2021-06-18: You Are (Not) Alone

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<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

In the past several days, a great deal has happened.

Spira is rocked by several things. One is that Summoner Yuna has started up the slopes of Gagazet, with her Guardians. The Ronso let them pass. Another is that, in the midst of Althena's Guard withdrawing from Spira, Blue Master Lunn was found dead -- mages determined that he was murdered by powerful magic -- and the Guard is in a silent but most desperate uproar.

Heroes are not, simply, murdered.

And as all this happened, the unthinkable occurred: Guado armies departed by ship, landed on the Calm Lands, and marched to make war on the Ronso. Baralai, in Bevelle, issued pleas for peace. Maester Seymour ignored those pleas.

One war ended, only for another to begin...

...but the Ronso used much of their strength to liberate Bevelle and then Luca. The Guado stood by and remained strong.

Maester Kelk Ronso sent youths running out -- to Al Bhed stations, to Bevelle, to Luca, and even a few to Filgaia -- to beg for help, once the Guado army landed.

Gathered on the foothills of Mount Gagazet, the Ronso are ready to make their stand. Scores of Ronso warriors -- some strong and tall, some older and greyer, and some far too young -- clutch their weapons. They look out with worried eyes. Their expressions are stoic, but withdrawn, for the horizon is a horror.

Several hundred Guado troops are marching, in neat formations. Over their heads, a few fiends rise up; flying Zu, soaring Bombs, and more. All have been summoned by the Guado. And, at their head, walks Seymour Guado. The blue-haired Maester grins as he stalks forward, pale eyes looking forward, and spreads his arms wide.

"My people!" he calls out. "We are the chosen of Yevon! We are the only ones graced with the wisdom and strength... to do what must be done! We see that heresy, corruption, and immorality brought from the forsaken other worlds have festered within Spira! Once, we were the purifying waters..."

Pyreflies swirl around him, as he holds both arms out to each side. "Now, we are the cleansing fire!" he shouts. "We shall purge Spira of all that is unclean--and leave naught but ash of what here, and forever, shall be called the Forsaken Lands! Come forth! March, confident in your righteousness! Confident that only you deserve freedom from Sin!"

Ronso warhorns begin to blow. Maester Kelk stares at the horizon -- and hopes that help may come. Quietly, he says: "How... did it ever come to this."

<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    Among those armies - Gon Guado, one of (if not the) most experienced of the Guado Guardian forces of Guadosalam, whose advancing age and continued difficulties grappling with the novel ideas and approaches of the Otherworlders has done very little to stop him from continuing to espouse the ways of his people, doubling, tripling, even quadrupling down on them as the world falls down around him.

     Including at least two very near and dear parts of him.

     For however much he has been embarrassed and shown up, in this capacity, his influence in this capacity is shown to far more effectiveness than previous outings. With newfound zeal, if not so much a zest for what life lies beyond, Gon directs those Guardians more proficient in the manipulation of pyreflies to release the next wave of Bombs towards the Ronso defenders. He tries not to let linger on his mind how much Timu enjoyed the company of one particular young Ronso back when they occasionally got to go to Luca to play Blitzball among the other younger enthusiasts and would-be athletes.

     Stoic as ever, with a stiff upper lip, Gon's condescending glare takes measure of the Ronso defenses. He has traveled across Spira more than most of his kind, and has a better grasp of their tactics than most. The summoned Fiends in question have been carefully chosen as to not have particular Techniques surrendered unto their unique form of mimicry to be turned back against them.

     He hears the Ronso warhorn and prepares.

     He is not prepared for who will be answering that call.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    Also joining the march on the stronghold is a strange person indeed.
    Assuming, given the way they've been moving, that's even a person at all.

    Clad in the most threadbare of robes (perhaps once they'd been more servicable, but now they're only fulfilling the role of 'clothing' by technicalities), the figure seems to almost sidle-glide as they move. What little that can be seen of their flesh, given the heavy hood obscuring their head and face, appear to be green... fingertips?

    Something isn't right about this, either.

    "Some time since we last sees a siege," the figure murmurs aloud, as if to no one in particular and yet to everyone within earshot.

    Tendril-like 'fingers' find the hilt of a long dagger and draw it free.

    Today should be quite interesting.

    Quite interesting, indeed. The Seraph is almost at the end of this part of things, now. Harmaus just needs to press it a little further and see what gives way.

GS: Seraph Harmaus has adjusted their boss level for 2 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Even in defeat, the White Knight can't seem to leave Spira be. He spent weeks in Pentagulia, conducting what little investigations he could while simultaneously juggling the fallout, political and social, of the failed campaign. People--good people--are going home grievously wounded. Many aren't going home at all.

    Leo hadn't expected for Master Lunn to join the latter at the eleventh hour. His death rattled the entirety of the Guard to its foundations. Despite his obligations, and despite swearing never to show his face in Spira again... this must be dealt with.

    And so Leo returned, as quietly as possible. Keeping a low profile does not come naturally to him, but he's managed. He's also managed to learn where Yuna and her Guardians stand on their pilgrimage--they're headed to Zanarkand, and to get there, they must pass through the ancestral territory of the Ronso.

    Mount Gagazet is not known for its hospitality. It's mid-summer, but there's snow on the ground nevertheless. Leo trudges through it on foot, his face to the biting winds, his long homespun cloak trailing behind him. For once in his life, he's not wearing his uniform, but his borrowed, colorful Spiran garb can't completely shield him from the cold. He came here to ask after Yuna and the others--to fight if necessary, though a part of him is deeply weary at the thought of it.

    He wasn't expecting to find an entire army marching on the mountain. He wasn't expecting to find Seymour, of all people, at its head. And yet, the man's words leave him no doubt as to what he's doing here. The Ronso have every reason to hate Leo, and all his subordinates. Joining this fight might well be suicide.

    But as the warhorn sounds, Leo feels something stir within him--his honor, his wounded conscience, his basic decency. He turns on a heel, his cloak blowing in the wind as he faces his soldiers. "Guards," he says. He trails off, and for a moment, it feels like there may be a rousing speech coming; a declaration of purpose, justification for the violence about to happen. Instead, for once Leo's voice is quiet. "I cannot let more horror come to pass. This fiend--" His eyes seek out Seymour, and he looks at him as though he could banish him with a glance. "--brings not war, but murder. Annihilation. The Ronso, my people, may hate us for what we have done, but I will not abandon them."

    Leo turns, and starts to walk down the mountainside. As the Guado army advances, it turns into a run, and then a sprint through ankle-deep snow. Leo might be wearing local clothes, but his voice is still perfectly recognizable as it rises from his throat in a roar.

    "SEYMOUUUUUUR!"

    Clumps of ice snap loose, and go rolling down the mountain. Rocks tremble and jitter. If Kelk Ronso didn't know Leo was there, he definitely knows now.

    "FACE JUSTICE DEMON FANG!!"

    In a blinding flash, his blade clears his scabbard; a slicing edge of Breath races through the air, flying right for Seymour.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Seymour Guado with Demon Fang!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 3 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from White Knight Leo's Demon Fang for 109 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Day has had other things on his mind than Heroes getting shanked, as unsettling as it that this sort of thing could just happen. But there's only so much worry he can muster, and most of it has been directed towards the March of Muirwall - a place he can't even bring himself to go anymore.

He did the next best thing. He poured himself stoically into his duties and buried his negative emotions.

Among the Ronso warhorns, another horn rings out. It comes from an entirely different direction, and its tone is remarkably distinct from the others. It is no Ronso horn.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ht0ailWQf8

It's the best response Day can give to Leo - that and a firm nod as he straightens in his saddle and takes his lance in hand. "We can't let this happen," he agrees firmly. "No matter what has come to pass, to turn away from a genocide...!"

He raises his horn one more time - and he goes.

More than Leo came. The group of knights with Day isn't huge - no more than a dozen on horseback - but they come barreling around a curve in the foothill scenery, throwing up clods of snow and dirt as they cross the distance like an encroaching micro-quake. Day slings the horn, claps down the visor of his heavily-crested helmet, and lowers his lance. Beneath him, Guingryph surges and snorts beneath his heavy barding and caparisons, steel-shod hooves kicking up clods of dirt as the small force of Church Knight leads the charge...

...directly into the ranks of the Guado. Lances first.

The charge of armoured knights tends to hit like a sledgehammer, and this one's no exception. The sheer momentum of the attack is massive, lances snapping and hooves pounding as the knights attempt to carve a swath into the Guados' flank. Day hits the ranks hard, aiming to drive his lance into the first Guado he sees.

It's actually not Gon. It's someone less fortunate, but Gon gets to see one of his comrades get run through by a giant lance and then flung off and trampled underhoof before Day whirls on him in turn, attempting to drive the lance into him next.

GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Gon Guado with RIDE THROUGH THE STORM SEE THE KNIGHTS DA DA DA ET CETERA!
GS: Day Muirwall has completed his action.
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's RIDE THROUGH THE STORM SEE THE KNIGHTS DA DA DA ET CETERA for 130
hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.


    A call for aid went out, and it reached the ears of someone who might have been inclined to ignore it. A week ago she might have. Today, however...

    It took all speed to get here. Clad in a hooded winter coat over traditional Spiran dress, a wooden staff in her hand, she tried to get here so she could prepare for the attackers. Standing where she was, she knew she was too late. But that didn't mean she couldn't do anything.

    And then she heard it. A battle cry, a call to charge, warhorns. Why were THEY here? The ronso may appreciate the assistance, but the cloaked woman did not. They felt like chains. She grimaced, and thurst her staff out to the side. She spun it in front of her, then above, and into a twirl. As she did, waters gathered around her feet. She spun, swiftly, into a pirouette as the waters rise around her.

    And then the Lord of the Waters spiralled out of the ocean with her.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhHNbigmNhU

    The woman grabbed onto Leviathan's fin, and the two surged through the troops and fiends, water following them, Leviathan flying through like a torpedo to land in front of the attacking forces, before taking a stance on their tail, and lowering the woman to the ground where she jumps off, before stroking Leviathan's scales.

    'Take heart,' she thinks to herself, too cautious of herself to say it out loud, 'a summoner still stands with you.'

    The woman looks up, keeping her hood up. But she's close enough that Gon can see. The scars. The grey eyes.

    That is undeniably the face of Novice Ena. Or whatever she called herself.

    The traitor.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"I thought you weren't coming back,"

There is a flash of light as Marivel appears in a flash of light near White Knight Leo. She has actually not come alone, she has brought someone with a very similar name with her that's not quite exactly the same and obviously Mariel came later so it's her name that's ripping off Marivel's not the other way around and--wait you mean Wild ARms 1 came before Wild Arms 2?! Impossible.

Nevertheless, Marivel wasn't too far away when this all started going down, but it's faster to Aport in than it is to run there especially since both Marivel and Mariel are pretty uh... ... decently sized. Yes. That's it.

But needless to say, those first six words? They're directly towards Leo.

"Well, Kimahri... I suppose I don't know him well... but I don't really want his people to suffer when there's such an exemplar of his people in him. So how about it, White Knight? A truce for today?"

She smiles an almost gentle smile if not for that hint of fang.

But she does not open up on Seymour just yet.

Instead she says, "

GS: Pearl has attacked Gon Guado with Crashing Serpent!
GS: Pearl has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Pearl assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Technically speaking, the Caravan Kinship's resident shaman has about as much to do with Spira in the near-term as a pineapple does with pizza. Sin-- obsession-- is a problem that needs to be dealt with eventually, but there are so many fires burning on Filgaia that the moon has just sort of... fallen out of his extremely jam-packed brain. But.

There is one person, one cause, that will bring the Nahual of Fengalon across the gulf of space specifically to spit in his pudding.

And of course, he has other reasons to be here for this specific engagement. Solidarity, for example. Or perhaps even kinship? Or maybe just the nagging feeling deep in his soul about how awful he'd feel if he let an entire people suffer genocide because he had too much on his plate.

No. Not today. They will not go quietly into the extinction's endless night.

There is a feline beastman standing atop the Ronso battlements who is definitely not a ronso. Mount Gagazet's fierce wind billows and howls, blowing chilling him to the bone. But even that is comforting, in a way. Some part of him relishes the primal, very much *alive* feeling of this wind, even if it is woefully lacking in his personal deity's particular essence.

This will change.

A flotilla of bombs sail steadily through the air, their inexorable advance a certain death-knell to what fortifications the Ronso have erected in defense of their sacred home. Cyre fixes his gaze upon the airborne fiends and exhales sharply, his breath misting the moment it leaves his nose. They are living fireballs, he thinks to himself. Cyre may not have the Lifebringer's Codex on hand, but he knows very well what a bomb is, and what a bomb does.

And he will not permit them to approach further.

"Not today," he repeats, clutching the silver talisman hidden within his robes. His connection to the Guardians may be weaker here on Spira, but through the Silver Medium, he can still feel Fengalon's presence. Or rather, he has become, himself, an avatar of Fengalon's presence. With a defiant roar, wreathed in a hurricane of stone-scourging jade light, the shaman leaps from the battlements and hurls himself forward, arrow-like, with his legs extended as if launching a kick.

A cone of force ripples from underneath his heels, compressing the air in front of him like a bowstring drawing taut. With a final shout of exertion, he slams into the snow, right in the midst of the Guado summoners.

By chance, he fixes Gon in particular with a smirk that is only slightly bloodthirsty...

...As the winds of Gagazet answer his call and surge after him, sending the bomb barrage right back into the mages who called them forth. "Not today," he repeats, breath misting, "The Guado might have abandoned reason and all good sense, but the Guardians have not abandoned the Ronso."

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Gon Guado with Bombs Away!!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"I thought you weren't coming back,"

There is a flash of light as Marivel appears in a flash of light near White Knight Leo. She has actually not come alone, she has brought someone with a very similar name with her that's not quite exactly the same and obviously Mariel came later so it's her name that's ripping off Marivel's not the other way around and--wait you mean Wild ARms 1 came before Wild Arms 2?! Impossible.

Nevertheless, Marivel wasn't too far away when this all started going down, but it's faster to Aport in than it is to run there especially since both Marivel and Mariel are pretty uh... ... decently sized. Yes. That's it.

But needless to say, those first six words? They're directly towards Leo.

"Well, Kimahri... I suppose I don't know him well... but I don't really want his people to suffer when there's such an exemplar of his people in him. So how about it, White Knight? A truce for today?"

She smiles an almost gentle smile if not for that hint of fang.

But she does not open up on Seymour just yet.

Instead she says, "How about we just give Yuna her shot?" as she gestures with a hand and---

--empowers Leo with a BOOSTER SHOT of power whether he wants it or not! no escape Leo!

"We can always murder everyone on the planet later but once you kill everybody, that's it!"

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked White Knight Leo with Booster!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Pearl's Crashing Serpent for 147 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Bombs Away! for 120 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: White Knight Leo accepts Marivel Armitage's Booster for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper, Quick, and Shield applied to White Knight Leo!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

The Black Wizard Borgan is not here, because Borgan is busy. Lunn's sudden death has changed things, and guess who is handling reorganization - on top of pointing the proper people at the investigation? Mauri and Leo have many strengths, but none of them are in dealing with fine details, while Borgan does his best work with paperwork and plans.

On the other hand, Mariel *is* here. She is not along on the Pilgrimage (why would she be?) but she has an interest in ensuring it finishes, both professionally and because friends are involved. One of those friends is Marivel, who she has come along with.

She didn't know, at the time, she would be walking into a war zone. Well, teleporting. She's still not used to Marivel springing that on her, even though it's certainly not the first time she's done it.

Fortunately, Mariel came prepared, because she always comes prepared - but prepared for violence doesn't mean prepared for *this*. There are monsters - Fiends here. There are Ronso, and Guado. There are ... Althena's Guards? She recognizes Leo, by voice if nothing else. Mariel is too short to get a good view, but the voice is penetrating.

Good, she thinks. It suits him better than some of the things he's had to do. Marivel might talk to him, but she just lets him work.

The worst part: Seymour, the man she does not understand, and fears and hates in equal measure. One of the very few, as Mariel's heart is not the sort to hate lightly. Whatever he wants... she isn't inclined to let him have it.

"I'm sorry for this," Mariel says to Marivel, as she retrieves an item from her bag almost immediately - a large bottle of something, which she uncorks and holds in her hand, raising it overhead. It constantly emits a violet smoke that smells very weird to the human (or near-human) nose, and it repels fiends. They don't like it, and they break away rather than stay in the cloud. (Marivel is suffering from a desire to sneeze, but not to leave.)

It also has the side effect of shrouding her from view, a bit. So that's nice. Marivel too, until she inevitably leaves the cloud.

GS: Mariel has attacked Mariel with Succubus Cologne!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Mariel accepts Mariel's Succubus Cologne for 0 hit points!
GS: Quick applied to Mariel!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.


    The Seraph Boudicca, an ally to Yuna and her Pilgrimage and long-time meddler in Spira's affairs, is here. Where else could she be?

    That Blue Master Lunn could fall... is still disturbing to her, no matter her distance, now. But there is no time to stop and process such a thing; war does not wait. It marches on, with no respect for who is in the way, the old or the young.

    Boudicca has two horns on her helm, rather than one; tall enough, still, to look some Ronso in the eyes. Tonfa to hand and the breeze before her comes she; Seymour's distant rallying-cry, the long drone of the horns of war. All this cacophony...

    Cyre's wind blows from the battlements, but it is BEHIND the glut of Guado that another wind blows; high above, this is an excellent environment for a windstorm to grow in conflux. The Seraph Boudicca, who is a spirit of the wind, is possessed of an astounding alacrity and ability to position herself.

    And in she comes, knocking a few of those Guado away. "I shall not allow it!" She says; but does she realise the cloaked figure is precisely what he is?

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan had been caught up in an increasingly odd string of odd jobs (did you know there is such a thing as a cat bodyguard?) when he heard about the call for aid.

He still feels that he owes a debt -- to Spira, or maybe just the world at large -- and so he rushed to Gagazet in the hopes of arriving in time to make himself useful.

The sight that awaits shows that the pleas were not overstated -- the Ronso are vastly outnumbered by the forces of the Guado, led by Seymour... who had recently proven himself more and more unhinged.

Now, he shouts about purging, and burning away an entire people to ash.

"Before you go deciding who you have a right to burn, you should see how you like the taste of cleansing fire, yourself!" he announces, before leaping into the fray of arrayed soldiers with a fire-propelled jump-kick and summoning forth a swirling trio of rocky-cored fireballs and sending them sailing through the air for Seymour.

GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Fire Swarm!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Ivan's Fire Swarm for 85 hit points!
GS: Disrupt applied to Seymour Guado!
GS: Seymour Guado activates Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

Leo can't leave Spira be... and neither, as it happens, can Hilde. They've done much to unsettle Spira. The least they can do is try to provide what aid they can. Small things - helping keep the roads clear of Fiends, so that travelers can transport goods safely and, hopefully, help things recover just a little faster. And with the death of Lunn, she has even more reason to return... and so, she has gladly volunteered to join Leo on his quest.

There are many things she had expected to see. The Guado waging war on the Ronso is not one of them. She knew the Guado had abandoned rest of Spira, but for relationships to degenerate so quickly... well, as a member of the Guard, she can't help but feel a little responsible.

"...I am in agreement, Lord Leo. Let us lend whatever help we can." Hilde agrees with a nod before drawing her sword. Her armor is enchanted with protection from the elements, but even so today she wears a cloak over it for protection and concealment. With that done, she quickly eyes the ranks of the Guado. The others have most of the ranks handled, but there must be somewhere she can contribute.

She charges in, shield raised to defend herself. She rams through a squadron of Guado, knocking them aside. And as she does, she spots a figure that stands out quite a bit - a robed figure, bearing a long dagger. Harmaus, though she wouldn't know by looking at him.

...He does not appear to be one of the Guado. A part of her wonders if he may be some manner of Fiend. That unsettling manner of movement...

She readjusts her path, moving to confront him.

"...You do not appear to be one of the Guado. What manner of being are you?" Hilde asks. "Regardless - I must request that you turn aside!"

She brandishes her blade, at that - but pauses, as a Seraph appears on the wind.

"...Lady Boudicca, is it not?" Hilde comments. "It would seem today we fight on the same side."

<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"What is..."

Seymour starts to ask the question, but he realizes it soon enough. White Knight Leo, impossibly, is here -- and somehow is standing with the Ronso. With a small unit of Althena's Guard, he realizes, when Day's horn sounds. His pale eyes blink, honest confusion showing in his eyes. "Ah, the White Knight, I see--"

The Demon Fang slams into his body, slamming him backward. His retort is cut off. He looks up then -- eyes scanning Marivel, then Mariel -- and then Ivan rushes in. More accurately, rockets in on his flame, and then sends down three fireballs. They smash him backward.

Smoke wafts from him. So do pyreflies, as he extends both arms outward. "You would bring your fire to me... when so many deserving souls are nearby, assassin?" he snaps at Ivan. Then, wildly, his eyes turn back towards Leo.

"And you would interfere, now? Spira still has no need of you--we shall scour ourselves, in your absence!" he bellows, voice echoing. His hands are held outward, fingers curling. Above him, fiends are suddenly stripped free of countless pyreflies -- they all swirl down and about him, and he is infused with their prismatic light. He floats up off the ground.

And his body compounds upon itself, expanding outward terribly. His head fuses with an intricate lattice of stone, engraved with Yevonite symbols. Chitinous protrusions expand out -- spines, wicked clawed hands, and a torso that merges into the stone. Seymour's face is visible in the center -- and his upper torso -- though it is pale blue skin, with mottled purple exoskeleton over the arms.

Seymour bellows out a laugh then. "I see you, Valeria! And you, girl! You have come to the end -- to the end of the Ronso and your lives! YOU HAVE COME TO PARTAKE OF MY MERCY!"

His hand swings down -- a huge blue crystalline staff, turned red at the tip appears -- and then beads of shadow appear. They ripple across Leo, Ivan, Mariel, and Marivel, and then explode in huge blasts of shadowy energy across the lot of them.

DC: Seymour Guado switches forms to Seymour Flux!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Mariel with Multi-Darkra!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Multi-Darkra!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked White Knight Leo with Multi-Darkra!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Marivel Armitage with Multi-Darkra!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Mariel takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Multi-Darkra for 162 hit points!
GS: Mariel activates Arcane Font!
GS: Marivel Armitage critically guards Seymour Guado's Multi-Darkra for 33 hit points!
GS: Ivan takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Multi-Darkra for 162 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    The cavalry arrives. Gon turns his steely gaze over his left shoulder as he first hears a clear voice that he should not, as Seymour's name is screamed. Very few voices carry as broadly and clearly as Leo's when they're roaring. An Otherworlder, from the vanquished and humiliated Guard. That is a mild curiosity, tipping towards bewilderment.

     It goes far beyond bewilderment in short order.

     A familiar, stirring wind brings him to mind of that strange 'Summoner' and her bizarre white tiger 'Aeon' in Luca. Then the appearance of that 'Aeon' right then and there sweeps down and disrupts the line of more proficient pyrefly manipulators among the ranks, scattering them and bombs aside (and into) said forces. Though they are fairly distant from one another, that bloodthirsty smirk strikes Gon to take a step back.

     "That false Aeon," he murmurs.

     If the way's not clear enough for the defenders of the Ronso's liking, here comes... the actual cavalry, another horn that chills Gon when he recognizes what that is - the White Knight Leo did not come alone.

     "No... Althena's Guard... did you not surrender?!" The Guado were of no help there, having retreated to Guadosalam together. If the sight alone weren't enough to horrify him, the way where the armored knights lance through erected defenses does. A handful of Guado Guardians pool pyreflies together into an impressive Iron Giant to belay Day. Day runs through the ranks - and this Iron Giant - like they were little more than paper, causing pyreflies to explode in a colorful cloud announcing his arrival. His men are only a dozen, but they prove worth way more than ten gil.

     With the air and the ground clear, the Fayth Gon has long attributed to another confidant of Seymour emerges in their majestic rage, the great serpent crashing down into the forces - not to reinforce, but to fight against, and Gon rears up an arm before his eyes as their Summoner steps down to show... Gon's eyes widen.

     "...It's you..." The traitorous 'novice' Ena, who played him - and the rest of Yevon - for fools. The scars, the eyes... and the Fayth Leviathan answers to her.

     His first brush with Otherworlder malarky, the coordinated might of the Guard, and the very power of Yevon brought to bear against his own - three distinct nightmares, rolled into one collective whole that he is wide awake for.

     Gon steadies, exhales... and sneaks a Potion when so much as a stiff breeze runs against him.

     "No... I am beyond being shocked and dismayed by the depths those beyond our own fall, the lengths to which they go to prolong the inevitable," the Gon of no more than thirty seconds ago disgarees with the Gon of now, he was 110 percent shocked and dismayed, signaling outward to the flanked Guado forces to weave forth a line of Ochu Fiends - walking plant-like monsters with numerous stalks - to spin forth into the lot of them in order to buy a bit more time as he maneuvers himself to a more favorable set of footing to receive the champions of these three different prongs of assault.

     "The course of Spira is not yours to decide! The tenets of Yevon are not yours to take and pervert! Was it not enough of an example for the Al Bhed to endanger us all through their conspiracy with the damnable Otherworlders?!" This was the man who pushed hard to have the Al Bhed dealt with when he was so much as suspicious that they may have had a hand in the Guard's bolstered forces.

     They don't have to go too far in order to be able to punch him in the face as hard, or harder, than Tromell deserves for their own complicity in allowing Seymour to go as far as he has.

GS: Gon Guado has attacked Gon Guado with Auto-Potion!
GS: Gon Guado has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Gamble! Gon Guado heals Gon Guado! He gains 160 temporary hit points!
GS: Gon Guado spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Ochu Whirl!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Day Muirwall with Ochu Whirl!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Pearl with Ochu Whirl!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Day Muirwall critically guards Gon Guado's Ochu Whirl for 33 hit points!
GS: Day Muirwall activates Power Burst!
GS: CRITICAL! Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Ochu Whirl for 200 hit points!
GS: Pearl takes a glancing hit from Gon Guado's Ochu Whirl for 68 hit points!
GS: Pearl activates Evade bonus and Power Burst!
GS: White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Multi-Darkra for 168 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Day's gaze darts to the side for just a second - long enough to spot the alleged Novice Ena.

What's SHE doing here? is his first thought. She's been away for awhile and he only just now realized it, largely because he doesn't go out of his way to get quality Pearl time in. They're astonishingly different. The fact that she's showing up with Leviathan of all things is all the more troubling.

Speaking of different people, Day snaps a look to one side with a clench of her teeth at the sight of something happening to Seymour. "WHY ARE YOU LITERALLY A HIDEOUS MONSTER," he shouts before Gon sand his friends unleash the Ochu upon them.

Discarding his lance, Day draws his sword with a flash of steel and gives his reins a quick pull, and Guingryph rears and whirls into a ready position as the young knight regroups and makes ready. He leaves the other knights to their battles. For now, Gon's in front of him. "The war may be over, but if you think we'll turn away from what you're doing here, you're mistaken," he snaps, pushing his helmet back to let his hair spill free.

Ochus come whirling in, and Day squares himself and his stallion to the attack. Lashing stalks slam into his shield and deflect away, leaving a few marks on the enameled face and a few twigs clinging to Guingryph's barding - but it blunts the momentum of his attacks and keeps him from just trampling everything in his way. What could've been a line of destruction through the Guado ranks is a one-on-one fight now.

"Set your fate without killing everyone who disagrees with you," he barks. Pushing Guingryph forward with a quick spurring of heels, he bears down on Gon directly and rises in his saddle to try and come down on the man with a heavy overhead blow.

Only once he swings does he throw another sharp look Pearl's way and fire off a question.

"And you! What the fuck?"

GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Gon Guado with Blade Charge!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    A great wind sweeps through the ranks of Guado warriors, sending many of them scattering before the furious Wind Seraph's advance. But the robed figure isn't as easily felled, holding fast against the gale that knocks so many others about like dried leaves. What manner of creature--

    Even as Hilde asks her question, advancing on the robed stranger, the winds at last steal away the robe utterly.

    If it's even remotely human, it's only human in the suggestion of its form. Here are two thicker tendrils with semblence of legs, two perhaps only slighter yet with that of arms. The means by which the thing escaped the windstorm too is revealed: it has rooted itself in place, tendrils burrowing their way down into the earth.

    Where there should be a head, the thing has instead a bright red tomato. It leers at Hilde and Boudicca both.

    "Ah... it troubles us a second time!" crows the plantmonster creature, the embodied form of Seraph Harmaus. "And... it has others along? Very well -- we settles it here and now!"

    He lunges quickly for Hilde, having released his grip in the ground in an eyeblink. That long knife snaps out towards her -- it is but a testing jab, to see her reflexes, but has all manner of deadly weight behind it all the same.

    For Boudicca, he has a gift of a different sort: a sudden burst of gold-red plasma, almost sticky as it streams through the air towards his fellow Seraph.

    Tendrils on his opposite 'hand' circle and claim the hilt of another long blade as he moves to dart away again from Hilde on his own follow-through. With a body this strange and flexible, and empowered by a creature like this Seraph, who is to say what form his next move might take?

GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Hilde with Liberamente !
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Luminous Chord!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has completed his action.
GS: Hilde guards a hit from Seraph Harmaus's Liberamente  for 70 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado takes a glancing hit from Day Muirwall's Blade Charge for 82 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Gon Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Gon Guado activates Evade bonus!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a glancing hit from Seraph Harmaus's Luminous Chord for 63 hit points!
GS: Seraph Boudicca activates Evade bonus!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel very carefully sets the smoking bottle down so that it doesn't tip. It has a flared base, but even so, as soon as anyone kicks it it *will* be down; the most she can hope for is some use before then.

"Seymour..."

Mariel trails off as he absorbs the power, shredding fiends nearby. "I think I have said everything I can say. I cannot agree with what you do; you reject life, and life rejects you. I... !"

That was a more sharp cutoff as the man *changes*. She's seen him absorb power before, but this particular shape is new. Unpleasant. It feels *wrong*, stone and flesh and malevolent (if not Malevolent) power all bound up together.

Mariel covers her body with her arms, and it helps when the blast of shadow erupts. It's still enough to drive her back, sliding her - she nearly kicks over the bottle, though she manages to avoid hitting it at the last moment, though it makes her look off-balance for a moment. Into the bag again for another bottle -

Mariel flings it at Ivan, but open, so that it spatters across Marivel on the way. (Sorry Marivel, again.) "Put it on your weapon!" she calls, as the foaming substance spatters. It doesn't seem to do much at first, but it is a conduit for energy - it enhances the power of sorcery and blades in equal measure.

GS: Mariel has attacked Ivan with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has attacked Marivel Armitage with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    The Demon Fang hits Seymour dead-center. Leo allows himself a smile, despite knowing it'll take far more than that to put Seymour down for good. His eyes dart towards the Ronso lines, but no one comes charging at him yet--no one so much as shoots at him yet. I might yet have a chance, he thinks, darkly. And then...

    'I thought you weren't coming back.'

    Spacetime swirls a moment later, depositing a very familiar person nearby. Leo skids to a halt, eyes widening even as he raises his guard in anticipation of reprisal. "A promise made in haste," Leo says, lips twisting in a grim smile. "But you're right. Truce accepted. If we fall here, we'll have failed not only the Ronso, but her as well." As he talks, Marivel slips in, touches him lightly. Power flows through him; he tastes a coppery tang in the back of his throat, feels his pulse quicken. Thankfully(?), the appearance of an all-too-familiar Aeon takes Leo's mind off Marivel's dire words. "...Belize?" he whispers. Is it them?

    Seymour gives him something far more dangerous to concern himself with. Leo feels his gorge rise as the Maester transforms. His jaw falls open, and he sinks back, as if he could shield his entire body with the long crescent of his blade. "And you haven't changed at all, I see," Leo snarls--and bolts of shadow race outwards. The White Knight braces himself, digging in his heels. He meets the first with his sword, sweeping it left to catch the sorcery and turn it aside. The second glances off his side, leaving an unearthly, agonizing chill in its wake. The third clips his left shoulder.

    "Ghh," Leo grunts, and he sinks forwards--but then the adrenaline starts dulling things, with no small bit of help from Marivel's sorcery. "I may have sinned against this land," he shoots back, "but my aim was never slaughter, you duplicitous cur!"

    Seymour is massive. He looks like he could go toe-to-toe with an Aeon, if he wanted to. Leo does not care. A Guado soldier changes course, charging forward to try and intercept him, but the White Knight is quicker. He slams his sword's pommel into the man's helmet, whirls away, and twists effortlessly into a wide, arcing slash. It looks deceptively simple. It leaves very few openings as Leo's blade seeks what passes for Seymour's flesh.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Seymour Guado with Flash Blade!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    "Your aid is deeply welcomed, Hilde," Boudicca acknowledges her, bowing her head; she remembers Hilde's strength, and she's glad to have it on the Ronso's side, today.

    But the wind jostles at the Guado's ranks, and within them --

    "That voice--!!"

    Boudicca's alarm speaks to the fact that this tomato monster isn't just any old fiend; her eyes widen and narrow, her hands grasp her tonfa that much more tightly. "Harmaus!" As much as Seymour's transformation and the danger he places Mariel and Marivel in are deeply concerning, to Boudicca, at once her priorities are crystal-clear.

    "Hilde, be wary!" Boudicca calls out to her newly-forged ally, as the wind swirls around her in defence. "I know not what creature he has now possessed, but this is a spirit with no regard for human life!"

    Hilde, as the current example of human life, is evidently a person of concern in Boudicca's eyes.

GS: CRITICAL! Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Flash Blade for 222 hit points!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Hilde with Fortifying Tailwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Hilde accepts Seraph Boudicca's Fortifying Tailwind for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Hilde!
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

You would bring your fire to me... when so many deserving souls are nearby, assassin?

There's a self-conscious flinch from Ivan as Seymour publicly calls him an assassin for anyone to hear. But it remains true that his attack on Seymour when he was in the Guard was ultimately an attempted assassination, so perhaps it's not necessarily new information for his former comrades.

"You seem the most interested in death out of anyone I see around--" Ivan replies, "So you should really get to go first."

Seymour takes on a terrible new form, and waves of darkness blast out around the area -- so much of it Ivan doesn't see anywhere to run, and tries to simply stand his ground, bracing against the shockwave. It batters him and pushes him back, but he manages to barely keep his footing. And soon finds something tossed through the air by Mariel, heading towards him. He catches it instinctively and is just about to try to drink it when she explains its purpose. His face reddening, he moves it away from his lips and tries to pretend that wasn't going to do that.

O-onto his blade it goes.

Ivan's ears prick up a bit at Leo's words -- I may have sinned against this land... but it doesn't seem the time or place to grill him about the nuances of his moral journey. Instead he gives an extremely sheepish wave when he thinks there is a moment to catch Leo's eye without getting either of them annihilated by something. "Leo! I think we're on the same side today...!"

And with that, he propels himself at Seymour again, sweeping his short sword down in an arc while, from the other direction, another fireball swirls to life and comes roaring in.

"Hell Pyre!"

GS: Ivan accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Ivan!
GS: Ivan spends 1 Combo on Gatling, loading 1 into Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Hell Pyre!
GS: Ivan has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Ivan's Hell Pyre for 101 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seymour Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

'That false Aeon' the guado calls him. Cyre tilts his head askance as if unsure what exactly this person means. Then he realizes: "Oh... you were that one guy in Luca! Hahaha! That was a pretty good dupe, wasn't it? No, you're right. I'm not an Aeon."

But what he is is standing in the middle of a bunch of summoners as they materialize a series of angry Ochus. Cyre recoils at the very sight of the things. Or rather, at the smell of them. Ochus, even conjured amidst the impenetrably cold winds of Gagazet, are possessed of a most particular aroma, and Cyre's sense of smell is... a little more acute than most. He reels back and covers his mouth and nose, but is simply slapped repeatedly flailing, angry vines. With a curse on his lips, he flips back over himself and spits a mouthful of bloody spittle at one of the conjured fiends. He leaps from an oversized petal just as... many, many things happen. The Althenians storm the field, a leviathan appears out of the frost, and Seymour...

Goes loud.

"Hah! You guys don't get to complain when we mess around! Not while you're still taking orders from the monster--" Cyre snarls back, landing amidst the bloodstained snow and jabs a finger toward Seymour's twisted form. "--that tried to unleash a second Sin on our homeworld! And especially not when you're trying to pile high a literal mountain of corpses!"

But that is a good question. Why is Althena's guard here, exactly...?

Cyre, still naught but a man, presses a hand into the snow. Emerald sparks swirl around him in a tempest of light as the winds of Gagazet begin to churn, swirling tighter and tighter among the summoners and their Ochus... Until finally the atmosphere can take no more. The frigid gales converge into a towering tornado, threatening to send the gathered Guados flying enmasse...!

But more importantly... the air itself seems to take on a strange, jade tint. A power hums in the air. Something is coming...?

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Gon Guado with Celestial Lore!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: Gon Guado takes a glancing hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Celestial Lore for 84 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

Hilde is briefly distracted by the sight of something in the distance. The Aeon, Leviathan, summoned onto the fray, but the Summoner...

"...Is that...?" Hilde murmurs... but, she doesn't get much time to ponder before the wind steals away the cloak concealing the figure before her, and Harmaus's terrible form is revealed to the world.

"...By the Goddess." Hilde utters, shaking her head. It's as if a plant decided to mock the human form, vines forming limbs and a tomato for a face.

Boudicca shouts out a warning, and envelops her in a protective wind. This proves timely, as Hilde soon finds Harmaus's knife jabbing for her. She raises her shield quickly to deflect the blow. She can tell that he's testing her... but can tell, too, that he has a strength beyond what one might expect from his current form.

"Your aid is much appreciated!" Hilde calls back to Boudicca. "It would seem you have prior experience with this Harmaus. I am glad for whatever advice you may be able to offer! And, as for you..."

Her attention turns, then, toward Harmaus.

"I do not know why you have aligned yourself with the Guado, but if you intend to join in their slaughter, then I will stop you here. Have at you!" With that Hilde lunges forward, blade swinging out in a practiced strike - a strike of the sword designed to inhibit forms of healing and regeneration beyond the natural passage of time.

GS: Hilde has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Minus Strike!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus critically guards Hilde's Minus Strike for 28 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Belize, huh."

Dark power slams into Marivel. It's hefty enough that even with her natural resilliences she is pushed back a few feet and has to raise up her arm to avoid being sent flying. She lowers her arm after and adds, "Is existence truly so painful for you, Seymour?"

She shakes out her arm. There's no need to try and negotiate, she knows, but it's hard for her to not have...some sympathy for the devil. It's hard being someone who is dead and it's hard seeing the living suffer and make mistakes and all of that but extinction seems like an extreme solution to Marivel.

Ivan has a pretty good quip of his own. Marivel whistles a little. "I knew it, you are a true hero Ivan. Truly I have none few who fight so fervently to protect the innocent."

Did she miss that Seymour called him ASSASSIN?

Don't let anybody know you had no idea he was an assassin, Marivel thinks to herself, it would ruin your whole behind the scenes master of all schtick.

Instead she elects to lash out with her hand and send a blade of blade slicing towards Seymour!

She wrinkles a little at the SUCCUBUS JUICE that's now stuck on her but refuses to go 'kyaaaa' or anyhting like that. Nope. She's just going to ... take it.

GS: Marivel Armitage accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Marivel Armitage!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.


    The spin of Gon and the Ochu Fiends comes swift and fast, and while the sea serpent is swift, it is not fast enough, and they bash against the scales of the mighty Aeon. As Leviathan reels back, 'Ena' looks forward.

    "Are you not proud, Sir Gon?" The soft, often nervous voice of Summoner Ena comes out proud and clear, so different from Pearl's. It carries none of her anger, her distrust. "I became a summoner, just as you wished." Leviathan by her side is proof of that. As Gon rants, she lets him. Of course he would.

    "So yoiu would just kill the Ronso, all of Spira, for what?" She looks... disappointed. She's playing him, of course, but... "Once you said you would have been honored to be my guardian. And now you would prevent any chance of a pilgrimage for anyone." Twist it into him, like a knife. "Leviathan... Let us show this misguided fool the error of his ways."

    Leviathan agrees, and roars. Waters rise out of the ground under Gon, and water rises up from under him, in a rapid swirl, and then forcefully try to drag him down. Like the Aeon is trying to drown him in a puddle. Much because they are.

    And then Day asks the question. Damn. She had hoped the cloak would hide her but Muirwall... there was no chance he would stay silent about what he saw. Let them all see, then. Burn that bridge. Had she even intended to return? Her reason for staying was gone. A corpse on the floor.

    She reaches up, and pulls back her hood. Silver hair, unbound, flies freely in the winds of Gagazet. Was this who she was?

    It was who she was today, at least.

    "...I am Summoner Pearl. And it is my duty to stand against Sin, and all his allies."

GS: Pearl has attacked Gon Guado with Rip Tide!
GS: Pearl has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Seymour Guado with Bloody Mari!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Pearl's Rip Tide for 175 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"I knew it," Marivel says to Leo. "Belize was Pearl all along..."

GS: Seymour Guado guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Bloody Mari for 91 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"It is so!" Seymour answers Mariel. "I stand against the very concept of life! Of choosing to live! I am the sole mercy granted this world!"

He looks down at Leo, then. He is, indeed, massive -- and the sword slashes into Seymour's flesh. Pyreflies explode away until it hits stone -- then sparks spray, where it is harder than it was before. Then, pne of the huge, pincer-like claws comes down -- and thrusts a chitinous spine directly for Leo.

"Then you ignore the truth... that your actions were slaughter! Or do you mean to say you sought something else, White Knight?" Seymour says. Then, he turns his his head -- and he looks at Ivan.

"I have already died. But in my kindness, I have chosen to not pass on--not until I can free both of our worlds!" Seymour calls out. "Come, Ivan! You see that we are the same! That we give death freely... for we are merciful and kind!"

Ivan's sword slams into chitin on one spine, which cracks under the weight of Ivan's sword. The fire blasts into it; the chitin doesn't break quite yet. A moment later, though, a powerful orb of green fluid fires at him -- and explodes, with a thick, noxious odor... that may well sicken him.

He looks back at Marivel -- and his pale eyes narrow into a glower. "Existence... is a curse for all of us!" he says to her. "And that is not Belize... some fool summoner, who must have sided with the Ronso. No matter."

Her blade slashes into his armored torso -- sparks flying, and then a few pyreflies to boot. Seymour throws a hand out. Then, beads of brilliant white-gold light appear, flashing into existence between Mariel and Marivel. They crackle, both, and then explode into brilliant spheres of golden white light around the both of them.

"You have come back here!" Kelk calls out to Leo.

The Ronso Maester is not idle. His healing magic bolsters a nearby Ronso warrior, whose blade slams into one gripped in the hands of a Guado. The old Ronso tilts his head to the side for a moment. "What brought you back here?" he asks. "When you had sworn you would leave? And what is that you have found, now that you return?"

GS: Seymour Guado has attacked White Knight Leo with Spine Thrust!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Biora!
GS: Seymour Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Mariel with Multi-Diara!
GS: Seymour Guado spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Marivel Armitage with Multi-Diara!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Biora for 92 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ivan gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison applied to Ivan!
GS: Ivan activates Evade bonus and Sufferer!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    "Why aligns we? Matter is our own! We serves the Maester and we serves it well!" Almost, somehow, the tomato face seems to 'smirk', the skin rippling in a fashion that serves as a mockery of a human face. "So we is here with Guado now, yes? And if it stands against us... it dies with Ronso. Is simple!"

    The blades held in both 'hands' glint in the light. If this were a normal sort of body, one might say that the embodied Seraph stands with muscles tensed, ready to lunge.

    "Ah, ah... it remembers us?" the Seraph chuckles, as Boudicca calls out his name. "Remembers us last we speaks. Remembers it well... Ah?"

    That ready-seeming stance of his eases a touch, as if what were unfolding were suddenly of more interest and less of his concern.

    "It thinks it protects the human?" Harmaus muses, that look on his 'face' almost (impossibly) mocking. "We tells it before: human lives fleeting. Meaningless. We demonstrates so it learns!"

    He had seemed at ease. But this body is as false-seeming as the Seraph has himself often been -- it lunges quickly as Hilde swings for the embodied Seraph. The body twists, snaking under and around the incoming blow, enough that Hilde lands but a glancing strike (the plant bleeds green-yellow sap; perhaps that is a relief) as he moves to go for her with both blades--

    They're still glancing, testing cuts. But they may land on a vulnerable place.

    And light blazes about him, red-gold plasmic fire unrolling for the Seraph that he seeks to undermine.

GS: Seraph Harmaus spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Hilde with Poco a Poco!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Chromatic Flux!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has completed his action.
GS: Mariel critically guards Seymour Guado's Multi-Diara for 29 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Mariel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Mariel activates Arcane Font!
GS: Gamble: High! Seraph Boudicca takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Chromatic Flux for 136 hit points!
GS: Hilde guards a hit from Seraph Harmaus's Poco a Poco for 45 hit points!
GS: Infect! Debuff durations extended!!
GS: Poison applied to Hilde!
GS: Marivel Armitage critically guards Seymour Guado's Multi-Diara for 32 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! White Knight Leo takes a solid hit from Seymour Guado's Spine Thrust for 261 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    The twirling plant Fiends do naught to stop Guingryph from carrying his rider towards him, and Gon fails to get to terrain less suited for a mounted assault. The war horse blazes past another handful of Guado Guardians as they carry out Day's will - the war may be over, but even then they're not going to turn away from what's happening. He holds up a defensive posture with a raised clawed gauntlet before his resolve wavers at the very last second to Day bringing that heavy overhead blow. Gon steps away from a decisively defeating blow, but not without it slicing through and drawing blood of that odd color all Guado have.

     "Always making demands on your tall chocobo, the lot of you!" Gon scowls as he clutches at his wound. "Mind your language," he adds in a different tone, as if somehow this were the most offensive thing in the moment.

     Several of Gon's men are already moving to try and corral Day and his horse, but Cyre's on it as he conjures forth a towering, twisting tornado that even has Gon there bracing to prevent himself from becoming gone just from being close to it - he's only on the outer edge of a sure ejection, throwing a gauntelted hand down to grip against the rock.

     "The nerve of your mockery... perhaps if Gaia suffered their own Sin, you would've shown better respect." Basically, yes, if Gon were there - he'd have been on board for it. (Perhaps for the added tourism from Gaia, if he could stomach the cultural clash and rudeness.)

     Summoners try in vain to harbor together pyreflies against the storm, as Day continues to enjoy freedom of movement this close - and Pearl directly answers to a spoken 'what the fuck' and Gon's unspoken one (it's on his lips). Leviathan heeds their Summoner, as water erupts and drags him down into it, threatening to render him naught but another drowned fool in the wake of their oceanic fury. It all coincides with Seymour's declarations, which should give anyone and everyone pause.

     When Gon survives the drowning attempt, a brief channeling of the 'warm' aspect of prayers (White Fire magic, in the Althenian vernacular), when he looks to Summoner Pearl's declaration - all of them - they are the eyes not just of a tired and angry man, but a sad one. Someone who believes he has gone through great loss - some of that haughtiness is gone.

     Day's dozen strong cavalry do wonders for making sure that the Guado Guardians under Gon's command aren't able to physically re-establish presence, Cyre's tornadoes rip asunder any summoned Fiends, and Leviathan... as a Fayth, needs no further introduction.

     His eyes blink closed... and then after a moment, bear down upon Day. A moment passes, and he is lunging at him from a rocky outcropping, a mid-air tackle going for the rider. "What will it take to be rid of you and your lot? From all you have taken from me...!" 'Me,' not 'us.'

     He twists and twirls in mid-air, going for a sweeping strike towards Pearl and/or Leviathan alike, horizontally aligned before leaping back and into a mocking, 'come at me' posture. "You are an enemy to a new Spira that will follow Seymour's design... and no more!" Would he dare provoke an Aeon boasting far superior strength?

     In that same gesture, there is a curosry attempt to assemble and hurl a spectral, barely-there Couerl from the scattering pyreflies, to try and strike into the heart of the green-tinged storms as Gon stands separated from most of his gathered - seemingly outgunned against all three major forces thrown at himself.

GS: Gon Guado has attacked Day Muirwall with Buer Blink!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Pearl with Iron Giant Provocation!
GS: Gon Guado enters a Counter stance!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Buer Blink for 136 hit points!
GS: Day Muirwall activates Power Burst!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with The Adds Phase!
GS: Gon Guado has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's The Adds Phase for 158 hit points!
GS: Cripple applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Shield applied to Gon Guado!
GS: CRITICAL! Pearl critically guards Gon Guado's Iron Giant Provocation for 36 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Pearl gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Pearl activates Guard bonus and Power Burst!
DC: Day Muirwall switches forms to Church Knight Day!
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

As much as there's a battle afoot, there are some things Day can't ignore. Like Pearl calling herself a Summoner after showing up with Leviathan of all things.

He narrows his eyes at Pearl and sets his jaw, exhaling through his nose. "That warrants some answers and I am going to ask for them," he says tersely. "When I have a minute."

He does not have a minute right now. Taking his attention off Gon is... not the wisest idea he's ever come up with, no matter how much that events that seemingly validate his abiding mistrust of Pearl strike him as something warranting action.

Pearl did Gon a solid in one respect: He ensured that by the time Day's attention swings fully back to the Guado, Gon's already on him. He lets out a startled yell, and then there's a loud crash and a clatter of steel as Gon tackles him straight out of the saddle.

Guingryph rears in surprise, whirling to try and catch up with his rider, but the heat of the battle separates knight and steed quickly enough that it's left to another knight to corral the loose horse. Day, meanwhile, rolls across the ground, helmet tumbling away into the thick of things. With a wince and a clank of steel, he pushes back to his feet with a set of his jaw. "Tch... I don't pretend to know what was taken from you," he begins.

Something cold twists in Day's stomach. I can't possibly KNOW. We came here and tried to conquer these people, and for what?

"But what you plan to take from the Ronso is worse," he insists as he draws himself to his feet, throwing loose blond hair out of his eyes with a snap of his head. "Don't think I don't know that people from our world have done this continent wrong. But what you're doing will not right anything. Not for you or for the people you're trying to kill!"

Day whirls his sword into a ready position and advances again, on foot but unhindered despite it. He closes ranks and crowds in on Gon, shield first, then lashes out with a startlingly quick arc of his blade, then another, then one more. For a man with a broadsword, he's getting a lot of speed behind those attacks, and he's shifting from one side to the other as he does, trying to hem Gon in and force him back.

"Tell your people to withdraw!" he shouts between strokes. "This can end without further violence!"

GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Gon Guado with Glissant Blade!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has completed his action.
GS: Gon Guado critically guards Day Muirwall's Glissant Blade for 34 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Gon Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Healthy! For entering Condition Green, Gon Guado receives 50 temporary hit points.
GS: Gon Guado enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    "I remember," Boudicca says, quietly, and perhaps that's why she's quite so worried for Hilde, here.

    Even so...

    ... she can't let him do as he pleases to the Ronso. She made that choice, too.

    Once again, the light blazes, and Boudicca leaps away; for some reason, she doesn't wish to meet Harmaus's Artes head-on. The plasma buffets her in mid-air, and she lands with one of those sticks impacting the ground. "And because they are meaningless, you'll slaughter them all?!" Boudicca demands, her own Seraphic glyph alighting beneath her feet. "But I think you will find they are not so easily felled! I have seen the works of Hilde, truer than your own!"

    Hilde has taken on pretty big fiends, all in all.

    Gesturing out, the wind lances from her to buffet at Harmaus's strange monstrous form, to frustrate his movements. "Your simplicity is a pox on this world!" She insists, tone hot.

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Buffeting Headwind!
GS: Seraph Boudicca assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus guards a hit from Seraph Boudicca's Buffeting Headwind for 57 hit points!
GS: Delay applied to Seraph Harmaus!
GS: Seraph Harmaus activates Arcane Font!
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

...Summoner Pearl? Summoner Pearl? Hilde is taken aback. She's not sure how to process this. She knew that Pearl had been training under the Yevonites to get closer to them... but had she truly obtained the power of Summoning? What did that mean?

...Well, that's something she's going to have to sort out later. Right now, she has a smirking tomato to confront, and that's already taking everything she has to process.

"Hmm... very well. So be it, then." Hilde replies. "It truly does make things quite simple... but I must make one correction - we will not fall here."

This fight will not be an easy one, however - though humanoid in form, her opponent's body is not constrained to typical humanoid forms of movement. It twists out of the way of her strike and lunges at her. Hilde maneuvers her shield to block the incoming blades, but one still manages to get past her defenses.

"I will... not," Hilde starts, gritting her teeth as she pushes her shield forward in an attempt to knock Harmaus back. Boudicca's confidence in her certainly helps. "...be a demonstration for your nihilism, thank you very much."

Her blade flashes briefly blue as she swings it forward, unleashing a blue energy crescent flying toward Harmaus.

"Lady Boudicca's respect and care for others is to be commended. I will not have you besmirch it." Hilde warns.

GS: Hilde has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Force Blade!
GS: Hilde has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Hilde takes 17 damage from Poison!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Harmaus guards a hit from Hilde's Force Blade for 89 hit points!
GS: Seraph Harmaus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Delay expired!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Leo isn't the only one shouting back at Seymour. Cyre's voice is as the wind, coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. Ivan is less grandiose, but no less determined; guilt stabs into Leo's heart as he catches that little wave. But while their presence here draws up memories of rivalry and camaraderie respectively, there is someone here whom Leo hasn't seen in quite some time. Someone he'd assigned to monitor Spira in the long term, and vanished.

    Pearl's hood falls away. Leo stares at her from across the battlefield for a good two seconds--and it feels like an eternity. His mouth moves, but no words come out. Of course, he reasons, when he can think again. She deceived them into letting her--become a--

    Even beyond the obvious, there's something different about the way she carries herself. It's like a great weight has been lifted from her, a weight Leo didn't realize was there until it was gone. Thorny knots tighten around his heart, and he tears his gaze away. He should castigate her for her betrayal, but he can't. Not when he, too, is a betrayer. Leo knows this, bone-deep, as Kelk Ronso's gaze falls upon him.

    "A comrade was murdered," Leo says, and it's like he's a teenage squire explaining himself to a knight thirty years his senior. "But--Sin--" The words stumble over themselves on their way out of his mouth. "Yuna. She is our only hope--"

    Seymour seizes on Leo's distraction to deliver his "mercy". The chitinous spine slams into the White Knight from behind, and it's only a split-second twitch that keeps him from being impaled, like back in Krosse. Even a glancing hit from something that large can deal catastrophic damage. Pain shoots through Leo's ribcage with the solid CRACK of breaking bone. Blood sprays through the air, flying in an arc to stain the snow. The impact carries Leo forward; from the side, he looks like a butterfly impaled on a pin. Seymour's words swim through the sea of agony in his head.

    'Then you ignore the truth... that your actions were slaughter.'

    He falls to the ground of Mount Gagazet. Distantly, he wonders why his ancestors left. Was there a conflict? Were they heretics? Or did they simply want to live somewhere free of Sin? He may never know the answer.

    But the Ley pulses deep, even here, and the surge of earth lies just beneath him. Leo falls to the ground, drops his blade, buries his hands beneath the snow and feels--feels--the soil and stone of Mount Gagazet. "Please," he pleads, to the wind and sky and earth. "Help me make this right."

    The earth answers. It creeps up Leo's frame, numbing the pain left by the darkness and packing itself into his wounds. Stone armor reinforces his skin, while the resilence of earth stabilizes broken bones.

GS: White Knight Leo has attacked White Knight Leo with Earth Prayer!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo accepts White Knight Leo's Earth Prayer for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: Mighty applied to White Knight Leo!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.


    As Gon flies for Pearl, Leviathan coils around her protectively, a wall of scales protecting her from his wrath. The Aeon is like a wall of hardened steel. "...Thank you." She says, quietly, and she feels support from the Aeon as he unwinds and her eyes look out at Gon. Seymour speaks, and she stares into his eyes.

    "So what you want for Spira is a graveyard?" It makes her angry. Less discriminate than he who held her leash. Her eyes narrow. "Is it what you truly want? Or do you just follow your master, damn the consequences?" Like she had. "Either way, I will not accept it.

    Day demands answers, and Pearl hardens. "And perhaps I will be ready to give them." That said, she has matters she has to resolve first. If the guard intend to take her back, she will have to do her damnedest to disappoint them.

    But here, in the present, is Gon. And Pearl intends to deal with him. Pearl raises her hand, and Leviathan coils again, before raising up with a roar. A massive sphere of water seeks to engulf Gon, and crush him. Not the most difficult of spells, but witt an Aeon behind it, a serious threat.

    She tries not to focus on Leo's look of betrayal. Of horror.

    Or the fact that she may have just caused one of the few good men on Lunar to nearly die.

GS: Pearl has attacked Gon Guado with Watera!
GS: Pearl has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

I knew it, you are a true hero Ivan. Truly I have none few who fight so fervently to protect the innocent.

Ivan... Becomes Embarrassed. "You don't need to say things like that, Marivel...!" She is poking fun at him, right? Please no one poke fun at him or call him an assassin on the battlefield...!

He has missed a lot of what has been transpiring around Pearl, but does hear her reveal herself... and then Marivel's reaction. I knew it. Belize was Pearl all along...

"Wait, what?! She was??" Now you're dragging Ivan down into your confusion, Marivel!

Seymour explains his philosophy, and how he returned from the dead to bring death to others as a gift.

"Wait, I'm -- not like that anymore!" He was never like that -- not doing it out of a sense that it was good for anyone else, but rather out of a dread of what would happen to him if he refused. "Why do you need to give people death? Everyone dies -- not everyone gets to live a full life! Even if something terrible happened to you, you must be able to see that most people want to live, can't you?"

Ivan's attack almost cracks through Seymour's exoskeleton, but a vile bubble of magic spatters out at him, stopping him short with a coughing fit as his stomach roils.

When he manages to pull himself together, he adjusts his grip on his sword and rips it across the air in front of him, opening up a portal that spews molten fire at Seymour. Maybe magma is better suited for chewing through... whatever he's made of, now.

GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Molten Roar!
GS: Ivan takes 19 damage from Poison!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

If Seymour was just a villain, Mariel would find him less frightening than she does. There are many people called villains who she would never agree with, but at least she understands that they have wants just like anyone else. Even those who want to die usually want to die doing *something*; those that don't simply give up.

But someone who proudly proclaims he stands against life, that he refuses to die solely to make *other* people die, to make even the world die - it's incomprehensible. What kind of a person would ever think in such a way? And to Mariel, who gives all she has to keep Filgaia alive, a kind of blasphemy.

"No!" Light is less worrying than darkness to Mariel - she actually moves through it, feeling the energy burst behind her as she runs. Not toward Marivel, who she came with; not towards Ivan, who has been her guard before and will be again.

But at Leo, greviously injured by the spine. Leo, who has tried to stop her before, until he was shown the truth. Leo, who came back here and now in a place he wasn't wanted to try to stop their deaths.

"Death is a part of life," Mariel says. "But it is a *part* of life, and not one we seek eagerly. Everything dies - but everything should have a chance to live first. And... there's no need to rush towards it! A flower, that can bloom in the worst wasteland... that's beautiful. Not cutting it up because it 'shouldn't be' there!"

Mariel undoes the seal on a new bottle. She reaches out for Leo - with him still, now is the best time. Her other hand has a cloth wrapping, a bandage with a poultice already applied. As she reaches, Mariel infuses the green-blue tincture in the bottle with energy. Her hands flare pink, little sparks drifting away, and the contents of the bottle *glow* - an impossible sorcery, the last remnants of a faded people.

She applies the entire bottle to Leo's wound, pulling the bandage around it as he draws in energy, and the results are immediate. The wound almost immediately starts to close - not all the way, he's still hurt, but enough to get around, to move - to not die. Drawing on the energies of Mount Gagazet seems to help, for Mariel - and her tinctures - are tied to the land in a complex way she cannot explain and is beyond Leo's ability to work out.

"For this," she says, more quietly, "we work together."

GS: Mariel has attacked White Knight Leo with Herbal Miracle!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Mariel heals White Knight Leo! He gains 165 temporary hit points!
GS: Pray grants a random effect! Lock State, Shield, and Surge applied to White Knight Leo!
GS: CRITICAL! Gon Guado guards a hit from Pearl's Watera for 131 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado activates Guard bonus!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Maybe it is for you and I, but who are we to cast such aspersions on the rest of our worlds?" Marivel snaps back. "Do you feel their pain? Do you think their thoughts?"

A comrade was murdered? Lunn. She witnessed his power well enough with the other Heroes but she supposes in a fight with just himself...Normally, she'd think that numbers could defeat any sort of strength but it'd certainly be hard to be subtle about who was going about it.

Marivel doesn't LOOK confused but maybe this is the problem of pretending you know everything when things start to kind of go outside of your predictions or like, you know, outside of what any one person could reasonably be expected to know.

"Well... She summoned Leviathan for sure. I thought it was a 'one person per fayth' deal--"

She looks to Ivan. "Humility... Ah, very well, I'll simply think it loudly."

She smiles at the HERO OF SPIRA which is a thought in her head so loud it shows up in metacontext.

But LIGHT is definitely way more harmful towards Marivel than DARKNESS but Marivel snaps back that blade and transmogrifies it into a--YES--umbrella that fwoops open and protects her body from that brilliant light. It doesn't protect her completely, but it does keep her from spontaneously combusting and advancing into her second boss phase.

She looks to the Ronso Master, raising an eyebrow. Then she says, "Leo is a good man. Not infallible, but he always strives for the best he can be. That is what I like about him."

It...doesn't sound like her usual sass. She just...believes it.

She snaps her fingers and takes in a deep breath....!!

...before expelling a flurry of flame out of her mouth and throat towards Seymour!

"I guess this argument has run itself out though. Against the anti-life, if nothing else, it simplifies matters."

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Seymour Guado with Rubyvention!
GS: Marivel Armitage has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado critically guards Ivan's Molten Roar for 34 hit points!
GS: Your next attack with the Sneak flag will display with the name Cadence.
GS: Gamble: Moderate! Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Rubyvention for 47 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seymour Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"You are not wrong, White Knight Leo," Maester Kelk says, with one nod to him. "Lady Yuna is our only hope... and we seek to hold this army back, for as long as we can. We must place our faith in her... but so must we preserve our people." Then, he looks once towards Marivel. His head tilts, for a moment. "And you would vouch for him, Lady Marivel? Though you stood against him?"

Seymour looks down at Leo. He seems unfazed -- unblinking -- at the way that Leo falls, badly wounded. He watches how his hands fall under the snow. One of the huge pincer hands reaches over the shoulder, and draws forth an enormous and oversized weapon. A huge, single-edged blade comes free and is ready to carve down into Leo.

At the last moment, though, it is redirected -- striking through the portal that Ivan opens and then into his sword. The blades meet, Seymour's enormous one hitting and sending out a flash of sparks. "All life brings... is suffering! It holds no purpose, save to suffer! I will free you -- ALL of you -- from suffering!"

He answers Mariel as much, too, as he speaks to Ivan. Then Marivel's flame blasts into his side, burning him. Seymour turns, his immense body turning to look at her. "Perhaps it is simple... but I shall revel in that simplicity!"

The other pincer yanks its sword free. Two huge, rust-covered katana are withdrawn... and then he slashes out across them, in an X-shaped strike that leaves crackling waves of darkness in the air after them.

GS: Seymour Guado has attacked White Knight Leo with Blade Lash!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Ivan with Blade Lash!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Mariel with Blade Lash!
GS: Seymour Guado has attacked Marivel Armitage with Blade Lash!
GS: Seymour Guado has completed his action.
GS: Mariel takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Blade Lash for 108 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Mariel gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

'Summoner Pearl' is it? Cyre quirks a brow, but says nothing. It's not his place to say. Heck, it's actually kind of nice to see another one of those on their side for once, as opposed to...

Well, every summoner he's ever encountered not named 'Yuna' or 'Catenna' as it happens.

It's what Gon says, though, that gets under his skin. "'Better respect?' You don't understand. You don't get it-- what Sin is. What really plagues your world...!" A coeurl hurtles towards him. With a grimace, Cyre is forced to endure its assault. The creature tears at his skin, rips at his robes. The snowy slopes of Gagazet run red with otherworldly blood. He has to stay, he has to focus. Each breath brings him closer. "...Obsession. Desperation. These are the sorts of emotions at the heart of what we call 'Clysmians.' But there are more than just those-- there are others, greater or equal! Our world is home to gods that can equal any of these 'Sins,' guado... Love, Courage, Hope, Desire..."

"I may not be able to call upon one of the Guardian Lords, but let me show you--" Cyre pushes himself upright, beaten bloody and raw. "The King of the Winds!" He grins around crimson-stained teeth at both Coatl and summoner as the storms twisting through the battlefield abruptly flex and surge, as if the shaman had lost control of them in the course of his savage beating.

But they do not fade. No. They do the opposite. A pair of brilliant, emerald eyes glare through the twisting winds. Claws, massive and powerful, reach out and seize the Coatl. In an instant, the beast is shattered, turned to a whirling flurry of pyreflies that are swept away in the surging ley. The winds of Gagazet howl as they have never howled before, awakening to the Guardian's advent.

Gon would feel the air around him shift and stir, vibrating with manic energy. The storm in the distance finally breaks, revealing...

A massive, humanoid tiger, covered in golden glyphs and swaddled in the breath of the world.

That is indeed the so-called 'Aeon' that he once witnessed in Luca.

The Nahual of Fengalon reaches out, a column of world-grinding wind spiralling up around the elder Guado with gales sharp enough to hew flesh and bone alike. "Your master brought death to our world and now seeks to visit it upon yours. The Powers That Sustain The World deny this extinction! On their behalf- to protect these precious lives- I stand against you!"

DC: Cyre H. Lorentz switches forms to Nahual - Fengalon!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz spends 4 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Gon Guado with Awakening Air!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    The tomato-man shakes his 'head' at Hilde's declaration. "Tcha. 'Not falls here', says it. It boasts loudly! A mortal, and still boasting...!" It's hard to tell with a face like that if he's laughing because he's intrigued or laughing because he's mocking her. "It interests us!"

    It's almost as if he's toying with with the both of them though -- perhaps Boudicca the more because of her sworn oath against him. "Ah? We will see! Will be interesting either way, yes? Have tested this body little, little, yet!"

    Harmaus dives for Hilde, perhaps intent on making an example of her for Boudicca.

    "Nihil... is nothing? Ah, we learns new word!" replies the Seraph, almost delighted with this as his one blade impacts off her shield. "But we are not all, yet!"

    He darts back, playing defense against whatever the knight should bring to bear against him and perhaps he might have well dodged that blow--

    If Boudicca's winds had not arisen about him again, forcing him to again take such a strange stance to prevent being buffeted away. There is thus no dodging when the blade comes for him. It dances across his crossed knives, bites plantflesh. The air is redolent at this range with the scent of his form's sap.

    "Jaeja," mutters the embodied Seraph, unentangling himself from the ground in the next heartbeat's worth of time and peeling away but a short distance from Hilde.

    And he throws one of his long knives into the air suddenly for Hilde, seemingly without much care for her.

    That hand -- tendril -- then reaches down to his side, burrowing into the unwinding tangle of tendrils that are his 'legs'. There's something caught within it...

    It glints dully in the light when he brings it up, one long viney finger curling around the trigger. It's an ARM.

    "Complications breed lies," Harmaus tells Boudicca simply. "I shows you now how they are cleansed!"

GS: Sneak!! Your feint does not reveal that you spent 1 Combo on Poison Better get that pose addition ready.
GS: Seraph Harmaus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Hilde with Cadence!
GS: Sneak! You have gained 1 Combo! Only you see this message.
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Seraph Boudicca with En Pressant!
GS: Seraph Harmaus assumes the Avenger stance!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has completed his action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Seraph Harmaus's attack becomes clear!
GS: Hilde takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Scordatura for 47 hit points!
GS: Dispel! Burst and Quick removed!
GS: Poison applied to Hilde!
GS: CRITICAL! White Knight Leo guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Blade Lash for 21 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! White Knight Leo gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo activates Guard bonus!
GS: White Knight Leo enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ivan takes a glancing hit from Seymour Guado's Blade Lash for 79 hit points!
GS: Ivan activates Evade bonus and Sufferer!
GS: Seraph Boudicca takes a glancing hit from Seraph Harmaus's En Pressant for 61 hit points!
GS: Seraph Boudicca activates Evade bonus!
GS: Gon Guado has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Gon Guado guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Awakening Air for 147 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado has activated a Force Action!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    "And that body -- what of it? Have you taken another without regard for their will?" Boudicca asks, all acid. She's never met something so strange in all her years, but, well --

    -- many of them were isolated, and Harmaus didn't help that, back then.

    She looks with anxiety to Hilde, catching attacks on her shield; further out there is Leviathan and the Nahual acting in defence, but Boudicca has little space in her mind to worry about them all when the thing she is most worried about is right here.

    "A fine rebuttal," she calls encouragement, to her. She does not think of it as boasting, like Harmaus evidently does.

    But perhaps she is so worried for her compatriot -- she scarcely notices the glint until Harmaus's 'finger' curls around it, and he speaks his truth to her. "Ah!" She gasps, as she throws herself aside, and it's only the speed of wind which helps that ARM to rush past her rather than through.

    "None of the 'cleansing' you embark upon here is acceptable!" She insists, as the winds pick up around her, and the gale which sparks from that glyph then descends upon Harmaus to rip and tear. It might be a mistake; but then, he does have a particular way of angering her. "Begone this place!"

GS: Seraph Boudicca has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Howling Gale!
GS: Seraph Boudicca has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    Once the odds are evened and both men are on foot, Gon can move more confidently on the defensive as Day twists back doubts and despair into action and conviction. Gon is a lankier, lighter adversary with all the advantages a Guado boasts among the people of Spira: lankier limbs and long strides, in which he weaves and swings his arms in smooth, deflecting motions. Gauntlet-clad hands clash against the shield and strikes of Day's blades, with Day succeeding at the baseline goal of trying to keep him moving in the desired direction.

     "It cannot end any other way," Gon retorts. "Spira has fallen into such disarray even after you Otherworlders were set to leave us... would that my children be here to see this," he seems dead set on continuing the assault - the Guado Guardians around him are scattering but continuing in what earnest thay can.

     Pearl interjects with cutting questions as Day manages to maneuver Gon where he has to lower his foot into terrain that dips lower than he anticipates, a momentary stumble into an agile back-roll to catch himself upright as he disengages from Day momentarily to once again size up the mighty Aeon as Pearl speaks her words. "Guado affairs remain wi--" Leviathan roars and cuts off the boilerplate response, as a sphere of water crashes against him. He swings a clawed gauntlet in a scything motion to try and cut the sphere of water in twain, and succeeds only in keeping upright against its weight and force. The chilling Mt. Gagazet air makes it cling ever more unpleasantly to his form, as his kind are used to far warmer climes than this.

     Cyre breaks it down and dresses Gon down (verbally) as he sorcerously warms himself to ward off the chill. "Enough with your prosle--" Gon's eyes widen as he sees the emergence of the Nahual of Fengalon. "You." His eyes narrow as he tries to hurl himself into something he just does not have a great understanding of. The Althena's Blessing bloodlines of Spira run much thinner with the elements of Darkness, Light, Earth, and Wind compared to the other half, and typically one does not deal with that sort of sorcerous assault, but Gon defends against it as well as he can hope to, bracing and swinging against it as blades of wind scythe about and through him....

     And he stays upright, facing down a superior swordsman, a summoner of Leviathan, and now the Nahual of Fenaglon.

     "Death...? No. There will be peace!" Shouted like a man who is simply done with it, with all the world-upending surprises and twists and turns to the rhythm of his life - a rhythm that has exclusively benefitted the Guado and those others who have exploited the faiths and insecurities of the people of Spira. Damp, freezing, and with his ears ringing, he goes into them with a (for the most part) indistinct series of strikes against them.

     "My daughters... they'll know peace," he says in Day's direction as he challenges his superiority with sword and board.

     "You would expect of me, now, a life-long servant to my own people, to give up because you have somehow turned a Fayth heretical?" He asks of Pearl in his volley of strikes.

     "There will be no more arguing of virtues or truths foreign to the values of Spira!" He calls against the great Nahual of Fengalon.

     Somewhere in all of this, he breaks away and leaps into the air, rearing back a hand before the scene of the time of day above. "Moonflow Blue Crescent!" He swings down in a descending claw strike that - somehow - reaches across the area of all three powers against him.

     A fine line is drawn in the sand where power severs a small part of the scenery, landing in a bloodied crouch beyond them in his desperation to just cut them off - with the single technique that has been met, bested, and surpassed a few times over since the Otherworlders brought their combat disciplines and their influences abroad, as the more open-minded of Spira started accommodating the parts of it they like.

     It reeks of desperation.

GS: Gon Guado has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with Moonflow Blue Crescent!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Day Muirwall with Moonflow Blue Crescent!
GS: Gon Guado has attacked Pearl with Moonflow Blue Crescent!
GS: Gon Guado has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Seraph Boudicca's Howling Gale for 248 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus activates Arcane Font!
GS: Pearl fully evades Gon Guado's Moonflow Blue Crescent for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Pearl gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Pearl activates Power Burst!
GS: Pearl enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Gon Guado's Moonflow Blue Crescent for 141 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Day Muirwall has activated a Force Action!
GS: CRITICAL! Day Muirwall guards a hit from Gon Guado's Moonflow Blue Crescent for 123 hit points!
GS: Shieldbreak applied to Day Muirwall!
GS: Day Muirwall activates Guard bonus!
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Again Day shoots a glance towards Pearl and squares his jaw as a thought occurs to him:

    After how she treated Naelle - after how she's clearly shown how unstable she is - after how she's consistently taken the most underhanded and dishonourable approach to just about everything - are you, Daillan Muirwall, really, REALLY going to lose sleep if Pearl of all people decides to leave?

"If you feel it's necessary," he begins to say in a somewhat more conciliatory tone before he remembers something else important. Namely, getting into it with Pearl here and now means taking his eyes off Gon and the fate the Seymour Army has in store for the Ronso.

In the background, someone else has managed to get ahold of Guingryph - of all people, Seraph Vesna. Astride the big stallion's saddle, she steers the warhorse out of the fight, throwing a worried look at Day even as the knight moves to square himself to Gon's attacks. He's a quick opponent - one he's having a hard time pinning down beyond herding him in a direction.

He huffs shortly as he moves, a bit of a game of cat and mouse. A retort hangs on the edge of his tongue.

It dies when the words 'my children' register. He presses his lips firmly together.

"I'm sorry," he says simply.

When Gon calls up that power, Day doesn't even move out of the way - he merely stands his ground, dropping one knee and raising his shield. Only a coward would run away after that. The trench of power carves through the torn and churned turf, slamming into the face of Day's shield with a resounding violence. For all that there are those who've bested the technique, it rings off of Day's shield like a bell and physically shoves him back, his muscles and body straining as he struggles to keep standing. His knee is shoved down into the dirt, digging a rut as he's forced backwards. "Ghh," he hisses through clenched teeth, bunching his shoulders beneath his armour.

Then he raises his voice to a shout - and he shoves his shield to one side.

The line of force whips into the turf to one side of him, clawing out an erratic scribble as the knight pushes back into position and immediately presses whatever advantage he can. Day shoulders the shield and takes his sword in both hands. Force crackles across it as he unleashes a blast of raw energy, white and crackling, roiling into the shape of a rearing pegasus fully twice the size of a man as he attempts to blast the fireball into Gon at full power.

Day's not far behind the shock. He lets the blast do what it will - and then he levels his shoulder and tries to drive it into Gon's sternum.

The blast was powerful - but not enough to kill. If the follow-up blow connects, it won't be enough to kill.

"I cannot give back what we took from your children. Only apologize," he says plainly. "And stop you from doing something I know a father would not do.

"Take from the children of these Ronso."

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Even with the power of Mount Gagazet in his veins, it takes Leo a few long moments to rise. Seymour is quick to capitalize, and Leo feels more than hears or sees that spine rushing at him. He starts to turn, raising his blade to block--

    Ivan saves him. Seymour's limb vanishes into the fiery portal. Leo breathes again.

    And then, someone is at his side. Through the haze of pain, the White Knight looks down and sees a familiar figure tending to his wounds. Marivel. Everything they'd done to her--and after she'd been the first to sound the alarm. "Thank you," Leo croaks, and he looks away. He can't bring himself to meet her eyes, even as she applies bandages and poultices and long-lost sorceries. The pain becomes bearable.

    "Agreed," Leo says.

    Of course, Seymour is still very much a deadly threat--and he is not one to simply sit there while his foes tend to one another. Leo sees a flash of rusty steel out of the corner of his eye, and reflex takes over. "LOOK OUT!" he shouts, to Mariel, and he rises, sweeping his blade up to block. Metal meets metal with a piercing CRUNCH. The force of the strike sends Leo skidding back. Something slides painfully in his shoulder, but he grits his teeth, and looks across the battlefield at the fallen Maester. "Is that... it?" he asks. "That's..." Leo can't find the words for a moment. When he does, his voice is soft. "...I see, now, why you tried to stop her. To break her." Yuna, of course. Who else would it be? "Because she yet holds out hope for her home, her people. And you--you would murder them, and call it mercy."

    Leo clenches his fingers, and reaches down towards the earth below. "Then we will protect our people," Leo says, to Kelk. Our people. Not 'his' people. "And buy Yuna the time she needs." He turns back to Seymour, eyes flashing. "FACE THE FURY OF THE EARTH!" Leo's voice is hoarse at the edges, but the power he calls upon works perfectly fine, regardless. The earth rumbles, as if Mount Gagazet itself were displeased with Seymour's presence--and then great spires of rock thrust up from beneath him, to impale the undead Maester from below.

GS: Day Muirwall spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Day Muirwall has attacked Gon Guado with Forcene Pegasus!
GS: Day Muirwall has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Day Muirwall has completed his action.
GS: White Knight Leo spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: White Knight Leo has attacked Seymour Guado with Grand Upheaval!
GS: White Knight Leo has gained 1 Combo!
GS: White Knight Leo has completed his action.
GS: Marivel Armitage guards a hit from Seymour Guado's Blade Lash for 130 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

"I'm flattered." Hilde replies pleasantly. She is even-tempered - even if he is mocking her, he won't get a rise out of her that easily. And Harmaus even learns a new word! "You're quite welcome."

...But, something about what Boudicca says concerns her.

"...Another. He has done this before?" Hilde asks with a frown, turning her gaze back toward Harmaus. She takes a moment to double back and ready herself, watching him carefully - but his next attack comes quick. The knife manages to fly through the air, striking her arm and finding a gap in the armor.

She stumbles back a little, but remains standing - straightening up just in time to observe Harmaus drawing something from his body.

"Ah. He has ARMs within himself, as well." She observes. That was something she hadn't expected - just what were the limits of his capabilities?

"I must admit, I hold no great love for deceit, myself... but it is not your jurisdiction to decide who or what is to be cleansed." Hilde says. She puts away her shield, then, taking up her sword in both hands. "And so, I stand against you!"

She charges Harmaus down, unleashing a powerful overhead strike - a technique designed to cleave straight through armor and natural defenses.

GS: Hilde spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Hilde has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Titan Cleaver!
GS: Hilde takes 29 damage from Poison!
GS: Shield expired!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Day Muirwall's Forcene Pegasus for 304 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Seraph Harmaus guards a hit from Hilde's Titan Cleaver for 126 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.


    "...You aren't even listening to what your master is saying." Pearl's voice is quiet, hard. There is something that angers her about someone who would consign children- their own children- to death because they don't care anymore. "Your daughters will die. And you may as well have slit their throats yourself." Why does she care, suddenly? Why does it matter to her?

    Maybe because no once cared about her.

    Gon's claws swipe down, and Pearl is the the path. She gets ready to jump, but alone she would not be fast enough. With Leviathan sweeping by to let her grab a fin, however, the two soar out of the way of the attack, the ground beneath her scarred deeply by the claws, gouges inches deep into Gagazet.

    Pearl climbs atop Leviathan's back. It isn't comfortable, but it's the safest place to battle from here. She looks down at Gon. Day's eyes sear into her, his disdain for her obvious. Fine. Let him hate her. It doesn't matter. "I would expect you to show sense. But I ask too much of you, it seems." She glares at him, as she can see the battlefield. The battlefield and the advancing army. "Leviathan. Let us wash them from these shores."

    The Aeon roars, and waters rise behind Leviathan. Rise and keep rising, until they tower over the Aeon and their rider. A true surge of water, powerful and fierce.

    "Tidal Wave."

    And it crashes for all those marching for the Ronso. And, in particular, it crashes for Gon Guado. To wash him away.

GS: Pearl has activated a Force Action!
GS: Pearl has activated a Force Action!
GS: Pearl spends 5 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Pearl has attacked Gon Guado with Overdrive: Tidal Wave!
GS: Pearl has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Pearl has completed her action.
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Pearl's Overdrive: Tidal Wave for 224 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Quick applied to Pearl!
GS: Gon Guado has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"Thank you," Mariel says. "We can talk later." He turned her down last time she offered, but maybe one day he'll take her up on it.

If Marivel wouldn't vouch for Leo, Mariel would - but Kelk doesn't know who she is, and has no reason to trust her, so she keeps her mouth shut in favour of making sure the bandage is firm for Leo.

"Suffering..."

You don't understand suffering, Mariel thinks. If Seymour understood suffering, he would not act the way he does. Her brother suffered, once upon a time, and all he had wanted to do was help. She doesn't speak of it, ever, so maybe the suffering is hers too.

She does not want to speak of it now, either. But for a moment, her eyes water, a sudden surge of melancholy passing over her. She misses him. She misses everyone, long since gone, but him most of all.

She wipes her eyes with the back of her glove. "...no," Mariel says. "Living is suffering, but it is also how we make things better. I have nothing more to say to you."

And she doesn't. Mariel darts backwards when Leo warns her - and protects her. The blade glances off, digs a furrow in front of her; it doesn't quite hit Mariel but the spray of shattered stone does, causing her to reel back and rebalance. It hurts; she feels her legs aching, though not broken.

But not enough to stop. Not even when she draws out a bundled packet which Seymour has seen before; it looks so harmless when she undoes the lace and tosses it at him in a high arc.

It is not. It scatters salt - salt treated with ritual, salt to burn away darkness and malice and - in Mariel's mind - evil. Salt that catches fire with a pure white flame as soon as it touches Seymour, burning away not only his energy but any enchantments and gathered power he's built up.

Marivel may not want to stick her fingers in. The salt doesn't ignite if it touches her, but the already-burning stuff is likely to hurt quite a bit.

GS: Mariel has attacked Seymour Guado with Purifying Salt!
GS: Quick expired!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Seymour Guado critically guards Mariel's Purifying Salt for 16 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seymour Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Seymour Guado activates Guard bonus!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from White Knight Leo's Grand Upheaval for 184 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seymour Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"I would vouch for him," Marivel says. "I stood against him because I believed in him. There's no purpose in lecturing those you have no hope for. Those raised to a path always struggle to maintain their nobility. He does his damndest." She pauses a moment as she says this, as she realizes this--what has she been doing with Seymour for all this time? She wanted to believe that the simple act of dying wasn't enough to make him embrace this reality--or the even worse idea, that someone could just come upon that way of thinking naturally. It is natural to embrace the death drive once in a while, but to this extent? That is a rare thing.

Seymour says he will embrace the simplicity. It's hard to hear.

Nevertheless, the crackling waves of darkness that smash into her while she has this revelation? She guards against it but it destroys the magical barrier she had been keeping up around her body. That, at least, is not resillient to darkness.

She exhales once as she steels herself.

"I guess," She says after a moment. "I had tried beliving that about you too. But enemies of the world..."

She remembers Kamui claiming to be as such herself. Her hand twitches faintly.

She summons a blitzball into her hand and it crackles with power as she channels that old power of Rikku's she absorbed from her machine ages ago.

She rears back with it and throws it at Seymour with all her might! Which isn't much, but luckily sorcerous power infuses the ball to help make up for that.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

While he was sputtering on poison, Ivan caught sight of Leo taking what looked to be a grievous injury. When he gets a moment to breathe, he casts a concerned glance back at Leo, finding him being tended by Mariel. It seems that she managed to mend some of his wounds from earlier. "Please do your best to stay alive!"

All life brings... is suffering!

"But you've only lived one life -- I mean -- two if you count coming back from the dead. But either way -- only your own! You can't declare everybody else's life unbearable if you don't even know--"

Seymour drives down with a cross strike of enormous katana that send an onrushing blast of power. Ivan flips up into the air, but the powerful strike still clips him, throwing off his balance and sending him sprawling into a crash landing.

"Gah..." Ivan picks himself up, shaken from the two impacts, and begins to gather crackling sparks in his hands. He releases them toward Seymour in a rush -- they float and dance for a moment, before each one detonates into a small explosion.

GS: Ivan spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Ivan has attacked Seymour Guado with Stars of Fury!
GS: Ivan takes 24 damage from Poison!
GS: Hyper expired!
GS: Ivan has completed his action.
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Ivan's Stars of Fury for 207 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Seymour Guado with This... Is Your Slam!!
GS: Hyper expired!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Marivel Armitage's attack becomes clear!
GS: Seymour Guado takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Red Power for 197 hit points!
GS: Seymour Guado has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

    "Peace? You mean like the peace you all enjoy with the Al Bhed? Or do you mean the peace that Sin left in Mi'hen?" The Wind Tiger asks, remembering keenly what that hellscape looked like. The memory of what remained in the aftermath of Obsession's wrath is never going to leave him. Even if it is the peace a father hopes for on behalf of his children, it is not a sort of 'peace' that Cyre can allow.

Not when it is built with gravestones for brick and bone-ash for mortar.

"Foreign...? We breathe the same air, we plow the same earth! Our hearts overflow with the same love, our dreams with the same hope!" The Wind Tiger answers, its voice reverberating in the very stuff of creation. "You too are all children of Filgaia. That you live on the moon is immaterial! The existence of the Clysmian of Obsession-- that thing which you call Sin-- in these seas is proof! And even if it were not..."

A wave of earthlight blue power carves into the Nahual. The manifest godhead is mighty-- far mightier than the bloody body that sustains it. Cyre growls as his wounds scream with pain, his body wracked with the exertion of sustaining the manifestation so far from Filgaia. As much as he boasts, pure physical distance is a substantial limitation, and the added stress pushes him to the breaking point. The Wind Tiger seems to come unraveled, unspooling around the clawing wave carving into its form.

But if he falls here...

...No. There is still too much at risk. He can rest when he loses consciousness. For the Ronso, for the sake of Gagazet, and simply to spite a man who has caused him no end of grief, he must perservere.

"The peace you claim to seek is just hollow stasis. I can understand wanting to hand down the world you loved to your children, but... This world has changed, Guado. It will continue to change. That's what the world does, for better or for worse." The flaying form of the Nahual seizes a mighty claw around the current of force cutting into its body. With a snarl, it squeezes tight, shattering the azure fang into so many shards of light. "If you wish to live in nostalgic comfort, nobody is stopping you. Set your sail to the breeze, and navigate to where you wish your life to lead. But..."

"Only the foolish attempt to stay the wind itself!" The Wind Tiger rears back. Its own claws extend, each one a talon of barely-constrained storm-stuff that stirs the clouds swaddling Gagazet into a frenzy. With a roar, Cyre brings the Nahual's arm in a vicious overhead blow, tornado-claws raking across the battlefield, through the lines of summoners and sundry Guado, to the one named Gon at the far end. By sheer happenstance, he strikes in the exact opposite direction to Leviathan's Tidal Wave, turning the raging sea into a violent, wrathful maelstrom.

For a moment, the scars he carves into the mountain remain still and quiet.

...Before each erupts with the howling voice and pulverizing force of a fourfold hurricane.

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Gon Guado with Gale Claw!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has launched an attack Link!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz enters the Avenger stance!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Gon Guado with Hypersonic Resonance!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz enters a Counter stance!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Hyper expired!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"You would all stand together? Such things... cannot change anything!" Seymour shouts down at Leo and Mariel alike. The way Leo parries his blow shocks him -- and then he is assailed by the spires of rock that rise up -- smashing into his strange, altered form. Chunks of stone from the altar are broken off; they fall with a clatter, before pyreflies begin to rise up from him.

Mariel's purifying salt is thrown over him. It strikes his undead, unholy flesh -- and the strange stone -- and it begins to smoke and crackle. Smoke rises off; pyreflies do the same. The salt doesn't burn through in an instant, but Seymour is silent.

Ivan charges in. "I know well enough what all life is like! I have seen where it leads--" And then sparks explode, shooting out, and shoot into him -- and through. Chitin breaks into pyreflies; flesh is holed away. They waft away from buim, as he stumbles. His eyes look down at Marivel.

"And you are not such an enemy, Marivel Armitage?"

Her blitzball flies true. It slams into his chest -- and he shouts, a cry echoing, and then he explodes apart into so many pyreflies. Seymour vanishes from sight, then. There are cries of surprise, shock, and dismay from across the Guado lines at that.

Maester Kelk lets out a breath -- and then ducks to the side, from a thrown dagger from a Guado. The battle is not over -- Ronso and Guado still battle, fiercely. Kelk looks at them, and then back at Leo. Finally, he nods to him.

"I see that... perhaps... you have grown, Leo," he says. "And perhaps you can change -- and have good people to speak for you."

"PUSH THEM BACK!" shouts Yenke Ronso, near the front lines. "Their Maester has fallen!"

GS: CRITICAL! Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Gale Claw for 242 hit points!
GS: Gon Guado has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Gon Guado takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Hypersonic Resonance for 152 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Gon Guado gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Gon Guado enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Gon Guado has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Harmaus has posed.

    The blade, despite how offhandedly he tosses it at Hilde, flies far truer than it would appear... and carries with it some faint and cruel touch of the Seraph's power.

    "Eh? It worries for that?" Harmaus shakes his head -- or rather, what currently serves as a head. The skin of the fruit wrinkles in a few key places, almost as if he were smiling. If only in passing he's aware of the cataclysmic exhibitions of power unwinding about and behind him, and yet, he barely seems to give them heed.

    Then again, given his nature.
    Given this body.

    "It needs worry not. Nothing dwells within save 'I'. Difficult, difficult, breaking in the last body. I has time for it not," he explains. "But other options has I! This vessel serves me well, yes?" Especially in a land like Spira, where he can't rely on his form's natural tendencies as readily...

    "Acceptable? It defines what is acceptable?" This seems to actually make him angry; the vessel straightens, as if animated by his sudden fury as she demands he quit this place. "I REFUSE!" howls Harmaus in rejoinder; this time the gale is upon him too quickly for him to dig his roots into the foundation of the earth; it scoops him up, tosses him about for a time in the air before returning him to the ground.

    One limb is bent at an angle and hangs loosely, bruised and leaking sap. Several broken bits of smaller tendrils similarly ooze freely. An ugly black mark colors the tomato fruit head.

    "Tcha," hisses out the Seraph, shaking his head as if to right himself.

    He rises up as Hilde is upon him, making known where she stands.

    He twists his body, taking the whole of that blade along the shoulder of his damaged arm. It, along with the arm, flops onto the ground with a stream of sap; Harmaus exhales a long breath.

    "Then... who decides? You? The Goddess?" If he had teeth in this form, he might have bared them here.

    Instead, he whirls about suddenly, pitching that long knife of his straight for Boudicca. It glimmers brilliantly, Seraphic glyphs tracing the length of its blade--

    This is not 'just' a thrown knife anymore. It's become something slightly... more.

    And for Hilde, he thrusts out his now empty 'hand' and introduces to her the dawn.

    "Behold..." hisses the Seraph, almost ethereal hues of green, violet and pink streaming out from the breaks and cracks of his vessel. What lies within that plant? Is it 'light' itself?

GS: Seraph Harmaus has activated a Force Action!
GS: You have activated the Force Action Lock On!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Seraph Boudicca with Ma Non Troppo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus enters a Counter stance!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has attacked Hilde with Coronal Third!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has completed his action.
GS: Hilde takes a solid hit from Seraph Harmaus's Coronal Third for 164 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Gon Guado has posed.

    For as long as Gon has headbutted with everyone from outside Spira, not once in his recollection has he ever had anyone to apologize to him. (There's a reason for this: because he is usually in the wrong and does not deserve such consideration for his inconsiderate nature.) He would normally be far too haughty to appreciate it - here, he may just be too far gone into his emotional spiral of despair and inflexible loyalty to someone who will surely lead his people - and all of Spira and beyond - into oblivion.

     The rearing pegasus of power blasts forth and forces Gon up to a stand for only as long as it takes for Day to follow it up and ram his armored shoulder into Gon's less armored sternum. Spittle and blood flies out of the older Guado as it glides past Day to stain the snow, crumpling Gon down to a kneel as Day reiterates his apology - to do something a father wouldn't do.

     He tries to raise his gaze to meet Day in the eyes and gauge him, but he can't get there.

     Pearl gets her part in as Gon lay vulnerable in Day's sparing mercy, shaking his head meekly at mention about how his daughters 'will' die. "No, they're--" His voice is shaky, as if uncertain but resigned to the idea they must be, that they wander Spira as vengeful and unrecognizable Fiends - but there is no sympathy to be had from a long-battered woman who has finally won herself not just a taste of freedom by her own hands, but a whole meal of it - and Leviathan heeds her will, the Tidal Wave rising up and causing the Guado Guardians about the site watching the battle to flee, picking up Gon and carrying him across a length - Pearl has her final say, and her final way with someone she's done with having as a part of her life.

     While Gon tumbles helplessly in the crashing waves through an expanse of ground that seems dramatically well suited to be a river for a short while, the Nahual scolds him about how the world will change, and keep changing - and then uses this selfsame wind to challenge the raging sea and transform it into a maelstrom. Two forces of incredible power, some of the most raw of elemental fury imaginable across sorcerous expressions of power - and a quasi-conscious Guado of debatable survival chances (it's not looking good) twirls up, up, and away. Gon is lost in the chaos, his location at that point unknown.

     The important thing is that those under Gon's command are scattering, their legendary composure under pressure when their inflexible social structures fall apart underneath them. No one was expecting this level of resistance on behalf of the Ronso people, let alone from this diverse number of origins and walks of life.

     The worlds are so deeply connected and intertwined - as are their sorrows and sins, it would seem.

     Day's men will have little issue routing their share of the battle. Pearl will yet see where her life takes her after she has achieved her goal of freeing herself of Lunn's clutches. The Nahual of Fengalon will get his pound of flesh for what Seymour unleashed upon Filgaia prior.

     But what of a Spira that will find itself without an easy answer as to what comes next, should they succeed in dealing with Sin - Obsession? To do that, however... a climb will await them.

GS: CRITICAL! Seraph Boudicca guards a hit from Seraph Harmaus's Ma Non Troppo for 130 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Boudicca gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Delay applied to Seraph Boudicca!
GS: Seraph Boudicca activates Power Burst and Sufferer!
GS: Seraph Boudicca enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Delay expired!
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    "You're wrong," Leo says. There's steel in his voice, and it wasn't there minutes ago. "It's the only way anything ever changes." The White Knight's face twists in a grim, satisfied smile as Seymour receives what he can only describe as a righteous routing. As the Unsent splits apart into his constituent Pyreflies, something occurs to him--could they Send him, now, if Pearl--

    It's already too late. As the spheres of light dart off into the distance, Leo is left staring into the distance, with only uncomfortable thoughts for company.

    Yenke's voice shakes him out of it. Leo reaches up, brushes stone-armored fingers against the base of his horn. It takes him a moment for Kelk's praise--praise, from Kelk--to register. Part of him rails against it. The rest of him feels...

    Satisfied. But there's still too much to be done. "As have you," Leo says, to Kelk. "For trusting in this wayward son." The White Knight holds out a hand, and sweeps it wide. The earth shudders, buckles, and then rises up, cresting and swelling like a rising wave. Leo can't catch the entire army--he'd need Hashmal for that--but it's enough to further destabilize the routing army.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

    Leo has... questions to ask once they're gone. Friends and allies to reconnect with. And just maybe, an ancestral home to visit for the very first time.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Boudicca has posed.

    "Anyone would, knowing you!" Boudicca accuses Harmaus, as he wonders to her worrying. He explains, and so does she, though hers is for Hilde's benefit: "When he says he 'broke the last in', he refers to -- to a human being. Harmaus once dwelt within a person." A long blink, a long breath: "That man is dead. Harmaus knew not his name."

    That man is dead...
    ... and who killed him?

    Maybe it's no wonder Boudicca would lay the blame at Harmaus's feet. The two of them aren't so different, refusing what stands before them. Harmaus, still standing.

    A little more beaten up, perhaps.

    "Yes, me," Boudicca insists. "I have looked upon your works and found them unworthy. Thus is my right, standing amongst you!" It is a terrible idea to stand in the way of that knife which is not a knife, but all a sudden in that denial she finds her courage; the wind swirls around her, and she locks her tonfa together, catching at the blade even as the force of light drives it in. A little shallower than it ought have been, maybe.

    Light bleeds from that hole in her plate armour. It is not QUITE the right smell for something so hot.

    "Go on," she snarls, in a way she entirely oughn't be able to, that knife held before her lungs. "Come out."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It's an easy thing to tell someone to simply accept change, it's another thing to have the strength to do so again and again and again. Life demands much. So much. When someone is young, it is easier to simply twist and bend in the wind, to become what can thrive in a changing world. But as the years pass, and the roots reach deep, as the sapling becomes a mighty tree, change becomes... difficult. Who wouldn't feel reservations about casting aside the comfortable and the safe in exchange for a tumultuous future? Who wouldn't fear change?

The Nahual of Fengalon may preach the words of the wind, but they are just that. The truth of 'eternal change' is one that the wind knows all too well, but it is not one so easily accepted by man, nor is it easily adhered to.

As the Guado break and rout and the Nahual watches as the elemental forces of wind and water play havoc among their forces, Cyre has free reign to take his pound of flesh.

...Instead, he allows the godhead-form to fall away, and for himself to sit back into the snow with a few bottles of Jacqueline Barber's best healing potions. "...We all need to cope with change," he says, with a little less fervor and a little more kindness, "...But you all didn't have to do it alone. Desperation, Obsession... Your 'sins' are ours, too."

Well.

Not all their sins. Cyre is pretty sure nobody he knows and likes has turned into a giant undead horror bent on the death of every living thing on two worlds.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

He's gone. Not forever, but for the moment, and maybe that's enough. And Mariel's melancholy has passed, leaving her with worries and fears that she - as usual - bottles up and keeps to herself.

Mariel tugs her gloves straight. "Don't reopen the wound," she says to Leo, though she doesn't actually expect him to listen - he has things to do, and nobody ever does. She can't really blame him; she has things to do, too, and the pain in her legs and what is proving to be a bruised ankle can't stop her.

She probably should tell Marivel where she's going, but she does not - Marivel can really guess that Mariel is heading, at top speed (with a limp, which is slower than her normal top speed) toward the Ronso back line, where the wounded are brought.

She knows where she can help. And she doesn't want to see anyone else die today.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"What did you see--?!" But there's no answer; Seymour dissolves. Given his earlier words about returning from the dead, Ivan isn't sure it's going to last, but it does give them a better chance at driving back the invading force.

Ivan brandishes his umbrella, popping open the canopy with a dome of golden light that bursts outward, throwing a knockback pulse against anyone within his reach.

<Pose Tracker> Hilde has posed.

A frown crossing Hilde's face as Harmaus speaks. She doesn't like the implications of what he says, combined with Boudicca's earlier words. It paints a rather unpleasant picture... one that Boudicca confirms for her.

"...Despicable." She mutters, shaking her head. To steal a person's will, their very body... to think a Seraph could fall so far. Her blade manages to take an arm, and Harmaus challenges her - who decides? Hilde shakes her head.

"It is not for any one person to decide - certainly not one who speaks so derisively of mortal lives. And certainly not one whose only goal is death." She says that latter with an aside glance toward Seymour before looking back toward Harmaus.

And Harmaus... Harmaus emits toward her a powerful array of light, intense and ethereal streaming from her form. Hilde grits her teeth, raising her shield to defend herself. But a shield, even one as strong and sturdy as hers, can only hold back the dawn so long. It threatens to overwhelm her, should it continue.

Hilde elects to not let it continue. She pushes forward - slowly and with not a small amount of effort at first, but as she pushes against it she gains her second wind. A blue aura suffuses her body, drawing upon her resolve to carry her forward as she picks up speed until, eventually, she aims to crash right into Harmaus shield first with all of her weight behind it.

GS: Hilde has attacked Seraph Harmaus with Dauntless Charge!
GS: Hilde takes 20 damage from Poison!
GS: Hilde has completed her action.
GS: COUNTER! Seraph Harmaus counterattacks Hilde with Counter Attack!
GS: Seraph Harmaus takes a solid hit from Hilde's Dauntless Charge for 183 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Seraph Harmaus gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Cover applied to Hilde!
GS: Charge!! You gain 55 FP!
GS: Seraph Harmaus has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: Hilde guards a hit from Seraph Harmaus's Counter Attack for 112 hit points!
GS: Hilde has Fallen! She is no longer able to fight!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl has posed.


    'Already dead.'

    Pearl finishes Gon's words in her head. It's still not an excuse.

    'I've done similar for less.'

    Her own thoughts are like a knife. She decides she doesn't want to deal with them right now. There's still a battle going on. "Leviathan. Let us harry them while we can. So that they don't return." The Aeon lets out a roar of their own, and they surge forward, Pearl still riding uncomfortably on their back.

    IUf she's in the thick of battle, they can't demand answers. They can't ask questions. She doesn't have to think. She can just do something good for once.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

And you are not such an enemy, Marivel Armitage?

Marivel can't deny it. She fully expects to die one day with a hero's blade in her. She has thought a lot about what she might say as she's undone but ultimately...

"You might not be wrong." Marivel admits wwith a sigh. The Guado let out a cry of dismay. Of shock. And she steps back as the flurry of negative emotion hits her. She doesn't consume it, but she can still feel the energies swirling about. Ashley is not here but even at a distance, even at a distance every little bit of fuel...

It is not up to Marivel Armitage to decide whether Marivel Armitage is an enemy of the world. Perhaps it will be Leo's job. Or Boudicca's, over there. She looks towards Ivan for a moment.
She nods approvingly towards his umbrella. Clearly, Ivan is a man of class but she is too shaken to tease him about it.

Who will it be, she wonders, Leo or Boudicca?

Hiro? Althena herself? Althena wouldn't be the worst choice. If Althena was Althena. Maybe even if she wasn't.

But regardless of who makes that call one day, if anyone does, it isn't going to be Marivel. She doubts it will be Seymour either.

"He'll drag his own people to oblivion if we let things go as they are. The Guado are not some vile race."

<Pose Tracker> Seymour Guado has posed.

"Yenke!" Biran Ronso bellows, as he spins about -- and sends a massive, meaty punch into Biggs Guado. The armored Guado Guardian is hurled backward, his body thrown back, and he rolls a few times. Biran looks down at him, eyes blazing. Earth, in the distance, rises up into the Guado ranks from Leo's command. Biran continues speaking to his comrade. "We seem to be holding!"

"We are not small and weak... we are like Kimahri!" Yenke Ronso answers, before he whips out a throwing axe. He throws it -- and the weapon goes spinning through the air, only to strike into (and brutally split) the head of another Guado Guardian, who drops.

The Guado, indeed, are faltering. They start to back away -- Gon's fall, perhaps, breaking their spirit more than the monstrous Seymour's fate -- and move back towards the valley near the entrance to Mount Gagazet. They hold, though -- and a trio hold their hands up, a fiend summoning. Pyreflies swirl, and take form: forming the thick muscle, the fierce black mane, and the terrible open maw of a behemoth. It roars, shaking the whole valley.

"By Yevon..." Kelk whispers. "That--"

"Look!" Yenke shouts. "More of them come! More otherworlders!"

He points -- and they can be seen. A line of charging cavalry, mounted atop destriers not unlike the ones that Day rode into battle. They come rushing in, and a fighter breaks from their lead: Georg Heldalf, wearing black steel plate and red coat, which flaps after him. His halberd is swung free, as he charges forward. He cries out, loudly:

"ROLANCE!"

And then he swings his weapon. It plunges into the Behemoth -- drags along as he charges along it -- and then, with a cry, a blast of golden light explodes out. It tears out, forming the head of a lion, and the fiend explodes into so many pyreflies. Heldalf rushes ahead, with a stern look on his face on his face. "Today, we break the back of the Guado! We break the backs of the traitors!"

And, indeed, they come.

A line of soldiers charges after him. They each have greatbows, and each have an arrow nocked. As one, with a cry, they raise them. As they run, their horses bounce -- and there's a flash view of something blue. Then, the arrows loose. They fly up, over the Guado.

And then down towards the Ronso.

Biran cries out in sharp surprise, shoving Maester Kelk back -- and then three arrows strike him. Two in the chest; a third in the neck, buried deep. Red blood spills out, his mouth working. The arrow has blue-dyed feathers fletched into it.

Hyland blue.

As do all the arrows, on a field of fallen Ronso. Yenke turns from Biran, as his friend chokes on his own blood, and looks back at them -- and roars with anguish and sorrow, wordlessly.

One of the Rolance soldiers -- and then another, and another -- tosses something down onto the valley's ground. Corpses, clad in Hyland blue.

Heldalf looks at Leo. His expression is empty -- and grim. "Leo... after our failure. After the losses we have suffered. After we were broken. We must be reforged."

Biran's corpse crumples forward, in a heap.

"Sacrifices must fuel the fire of that forge."

    TO BE CONTINUED.