado!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Belize with Bunyip Stance!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Flashing Crescent!
GS: White Knight Leo enters a Counter stance!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo's Avenger stance ends. He enters the Stoic stance!
GS: Mute expired!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

The herbs in Mariel's hand vanish into light as she releases the last of them. While she wishes the sacrifice of the plants was unnecessary, better a plant's life than a thinking being's. For all of Mariel's attachment to flowering plants of all sorts, she has her priorities straight. "Then talk to me," she replies to Leo, only loud enough to be heard. "Later."

Mariel's discomfort intensifies as the beast - Fiend, but moreso, somehow - gathers energy. It isn't even intentional, really; a mere side effect of the Kraken channeling its power, and drawing on its darkness. She is sensitive to that sort of energy. Not in the same way Liath is, but merely an attunement to things living, the natural flow of life on the planet. And anything touched by Zophar is *not* that. It isn't Malevolence or Malice but something else, something hostile.

And when it exhales that power in the form of ink, it overwhelms her.

Mariel reels, the clinging unpleasantness somehow worse for her than it would be for most; while the cloud surrounds her she feels cut off and alone, and even after she staggers out of the airborne cloud of ink, she's blinded and disoriented in the additional sense she has no common-language word for, but that she feels the flow of energy throughout the world with. She tries to orient herself by the thunderclaps from Ixion and Lulu, but to no avail.

No matter how much it hurts - or anyone hurts - the only thing she can think to do is reassert herself. The sixth-sense equivalent of centering, wiping away the muck, reaching out to feel where she is by stumbling around. There's no flowering plants here but the sea has life in it, and under it, and it's enough for the moment. Mariel still feels mentally off-balance.

Also, physically she's just *coated* in black ink. So there's that. She probably can't see with her eyes very well either.

Once she feels at least sort of 'stable' again, Mariel digs into her bag. Some people are hurt, and she's reaching for that, but what she finds is a packet of salt, wrapped in cloth. Yuna has seen her use this salt before - except, no she hasn't, as this isn't Spiran salt but something made when Mariel tried to recreate it without any Spiran temples being involved. An infusion of Holy Roots and certain minerals, left to dry in the sun and crystallize into a fine blue-green powder.

Mariel flings it wildly in the direction of the Kraken's closest tentacle. And whatever she did to make her own version of the purifying salt, it seems to work, because as soon as it touches something corrupt and dark, it bursts into a heatless green flame.

*Then* she goes back to digging. She knows what she's looking for.

GS: Mariel has attacked Belize with Purifying Salt!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Please react using the attack number in +queue.
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Bunyip Stance for 132 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 40 FP!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Flashing Crescent for 205 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: CRITICAL! Belize takes a solid hit from Mariel's Purifying Salt for 121 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 35 FP!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      Skylr misses. That's okay. She's no magick bowswoman, and she's also not Leo. She's a shephardess, a priestess, someone who is trying to do her best to help protect her home(s), inasmuch as this place is both and isn't home. Perhaps there's something in her that sort of understands Yuna on a level most of her fellow Guards don't. But then again, Leo is showing, as always, he's ever so graceful in learning how to, ever, always, change his ways.

      It's warm.
      It's hope.

      She turns her head up briefly, only for the acid to sting along her bare skin, eating at her clothes. She hisses, hunkering down along the lines of the boat, tucking her bow against the curve of her skirt. Acid eating her bow isn't anything too terrible, the problem is if it gets her bowstring. Not that she doesn't have plenty of those tucked away, but still...

      Inhale. Notch. Exhale. Look. Inhale. Lift. Exhale- Fire. Minute actions around the acid eating at her, even as she continues to cough and act, irregardless of Leo telling her to take her time. Healer, heal thyself; yet also, Healer... protect those around you, as she always does.

      She does stare at Ixion for a moment though, before acquanting herself with the side of the boat to be sick. Stupid whirlpools.

GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Belize with Ready Aim Fire!
GS: Skylr Paer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Skylr Paer takes an additional 25 damage from Reaper!
GS: Skylr Paer takes 25 damage from Poison!
GS: Skylr Paer has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Belize takes a solid hit from Skylr Paer's Ready Aim Fire for 123 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 35 FP!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Timing is everything in a battle, and unfortunately this is a sentiment that extends not only to seizing an advantage--

    But also when receiving an unexpected disadvantage. Avril's spell and Skylr's arrow cross paths as the great beast twitches at just the right time... and neither make impact. Though her gaze flits over the Guardswoman's way, there is neither judgement nor shame in Avril's glance. Just simply 'an acknowledgement' of what has come to pass.

    The move by the Kraken is followed quickly by another attempt to dislodge the swordswoman and this attempt -- without Boudicca's winds available to buffer the attack -- serves to flick her into the air. But while she may be preoccupied, Boudicca is hardly unattentive: the winds bouy her up. A flash of white light from her person as she activates the Sea Medium does the rest of the job.

    Is this the true power of Jump -- the Double-Jump?

    It sees her well enough to permit her to land on the first thing available. Which is to say, she lands on Asgard (Marivel Version) even as the wafting spring breeze drifts her way.

    Blade and Artificial Medium both are set aside, returned to a safer place on Avril's person. For a long moment, she there lingers atop this other Asgard, her gaze distant. There is something... fondly reminiscent about this. But no. There is no time.

    Drawing out a stone Medium, Avril holds it against her chest, her gaze turned up towards the heavens. At Filgaia -- past Filgaia.

    "Material," she murmurs, as the stone plate begins to shimmer with a pale yellow light.

    "...Ultradark Impact."

    The dark rock that hurtles downwards from the heavens does so without fanfare -- at first, that is. Yellow light trails, shimmering, in its wake. And if one were to look carefully at it, would they in fact see eyes within?

    The rock flashes then, caught by the sun's light, as it continues on its terrible trajectory for the Kraken.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Belize with Material - Ultradark Impact!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

The briefest smile flashes across Yuna's face at Lulu's praise. "Are you all right?" she asks -- unnecessarily, but she wouldn't be herself if she didn't.

It widens upon seeing the immense prisma of Liath's recovery and assault of the kraken. Now, truly, all of them are in accord, at least for the moment. It is the greatest mystery of Yuna's young life why SIN didn't inspire this kind of unity. How it inspired war instead, for the first time in an age.

Or perhaps it isn't so strange. Not when neither religion seems to be quite the same as the image each wished to project...

Boudicca lands next, and Yuna is surprised by her arrival -- in a world of airships she is not yet accustomed to those who FLY, never mind Ixion's own semi-aerial status -- but glad. The breeze returns, in more ways than one. "With gratitude," she replies. "And a prayer that someday we might meet outside of battle."

Then Leo takes her outstretched hand; Boudicca has to make a little room for the angle of small-girl-swinging-big-beastman-onto-giant-unicorn to work, such that the final seating arrangements are:

Boudica >> Leo >> Lulu >> Yuna

When Leo invokes the dead, Yuna bows her head briefly. "Yes," she agrees. "Thank you."

She does not however thank the kraken for its retaliation.

Faced with an immense waterspout and four passengers, Yuna and Ixion know there's only one option to keep them all safe, since he's too heavily laden to dodge: for the aeon to take the brunt of it, instead of those it bears.

Which is to say -- head on.

Buoyed by the aerodynamicity of being at the heart of Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind, Ixion rushes straight at the spout. As the others learn quickly, to ride the Storm of Djose is a great honor but also an unforgettable experience. There is a keen sense of closeness from the mighty ki-rin, and danger also; to ride him is to be in the Eye but by his choice only and his courtesy, his will is to protect those that have dared to rise to his challenge.

Yuna models what to do next -- laying almost flat against the aeon's intricately braided mane -- as through some heady combination of time magic and magnetism, Ixion seems almost unfairly capable of acceleration, achieving appalling speed in an even more appallingly short period of time. He spirals up the spout. The smell of ozone intensifies when next he summons power to his horn, a great, rising might that is as much shield as sword...

...and then he charges straight down the spout's center. An enormous splash kicks up, vaporizing instantly to an enormous STEAM. None of it touches his riders, not even the heat. The aeon is somewhat worse for wear -- some of the pyreflies that compose his body are beginning to trail behind him like a jetstream -- but everyone is safe.

Everyone is safe, and at the base of the collapsed spout, Ixion is SQUARELY at the kraken's flank. Its flank, point blank.

"NOW!" cries Yuna.

And all the power Ixion built up in his terrible charge -- from all the split water molecules as much as the lightning itself -- detonates off of his horn and towards the side of the kraken. Briefly there are no colors, none at all, only the black and white of this raw expression of electricity's heart...

...which might also illuminate the simultaneous strikes of his riders...

GS: Yuna has attacked Belize with Chaotic Strike!
GS: Yuna has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Yuna takes 20 damage from Poison!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

"I'm much better now," Lulu answers Yuna. Unecessary, maybe, but it's not unwelcome. She smiles briefly at her, though only briefly--there is little time for plesantries in this battle, and Lulu has to focus on their foe as for now, it is Yuna who does the guarding--Yuna, and Ixion.

 A piece at a time is all Lulu can do at the moment--and it's what she intends to keep doing. She watches its maneuvers from her position with Yuna, from where she rides now with Leo. As he moves in with his sword, she gathers up that much more magical energy. Melee is not her ideal firing point, but the speed Ixion affords her is great.

...And the speed Boudicca's winds grant her, too, for that matter.

"Thank you," Lulu murmurs to the Aeon as she notes his defense of her, leaning down to hang on much as Yuna does to keep herself on. Lulu notes Leo behind her, Boudicca further--and she considers, as she feels the power gathering in the Aeon. The enormous splash that kicks up makes her think--

Perhaps Mariel can guide by another form of magic, in the end. Lulu gathers up her power at the flank, and Yuna cries out now--

Lulu does not add to lightning, which Ixion has in great supply, lightning incarnate blotting out color--but instead she helps it to spread, bringing on a deathly chill that makes energy carry all the more in its wake. The ice gathers along the water and erupts into crystalline devastation, carrying along the lightning in combination. "Here!"

GS: Lulu spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Lulu has attacked Belize with Blizzaga!
GS: Lulu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lulu assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Lulu has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

Hilde's aura flares into being around her as a terrible, acidic rain of an origin she would rather not guess. Most of it burns away before it can make contact with her - sizzling against her armor or burning a hole into her cape. But she remains strong and undeterred against the attack, taking up her blade once more.

"I assure you, I have no intention of doing so. I must also ask the same of you, Sir Guado!" Hilde replies, to Gon's aside. She then starts toward the Kraken once more... but as she moves, she finds the spring breeze at her back, protecting and urging her onward.

"My thanks, Lady Seraph! I will do my best to ensure that your boon is not wasted!" Hilde calls over to Boudicca gratefully.

She turns on the Kraken once more. The blue aura builds around her once more... and with a step forward it bursts out from her position, striking forcefully against the Fiend's nearest tentacle while intensifying her own power.

GS: Hilde has attacked Belize with Aura Burst!
GS: Hilde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Liath has posed.

Coattails whipping behind her in the furious froth of the salt-soaked winds, all the rest of the world seems to simply dissolve away from Liath's focus until there is just that single, sorrowful beast beyond her. Her - the Guard's - original reasons for being here seem lost in the cacophony. The Fayth has seemingly been all but forgotten.

But in truth, it never quite leaves her peripherals, as it sways with the unsteady groan of the crane just beyond.

The name of the game has simply changed, now, and Liath is nothing if not all-consuming in her drive.

That does not stop, however, the brief shift of her focus. Liath looks towards Leo, off in the distance, her expression briefly unreadable save for how a pensive air seems to wreath it. She looks again, this time Boudicca's way as she springs into the breeze, towards Ixion, and that look is much less ambiguous in its fond warmth. She looks back towards the possessed fiend, as if she is looking past it. To all the souls trapped within.

"... I am sorry," she exhales, eyes shutting. "You needn't suffer much longer."

Legs tense. Shield is brought at the ready. And light shimmers in a pale yellow pulse along the surface of her sword as the Seraph watches the way the thing rages. She feels the pulling, suppurating shift in magic. The dark unfurls its twilight tendrils to try to take a bite out of -her- on a metaphysical level.

The smile that once was there has been swiftly replaced with a stern frown.

"You have not the stomach, you malignant milksop!"

And it might be worse for her, as a Seraph of Light, but Liath --

-- springs right towards the heart of the chaos, eyes alight and radiance bursting from her blade.

It's an aggressive move from a Seraph who has, if nothing else, swiftly established herself as aggressive when it matters: the risk yields the rewards of those foul magics curving across the surface of her shield as Liath literally -bashes- past it on her straight route towards the kraken. Light sheathes and then -extends- well past the pointed tip of her sword, Joyeuse, as she -thrusts- it forward, forming a great spear of light that she charges right into the (proverbial) (possibly literal) belly of the beast.

The exact moment it strikes, if it does, Liath bursts into streams of prismatic light, rainbow ribbons swiftly retreating, reforming, and resoaring back into the fray, to charge the fiend with that spear of light --

again --
    -- and again --
        -- and again --
            -- and --

really she's just probably not going to stop until someone or something stops her.

GS: Seraph Liath has attacked Belize with Light Spear!
GS: Seraph Liath has completed her action.
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Material - Ultradark Impact for 200 hit points!
GS: Disrupt applied to Belize!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Yuna's Chaotic Strike for 163 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 40 FP!
GS: CRITICAL! Belize takes a solid hit from Lulu's Blizzaga for 211 hit points!
GS: Cripple and Mute applied to Belize!
GS: Mighty applied to Lulu!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Hilde's Aura Burst for 126 hit points!
GS: Mighty applied to Hilde!
GS: Charge!! You gain 35 FP!
GS: Belize enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Seraph Liath's Light Spear for 123 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 35 FP!
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    Boudicca flies up and lands on Ixion with Yuna, Lulu, and Leo, and sends forth her buffeting winds to empower the warriors assembled. At the same time, Marivel extends her own powers of darkness to leech away at the kraken's defenses. Between the two of them, the kraken takes a massive amount of damage. Avril calls down a Material summon by way of a shrimpy meteorite; Liath shears into the creature with nigh-infinite blades of light; Gon flays a layer of bloated flesh that, appallingly, clings to him even after it falls off; Hilde slashes into a tentacle while a blue aura flares around her; Mariel throws a fistful of purifying salt, lighting a tentacle on green flame; Skylr unleashes an arrow that this time pierces through a tentacle. At the apex of it all, Leo unleashes a slashing cut that shears deadly close to one of its eyeballs, Lulu unleashes blades of ice that force it open, and Yuna bids Ixion ride down the waterspout to detonate a flash of lightning to sear black-and-whitely towards the heart of the creature, lancing along its beak.
    
    The kraken is bludgeoned, slashed, crushed, iced, electrocuted. With a bone-chilling wail, it releases the ship and sludges into the water--but that doesn't mean it's about to run away. On the contrary, it's at this point that the kraken begins to go wild. Those remaining tentacles lash and flail pound at everything they can reach with all their furious, destructive force--reaching specifically for Hilde, who helped destroy a tentacle earlier, and Mariel, who seared its very existence with her purifying salt. If those three aren't outright crushed, they might get knocked into the ocean, which is hardly a better fate considering what's in the water. Those tentacles lash skywards also, but with some removed, their reach isn't as good. Still, it's good enough to attempt to knock Yuna, Leo, Lulu, and Boudicca out of the sky.
    
    Speaking of the water, that waterspout that had lanced up through the sky now collapses downwards, but with intent rather than mere gravity. With crushing force, it attempts to lay waste to Marivel after that dirty little barrier trick she pulled earlier, and Avril with all her infuriating hopping around. Then the great seething darkness of Zophar wisps not just within the kraken but outside it too, all of a sudden. The meaning of this becomes alarmingly clear when it coalesces around Liath, enveloping her in a hateful pitch and attempting to crush *in* like a giant fist. To squash the High Lord like a bug.
    
    More of that dark magic, specifically that which had attempted to suck the life force from Marivel and Liath, materializes again around perhaps easier targets: Gon and Skylr. If that sickening force touches them, it will leech away their energy and transfer it into the kraken's unpleasantly clicking beak.
    
    And while Gon might not be able to cross an ocean to protect Summoner Belize, he does serve a purpose, to distract the kraken away from them. They make it to the crane, almost completely splintered apart and rocking *with* the net with increasingly violent force, over the ship, over the sea, over victory and over loss, and climb. Even when Leo cries that this battle is for Ryuggu and Cambria, even as their soul swells with unexpected emotion, they climb for all they are worth.

GS: Belize spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Belize has attacked White Knight Leo with Slam!
GS: Belize spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Belize has attacked Yuna with Slam!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Belize has attacked Lulu with Slam!
GS: Belize spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Belize has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Slam!
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Hilde with Tentacles!
GS: Belize has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Mariel with Tentacles!
GS: Belize has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Marivel Armitage with Whirlpool!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Belize has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Whirlpool!
GS: Belize has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Belize has attacked Gon Guado with Devour!
GS: Belize has attacked Skylr Paer with Devour!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize gains 5 FP from Sufferer!
GS: Belize has completed their action.
GS: Belize has attacked Seraph Liath with Darkness!
GS: Belize has gained 1 Combo!
GS: CRITICAL! Marivel Armitage fully evades Belize's Whirlpool for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Marivel Armitage gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage activates Evade bonus!
GS: CRITICAL! Mariel takes a solid hit from Belize's Tentacles for 228 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Mariel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison applied to Mariel!
GS: CRITICAL! Hilde critically guards Belize's Tentacles for 43 hit points!
GS: Hilde activates Guard bonus!
GS: CRITICAL! Avril Vent Fleur guards a hit from Belize's Whirlpool for 107 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Avril Vent Fleur gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur activates Arcane Font!
GS: Skylr Paer guards a hit from Belize's Devour for 77 hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer activates Arcane Font!
GS: Skylr Paer takes an additional 25 damage from Reaper!
GS: Belize drains Skylr Paer! Belize gains 0 temporary hit points!
GS: Yuna takes a glancing hit from Belize's Slam for 120 hit points!
GS: Healthy! For entering Condition Green, Yuna receives 100 temporary hit points.
GS: Yuna enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Boudicca takes a solid hit from Belize's Slam for 172 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Boudicca gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Seraph Boudicca activates Power Burst!
GS: COUNTER! White Knight Leo counterattacks Belize with Counter Attack!
GS: White Knight Leo guards a hit from Belize's Slam for 107 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Lulu guards a hit from Belize's Slam for 106 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Lulu gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Lulu activates Guard bonus!
GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Liath fully evades Belize's Darkness for 0 hit points!
GS: Hilde used Defend! She takes Belize's Devour attack on Gon Guado on herself!
GS: Hilde takes a solid hit from Belize's Devour for 123 hit points!
GS: Hilde has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Belize drains Hilde! Belize gains 0 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Asgard (Marivel Version) deems Avril as someone who is authorized to dramatically stand on it. It's a very specialized and unique grant gifted only to the most distinguished of royalty. Also people Marivel decide are pretty cool after all. Asgard (Marivel Version), for its part, bobs gently in the water as its rocket fist flies back into its socket. Hob and Nob chirp at Avril excitedly. It's not impossible they think she came by to play because they are, basically, support animals more than they are combat devices. As a vampire, Marivel is well acquainted with double jumps.

And whips enfused with the power of light for that matter. ... Is ... Is Avril a Belmont?!

Nevertheless: The waterspout comes surging back down towards Marivel. That ammount of force is sure to puncture her barrier. Marivel extends out her hand.

"Absolute 0." Marivel says.

The waterspout slows down rapidly and rapidly freezes into a hanging icicle, allowing the Crimson Noble to step aside before it punctures down through her skull. The crimson in her eyes glows ever brighter. "An angel of light is certainly going to be a difficult fight for one such as I... But you are a fiend powered by the hungry souls of the dead."

Marivel grasps the icicle with her hand. "Thunderbolt."

Electricity crackles out from Marivel's body, traveling along water droplets--taking advantage of the very impure nature of this fiend--as it crackles and scorches all along the way towards the fiend.

"Fighting twisted creatures like you, on the other hand." Marivel says. "I've done that for so long, tis akin to breathing. Fall and find your peace. Tis natural for even agrieved souls to find peace after their unfortunate demise. You will not be alone."

"You will...never be alone."

GS: Marivel Armitage spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Belize with What Use Is A Pulse That Does Not Quicken - Cremation!
GS: Marivel Armitage has launched an attack Link!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Belize with Even The Hearts Of The Dead Shall Race - Absolute Zero!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes 19 damage from Poison!
GS: Disease, Hyper, and Poison expired!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      Everyone is pushing, pushing, pushing... out here on the seas, there the only thing keeping you from the water is the power of friends (a glance up at the sky, where Ixion is proudly showing off all that he can do), to the others darting around boats, tentacles, ladders, and anything that allows them to balance atop to be able to get a steady hit in. This dance they are doing... it's exhilarating. It's horrifying.

      A bit of acid slips down her bowstring, causing it to snap, Skylr purses her lips, but then there are more urgent things at hand. Literally. That black thing edges towards her, and Skylr, as best as she can, attempts to dissipate it like mist, to no avail as it latches onto her, drawing out that lovely energy. Skylr utters a choked noise, followed by a whistling cough, before she closes her eyes.

      It's dark. Then there's...

      A mental gauge, and Skylr drops to her knees, hands tracing something into the wood of the boat. Here, there is no ground, really, for anyone to stand on - but everyone; from Avril, Gon, Hilde, Lulu, Mariel, Marivel, Boudicca, Liath, Leo, and yes, even Yuna; here, together, they are one; one together. Instead, around all of them comes a crystaline ring of light, before it folds up and over itself like a cocoon before that healing energy rushes in.

      "... so let there be light..." Cough. "A ray of hope... light..."

GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Marivel Armitage with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Seraph Liath with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Hilde with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Lulu with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Yuna with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Mariel with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Gon Guado with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked White Knight Leo with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Light's Shine!
GS: Skylr Paer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Skylr Paer takes an additional 25 damage from Reaper!
GS: Skylr Paer takes 20 damage from Poison!
GS: Poison expired!
GS: Skylr Paer has completed her action.
GS: Skylr Paer has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Hilde! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer heals White Knight Leo! He gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Seraph Boudicca! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Skylr Paer has posed.

      Then Skylr promptly passes out, as she should when the healer fails to heal theirselves.

GS: Skylr Paer heals Gon Guado! He gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Lulu! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Marivel Armitage! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

The Fiend thrashes. It is a creature of great and terrible power - felling it is going to be a much greater task than that. One of its tentacles flails out, slamming down toward Hilde. Quickly, she draws out her shield. The tentacle crashes against her. She lets out a grunt of effort as the force of it smashes down. Hilde does not budge from her spot... but, the deck of the boat beneath her feet splinters and cracks from the force, threatening to break and take Hilde with it.

But, it remains intact, at least for now... and the tentacle's attention turns elsewhere in enough time for Hilde to notice the trouble about to befall Gon.

"Sir Guado!" Hilde calls out. She rushes to his side. The dark energy latches onto her flaring blue aura, instead, shining like a beacon of energy. It siphons her strength from her and she stumbles back, a bit woozy... but, at least successful in her goal of defending Gon.

"I am... alright." She assures pre-emptively. "I can still fight."

On her own, she might not be able to bring forth the fervor... but soon she finds herself wrapped in a warm, comfortable, protective cocoon of light. Hilde shuts her eyes for a brief moment, allowing the healing power to wash over her.

"...Thank you, Guardswoman Paer. With this...!" Hilde puts away her shield, taking up her sword in both hands. She notes, with a hint of concern, the way Skylr collapses. "...I shall strike in your honor!"

With Skylr's healing, the blue aura blossoms into existence around Hilde once more. She charges, sword raised above her head... and then brings it down, unleashing a cleaving strike. Where it makes contact, the force of her blade reverberates outward, echoing through the target's entire form.

GS: Hilde spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Hilde has attacked Belize with Titan Cleaver!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
GS: Skylr Paer heals Avril Vent Fleur! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

It's too much, too fast; the tentacle that impacts Ixion does so at a TERRIBLE rate. Two things happen:

First, the grand ki-rin is thrown sky-high in an instant, like the kraken just hit a grand slam home run; it's an almost vertical flight path and despite the gorgeously clear blue skies above the aeon is simply lost from sight. THAT'S how high up he goes.

And second -- inevitably -- his four riders fall off.

It is an extremely long way down.

Yuna screams when it first happens, but someone might need to talk to her about her base jumping habit because it's at least as exhilarated as it is terrified. Surely both; that was an immense hit and they are at an immense height.

And then she draws her summoning rod in close.

Above them all -- but visible if they look up, and even visible at sea level -- Ixion explodes into a fountain of pyreflies, which all travel in the same direction, maintaining the integrity of his shape, for a beautiful cosmic arc. And then they fade.

"CLOSE!" his summoner screams to her friends -- which she dared call Sir Leo unreservedly for so very long. "STAY CLOSE!" The wind of their descent reduces her voice to a small thing, but that just means she sounds like her normal self.

She closes her eyes, folds her arms... and falls.

The kraken is a speck below them but she feels its presence so profoundly. The tortured souls -- those she knows, and those she doesn't. And the one that has infected them all, the one she felt once before, at the height of Mariel's ritual. She entered that cosmic waterspout the moment the fiend merged with alien power to make itself manifest upon her world. It has buffeted her all this time with its suffering and misery and hatred, hatred for all things living, all things that are.

And though she is too high up to still hear the Hymn of Leviathan's Fayth...

...the five who are always with her seamlessly continue its refrain.

IEYUI
NOBOMENO
RENMIRI
YOJUYOGO
HASATEKANAE
"...kutamae," Yuna whispers.

They are one. Yuna and the fayth. Yuna and the lost souls. Yuna and the living. Yuna and the dead.

She spreads her arms wide -- and the summoning rune of Bevelle pulses across the very sun.

 <SoundTracker> Bahamut's Theme: Black Sheep - The Clash At Demonhead - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ91nArSjOg

An event horizon splits existence, and out of it soars something -- someone -- very large. For a moment, he surveys his domain, which is everything that the light touches.

And then, sunlight pouring behind him, he furls himself into a dive so steep that meteoric reds and oranges crawl across his length.

Runes blossom in his path, an accordion of power, a gateway, a portal.

Like what Ixion did but on so many steroids, they shatter, one after the next, as he plunges through them like a bull through a china shop, only the bull is a dragon and the china shop, the door...

...thunder resounds above the naval battle with each strike, dark clouds are gathering...

...and B A H A M U T reappears out of the final rune just below the group of plummeting Drifters.

He spreads his magnificent wings wide -- near-crimson magenta becomes orange becomes gold, all of it somehow metal, not laquered metal, just metal, layers and layers of blades that are nothing like feathers and everything like him. The claws that crown them are similarly evocative of a certain kind of avian's, and not at all the same, because he cannot be anything else but what he is. Other things have to be like him instead. Such is his privilege and his burden.

"--ab--n!" There's no hope of hearing Yuna now, but her instruction is simple enough, and again she models it.

There is ample space to grab on, between massive metallic pinions and adamantite scales and golden halo. It is not a soft landing. It is not an entirely safe landing.

But it is a landing taking them DIRECTLY back to the kraken, the vulnerable fayth, and all their threatened allies, as a dragon -- THE dragon of Spira -- four riders in tow, descends towards their collective enemy. Their lost friends. The world's victims and perhaps its direst threat -- at a near-vertical angle of descent even steeper than the one Ixion involuntarily left at.

He is titanic. Brutal. Unyielding. Mighty.

And, if the kraken is unable to escape his trajectory, he's going to plunge into it -- perhaps through it -- like a falling star.

DC: Yuna switches forms to B A H A M U T!
GS: Skylr Paer heals Yuna! She gains 420 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Half-blind, Mariel is trying to simultaneously get the ink off her face and search through her bag without getting the inside too gummed up. Unless she misses her mark, people are going to need some help pretty soon.

She doesn't actually manage to find it before the tentacles whip out towards her. Mariel abandons her search, throwing herself down and to the side - and it works, at first; the tentacle whips over her back, smacking one of her no longer floating but still kind of slow-falling braids. And if that was it, it would be great!

Unfortunately the tentacle pulls back and catches her on the backswing.

Mariel is launched head over heels directly into a wall of the ship, near where the entrance to inside is (it probably has a word; Mariel has not bothered to learn it). She hits with enough force to crack the wood and kind of slides down. It is better than going off the ship in that she is in no direct danger of drowning, but worse in that she hit a solid wall at high speed. Her side hurts. She can't catch a breath.

But Skylr's light catches her. It supports her, and though Mariel's ribs still are agony she can actually stand up again. More, it helps burn off the bit of the darkness that was blinding her; she can feel the world around her again. The flow here and there, the bonds that connect everybody, the pit of nothing - worse than nothing - that makes up the Fiend.

Mariel reaches for those bonds. It's not a physical thing; physically what she does is spread her arms, avoiding wincing at the ache. It's something she's done only a few times before in her life, as she subconsciously reaches into the world around her - and reinforces it. The last time she did this was when she was in the presence of a Clysmian. Pink motes dance around her arms... not along plants this time, as this energy comes from within.

"Everyone... please, stop the creature of the Destroyer!"

The motes blow away from her, caught in a wind. Where they touch, they... empower isn't the word. 'Connect' is more accurate; a momentary tighter bond to the planet, a feeling of being part of a great interconnected flow of life, before the sensation fades. But it might be enough.

And just like last time, when Mariel lowers her arms, she has a white flower perched on one thumb. She removes it from her glove and tucks it in her hair.

GS: Skylr Paer heals Mariel! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Mariel has attacked Yuna with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Hilde with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Marivel Armitage with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Seraph Liath with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Lulu with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Avril Vent Fleur with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Gon Guado with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked White Knight Leo with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel takes 17 damage from Poison!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Hilde accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Lock State applied to Hilde!
GS: Lulu accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Mute removed!
GS: Lock State applied to Lulu!
GS: Yuna accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Poison removed!
GS: Lock State applied to Yuna!
GS: Marivel Armitage accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Lock State applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Belize guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Counter Attack for 76 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    Dark magic manifests anew through the chaos. Several nearby War Monks, not out of the reach of its fell thirst, writhe and collapse as it sips upon their life force in passing towards a more tantalizing target. Gon holds the Blessing of the White aspects of Fire and Ice in his very blood - of warmth and stability. Tantalizing qualities to take, to feed into the yawning maw of a beak that hungers, and it moves in a way that his senses convert him to 'deer in headlights' mode. He has no idea what he's looking at. He can't gauge its spatial relationship to the rest of the world--
     Hilde moves in decisively, even after withstanding the bulk of the tentacle that has flailed around either of them, and withstands it - announced, with intent, and full respect given to 'Sir Guado' here. He seems aghast that she would do that for him, regardless of what he did for her not long before.
     It would be a trifling thing, in the moment, to sit there and allow Hilde to continue to deal with the fell energies she is holding at bay while the tentacle is right there. He has ample space to maneuver to free himself, and allow said tentacle to reach out and smack her. Already, a cunning and cruel mind plots with how one can leverage this monstrosity - this fell monstrosity that could still kill him - to thin out the ranks. The dread of what comes after, that hard-won after that seems more and more in grasp, crawls up his back. What will the Guard do once they destroy this monstrosity? He cannot realistically expect for them to withdraw when, by numbers and strength, they have the Yevon forces here too weak to resist being put to the sword.
     A warm, kindly wind from a Seraph and the shine of a gentle light wash over a man whose disposition almost never aligns with these sorts of descriptors, not so much panic-fire of aid to anyone receptive but conscious decisions by those healers to render this much aid in time of need against a foe this severe. People Gon still wants gone. People Gon wants to go away, to stop uprooting everything he has worked for since his people integrated the teachings of Yevon so closely into their social fabric. If he withdraws here and now, he can be rid of one of the far-off champions of Hyland courtesy of this horrible Fiend's violent death throes.
     He leaps up, leaving Hilde to her devices as the boat violently rocks from the latest strikes. Another of that magnitude could capsize it. Is she being left to deal with the threat on her own?

     * SHING *

     A crescent-shaped light streaks into reality, attached to a descending silhouette that turns and re-balances with the downward scooping movement of a claw.
     "Moonflow Blue Crescent." Gon mouths out the words, standing before the tentacle with his back turned - awaiting for the moments that come to pass to see if his claw severs the enormous tentacle that has struck at them so. (He might know less by the eruption of pyreflies and more the release of... other, more physical things that he might be in the right place to get soaked in.)
     "...Timely aid," he says moments later in Hilde's direction even if he's not facing her, as if saying the words 'thank you' run the risk of turning him to stone and shattering him or something.

GS: Gon Guado accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Lock State applied to Gon Guado!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Belize with Moonflow Blue Crescent!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado's Stoic stance ends.
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: Avril Vent Fleur accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Poison removed!
GS: Lock State applied to Avril Vent Fleur!
GS: Seraph Boudicca accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Lock State applied to Seraph Boudicca!
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Oh, hello there," Avril says, her attention moved from the fight for just that moment as Hob and Nob swarm about her as if excited. "You rather remind me of Trouble and Strife, you know," she continues, raising a hand as if she were a princess and they were a flock of friendly bluebirds to there alight.

    In a sense, one part of that sentence is technically a little bit accurate, though it has been a long time since Avril Vent Fleur, Queen of the Veruni, has been a mere princess...

    But, as the Kraken itself demonstrates, this is no time for a reunion (of sorts): water descends and churns at its bidding, and though she raises a hand and though ice crystals manifest as a sort of barrier, they only serve to keep her from being utterly crushed; she staggers, drawing Absolute Zero as a last resort and stabbing it into the side of the Golem to catch herself before she slips off.

    She is able to reclaim her perch, but it is by inches; it is thus a welcome relief when a crystalline ring of light swirls about her, glittering with promise, before it unloads its healing payload.

    Kneeling, Avril pulls her blade free from Asgard (Marivel Version). "I am very sorry," she tells the Golem, holding the bladeless hilt close to her chest.

    Rising to her feet, she exhales the once, centering her feelings. She can feel -- more strongly now as those modes dance and settle upon her -- everyone's feelings. Wandering forever, in pain-- how sad--

    "To roam eternally without rest... I am sorry. I will see that this ceases." Ice crystals circulate in the air before her, turning about on some invisible axis before they lock into place, rings and rings of glassy frost.

    From their heart, there fires a long javelin missile of ice, its intended destination the Kraken.

GS: Avril Vent Fleur has activated a Force Action!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has attacked Belize with Courant Glaciaire!
GS: Avril Vent Fleur has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Asgard (Marivel Versioon) gives Avril a wordless thumbsup. It's all good.

<Pose Tracker> Lulu has posed.

The kraken goes wild, all right--

Lulu is knocked free of Ixion brutally, and the impact of tentacle to Aeon to Mage knocks the wind out of her for an instant, precluding any shouts. The air itself gathers all around her, and it is a terribl,y, terribly long way down. She hears Yuna's voice, to start--and that is what catches her first. She looks up red-eyed towards the Summoner, as she feels and sees Ixion disappear. Yuna does not have to tell her twice, but she does. Lulu extends a hand, and lets the winds carry her back towards Yuna, reaching out towards her. She keeps her eyes open, and can see all of what happens next. Bevelle's rune pulses--

Lulu grabs onto Bahamut with both hands, to scales and golden halo and it is not soft, or safe, but it is what must be. The Dragon carries her down, down, down towards the kraken--and it is only when she is close to that enemy that she lets go... to bring her own assault.

Far below, Skylr's light reaches Lulu. Far below, the power of another togetherness, of the world around her, floods through her. This link to the world around her is not strange to a master of Black Magic; it is everything her power brings to her, and her eyes burn with it as she lets that power breathe through herself. The previous dampening on her magic is gone.

 Lulu can feel the dark magic looping around, feel the wrongness in the air and water itself. She can feel it as surely as she feels the heat of the sun, the weight of the ocean, all around them. And she lets that heat kindle within her and around her. A haze builds around the Black Mage of sheer magical force, sufficient to suspend her briefly in the air. Green light pulses and Lulu lifts both hands.

"Burn." Her eyes flash as the first burst of fire erupts near the kraken, a baseball-sized flame erupting into something broader than one of the ships. Another comes; another, and another, and another, as Lulu lets loose the fury of the elements on something that does not belong, to shatter defenses against a coming star from the heavens.

GS: Lulu has activated a Force Action!
GS: Lulu spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Formation! Lulu has attacked Belize with Firaga!
GS: Lulu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lulu has launched an attack Link!
GS: Lulu spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Formation! Lulu has attacked Belize with F U R Y!
GS: Lulu has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lulu has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    Liath passes. Boudicca looks to her, and in those searching eyes is a question:

    did you know?

    Is this what she meant, to show them the truth? Did Boudicca condemn her actions too quickly - too wearied from too many assaults from her very own kin?

    But there's no time to ask. There's no time for any of that.

    Yuna might well this as well as anyone, Boudicca reflects; she smiles, to the Summoner, briefly. "I would see us meet outside strife." For now, the clouds --

    Spark! the destrier's atmosphere. Zap! and RUMBLE! Boudicca proves an apt student now she is in the saddle rather than under it; on Yuna's direction she leans down, and may well find herself at Leo's shoulder. "Be well, and hold fast," she bids him, an old friend still - and forward they go.

    ... in the end, she ought to take her own advice.

    Because the kraken lashes out, and UP! they sail. "Oh!" Boudicca gasps, as suddenly there is no more Ixion beneath them.

    She doesn't sound scared, but then, she's in her element.

    Rather, looking at the ones who fall...

    Air pressure is an interesting thing, this high up. But with a little alteration, the wind might buoy people closer together, not further apart. Yuna has a plan - yells at them to stay close - and Boudicca is happy to assist her efforts. Even she might not be able to catch them on a cloud, were they to fall from this height. Wings, then.

    One spirit meets another.

    "Ah--!!" Boudicca reaches out, to grasp at the vast scales of Bahamut; she finds a perch upon him, with a little buffer of air to stop her slamming in. The wind steals voice from them, and yet, clarion crystal, Boudicca's voice can be heard to compliment: "How stylish..."

    She wore the Black Dragon's graven image for some time, after all. Perhaps it's no wonder Boudicca would admire Bahamut, black of scale and bright of wing.

    Down they thunder, and Boudicca finds herself announced by the last will of Skylr's halo - followed by the motes of Mariel's light. I will not let you down, she thinks, and does not say, because she is rather high up and moving rather fast.

    Instead: here is another sigil. It lights the kraken, and from it swirls a headwind, air which picks up the fury of Lulu's firaga - to feed it to greater heights and further destruction.

    She is flint without steel, but she can still fan the flames of those around her.

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Belize with Buffeting Headwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Boudicca assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    "Later!" Leo shouts, over the roar of battle. He can barely hear his own voice, as he cries out to Mariel; his heart is thundering in his ears. The Aeon hasn't said a single word to him--they never do--but Leo feels both danger and exhilaration, bone-deep. It's a heady mixture. He looks back at Boudicca, flashing the Seraph a grin that's all confidence. "I will, Seraph."

    The Fiend seems to realize the danger it's in, too. Leo sees that tentacle coming out of the corner of his eye, and barks out a warning to Yuna and her Aeon. "BELOW! It's already too late for that. The tentacle slams into Ixion, and it's all Leo can do to hold on to the Aeon as it's sent flying--but he is nothing if not a masterful swordsman, and old instincts die hard. The air screams as Leo's blade cuts it, and hopefully the tentacle that just hit them like a fastball. Blink, and you'd miss the entire strike.

    And then Ixion is flying, and dissipating into Pyreflies, leaving the four of them in mid-air with nothing to hold on to. Leo's eyes pinch tight against the wind as he twists, his cape flapping behind him. "BOUDICCA!" he screams, the panic plain in his voice. "DO SOMETHING--!"

    But Yuna orders them to stay close. She has plan. She must have a plan.

    It happens in a few heartbeats. Leo's innate magical senses are not the keenest, but even he can sense the massive metaphysical shockwave that accompanies the entrance of a new Aeon, one he's never seen before. His head snaps up; his jaw opens ever-so-slightly as he stares at the great draconic Aeon. For a moment, he wonders, dizzily, if this newcomer is somehow a Dragon in his own right.

    But then he does as ordered. Bahamut matches speed with him, and he reaches out for the great dragon's back, his hand gripping on to one of those immense plates. Pain shoots through Leo's wounded shoulder, and for a moment it feels like he's simply wrenched his arm from its socket--

    Two waves of healing wash across the battlefield. One he knows well--it's the brilliant warmth of Skylr's sorcery. The second has to be Mariel's, again. The pain fades. Leo scrambles onto Bahamut's shoulder, and dares to look the Aeon in the eye, his expression all awe and wonder. It's like when he was a boy, and the parish priest showed the children the book about the Four Dragons--but it's so very different.

    Leo grips the side of Bahamut's head with one hand. The other holds his blade, which gleams in the light as the White Knight stokes the energies inside him. A bright, pearlescent aura erupts around him, condensing into a plane around the weapon's cutting edge. Leo glances down, and sees Belize clambering up the crane. It's a very strange feeling, being united in purpose with someone he's clashed so violently with.

    Leo only ponders that feeling for a moment. The power coiled within him erupts; he steps forwards, planting a foot solidly on Bahamut's unyielding scale. His blade blurs through the air, a small sonic boom the only warning the Kraken gets before.

    "LION'S HOWL!"

    The novice would call this 'Demon Fang, but bigger'. There are similarities. The plane of energy detaches from Leo's blade at the apex of his strike, surging through the air towards his target. As it moves, though, it takes shape, builds power. Within the span of seconds, a great white lion is bearing down on the Fiend, mouth agape in a voiceless roar.

GS: White Knight Leo accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Entangle removed!
GS: Lock State applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: White Knight Leo spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Belize with Lion's Howl!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Moonflow Blue Crescent for 166 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Belize gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shieldbreak applied to Belize!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's What Use Is A Pulse That Does Not Quicken - Cremation for 168 hit
points!
GS: Riposte applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Even The Hearts Of The Dead Shall Race - Absolute Zero for 197 hit
points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Hilde's Titan Cleaver for 194 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Avril Vent Fleur's Courant Glaciaire for 146 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 35 FP!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
GS: CRITICAL! Belize takes a solid hit from Lulu's Firaga for 280 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Lulu's F U R Y for 255 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Buffeting Headwind for 90 hit points!
GS: Delay applied to Belize!
GS: Charge!! You gain 35 FP!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Lion's Howl for 224 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 65 FP!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Liath has posed.

Did she know?

Thrust into the fray as she is, there is no immediate answer to Boudicca's look from the Seraph known as Liath. Light glitters around her like a swarm of fireflies; each stroke of her sword-turned-spear carries enough of an impact that dozens of those little motes of mana shatter off the edges of the spear's tip only to rapidly race back toward their source with every blow. As well as she uses that long sword, so too does Liath seems to take to spear play, each burst backward and surge forward fluid as a dance.

And passionately relentless, as if she could not possibly do any less than pour her all into every stroke.

Nothing can last forever, however. And it as Belize climbs with a soaring spirit up that crane, that they may feel a warmth like a spring breeze to contrast the briny chill rush past them in a rainbow flurry. That they may feel the sudden addition of a new source of weight upon the crane rocking violently, dangerously over the churning locker of the sea.

That they might see Liath there, standing precariously at the edge of the crane. Just as she had when she attempted to seal it. Poised. Stoic. Implacable.

For a moment, it seems like she might see fit to stop Belize, even now. Even as they all fight towards a common cause, even as the kraken still attacks both their allies. For a moment, it seems so.

"There is so much suffering in life, is there not?"

... but instead, she speaks.

It is a bizarre, brief detour, amid the chaos of her assault. And yet, Liath takes to it if it as natural; as if it were necessary; her gaze remains affixed on the battle as it continues. As water spouts in dangerously infused torrents around the betentacled behemoth; as people fall. As people fight.

And she spares only a second, to turn toward Belize, hand gripping at her sword--

"Even beyond life, that suffering finds us. But that is not all there is. We delude ourselves into thinking there is nothing left, because there is a comforting notion in not risking finding that there can be worser still out there. But there is so much more. There is so much beauty in life, if you are brave enough to reach out and grasp it for yourself."

-- and offer them a simple smile, unfaltering in its faith.

"I truly hope you do."

Before she leaps into the fray once more. Leaving them to their prize, unhindered.

One more blow. One more crash. And Liath rebounds off the beast, gaining ground anew -- only to feel the churn of the dark coagulating into a crushing clot around her as if it could snare her in an amber of its own repugnant design. It comes swift. It comes powerfully. It encapsulates her in a prison of pure malignance, of a thing that might as well be the metaphysical poison of her and her kind, enveloping her until all that is left is that deep well of seething dark and hate. It floats there, like a magical, iron vice that has successfully captured its target in its crushing embrace.

And then it tremors. Faintly, at first. A tremor becomes a shiver. A shiver becomes a shake. And soon that ball of compressing hatred is -quaking-.

Seconds before a grand beam of white bursts from its splintering surface like a pure wing sprouting from the foulest eggshell.

That pinion of light -rips- a horizontal, bisecting stroke through the dark soon enough. And there falls Liath, her blade now a great, shining thing many times larger than she is, held at her side as she improbably pushes -off- the last vestiges of that bubbling bane until she lands atop Asgard (Marivel Edition)'s head.

She'd be deeply consumed over the particulars of a periodical that could spawn such a thing as Asgard, probably, but right now, she's focused.

"There is much about this world to love. But you..."

Focused, past the kraken, to the dark that rides it. Focused, until all that she is centers around it, and only it.

"... there is nothing to love in you save the sweet relief in seeing you well and truly gone, and I would see it done now!"

And she -springs-, swinging that great, searing blade of light. A blade that does not target the kraken. No, of course not.

"BEGONE, WORM!"

Liath attacks the darkness.

GS: Skylr Paer heals Seraph Liath! She gains 210 temporary hit points!
GS: Seraph Liath accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Lock State applied to Seraph Liath!
GS: Seraph Liath has attacked Belize with Heavenly Bladewing!
GS: Seraph Liath has completed her action.
GS: Belize takes a solid hit from Seraph Liath's Heavenly Bladewing for 178 hit points!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    Marivel freezes that column of water, then unleashes a bolt of lightning to zorch along the waterdrops in the air and sear into the kraken's bumpy, handsy skin. Avril does likewise, using ice to defend herself partially before sending that same ice hurtling back towards the kraken as she hangs out on Asgard (Marivel Version). Skylr uses the last of her strength to grant everyone healing strength, and Mariel strengthens everyone further by deepening their connection to the flow of life as she pleads for them to end this. Hilde honors Skylr's sacrifice by launching an all-out attack, blade cleaving through the kraken's defenses. Gon cleaves through a tentacle himself, and gets splattered with gore *and* pyreflies for his efforts. (Porque no los dos?)
    
    Lulu unleashes all her fury in the form of several Firagaballs, which ram into the kraken relentlessly, one by one by one by one by one by one by one by one, feeding off of Boudicca's headwinds to rage ever stronger and more destructively against the sea beast. Leo launches a Lion's Howl, which travels at the speed of sound ahead of Bahamut to sink its fangs into the Fiend.
    
    It screams. Flesh flies; darkness flies; tentacles fly. It's been damaged severely, to the point where it's no longer in question who will win this battle if it stays. And so it doesn't. It sinks into the waters and unleashes a massive ink cloud to mask its escape.
    
    Or at least that's the intent. That's not quite what happens, because of something else that's been going on. To whit:
    
    Belize climbs, and climbs, and climbs; the crane sinks, and sinks, and sinks. At the cross where the two meet, Belize hangs off by a foot and a hand and leans towards the fayth. As they reach out, though, they hear the words of the enemy that had challenged them earlier, and look up with widened eyes at Liath, perched atop that broken crane as if she were no lighter than a feather. Perhaps she isn't.
    
    "There is," they agree neutrally. They listen to what she has to say; then they offer a small smile back in return. They know not, any more than Marivel or Boudicca, if the Sealing Rod's shattering was by accident or design, but they do recognize that Liath is, perhaps, a better person than they had assumed. "I'm afraid there's not much life for me to grasp at this point," they reply. "But the world is greater than any individual. Even if I fall here, today... I pray that, because of what I have done here, future generations will find that beauty you speak of. If I could make that happen, I could wish for nothing more."
    
    Liath then launches herself towards the kraken. Belize does not watch her go, and does not see her slice through that hand of darkness, and does not watch her assail the foul aura that pervades the Fiend. They instead focus back on the fayth--on their friend--on the one who told them it had been centuries since anyone had come to pray to them before they had arrived. What a lonely existence, they had thought.
    
    They won't let them be lonely any longer.
    
    At the apex of the net's swing towards the ocean, they tense; when it rocks back towards the ship, they leap. Though their weight doesn't amount to much, it's enough to make that aggrieved crane *snap*, sending Belize and the fayth flying towards the deck, where they land with a loud CRUNCH. Bracing themself for impact, Belize rides it out, then looks up in hurried worry. However, the fayth is fine. Only the deck took damage--and while that's not great either, Belize breathes out a sigh of relief as a smile curves their lips.
    
    Then they look up at the battle with steely eyes, resolved even in their grief. For Ryuggu, for Cambria, Leo had said, and they're not ungrateful--but they can't let this battle pass while simply watching from the sidelines. They weren't able to Send their dear Guardians, or the crew that had brought them to the sunken temple. They won't do nothing here, either.
    
    And so, they dance.
    
    Slow, and graceful, and picking up speed, they dance, bow arcing under them, fingers arcing over them. The sky sparkles; the ocean sparkles; their very being sparkles. From the seas form froth, and from the froth form rainbows, and from the rainbows form scales and fins, and from the scales and fins there is a long, long, long, nigh endless sinuous body of a sea serpent, breaching the water and diving back in in a series of loops. The sunlight that makes it through the heavens makes them shimmer iridescent, a counterpoint to the hurtling meteorite that is Bahamut launching down from the heavens with his own Summoner and friends in tow. Closer and closer, both of them reach their kraken target--but Leviathan reaches first. And good thing, for the power that has sullied the poor kraken urges it to flee and regain its strength. When it turns and unleashes a horrible ink cloud and attempts to escape, it ends up rushing straight into Leviathan--Leviathan, who curls around it and breaches the waters one last time, the kraken in their inescapable coils. They snap their body around and up, launching the kraken up into the air.
    
    And directly into Bahamut's path.

<Pose Tracker> Yuna has posed.

Skylr's blessing and Mariel's surge into Yuna's -- particularly tiny, a'dragonback -- frame; she breathes more easily afterwards, as the various wounds of the day, most notably the portion of the slam she just received from the kraken, recede.

Close up, one might wonder at a flaw in Bahamut's approach. If they go through the kraken, will that not put the summoner and her three friends directly into the drink? Or, worse, into Leviathan, whose re-appearance heartens Yuna beyond measure? (The only thing that might hearten her even more is the sight of Liath and Belize speaking peacefully atop the crane; she cannot hear them above the rush of Bahamut's descent, but if they look up, they might see an example of the beauty of life in her guileless, glorious smile.)

But it turns out, at the last possible moment, that this is not so. There is no collision!

Bahamut pulls an emergency brake... by opening his mouth.

An enormous, blistering quantity of heat pours forth, and that's before it's even finished coalescing into a ball of pure plasmic hell and erupting downwards.

And from his claws, a different energy -- electricity, this, both like and unlike Ixion's; less pure but conceivably more powerful -- blossoms in four separate violent violet spheres. There's little space between him and the kraken by the time they've come to be, but they soar downwards nevertheless, spiraling along the fiery column of Flare, to detonate against the fiend en masse.

The fiend, but not the other aeon, nor the others who got in close to smite the fiend; such is the force of Yuna's will NOT to harm; her determination to control that which she wields. There will be no more Seymours. Even the collateral damage of an aeon's temporary form is too much for her to accept. So she does not.

The combined force of these attacks is enough -- just barely! -- to arrest Bahamut's momentum and bring him to a full and complete stop. His eyes shine as he meets Leviathan's, on the same side this time instead of in opposition, for the first time in who knows how many years.

And he hovers, balanced upon his own, ongoing attacks (and buoyed upwards a little, even, by Leo, Boudicca and Lulu's combined efforts of earth, wind, and fire) and spreads his wings wider than ever, into a truly vast span...

...or truly vast dance floor.

 <SoundTracker> To Zanarkand - FFX - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLU2xQ4nkk4

His summoner exhales sharply, clearing her mind, and stands.

And she takes that single, perfect step the kraken had originally expected.

With six fayth rather than five now resonant in her ears -- and the countless and counted dead, resonant in her soul --

Yuna begins the Sending.

"I hear you," she says gently. But not to Belize, who is already dancing. Who stands for so much more than eternal torment. And who she made a promise to. "Ryuggu, Cambria... everyone..."

Staff and skirts and sleeves all swirl. They ebb, and Yuna flows. They wax, and Yuna wanes. Pink and ivory, blue and brown and gold, her colors merge within her spin, yet remain individual in the curve of a hip, the curl of a wrist, the soaring of a beaded strand.

"It's time..."

If only it could be time for their alien invader as well; as she takes in that which dwells within the fiend she takes it in too, an immediate eclipse of the heart, an infection from zero to one hundred percent in an instant. Mariel calls it Destroyer, and a heartbeat at a time, Yuna is destroyed.

Her graceful steps become choppy; her gestures, pained.

"--ah--" she exhales, tiny-voiced with agony.

But she does not -- will not -- stop trying to bless, to guide, to free the souls trapped inside the kraken with it.

One bare foot in front of the next, she twirls towards her destiny.

She'll never stop.

And she does not face it alone.

GS: Yuna has activated a Force Action!
GS: Yuna spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Yuna has attacked Belize with Flare Breath!
GS: Yuna has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Yuna has launched an attack Link!
GS: Yuna's  stance ends. She enters the Avenger stance!
GS: Yuna has attacked Belize with Impulse!
GS: Yuna has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Yuna has completed her action.
GS: Belize accepts Yuna's Flare Breath for 195 hit points!
GS: Infect! Debuff durations extended!!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
GS: Belize accepts Yuna's Impulse for 228 hit points!
GS: Break applied to Belize!
GS: Belize has Fallen! They are no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Belize has posed.

    Bahamut stops on a dime with more control than Belize has ever seen before, could have ever believed possible. It's a feat on par with how Yuna had summoned Valefor while falling from the Hundred Thousand Steps, something they had heard she'd done but not seen for themself. They'd already believed it--had no reason to doubt it--but seeing this, here and now, any doubt they might or could have had would be extinguished. Leviathan and Bahamut share a glance, from the ocean to the heavens; their wills are as one, as are their Summoners's.
    
    From a distance, they see as Yuna begins the dance of the Sending. They see as the Zopharian darkness looms out, slows Yuna's movements. Their hand, laid on the fayth, tightens into a fist; from below, Leviathan opens their maw and breathes, breaths much in the way Bahamut breathes, a sundering ray of beautiful, brilliant light that cuts the darkness in twain, already weakened and near-dead from Liath and the others' attacks. In that instant, it steams away, flakes of blackness whisking off on the winds, leaving behind only a gravely injured, battered Fiend. And with that darkness gone, Yuna's movements are unfettered. She dances...
    
    And the kraken relaxes. The agonized bodies within its body smile as they dissolve into pyreflies, one by one, until at last there are only those two-large eyeballs.
    
    Within, the souls of Ryuggu and Cambria smile in peace. Then they too break apart into rainbow lights and whirl away into a bright and brightening sky, high into the sky and to the Farplane at last.
    
    Belize watches with tears in their eyes. Too far from the Sending to be affected, they still remain... but perhaps something of them was Sent after all. For while they are still here, the guilt, the anger, the self-loathing, all of it is gone from them. They, too, finally feel at peace. While they still have a task remaining before them--to see the matter of Leviathan's fayth through to the end--it feels as though the end is in sight. Now only one matter remains.
    
    That matter is felt, perhaps, before it is heard, and it is heard before it is seen. A great pressure in the ocean, rising, sending a great wave cresting forth as it emerges, vast and alien. Broken from their moment of peace, Belize looks sharply in its direction first, alerted to its presence by the resonance of the Lord of All Waters in their soul. However, the one who makes comment first is someone else.
    
    "Uhhh, GUYS?" Tidus shouts, eyes wide, from the other Yevonite ships. Everyone's attention inevitably goes where his is; a horrified hush falls over Yevonites and Althena's Guardsmen alike.
    
    And for good reason. Gon had mused earlier that Yevon's forces needed to ally with their most hated of foes just to survive, but there is a foe of Yevon far more hated than even Althena's Guard, and it is here.
    
    Sin has arrived.
    
    ...and yet...
    
 BGM: Hymn of the Fayth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWVST7P37IM)
    
        Ieyui
    
    Something seems wrong.
    
        Nobomeno
    
    Not like how the destruction of the Sealing Rod had been wrong. The opposite of that, actually.
    
        Renmiri
    
    Anyone who knows Sin, knows even just of Sin, knows it is naught but mindless destruction. An avatar of unrelenting annihilation. The Clysmian of Obsession. There is nothing stopping it from shredding through the ships and victims before it with gravity and Sinspawn alike.
    
        Yojuyogo
    
    And yet, here it is, ignoring them all to simply float there and watch...
    
        Hasatekanae
    
    ...or perhaps, listen peacefully.
    
        Kutamae
    
    As everyone stares, Sin remains, still and without aggression, until the end of the Hymn. Then, as Leviathan's fayth's baritenor warbles into silence for but an instant before booming again, it turns away as it sinks back into the depths to swim off.
    
    A moment later, only a ripple remains of the fearsome scourge of Spira. Soon, even that is gone.
    
    Belize falls to their knees, shaken beyond what words can express. The Yevonites aboard the three ships are much the same. However, while everyone's feelings may be scattered, it's of universal agreement that they need to get somewhere safe to regroup and recuperate before taking the long trip back to Bevelle.
    
    While they won't force anyone to come with them--there are, after all, other vessels upon which people can leave if they so choose--they'll take a long stop at the nearest island. Bikanel might be a desert island, and its only civilization recently destroyed, but there's an oasis there. It is, perhaps, a good place for the Lord of All Waters to rest... and for a Summoner to entreat the fayth.