2023-12-16: The Broken Seal

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<Pose Tracker> Metatron has posed.

The Sorcery Globe spins and turns before the broken seal.

It is a sphere of glowing, golden light, with countless Symbols and geometric shapes spinning constantly all around it. It is power itself, to behold. It is the thing that crashed upon the planet almost seven years ago. The thing that broke the Elw teleporter networks; that began to weaken the divisions between Lunar and Filgaia, bringing others here in a flash; the source of Vinsfeld Rhadamanthus's great power to control the world itself. Now, it is here, having broken yet again.

It is drawing power from the broken seal. Strands of blue-white light are beig pulled into it, overseen by the shadowy forms of ten figures around it. When they touch the Sorcery Globe, they fill in sections; new Symbols flash to life, new geometric shapes appear and orbit about it. This seal's breaking was not an accident, but deliberate, if in a rather utilitarian fashion: they needed a power source.

Regardless of what it unleashed.

The power of Innominat's Domain can be felt in an instant. It is a wave of something like calm, but only in the way a candle's warmth is like stepping into a house fire. A feeling of utter emptiness and hollowness. Those with strong wills break it off, but it expands outward and overwhelms.

On the rocket, in the middle of an argument, Roll and Tron suddenly stop debating -- and they turn from each other. Eyes dull, they begin to quietly make the adjustments to the damaged pieces of the rocket from its reentry.

It begins to spread further and further from Marduk.

It does not affect the shadowy outlines of ten figures standing there. They do not sway; they do not bend; they certainly do not break. They stand tall in the face of those who come, and then three step out from the glow of the Sorcery Globe -- and the glow of blue from the shattered room just beyond it. One of them has light gleaming across his metallic form. It looks like armor at first glance, but it becomes clear it is cybernetics.

It covers his head, nearly all of his face save nose and mouth. His eyes are hidden by -- or perhaps are -- a visor, gleaming with red light. A tabard of red falls down, like a knight might wear, though far more advanced. He carries blade and shield both. Metatron, one of the Ten Wise Men; one of the ones who took the Sorcery Globe from Kattelox. Now, he steps forward to steal his stolen prize, and not alone.

"Bold of you!" he says. "To come all the way here. No matter -- I suppose it gives you the right to see the end of things. Energy Nede is near. And the Sorcery Globe has given us what we need to break our fellows out of the Eternity Space."

He draws his blade; the edges gleam with an emitted golden light. Then, he swings it forward -- and there is a massive shockwave of green light that explodes off his blade, and comes crashing out for Link, Lan, Ethius, Mariel, Rley, and Xander.

"It won't make a difference."

Then, he raises his great shield. Symbols dance and flare across it, and across his body, given him a golden light. "COME!"

GS: Metatron has attacked Link with Burst Beam!
GS: Metatron has attacked Lan Lilac with Burst Beam!
GS: Metatron has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Burst Beam!
GS: Metatron has attacked Mariel with Burst Beam!
GS: Metatron has attacked Riley Arwell with Burst Beam!
GS: Metatron has attacked Xander Lovell with Burst Beam!
GS: Metatron has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Zaphkiel has posed.

    "N--no way!" That's Magilou's voice, as the jester-witch and her party enter Marduk's core in time to witness, "Rokurou!!" She has no more time...

    ... so she turns, and lays a quick kiss upon Margaret, and says: "He's exposed -- Innominat. I've got to go. If I don't help her, it's over." That's all the explanation they're getting -- markedly truncated, especially for everyone who didn't hear her explain the situation -- before she spins on a heel. Magilou leaps upon her shikigami paper doll, and starts surfing through the air towards the gash in that Class 9 Entity containment field. That it is treacherously close to the Sorcery Globe -- and the Ten figures before it -- doesn't seem to factor into her calculus at all.

    Magilou and Rokurou are best friends, after all. They're prone to the same stupid decisions, sometimes. More often, perhaps, than either of them would admit.

    "VELVET!" Magilou screams, in her approach: "HOLD ON!"


    "Consider me impressed," remarks one of the Ten Wise Men, his massive sword resting over his shoulder. "Your kind hasn't achieved spaceflight yet... right?" He glances towards one of the other nine, a wizened man whose head is studded with eyes. "Even if you borrowed from your predecessors... Heh. That's no small thing."

    Zaphkiel will be a familiar face to those who had encountered him in Kattelox. Compared to the likes of Jophiel and Metatron, he cuts an almost mundane figure: without any sign of significant mechanical enhancements or equipment he could be easily confused with the likes of some Drifters.

    Nearly, anyway. The Symbols tattooed across the left side of his chest and down his left arm begin to shine with an inner light. Zaphkiel narrows his pupil-less white eyes and bares his sharp teeth in a wicked grin.

    There's something familiar with how the Domain tugs at the edges of his awareness that is reminiscent of the prison in which they'd been held for an age; there is something exciting and invigoratingly real about a battle with such a threat looming in the background.

    "I want to see how far you go this time!" Zaphkiel declares, swinging the sword off his shoulder in one easy arc. "Let's see how you handle this!"

    He doesn't give his opponents room to breathe, rushing for them in an eyeblink. A sword that massive shouldn't be able to cut through the air so quickly, and yet it still does: Zaphkiel intrudes upon them as if following some secret order only he knows and he greets each with the edge of his blade.

    He turns his head suddenly, breaking his own tempo. A figure sails past him, sailing on a shikigami paper doll.

    Zaphkiel leaps after Magilou in the following heartbeat. "Where do you think you're going--?" he shouts, his blade leading the way like a battering ram.

<Pose Tracker> Jophiel has posed.

    Jophiel is here too.


    The Wise Man -- dressed in a form-fitting bodysuit sea-green and light blue in colour, with a cowl over his head with golden goggles covering his eyes -- is slightly hunched over, floating a few feet above the air. A snarl cracks his lips open, and then--

    "HA HA... SO YOU MADE IT..."

    He draws both his arms to his chest, splaying his fingers to each side where they glow with vicious energy.


    The sensation of Innominat's Domain threatens to draw him back; back into that abominable emotional space of nothingness. The nothingness he felt for the eternity that they were trapped in, in the Memory Maze. He rebels against it -- drawing a finger and dragging it across his palm, drawing blood. A self-inflicted wound, all to just remind himself of what is precious.


    The mechanical Wise Man hovers forward, his mouth now crooked into an obsessive grin. The Long-Ranged Suppression Weapon wastes no time in acquiring his targets -- Rena, Claude, Dias, Hannah, Shalune, Jacqueline -- and thrusting his hands out, letting a barrage of homing lasers criss-cross at ninety degrees about the room of the seal, seeking to cross past their defences and land solid hits beyond.


GS: Zaphkiel has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Sword Dance!
GS: Zaphkiel has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Sword Dance!
GS: Zaphkiel has attacked Margaret with Sword Dance!
GS: Zaphkiel has attacked Xantia with Sword Dance!
GS: Zaphkiel has attacked Billy Lee Black with Sword Dance!
GS: Zaphkiel has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Zaphkiel has attacked Magilou with Piercing Fang!
GS: Zaphkiel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jophiel has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Magilou suffers a terrible blow from Zaphkiel's Piercing Fang for 228 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Zaphkiel!
GS: Jophiel has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes a solid hit from Zaphkiel's Sword Dance for 192 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Zaphkiel!
GS: Link solidly guards Metatron's Burst Beam for 66 hit points!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Rena Lanford with HOMING LASER!
GS: Jophiel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jophiel's stances have changed to Sage!
GS: Jophiel spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Claude C. Kenny with HOMING LASER!
GS: Jophiel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jophiel's stances have changed from Sage to Sage!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Dias Flac with HOMING LASER!
GS: Jophiel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jophiel's stances have changed from Sage to Sage!
GS: Jophiel has completed its action.
GS: COUNTER! Rena Lanford counterattacks Jophiel with Counter Attack!
GS: CRITICAL! Rena Lanford partially guards Jophiel's HOMING LASER for 173 hit points!
GS: Jophiel has activated Force Action: Extend!
<Pose Tracker> Magilou has posed.

    If the Sorcery Globe drains Innominat's prison --

    A thousand years of toil, all to nothing.

    No. "Velvet!" Magilou cries, as she weaves past the assault of the Ten Wise Men on her elongated paper doll, not aiming for them in the slightest. Her path leads to -- "VELVET!"

    She doesn't think to answer Zaphkiel -- and it's this single-minded pursual which spells her downfall. Because he isn't only asking, with his words alone.

    "Magilou!" Rokurou Rangetsu cries, where he's fallen -- he was the first person here to fight this, and it shows. He is a Yaksha Hellion, marked with tattoo-like markings half-hidden by his scruffy black hair and sunset-hued robes; he leans on his twin shortblades, as he struggles and fails to rise. "Behind you!-- rrrgh, damn it!!"

    Rokurou swears, because his warning isn't quick enough to match Zaphkiel's speed. Before Magilou can think of turning, or swerving, or reacting in the slightest -- Zaphkiel's greatsword catches her squarely across her back, and the only mercy is that it batters her to the ground rather than being angled to bisect her in half.

    (Zaphkiel could, you know. And perhaps he will, given a few more moments.)

    "Ahhh--!!" Magilou cries, as her paper doll flutters down beside her; she hits the ground with all the fury of a Phantom Train taking lost souls to the next world, and next to a force like that, her body is tiny. One might expect her to bounce -- but she doesn't.

    No: she is left in a crater.

    "... nnnnh..." Magilou groans, and she may not be split in two but she tastes blood, spits it from her mouth as she tries to force her muscles to respond. She trembles, as she grasps at the broken ground around her -- but much like Rokurou, she struggles and fails to rise. "uh," she gasps, sotto voce, as she collapses back down onto her belly.

    All she can do is reach, bleary-eyed, for the gash in the seal. Her fingers frame Innominat's Domain, as it leaks into the world, that same flatness of emotion which she's shown to her fellow Drifters in vulnerable moments. ... but it's not her father's success story which the failure is reaching out for, now.

    "... Vel... vet..."

GS: COUNTER! Claude C. Kenny counterattacks Jophiel with Meteor Palm!
GS: Claude C. Kenny suffers a terrible blow from Jophiel's HOMING LASER for 191 hit points!
GS: Blind and Drowsy applied to Claude C. Kenny!
GS: CRITICAL! Jophiel solidly guards Rena Lanford's Crush for 94 hit points!
GS: Jophiel solidly guards Claude C. Kenny's Meteor Palm for 64 hit points!
GS: Jophiel spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Hannah Curie with HOMING LASER!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Shalune Amira with HOMING LASER!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Jacqueline Barber with HOMING LASER!
GS: Jophiel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jophiel's stances have changed from Sage to Sage!
GS: Jophiel has completed its action.
GS: Magilou has attacked Zaphkiel with The Line Between Persistence And Affection!
GS: Magilou has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Magilou takes 41 damage from Poison!
GS: Magilou has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Margaret takes a glancing hit from Zaphkiel's Sword Dance for 101 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated Force Action: Guard!
GS: CRITICAL! Jacqueline Barber solidly guards Jophiel's HOMING LASER for 112 hit points!
GS: Drowsy applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Blind blocked!
GS: Ethius Hesiod solidly guards Metatron's Burst Beam for 67 hit points!
GS: FP up! Countermeasures activated!
GS: Xantia partially guards Zaphkiel's Sword Dance for 128 hit points!
GS: FP up! Power Burst activated!
GS: Zaphkiel partially guards Magilou's The Line Between Persistence And Affection for 0 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey partially guards Zaphkiel's Sword Dance for 123 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Zaphkiel!
GS: FP up! Power Burst activated!
GS: Xander Lovell used Defend! He takes Metatron's Burst Beam attack on Riley Arwell on himself!
GS: Lan Lilac takes a glancing hit from Metatron's Burst Beam for 47 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: Xander Lovell takes a solid hit from Metatron's Burst Beam for 134 hit points!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus and Sufferer activated!
GS: Xander Lovell has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Xander Lovell solidly guards Metatron's Burst Beam for 59 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Sufferer activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Dias Flac takes a glancing hit from Jophiel's HOMING LASER for 102 hit points!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Billy Lee Black suffers a terrible blow from Zaphkiel's Sword Dance for 265 hit points!
GS: Mariel solidly guards Metatron's Burst Beam for 61 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Metatron spends 5 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Metatron has attacked Grace Harvey with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has canceled their attack on Grace Harvey.
GS: Metatron has attacked Grace Harvey with Burst Beam!
GS: Metatron has gained 1 Combo!
GS: CRITICAL! Grace Harvey takes a glancing hit from Metatron's Burst Beam for 95 hit points!
GS: FP up! Countermeasures activated!
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

Magilou turns and kisses Margaret, who is not surprised, exactly, or at least, not shocked. But after that story, and after what she shouted. It troubles Margaret, even if the wave of strange and profound calm washes over her. Margaret reaches up with her numbed and braced hand to touch her lips.

And then everything else goes to shit on a fast train, as Margaret sees that man with a big sword shout and leap with blinding speed towards Magilou. While Magilou is not instantly rent in twain, this starts the action potentials in Margaret's soul that push through that soothing Domain-slop. She has enough in her to leap back from the sword blow, and so it strikes against her hip -- which has some armoring on it, or, well, HAD armoring on it -- with a CLANG and she lands and then --

Why, Margaret thinks.

Her brow knits. Why --

And then it reaches her brain. WHY AM I NOT USING STARLIGHT EXPRESS RIGHT THIS GODDESS-DAMNED MOMENT? Margaret shouts to Margaret in the place where Margaret cannot escape Margaret; a moment later the spell blooms around her, and she does not hesitate one second.

Leap forwards. The ring on her finger lets he streak through the air. The Celesti saber in her hand is immediately lunged forwards in several shallow cuts, aiming towards Zaphkiel's right arm -- statistically (not that Margaret would think of it this way) the one he probably depends on most.

"Get away from her," Margaret says -- but it's halfway to a shout.

"I can tell you where YOU are going," Margaret continues: "Into the ground!" The stabs and slices conclude with an attempt to stomp on Zaphkiel's back -- to leverage the air-dash's momentum to put him on the ground, where, presumably, she can proceed with some dynastic butchery. If he cooperates (signs point to no)

GS: Hannah Curie solidly guards Jophiel's HOMING LASER for 125 hit points!
GS: Blind applied to Hannah Curie!
GS: Drowsy blocked!
GS: Margaret has attacked Zaphkiel with Coiling Impale!
GS: Margaret has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Margaret takes 35 damage from Poison!
GS: Margaret has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

In the massive, dome-shaped room, Claude is a small figure, made smaller by the strange, glowing mist. As it expands, he watches--and there, a golden sphere...

He recognizes it. Just as he doesn't recognize--

"!?" Claude takes an immediate step towards Rokurou as he's blasted away, his instinct to help him even as he feels his emotions fading, his mind sharpening to a point. He sees the Symbols, though he could not identify what they are individually. That emptiness, hollowness continues to flood through him, and he feels dull. It spreads, and spreads, as all ten appear...

And then, with a shout, he breaks free, "Don't think we'll just let you do what you want!"

Metatron. His first meeting. 'The right to see the end of things', is it? Energy Nede, what is it? "We'll see about that!" Claude says to making a difference, even as he looks to Jophiel, and his strange look--and then Zaphkiel. Zaphkiel, who calls them 'impressive'--and strikes. "What's... what's with this guy?" Claude asks of Jophiel.

Because it's Jophiel who attacks Claude first. Homing lasers crash towards him, and Claude steadies his stance. As they criss cross towards him, he takes a quick breath, remembering the techniques taught to him by his mother--

"Meteor... PALM!"

Claude attempts to parry blasts with a powerful palm strike, sending a shockwave of energy back to Jophiel. Even as he does, he's hit hard by those lasers, stumbling back, dazed and dizzy. both.

He has no time to worry over Magilou, but Kaguya and Eleanor both do, shouting in concert, "MAGILOU!" But in short order they are very busy fighting monsters that were summoned into place. And Claude...

Claude steps back up again, righting himself. "I don't know what your deal is, and I don't care about how much you like 'pain'. We're going to beat you--all of you!"

Claude draws his sword, and it glows with inner power, green and brilliant. "AIR...!" He lifts it up--and swings for Jophiel from a distance, diagonally up. Blades of wind crash along the ground towards Jophiel! "SLASH!"

Huff. "Come on, everyone! Let's show them what we can do!"

GS: Formation! Claude C. Kenny has attacked Jophiel with Air Slash!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Claude C. Kenny's stances have changed to Avenger!
GS: Claude C. Kenny gains 10 FP from his Daredevil!
GS: Claude C. Kenny takes 33 damage from Poison!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Shalune Amira partially guards Jophiel's HOMING LASER for 195 hit points!
GS: Drowsy applied to Shalune Amira!
GS: Blind blocked!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The journey through Marduk is fraught, and what Ethius saw close to the core of it is enough to get the masterful Symbologist within him (that is him) to struggle with the idea of what all is truly possible with Symbols, and in that, an opening.
     The Domain is overpowering, weight against a tired body, fog against a taxed mind. This scatters him from some of those he traveled the New Moon with. He has a hard time drawing in breath, and even the shine of lights among the gathered is a bit much. He shuts his eyes from strain as Metatron taunts (they all do, but Metatron stands out a bit more specifically for some reason).
     There is a yell as Ethius slams the butt of his quarterstaff down around the time the shockwave of green light crashes towards him. His timing is nearly perfect to just dispersing the energy's force then and there. 'Nearly' means 'enough to almost pulverize his shins and see him drag his knees against the ground.'
     'It won't make a difference.'
     "...You're wrong." Ethius can't speak too loudly. The Domain's suppression is not something one can just go 'you're wrong' with and carry on, alone, as he rises unsteadily. After all, no less than fourteen or so Drifters scaled Mount Liverfeast about a year ago to put a stop to a horrible thing that he couldn't have solved alone.
     He draws a vial of Gooey Stuff, chews off the cork, and gets it in his mouth. It's foul, the texture is... as the name implies, but it's a sensory thing to help keep what focus he can as he rises. Further pithy commentary is lost to the need to channel what strength he can to Symbological spellcasting. Wavering fingers and murmured, slurred syllables later...
     Watching Magilou get cratered like that is stomach-churning, but he doesn't flinch or waver further before it as he completes the spellcasting ritual to the spell's name -
     "...Overheat...!" He narrows his eyes towards the position of Classic Ethius Stare, as he raises the temperatures around Metatron's position to more dangerous highs.

GS: Regen added to Ethius Hesiod!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated Force Action: Boost!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Metatron with Overheat!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod gains 34 THP from Regen!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: COUNTER! Metatron counterattacks Ethius Hesiod with Meta-Burst!
GS: CRITICAL! Metatron solidly guards Ethius Hesiod's Overheat for 73 hit points!
GS: Weaken applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: COUNTER! Zaphkiel counterattacks Margaret with Quickstep!
GS: Zaphkiel suffers a terrible blow from Margaret's Coiling Impale for 143 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison applied to Zaphkiel!
GS: Mighty applied to Margaret!
<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

The weight of oppression, of history bears down upon Rena as she enters this room. There is a warning, she does not see it, she instead feels it. In the unfamiliar man who screams and tells them to leave, who is hurtled against the wall.

Rena feels fear, and feels this place trying to smother it out of her at the same time, leaving her with a gnawing emptiness.

There it is, the source of so much destruction. The object of their investigation. The immensity of its power wars with that fear, that oppression.

As Ten Shadowy Figures appear.

It is so much, so overwhelming. When she left Arlia in search of her origins, was she expecting something like this? Was Claude? Is this a burden she placed on him by declaring him the Hero of Light? Was Dias? His search for strength began with bandits inflicting terrible tragedy on him - them.

Who could have strength enough to face this? Who?

But despite it all, they're with her, and that's the greatest balm to that emptiness.

Metatron speaks of their boldness to come here, speaks of the uselessness of their efforts. Zaphkiel compliments them with a condescension. Jophiel shouts his exultation at the thrill of battle, with a sadism and masochism that makes Rena blanch at the implications. Rena had been told of their strength, told how they declared they were going to rule the universe.

"Who...are you people anyway?"

Rena asks, overwhelmed by Innominat's domain and the feelings it tries to quell within her unable to comprehend the magnitude of everything that's even going on. She certainly doesn't mean their title of the 'Ten Wise Men.'

"You just wanted to use the Sorcery Globe to... free your allies? But then, you're going to try to conquer the universe, aren't you? Why do you even want to do something like that?"

The journey here was hard, the fact that the pendant she was found with is no longer tucked into her dress doesn't even register to her. Its construction is simplicity itself, a gold circle, housing a green crystal within.

That it gleams strangely in the light of the Sorcery Globe, doesn't even register to her right now, in the overwhelming sensory overload that is this chamber.

And as Jophiel thrusts his hands out into a barrage of homing lasers, Rena rushes into it, fists at the fore. The lasers fly about, striking her even as symbological runes appear, mitigating the damage only somewhat.

They still burn.


Above Jophiel, a Perfectly Spherical boulder appears from a portal of runes, and simply drops, the fundamental force of gravity doing the rest.

"Claude's... right! There's no way we're going to surrender just because you think you hold all the cards!"

Sweeping her leg back into a fighting stance, she feints by more symbological energy immediately rising around her in circles, as she shouts, "Guard! Haste!" Two spells casting in rapid succession around...

... Dias Flac, as protective barriers form around him, the symbological spells quickening his feet and sword arm, to try and ward off the power of this place.

"Dias! I know you don't go all out often but--!"

Maybe he doesn't trust himself to protect anyone, but she's never had anything but full faith in him.

GS: Rena Lanford has attacked Dias Flac with Guard! Haste!!
GS: Rena Lanford has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Rena Lanford takes 39 damage from Poison!
GS: Rena Lanford has completed her action.
GS: Dias Flac accepts Rena Lanford's Guard! Haste! for 0 hit points!
GS: Blitz, Burst, Quick, and Shield applied to Dias Flac!
GS: Ethius Hesiod suffers a terrible blow from Metatron's Meta-Burst for 134 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel - and the rest of her group - rushes in to Marduk's core, which has already been breached. She slows as she sees the Sorcery Globe, then picks up the pace again when she sees Rokurou go flying. "Please hold on!" she calls, even though she can tell he's a Hellion, that itch at the back of her mind.

But then t the power of the Domain washes over Mariel, she freezes for a moment. It isn't like a Malevolent Domain. She's experienced those, and while she never got used to them she can at least recognize the way they feel. They're hateful, hurtful distortions.

This is something else.

Mariel wobbles on her feet, reaching out and gripping the wall as the sensation of the Domain surrounds her. "It's..." Mariel trails off. "It feels still - so still it's sterile..." Not even dead. The cycle of life includes the dying and the dead; it is a *cycle*, always turning. This is different. This feels unmoving, unchanging, unceasing.

It is opposed to life. It hurts, that way, even if you don't feel it; the numbness of a missing limb, the emptiness of something that *should be* but *isn't*.

She hates it.

Mariel pushes herself away from the wall as the Wise Men - the three in front and seven behind - resolve in her vision. It's a wobbly step, the effort of hundreds, but she makes it, and then a second.

The shockwave slams into her, bowling her over - but still she rises from it, pushing herself up even slower than her last step. "Do you care?" Mariel asks, suddenly, of Metatron. "Do you care about anyone or anything, except perhaps yourself? Or are you so old that you cannot even do that - that nothing else matters anymore..."

Mariel pulls out something small from her satchel, hands clasped around it. A small, white flower. Whether or not Metatron cares, or any of the Wise Men do, *she* does, and she channels that care and that love, pushing outward -

It doesn't remove the Domain. The Domain is still there. But it might give some of those closest the power to help resist it, including herself; she has brought her own energy in sync with Filgaia's, a tiny beacon of home so far away. It's something she did, once, when encountering the Clysmian of Desperation, but she's improved since then; the beacon is stronger, the sense of 'home' more powerful.

She hasn't forgotten about Rokurou - or Magilou, for that matter, having been thrown that way - but she can't do anything for them until she does this.

GS: Mariel has attacked Mariel with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Lan Lilac with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Riley Arwell with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has attacked Xander Lovell with Small Flower!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel takes 29 damage from Poison!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Xander Lovell accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! break, Cripple, and Mute removed!
GS: Pray grants a random effect! Burst and Lock state applied to Xander Lovell!
GS: FP up! Sufferer activated!
<Pose Tracker> Link has posed.

    Following so many others, a small boy in a green tunic with sword and shield stumbles once more into the middle of things he probably shouldn't be in but when you're a hero what can you do? The massive dome structure is big enough to those twice the height of Link, making it even bigger for him. The god ang strange things here don't help at all either. Then, from ahead a beam bursts out of the fog along with Metatron and link hurried shifts his Hyrulian shield in front of him taking the blow solidly on it knocking his light from back but still standing.
    "Hey... I remember you! It's not nice to attack others like that!" as he reaches not for his sword but something on his belt as he moves in, Ethius's attack striking Metatron ahead of Claude's flying slash as Link tries to get closer. Metatron's sudden counter at Claude makes it a bit easier as the boy suddenly spins and throws a grappling hook right at Metatron trying to tangle up his shield!

GS: Link has attacked Metatron with Grappling Hook!
GS: Link has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Link's stances have changed from Counter to Counter and Hero!
GS: Link takes 37 damage from Poison!
GS: Link has completed his action.
GS: Mariel accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, and Jam removed!
GS: Pray grants a random effect! Burst and Lock state applied to Mariel!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Metatron solidly guards Link's Grappling Hook for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Metatron gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Disrupt and Shieldbreak applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Power Burst activated!
<Pose Tracker> Dias Flac has posed.

    Claude takes a step towards Rokurou. Dias doesn't. He doesn't know the man; beyond that he has a powerful aura, his presence here is meaningless to him. But he does heed his warning and bores a stare at the breached seal and the Sorcery Globe. The wave of Innominat's domain slams into him like a tidal wave--but Dias bears up under it.
    He's used to feeling hollow. It isn't going to stop him from fighting.
    It does slow him down for a second or two, though, long enough for the shadows of the Ten Wise Men to appear. Three of them step forward. Dias notes what they say, but responds to none of it aloud. A fight's a fight, regardless of whatever clashing ideologies are involved.
    His eyes track towards Zaphkiel, and he starts to move his way--but he chases a mage (a jester?), and Jophiel opens fire on him and several others, including Rena and Claude, with a series of homing lasers. Dias drops in a sideways roll, which allows him to avoid the worst of it--but it is a *homing* laser, and it's difficult, maybe impossible, to avoid it entirely.
    The brilliant light sears against his cloak, and he bares his teeth in a snarl as he grunts in pain. He'd have preferred the swordsman as an opponent, but Dias isn't going to ignore a fight from someone who's picking it with him. A lot of people express concern for Magilou; Dias leaves her to one of them. His main concern is the amount of force these so-called Wise Men are already displaying.
    Fortunately or unfortunately, Rena's magic solidifies around him, forming protective shields around him and strengthening his sword arm. "Hmph. Worry about yourself first," he tells her curtly without looking back at her. Despite his cold demeanor, though, he's not ungrateful; it's just that he'd rather she protect herself. In a flash, he draws his blade, gathering up light blue energy around the edge that he unleashes in a wave that travels in a straight line towards the mechanical Wise Man.
    "Air Slash!" he snarls almost in unison with Claude, *completely by coincidence*. If he thinks anything about that, he doesn't express it in the moment. And the next moment, he's sheathed his blade anew and is racing towards Jophiel in his attack's shadow.

GS: Blitz! Dias Flac has attacked Jophiel with Far Air Slash!
GS: Dias Flac has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Dias Flac's stances have changed to Stoic!
GS: Dias Flac gains 25 THP from his Cautious!
GS: Dias Flac takes 24 damage from Poison!
GS: Dias Flac has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The first thing Ida thinks, as she looks across the chamber and sees that breach in the seal: Are they too late?

    The Domain washes over her, a steady undercurrent of numbness. "A Domain," she says, turning back to Jay and Shalune--the two others who came with her, who made it through the blockade of... things. "Those..." Ida takes a few quick breaths, deliberately trying to make herself hyperventilate, to stimulate the fear response the Domain is trying to smother. "Those fools, what have they done?!"

    Ida steps forward, light gleaming on her battered blue-and-black combat armor. The hem of her armored duster blows in the pressure washing out from the Sorcery Globe. "Survive!" Ida shouts, to the others, as she charges the Globe--the Wise Men's line of defense. "WE HAVE TO STOP THIS!" She has no idea how.

    Zaphkiel comes at her from the side, his swordsmanship flawless. Ida snaps up her forearm, exoskeleton flowing and unfolding into a multi-petaled buckler behind her wrist. She settles her weight behind it.

    Zaphkiel's blade shatters it in a single blow. Pain shoots up Ida's arm as the strike wrenches it back, cuts into her flesh. Two-tone blood coats Zaphkiel's sword as she staggers back, shards of Hyadean biometal clattering to the floor. She looks up, fresh terror in her eyes as she sees--

    "MAGILOU!" she shrieks, her heart lurching in he chest. If they did that to Magilou, then how can the rest of them...

    Ida bites the inside of her cheek, settles into a wide, open-palmed stance, and starts circling the swordsman. The Domain keeps hammering against her psyche, but for now, she's able to stalemate it as she engages him; her hands weave into a ceaseless, probing offense of palm-strikes, knife-hands, and punches. Ida circles Zaphkiel again and again, quick and efficient, testing his guard, keeping him busy.

    Giving Magilou the chance to recover, hopefully, and do something.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Zaphkiel with Water Dragon Form!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey's stances have changed to Stoic!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes 29 damage from Poison!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Grace Harvey has posed.

    Piloting the rocket to Marduk had been difficult enough- even for a pilot of Grace's calibur.

    Getting through Marduk, too, had been intensely difficult, working with abunch of unknowns and also Ethius who is practically an unknown in many ways.

    And now, the feeling of a domain being opened is new to Grace, and it's... kind of terrifying. A feeling of profound emptiness being forced on her. A weight. "What's... going on?" Her voice trembles a little-

    Only to see the Wise Men ahead of them. Bold of them, is it? "Eternity space? What the heck are you-"

    And then shockwave flies at them, and Grace tries to leap out of the way- but not fast enough, and the leap turns into a tumble as she rolls across the ground, even that glancing impact enough to send her flying.

    Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe she should have just stayed on Filgaia. Maybe Momma was right. Whatever the hell this guy is, he's leagues beyond anything other than the woman who destroyed her ship. Maybe leagues beyond her as well.


    "Miss Magilou!?" She stares, as Magilou makes a desperate rush- and ends up suffering for it.

    Grace forces herself to her feet, despite that horrible, oppressive domain, reaching for the two boxes at her hip as they reconfigure into a pair of pistol like objects to grab, then reconfigure again into something more like a rifle, sights made of light emitting from the body of the gun.

    This is stupid. Suicidal even.

    But they'll just die if they don't fight, right? There's no running away now.

    "I didn't come all this way to die here, got it!? I've got a return flight to do, and I'm doing it!"

    Her voice doesn't sound confident of that. Not remotely. But even still, she fires a single bolt of green energy at Metatron, an act of perhaps pointless defiance.

GS: Grace Harvey has attacked Metatron with One Perfect Shot!
GS: Grace Harvey has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Grace Harvey takes 34 damage from Poison!
GS: Grace Harvey has completed her action.
GS: Metatron takes a solid hit from Grace Harvey's One Perfect Shot for 149 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Grace Harvey!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    The Sorcery Globe has always been a bit weird as far as Shalune is concerned. Sure, it was stuck up in Elru, which is a pretty foreboding place for anything to appear in. And group after group desperately wanted its power for themselves. But she was never really clear on what that power was, exactly. It was just kinda taken for granted that it must be powerful because it was the Sorcery Globe.

    Now she looks up at it; it hangs in the air above them and spins faster and faster, increasingly covered with the glowing light of symbological patterns that Shalune couldn't even begin to decipher if she even wanted to. She's not smart enough for it. She's just a mechanic who can't even fight that well, just here to make up the numbers with determination and a stubborn desire to stay standing. That's all she has, and very little else.

    She's only here because everyone else was going. The fear she felt on that rocket as it jostled and rumbled in its ascent, as she traversed that glass tunnel a hair breadth's away from the emptiness of space, that was sensible and right. She should really have just gone back and stayed in the Thames, quietly fixing things day after day after day after day after day after--

    --something in her pocket clinks, the sound of stone against ancient metal, and Shalune blinks.

    She wouldn't really describe herself as being strong-minded. Shalune's dirty little (extremely open) secret is that she can fall into self-doubt pretty easily when she gives herself time to really think. It's gotten better over the years, but the thought patterns are terribly familiar. But there truly is a core of stubbornness in her heart that's shown itself time and time again, and now that she can feel the expansion of the Domain like a crushing weight around her, she grits her teeth as she struggles up to her feet.

    Shalune focuses in on Jophiel as she pulls herself up, and for good reason. She won't readily forget that enraged and euphoric rage that marked the end of their battle, that-- lust for sensation. But maybe that euphoria - so different from the calm and casual dismissal the rest of the Wise Men show - is something they can use and exploit.

    ... that's it, that's the whole reason. She'll take any straw she can grasp right now, okay?

    Her body still feels leaden, like her limbs don't really want to behave; she can muster enough energy to throw herself to one side as the barrage of lasers fire forwards, but the word 'homing' is not lost on her. The moment she hits the deck she's curled into a protective ball, flicking a switch on the shaft of her shotstaff as a miniature hexagonal barrier forms in front of her. It's nothing more than a prototype, running on the dregs of a battery she just replaced and burnt out in seconds, but it's something.

    Claude and Rena encourage them onwards, and she heaves herself back to her feet for the second time in what feels like as many seconds, wincing as she feels her muscles complain and several burns on her arms throb where her shield got punctured. "I'm tired, okay! We just flew through space and nearly suffocated a couple dozen times! Isn't that enough excitement for one day?!"

    She says that, but her eyes are alive as she stares down Jophiel. Don't let him down, huh? She can feel the weight of the remote in her pocket, but-- no, definitely not this time. The thought of bringing down the entire damn complex is tempting, but in a very childish way, and she's not the sort of person who can make herself a martyr, not with the fear that also clambers up her throat at the thought.

    Instead, as Claude and Dias throw paired Air Slashes forwards, she takes that opportunity to throw herself down to one knee. Rather than risk firing from the hip, she holds her staff as if it were a rifle, the whine of an overcharged power source signalling her aim. The next moment she bucks, nearly thrown over backwards as a lancing streak of bright green draws a sudden line towards the point where those slashes impacted.

GS: Shalune Amira has attacked Jophiel with Emission Line!
GS: Shalune Amira takes 30 damage from Poison!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
GS: Jophiel solidly guards Claude C. Kenny's Air Slash for 92 hit points!
GS: Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Dias Flac's Far Air Slash for 193 hit points!
GS: Cripple blocked!
GS: Jophiel partially guards Shalune Amira's Emission Line for 145 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Xander Lovell has posed.

The battle with the beast was not going well, and everything gets worse quickly. It is ironically familiar: seals breaking, power unleashed and overwhelming... There are plans afoot here that Xander can hardly cast any stones in glass houses about. But Xander isn't someone who splits hairs about right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable: just survival.

Innominat's Domain staggers him, then draws out a growl from Xander's throat as he claws into his own skull -- the taloned ends of his fingers drawing some blood. No. No more emptiness. No more hollowness. He promised to be here, and he promised to fight.

So it is when Metatron and raises that sword that Xander cuts across the battlefield, violently quick and exactly where he feels he needs to be: right in front of Riley, to take the brunt of the shockwave and thensome without time left to defend himself. Light smashes into him, and he coughs and spits blood.

Somewhere Magilou is crying out. It's a strange voice to let worm its way into his heart and mind. He does not have to admit it does.

"Fine mess we've gotten ourselves into," he says to Riley, turning to press a piece of candied medicine into Riley's mouth. Hardly enough to take care of what the worst of this domain has to offer. "...But I suppose you want to help, don't you?"

It's time to see what Drifters do when everything is on the line. A small flower begins to shove off some of the Domain's effects. Xander flicks hard candies into his grip like coins appearing from nowhere and twists through the battlefield, flicking them out to the allies unlucky enough to be placed near him.

"Step one: Don't die."

He turns to look up at Metatron with the same defiance he always has in his eye. Xander is not someone who overpowers his foes. He endures and he persists. Even in this face of such power... he will not balk.

GS: Xander Lovell used Force Action: Mystic on Riley Arwell! FP up!
GS: break removed!
GS: Xander Lovell has attacked Xander Lovell with Candied Medicine!
GS: Xander Lovell has attacked Riley Arwell with Candied Medicine!
GS: Xander Lovell has attacked Lan Lilac with Candied Medicine!
GS: Xander Lovell has attacked Link with Candied Medicine!
GS: Xander Lovell has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Candied Medicine!
GS: Xander Lovell has attacked Mariel with Candied Medicine!
GS: Xander Lovell takes 34 damage from Poison!
GS: Xander Lovell has completed his action.
GS: Xander Lovell heals Xander Lovell! He gains 38 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Disrupt, Jam, and Poison removed!
GS: Regen applied to Xander Lovell!
GS: FP up! Sufferer activated!
GS: Xander Lovell heals Link! He gains 34 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, entangle, Mute, and shieldbreak removed!
GS: Regen applied to Link!
GS: Xander Lovell heals Ethius Hesiod! He gains 33 temporary hit points!
GS: Regen applied to Ethius Hesiod!
<Pose Tracker> Hannah Curie has posed.

Hannah doesn't know what a class 9 creature is, exactly, but if it was bad enough to build a whole space station to contain it...

It's gotta be bad.

But despite the warning to get away, she can't flee--the ten wise men are right there, and they didn't make this whole big trip for nothing. She rushes in, but stumbles a bit as she wades right into the thick of the strange, emotion-draining domain. A hand goes to her head as she grimaces. Her magic has already been a bit haywire, as the flow of Ley here is not what she's used to. Mariel explained that there are Ley channels built in, but it still doesn't feel like Filgaia or even Lunar.

And in the past, her response to the distress of her weird, as-yet-unidentified magical malady was to withdraw into herself. To shut everything out, to wrap herself in a cloak as if that could protect her from the slings and arrow of the world. She hasn't had that cape in such a long time--she was suffocating, cut off from everyone as she was...

... but the pull of the domain is enticing, all the same. To drain out all that worry, and for real, not to merely bottle it up and pretend it isn't there...

Zephyr squawks, from above, but where others hear a simple birdcall, Hannah hears more, a call of support echoing deeply in her mind. She grasps at it, clings to it, and slowly pushes herself up to her feet. "Thank you," she whispers.

She's not alone. She can care about this. About things that matter. Like saving Filgaia.

Her aura flares up as Jophiel's lasers come for her, but she stands her ground. A crest graph is already in her hand, crackling with a distressingly large amount of lightning that sends licks and tendrils lashing all around her. When they stop, she holds it outwards as something that is less a ball and more of a tangled Gordian knot of lighting springs to life in front of her.

"Whatever it is you want, we ain't lettin' you get it! You can't just.... just take stuff without disregard for others!"

Her aura is already twisting oddly as she pours a too-large amount of magic into the spell. With a snap of her fingers the writing mass of lightning springs free, charging right for Jophiel.

GS: Hannah Curie has attacked Jophiel with Ball Lightning!
GS: Hannah Curie has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Hannah Curie takes 26 damage from Poison!
GS: Hannah Curie has completed her action.
GS: Lan Lilac accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, Jam, and Weaken removed!
GS: Pray grants a random effect! Burst and Lock state applied to Lan Lilac!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Xander Lovell heals Lan Lilac! She gains 37 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! entangle, Mute, Poison, and shieldbreak removed!
GS: Regen applied to Lan Lilac!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: Riley Arwell accepts Mariel's Small Flower for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, Jam, Mute, and Slow removed!
GS: Pray grants a random effect! Hyper and Lock state applied to Riley Arwell!
GS: FP up! Sufferer activated!
GS: Xander Lovell heals Riley Arwell! He gains 30 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Poison removed!
GS: Regen applied to Riley Arwell!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

They arrive at Marduk's core to find a massive dome-shaped room with a wall at one end... a wall that has been torn through. Beyond lies the Sorcery Globe, drawing in power from its surroundings - and a man, hurled bodily from it, and ten shadowed figures.

The seal has been broken. And from it, a Domain sweeps out from it.

Jacqueline feels calm wash over her. For a moment, she finds herself wondering... what was she doing? Why did it matter? She hears Ida's words, but they sound fall away. She stumbles forward a bit... and she sees someone fall.

"Magi...lou..." Jacqueline mutters. She shuts her eyes tight. ...She was here for a reason. They can't let this keep happening. Seeing her hurt so terribly, Jacqueline feels some resolve creep back into her - just in time for Jophiel to act.

Homing lasers race toward her. She's still moving a little slowly, so her defenses arise a moments late - lasers slip through the dome of earth she constructs around herself, striking solidly.

The pain is bracing, in a way. Jacqueline exhales.

"...I'm alright." Jacqueline says - just as much as for herself as the others. "Let's see this through."

She reaches into her bag, drawing out a bottle of pale-blue liquid. With a Mystic touch the contents disperse into a glimmering cloud, settling over those nearest to her. It's a healing potion - something to restore fighting spirit.

Right now, spirit is what they need most. And as for Jophiel...

"Sorry... but we aren't here for your enjoyment." Jacqueline says.

GS: Xander Lovell heals Mariel! She gains 30 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Mute and Poison removed!
GS: Regen applied to Mariel!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Shalune Amira with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Hannah Curie with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Rena Lanford with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Dias Flac with Distribution Theory!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes 31 damage from Poison!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Jacqueline Barber! She gains 74 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! break, Cripple, Disrupt, and Poison removed!
GS: Zaphkiel partially guards Ida Everstead-Rey's Water Dragon Form for 89 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Claude C. Kenny! He gains 121 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Blind, Cripple, Disrupt, entangle, Jam, and shieldbreak removed!
GS: Shield applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Jophiel solidly guards Hannah Curie's Ball Lightning for 88 hit points!
GS: Mighty applied to Hannah Curie!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

Billy charges in, a thoroughly shot-up monster in his wake. Against the wave of ten looming figures, he may as well pick one; he finds himself opposite Zaphkiel, seeing Xantia and Ida square up as well. He's swiftly tucking bullets back into his gunsmokes, for all the good they've done him against these Wise Men. The burly swordsman is a type of enemy Billy isn't best against, but...he likes his odds more than any of these others, at least...

"They've broken the containment," he notes. "What are they doing?" That's explained soon enough...but worse than that is the wave of the Domain slamming across him, staggering him a step backward, forcelessly knocking the wind out of him. "This," he mutters, almost blank. The distraction is enough for Zaphkiel to hit him completely square, and if not for Etone protections he might die on the spot; as it is, he emits a startled and pained "HWAGK" and flies backward, tracing an arc of blood. He ends up flipping entirely end over end and flopping into the ground, groaning. "What...is this a Hellion Domain? How is it this oppressive?!" He's fought demons for years, long after Hellions became another beast he must hunt, but THIS is worse than he's ever seen!

He knows what he has to do, at least - and plants his hand against the ground and pulls himself up to a kneeling position, plucking his Granas cross from his robes and holding it to his forehead. "Light," he croaks. "Lord of Lords, be with us...!"

A golden Ether light washes away from Billy, racing to enshroud his allies in the fight. He can't repel something as potent as Innominat's Domain, certainly not overpowering it. But he can at least hold it off with some effort.

GS: Billy Lee Black has attacked Xantia with Purity Light!
GS: Billy Lee Black has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Purity Light!
GS: Billy Lee Black has attacked Magilou with Purity Light!
GS: Billy Lee Black has attacked Margaret with Purity Light!
GS: Billy Lee Black has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Purity Light!
GS: Billy Lee Black has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Billy Lee Black takes 28 damage from Poison!
GS: Billy Lee Black has completed his action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Hannah Curie! She gains 70 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Blind, Cripple, and Disrupt removed!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Rena Lanford! She gains 115 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, Jam, shieldbreak, and Weaken removed!
GS: Gwen Whitlock accepts Billy Lee Black's Purity Light for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! break, Cripple, and Disrupt removed!
GS: FP up! Billy Lee Black's Reload! activated!
<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    The Domain sweeps outward, and time slows down. No, it's just- a sickening feeling. No, it's a weakness bone deep. No, it's- Lan shakes her head and takes a deep, shuddering breath before pulling herself to her feet. It's not important. --Well it is, it's awful and gross and kind of terrifying, that she can feel this bad without being actively dying or something!

    But there's something to do, so as always - Lan will do it.

    She squints at the Three Wise Men, raises her hands to call down-- and Magilou rockets past, the breeze of her swift passing ruffling everyone's hair. "...Who's Velvet...?" she wonders aloud, staring after her -- and a strangled yelp breaks free of her throat when even Magilou is swatted so cruelly from the air.

    Lan may not be able to say she really likes Magilou, but to watch her try and fail to rise again. To call for someone she can't reach. It hurts.

    She's never seen Magilou want something before.

    Lan blinks, unable to keep herself from shedding a few tears. Water courses down her cheeks. She takes a step towards the battered witch-- But her body leaps over the wave of energy that sweeps outward from Metatron's sword, and even so just its proximity hurts. She wobbles a little when she touches down again, but the other Drifters are there. Her fingers close around a piece of sweet candy; a blooming flower restores her spirits. It's okay. It's okay.

    It's okay to cry if you feel like it. It's just water, after all. So she'll let it flow through her.

    And she'll flow through everything.

    Lan shifts her weight forward, and kicks off of the ground, becoming a meteor in her own right as she crashes through space heel-first towards Metatron.

GS: Lan Lilac has attacked Metatron with Move Like Water!
GS: Lan Lilac has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Lan Lilac has launched an attack Link!
GS: Margaret partially evades Zaphkiel's Quickstep for 117 hit points!
GS: Metatron takes a solid hit from Lan Lilac's Move Like Water for 105 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Riposte applied to Lan Lilac!
GS: FP up! Power Burst activated!
GS: Margaret accepts Billy Lee Black's Purity Light for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, Jam, Mute, and Poison removed!
GS: Quick applied to Billy Lee Black!
GS: FP up! Billy Lee Black's Reload! activated!
GS: Lan Lilac gains 29 THP from Regen!
GS: Lan Lilac has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "--Was wonderin' what kind of bird I'd be. I think I have an idea." Looking over her shoulder, Gwen shares a grin as she continues the last threads of her group's previous conversation. "Maybe somethin' perky, like a robin? Somethin' like that."

    The cheerful bravado fades from Gwen's face as she turns her head, spotting the unfamiliar man try to warn them. Seal? Innominat? She flinches as the man gets thrown across the room.

    Her eyes widen briefly as the Wise Men show up, ten in all, and she instantly clutches her right fist, concentrating to begin the Chrysopoeia process. The weight of the Domain is making itself noticable, even through it; is this what the man meant by that Seal? "I think I can buy some time!" Gwen shouts back at her team. "Seals mean magic, right? Maybe there's a spell, or... somethin', I dunno--"

    Her thoughts are muddled, which always has been a natural part of the process of calling on the Mockingbird's powers. Everything slowing down and speeding up at the same time. Things accelerating. Her body feeling light, but tight enough to ricochet uncontrollably about the room due to the wrong thought or emotion. That's the usual feeling, anyway.

    But as the pale gold energy snakes up her arm, Gwen admits her mind feels the clearest it's ever been in this state, but for reasons that feel distantly alarming. Billy is right-- there's something different about this, but it's a concern that feels easy to push away.

    Zeroing in on Zaphkiel, Gwen's transformation is complete; the nerves closest to the surface of the skin in her exposed face now glow that same gold, as do the irises of her eyes. Her body meets the Wise Man's blade with no hesitation, charging in with the sole purpose of pressing her right hand squarely in Zaphkiel's face, delivering a brief bright flash of electricity.

    It's brief, however, too short to actually deal damage as she's knocked to the side, sliding against the ground. Almost mechanically, she gets back up, helped by the golden glow of Billy's Ether. Red blood is now smeared over the blue of her vest, and the white of her blouse underneath. The slash also exposes the line of yellow where Gwen's heart would be, having cut through the layers of fabric that had obscured it before.

    Timing her next hit with the final stomp of Margaret's assault, the courier's next delivery is something brighter, the palm and fingers of that normally gloved hand overlaid with the outline of a dragon's as she swipes it against Zaphkiel's turned back.

GS: Magilou accepts Billy Lee Black's Purity Light for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, and Mute removed!
GS: FP up! Billy Lee Black's Reload! activated!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Zaphkiel with Crown Flash!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 4 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has launched an attack Link!
<Pose Tracker> Riley Arwell has posed.

It was mischief and impulse that spurred Riley to drag Xander along as stowaways upon the rocket, but he wasn't unaware that the heroes aboard it were racing toward... trouble. Someone threatening things on an unprecedented scale. And so, too, there is a flicker of another motivation... ... a wish for something, well, not quite as lofty as redemption. But maybe that he could lend a hand and his former frenemies among the Drifters might want to look at him again with something a little less grimly dismissive -- something that doesn't give him a feeling like in their hearts they've already killed him and Xander but they just haven't died yet.

And so, when they stumble into Trouble... Riley doesn't think to try to turn back. He goes turn to Xander with an apologetic, cringing smile. The Domain around them is overwhelming--a terrifying emptiness like death. It feels like you could just fall into it and out of existence entirely.

"I guess we've gotten involved in the big thing..." he says. "Sorry!"

A familiar voice, and someone flying through the air. "Is that Magilou??" She seems determined, desperate, not her usual self at all. She calls out for Velvet -- is that her... her special person? The one who Xander reminds her of? But wasn't that person lost long ago? Whatever she is trying to accomplish... she ends up slammed down into a crater.

"Oh, shit...! Magilou, hang in there!" But before he can think to draw any closer to her, they catch the eye of one of the ten figures at the center of all this... one covered in shining cybernetics. The swing of his blade brings a blinding shockwave of energy -- one that Xander charges in front of Riley to take on himself. "Xander, no--" The claw didn't make him indestructible!! Riley reaches for him as he coughs in pain. "Don't do--" A healing candy is popped into his mouth, and he makes an indignant face at the gall of Xander. "Vhat," he finishes, muffled by candy. "Yes, I want to help! Whatever they're doing is going to cause problems for us too, isn't it? There's no world for you to make if they steal the original one or destroy it first!"

More aid is given, from Mariel -- she holds a small flower, and its aura seems to push back some of the terrible enroaching feelings from the Domain. "Whatever you're doing, that's great! Thank you!" he calls.

Well, he's been spared the brunt of that attack, and given this boost of resistance... and he wanted to make a difference, so he'd better get moving! He nocks a shadowy arrow into his bow and lets it fly toward Metatron; the power within the arrow drives it toward its target relentlessly regardless of obstacles it may face, and giving chase if that target should move, and strikes forth in a piercing bolt of dark energy shaded with the aura of Valmar.

"What ARE you guys trying to do, anyway??" he demands. Riley, you should have asked someone that before you went to space!!

GS: Gwen Whitlock spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Zaphkiel with The One is All!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes 29 damage from Poison!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Access! Gwen Whitlock takes 30 damage!
GS: Riley Arwell has attacked Metatron with Homing Arrow!
GS: Riley Arwell has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Riley Arwell gains 33 THP from Regen!
GS: Riley Arwell has completed his action.
GS: Xantia accepts Billy Lee Black's Purity Light for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! Cripple, Disrupt, entangle, shieldbreak, and Weaken removed!
GS: FP up! Billy Lee Black's Reload! activated!
GS: Metatron solidly guards Riley Arwell's Homing Arrow for 69 hit points!
GS: FP up! Power Burst activated!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey accepts Billy Lee Black's Purity Light for 0 hit points!
GS: Restore! break, Cripple, Mute, Poison, and Weaken removed!
GS: Quick applied to Billy Lee Black!
GS: FP up! Billy Lee Black's Reload! activated!
GS: Zaphkiel suffers a terrible blow from Gwen Whitlock's Crown Flash for 0 hit points!
GS: Jam applied to Zaphkiel!
GS: Zaphkiel partially guards Gwen Whitlock's The One is All for 161 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Threats to Filgaia are threats that Xantia must answer. The full reason why remains unclear, in spite of the cracks in her amnesia growing ever wider. But it's all ultimately irrelevant. No matter what compulsions may drive her, no matter what threat of punishment may hang over her head should she fail to follow them... the simple fact is that everything she's come to hold dear is on Filgaia. This is more than enough reason to defend it with all she has.

The Wise Men's goals likewise are irrelevant. What matters is the threat they pose. She's gotten a taste of that before, and witnessed Zaphkiel's nigh-instant recovery from all damage inflicted upon him. Most definitely the sort of threat that warranted joining the Drifters who were going off-planet for.

Besides, she has a lot to make up for to her friends. She promised she'd return to them... and the only way she can keep that promise is if she survives. Thus, she's made herself invincible! That's absolutely how that works.

She doesn't... feel very invincible, exposed to that powerful Domain. This feeling of emptiness is...

Xantia chuckles, in spite of how unsteady she appears, forcing herself to keep moving forward all the same. She just got through dealing with a personal sense of emptiness already. If she managed to push through that, then this isn't going to stop her.

"...Heh. Heh heh... You wouldn't be so confident, if you'd seen the kinds of threats that were repelled by a rag-tag group of Drifters in the past. This time... will not be different!"

Taking a defiant stance, Xantia closes one hand into a fist, and from that fist and aura of pure Light begins to expand, surrounding her like a bubble. Zaphkiel is quick to strike, the flashing sword knocking her back forcefully... but the barrier holds. Xantia does not, dropping to the ground. She's still weak. She needs more time...

Or, she needs the help of Billy Lee Black. His healing light blends with her own, becoming blinding for a moment... and when the light clears, Xantia is standing straight, looking much more steady than before. With an appreciative nod to Billy, she turns back towards Zaphkiel.

"...I was hoping I'd run into you again. Ready for round two?"

She bridges the distance between her and the sword-wielding Wise Man in no time flat, delivering a single quick palm strike aimed for the sternum. Though a solid strike, it's still notably weaker than what she's normally capable of... but this won't be the case for long. Her rate of her recovery is unnaturally quick, between Billy's healing Ether and her own. But then, Zaphkiel should already know that this is an opponent one shouldn't take their eyes off for very long.

GS: Xantia has attacked Zaphkiel with Lustrous Aura!
GS: Xantia has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Recover! Jam and Mute removed from Xantia!
GS: Xantia takes 36 damage from Poison!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: Zaphkiel solidly guards Xantia's Lustrous Aura for 49 hit points!
GS: Cover applied to Xantia!
<Pose Tracker> Velvet Crowe has posed.

In a single, horrific blow, the Wise Man known as Zaphkiel batters the witch known as Magilou into the sacred grounds of Marduk. And still, she struggles to rise. Still, she tries to reach.

As Magilou stretches her fingers out towards that searing gash in things -- as Zaphkiel pounces upon her, blade-first -- as she calls out for a single name--

... Vel... vet...

There is a stirring. A subtle crackle in the opening torn out of space and time's flimsy fabric.

And the glint of something red, flashing in a sea of white.

"You don't--"

It's the only warning Zaphkiel gets before something bursts forth from the seething scar torn through reality.

A claw. Massive. -Scalding- scarlet. And broiling with Malevolence.


Tearing forth out of reality to -SWIPE- into Zaphkiel just before his blade can finish what its started, and DRAG viciously into him. If the claws snag into the Wise Man's flesh, they'll tear -past- the physical into the spiritual -- and he will feel SOMETHING difficult to explain.

The feeling of that claw, snacking on his soul, seconds before it seeks to bat him out of the way.

    OST: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20dDREZRS9g Tales of Berseria - The Will That Opposes Reason

"I don't know... "

From the blistering light she emerges. Long, wild black hair. Ragged clothes. A massive left arm, spiked and clawed and teeming with horrific menace.

    "... who the hell you think you are..."

She looks disoriented, confused; wreathed in an oppressively thick swell of Malevolence, she staggers out like someone stirred from a dream too long to fathom. But that protective edge hidden amidst the fury seizing bright golden eyes says it all as she glares at Zaphkiel. No matter how long she's been asleep, even on instinct alone...

        "... but she's MINE to devour!"

... Velvet Crowe won't abide the people who matter most to her being threatened.

DC: Velvet Crowe switches forms to The Lord of Calamity - I'LL DEVOUR YOU!
GS: Velvet Crowe has attacked Zaphkiel with Consuming Claw!
GS: Velvet Crowe has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Velvet Crowe has completed her action.
GS: Access! Velvet Crowe takes 34 damage!
GS: CRITICAL! Zaphkiel solidly guards Velvet Crowe's Consuming Claw for 153 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Velvet Crowe drains Zaphkiel! Velvet Crowe gains 81 temporary hit points!
GS: Jophiel has adjusted their boss level for 7 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Metatron has posed.

"Wrong?" Metatron asks Ethius, but it is only rhetorically. "No. Energy Nede draws near -- and the culmination of our entire purpose with it!"

Ethius's magic makes the air around the crimson-armored Wise Man boil. His head turns, as Symbols flare across his armored body; the armor begins to turn pearlescent, the heat makes the edges of the fabric turn to ash, and he seems nearly ready to be burnt. Then, he rushes for Ethius--

--and SLAMS his shield for him, trying to send the Symbologist hurtling across.

"I do not care about this world -- or any other," Metatron tells Mariel. He turns to her, his visored gaze impassive. "I have crushed dozens of worlds. Why blink at even one?"

Then, a grappling hook latches onto his shield -- and yanks. "Nngh?" Metatron asks, before he turns his head -- and looks down at Link. So much shorter, so much smaller than him. "You. You would try to stop me, again? Foolish boy! You should know when you've met your better!"

But his shield is, for the moment, off balance.

And that lets Grace take her shot. The bolt of green energy flies past her shield, slams into his armor, and makes the Symbol-powered field over it sputter -- and the bolt slams through, leaving a burnt and blackeed section in his armor, molten around the edges of the hole. "Gh--" He turns his head, looking at Grace. "Few who die at my hand seek it. Embrace the honor in perishing at my hand!"

Then, Metatron turns -- and his visored gaze meets Xander's one-eyed gaze. "Bold words! But I have seen corruption before," he says. "And it shall not stay my blade!"

And then Lan descends. Her foot slams into his chest, smashing Metatron backward. The Wise Man stumbles -- feet scattering over the ground, before he shores himself up, and looks at Lan, with an imperious look. "Well struck," he says. "But not enough to fell Metatron of the Ten Wise Men!"

Riley speaks to him, making a demand -- even as Metatron swings his shield around. The shadowy arrow smashes apart on his huge towering shield. "What are we doing?" he repeats. "We have freed our fellow Wise Men. We, the Ten Wise Men, shall return to Energy Nede -- the remnant of the land that we once called home -- and then we shall force the universe to become ours. And your 'Filgaia' shall be the kindling to ignite our reign!"

But Metatron pauses, as there is a crimson flash from the direction of the rift -- and then something, no someone, slams into Zaphkiel. His head turns.

Another man's voice cuts in, from the shadowy figures around the Sorcery Globe. "Tsk."

He pauses a moment.

"I see that when the beekeepers are away, the bugs get unruly. How... troublesome. I suppose I should thank you for freeing us from that maze of memories." And then he chuckles. "But I don't thank insects."

Another of those shadowy forms steps out from near the Sorcery Globe. He looks like an elf, at first glance; long, pointed ears, fine features, and pale blue hair, with darker blue eyes. He wears black robes, lined in red. His wrists are bound with leather straps. His eyes flicker, from Magilou to Velvet, and then his lips curl back into a sneer. "Nonetheless, I'm confident in these three's ability to corral you WORMS."

Then,he looks towards Riley and Xander. "Ah--fascinating. You've succumbed to some corruption, even now--" He looks down at the Claw of Valmar. Tell me, did you ask for this power that's destroying you? Or did you bumble into it? You worms do so love to... bumble about."

"Lucifer," Metatron says, looking to him -- with deference.

"Focus," Lucifer says. "That Tetrageniot runaway--" His pale blue eyes flicker to Grace. "--almost had the better of you. Give her a fine place to die, Metatron!"

"As you command!" Metatron answers, before he slams his shield down into the ground. Then, a brilliant blue-white burst of light explodes outward, chipping up damaged metal from the many impacts here. It comes as a fiery cascade of blue-white light that hurtles for Link and Lan, so close -- and onward, for Riley and Xander, for Ethius, for Grace, and finally Mariel.

"A Hesiod, too!" Lucifer says. "Pfah. Such a scenic little view for us travelers, on this pissant-infested backwater! You worms don't understand the depths of futility that you've found yourselves in. Your planet is a footnote in history--in OUR history! Now, DIE!"

GS: Metatron has activated Force Action: Lock On!
GS: Metatron has activated Force Action: Full Clip!
GS: Metatron spends 5 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Metatron has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has attacked Mariel with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has attacked Link with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has attacked Grace Harvey with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has attacked Xander Lovell with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has attacked Riley Arwell with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has attacked Lan Lilac with Barrier Burst!
GS: Metatron has attacked Metatron with Meta-Aegis!
GS: Metatron enters a Counter stance!
GS: Metatron has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Metatron has completed his action.
GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated Force Action: Guard!
GS: Ethius Hesiod solidly guards Metatron's Barrier Burst for 114 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Countermeasures activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Xander Lovell solidly guards Metatron's Barrier Burst for 133 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus and Sufferer activated!
GS: Link has activated Force Action: Guard!
GS: CRITICAL! Link takes a solid hit from Metatron's Barrier Burst for 247 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Jacqueline Barber heals Shalune Amira! She gains 106 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! break, Cripple, Disrupt, and Drowsy removed!
GS: CRITICAL! Lan Lilac takes a glancing hit from Metatron's Barrier Burst for 133 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
<Pose Tracker> Zaphkiel has posed.

    Get away from her--

    Margaret won't get there in time to save Magilou. Magilou is knocked to the ground, her only saving grace the fact that Zaphkiel did not immediately opt to bisect her from 'go'. Perhaps he thought it wouldn't be particularly sporting, given her display in their last confrontation: eliminating an opponent immediately does not appear to be his style. Rokurou's status may be testament to that.

    But Margaret does catch up to him, mere seconds after he lays Magilou low. Twisting about as her blade cuts a long shallow line down his arm, he meets her blow for blow with perhaps alarming speed all through their descent to the floor below.

    "Was that magic?" he wonders of Margaret's technique, appearing to look her over upon. Already, the wounds she's left on him have healed. "That speed. I've seen the like before, but this one was different. ...Heh, your world has its share of surprises!"

    Nor is Margaret the only one. Ida approaches, testing his reflexes and defenses alike. Zaphkiel's gaze turns her way on her approach, denying her the precise opening she'd sought. "...I remember you. Show me that arm of yours again," he says to her, inviting the blow that comes. "--Ha! Not a bad start," he says as her strike connects with his torso. "Combining living metal and flesh is unusual, but not unknown! Show me more," he exhorts Ida. "Let me see how you stack up against the others!"

    He's not aware of Gwen's approach, focused as he is now on Margaret and Ida both. There is a flash, the scent of ozone--

    Zaphkiel staggers for a moment, if but for a moment. "An interesting trick!" he declares, turning sharply to face Gwen as she connects with his left forearm and those tattoos of his there flash brightly. They're not large Symbols, Gwen may realize: they're Symbols carved in Symbols, one great chain of them engraved in his flesh. And though her electricity burns his flesh: look, and it's already mended. "That arm of yours-- it runs straight to your heart!"

    Ready for round two?

    He doesn't have long to wonder over the integration of flesh and metal in Gwen's particular context, not when Xantia makes her declaration and closes the distance. Perhaps at another time she would have struck more than once -- or would landed more than a glancing hit. "So you've returned--" Perhaps at another time that attempt would have been met with a returning blow of Zaphkiel's own.

    But something has begun to happen with the seal.

    You don't-- touch her!

    It is perhaps safe to say that the appearance of that claw -- of that woman, bestial and roiling with Malevolence -- is not at all what Zaphkiel had expected to come calling in the sorceress's defense (if, indeed, he expected anyone to come to Magilou's defense in the first place -- and he would have been very wrong about that, too).

    The claws score his right arm, drawing forth great bubbling welts of cyan-silver blood. Zaphkiel will answer Velvet Crowe's opening volley with his own sword, twisting back just far enough to permit him to the room and leverage to try and batter her back.

    "That's some shit!" he calls out, though the words are exultation rather than betraying any stripe of dismay. The Symbols carved into his flesh are glowing: already, his wound is healing. He bares his teeth in a wide, feral grin.

    "Looks like we're done playing around, eh?" remarks the Wise Man, rolling his neck and shoulders with audible pops and cracks. Now both hands grasp the hilt of his sword.

     "Behold now the power of the wandering stars!" As he lifts it towards Marduk's vaulted ceiling, the true form of Zaphkiel's blade becomes clear: the sword itself is some masterwork of Symbology. The whole of the blade is composed of them: now-shining Symbols carved to interlock with one another and create from their union an unparalleled weapon. With such a sword, it might be possible to carve the very stars from the skies.

    And Zaphkiel roars; the blade, held aloft, erupts with violet flame and a shockwave rips through the air around him.


    It's echoed by a second detonation as he drives his blade into the floor, a great spiderwebbing crack tracing the path of the eruption that follows.

GS: Zaphkiel has attacked Velvet Crowe with Cruel Bludgeon!
GS: Zaphkiel enters a Counter stance!
GS: Zaphkiel has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Recover! Jam and Poison removed from Zaphkiel!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Zaphkiel has attacked Xantia with Starcaller Cry!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Zaphkiel has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Starcaller Cry!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Zaphkiel has attacked Margaret with Starcaller Cry!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Zaphkiel has attacked Billy Lee Black with Starcaller Cry!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Zaphkiel has attacked Magilou with Starcaller Cry!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Zaphkiel has attacked Gwen Whitlock with Starcaller Cry!
GS: Zaphkiel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Zaphkiel has completed its action.
GS: Billy Lee Black takes a glancing hit from Zaphkiel's Starcaller Cry for 93 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Billy Lee Black gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: COUNTER! Velvet Crowe counterattacks Zaphkiel with Counter Attack!
GS: Velvet Crowe takes a solid hit from Zaphkiel's Cruel Bludgeon for 228 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes a solid hit from Zaphkiel's Starcaller Cry for 257 hit points!
GS: Gwen Whitlock enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Mariel takes a solid hit from Metatron's Barrier Burst for 289 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Mariel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus and Gleam activated!
GS: Margaret takes a solid hit from Zaphkiel's Starcaller Cry for 274 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Margaret gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Margaret enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Xantia takes a glancing hit from Zaphkiel's Starcaller Cry for 94 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Xantia gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: FP up! Power Burst and Reaction bonus activated!
GS: COUNTER! Zaphkiel counterattacks Velvet Crowe with Quickstep!
GS: Zaphkiel solidly guards Velvet Crowe's Arthur's Fourth Maxim for 154 hit points!
GS: Magilou solidly guards Zaphkiel's Starcaller Cry for 131 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Magilou gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
<Pose Tracker> Jophiel has posed.

    The boy from Earth strikes back with surprising impulse, Jophiel attempting to glide away but finding Claude's chi too fast to do so; he's struck by the palm.


    A Spherical boulder of impossible Roundness appears above him. "SYMBOLOGY..." Jophiel hisses, and once more, he attempts to dart out of the way, managing to deflect the sphere as it rolls to one side and crashes against a wall.

    Claude and Dias' air slashes erupt in unison, crossing blades of wind that join in perfect synergy that cut and blast him back with tremendous force. "HNGH..."

    Blood drips from the cuts on his suit. Jophiel's glance is towards the two as his grin ever grows wider. "I CAN SEE THAT YOU ARE SKILLED. THIS SHALL BE FUN."

    Shalune's complaints are taken with glee, as Jophiel exclaims, "OH, NO. THE FUN IS ONLY JUST BEGINNING. IF THAT IS YOUR LIMIT..."

    That isn't her limit, though, because Shalune just outright slugs him with a shot from her rifle that nearly punctures through his shoulder.


    Hannah's lightning comes fully-charged at him, and it interferes with some of his electronics as he takes it-head on, in a boxer's block of questionable effectiveness.

    Shalune and Hannah -- who've fought him before -- notice that his barrier is gone. Did he... drop it on purpose? Just to feel pain?


    Jacqueline tells him that they aren't here for his amusement, but he seems to take it to the contrary. As she heals the group with her potion, he scoffs.


    An extremely tall man dressed in white and red robes enters, bearing long, billowing red hair that curls at his waist. He bears a red crystal gem at the centre of his forehead.


    "All the preparations are complete. I express disappointment that you are wasting time, Jophiel. Do not let your personal feelings impede on our mission plans."

    Jophiel turns his head towards the tall man, and instantly, his demeanour shifts as he hisses, "MY--MY APOLOGIES, COMMANDER GABRIEL."

    The tall man -- 'Gabriel' -- casts his eyes over the gathered Drifters, then towards the seal. His eyes are on the fallen Magilou, for a moment, then to Velvet, as she TEARS into one of his compatriots, Zaphkiel. He doesn't even flinch -- or show concern for his ally.

    The Lord of Calamity's aura can be felt even from here, and it draws curiosity to him. "I was not expecting this from you. But this changes nothing."

    Gabriel's expression shifts to Claude, as he says, "You... that uniform. You are not Filgaian or a Lunarian, as they would call themselves. No... you are an Earthling, and a member of the Pangalactic Federation. What purpose would you have to be here, at the edge of the universe?"

    Rena questions who they are -- and estimates that they'd want to do something like conquer the universe, wouldn't they?

    "Who we are? Hmm. Perhaps you could say we are a mistake some people would love to just forget. I am called Gabriel. I am the leader of the Ten Wise Men."

    He radiates a dangerous intensity that soft belies his calmness, as he raises his hand, inspecting the literal tear in reality.

    "We have retrieved all our allies. Soon, the Seal of Innominat will fully crumble, and from it we shall gather the energy we require to fully recharge the Quadratic Sphere. Then, our plans can proceed. Jophiel, don't waste any more time."

    Jophiel flinches again, and whips around in mid-air without another word. The intensity and excitement from before is largely gone; the Domain's influence is encroaching upon him -- but which one is stronger, of Innominat's Domain or his fear of Gabriel?


    Identifying Claude and Dias as threats to his personal space, he first fires red lasers that threaten to constrict their movements -- creating cubical barriers that pull away at their muscles and chi, making the effort to move their bodies as they wish that much harder.

    "FIRST YOU TWO... THEN..."

    His hands move towards Hannah, Jay and Shalune -- that terrifying laser with the ability to petrify is here once more, sweeping across the room to catch the at centre-mass, knowing that even a touch is problematic.


    He turns to Rena.


    Everyone engaged with Jophiel can sense the enormous energy rising from within him -- and he thrusts both his arms forward as a doubled barrage of Lasers streak forth, threatening to vaporise the hands-on healer herself in one fell swoop!

GS: Jophiel has attacked Claude C. Kenny with PROHIBITED -- WEAPONS!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Dias Flac with PROHIBITED -- WEAPONS!
GS: Jophiel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jophiel has activated a Boss Action!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Jacqueline Barber with SUPPRESSING RESISTANCE!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Shalune Amira with SUPPRESSING RESISTANCE!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Hannah Curie with SUPPRESSING RESISTANCE!
GS: Shield added to Jophiel!
GS: Jophiel has activated Force Action: Boost!
GS: Jophiel has activated Force Action: Lock On!
GS: Jophiel spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Jophiel has attacked Rena Lanford with LASER BARRAGE!
GS: Jophiel has completed its action.
GS: CRITICAL! Jacqueline Barber heals Dias Flac! He gains 88 temporary hit points!
GS: Restore! Disrupt and entangle removed!
GS: Shield applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey suffers a terrible blow from Zaphkiel's Starcaller Cry for 289 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ida Everstead-Rey gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: FP up! Power Burst activated!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Dias Flac takes a solid hit from Jophiel's PROHIBITED -- WEAPONS for 169 hit points!
GS: Old applied to Dias Flac!
GS: Jacqueline Barber suffers a terrible blow from Jophiel's SUPPRESSING RESISTANCE for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle, Hex, and Shieldbreak applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Claude C. Kenny takes a solid hit from Jophiel's PROHIBITED -- WEAPONS for 182 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Claude C. Kenny gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Old applied to Claude C. Kenny!
GS: Claude C. Kenny used Defend! He takes Jophiel's LASER BARRAGE attack on Rena Lanford on himself!
GS: Claude C. Kenny suffers a terrible blow from Jophiel's LASER BARRAGE for 329 hit points!
GS: Claude C. Kenny enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Drowsy, Mute, Poison, Slow, and Weaken expired!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
GS: CRITICAL! Velvet Crowe takes a glancing hit from Zaphkiel's Quickstep for 159 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Velvet Crowe gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude wouldn't have guessed that Dias would use the same strategy to open--but he appreciates that he does. A glance to Dias, "Right!" He's not going to try to get some emotional statement out of the man--just acknowledge him. They fight this fight together.

Once, he would've been jealous that Rena chose to support Dias over him. But now, "The two of you together--you're unbeatable! I'll just have to make sure I can keep up!"

Shalune's rejoinder about how hard a day it's already been manages to bring the ghost of a smile to Claude's face, though it doesn't last long. SHock destroys it before seriousness--the shock of the woman who appears to save Magilou, Velvet.

Jophiel calls him and Dias 'skilled', and Claude's eyes narrow. "This isn't for your 'fun'!"

Gabriel appears. Gabriel looks at Claude. As it happens Gabriel has his number, all right. He grits his teeth. But before he can answer, Gabriel says it doesn't matter.

He wanted to talk to Rena about it, but here--now--"Ghh--" Claude feels the red barrier about him, feels the way it pulls at his muscle and his chi. But he doesn't let it stop him. He can't let it stop him.


It would be nice to say he acts on instinct, when the blast comes, but he doesn't. He makes a deliberate choice when Rena is threatened, moving to push her out of the way--and takes the blast himself. "Gh--" He stumbles back. "Re...na..."

Claude hits the ground hard, smoke rising from his torso.

GS: Riley Arwell solidly guards Metatron's Barrier Burst for 115 hit points!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Working with the Fangs of Valmar is... let's say it wouldn't be Mariel's first choice. It probably wouldn't make the top twenty. But in a situation like this she'll take what she can get.

Mariel's gaze shifts between Metatron and Lucifer. "I ask because..."

Mariel spreads her hands, revealing that the flower is no longer there - only shining pink motes of light which scatter. "With this Domain... the only reason I could think that you weren't affected is because you already did not care. I wonder if you know what you have already lost..."

"...and I hope that, even when I am as old as Fulcanelli, I still care about the world. Because it is worth living for, as hurt as it is...!"

Despite herself, Mariel's attention is taken by the sudden surge of Malevolence from elsewhere - the arrival of Velvet. The churning Malevolence in the utter stillness of the Domain - it's even more blatant than usual, but she can't even call it more painful. Her head shifts to the side as she looks -

Just as Metatron starts blasting.

The cascade of light strikes Mariel, blasting her back, slamming her into a wall hard enough that she momentarily loses consciousness. She drops down to hands and knees, gasping, pained - and with a bottle in each hand from her bag.

"Go," she croaks out, as both bottles foam and erupt in more of those pink sparks; Mariel drawing on the energy of the compound within them more than the actual physical lotion. The sparks surround people - Lan, Link, Ethius, Riley and Xander, and Grace, who she happens to be closest to, a cloud of empowering energy that feels like tiny effervescent bubbles against the skin.

Mariel starts crawling, afterwards. She's heading - slowly - toward Magilou and Rokurou. It will take her a bit to get there at her current rate.

GS: Mariel has attacked Link with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has attacked Lan Lilac with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has attacked Riley Arwell with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has attacked Xander Lovell with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has attacked Grace Harvey with Bubble Lotion!
GS: Mariel has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Mariel gains 28 THP from Regen!
GS: Mariel has completed her action.
GS: Xander Lovell accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Xander Lovell!
GS: FP up! Sufferer activated!
GS: Ethius Hesiod accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Ethius Hesiod!
GS: Shield applied to Mariel!
<Pose Tracker> Magilou has posed.

    Magilou can hear people calling for her, in the distance. Distantly... they care for her. That replacement Eleanor with the pointy ears, and the rowdy alchemic kid, and the chimeric scholar, and the three-eyed girl, and the potions-seller, and the murderer... and who was that doomed sorceress asking after, again?

    It would be so easy...

    ... to say it doesn't matter...

    ... now the world's come to an end.

    Except -- Margaret is yelling, too, a sound which grows more distinct in her ears as Billy's Ether washes over her. "R...run," she croaks out to her, one single tortured word. She can't... stop this. She can't...

    ... Magilou wonders why she thinks of a bell, ringing in the abyss.

    Her purple-green eyes blink closed -- and then, a moment later, they remember what they'd seen. That glimmer of red... she looks to the gash in existence, just in time to see that claw.

    OST: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvmKc2GmGYU Tales of Berseria - True Will

    And something in her numb heart warms, seeing Velvet tear herself back into reality. "The Lord of Calamity," she breathes -- and then, louder and more joyous: "The Lord of Calamity has returned--!!" She came back... for her...

    Rokurou grimaces, where he's still struggling with his own injuries. "But if you're here -- Velvet!" He's all business, when things are this serious, and that's its own clue about how serious this is; anyone who met Rokurou on the street would know him as a jovial and easygoing guy. "Where's Innominat?!"

    Magilou grits her teeth -- and the difference between herself and Rokurou is that she has Billy's Ether to keep her going, let alone that she's only just started fighting. It's enough to let her stand, at least -- perhaps with a little help from Margaret, who gets an aside, quietly. "That's her... my Lord of Calamity. Velvet Crowe..."

    Now she's on her feet, she has a shot at defending herself, at least, when Starcaller Cry crashes down. She remembers Zaphkiel's might, and so she brings her paper doll around to defend against that first shockwave -- before angling it to catch the second detonation, too. It means she's just knocked back several heavy steps, away from Margaret, instead of blown across the room. She stumbles, with a sharp noise of pain... but this time, she doesn't fall.

    And in a flash of light, the colours on her jester's (WITCH'S) raiments shift -- from pink to white, from blue to black, from purple to red. "Super Absorber," she invokes, as she steps up beside Velvet -- a trick which may not be entirely familiar to her, because she refined this magic years after Velvet was sealed away. "Velvet!" Magilou grins, and if it's a little punch-drunk, that's probably fine. "These are the Ten Wise Men, and they're due to destroy the world! Are you really going to -- hhh -- let them steal your thunder like that?!"

    (Starcaller Cry is a painful attack to absorb, even with her newfound resolve.)

    "Lightning Blast!" She invokes, and it's the passive absorption of Super Absorber which lets her do so immediately -- instead of casting Spell Absorber to steal her opponent's will to fight.

    Any comparisons one might draw between Spell Absorber's nullification and the Domain they're facing down...

    ... may be explained by what connects those two forces.

DC: Magilou switches forms to Scourge of the Self-Righteous ~ Face the Wrath of Magilou Mayvin!!
GS: Grace Harvey solidly guards Metatron's Barrier Burst for 108 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Grace Harvey gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Countermeasures and Gleam activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Grace Harvey accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Grace Harvey!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: Magilou has attacked Zaphkiel with Lightning Blast!
GS: Magilou has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Magilou takes 32 damage from Poison!
GS: Magilou has completed her action.
GS: Access! Magilou takes 30 damage!
GS: Hannah Curie takes a glancing hit from Jophiel's SUPPRESSING RESISTANCE for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Hannah Curie gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Entangle, Hex, and Shieldbreak applied to Hannah Curie!
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

A long time ago, an oath of brotherhood was sworn. That two souls would forever be intertwined in the helix of mutually embraced combat. That oath...

...Has not yet been dissolved, neither by time, nor by distance.

Amidst the disintegrating rocket debris, an emerald star blinks against the endless black of the eternal sphere. Blinking. Blinking. A piece of detritus that anyone in their right minds would overlook. Perhaps it had been hiding in the cargo bay? Or clinging to the side of the rocket as it shot into space? If it were missed completely, nobody could be blamed for missing it, hidden as it was. But that's fine.

That's just how he wanted it.

One might think: with all this going on, isn't there someone missing? Somebody who, when something as important as <<alien space angels>> is involved, should very well be present? Someone who... might take offense... to certain things...?


The emerald light blinks. Blinks... Ignites...! It races towards Marduk, pushing against the smothering grasp of Filgaia's gravity. This is the moment he was waiting for. Now... Now...!

An emerald comet races towards the battlefield, towards the Sorcery Globe, and straight into the baleful aura of Innominat's domain. Ghostfire burns at the shooting star, clinging in great azure plumes to an ebon exoskeleton that nevertheless gleams in the angry light. Bit by bit, its shell is worn away, melted away by that awful power. Closer... Closer...!


There is a caved in wall, right on the side of this strange, spherical chamber. A crumbling, broken portal of crushed, crumbling, ruined stone.

...And approximately ten feet to the side and three to the zenith, something else erupts into the chamber, arms and legs tucked in, rolling like a cannonball gripping a scimitar with all its might--

Straight into Jophiel and his nimbus of glowing, growing, apocalyptic power. "---LLLLAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUDDE---" The emerald comet careens into Jophiel, a living, razor-sharp blitzball buzzsaw that squashes when it smashes into the ground-- and rebounds into the air with a 'sproing' before coming to an abrupt stop-- "---KENNY! I HAVE HEARD YOUR CALL!"

Green hair flutters in a nonexistent breeze. An orange scarf twists in the solar wind. A demonic smirk reflects in the obsidian mirror that is his sword...

"I, ZED OF HYADES," Zed of Hyades declares, pointing the Doom Bringer at the Wise Man, "HAVE ARRIVED! So take a nap in peace, I will defend your unconscious body! Nahahaha!"


Zed looks at Jophiel. Then the Sorcery Globe. Then back at Jophiel.

"Hey so what's all this, then? Don't you know that thing was rightfully salvaged by us Hyadeans? Hands off!!"

GS: Zed has attacked Jophiel with Arcane Edge - Comet Crash!
GS: Zed has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Zed takes 38 damage from Poison!
GS: Zed has completed his action.
GS: Link accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Link!
GS: Shield applied to Mariel!
GS: CRITICAL! Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Zed's Arcane Edge - Comet Crash for 301 hit points!
GS: Jam blocked!
GS: Lan Lilac accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Lan Lilac!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: Gamble: Moderate! Zaphkiel solidly guards Magilou's Lightning Blast for 94 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Misery inflicts a random effect! Break applied to Zaphkiel!
GS: Disease blocked!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

"That's what I'm doing!"

Rena tells Dias willfully, explaining nothing more of what she means by that to Dias. Some things can't be explained accurately in the heat of battle. Even as Jay's alchemical cloud billows over her, easing the Domain's effects. Rena smiles, as if unused to being the one being healed rather than doing the healing.

"We will." See this through, she means.

And even as she regards the hurt Magilou, weighing her ability to reach her and help her, a stirring miracle assists in far more dramatic fashion, as Rena gasps, against the clawed flood of malevolence that assaults Zaphkiel.

"W-Wait, to devour!?"

Rena wonders if they've just unleashed another foe, with so much malevolence, since she was being sealed here. Yet right now, she's attacking Zaphkiel, and she won't say no to a helping 'hand'.

Even one as intimidating as that.

Metatron appears to be at least, having a tougher time than he expected, Rena feels heartened by that, until another figure appears amidst the Sorcery Globe.

"Lucifer? Maze of- Did they manage to bring back more of their allies? We have to stop them!"

Zaphkiel proves that's a more difficult proposition than it sounds with that terrifying sword technique, and then another appears too, showing how dire the situation is truly growing.

Yet before Rena can even comment, Gabriel turns to Claude, and Rena's expression becomes one of surprise, as she registers that he has knowledge of Claude, Rena suddenly turns his way, confusion evident within her eyes as she listens to Gabriel, "A mistake? That, who would like to forget? I don't understand."

Shock only lasts so long, as his meaning of Claude's origin truly registers.

Let me ask you something Rena.
What do you think lies beyond the sky?
Beyond the sky...?
Wouldn't it really be something if there were other worlds out there?

"Claude? Is... what he's saying true? That you're not from Filgaia?"

There is this feeling of betrayal in that moment, that feeling of traveling with him for years, and this man, this horrible man casually knowing something about Claude that she doesn't.

But that feeling is cut short, as Jophiel pronounces his target- Rena turns...!

... but not fast enough. There is the flash of an enormous, and the impact of Rena against the floor... as Claude takes the place of where she was standing, by shoving her out of the way.

And collapses, and suddenly the rush of emotions overtakes her in an instant.


She's up in an instant, and down at his side. There is a gaping hole in Claude right now, burns along the edges. There isn't even a moment's hesitation, as she places her hands on him.


Symbological power swells around her, runes rippling through the air in circles that swirl all about her. Light shines, bright green, alit with coruscating white. Within each sparkle for those who look closely, there is a brief image of faeries, with a far grander one illuminating from above.


As she remakes what was taken from him. It does not heal him at the cellular level, for indeed, the cells are gone. It goes down to the atomic level, rebuilding what was burned away in an instant.

It is one of the most basic facts about Filgaian Symbology, even children know that it cannot heal.

How then is some Elven girl from Arlia able to overturn that?

Not even a second passes, before the light swells and shines a second time from her with symbological power, the light flooding his body again.

"Faerie Healing!"

In the flood of power, in the reflection of the Sorcery Globe, her pendant doesn't just glint, but now shines a brilliant green.

GS: Shalune Amira takes a glancing hit from Jophiel's SUPPRESSING RESISTANCE for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Shalune Amira gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Entangle, Hex, and Shieldbreak applied to Shalune Amira!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Shalune Amira enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Rena Lanford spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Rena Lanford has attacked Claude C. Kenny with Faerie Healing!
GS: Rena Lanford has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Rena Lanford takes 33 damage from Poison!
GS: Rena Lanford has completed her action.
GS: Rena Lanford heals Claude C. Kenny! He gains 212 temporary hit points!
GS: FP up! Rena Lanford's Reload! activated!
GS: Claude C. Kenny gains 2 Combo from Inspire!
<Pose Tracker> Xander Lovell has posed.

"No," Xander says to Metatron. "I don't suspect it will." There it nothing that stays the blades against him, in Xander's experience. But when Riley's question is answered, Xander sighs. "Yes, yes, you're right," he says to Riley, resigned. Can't devour a world that's tossed into a furnace. How annoying.

Reality splits apart.

Xander stops and turns to look at Velvet leaping into battle, in defense of Magilou, like that were the only thing that mattered. Velvet, long black hair, eyes like steel, and barely wearing anything with no care for the battle damage of her outfit.


"...I don't see the resemblance," Xander says flatly, to no one in particular, or rather to someone in particular who cannot hear him because she has far more important stands to make and Lightning Blasts to deliver.

Metatron is problem enough, but now, as promised, there's another one, the three multiplying into many. Ugh. Xander glowers as this new elven figure appears. When the Claw is addressed, Xander's fingers curl in, twitching with the talons of his fingers poised as if ready to strike with it. It is unbecoming a graceful dancer's demeanor.

Xander does not answer Lucifer's question with words, but there is an offended twitch of his brow and storm in his eye. His snarl that suggests a nerve has been struck. Xander can bite and claw at agency all he likes. He can try to revise history with sweet nothings. He can devour a Claw and say this was a choice.

But his first plunge into corruption was forced upon him, and there was no controlliing what happened in the terrible moments afterward.

"It makes no difference."

The explosion of brilliant light slams into Xander, and whatever cries for Riley are lost in the din of it. He refuses to fall, shoving past the pain of it, letting those pink sparks sink in. Before Xander was a Fang of Valmar, before he was the Claw, he was an alchemist, and he knows how to take advantage of his moment.

He leaps at Metatron, looking for all the world he means to toss his fragile body unarmed into the fray, with nothing but a dancer's sashes to obscure his movements as he aims for a futile strike.

GS: Xander Lovell has activated Force Action: Full Clip!
GS: Xander Lovell has attacked Metatron with Just Attack!!
GS: Xander Lovell has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Xander Lovell gains 28 THP from Regen!
GS: Xander Lovell has completed his action.
GS: Metatron heals Metatron! He gains 304 temporary hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield applied to Metatron!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Xander Lovell's attack becomes clear!
GS: Metatron solidly guards Xander Lovell's just kidding he has a gun for 92 hit points!
GS: FP up! Power Burst, Reaction bonus, and Gleam activated!
<Pose Tracker> Xander Lovell has posed.

Actually no, he whips out a gun and unloads it at point blank.

<Pose Tracker> Link has posed.

    Link braces and turtles himself behind his shield as Metatron unleash both scolding and a bright burst of blue-white light! Even having expected it through it still is a heavy blow crumpling parts of the shield and knocking the boy back. That however doesn't keep the green tunic'd boy down.
    Pushing back towards Metatron, Link draws his Hero's Sword and with a leap forward swings it back at Metatron with a loud yell. His aim isn't for the shield this time, but MEtatron's body trying to push just forward with the Jump Slash.

GS: Link has activated Force Action: Lock On!
GS: Link has attacked Metatron with Jump Slash!
GS: Link gains 27 THP from Regen!
GS: Link has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Dias Flac has posed.

    While Dias might be used to being hollow, continuing to resist Innominat's Domain is far from easy. The same thing that let Dias have a quick recovery when it first unfurled slowly but surely weighs down on his soul. The memories of *that day* push back from the box he compartmentalized them into, scrabbling at his hardened heart, demanding to be let out. He grits his teeth and pushes back at it mentally.
    Ironically, what makes that easier is Claude calling out to him. Dias shoots him a smirk. "Hmm. Don't die, Claude." Rena's protest that she *is* worrying about herself just gets a low 'hmph.' Battle or no battle, he knows better than to argue with his 'little sister.'
    Dias gives Jacqueline even less overt ackowledgement than he did Rena. If she wants to hurl out a healing cloud that happens to touch him, that's her choice. ...It is helpful, though, clearing some more of the mental malaise.
    He doesn't verbally respond to Jophiel. As Jacqueline and Claude both said: they're not here for his entertainment. He really doesn't want to mess with them tonight. All the same, Dias takes note of the thrill this 'Wise Man' takes, not truly in battle, but in pain and inflicting it. He'd injured himself just a moment ago, after all.
    Meanwhile, sure enough, someone sees to Magilou and then some. The sheer force of her rescuer's entrance from the rift, let alone opening salvo from that monstrous arm, piques Dias's interest--but not enough to distract him from the battle he's currently fighting.
    Velvet isn't the only one to emerge on the battlefield, though. Two more Wise Men appear--and the ones already here defer to them. He doesn't overtly react to Gabriel outing Claude, again, as a person not of Expel; Dias already knew that. But he does glance, ever so slightly, at Rena. From the look on her face, *she* hadn't known. He swallows back a 'tch,' but irritation pricks his features. And here he'd gone out of his way to give them space to talk...
    Jophiel unleashes a red laser on Claude and him then. The barrier Rena had set on Dias earlier absorbs some of that power, but it's unable to soak it all--either the damage, or the effect. Dias snarls as he feels it sapping at his strength, slowing his movements.
    And then--
    Jophiel opens fire on Rena, only for Claude to push her out of the way and take that devastating blow for himself. Dias doesn't speak, but he does shoot them both a sharp look as he makes a subtle noise like, "!!"
    Naturally; Claude is the protective type, and Dias is anything but. (He knows he's incapable of protecting anyone but himself. He learned that the hard way eight years ago.) Still, he glares murderously at Jophiel. He doesn't turn when Rena casts her healing spells; they're so normal to him that they're not worthy of special attention. He'll leave him to her--he'll leave her to him--as he bears in on Jophiel with a long, vicious swing of his blade.
    It's more than just the blade, of course. That attack of Jophiel's has still stiffened his muscles. That's why a massive burst of phoenix-shaped energy erupts from it, flying forth and threatening to engulf the so-called Wise Man with its force.

<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

Billy casts his ether out to support his allies, but he runs out of strength for himself, and eventually collapses forward, slumping onto his arm even in the middle of the fight. His eyes catch Xantia's glance and Magilou's resolve. "Go and stop him...!"

A whole other wave of Malevolence crashes over him, and Billy nearly collapses entirely from it, his vision hazing. "Lord of...Calamity...?" he croaks out at Magilou's joyous exclamation. But he barely has time to get himself to his feet, laboriously, as Zaphkiel prepares his own ace. Billy isn't a Symbologist, he doesn't know what he's looking at, but the Ether in him sings in protest at the mere concept. As the explosion rips through, Billy's able to shove himself out of the way of the worst of the tectonic stellar lines, absorbing only a few blasts that nonetheless rattle him bodily.

But as the light clears, he's still standing, at least, and he's ditched the Etone cross. One hand in his robes, on a revolver. The other, plucking something from his pockets.

Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus. FOCUS. The pale boy with the neat silver hair has to bring his all to bear to concentrate amid the dulling Domain and rioting powers, but still, he's able to bring his left arm up, and --ting!

Flip a coin into the air. It arcs cleanly skyward. "I'm not," he says, and shifts his wait to slowly raise his pistol on Zaphkiel, aiming with his heart more than his eye for a weakness that eyes can't see.

"I'm not out yet," he says, and in the millisecond the coin falls into the gap between his barrel and Zaphkiel's heart, he fires.

GS: Blitz! Dias Flac has attacked Jophiel with Phoenix Drive!
GS: Dias Flac has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Dias Flac gains 24 THP from his Cautious!
GS: Dias Flac takes 28 damage from Poison!
GS: Dias Flac has completed his action.
GS: Billy Lee Black spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Billy Lee Black has attacked Zaphkiel with Adam's Apple!
GS: Billy Lee Black has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Billy Lee Black's stances have changed to Stoic!
GS: Billy Lee Black takes 35 damage from Poison!
GS: Billy Lee Black has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Metatron solidly guards Link's Jump Slash for 91 hit points!
GS: FP up! Power Burst and Gleam activated!
<Pose Tracker> Riley Arwell has posed.

Metatron speaks of freeing allies, conquering the universe, and setting Filgaia ablaze, either metaphorically or literally. Oh.. that's... quite a lot! Riley is either very glad or very sorry he made himself a part of this! "That's extremely bad! Destroying the world is a horrifying thing that reasonable people like ourselves should try to prevent, isn't it, Xander!!!" This is accompanied by several nudges. Yet Riley doubts he can nudge this argument into Xander's heart in the midst of everything.

Riley's eyes go VERY wide at the sight of the fierce, dark-haired woman who claws her way out of a tear in reality. "Magilou wasn't kidding... she does look like you...!" he gasps at Xander, around the same time Xander is protesting that she doesn't. A girl Xander... is the world strong enough to contain two of them?? More importantly, has Magilou's lost love returned?! She'll be so happy! (If this woman doesn't devour her). Riley vigorously shakes Xander in excitement. "They're being reunited!!"

Riley and Xander are asked by Metatron how they came upon their corrupt power. "Oh, I bumbled. One hundred percent. There was a mysterious ruin, an ominous but tasty looking fruit... As for Xander... that's more complicated... we can call it a tragedy of love..." Was he dragged into it, or did he help bring the evil miracle about? They'll probably never know. "But why am I telling you all this!" Man, he's really gotten starved for attention from the outside world, hasn't he?

Another burst of power surges forth, brilliant and burning. Vines burst to life and Riley shelters behind a shield of thorns, which only lasts a few moments before it crackles and chars and falls away, the last of the burst burning his skin and pushing him backward. He breathes hard... looking to Xander to confirm he's still all right. That was... intense... But he's still alive! He holds out his hand, the cursed Shovel of Valmar taking form, dark and glowing with magenta symbols, its aura of death almost aligning with the emptiness of the Domain pressing in on them. But this is a different power -- one he never asked for, but that has aligned in some ways with who he is, or at least who he has become -- a gravedigger. He can't reach Metatron from where he's standing, but sweeps the weapon as if he could, its ghostly afterimage carrying that aura of death like a grasping hand that steals life from what it touches.

GS: CRITICAL! Riley Arwell accepts Mariel's Bubble Lotion for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper applied to Riley Arwell!
GS: Riley Arwell has attacked Metatron with Brush with Death!
GS: Riley Arwell has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Riley Arwell gains 27 THP from Regen!
GS: Riley Arwell has completed his action.
GS: Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Dias Flac's Phoenix Drive for 271 hit points!
GS: Zaphkiel solidly guards Billy Lee Black's Adam's Apple for 95 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Zaphkiel's Cripple Ward may block the effect!
GS: Cripple blocked!
GS: Quick applied to Billy Lee Black!
GS: Metatron solidly guards Riley Arwell's Brush with Death for 94 hit points!
GS: Break blocked!
GS: FP up! Gleam activated!
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude wanted to explain. He wanted to tell Rena about it. He tried, really--but there was no time, with everything happening, and every time it came up, something else did too. But he was able, at least, to protect her. Like he promised.

...So his surprise registers when his eyes open again. "Gh--"

Faerie Healing!

"Whoof!" Claude sits up suddenly, grabbing his sword and kipping upright. "Thanks, Rena--"

And he looks up and sees--"Zed!"

"I'm not going to nap at a time like this!" He rises up, and--even his clothes are repaired by Rena's Symbology. He's still down some energy, but he's quite alive. And he narrows his eyes. "That's right. This swordsmanship is something I learned on Earth."

He sheathes his blade. "...But that's not going to be enough to fight you, is it?" A pause. "...Thanks to Rena, Dias, I didn't. But I'm not done, either."

Claude reaches, and pulls out a small object--the size of his hand. It resembles an ARM, but isn't any that are familiar to those on Filgaia except a very few. And he lifts it up, pointing it at Jophiel.

"...Rena!" He says. "I'll explain everything later. Right now, we have to give this our all. And that means--"

Brandishing his phase gun, Claude sets it to full power--and BLASTS.

The Sword of Light bursts forth, a brilliant, shining shock of white cascading towards the enemy.

GS: Claude C. Kenny has activated Force Action: Full Clip!
GS: Claude C. Kenny spends 4 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has attacked Jophiel with Sword of Light!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Claude C. Kenny gains 10 FP from his Daredevil!
GS: Old expired!
GS: Claude C. Kenny has completed his action.
GS: Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Claude C. Kenny's Sword of Light for 316 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Shield applied to Claude C. Kenny!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "I'll show you." Ida's voice is a low growl. Her brow furrows with focus, even as Billy's puzzlement and fear catch her ear. "It's a Domain, Brother Black!" Ida shouts, without taking her eyes off Zaphkiel. "But not Malevolence!" Is it Seraphic? No Seraph Ida's encountered has ever had a Domain this oppressive...

    But there's something else inside. Malevolence? Here?

    Ida's eyes go almost perfectly round as something--someone--bursts from the seal. A second Domain washes across her senses, rekindling the parts of her the first Domain is threatening to smother. Brother Black's Ether follows immediately, a one-two of boiling rage and selfless love Ida breathes in as the Domain's grip loosens. She shoots Zaphkiel a grin that shows too much teeth.

    "Round two," she says, an edge in her voice. Zaphkiel raises his blade, and power rains down. Ida blurs through it, shockwaves of Symbological might slamming into her, battering her. It hurts. It hurts, and it reminds her that she is of the Method, and this is her crucible, and she will endure it.

    Ida leads with a right to Zaphkiel's jaw, then her arms whips down to steady herself as she launches forward into a whirling roundhouse kick.

    She doesn't quite take her eyes off Velvet, or Magilou. There will be time for explanations later.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Zaphkiel with Muscle Memory!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey's Stoic stance ends!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey gains 20 THP from Cancel!
GS: Disrupt, Jam, and Slow expired!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

Others are coming towards Margaret's chosen quarry, which is good news for Margaret, at least; many can do what one could not, after all, although it's all a relative measurement. A counterstrike bites against her forearm but then a warm and cleansing light washes over her.

Part of Margaret: ack, phooey. Shoo. I'm enjoying this corruption. However, this faint feeling of spiritual dissonance with purity and light does not change the facts of the matter; her eyes cut towards Billy. She would call out thanks, but she can't tear her attention away from Zaphkiel more than the absolute minimum.

But then...

Surging forwards...

Leading with her left-hand weapon...

Trailing black hair behind her...


                VELVET CROWE

"I've got all sorts of surprises," Margaret cuts back as she disengages from Zaphkiel and lands next to Magilou, to whom she offers her hand. It may be cold, but it can be held. Her eyes rest on Velvet, afterwards, for wordless moments.

Margaret chooses to smile. "Velvet," she says. "Lovely to meet you. She was telling us about you, actually. If I understand things correctly, you might not be able to stay long."

Her eyes turn back to Zaphkiel then... and her smile fades when she sees that the wounds she scored have already sealed up. "I'm glad I could meet you anyway," she remarks. "I'm Margaret. I'm a villain, but I'm hardly a Lord of Calamity. Perhaps we can exchange our methods, later."

She raises her blade. "Time to save the world, I suppose! What a bother," Margaret says. "Rune Blade, ig"

And that is when the Starcaller Cry shockwave smashes into Margaret. She had her right arm in front of her abdomen, which is good, because nothing actually bursts, but the only reason the blow doesn't knock her on her ass is that the diaphanous nebula of Starlight Express seems to have billowed out behind her, spectacular if a little besides the point. She staggers back and sinks to her knee.

Struggling for breath, Margaret stares at the ground. Her hair pools around her vision. Come on, she tells herself. For a moment there is a squirt of pessimism: Ah, well; at least I was able to -

No, Margaret stops herself. Her eyes tear up from the pain and fury inside of her. I'm not going to --

To --

"HRRAAAAAHHHHHHH" Margaret shouts, and it seems that this is a valid conclusion to the spell, because the sword she had raised - which the Starcaller Cry did NOT break - bursts into lambent flame, its runic paint glowing!

Margaret feels herself slam face first into that strange limitation. Her heart pounds with fury. Fit to burst, perhaps; and perhaps in some cases it would have done so, but it doesn't now. Margaret raises upwards, and from an external viewpoint she more or less turns into a purple-and-white-streak.

From Margaret's perspective it's like she has to run through something like half-density water, if such a thing were possible. It stings all over, but she has bigger things on her mind. Approaching Zaphkiel, who, she thinks, appears curiously still, she shouts out, "DIE!"

Her sword descends. "DIE!"

Again and again. The sword blows get easier as she goes along; her right arm is cradled, and perhaps it will prove a fatal weakness, but the rest of her body is strong, and if it should hurt because she must twist and move faster? Then let the pain help. Maybe that was the secret ("DIE!"), Margaret thinks as ("DIE!") she strikes and strikes and strikes again, as if hoping to overwhelm regeneration with sheer ("DIE!") force.

Incredible pain!

Either way she can feel herself descending. This burst, this last-ditch reserve or ascension, won't last. She squeezes it out as best she can to rise into a leap upwards, bringing her blade round in chopping strokes along Zaphkiel's side and, it may be hoped, against his neck as she leaps impossibly high --

And lands, staggered, and much less hyper-accelerated. (Quietly, her sword explodes.)

DC: Margaret switches forms to Rune Blade IGNITION!
GS: Margaret spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Margaret has attacked Zaphkiel with A Continuous Motion...!
GS: Margaret has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Margaret has launched an attack Link!
GS: Margaret has activated Force Action: Full Clip!
GS: Margaret has activated Force Action: Fury Shot!
GS: Margaret spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Margaret has attacked Zaphkiel with THE GREAT DIVIDE!
GS: Margaret has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Margaret has completed her action.
GS: Access! Margaret takes 30 damage!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius meets that shield head-on like he were struck by a train's cow-catcher, hurling him further back enough that he strikes the wall and slinks back down anew to his knees. Pain compounds against the Domain's pressure - he is but a mortal man, in the scheme of things, coughing up equal parts blood-spacked spittle and some of that foul snack he just took a hit of.
     For a time, the best he manages is to crawl as others take their shots, and Metatron his responses. He can't yet get upright enough to use his quarterstaff for balance, and somewhere along this Xander hands out medicinal items. A quick sniff, as if instinctual, to be certain the constituent items won't trigger some sort of allergy or dependency problems. (It's a huge, huge thing in his line of work, one of the leading causes of death is food-related.)
     The Ten Wise Men kind of push the point any second spent considering that too much - and the continued existence of Claude this many years later - gets him to take it. Maybe he was being a little too overly cautious. (A bit.)
     Things happen in rapid succession. New names, new faces. Is the woman with that claw a Wise Man? (Things a few moments later suggest otherwise.) But, her arm, what she's putting out is--
     He shakes his head and starts to stand. A red-haired man of noticeable presence, and... the snarl of a blue-haired man likening everyone to bugs.
     A young man entering adolescence struggled with seeing a permanent home. Federation laws, for transparency, had to dictate the exact origins of a child. Those who pulled levers did their best given the circumstances, a great kindness - but precedent prevailed. His file, a direct descendent of some of the highest - if not the highest - names of the Hesiod crime syndicate. Many were hurt by their actions, as syndicates do. It seemed no one in the civilian sectors wanted him.
     "Ethius?" Asked a voice with a bit of a flange behind it, the troubled boy looking to see who was addressing him. They were a stranger - but the voice, however strange the inflection, wasn't unkind. (At least, they hoped so.)
     Someone insectoid. It wasn't until a few generations ago that his species started to turn away from being considered little more than a devouring horde. Their aims to join the Federation were met with hurdles and challenges galore. The young Ethius had a half a year or so to get used to so many strange-looking individuals become part of his udnerstanding of the world.
     He held out a limber clawed arm, but gently, introducing himself. It took coaxing. It took time. It took a few small hiccups of misunderstanding how one navigates relationships.
     But Ethius, through his teenage years, would come to call him his father.
     Ethius' teeth grit. This is around the time Mariel shares the compound in sparkling form, giving oxygen and strength to his body where the Domain would see fit to not let him draw from those reserves.
     Metatron nearly intercepts this as light explodes out. Ethius crosses his arms to a slurred incantation, deflecting a not-small amount of that force under blinding, deafening sparks. His feet skid back a good six feet, eyeing Lucifer beyond the great shield he can't get past.
     "The Hesiod name's a disgusting one, the lowest of the low," he starts as he straightens and regains his balance from the barrier's burst, "and that is yet my name."
     He straightens.
     "...Life and history existed long before me, and... life and history will exist long after me. Footnote, unnoticed, unheard, unseen. At large..." The taciturn Symbologist finds his rhythm, striding forward. "The life and history of the rest of the universe will be its own if I have anything to say of it!"
     Ethius gets a jog in, pushing back against all of this as his fingers contort in almost injurious ways while moving, murmuring the incantactions before slamming the palm again towards Metatron's person.
     "Short!" He calls the spell's name to the appropriate lights, moving to try and disable whatever mechanisms he will through the immense Symbological depth and superior engineering materials of Metatron's make like he wants to shove them out of the way to get to Lucifer.
     "...The insects you spit on have more worth than the likes of you."

GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated Force Action: Full Clip!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Metatron with Short!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod gains 33 THP from Regen!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
GS: Metatron suffers a terrible blow from Ethius Hesiod's Short for 166 hit points!
GS: Dispel! Hyper and Shield removed!
GS: Cripple and Jam applied to Metatron!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    There's some slight satisfaction at the way Shalune's laser hits home; she can still fight if she tries, even under the debilitating effects of the Domain around them. She knows that her fears can often be exaggerated, or not exactly have a lot of basis in reality, but it's still good - especially right in this instant - to get some validation around that fact. It helps push the incessant voice telling her that she shouldn't be here, that she should go home and drift into endless mundanity, towards the back of her mind.

    The cloud of healing that washes over her helps as well. That feeling in her brain needles her a little more for it - Jay's so much more reliable than she is, and a lot more heroineish. Why not just leave it to her? Why not just let her handle everything, relax, and close your eyes--

    At least that thought is much easier to stop in its tracks than the others. Innominat's Domain might play on her insecurities, but it can't erase the knowledge of years of being at the alchemist's side: that letting Jay play the heroine absolutely every time she tries is a frankly terrible plan, and someone has to be there to rope around her and reel her back to reality every so often. It's knowledge forged by experience, not so easily washed away.

    A figure tears from the scar in reality. Shalune has never been particularly good at detecting Malevolence, but even a blind person can recognize a tornado happening right next to them. "Oh, hell--" she starts to say under her breath, but has to stop herself when the figure decides to take on the Wise Men rather than them. Something makes her clamp her mouth shut, as if drawing any further attention to the presence of the Drifters would somehow break the spell of an extra hand in this fight.

    On top of all of that, the fact that the Wise Man has seemingly dropped his barrier - the mechanic doesn't exactly crow in success or anything, because she's not about to assume that they've already won when she can feel every muscle in her body ache with effort, but it does play towards the feeling she had where that drive to feel pain might just work a little in their favour.

    ... at the same time, a little nugget of thought sits lodged in her brain. To have lived so long that you're desperate for any kind of sensation. The way in which his stance and tone shift as he's called back to duty. It's not that she's feeling sympathy for him given everything, but... she does have to wonder what it must feel like.

    She doesn't feel any extra fear towards 'Commander Gabriel', because she's kind of already reached and gone past the point of saturation. She might just be running entirely on adrenaline, her knuckles white on her staff as she tenses up for whatever might come next. "... y'know, if you want to just fight rather than enact your plan, we can do that--" she, uh, 'offers' towards Jophiel, not completely sure what she's doing. But if ten people have a hard time agreeing on a course of action, maybe Ten Wise Men will have it even worse. "You're all Wise Men, right? You don't have to call him--"

    That gets cut off into a sucking breath as one of their number simply hit the ground; one moment Claude is up, the next he's hit the ground from a vicious strike, the sort of wound that you simply don't recover from. Shalune hasn't often experienced actual death on her journey, only come achingly close to it, and the complete abruptness of it leaves her stock-still - only to be blown off of her own feet as the suppression rays take their opportunity to strike. There's a flare of pain as she hits a wall, and when she tries to roll away from it it comes out all wrong, her foot much heavier than it should be as the lump of stone refuses to cooperate.

    Fear and concern mix with the nausea that suddenly overtakes her senses; she's not sure if the sinking pit in her stomach is panic or poison, but it doesn't matter as the two mix together to amplify each other. She was wrong. She wasn't actually saturated with fear. Now she is.

    The breath she sucks in is shaky, but she forces it past her teeth. In and out. In and out. Rena is suddenly dazzling with light, and she has to put some hope in that even if the panic is making it hard to parse what is actually happening. Jay is here too, and there's a childish thought: she can fix anything, right? And then... Claude sits up again.


    "Give me back the last thirty seconds of my life," Shalune whines to herself, but pushes again with renewed vigour. Her leg is still an unresponsive lump, but she can at least brace it against the wall as she brings her staff up. The flat white metal that comprises it is ancient and sleek and pristine. It shouldn't be glowing. It shouldn't-- bulge from sheer power draw as she launches a fanning volley of shots forwards, shaking in her hands before she finally rears back to simply throw the truly spent weapon towards Jophiel.

GS: Shalune Amira spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Formation! Shalune Amira has attacked Jophiel with Storm on the Wind!
GS: Shalune Amira has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Shalune Amira has launched an attack Link!
GS: Shalune Amira's stances have changed from Link to Avenger and Link!
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    ... and as the beloved weapon Shalune built herself years ago starts to rupture in midair, the shaft splitting apart as it threatens to explode, the mechanic-- reaches for her belt again.

    A good mechanic always carries spares.

    "We're not done yet!" she yells as she fires one last bolt straight through the shattered staff; it twists unnaturally from the impact, then glows white-hot before erupting into an explosion.

GS: Shalune Amira spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Formation! Shalune Amira has attacked Jophiel with Soaring Clouds!
GS: Shalune Amira has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Shalune Amira's Avenger stance ends!
GS: Cancel Bonus! Gained 5 FP!
GS: Shalune Amira takes 33 damage from Poison!
GS: Shalune Amira has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia could call Velvet's appearance a good thing, given the bad position her strike left her in. That timely interruption saved her from having to deal with the counter from Zaphkiel that was sure to sure to follow. Except... it doesn't /feel/ like a good thing at all. That aura is unmistakably a Malevolent one... and its source referred to as the Lord of Calamity. Which means... another threat has arrived.

However, it's a threat that has a bone to pick with the threat that she's currently engaged with, which... doesn't make it okay, but it does make for an easy decision in terms of priorities. It's not as if they can't use all the help they can get, especially given that this is only three out of the ten that are actually fighting right now.

Although, others appear who might be about to. While Zaphkiel and Velvet clash, Xantia takes a moment to regard Lucifer and Gabriel, and the way they command the others. The latter, proclaiming to be their leader.

There's a lot to take in, and not much time to do it in. Zaphkiel's movements are familiar, informing her of what's coming. "Watch out for the sword guy!" she yells, already moving to take her own advice. She's seen this before, instinctively inferring the trajectory of the eruption she knows to expect. While she doesn't quite manage to get entirely clear in time, she only gets knocked aside by it, rather than being engulfed by it like last time. That knocked out her barrier of light, but Xantia herself is back on her feet in no time following her brief tumble.

The opening left is brief, and she'll take immediate advantage. Bringing her hands together, lightning bursts forth from in between them as she charges Zaphkiel. The form of a gigantic two-handed hammer shapes itself out of pure electricity.

"You thought that would work a second time?! Eat this!!"

With that, she brings the weapon construct down upon the sword-wielding wise man; upon impact, it explodes into a forceful, chaotic swell of electrically-charged Ether.

GS: Xantia spends 5 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Xantia has attacked Zaphkiel with Ethereal Weapon Construct!
GS: Xantia has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Xantia takes 31 damage from Poison!
GS: Xantia has completed her action.
GS: Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Shalune Amira's Storm on the Wind for 261 hit points!
GS: Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Shalune Amira's Soaring Clouds for 290 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Grace Harvey has posed.

    It looks like she actually scored a hit- and earned Metatron's personal enmity. for it. "Wait, dozens? So you're not-" From here. Not from here. That means they have a way of travelling. "How? How are you even getting out of here, even! This entire system is blockaded!"

    Metatron staring directly at her is terrifying, though. She falters, stepping back a few steps. "Uh, no thanks! The only honor I go for is the type among thieves!" As much as she tries to keep the energy of banter, her voice continues to betray how scared she is. Same with the trembling.

    And then someone emerges from the light. Someone else terrifying. A demon, like something from the old shows...

    If she weren't scared out of her mind, she'd probably be able to acknowledge how cool this is.

    (Later, she WILL be thinking about how cool this lady is.)

    And then another man emerges, in robes. "W-wait, runaway! I'm not a runaway! I'm just stuck here and- wait, you know what I am?" If she needed more proof these guys were from an interstellar society, she just got it.

    The blast comes for her, and the guns switch back to pistol mode and a momentary shield of green light comes over her- enough that this time she isn't sent rolling by the force of the blast, but it's not enough to stop the impact, which lands hard and sends her sliding back with a yell of pain.

    Mariel's weird potion falls upon her, though, and Grace feels... energized? A bit more up and kicking? "Thanks!" She yells back to Mariel, even that aid being helpful.

    "Bea! Over here!" She shouts, and the pink mining droid runs to Grace from the cover she was hiding under, as the guns switch again to rifle mode. Bea opens up a port on top of her body, and a cable lashes out from the rifle's grip into it. "Okay girl, give me what juice you can spare, okay?"

    She gets an affrimative trill back. She lines up, and holds down the trigger- and a light on the rifle starts building. She has to hope everyone else can keep Metatron busy for a few seconds.

    "Come on, come on.... We don't have much time, Bea!"

    Another trill, as the little robot tries to will herself to transfer energy faster. Then, a ping.

    "That's enough! Thanks, girl! Alright- get down!"

    The yell is for her comrades, as a massive beam of energy- something far bigger and wider than the Rifle's barrel- fires for Metatron, aiming to engulf him in the blast.

    "Take this, you.... you.... you scary... metal... jerk!"

    Look, she's doing her best in very, very trying circumstances.

GS: Grace Harvey has activated Force Action: Lock On!
GS: Grace Harvey spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Grace Harvey has attacked Metatron with B3AM Rifle!
GS: Grace Harvey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Grace Harvey takes 32 damage from Poison!
GS: Grace Harvey has completed her action.
GS: Metatron suffers a terrible blow from Grace Harvey's B3AM Rifle for 259 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Hannah Curie has posed.

It's a chaotic battlefield--Hannah should be able to heal others, but doesn't trust her magic to do the task safely. But luckily Jay is with them and Mystics a potion to help the group--"Thanks, Miss Barber!"

But Hannah does notice the lack of that barrier--and that's concerning, given what he's said about pain. It also means it wasn't the only trick he had up his sleeve--he really is just that tough, which is unfortunate, for them.

And then there's a taunt, to strike him with more of that 'weird magic'.

Hannah scowls, letting her anger at being denied answers fuel her determination to stave off the effects of the domain. "It wouldn't be so weird if you'd just tell me what it is, you jerk!" Easy, Hannah. That's not the reason you're up here.

Not the only reason, anyway.

There's a lot going on--too much. Zephyr's keeping his distance from the fight, but can see the entire battlefield, but there's too much for Hannah to process between keeping the effects of the emotion-draining domain at bay, trying desperately to provide any regulation she can to her imbalanced flow in the absence of a strong ley, and the multiple fights happening.

And now there are more of the Ten Wise Men being released.

Their leader, Gabriel, talks about breaking Innominat's seal completely to gather the energy they need. "You can't! They sealed that thing up for a reason! We ain't gonna let you wreck our home just so you can carry out whatever plans you have!"

But when the lasers come for them Zephyr is guiding her movements, showing her where they're coming from and where she can escape--and she very nearly does, nimbly dancing back and out of the way--but there's a brief moment of disorientation as the multiple competing domains, magical auras, and general mayhem disorient her just long enough for a laser to tag her ankle, and she takes a tumble. She gets up, but it's a struggle with her ankle the way it is. She's pretty sure she can fix it, but she has some time, and there's a battle right in front of her. She doesn't need to run to cast magic, after all.

Two crest graphs come out, one glowing a whispy yellow, the other a fractally blue. "Fine. You want my magic? Take it." Her aura warps more as she lets the weird magic flow, funneling it into her spellcraft. One swipe with the former, and a cacophonous wail of twisting wind springs to life, right around Jophiel, slashing and cutting and rebuking again and again and again. And at the same time she drops to a knee and slams the other into the ground. A tidal wave of sharp, menacing ice springs up, but it never quite reaches Jophiel to try and ensnare him--instead it runs right into those twisting winds, and if death by a thousand cuts wasn't bad enough before, the cyclone tears the tidal wave of ice apart. Shards and chunks of ice join the whirling mess in a double assault of sharp, cutting magic.

GS: Hannah Curie spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Hannah Curie has attacked Jophiel with Elemental Conjunction!
GS: Hannah Curie has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Hannah Curie takes 28 damage from Poison!
GS: Hannah Curie has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    It's so satisfying to feel her heelbone connect solidly. To feel her enemy driven back, even only a step. One step at a time is how they'll save the world. More and more of the horrible effects of the Domain are burning away with the sweet taste of candy in her mouth, gelling with the sweetness of her body achieving flow state.

    She rebounds off of Metatron and floats gently back to earth next to Riley (and temporarily Xander), though Lucifer steps forth even as Lan's feet touch the ground again. WORMS, he rants. Insects, bugs. "...You're awfully into bugs, huh?" she remarks, pale head tilting to one side as she gazes at the elven man. "Have you ever eaten--" Her earnest, ditzy question about Lucifer's dietary choices is interrupted by a wave of energy that she scrambles to avoid - this time, the glancing energy hurts worse, but it's still not enough to completely dampen her suddenly-buoyed mood. (She does get a little more serious again because Lan does not want to die here.)

    But something bigger is coming. The feeling of Malevolence swells, pressure building behind her eyes - she falls back to a step or two behind the Fangs, lifting a hand to shield her eyes from the sheer outpouring of power from the rift. A claw. An unbreakable will.

    "Oh," Lan realizes, as Magilou revives. As Riley shakes his love with the force of his joy. As pink sparkles surround her. As Velvet Crowe threatens to devour anything that threatens what's hers (and also Magilou, which. Look, friendship takes many forms. Lan understands). "That's Velvet!"

    Distantly, she wonders if this is a love miracle, the kind that Riley had mentioned. She wonders if he ever prayed to Raftina, like she suggested.

    "--Anyway, what's so bad about bugs?" Lan frowns, nurturing a pale light at her chest. She spreads her arms wide, and with them flutters a swarm of lights, dancing dizzily, teetering and tilting to splatter in a rainbow of toxic hues across Metatron.

GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Lan Lilac has attacked Metatron with Magic Lantern Butterfly Moth!
GS: Lan Lilac has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Lan Lilac gains 30 THP from Regen!
GS: Lan Lilac has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"...We'll see." Jacqueline decides. The last thing she wants to be is entertainment. The way he views them... she can't forgive that.

More of them step forward. Gabriel and Lucifer...

"...That's six of them accounted for, then." Jacqueline notes under her breath. Counting Camael, the old man who appeared in hologram... And what's more, Gabriel announces himself as the leader.

"...Honored to make your acquaintance." Jacqueline notes.

Another emerges... but this one is certainly not on their side. Magilou's excited to see her, at least, despite the threat. Velvet, the Lord of Calamity, and the surge of Malevolence accompanying her...

...Jacqueline doesn't know what to make of this. She seems dangerous... but right now, she has to address one thing at a time.

Jophiel sweeps a laser across the room. Jacqueline backpedals. She isn't fast enough to dodge it - and so she's forced to make a quick strategic decision. She throws her right arm up, intercepting the beam. It leaves a trail of stone across it, rapidly encasing her arm in stone. The rest of her is spared, at least... but for now, her right arm falls to her side. That leaves most of her offensive options off the table... but there's still one thing she can do.

"If for just a moment... why don't you feel as we do." Jacqueline entreats. With her remaining working hand, Jacqueline rummages through her bag, reaching for a bottle of rust-colored liquid. She hurls it at Jophiel with all her might.

If the potion sets in, everything begins to feel abruptly Worse - nothing seems to work quite as right as it should. A small, token bit of defiance. As much as she can, she's not going to let him enjoy this.

And she watches Shalune, too. ...Jacqueline's glad she's here.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Jophiel with Trouble Bottle!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Metatron solidly guards Lan Lilac's Magic Lantern Butterfly Moth for 91 hit points!
GS: Delay, Drowsy, and Shieldbreak blocked!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Hannah Curie's Elemental Conjunction for 418 hit points!
GS: Jophiel suffers a terrible blow from Jacqueline Barber's Trouble Bottle for 0 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Jam, and Mute applied to Jophiel!
GS: Quick applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: FP up! Sufferer activated!
GS: Zaphkiel solidly guards Ida Everstead-Rey's Muscle Memory for 74 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Mighty applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Gamble: Very High! Zaphkiel solidly guards Margaret's A Continuous Motion... for 100 hit points!
GS: Slow applied to Zaphkiel!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: CRITICAL! Zaphkiel solidly guards Margaret's THE GREAT DIVIDE for 174 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Zaphkiel enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: CRITICAL! Zaphkiel solidly guards Xantia's Ethereal Weapon Construct for 168 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Hyper applied to Xantia!
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    The moment Zaphkiel's mouth formed the words 'it runs straight to your heart' is the moment Gwen would have started acting defensively.
    And Claude got a hole blasted in him, with Rena using her healing to raise him, thankfully.
    And how Zaphkiel's Symbol is not singular, but many, a canvas of magical achievement written onto tan skin.
    There'd also be the fact that someone has come to Magilou's aid, and it's none other than a _Lord of Calamity_.
    Also, Zed is now here.

    Gwen takes this in with the same mute, direct look as before, but like Ida, something awakens in her, cutting though the grey space that had seized her mind. It's like an ice cube against the back of her neck, sharp and defiant.

    ".... Ah..." Gwen gasps, and her eyes tear up from the sensation; it hurts, but it feels good that it hurts. "Ahaha...." How does this all work? Malevolence was what transformed people into Beasts, so... how was the absence of it something just as unhealthy?

    Zaphkiel's wandering sword calls upon the stars; Gwen's soul seemingly gives its answer. The renewed courier now staggers against and into the full force of its mighty eruption. There's a spirited light in her eyes as she takes on the brunt of the blast as before, seemingly taking the same cue as Magilou to try to power through her own, more personal retort to Zaphkiel.

    Silver and gold orbs begin to cloak both left and right hands, the twin lights adding a brilliant show of light as she rounds in for a round of pummeling hits against Zaphkiel.

    "--Selene...lion!" It takes effort to speak still, but two words are all that's needed when the rest is better experienced in the art of the fist. Leaping into the air, Gwen attempts to lay both fists straight on Zaphkiel's head, for a final explosion of starry matter.

GS: Gwen Whitlock has activated Force Action: Full Clip!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has activated Force Action: Lock On!
GS: Gwen Whitlock spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has attacked Zaphkiel with Brisingamen!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Gwen Whitlock takes 27 damage from Poison!
GS: Jam, Mute, Poison, Slow, and Weaken expired!
GS: Gwen Whitlock has completed her action.
GS: Access! Gwen Whitlock takes 30 damage!
<Pose Tracker> Velvet Crowe has posed.

She's awake.

She's... awake.

Bright gold eyes blink once, unfocused. Velvet stumbles one step, two steps out of the haze of white that she had been so cocooned within for a thousand years. She barely stops herself from falling after that initial, mad offensive, clutching her head with her human hand as her brows scrunch.

All around her, Malevolence oozes out; one would be forgiven for assuming -she- was the source of that horrible Domain in this moment, seeing her like this, suffused with Malevolence on the scale of a Lord of Calamity...

... but it's not Malevolence that could cause something so awful to press down on them all.

Soon, the Seal of Innominat will fully crumble, and from it we shall gather the energy we require to fully recharge the Quadratic Sphere.

Gold eyes widen as she hears those distant words from -- someone? who is that? who are these people? where are--

And for as confused as she is, she immediately cottons on to the implications.


It'd seem like, in that moment immediately after her first strike, as she wobbles and weaves, that she is distressingly open to attack. And Zaphkiel -- Zaphkiel is not the type to simply -stop- an assault. That massive sword swings towards what seems a ripe, open target.

And confusion bleeds away into rage as that sharpened gaze -snaps- towards him.

Whatever else is going on -- Velvet doesn't hesitate to act. Magilou is still recovering -- Rokurou is there in the distance, still weakened by... something... and the others (where are they?) are complete unknowns. But she knows the immediate threat.

And she springs right at it.

The broad side of that blade SLAMS into Velvet Crowe's side. There is the sound of something cracking from the resounding impact. It is drowned out almost entirely by Velvet's roaring words.

"nnggHH-- YOU SHOULD'VE --"

She is -flung- from the blow. No -- there's no resistance there. She flings -herself-, willfully taking that blow head on to use the momentum to her advantage, twisting through the air until booted feet -slam- into the ceiling of Marduk's sacred sealing chamber.


And then she -pushes- off, -driving- towards Zadkiel knee-first to drive that wedge of booted bone and flesh straight into the bridge of his nose with intent to disorient. It's not graceful. It's not even particularly honorable. It's just practical. Like someone who doesn't particularly care about a fair fight--

"Arthur's Fourth Maxim -- 'Never let your guard down, even when victorious'!!"

-- compared to just -winning- the fight.

In the aftermath, Velvet will try to -push- off the man, flipping through the air to land in a three-point stance a short distance away, clawed hand DRAGGING deep furrows through the flooring as she halts her momentum with it. This, not-so-coincidentally, brings her to a stop just beside Magilou as the self-styled troupe leader approaches.

Magilou. She still looks the same as back then. Back then. Back... then... How long has it been?

Velvet's vision swims for a moment. It feels like she was with... with him... for an eternity, and yet she feels like only moments have passed since that day. She hears Rokurou, his familiar voice as much an anchor to keep her steady in her sea of thoughts as much as it stirs the tempest. He's injured. The wounds are different. That day, Artorius had struck him in the...

Where's Innominat?!

She blinks once, twice. Her lips press together in a dry smack. "Innominat...? Laphi..."

They traveled across the world together, like they always wanted.

They saw the marvels of Meribia. The mysteries of Spira.

They were happy. They were--

She can feel it, pressing down on her. That thing she is a part of. That thing Laphi willingly served himself up to like a golden dish. Her human hand curls tight. Her eyes narrow.

"... he's waking up," is her terse warning.

"He's coming."

The threats are still here. She can't reach Innominat like this. She needs to get back. To draw him back into the seal. She needs to--


Broken out of the spell of her thoughts again, Velvet looks sidelong at Magilou with wide, alarmed eyes as the witch's (JESTER'S) raiments shift in a way she hasn't seen before. She blinks, once.

"... You got a few new tricks up your sleeve, huh," she wonders, and it's shocking how easy it is to fall into the swing of things again. "And here I thought you couldn't become anymore gaudy."

It's a barb laced with affection; and even if she pinches the bridge of her nose with her human hand and heaves a sigh -- despite the fraught situation...

"... I'm glad it's you here, Magilou."

There's a smile, irrepressibly fond, on chapped lips.

"I think I've got a killer headache," is her final answer to Magilou, after a moment, her tone a wry, if croaked, deadpan. Gold eyes narrow. "And I think these 'Wise Men' ought to reconsider their names."

Her gaze refocuses. Magilou is here. Rokurou. But these others... she looks sidelong at Margaret, as if for a brief moment unable to comprehend that the woman is real and talking to her. Maybe a Lord of Calamity shouldn't look so shell-shocked -- but Velvet certainly does. There's a long moment of silence as the surprise settles where Velvet seems to just size Margaret up...

Before her shoulders lift in the slow, easy roll of a shrug, her tattered coat slumping forward as she does.

"... Yeah, sure. We can talk shop after, provided we all survive."

There's a brief lack of commitment there, covered up by that simple stoicism.

Talk after. Provided... provided she's still here.

A brief moment taken to try to absorb everything, but all these new stimuli are impossible to digest all at once. There's some crazy green-haired man shouting about something called Hyades and nahahaha'ing like an extra in one of Magilou's performances; it's just -too much-!!

So instead, she just lingers with a brief, blank-eyed look on Zed before she focuses on the one staring at her -so- intently. That sharp, narrowed gaze turns on Xander. She considers him for a moment with a blank look. And then she jerks a thumb at him.

"And who the hell is that supposed to be?"

they're so similar they both can't even see a single resemblance

Introductions, perhaps, for another time. As it is, in this host of unknowns (WHERE ARE THEY), she focuses on what she can. The Wise Men. Zaphkiel.

"Listen up, 'Wise Men'!"

Magilou casts her spell. And Velvet -sprints- towards Zaphkiel as she does, hidden blade SNAPPING out of her right gauntlet as her left hand swings out, claws splayed.

"I was having... a REALLY GOOD DREAM... so as a reward for that..."

And then, she seeks to COLLIDE with Zaphkiel, blade arm swinging in a fierce, vertical slice, leading into a brutal flurry of moves. Her claw rends; her blade slices. Over, and over, and over, before she punctuates it all by flipping -backwards- and into the air, looking to catch Zaphkiel with the sudden ejection of the blade hidden on her foot. She flies high -- and then -suspends- in mid-air, for a few brief, delirious moments.

In the palm of her horrible left hand, Malevolence begins to swirl. It draws from everything and everyone here that can produce it to burgeon her own vast reserves, swirling towards a sickening sphere of bruising colors bleeding towards delirious scarlets.

Golden eyes snap wide and furious.


And then she SLAMS downward towards with that orb-bearing claw first, the impact point causing an immense, fissuring GOUT of cyan power beneath them the second she strikes.

"MAGILOU!" Velvet shouts through the cacophony. "HE'S ABOUT TO WAKE UP! I NEED TO GET BACK TO INNOMINAT--"

GS: Velvet Crowe spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: MYSTIC ARTE! Velvet Crowe has attacked Zaphkiel with Impulse Desire!
GS: Velvet Crowe has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Velvet Crowe has completed her action.
GS: Access! Velvet Crowe takes 30 damage!
GS: Zaphkiel takes a solid hit from Gwen Whitlock's Brisingamen for 236 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Zaphkiel gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Zaphkiel takes a solid hit from Velvet Crowe's Impulse Desire for 319 hit points!
GS: FP up! Reaction bonus activated!
GS: Strain! Velvet Crowe takes 67 damage!
<Pose Tracker> Metatron has posed.

"Why care about one planet?" Metatron demands of Mariel. "A planet is like a grain of sand on the beach. There's always another!"

Xander rushes in for him, and Metatron's head turns -- impassively -- as Xander, rather by surprise, pulls a gun. He shoots Metatron in the head; the bullet slams into the armor, ricocheting off, and rattles him.

"Hah," Lucifer laughs. "No difference. You're correct -- rotten souls or not, you'll all die here!"

"Nngh!" Metatron grunts, before he swings his sword up -- and as Link descends, slashing with his sword, Metatron's own blade lashes out. Hero's sword and Metatron's knight's blade meet, with a shower of sparks.

"Love?" Lucifer asks Riley, eyes narrowed, as he watches him charge Metatron with a shovel. "How... charming," he says. "So you bumbled into it because of pathetic sentimentality!"

"What--ah! Clever!" Metatron answers Riley's attack aloud, seeing the ghostly image of a shovel coming for him. He raises his shield arm -- and there is a loud CLANG, and a shovel-shaped dent in the front of his shield.

And holding that blow lets Grace get her shot off. The blast of energy washes over Metatron. The armored figure vanishes into the blast -- and when it fades, his barrier is crackling, broken in places. His flesh is blistered around his lips and nose -- and sizzling, revealing it to be synthetics. The metal is burntand singed.

"Ah, ah, how clever," Lucifer answers Grace. "We don't need starships, you miserable little fly! You hide behind metal. We merely teleport directly to whichever world we like. The Federation blockade will be most... amusing."

Metatron turns, swinging his shield out -- as Lan's rainbow light washes over him. It distracts him, though; he grunts harshly. "Ngh--sensor issues--"

"What's the matter with bugs?" Lucifer asks, with a laugh. "Why. Nothing. They're so... crushable."

So blinded, Metatron can't see what is coming. Lightning explodes through Metatron at Ethius's spell -- and after the attacks of the others, Metatron isn't ready for it. He jerks, shuddering, and his head turn. He brings his sword back; Symbols dance across it, light beginning to grow, off it.

But his movements are sliggish.

"The universe is nothing without us," Lucifer says. "It is ours. It has ever been ours. It's been ours since your species were scratching cave walls and calling it art. Metatron, kill him."

"As you comm--"

The oppressive aura of Innominat has not let up since they have arrived.

His Domain has only extended and intensified, in a subtle and incremental way. More of a whisper in the back of the mind: to stop, to not feel, to let oneself be devoid of emotion. Now, though it slams into the minds of everyone present. It can almost be seen; a sagging of sword arms, a slumping of the shoulders, a shuddering here and there. An involuntary response to a presence so powerful, so intense.

It even reaches some of the Ten Wise Men, perhaps proving what Mariel said.

Metatron's sword suddenly drops to the ground, rattling. His mechanical knees buckle, and he seems to hesitate. When he speaks, his voice is devoid of emotion -- and it had never had much emotion to begin with. "Must... must protect..." he says, in a near monotone. "Must... pro..."

"What--what have these insects created!?" Lucifer snarls.

Another of the Wise Men appears, stepping from the shadows; one wearing green robes, covering his head, with only pale golden eyes peering out from the robe's hood. "This--this entity is disturbing. I have no record of anything quite like this," he says. "We--"

"Raphael!" Lucifer shouts to the hooded Wise Man. "Pull Metatron back!"

Metatron is surrounded by rings of golden light, all filled with Symbols. They flash up -- and then he vanishes into a ball of light, pulled back into the shadows.

<Pose Tracker> Zaphkiel has posed.

    He should have gone for the kill.

    After all, Velvet's first line of action, as soon as his blade impacts into her side, is to crash down into his face, her booted feet leading the way. There is an explosion of bright cyan tinged with silver: Zaphkiel's face is a ruin. He takes but one step backwards, that blade of his kicking up sparks as it rises to return the favor after a fashion: of the two, he may well be the more honorable but that does not mean he won't lose an opportunity.

    Lightning cracks forth at Magilou's beck and call, and what would serve as a greater attractor than that massive blade the Wise Man bears? "Ha," breathes Zaphkiel once the initial shock and awe fades. His lips split into a grin, the wounds Velvet had left already fading. "Hahaha! Brilliant! Now that," and his hands twitch ever so slightly on the hilt of his sword as his body seeks to right what damage was done, "was a magnificent idea!" He advances on her slowly, as if -- in spite of his words -- drag this exchange out that much longer. Even the presence of their leader does not, it seems, immediately compel him (as it did with Jophiel) to quite fall into line. Perhaps even now he hopes to invite another exchange of blows with them all.

    After all, targetting Magilou had worked to great effect the last time.

    This gives Billy the opening he needs to attempt to stay Zaphkiel's advance. He takes aim carefully, and had his opponent been anyone else but one of the Ten Wise Men, it might have even dropped his opponent on the spot. But alas-- Zaphkiel's blade rises in a sudden arc, cleaving the bullet neatly in half. But this leaves him a moment stalled, and in that moment, Ida closes the gap.

    It's round two. And she lets him have it.

    It might be like kicking the trunk of an oak tree: he doesn't so much bend, let alone break. The one sign that she has had an effect at all will be the smear of cyansilver at the corner of his mouth. "Not bad," Zaphkiel remarks, dragging his left hand across his face where she'd struck him. His blood is already fading; his wound is already gone.

    Light dances at the periphery of his vision, and that's his sole warning: Gwen answers star-render with starlight after a fashion, the detonating forcing Zaphkiel back, into a position that another will soon attempt to exploit.

    "Hah... that thing's overtaken you, hasn't it-- I've seen its like before! I wonder how long you'll last?" Zaphkiel muses as the brilliance fades, straightening as if he is already preparing to put Gwen's ARM to the test.

    'Die,' Margaret calls, exploiting the moment and slamming into Zaphkiel again and again and again and again. Cyan-silver blood paints the floor; she forces him to stagger under the weight of her assault.

    Zaphkiel gazes at her in the aftermath, covered in his own strange blood, and here he slowly begins to chuckle then laugh. "Now that," he says, catching his breath as his wounds quickly begin to knit together, seemingly impelled along their path by the glow of his Symbological tattoos, "was clever! Overwhelming regeneration with an all-out attack like that..." He glances down at himself and his near-healed injuries, and with a grin that seems almost sheepish, shakes his head. "It's almost a shame it didn't work."

    Did he think that would work a second time? "Learning, I see!" Zaphkiel replies, rushing Xantia in much the same moment she rises to engage him. But it is not her fists that connect with her flesh, but a large mass of Ether.

    It's shaped like a hammer. This is important. Perhaps if he had been standing still he might have weathered her blow, but as things are, with him in motion--

    Xantia manages what no one else has yet this skirmish: she knocks Zaphkiel back a short distance. He skids to a stop, eyeing her. "Unusual energy manipulation... unclassed type... eh?" he remarks, looking her over anew.

    She'd been having such a nice dream, Velvet says, rocketing towards Zaphkiel like a wayward comet. His blood, for the second time in the last several seconds, paints the floor of this inner sanctum within Marduk before she punctuates her assault with a skywards leap and eruption of Malevolence. It goes right through him.

    "Ha... this again! Interesting! But your control of it's stronger--" Zaphkiel starts to say.

    Unfortunately, here is the moment where everything comes undone.

    There had been that vague whisper there the entire time, crawling at the back of their minds. For someone like one of the Ten Wise Men, it had been a menace that they could ignore. This is true no longer. Something slams into all of them, and Zaphkiel, perhaps to his own horror, finds that his will to fight is flagging. "What-- what is this? Raphael! What--" He glances the once at Metatron, seemingly overcome by the force of the Domain, then back to his opponents. "Tch," he hisses. "Try not to die."

    And with that, gold light flashes about him as well and he vanishes from sight.

<Pose Tracker> Jophiel has posed.

    An emerald comet races into the battlefield, one that's possibly as loud as Jophiel himself. Zed erupts into the scene, clashing straight into him and prompting a noise of discombobulated nonsense from the Wise Man.


    Gabriel rubs his chin quietly. "So that is a Hyadean...? how interesting that the survivors of Hyades would have converged here, after all this time."

    Claude takes Jophiel's severe attack head-on, and for a moment, that seems to be that. No one could stand up from that. There's a scoff from the Wise Man, but then Rena moves to assist him, no...

    He's being rebuilt at more than just the cellular level. What was taken away -- has been granted back in turn.

    Gabriel's eyes narrow with intensity, at Rena's powerful show of healing power. "That Symbology..."

    A holographic image of an old man with a red visor draped over his eyes appears. He has balding white hair, and a number of eyes on his forehead, and atop his head at that.

    "There is no mistaking it," says the old man. "That is Healing Symbology. She must be a Nedian. I have also confirmed that the pendant around her neck is a Quadratic Key."

    Gabriel's expression rises to one of amusement. "I see, Camael. We did detect that the high-energy materials to create one existed on Filgaia, but I had no idea there would be a Quadratic Key here. Our schedule may have just been sped up by a factor of one hundred years."

    His expression settles on Rena. "Yes, if you are truly a Nedian, it would make sense... only Nedians could refine and create a Quadratic Key."

    Distracted as he is on many fronts -- and perhaps allowing himself a moment's worth of relish from downing Claude -- Jophiel doesn't find himself ready to defend against Dias' energy-based phoenix.


    His arms are back up in a block, but the phoenix-shaped burst just takes him wholesale and SEARS away at him, thrashing him back towards the wall in a savage blow.

    And the Earthling is back up! He stops just short of spitting, a temper rising over him as he shouts, "YOU-- YOU--!!"

    The Sword of Light erupts across the room, and sensing a particular danger--

    --the barrier comes back online, just in time for it to be punctured at full force by Federation technology, which still rips through Jophiel's shoulder.

    "Utterly careless, Jophiel," Camael's hologram chides. "You are a disappointment. You need recalibration."

    "DISAPPOINTMENT... ME...? NO..."

    Unwittingly, that sets him up for further failure, as Jophiel boosts as hard as he can -- but Shalune's aim is faster, as her shotstaff bulges in a way that it shouldn't, erupting onto the Wise Man wholesale and tearing through with one last explosion.

    "Even with such rudimentary tools, this is what you're capable of? Resourceful," Gabriel remarks to Shalune. "And with possession of one of the Ancient Golems, if Camael's report is true..."

    Jacqueline invites him to 'feel as they do', as she rummages through her bag and shatters a bottle of rust-coloured liquid, which seems to corrupt and malfunction his systems.

    "SYSTEM ERRORS...!! I--"

    "An alchemist? ... how nostalgic," Gabriel remarks, as Jacqueline speaks her defiance against Jophiel. "And such manners, too." Manners stands out to him, huh?

    Once more, Jophiel gets a full taste of Hannah's 'weird' magic, as he calls it -- but he's certainly in no state to explain how it's weird... even if he were incliend to, which he isn't. The power of her winds slash at him, again and again and again, drawing blood each time, before a tidal wave of ice seeks to imprison him in an icy, windy grave.


    Gabriel stares to Hannah. "So you are the wielder of the magic that Jophiel described as 'anomalous'. You are definitely not what you seem."

    He glances towards the tear. "Seals are never meant to last an eternity. I am afraid that those people only left your generation with more problems. Sooner or later, even without us here, this outcome was inevitable."

    The Leader of the Ten Wise Men regards Magilou as she rallies and exhults the name of her Lord of Calamity. And Velvet herself speaks up -- telling them that they'll rue the day they woke her up.

    "Velvet Crowe. And you, 'Magilou'..." He seems deep in thought for a moment. "I see. From 'that time'... I shall remember that."

    Gabriel's lips press together. "But I am afraid you are too late. You made your move, and it was the incorrect one, Velvet Crowe."

    The chamber begins to violently tremble, as the seal itself begins to implode upon itself. There's no mistaking it; the sensation of Innominat's Domain only strengthens, further and further. The being trapped inside will soon emerge, unable to be kept restrained without the one who kept it in check. It is intense. Gabriel curls his lips into a smile, as if understanding better the nature of the very Empyrean trapped within.

    Jophiel, on the other hand, appears to be straining heavily under the intensified effects of the Domain; his agitation begins to settle, his arms sagging. "NO.... I.... ACQUIRE TARGET...."

    "Our instruments cannot accurately measure the power of this being...!" Camael expresses discomfort. "Jophiel's combat capability is down seventy three percent. Gabriel--"

    "Hmph. In a different time, I could have used this power..." Gabriel shakes his head at that errant thought. "I've enjoyed our little chat, but I'm afraid time is up. Lucifer, we should away. Camael, finalise the arrangements on our teleportation route."

    "As you wish," the holographic image of Camael responds, and then disappears in short order.

    Jophiel, in his last moments before teleportation, hisses through a monotonous voice, as if holding dear to one act of rebellion:

    "THIS IS NOT OVER YET..." He breathes difficultly, staring towards Rena, Claude and Dias. Towards Shalune, Jacqueline, Hannah and Zed. Even through his goggles, there's a conflict of emotions, one of pure anger adulterated with fear.


    With that, his form turns into a soft, round sphere of light. Camael's holographic image disappears.

    Gabriel takes one last look at the room, placid as he was when he entered the room -- though it doesn't take much to see that whatever aura he bears is, underneath that demeanour, clashing fiercely against that of Innominat's.

    "Innominat is not a being you all are likely prepared for, after your trials through this satellite and with our Wise Men. I can only hope you do not experience excess pain before your death. Farewell."

    Then he, too, becomes a sphere of light, and they are spirited away from the satellite.

<Pose Tracker> Innominat has posed.

Raphael steps back into the shadows, too, after his fellows vanish. Conversely, Lucifer watches, as a small, slight form comes through the gash torn into Marduk's walls. He does not walk, but floats. He wears a torn, tattered raiment of white and gold clothing; at this point, the clothes are more like the remains of whatever he wore.

His hair is shoulder length, a golden blonde that becomes pure white at the end. It is now bedraggled and stringy. His eyes are golden -- and they are, tellingly, the same as Velvet's. They are wide, though.

"Hungry... so... hungry..."

BGM: Tales of Berseria: Innominat, the Fifth Empyrean - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFS1o00l7VY

DC: Innominat switches forms to Innominat, the Empyrean of Suppression!
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    Somewhere, in the near distance:


    There's a tearing sound of flesh through blade, as a certain grey-haired Drifter performs a spinning slash through the winged dragon she's engaged in combat with. It's weakening... she can chance it-- now--

    Lunata Croze breaks through the dragon threatens to blast her with flame, but she dives out of the way, ending her roll next to the two most important people in her life.

    The intense weight of the Domain is immediate, and for a moment, she's drawn back to how she felt in Spira. Innominat's words are familiar, even. It was all for nothing. They fought for nothing. None should feel. None should feel again...

    "I nearly missed out... on all the fun," Lunata remarks, even as she feels her lips trembling, her knees quavering. "That's... Innominat...? The feeling's even more intense than anything I've felt. Facing down Mother wasn't like this. But..."

    She brandishes her blade horizontally, her expression tightening, but she manages a defiant grin.

    "No matter what, I'm with you two. Right to the very end, I'll defend you with my unlife. Even if I'm... not... gonna give up just yet!"

<Pose Tracker> Grace Harvey has posed.

    It seems a truth of the universe that no matter how big a fish you are, there's always a shark.

    And for sharks, there are megalodons.

    And right now, Grace feels like goldfish that's been dumped in the ocean. Even if she weren't at risk of being eaten, the saltwater means she can't breathe.

    Her emotions are being pushed away. No anger, none of her cockiness, no bravado, no one liners. She can't even hold her guns, as they clatter to the floor, separating and dividing back into the completely blank white boxes.

    Almost all of her emotions are suppressed-

    But terror is a powerful emotion, even in the face of power like this.

    She starts whimpering, as only one strong emotion remains. She falls to the ground, shaking, crawling backwards. All three of her eyes are wide, tears of distress flowing. "We're... we're gonna die..."

    The panic in her voice becomes a blubber. "I don't wanna die... I don't wanna die... I don't wanna die..."

5tNext to her, Bea is silent. Unmoving. The little robot doesn't have the strength against something like this. She shuts down, next to Grace, even as Grace tries to hide behind her.

    "I don't.... I don't wanna die!" She's shaking violently, closing her eyes as tight as she can. "Momma! Arle! Where are you!?"

<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

It should perhaps be a concern to Rena that he immediately follow up on the threat, to kill her while she's healing Claude. It isn't, because even if Dias doesn't believe in his ability to protect anyone but himself.

She has no doubt he will. And her faith is rewarded as his attack buys her time. And they speak, they speak on her? Gabriel and the Old Man with Eyes. The glow from her healing has hardly faded.

Rena's breath catches, and then she releases it as Claude kips up, as if he'd just stumbled during sword training.

A relieved smile, it's like she completely forgets how she was feeling a moment ago, as she herself straightens up. Her healing magic is something she's always had faith in.

"Claude you're... you're alright."

But it's still a relief to see him like this anyway, whole rather than 'hole'. For the moment, her gaze turns to them, over what they said.

"Quadratic Key? This- this is the pendant I was found with. Does that mean... you know who my birth mother is?" There's something about the tone with which they use around her pendant, what they call it, she doesn't like it, "I'm... a Nedian? I- what do you know about me?! Where did I come from?!"

What do they mean that her pendant sped up their schedule by a HUNDRED YEARS? She doesn't like the sound of that. It's so much to process, too much!

In the overwhelming onslaught of confusion, this information, Claude offers to explain everything later? Her smile manages its return, as if coming out from behind the clouds the Ten Wise Men placed in the sky. "Okay. I'm holding you to that." However, he brandishes an item that only looks partially familiar until-!

He blasts, the beam reflecting in his eyes And Rena's eyes shine bright with the feelings she had that day when he saved her using it.

"I knew it! ... You did have the Sword of Light all along!"

Despite how dire things were just moments ago, it's appearance gives her an almost unshakable sense of faith, that everything is going to be alright.

Because Claude has this. The Hero of Light is revealed!

And where there is light, there is certainly dark, for in the wake of Zaphkiel's attack, she finds herself disturbed by the sheer fury of Velvet in retaliation, the surging malevolence, but...

... in an instant, she knows the answer to her question on friend or foe.

'... I'm glad it's you here, Magilou.'


Perhaps not hers, in the sense of their goals aligning but certainly someone who is trying to stop what's going on here.

Perhaps they could triumph, but that affect is disturbing even them. Even THEY are overwhelmed, and understand implicitly that they will be too.

Jophiel may be denied his battle but...

"You're just going to- say those things and just LEAVE? After- after all that!"

... Rena is denied answers.

The first answers she's had in years, and they only leave her with more questions. They are leads, but... despair leaks out of her at her own ignorance, the idea she might have made things WORSE somehow by being here, even if she doesn't know how.

The emptiness from Innominat's domain just GROWS in that moment, and suddenly that stasis strikes her, she can hardly even register Lucifer's alarm over this turn of events because...

...Rena tries to shake it off, but suddenly all her reasons for being here seem pointless, an emotional hollow burrowing it's way into her spirit, she keeps trying to resist even as that figure steps forward.

As he rails against the very concept of humanity. "Die? Why would you ask that of us... of anyone? How is that reasonable?" She's wavering, but then holds strong, in a moment, until..."

"Hate it?" Rena whispers, "Why... why would they...?" Rena's eyes look upon Dias in that moment, and then they blink, as she thinks of that day.

That day when she found Cecille. Found his whole family. Found him.
When she brought the only brother she'd ever known back from death's door.
Is that why he...?

Dias and Claude might see the very moment that all emotion leaves Rena's eyes. As she mumbles the words that allowed that gnawing emptiness to take hold. "Hates it... he hates it..."

It was all for nothing.

<Pose Tracker> Magilou has posed.

    Xander should see the resemblance. It's a very flattering comparison! "Hey," Magilou calls out, to him and Riley, with a grin which betrays a shred of her pain. "Glad you could meet her. The one and only -- ORIGINAL Lord of Calamity!"

    Magilou, please stop hyping Velvet up. The worlds are ending, Magilou.

    (She can't very well help herself, witnessing Velvet's underhanded violence. There's nothing more beautiful in any world.)

    Magilou takes a step back, though, seeing Zaphkiel advancing for her. "Hey, now," she says, lifting her hands palms-up, "I'm taken! I'm taken twice over and you are not invited to the polycule!" Did Margaret consent to this. Did Velvet consent to this. Luckily, Billy and Ida stop him from putting his resume in. Or murdering her. It was definitely one of those two things.

    "You're right," she adds, to Ida and Billy. Her hand clasps, and unclasps, as she fights to get a grip on herself in the grasp of -- "This isn't a Hellion's domain." A brief glance to Velvet, "Oh, we stopped with the propaganda, no one calls you Daemons any more." With that very important aside, she looks back to the priest and the brawler, and says: "... this is an Empyrean's Domain. Maotelus took Innominat's job, when we sealed him... and thanks to the Ten Wise Men, he's not quite sealed any more. If we don't do something, everyone will end up just like me..."

    The camera cuts, briefly, to Tron and Roll -- working quietly and efficiently, with no joy or fear or hope in their hearts.

    "... all hollowed out inside. And unlike me, the old man's plan with Innominat worked. Sooo..."

    So, you see, Magilou was Melchior's biggest failure -- and it's written in the way she snaps her attention to Margaret, as she ignites her Rune Blade. "Margaret!" She cries, worried for her -- WORRIED for her -- as she demands Zaphkiel's death. "Hey," she tries to laugh it off, a moment later, "don't hog all the violence for yourself! I'm an evil sorceress too, you know!"

    There is a beat of silence.

    Another beat of silence.

    "Also, I need you to still be standing in a few minutes so you two can make out," she says, gesturing from Margaret to Velvet. "You know, before the world ends? Come on, I deserve this."

    Rokurou groans, from his little pile of Rokurou in the corner. It's definitely not just from his grievous wounds, though he definitely will be grateful when Mariel makes it over to him.

    "But that's me," she adds, tapping her finger to her temple. "Your most stylish friend!" The word Velvet used was 'gaudy', but Magilou breezes right over that. She introduces Xander at Velvet's prompting, "That's Xander Lovell, one of the Fangs of Valmar -- he's going to end the world too, but he's a total cutie-pie about it with his, HAVE YOU TWO GOTTEN MARRIED YET OR ARE YOU STILL LIVING IN SIN," yelled across the battlefield to Xander and Riley.

    She's glad to know... that Velvet was dreaming, all this time. And she notes, with interest, that this Rena is doing something which looks impossible -- healing Symbology.

    But Innominat's Domain is only growing stronger, and Magilou grits her teeth, against the emptiness which resonates in her own heart. "Come on," she says, to Velvet, grimmer than all her jokes. "I'll help you." 'From that time,' Gabriel said, and Magilou brings it into context for her old friend: "It's been a thousand years -- we mustn't let Innominat go free now. And just like last time, Althena's not going to show up and help out... but don't count us out just yet. I've only grown stronger!"

    Is anything strong enough, though, to combat the horror pouring out of that gash in the containment field? The sterility of Innominat's Domain is overpowering enough to even clutch Metatron.

    In order to combat a power that overwhelming...

    ... how terrible must the original Lord of Calamity be?

    Magilou, at least, seems entirely secure in the belief that Velvet can do it... and at peace with what she might have to do to restore balance, between them.

    That's why she steps forward, when Innominat floats from his containment. Not in front of Velvet -- but with Velvet.

    And someone charges out, alongside them --

    -- Rokurou, his twin shortblades flashing, as he dives in to assault Innominat. "Haaa--!!" He cries, all vengeance: "I WON'T LET YOU!"

    He is repelled, of course, as easily as a gnat. Don't judge him too harshly -- he held out against Zaphkiel for a surprisingly long time, before he was annihilated. It's a wonder -- perhaps facilitated by some helpful herbs -- that he even managed to stand again, briefly as it was.

    Magilou scowls, deeply, as she grasps her shikigami in hand. "My turn," she says.

    "... you're wrong." And Magilou is so deathly serious, as she addresses him. "The world doesn't remember you as Laphicet or as Innominat, now... the denizens of Lunar have new plagues to keep them awake at night. Humanity moved on... but we never forgot. We never forgot what you did... what it cost."

    Her teeth grit.

    "What it took."

    It took Velvet, and it took Maotelus, and in time it took Eizen, too. (And time itself took Eleanor...)

    "So don't you say it was all for nothing. We had a thousand years of peace. A THOUSAND YEARS!" Somewhere in her she finds the energy to scream, even under the oppression of Innominat's too-familiar Domain. "EAT THIS! SPELL ABSORBER!"

    And what happens when Magilou casts Spell Absorber -- under the influence of Super Absorber?

    Nothing good.

    "Velvet!" Magilou screams, pain evident in her voice as that white light flashes to lilac butterflies around her. "Go -- now!"

<Pose Tracker> Dias Flac has posed.

    Dias prefers to fight alone. As a consequence, when he *must* fight alongside others, until they've proven themselves to him, he tends to ignore them and do his own thing. (Dias is an excellent swordsman, but a poor team player.) He hadn't expected much from the others here, but he has to admit--a lot of them have been pouring on a lot of power.
    Most immediately relevant to him, since they're fighting the same person, is Hannah and her 'anomalous' ice tornado, and Jacqueline and her multi-purpose potions. Shalune's frozen up too long by Claude's would-be death, but when she recovers, her attacks are relentless. He doesn't outwardly acknowledge any of them, but he'll remember.
    For now, he shoots Claude a glance as he gets up. "You're supposed to be protecting *her*," he chides--to say nothing of that loud green-haired weirdo who came barreling in to seemingly fight on Claude's behalf. But then Claude demonstrates why Rena thought he was a prophecized hero.
    Dias doesn't assume it's the Sword of Light. Claude isn't some fairytale hero straight out of legend; he's a man from a super-advanced civilization from another planet. Seeing that massive blast of light and energy, though, he can understand why Rena would make that mistake.
    It's still annoying that she *does* make that mistake, because she wouldn't make it if someone had been timely about telling her the truth about himself, Claude.
    But while Rena's healing magic might be normal to Dias, it seems it's abnormal on more than just a general Symbology level. She's a 'Nedian'? And her pendant is a 'Quadratic Key'...?
    And apparently the leader of the Ten Wise Men is impressed by good manners. Who would have thought.
    Dias sets those questions aside for now and is prepared to follow up the flurry of blows on Jophiel with something to fell him for good--but Velvet's quoted maxim about never letting one's guard down, even when victorious, proves prophetic. Innominat's seal finally collapses, and the effects of his Domain finally overwhelm him, giving the Wise Men a chance to teleport away. Dias drops to a knee, struggling mentally against the nothing that would consume him; a bead of sweat trickles down his face as he glares at Jophiel, the other Wise Men, and finally... Innominat.
    He's never heard of this being before, but his level of power is unmistakable. It's a struggle to feel motivated enough to lift his head. To not lie down and rot away. To feel... anything.
    Ironically, when Innominat *addresses* him--him and Rena and Claude--Dias is able to find something in there to feel something at. "No," he growls. "What I hate is--"
    His eyes flick past Innominat to the strange nothing-space where he and the Ten Wise Men had been sealed. The obvious solution here is to force him back in--but do they have the power to do that, when they can barely move?
    (when he can barely)
    "Damn it all," he hisses. He can feel Rena's stare on him. She's the only other one who knows. And, like her, his red eyes start to lose focus. (he lies in a growing pool of his own blood as his parents' bodies cool beside him) It was all for nothing. (he watches paralyzed as his sister is beaten into stillness) None should feel ever again...

<Pose Tracker> Riley Arwell has posed.

"It is charming," Riley says to Metatron, "And Xander's sentimentality is not pathetic, it's the most powerful force in the world, I've seen it make miracles. Not to mention flipping a train over."

Lan lands nearby, and despite the frenzy of combat, Riley offers her a hopeful smile of greeting. Has anyone told her Xander is planning to end the world yet?? Maybe he can still grasp at friendship.

She may not voice her musings, but he DID in fact pray to Raftina, and while they may not have been saved, in his opinion a small and lovely miracle did arrive (it may have just been a dream). He nods in fierce agreement with her defense of bugs. "That's a good point! Have you ever really paid attention to a bug? Bugs are delightful!"

Velvet would like to know who the hell Xander is, and before Riley can attempt an introduction (he assumes Xander will make none of his own) Magilou explains to her that Xander is going to destroy the world but is a cutie pie about it. Riley lights up like never before, feeling like the world has set itself right again. Magilou knows what happened and has not forsaken them!!! She still likes them! "Magilou!! You're wonderful, you're the best! I'm so happy you could meet your dark mistress again!! Velvet, you seem amazing! We should all hang out if you don't have to go back into the rift!!" It will be so sad if she has to go back into the rift...

Magilou demands to know if they're married yet or living in sin. Riley waves his left hand at her happily, a ring catching the light. "Almost!!"

All of that is before the Domain... overflows. When it does, it's hard to remember why he was feeling all of that exuberance. He feels... hollow, and his eyes lose their shine. He shakes his head, trying to remember and reach his feelings. They were important, weren't they? They seemed so important a moment ago. Xander -- his feeling for Xander. That's what he needs to hold onto above all. He physically reaches for him, grasping at his hand, to anchor himself to what he can't quite touch.

Innominat emerges, an almost angelic figure. An angelic figure that wants to eat them. Riley KNOWS he should have big feelings about that, but they seem far away. He pulls against Xander, covering them both with a tangle of protective vines, knowing he would want himself to. "Don't eat Xander," he says, though it lacks energy or bite.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    Shalune's vision is wobbly; she can barely track everything happening around them, especially when the Domain's power intensifies and nearly brings her to her knees with the sheer force of its nullification. "... I don't... 'possess' him. Don't talk about them in that manner," she hisses through her teeth towards Gabriel's comments, and apparently it's that part that she takes issue with the most. She's holding onto herself mostly by curling into herself more tightly, even if that might just be playing into the Domain's power in the end.

    But she can still feel enough to feel something, and a flare of unexpected anger roars up in defence of--

    --in the defence of--

    "No-one's a disappointment just for wanting to feel something!" she yells in defence of Jophiel. "What, you're just gonna 'recalibrate' the feelings out of him? Don't let them do that to you!" she rounds on the visored Wise Man, still not really sure what she's doing but going entirely with her gut. This isn't a ploy to try to sow dissent amongst them, just the last vestiges of what she feels before the Domain settles back over her again, the anger of the situation collected and borne against it. "And if you wanna get blown up again, just come and find us! So long as it's on your own orders and not theirs!"

    And then the Wise Men are gone. There's no way to tell if she got through, and no time to worry either, because somehow a tiny, frail figure carries more terror and pressure than all of them combined. Her good leg starts to give again, and she rams her staff into the ground to lean on, forcing herself to listen to the golden voice. It's a voice of deep resentment, of exasperation. She's not even sure if it's hatred, exactly, but there's certainly something like it in the way that the small figure singles out those that aren't human from those that are, in the different ways they get addressed.

    Not for the first time, she wonders what the hell the humans of old actually did.

    Lunata's arrival is better than any balm, washing away many of her doubts for a wonderful moment of clarity; Shalune's source of strength has always been in believing in other people first and foremost, and she offers a faint grin in the girl's direction. "Oh, yeah, it's a ton of fun. ... don't let that voice beat you, okay? I'm counting on you to be really, really, really sulky and contrary."

    Her hands waver on her staff, and it would feel so good just to have a comfy nap right now - that thought keeps pulling her towards the ground. Some addled part of her mind thinks it's pretty handy to have an inanimate object to count on keeping her semi-upright, if only for helping that little nugget of defiance remain. "... but I don't know how to win against it, either."

<Pose Tracker> Xander Lovell has posed.

Xander looks back at Riley impassively when he tries to convince him destroying worlds is a terrible thing to do. "Destroying you is worse." He is then shaken in the name of love reuniting and sighs, but cannot hide a small smile as he pats Riley on the arm. "Yes, yes, I see them." This special person of Magilou's is threatening to devour everything, which is earning a considerable amount of respect from Xander.

Too bad they're nothing alike.
(The idea of a flattering comparison is only going to make it harder to recognize.)

As Magilou yells across the battlefield at them and Xander heaves another sigh. Riley's already showing off the ring, so Xander looks away and holds up his left hand. There's a similar glint. "We're addressing it at the next frog pond."

Which is another reason not to let the Wise Men destroy Filgaia, or whatever.

Sentimentality (pathetic or not) only gets a brief respite. Something is happening here. Powerful forces. Ten Wise Men. The Lord of Calamity. The one called Innominat.

A bullet does not break Metatron's armor, but it gives more impact than Xander might have managed with anything else. Can he use that? He lands away, back near Riley, observing, waiting, watching. Is there an opening on these impervious bastards...? ... Wait. What's wrong with them now...?!

The Domain intensifies. Xander's eye goes dull, but a few blinks later and the defiance of life lights it back up. This nothingness... they're familiar depths that call to Xander... a temptation he's answered before, when he thought there was nothing to live for. Riley's touch is enough to shock Xander out of it, and he clutches back, dragging Riley in against him in a fierce hug.

...An entity of light, staring them down with a hunger that threatens to outstrip his own. Xander's breath grows heavier, and though he tries to tighten a protective hold on Riley, he is getting weaker. "Try it and you'll choke!" Xander bites out, trembling with pain and conviction. His emotions are bitten and dragged down into this emptiness, but Xander refuses to let go.

"Riley... Riley, it's okay... I'll be the one who carries you this time..."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius might even believe his number could be about up, on Lucifer's command. The sensation that's run through him has depleted much of what pluck he's had, and even a Symbological spell of the yield he just had feels... more than 'too much' to muster. When Metatron's sword drops, it bounces and spins a little too close to Ethius for comfort, and Lucifer's surprise and disdain is not a source of amusement or levity.
     It's horrifying.
     Something a new arrival (Raphael) appears to agree with, which itself is not reassuring.
     Even the sudden withdrawal of all the present Wise Men underscores that maybe, they might have just rid themselves of some irritations by coincidental convenience. He catches some things of interest - Healing Symbology? That should be impossible. Explanations, (not that) vaguely from Magilou, though it's hard to hear her in full over some of what's going on.
     Innominat projects, appears, speaks.
     Numbing. Ethius spends a lot of energy just keeping up with everything, relentlessly, as part of a dangerous set of working tasks that he has never quite come down from even after Demetrioi - even after having to brief many of those gathered about a difficult existential truth to grasp.
     Grace panics, shaking, yelling for help.
     It might be a form of conceit, that he carries himself the way he does. Disagreeable, dangerous, and occasionally (...more than occasionally) unwarranted behavior. Even in the face of circumstances he can't fully grasp, of means far beyond his own, of perhaps the entire Pangalactic Federation's.
     He tenses up, raises his quarterstaff, and lightly taps it on the ground. He can't slam it, but he can stand, shaking his head.
     "...It's up for everyone to decide for themselves," he latches onto one of the earlier queries as to why 'humans' keep destroying themselves. Why he intervenes (best he can) only in the matters that directly attack this concept.
     Ethius, hardened through trials and a reckoning when coming face to face with the mission that got away with him, keeps standing. His voice is strained, but he levels his gaze. He felt it was his duty to do so, and he chooses not to forget that.
     A thousand years is beyond him, and always will be.
     "My work is not for nothing... even now." Standing up straight is as much as he can muster, feeling that need, of what he gave up in the process of joining the Federation in this capacity. All this, in the face of trying to fight back against: what, exactly, is it that he can do? Only that he must.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    There is light erupting from further afield, a detonation blast from an ARM that sends the armored sword-wielding creature that Avril had been fighting against clambering away. It's an opening for her, but--

    "Dean! Rebecca!" But she cannot get any closer to them than she already is, cut off from them by a throng of the creatures dueling with others. To go to her friends' sides is not possible, not without drawing the eyes of too many towards her, or worse, interrupting battle for one of their allies in a way that put them in danger. Avril does the only thing she can do: she breaks towards the group fighting with the Wise Men.

    Who had been fighting the Wise Men. Another has taken the stage, forcing the Wise Men depart.

    "This... this is..."

    She exhales weightily, her grip on the sword in her hand growing slack. Even her other self cannot seem to rise from the depths though Avril throws wide the gates in her desperation: this may well be her first return to the state of things ere she broke through the wall in her mind.

    In this moment, the Queen, in all her arctic fury, is gone.

    "No... no... this can't be..." she whispers. Her sword falls from her grip with a clatter.

    She has not yet noticed that she stands nearly astride Xander and Riley, two against whom she'd plied her blade only recently.

    "I'm not... I must not... nothing is impossible if..." Avril has slouched over where she stands. Only her lips still move.

    "...if... you don't give up..."

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Fresh bruises bloom on Ida's face--splotches of deep violet and blueish-silver beneath her skin. There are undoubtedly more, all across her body, and Zaphkiel can see exactly how he hurt her as she closes. Everything aches. Her arm is bloodied. She's still reeling from the harrowing fight with the draconic beast.

    Magilou's words puncture the bubble of her Malevolence contact-high. Ida lets out a sharp breath, and with it, some of the anger she borrowed from Velvet's Domain. "An Empyrean--I thought they were just--" Her eyes go wide as she looks past Gabriel and Lucifer, to the rift in reality.

    Despair and terror struggle to the surface of her mind, and Ida embraces them. "Cowards," growls, to Gabriel's dissolving form. "COWARDS!"

    Innominat emerges in full, and Ida sags to her knees, fear muted by the Empyrean's aura. Again, she breathes too quickly, trying to hyperventilate in the hopes of provoking that panic response. A tiny part of her hopes he eats the Fangs first, and the rest of her falls on that tiny part like wolves on a lone sheep. The judgment. The emptiness...

    She's felt emptiness and judgment like this before.

    She felt it before when she curled up on the floor of a cave, and lay there for hours. She felt it when she sat alone in a diner in November, staring at a plate of food she didn't want to eat. She felt it when she gave her ARMs to Lily, out of fear she'd use them to hurt herself--or worse.

    Ida hasn't felt that low in literal years. She started seeing an alienist, from the Seed Cities--a "psychiatrist", she called herself--started taking medication. She started seeing her depression as a condition to be treated, and not a failing of morals or character.

    Innominat's touch threatens to drag her back. Terror fills her, and she clings to it like it's the only thing keeping her from going under.

    Fear is simply her body trying to protect itself.

    "Grace," Ida says, and it is too easy for her to force sympathy into her voice. "Grace, hold on! Lunata, Shalune, help me get her--" Ida gets about three-quarters of the way too her feet before that becomes too much effort. Why is she even here? Some Seer she turned out to be.

    "Help us," Ida whispers, her voice a monotone prayer she knows will go unanswered.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

'A planet is like a grain of sand on a beach - there's always another!'

"Then why do you so badly want to get back to yours, that you would release *this* to get there?" Mariel asks, having un-rattled herself enough to be capable of speech. She's still down, mostly; crouched now rather than crawling but not trusting herself to rise all the way to her feet. She needs to get to Rokurou, who needs her - she can see Claude went down, and someone is treating him, but in this chaos that's all she can make out. To her knowledge, nobody got the other.

But the immense waves of Malevolence from Velvet is hard for Mariel to deal with. Hard in a way it wouldn't be for a human; churning and disorienting, her normal sense of nausea when dealing with strong Malevolence has moved beyond unpleasant to actively painful. She squeezes her eyes shut to try to focus, reopens them because she can't be blind on the battlefield, and finds she's made it all the way to Rokurou.

Her hands reach for the herbs because she can do that without looking - she barely has to think about it, so practiced is she in this. Rokurou gets his treatment, as much as she can spare. She doesn't think he'll be getting up immediately. (She's wrong, but she can think it.)

And, Mariel listens. She may not always get along with Magilou (how much depends on when you ask, and whether you ask Mariel or Magilou the question) but she does, in this at least, trust her.

When the Domain intensifies, it's almost a relief because, for a moment, Mariel doesn't feel the Malevolence. For that instant, she doesn't feel anything at all, lost and adrift and without even her distant connection to Filgaia so far below; even Innominat cannot stop *that* for long, but she still feels hollow, empty. She needs to move on, to help -

The Domain becomes crushing. And Innominat arrives.

Mariel stops moving entirely for a moment, somewhere between immobilized - from emotion? lack of emotion? - and catching her breath. It takes Innominat addressing her - her, specifically, without violence - to rouse her, and Mariel does manage to stand up this time, having finished her immediate.

"I am not human," she confirms, her voice shaky. "I am Elw. We live by 'bonds'. I... used to think that. That it would only be sorrow to live with the short-lived, and that I had another task to do... to bring green back to Filgaia. But I was wrong. People can't live without 'bonds' - not just Elw but humans, too. So..."

"I can't..." 'I can't do nothing', Mariel thinks, but at the same time, it's 'what can I do?' She's no warrior.

'Althena's not going to show up and help out'. She sure isn't. But Mariel feels, suddenly, like she should do something. Except she can't; she has no idea how to re-bind someone - some*thing* - like this. She's no legendary sorceress. She wouldn't even know where to start.

She still grips her staff tighter, though. That staff, the Living Staff, the Elw focusing tool from Lunar - an item that very well may have been Althena's in the first place. Mariel plants its base against the ground - and, impossibly, the top of the staff buds and spreads its leaves, shrouding the crystal caught in the twisted branch behind living greenery.

And everyone recieves a pulse of energy, an echo that 'feels' like Filgaia with the essence of healing herbs behind it. Even Innominat can feel, for an instant, the power of a planet, even if actually making it manifest beyond the sudden growth of healing herbs is beyond Mariel's powers. She leans on the staff afterwards, breathing heavily.

"Peace for one thousand years... I wish we could have more... to let the flowers grow in peace."

<Pose Tracker> Riley Arwell has posed.

All over the vines that Riley has called to cover himself and Xander, red flowers unfurl, brimming with pollen and nectar that carries an ominous sweetness. Riley adds, in a voice still flat, "We're poisonous."

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

"VINSFELD RHADAMANTHUS IS DEAD NOW THOUGH, SO LAW OF DIBS MEANS IT REVERTS TO US," Zed answers, perhaps a little petulently considering the present circumstances but, fuck it, if some jerk robot angel guy wants to spit-roast his best friend on a bed of lasers, he can be as petty as he likes. "Besides, I've got way more game than you do, mister cyberman!!"

Claude wakes up. Or, rather, the gaping hole in his chest that no human could rightfully have ever survived is repaired before he permanently slips beyond the pale of death. "You sure? You looked like you were having a good dream. Ah well, maybe now really isn't the time to snooze! I--"

Claude unleashes the Sword of Light.

Zed's jaw clicks shut. "Oh. You recharged that thing, huh. Hhhhuh."

He rubs his chin, considering his... options. It seems Zed is not at all disturbed by the revelation that Claude is a spaceman. Honestly, he'd be KIND OF A HYPOCRITE if he was. Also, he might have already been told before. "Well, just shoot him a couple more times with that blazing sword of yours and I think we're good--"

A pulse of oppressive energy ripples through him. Through everyone. Zed's gaze tightens. It tastes like-- the opposite to Malevolence. Something intrinsicly opposed to it. Smothering the soul rather than inflaming its deepest and darkest desires. "This..." He lifts the Doom Bringer, barely contained malice flickering in a twisting nimbus around the cursed blade. Even its unlight seems to dull before this soul-quenching force. He exhales slowly, and...

Takes a step.

Then another.

Each one feels heavy. Useless. Futile. Like nothing he does here will matter.

Zed has lived for so many years, thinking that nothing he did would ever matter.

"Tch..." Zed mutters, "What the heck do you think you're talking about...? If humans died just because you told them to, The Mother would have eaten this world already. Why're you acting so surprised...?" Hyadean physiology, embraced and accepted, is proof against malevolence-- this is the crux of Zed's pact with the planet itself. To serve as a guard against things that could strike at its very soul.

...Perhaps, to some degree, it protects him as well against Innominat.

...Or perhaps, it's the memory of irrepressible fury still trapped like amber in his dark sword, stoking the fires of his heart as he lifts that blade against a god.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    It's like seeing a red paper crane on a day with grey skies and gray city walls. Somehow the lack of color just didn't seem to matter until its absense was called out.

    Something so small would just be a bud of bright color in any other setting. In the grey space, it would be painful to look at, asking to be demolished by existing.

    Chrysopoeia mode is, as Zaphkiel pointed out, not a mode that enhances Gwen, exactly. It takes away as much as it enhances, and in that exchange, the will that Gwen would normally have to resisting the effects of Innominat's Domain is far too busy with the matter of simply existing.

    Innominat's arrival makes the red paper crane in Gwen's mind crumple, wet with rain. How could a small child feel quite like this? This hungry?

    Like Velvet, did Gwen make the wrong decision too?

    If Gwen lets the red color drain through her hands, she can remain in this form. Let the ARM overtake her; it might be easier than losing everything.


    In her mind's eye, she grips the colorful paper, trying to remember whether it was the pattern or the color that made her look at it. She doesn't want to lose the question.
    What is it that she is? What did she want to become. Not this form, but the form she usually is: the cheerful courier, who talks too much and cares just as much.

    And beneath even that rapidly melting defense, is the self who wanting to be the sort of person who'd save someone like her. That's all she has left, is the core thing she's always remembered. A thankless kindness paid, a warmth that didn't burn.

    "... you're hungry." Now a plain fog blue, Gwen's eyes are dull. The tiny colorful paper crane, sinking into the gray mud. Numb hands fish into a pocket; drawing out a crackle of colorful foil; a red candy wrapper.

    She extends it to the boy who is anything but; she just saw him throw Rokurou to the side. Fear, anger, and drive have all drained away. She smiles, slightly, trying to hold on to that last mote as she smells something like flowers and fertile earth.

    "... Here... it's... going to be alright..."

    It's just the wrong answer again, at the wrong time.

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

If Claude knew how much he'd distressed Shalune just then, he'd feel bad--though he wouldn't change what he did. Instead he whistles when she throws her weapon. "You've got some firepower, too!"

Jay helped him before--before he was so badly wounded. Jay's statement strikes him--to feel as they do.

It's defiance, all right. "You're keeping track for us?" he says of the Wise Men and Jay. "When," not if, "We get through this, let me check your notes!"

He worries about Grace over there, too. She seems to be in dire straits. But she's doing her best. And Hannah is using the weirdest magic he's seen on their opponent so far. He doesn't know the deal, even if their enemy seems to. But he hears that wail, and winces despite himself.

He doesn't know Ethius's full story, but... He can see his resolve, anyway. "That's right!" Claude calls to him, as he stows his Phase Gun and pulls his sword again. "You're right," he says to Dias, that he should be protecting her.

"I promise," he says to Rena. "I will," when she asys she'll hold him to it." ANd then--the--"I'll--I'll explain that, too!" The Sword of Light... his phase gun. The very weapon he used, but--

Nedian!? The old man seems to know something about Rena, too. But Claude manages to penetrate the barrier. Even as...

Anger, and fear. The flames of combat... Claude stares, daunted by the sheer.. bloodlust? On display. "What are you...?"

But Gabriel looks to the room. His aura clashes, and Claude turns towards him. "That's--"

"I won't--!" Gabriel is gone.

Claude feels the Domain intensify. It pulls at him, pulls him into logic, to unfeeling stasis. It is hard to resist, nearly impossible, but looking at Rena and Dias and his friends... He manages it, barely. He manages a smirk of spite at Lucifer's snarl about what they've created.

"They surprise you, huh!?"

But they flare up, and start to disappear. He turns, now, towards Innominat. "...No!" he says. "No, I don't hate it! I don't put everything on Rena's shoulders like that!"

Are... only two of them human? He looks, to Rena, just a moment. But Rena--

"Rena!" Claude says, "You've got to snap out of it! Don't let it change you!" It is so difficult--it tears at him, even now, asks him to shut down, but he redoubles his efforts--those feelings--

"It wasn't for nothing!" Claude shouts back. "I didn't come here for nothing!" He sees Grace shut down, and tries to take a step toward her, feeling as if even moving is difficult under so much force. "Grace!" Claude calls. But Rena, beside him, is collapsing too. "Rena! Rena!" And Dias--Dias, too. "No!" Claude says.

He rushes Dias, as his eyes start to lose focus. He rears back with his fist--and slugs him across the jaw. "Damn it, Dias! Don't give in! We NEED you! Rena needs you!"

He whirls, on Rena, and starts to pull her up. "Come on, Rena! Don't give in! You--" His words aren't enough. He's not going to punch Rena, but--

But he pinches her arm, hard, as if trying to wake her from a dream. "Rena! Snap out of it!"

He looks, for a moment--to Ethius. To Ethius, while he speaks for them all--that they can choose for themselves. "That's right!" he calls, and feels buoyed by the power of a planet that is not his own, but that has welcomed him nevertheless. It has to be enough.


"ZED!" Claude shouts. "We need you! Get over here and help me out!"

<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    The Domain's weight is oppressive. Swaying a little, recoordinating from the effort of releasing that Arte, Lan feels it settle back onto her like a weight. One that she struggles to hold up, one that keeps settling. And settling. And settling.

    ...When will it stop?

    If she'd had a weapon, it would have fallen from her nerveless hands. They twitch, oh-so-faintly, where they've fallen to her sides.

    He's coming, Velvet warns Magilou. Magilou must know, then--

    Magilou. It's so nice to see Magilou really happy. It's really, really nice. Nice enough to seep in, somehow, through the cotton wool pressed against Lan's soul. Slowly. Like syrup from a turnip, right?

    It doesn't even feel futile to resist.
    It doesn't feel like anything at all.
    That's weird, right?
    It's weird.

    That child... it's a child, right? It looks like one. It looks like an angel, from the churches. From the books she borrowed. It sheds light like a blazing star. It sucks in her thoughts and emotions like a black hole. Even the happiness she felt fades away to the faintest taste of... maybe contentment. And what's left under that is...

    Oh. The loneliness. The longing. The black ink.

    She contemplates it, as if it were a thing she were holding in her palms. Fragile like glass. Delicate like a bomb.

    She crushes it in her fingers and feels the echo of the ache of it in her veins. Outwardly, she takes a step. And another. "Gwen..." she calls, softly.

    The wellspring of the Stranger's corruption in her veins surges, lines of black crawling across her skin, drawn off of her towards Innominat's terrible, terrible hollow hunger. But while it's still moving through her, it gives her strength.

    One step. Another. Gwen. Her friend. Her friend.

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

At least I'm getting ALONG with her so far, Margaret thinks for a moment as her spell returns to something like normal and she exhales. Zaphkiel isn't... dead. Margaret's shoulders slump slightly. "... Indeed," she says, as she reaches for her last sword, more out of stubbornness than fury at this point. The others aren't faring a lot better.

But then Xantia staggers Zaphkiel. Margaret's eyes flick towards her. A moment later, Zaphkiel -- he's fleeing and they cannot follow. Call it a draw on points, at least. Margaret then has the opportunity to overhear Rena's --

What?? Her eyes flick towards Magilou...

Who is embarrassing her.

Margaret exhales - and sweeps her head back. She smiles to Magilou. "I just do the sword stuff because I'm taller," she says, with a sly, glimmering lllloooohhhh that's where she's going.

Fortunately, Innomiat is going to kill them all, so she won't have to worry about it long. It would be funny, almost, if it wasn't so horrible; if the chances weren't so terribly bleak. And it isn't funny at all when Magilou cries out in pain.

Margaret's eyes turn towards Velvet. "Do what you can," she tells her. "If any of them stop you I'll get them. Sorry about this." Another of her small and sad smiles.

Was it for nothing?

Margaret will neither confirm nor deny. Meaning or unmeaning; it's the same for her.

But -- her ear twitches as she hears Claude Kenny call out to... Zed...??

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

'How nostalgic'. So she isn't the first alchemist they've encountered. 'That's seven', Jacqueline notes, as yet another Wise Man is named. It seems that Claude's been noticing that about her, too.

"I have been. Don't worry - I'll be sure to show everyone." Jacqueline replies with a nod. They need all the information they can gather.

Still... she actually finds herself feeling a pang of sympathy for Jophiel, the way the others speak of him.

"...I thought you'd at least treat your own with respect." She comments, of Camael's chiding.

The Wise Men start to depart... but Jophiel has parting words.

"...Fine. But we'll end it." Jacqueline says.

...And then, things get worse.

Her first experience was a like a wave of calm - this time, it's like a crashing tidal wave, bowling her over emotionally as Innominant emerges in full. She hears him address her, address everyone.

"That's not..." Jacqueline starts. "People can't... live like this..."

She can feel it - the way her desires and motivations are fading away from her. It took unimaginable effort just to disagree like that. Even now, the fight is starting to leave her again. Her body starts to sag...


Jacqueline's attention snaps over to Lunata as she ends up next to them. Her appearance prompts a surge of emotion - and she latches onto it, clinging onto it like a lifeline. Jacqueline manages a smile.

"...It's alright." Jacqueline says, as Shalune admits she doesn't know how to win against this. It takes some effort, but she puts one hand on each of their shoulders - one on Lunata's, and one on Shalune's. "Whatever happens... the three of us are here, together. That's all that matters. We'll figure something out."

Even if it's just to survive. But right now... she lets that feeling remain strong.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Twice in as many encounters, Xantia manages something that she can tell surprised her opponent. She stares down Zaphkiel, unflinchingly. Aside from the obvious defiance, there is anger and frustration in her eyes. It grates on her, how it feels as if she's fighting someone very similar to herself - an unnatural existence, perfectly tailored for combat. She hates what it implies about herself. And even to these Wise Men, who seem to know so many things that few others are privy to... she is an unknown factor. All these years, and still, nobody who knows anything about whatever life she may have had before her original instance of amnesia.

It does exist. A lack of evidence, no matter how great, doesn't mean evidence of the opposite. She did have a life before this, there must be a reason. She feels as if so close to remembering, and yet...

Her eyes widen when the oppressive feeling from before returns with a vengeance. She clutches her chest, as if to catch her sinking heart, feeling as if her sense of purpose is being stripped away. In the face of this, even Zaphkiel chooses to withdraw. But... she can't. With every fiber of her being, she wills herself to remain, to stand against... whatever it is that they're up against. She has to stay strong. Because, without her strength... she is nothing.

Try as she might, she can't manage to look at Innominat with the defiance she displayed just a few short moments ago. But she does manage to regard him, and listen to his words. Being plagued by hunger is something she understands, but... that's where the understanding ends.

However, though she manages to stand, her legs won't move. This incomprehensible feeling, coming from just one entity. An entity which, due to their appearance, can only make her wonder one thing. "How did a Seraph end up like this...?"

However, with Mariel's intervention, she can feel her sense of purpose being strengthened. Being reminded of Filgaia manages this like nothing else can. That planet, and everyone on it... she will protect it. She must. And finally, even though it feels like moving through quicksand... she manages to take a step.

"My feelings... I treasure my feelings, for Filgaia, and all those I've come to care about. If you want to take them... I'll fight you with everything I have!"

It may not be much, when it took such great effort just to be able to say those words. But... she's moving, ever so slowly. Even if she doesn't know what she can do, that's never stopped her before. She simply has to do everything she can. For everyone's sake. Like she always has.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

"..." Zed's blade droops. He fixes Innominat with a long stare, then breaks his gaze and leaps back. "I hear you," Zed answers his best friend. "Dunno how much I can help, but I'll do my best!" Doom Bringer is held on high, the curved blade outlined in an aura of dread unlight. With a roar, Zed digs deep. His reserves of inner strength are well known, but his unique brand of said energies are... particularly relevant here.

"This is a 'domain!?' Well, I've got a 'space' of my own! Doom Bringer, let shine the legacy of our fallen home! Hyades Memoria!!" A flickering star flares to life, and ignites, expanding in a dome of hungry light, an alien energy utterly foreign to the fundamental nature of this world. A power... That for a time, at least, might push back against the Domain.

The dark sphere widens, swallowing up both Dias and Rena-- and protecting them, and any others who might be dragged into the shadowy hemisphere, for a few crucial moments from Innominat's direct attention...!

<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

The Domain that already had Billy nearly on his knees redoubles again, and Billy actually does collapse immediately to his knees this time, like a hammer across his back driving his spirit right out of him. Only hard lessons, meant to make absolutely sure he lived long enough to lose his soul where Stone could watch, keep his attention anywhere but dragged immediately back to his own memories. To putting bullets into screaming lumps the size of children. They must've been, he knows now. What a useless man. What a useless boy.

"...Empyreans aren't spoken of in the Gospels," he mutters, head lurching dazedly as he forces one foot under him, then rocks himself to his feet, hand gliding to his gun. Pulling himself forward as he's had to before. "Alright..." ... "Something, then." His hand is on his revolver, but even gripping the handle is an effort his hand resists. No. If he's...if he's going to stand against that, he has to ground himself properly.

He stumbles over to the screaming woman - he doesn't know Grace, but that fear, that pain, that's one he knows, has seen at the face of shambling mounds of horror desperate for meat.

He grips the collar of his habit and whips it off, leaving the machinations of his ARMs bare; two Ether GUns on slides on his arms, a Cartridge-loading longbarrel across his back, two revolvers at his hips. He throws the habit over Grace like a blanket, kneeling down besides her. "Easy now," he says. Focus on it. Work can be done.

Billy, now clad in only his sea green turtleneck and traveler's pants, turns a gaze on Innominat, struggling to dredge up enough will to fight against yet another god. He presses the Etone Cross against his chest, glowing with the light of his faith to push back this supreme Domain - as little as it may.

<Pose Tracker> Hannah Curie has posed.

Gabriel declares that Hannah is not what she seems. Even though Hannah is doing her best to hang onto her anger to ward off the domain, and demanding answers, this response takes her by surprise. The precarious hold she had on her feelings slips, and she sinks back to her knees. "Wh.. what's that..."

She shakes her head, trying to clear it, and only briefly summons up enough anger to spit the rest of that question out. "What does that mean?"

Do they really know something about her? Why can't anybody just give her a straight answer? What is she, if she is 'not what she seems'?

It's all too much. All she wanted was to be a drifter, an explorer, to work with cool and interesting magic and technology. She'd told Lily that it hurts, deep inside, when things happen like her magic going haywire. How it tears at her not just that something is wrong but that she cannot understand. She lives to figure things out, take them apart, and explore their inner workings.

What even is she, if she can't figure herself out?

There is not even a retort to Jophiel's last taunt, just a stunned haunted stare at the ground where she fell to her knees.

There is remarkably little as she stays here, slumped on the floor, trying feebly to ignte some spark of emotion within herself, to avoid slipping into an old and all-too-familiar pattern.

No, it is not familiar, it is not like before, when she kept everything bottled up, pretended it was under control, just ignored all of her internal woes.

There is just nothing at all. She hollows out as Innominat's domain drains every spark of resistance, every stirring of fear, every worry she feels for those she cares about. All of it is just gone.

And curiously, as she slips further and further into under the spell of that all-suppressing domain... her magic stills. The vast resivour of her strange reserves, whatever they may be, are still there. It is a vast lake that is normally beset upon by storms and fierce winds that has suddenly become placid.

It is nothing compared to the oceans they now drown in, of course.

Even Zephyr has been forced to ground, and in a flat monotone far more emotionless than any she ever had while still wearing the cape, Hannah says, "Thank you for your assistance, Zephyr." She pulls out a crest graph and with a quick application of magic heals her ankle, and she calmly rises to her feet once more.

"We need to reseal him," she says, eyes scanning the room. "All those who need shalter, fall behind me." She pulls out a crest graph, and this time when she channels magic into it, it is with a steady, even glow. She holds it aloft behind her, and a shimmering shield of white ethereal energy appears. Unlike every other time she has cast a similar spell, it doesn't crackle, or buckle, or vibrate with excess runoff. It is, geometrically, perfectly hemispherical.

And the presence of her magic, normally wild and twisting in her aura, is like the girl herself is. Slightly off, but perfectly calm.

She looks to Magilou next, a slow, deliberate motion that betrays no panic for the seriousness of this situation. "Magilou." That might be the first time she's even tried to acknowledge the other sorceress' presence since their initial run-in in the Omega Ruins. "What can we do to reestablish the seal?"

<Pose Tracker> Velvet Crowe has posed.

Zaphkiel and Velvet trade opportunities. Within the maelstrom of her own assault, sparks from Zaphkiel's assault on her still race up along her flesh, crackling painfully at her nerves.

She ignores it as she screams in fury at the man. There is a blistering explosion upon impact. She shouts for Magilou's support. She leaps back...

With perfect timing to hear Magilou's enthusing. She ignores most of the exposition about Innominat -- it's a good thing Magilou is here for that, really, considering Velvet doesn't seem interested in the -least- about being informative.

But it's when she gets around to gushing about polycules and making out with Margaret that Velvet just pauses, brows lifting in alarm. And as fraught as the moment is, Velvet Crowe, the much-hyped, O.G. Lord of Calamity--

"What. Wh... What the hell are you talking about, Magilou? I didn't consent to this!"

-- flusters.

Flusters so hard she palms her face. Her entire face.

"Why are you like this--?!"

Some things are just easy to fall back into.

Velvet's embarrassment is a short-lived thing, at least. After all. The world is ending. After all... he is coming. She can only spare a moment to look sidelong at Xander again as Magilou makes her magical introductions, a single brow arching.

"Huh. Is that right," she doesn't ask so much as state, sizing Xander up before moving on to Riley with what looks like an implacable incredulity that's been turned into habit by years of experience.

"... Sure, why not," she ultimately says to Riley's request, again with that lack of conviction. Maybe Riley's sad assumption is right on the money, at least as far as what Velvet considers to be her unavoidable fate. A second passes.

"What's a Valmar?"

The answer will have to wait. Her attention turns...

... just in time to see all those wounds on Zaphkiel rapidly healing already.

Velvet grimaces. Her clawed hand clenches, Malevolence dragging out around her like the churn of a maelstrom.

"Tch," she hisses out at the sight. "You're just a whole bundle of annoyances, aren't you? Fine."

Clawed fingers clench and curl. She can't waste time here. She needs to get past him.

"I guess I'm just going to have to EAT YOU--"

And then that Domain expands, and before Velvet can follow through on her threat, she is -blown- bodily back by the sudden expansion of all-too-familiar force. She resists it -- she can't help but not, given her nature, given her connection to the source of it -- but it doesn't stop her eyes from widening all the same.

She hits the ground in a rebound, tumbling until she ends up crouched on the sundered ground beneath her. Her clawed arm is smothered out in an instant, banadages inexplicably reforming and wrapping up that demonic limb within their spiritual embrace as she fixates on the tremors running through the station.

She made the wrong decision, the leader of the Wise Men claim, and anger flares enough to snuff out visible signs of the worry knotting up her heart, the guilt.

"No--" she denies, even as she focuses on that undeniable, familiar force.

On that familiar face, emerging gaunt and starving from the light.

It has been so long, but in so many ways, like no time at all has passed.

He looks so different like this, and yet in so many ways, exactly like when she last saw him.

I was almost sated... I shouldn't have been.

Velvet Crowe's eyes narrow. Her human hand curls into the tight clench of a fist as she stares at Laph--Innominat, floating just beyond the hole in reality. Where they could have stayed, forever. And now...

"... Laphi..."

Her world is swimming, even as she gathers her thoughts, even as -Rokurou- summons the willpower to launch off his feet and lunge at Innominat blades-first, only to be swatted away like a fly on the errant swish of a horse's tail.

She can't kill him. She doesn't think it's even possible to. But even if she -could-...

Phi would...


Something strikes her in these moments. A nagging something that has been growing harder and harder to ignore until it becomes impossible in these hellish moments as Innominat awakens. Gold eyes widen imperceptibly with the subtle mote of concern.

Magilou is here.

Rokurou is here.

But where is Eleanor?

Where is Eizen?

... Where is -Phi-?

The cold reality of time's passage suddenly hits her with all the belated force of a runaway train. Malevolence pulses as she grips onto the flimsy front of her shirt, bandaged fingers clenching at her heart.

No. No! She can't think of that now. She can't afford to. Not now. She struggles upward; a piece of Innominat, his Domain washes over her without much affect, even as she feels it -keenly-, like another part of her being dragged out and crushed down upon the world. But she's been sealed for so long, consumed and consuming for so long, her legs don't want to obey her as she -forces- herself to step forward.

She struggles, for a moment. But...

The world doesn't remember you as Laphicet or as Innominat, now... the denizens of Lunar have new plagues to keep them awake at night. Humanity moved on... but we never forgot. We never forgot what you did... what it cost.

It's Magilou's words that center her. That embolden her.

A thousand years. A thousand years have passed.

What happened to the others? Don't think about it.

What new plagues? Don't concern yourself with it.

Humanity has moved on? Let it.
the world shouldn't need horrible people like her ever again

She focuses on forcing herself -forwards-.

Velvet... sister...


To step towards Innominat.


Her teeth grit together. She takes another step.

Go -- now!

Do what you can.

"I know! Just get my back, both of you, and I'll -- I'll do what I need to do -- ONE WAY OR ANOTHER!"

Magilou casts her Spell Absorber, and she finds familiarity even in the unfamiliar context. Velvet's eyes narrow.

And steps become -sprints- towards Innominat, golden and resplendent, calm and furious, content and famished. A living contradiction. The Nameless Empyrean.

... it was all for nothing. It was all for nothing!

"No," croaks Velvet, shaking her head with the whip of wild hair as she runs. "It doesn't have to be!"

She runs, as Ida calls out for help.

She runs, as a pulse of energy rides on her back, Mariel's touch of life emboldening and swiftening her steps, despite the fact that such vibrancy of life should be antithetical to a foul lord of Daemons.

She runs -- and reaches out her bandaged hand.

"Laphi, listen to me! Take my hand! We can still go back to the dream -- there's still so much we haven't seen together--"

A hand that begins to seethe and bubble scarlet anew in preparation to lock Innominat into that ouroboros once more, to give away everything she has only just gotten back to see Innominat dragged away from a world that no longer needs or wants him.

She doesn't care what it costs.

She doesn't care if it costs her this second chance at life.
that she doesn't deserve
No matter what, she...

She has to protect Rokurou.

She has to protect Magilou. Protect the friends Magilou has made here, struggling against an inevitable sundering of everything that makes them, them.

She has to protect the hope Phi wanted for this world.

She has to...


(please be alive phi)

She has to protect Phi--

DC: Velvet Crowe switches forms to The Lord of Calamity - No Really!
<Pose Tracker> Innominat has posed.

At the edges of the domed room, at its entrances and just out of reach of the fight, there have been battles with those unknown entities summoned by the Ten Wise Men. They came in sudden Symbol-ladden flashes of golden light, in four broad kinds:

Some are tall, sleek armored humanoids; white and green armor, with wedge-shaped heads and glimmering digital eyes, and a large, slightly curved blade of energy. Others are armored, dark green dragons on two legs; they also have those flickering digital eyes.
Hisnother type, still, is the crescent-winged crimson dragon, flying and bringing huge claws down. And, finally, one is a mammoth-like creature with huge tusks and dark grey hide.

Some Drifters have been forced to deal with those monsters, lest they rush the room.

Innominat pays them little mind.

He looks down to Grace, as she cries -- as she pleads. His voice is quiet, but it is not comforting. "Do not fear. Do not feel at all."

He looks at Dias, then. And he simply regards him with a passive acceptance; as if he has succeeded.

Then, Innominat looks towards Riley. His lips curl back, into a fierce frown. "You would choose him over yourself? This too... is human weakness!"

Then, he looks to Xander. He looks at the Claw. "Are you strong enough, yet, to back up those words? Is your poison one that can yet be cleansed?"

The Empyrean looks to Shalune and Lunata, then to Jay. "There is nothing to 'figure out.' There is only acceptance."

He looks towards Ethius.

"You will see." He says that, imperiously, to Ethius. Bluntly and coldly, and without hesitation -- but that flickering anger, that instability from so long that he spent in the dream. From so long that he spent in a cycle that should have been endless.

"Surrender. I am your hope." Innominat whirls on Avril. "It is time that humanity learn that."

He looks to Zed, then, and his lips draw into a flat line. "I am their savior. Not their destroyer. Something you should learn... creature of another star!" Innominat spits at him, even as the Empyrean hesitates. His Domain does not quite reach this one -- and he sees him shielding Rena and Dias, two who have succumbed.

He will need to force his way through. He considers that, until Gwen interrupts.

He looks down, at Gwen's offering. Offered food.

"That isn't the sustenance I seek." He speaks it flatly. There is a wary glance at Lan, with thos strange lines of black across her, before he looks at Claude. "Why do you struggle? Give in. As they have."

Then, he looks to Xantia. "I am so much more than that. And your feelings... they will be the ruin of two worlds." Innominat scowls at her.

He turns his head, then, to Billy Lee Black; seeing the way his Domain is pushed against, and frowning. "Your gospels... are lacking."

Innominat throws a hand out -- a blast of light pitches Rokurou back, as his cold eyes turn towards Magilou. "I feel what became of my replacement. You won't succeed! I won't let you!" he says, his voice pitching to a shout at the witch.

He looks at Margaret, his eyes blazing, as he considers the Spell Absorber; as he considers what is arrayed against him. He looks at Hannah, calmly plotting to seal him. His eyes narrow.

He will have to kill some of them, he realizes. He accepts this.

He accepts it, even as he looks at Velvet. "It does have to be. A thousand years... of terrible mistakes." His eyes gleam. "I can't take your hand."

He throws a massive spell forward -- it explodes into dozens of spikes of golden light. Half of them fly into the Spell Absorber; half of them crash down around Margarat and Hannah. Towards Velvet, without mercy.

Innominat is too powerful. The full might of his Domain begins to spread even beyond Marduk, and it threatens to overwhelm all of them. The Quadratic Sphere -- the Sorcery Globe -- begins to spin faster and faster. Behind it, the white gash of light in the world begins to grow larger and larger. Innominat pays no heed, as he holds his arms up.

But then his eyes screw up. Mariel's staff is planted into the ground, and leaves bud. A pulse of light echoes out; a sense of home. A connection to Filgaia. Innominat recoils, hand at his head.

"Ngh... no! No! I am the only hope for peace! NO ONE is listening!" He heard their cries. "NO ONE can hear you!"

He shouts, his golden eyes blazing.

"I will sacrifice everything that makes humans destroy this world," Innominat says. He spreads his arms open. Three concentric rings of golden light explode out from him, Althenan runes filling them with promises of the Goddess's mercy. His golden eyes close. "I will not be held back. Your contradictions -- your hatred! Your lust! Your pain! Your love! Your hope! -- these things I will suppress!"

Light begins to gather and grow.

Behind Innominat, through the windows of the Marduk, a new sight grows visible: a glowing cloud of energy, swirling about a small sphere of shimmering light. Energy Nede, the very world that Metatron promised was coming, appears. It grows larger.

Behind Innominat, the rift in reality grows larger, torn open wider by the energies of the Ten Wise Men's teleportation spell. Symbols and Althenan runes dance together, some colliding with electric bursts of energy. Flashes of raw Ley energy erupt into the air. Magic of a dozen different kinds erupts and appears around them all, filling the room that was a broken sphere.

"I see them." Innominat's voice is spoken aloud, as much as in their heads now. "The three gods. One of clockwork. One of darkness. One of fire. I no longer need to feed on you, sister. I will feed on them. With their divinity, I will correct humanity across both of your worlds. You may be alone, but not for much longer. I--"

But someone was listening.

Maybe it is providence. Maybe it is fate.

But she heard and she answers from the tear in space, that Innominat so easily put his back to. "Aport!"

BGM: Wild ARMs 2nd Ignition - Wherever You Go, You'll Never Be Alone - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCBzOruDpns

It is not Marivel Armitage's voice, but rather one only heard once in the last five thousand years. Anastasia Valeria appears in that tear in space -- hand outstretched, flat against a barrier that holds her behind an endless expanse of mist and columns. She wears the same armored violet and white dress as ever; she carries Argetlahm, her legendary blade, in her other hand. Her blue hair sways in the distant wind. She cannot reach across the oaths that keep her within.

But with Marivel's spell, her will can still reach.

One of those lonely stone columns comes crashing down -- smashing in front of Innominat and shattering. It interrupts his reverie -- and he turns back towards his prison, which is when spectral chains fly out at the Sword Magess's command, wrap around him, and drag him backward.


Ana looks out, at those gathered. "I can't consume him," she says, "but I can keep him busy." She grabs the chains from her side -- pulls with a gauntleted fist -- and she begins to drag the Empyrean, screaming, towards the portal.

Ana shoots a look to the fighting -- in the direction of Eleanor Klein and, perhaps, Ashley Winchester. "This isn't how I hoped to meet again... but I remember your promise," Ana says, then she smiles, sadly. "And more than ever, I will trust you to keep it."

She looks at Magilou; at Hannah and Margaret; at Velvet, walking ahead of them both.

"My name is Anastasia Valeria. People once called me a hero, too," she says, sadly. Her dark eyes meet Velvet's golden eyes. "I still don't think I deserved it. I know something about being sealed away... and I'm trying to believe, now, that no one deserves to be locked away from the people who love them. I can't, yet, believe that about myself.

"But I can believe it about you, Velvet Crowe," the Sword Magess says. "So be free, now. Live your life. And if you ever can... let's find a way out for all of us, together."

"No!" Innominat shouts, as he is dragged back into the portal. "I will not return there! I WILL NOT!" The chains, taught, pull him through -- and then drag him towards Anastasia. They cross that ephemeral barrier; Innominat slams into and plows through one of those huge stone columns. It shatters, with the chains upon him. Anastasia swings Argetlahm to face him, her eyes steel.

"Come, you," she says. "Let's have a merry chase."

The rift to Eternity Space -- to the Memory Maze -- to Innominat's Prison -- slams shut. Time continues to turn. The suppression of Innominat's Domain vanishes in a blink, and there is another powerful flood of emotions.

And the Sorcery Globe grows brighter and brighter still. Beams of light begin to shine out; the golden light begins to obscure even Energy Nede, visible through a portal. Then, Symbols explode outward -- they pass harmlessly through walls and those here, but everyone begins to glow with the same bright light.

Camael, the many-eyed Wise Man who spoke earlier, speaks again: "Gabriel! The teleportation is complete. I've locked onto Energy Nede, but--we'll bring them with us! We have no other choice!"

There is a final, blinding flash of light -- and they're all gone.

Whisked away to another world.

<Pose Tracker> Xiumei Klein has posed.

Xiumei's AV Saber only just barely holds back the crackling pink blade of energy that one of those strange entities wields. Lightning dances between the two swords -- before she pushes back with her blade.

Then she fires two shots into it, with the AV Buster. She takes a step back -- and ends up back-to-back with Azoth. She glances over her shoulder at him.

"This," she tells him, "this is all a little much..."

Then, she hears a voice -- and sees someone she has only seen in murals. "What--" But she heard about Anastasia Valeria. She heard about what she did; about how she has Ana to thank, for Eleanor being returned to her. She stares, in gratitude, before she looks towards Eleanor.

"Nora!" she cries out.

Then, light explodes from around her -- as the Ten Wise Men's teleportation spell whisks her off, too.

<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

The Domain is overwhelmingly strong, but Eleanor Klein finally moves on from one of the monsters, having exerted so much energy to keep the team healed as they fought them. The Domain hasn't stymied her yet--she hears Magilou's explanation, but she keeps her own feelings... for now. She has always been so emotional. And now, her spiritual power as an awakened Sage helps steady her. That, and...

Xiumei's presence.

"Xiu!" Eleanor says, "We're almost--"

And then she breaks off not because they're done, but because--

"ANA!" Eleanor calls, in dismay. "Hang on!"

She starts to work a spell, starts to work anything she can, to help. "Anastasia!" Eleanor calls. But... But she remembers their promises.

"I will!" she swears to her. "A world where we never have to lose another 'hero'..."

The Wise Men speak again. They have no choice, but--

"Xiu!" Nora calls back, and reaches--

Before she too disappears.

<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

Ashley Winchester--

Is present. How could he not be? The threat of an alien world is not moments away from threatening everything and everyone that he loves. How could he not be present, as a member of ARMS--

--As the one who bears the weight of the Blaze of Disaster and the Holy Sword alike--

--No, more than that, as someone who lives on Filgaia, as someone who has a life and loved ones to protect, he is here.

The domain is impossible, incredibly powerful. But it is something that quiets emotions-- something that quashes desires and hatred alike. And so...

...For once, Ashley knows that he can draw on His power here without hesitation.

"Xiumei, Magilou, we're almost there, hold on--" Knight Blazer springs into action, a blazing blade igniting in-hand. He's moments from leaping head-first into exactly the consumption that Innominat is searching for (something within him feels offended at the implication that it'd be so easily consumed), when--

"You... Ana...!" Ashley cries as the ancient hero emerges... And once more, saves all that is. "Ana... Hang on! I promise, we're still looking for a way to take you back! I swear it!!"

But... she is gone. Innominat is gone, and Lord Blazer's rage returns in full force. With a gasp, Ashley falls out of Access, just as his body begins to glow...

"...Aw crap," he mutters, "I don't know if Marina will buy 'sorry I got whisked off by a mysterious teleport' again--"


<Pose Tracker> Redi Hayworth has posed.

Redi's staff spins around, as massive mammoth-like monster charges her. Her pale blue eyes widen -- and motes of purple and black light drift and crackle around her.

Her heart is in her throat, and yet her sense of panic feels distant. Like it belongs to someone else. With a glance at Innominat, she can tell that is not normal. She looks back ahead.

"Th-this is all a lot...!" she says, before she storms forward. Her staff slams the mammoth backward, before she turns her head. Her eyes widen as she gets a glance at the Sorcery Globe. She remembers when that damn thing landed. "Oh no, oh no--that's even farther from Hilton--"

There is a brilliant flash of light -- and then she is gone.

<Pose Tracker> Venetia Vuong has posed.

Panting for breath from the repeated and violent invocation of spells in this difficult Ley environment, Venetia Vuong speaks aloud - "Is this place... ENDLESS? Ugh!!" She has not exclaimed such, not for a long time, instead doing her grim work with less verve and panache than usual.

She turns her head from where a dragonlike THING has been thrashing in molten bronze that is becoming less molten by the second, towards a distant cry of 'Aport'. "What..."

"... Anastasia Valeria?" Venetia says, with something like wonder.

Then, in a trice --

The Boundary is gone.

And it all surges into Venetia like a freight train roaring through a station. Her eyes widen. Pain and fatigue melt away as she puffs her chest out a little. "You decameron of fools!" Venetia shouts out. "The Ten Wise Men? Pfeh! In this age, TWO can do for TEN! Regret your deeds and prepare for justice, now, at the turning of the tide!"

She pulls out her gun and crouches forwards. "What are you talking ab" she answers Ashley.

Well, mostly answers Ashley.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

    "Kinda-- kinda running empty on my end here, Ida--" Lunata manages to blurt out, though it's with a renewed and still laborous breath that she manages to keep herself upright through the crushing, oppressive sensation of... nothingness. Turning off all of your emotions...

    Shalune encourages her to not let the voice beat her, but she admits she doesn't know how to win either. "This... this isn't the first hopeless situation we've been in." Jay places her hands on both their shoulders, and Lunata supports Shalune and Jacqueline in turn, knowing they've had the worst of it.

    "The truth is... I kinda get how you come to that conclusion too," Lunata address Innominat. Mariel's pulse of energy lets her keep speaking forward. "But... there's no solution that satisfies everyone. Papering it all over like this..."

    She places a hand to her chest.

    Then, a miracle happens--

    At first, she thinks it's another voice entirely, but no... that's-- a figure she's only seen in the halls of the Sword Cathedral. What is happening? Unmistakably, that is a figure in legend, the Sword Magess herself...?

    She introduces herself. Anastasia Valeria. And she draws Innominat with her chains, and--

    "It's going to keep happening, huh...? One sacrifice for another... why does... someone have to keep suffering? Why does someone have to get stuck holding the bag?"

    Her face scrunches up. If she could cry, she would, but her body is dead. No tears remain in her tear ducts.

    "You think you deserve to be locked away? We haven't had anything but a history of bottling up all our problems..."

    She grips at her sword.

    "No more. No more! I swear, before my own time runs out... I'll break all these seals!"

    And with that final resolve, Lunata Croze disappears into the light, whisked away into another world.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    'You will see.'
     The words are chilling. The hand that grips the quarterstaff reasserts its grip in a nervous twitch that gives away the facade of his weary but unwavering stare. In his line of work, being seen and known as a factor was often the end - and there's no element of surprise any more. He is, after all, just a human being to an entity of such scale and presence that has no reason to see him as anything else.
     There's a pulse of life and light courtesy of Mariel, which might be one of the few things that allow him to keep as firm an upper lip as he manages. He doesn't know what can be done - only it must.
     His free arm covers his eyes as light blinds, hearing Innominat's plans.
     He hangs onto 'both of your worlds' tightly. That means he's unaware, yet--
     Ana appears, and speaks of a reprieve she can give after a shocking drop of a stone column, and then...
     Ethius' teeth grit as he covers his eyes anew from that blinding flash.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

And as the Domain reaches its apex, Kaguya stumbles back from where she just destroyed a monster. "Gh--" It should smother her emotions. It should hollow her out. But instead, she feels one thing that overwhelms everything else, even as red energy begins to swell up around her. Particles of crimson war with the energy of the Empyrean's aura, and Kaguya drops to one knee, trying to contain it. The metal around her starts to corrode; the air, to boil.

"I'll..." She heaves breaths, and anyone who happens to look her way will see red in her eyes, and a distortion in her voice. "I'll kill you! I'll DESTROY you! I'll--I'll--!"

Her hand rises, and she reaches out the other to grab hold of her own wrist, putting it down rather than drawing her weapon again. "Magilou," Kaguya says, her voice cracking, "Help..."

But the Domain is gone, and Kaguya sags to the ground, unconscious. She, too, disappears.

<Pose Tracker> Rena Lanford has posed.

Theme of Rena (Music Box) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ak499rxh1ew

The knowledge weighs upon her, it eats at her. It doesn't take much after all, for Innominat to have that in. The Void Empyrean will have his due, he is after all, so very hungry.

Rena doesn't even react at her Big Brother's eyes as they go vacant. It is fitting, they are the only two that know. It is selfish, that even in this, she'd at least be glad they are together.

If she could know selfishness any longer, that poison of humanity. She's not human, but she still has impure feelings, emotions. The urge to be rid of them is overwhelming.

When Claude calls out to her, she doesn't react at first, then just, "... loud... you're..." The emotional gnaw eats at her, the contrast to his passion is her dispassion, "... no need... no need..."

It's better this way.
Now there's nothing left for him to...

Her eyes are still on Dias, when Claude socks him, and Rena's eyes subtly twitch, but.. "... violence... no need... for..." Then he whirls upon her, her eyes already aren't tracking him anymore.

I only made things worse.
Here. Back then.

She finds herself being PINCHED, the jolt of pain suddenly drawing her up, even as Zed's shadowy domain draws over her.

Not for nothing? Don't give in?
How can he say something like that so easi-OW OW OW!

"OW-! Claude!" Her eyes suddenly jolt to life in alarm, "That hurts! Why are you pinching me-?!" Then her eyes grow wider, as her feelings return, giving her emotional context over the situation.

"Oh. Ah." In a moment, any annoyance she feels turns into a smile, as she tells him softly, placing a hand upon his arm lightly as if to steady herself, "Thanks, Claude." She then turns to Dias, her concern flecking her eyes, "Dias! Are you alright?" Then there's a plea from his little sister, in her tone, "Do you... you don't... really right?"

The Lord of Calamity and the Void Empyrean - her eyes look at them, in that moment, she sees the cadence of something else between the two, even beyond the seething malevolence, the hollow void.

There is something between them that reminds her of two siblings.

Rena's big blue eyes take it in, and suddenly, despite how horrific it all felt just moments before...

... it's not so frightening anymore, this conflict. Even on a scale she can hardly comprehend, even with so many things she's ignorant of. It feels more like a sibling dispute.

Rena leans on Claude, things feeling both beyond her ability to affect, or control, sometimes these things one can just watch.

His declaration, still makes her blood run cold. Abruptly, however, a portal opens, and Rena's head whips around- "Wait, are you?!" Rena had a great love of legends in areas they'd traveled to, she's been to the Cathedral.

The chains that drag him backwards, she winces at the sibling like tantrum, then- "It is you! Claude that's the Sword Magess!" She tugs on his arm sounding delighted by this turn of events, "Oh I can't believe this! She's come to save us!"

It's hard to know how Rena compares the legends in her head, her to the Hero of Light, but Claude can probably imagine her doing so, as she strikes fear into even Innominat.

It's then that the Sorcery Globe burns brighter, and brighter - it's symbols glowing outwards, Rena's pendant too is resonating bright green, and she grabs it alarmed, shaking it as Camael makes his pronouncement!

"Wait wait - what are you doing!?" Not having the slightest understanding what's happening, other than 'we'll bring them with us' she keeps ahold of Claude's arm, and quickly grabs Dias. "Please - stay with me! Both of you!"

Why is it, in that blinding light? She feels something... nostalgic. She has no time to even comprehend that feeling before she's gone.

Before they're all gone.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval's done his best to keep good cheer, despite everything - despite that immense power he felt. The little joys, he tried to emphasize in these dreary conditions, especially when he found ancient frustrated writing involving the platform puzzle.
     He leans back from the swing of a massive energy blade, only to kick out with those legs of his, spring back up, walk right up the armored humanoid and them just flip-kick them again, landing neatly on the back of a mammoth that doesn't take kindly to his presence. Their trunk reaches up to fling him off, only to get a quick, faint dip of what's in that drinking gourd.
     "....Mmmmph." The Domain's apex comes as he sits up from the back of the mammoth he's presently toying with, eyes open but without bright light as something tugs, something perturbs, something--
     It fades, to a bright flash of light.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    On one side of the room...
    Dean half-turns towards his best friends as the monster they'd been fighting finally goes down. "Avril! Rebecca!" he calls to them. "The others need us--let's get over there!"
    But even as he says so, Innominat emerges, and that Domain of his crashes into him, too. But Dean has always been one to wear his heart on his sleeve; he is Shepherd-adjacent as a Seer to Boudicca's Oracle, but he's never believed in reason over emotion. One look at him when he's around a Golem makes that clear.
    So he does struggle, just as Avril does--but he grits his teeth and raises his head. "That's right--we can do anything--as long as we don't give up--!"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

    And on another side of the room...
    Ragnell half-turns from the humanoid she'd just finished taking out with a Thunder Blade and a lightning bullet between the eyes. Turns out metal armor isn't good protection against electrocution. She pushes the brim of her hat up, taking advantage of this breathing room to finally get a good look at Velvet Crowe.
    "So that's who 'Lou's been moonin' over the past thousand years, huh," she murmurs under her breath as the Lord of Calamity beseeches the Unnamed Empyrean, her will unbroken, her love unbridled. "Can't say as I blame her. That's one hell of a lady."
    She'll startle at the sudden triumphant appearance of Anastasia in a moment, for that's a name she's heard quite a lot about. But that'll be another couple minutes from now. Right now, she too is under the onslaught of Innominat's domain, and for a moment, she only watches over how it all turns out.

<Pose Tracker> Dias Flac has posed.

    And in the thick of it all...
    Innominat gazes down at Dias without a word. Dias, in turn, has no words for him. The agony of *that day* washes over him, and his only defense is to give in. To feel nothing. To have all of that pain washed away so he never has to confront his own powerlessness ag--
    A fist impacts with Dias's jaw, snapping his head to one side. He stares wide-eyed into space as Claude yells at him that Rena needs him--but there's a light there now that had been fading a moment ago. His right hand curls into a fist as Ethius calls on them all to choose for themselves... and then he rears around and SLUGS Claude right back, possibly right while he's trying to pinch Rena back to her senses.
    "You've got some nerve to punch *me* in the face," Dias growls--but there's something about the slight upward tick of his lips, in the way his red eyes now burn, that might cue them both in that he isn't upset.
    Two different powers wash over him then, cleaning away the bulk of Innominat's influence. One is Mariel's 'echo' of Filgaia, reminding Dias of healing herbs sold in Arlia's sole shop; the other is Zed's dark light sphere that's an echo of anything *but* Filgaia, reminding Dias of countless bloody battlefields in his pursuit to grow stronger.
    To not simply be beholden to the overwhelming strength of another--no matter who they might be.
    Using his sheathed sword to steady himself, Dias rises to his feet. Rena voices her concern for him, and he shuts his eyes. "I'm fine. No need to fret over me, Rena."
    In other words, he still doesn't want to talk about it. But with the Domain now gone, that's... fine. Fine-ish. We'll go with that.
    He eyes Zed, then Claude. (He notes the way Rena leans on Claude and silently approves.) "Friend of yours, I take it." He glares at the spot where Anastasia and Innominat just were, two unbelievable figures in the flesh. The Sword Magess and an Empyrean, huh. He comments to Hannah, "Looks like that problem's been solved for us."
    But then Camael says that the teleportation is ready, and they'll have to take everyone with them. Dias has only an instant to comprehend this before the light swallows them all.
    He looks to Rena as she grabs his arm and doesn't shake her off. The light floods at his back, and then all is gone.

<Pose Tracker> Magilou has posed.

    Magilou's response to Velvet flustering, of course, is to cackle: "Heheheheheh...!!!" Gods, she missed this.

    "Congratulations!!" Magilou found time to yell over the battlefield, to Riley and Xander, seeing the flash of that engagement ring. She doesn't get the chance to explain to Velvet what a Valmar is, more's the pity.

    ... she's gonna miss those two murderers.

    She's glad for Mariel's presence, here -- if anyone can protect them (and Magilou does think of them, not us), it's bound to be the last Elw, her Very Good Friend who Loves Her Unconditionally. (Don't fact-check that one with Mariel.) She's glad that Margaret is here, too, though she finds a moment in her pain to feel -- something, hearing her apologising to Velvet.

    Even Zed's giving his all, huh...? ... if she wasn't so occupied, she might have liked to introduce him to Rokurou.

    (It's okay, Zed. Rokurou sees what Doom Bringer is bringing to the table. If they get out of here...)

    But Innominat -- Laphicet -- refuses to take his sister's hand. "Don't be a fool!" Magilou yells, as she tries to absorb everything he can throw out. It's sheer arrogance, on her part; even with a thousand years of power, she can only shield Marduk's core from half of those spikes. They disappear into nothingness as they meet that white light, but --


    -- the cry of pain, on taking it all in, is new.

    (Magilou's broadened the influence of Spell Absorber to absorb far more than spells -- but she had to feel it all, more, in the process. Every one of those golden spires courses through her blood, stripped down to molecules of power.)

    "That kid... Laphicet... he's not dead," Magilou grits out, through the pain. "He became Maotelus -- your replacement -- and he protected Lunar for centuries... yes, he was corrupted, but he's not gone! The Shepherd, Sorey, he took him into the Earthpulse -- to help him!"

    Finally, she's thrown backwards -- Innominat's power too great for her to strive against. But she hears Kaguya calling for her, and she grits her teeth, forcing herself up again. Still absorbing -- and absorbing too much -- she forces herself forward, to grasp Kaguya's shoulder. "Hold on," she says, and perhaps she's describing her own vice-grip, as much grasping Kaguya for support as to support her.

    With what happens next, she needs it.

    "... Anastasia...?" Magilou is -- mark the date -- shocked to see her. "How is this... oh. Oh..." She glances to Mariel, stunned. "... you said... many things were bound, didn't you..."

    She could tell Anastasia she doesn't need to do this. Perhaps she even should.

    Instead, she looks to the Sword Magess, and she says: "... thank you."

    Maybe she'll be able to repay her, one day.

    But she doesn't have any time, before Innominat's Domain fades, to go to Velvet --

    -- before they all disappear in a flash.

<Pose Tracker> Azoth has posed.

Azoth cracks a smile back at Xiumei as his back bumps up against hers, barely saving himself from a stumble. He's surrounded in floating energy blades of bright blue. "A little," he agrees, shoulder sparking and smoking with wisps of blue and pink.

He opens his palm, looking to the quartz crystal there. His memory stone. Azoth closes his fist back around it and faces the enemies before them.

"...But there's still a few more tomorrows I'd like to have."

A voice. Azoth looks with Xiumei, eyes wide glowing bright before all of him begins to glow with light. He jerks his gaze up to the portal and stares at their destination.

There is no time to form a response before he is gone.

<Pose Tracker> Kanon has posed.

At the edge of the chamber, the exorcist called Kanon wards off a green-glad best with one, two, three slashes from the swords emerging from her arms, then her legs erupt in light as she flip-kicks it in the chin, sending it toppling backward.

Kanon slumps to the ground next to it, heaving a long, heavy breath as she collapses against the farthest wall. Even here, she's just as affected as if she were at the epicenter. But the Knight Blazer roars, and her resolve goes nowhere within the Domain, a piercing blue eye staring as the creature in black streaks forward, reminding her of the nature of the demons she must kill. Innominat and Lord Blazer...no. She already knows her duty. Her blood's duty.

Her head tips back and her eye closes. She can feel her body straining, burning itself up. She's been pushing too hard again.

And if her preoccupation with the state of her misery...with the drive to burn Knight Blazer from the world...with the need to marshal every scrap of herself to the war that will destroy her in the name of her Hero's burden...ensures that she doesn't notice Anastasia Valeria on the other end of the room...

...Well, that would be a shame.

When the teleport comes, Kanon also vanishes into light.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Cavall has posed.

Things are dire on the twin stars of Filgaia and Lunar. So dire that the only way to address the problem of the Ten Wise Men was to leave them behind completely, to fly to Marduk, the New Star, in a rocket both ancient and new all at once.

And in the process, the seraph wolf found themselves in the company of not just one sorrupted soul, but three. When the crescent winged dragon attacked, Ruth had shouted at the three of them to run. Riley and Xander rushed to the fight, and Cavall had briefly turned in that direction. There was no love lost between the wolf and the Hellion.

Except, Ruth had tried to protect them, had she not? From Riley and Xander? (The why of their danger is still an unanswered question.) And while Cavall could not find it in themselves to trust Ruth, they trusted the judgement of others who did, however begrudingly.

And so when Ruth sets out to hold the beast off herself, there was only one choice.

An anchor let loose flies through the air, snagging around the creature's neck. The other end is in Cavall's teeth and he pulls with all of the force of a mountain, ripping the beast off of Ruth.

"It seems danger makes strange bedfellows of us all." Cavall yanks the anchor back and moves to stand beside Ruth. A low growl raises, feet spread for a pounce, hackles raised...

But they are aimed squarely at the summoned beast, this time.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

    Shalune's down, but she can't let herself be out. She can't summon the strength to move, as nausea and poison eat away at her, as disease makes her drowsy and dizzy, as her petrified leg makes it difficult to move. But there's still a stubborn little survivor's instinct at her core that keeps her at her feet. Jay is right; even when they're outmatched, even when things are hopeless, they've managed to pull through before, and in Shalune's case it's mostly because she's scrabbled and torn her way through somehow.

    She reaches for Lunata's arm to tighten her hand around it, not to stop her but out of sheer support and agreement. It's another thought for her to hold onto, the way it burns so brightly. Jay's hand rests on her shoulder, and she leans into it a little. "... yeah. We'll tear them all down. I'm tired of getting stuck in the past all the time, of getting to hear about everything 'humans' did. We can change, damn it."

    ... to be honest, she's mostly talking to herself, somewhat delirious. She has barely enough time to fish through her pack for a remedy - but no time to bring it up to her lips before the sudden light whisks her, and everyone else, away.

<Pose Tracker> Magilou has posed.

    Tangled around Dean's arm, meanwhile, is a ribbon -- the Seraph Boudicca's vessel. She had to retreat into it, supporting Dean in such a vicious fight, but she's here. Here... witnessing Ana, for the first time. "It is... nice to meet you," she says, quietly. "I am the Seraph, Boudicca." Who is a ribbon, apparently. (She'll get better.)

    And when Dean encourages them all, Boudicca chimes in, disembodied: "I am with you! Just a moment, and I shall...!!"

    ...whatever she was about to promise to do, when she regained the strength to take corporeal form, will have to wait. She's interrupted, in the middle, by that teleport.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "...Brother Black...?" Ida's voice is barely a whisper. Surprise and fear stir in her eyes as she watches him cross the floor to comfort Grace. A flash of light catches her eye as Zed does what he can to protect Claude and his friends. Can she...?

    Stay down, idiot girl. Look at what he did to that man. You think you could do better?

    Velvet's pleas fall on deaf ears. What makes you think you can do anything? You've always been desperate. So desperate to be needed, to feel like anything other than the parasite you are.

    Ida plants a hand on the floor, and rises, inch by inch. She meets Innominat's eyes, her jaw tensing. Anger flickers in her eyes like the embers of a fire nearly smothered.

    "It's all right," she says, to Lunata. Then--

    "---Saint Anastasia," Ida breathes. Tears mist over her eyes; the horrid numbness lifts from her heart, and the first words from her after are a soft, reverent "Thank you." She clasps her right fist in her left hand and bows--a bow from warrior to warrior, rather than one from faithful to saint. And as the fog lifts, Ida hears the others. "We'll return the favor, I promise." She turns to face her approaching ARMS comrades--with a painful tic, Zaphkiel hurt her, bad--and cries out:

    "There's still time! Azoth, Ashley, Eleanor, this w--"

    The light washes over her, and she's gone.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

The strange entities are not unopposed.

One of those fighting them is Cirea - fairy sorceress, and stowaway, technically, because she didn't ask if she could come. (They would have let her! It just didn't occur to her to ask at any point.)

She dives through the room in a blur, sending gales of wind rolled up into balls at some of the smaller entities - and when they impact, they explode into vertical blasts, sending them up or down wildly.

Cirea keeps up this running battle until she, too, vanishes into light.


Mariel is really struggling to stay upright. What she did was - 'challenging' doesn't seem to be a strong enough term, though 'impossible' is perhaps too strong, because she did it.

But it made Innominat recoil, at least for an instant. "Everyone - is - connected...!" is what she gets out, trying to push herself just a little further. But trying to press directly against the Domain is like moving a mountain with her bare hands, and about as successful. She gives it up, instead reaching for others, spiritually if not physically -

She knows that voice.

"Anastasia...?" What is she doing here? Mariel didn't do that, or didn't mean to - she didn't think she could reach there. But with the hole already open - perhaps she didn't need to. Everyone together, reaching for anything or anyone, or to each other no matter how far away they were...

Mariel knows Anastasia. She made a promise to Anastasia, too, through Marivel. "Anastasia!" she calls, less questioning this time. ""Thank you! And we will do what we can!"

Perhaps understanding the implied question, Mariel looks to Magilou. "Marduk is a place for bindings. And the Elw - we fall into habits, too... If one subdimension was made to seal things in, why make another?" She says it so matter-of-factly. "I didn't know it was here... I wouldn't have reached for it if I did. But... everyone's hearts reached for each other."

When the Domain fades, Mariel smiles - and then she falls, literally tipping forward until her face plants itself against the floor. She's still conscious - she's moving, rolling herself to her back, but she's not going to get up for a moment. Not before the light takes her, too.


And there's one more. One who heard her name.

A long-eared elf with a sleeveless waistcoast vest, a bolo tie, black slacks, and a Filgaian duster over everything drops from a high point, duster billowing. She flips a coin off her thumb in midair, which hits the floor - and then the two switch places, the elf standing at ground level and the coin falling from high above.

Grace feels, abruptly, herself being brought up. Not carried, though it seems like it *might* be for a moment, but simply helped to her feet.

"Hey," Arle says. "I heard my name and came running. You're not alone, even here." She glances at the crowd. "Not like you would be, even without me. But I don't mind being the one you call, either." She smiles. "So stand up and let's show them our real spirit!"

Why yes Arle *was* just in the Domain, too. But if you act one way for long enough, it becomes habit - and even in bad situations, she can find the time to be a lady's woman.

Oh... and about here, Arle reaches out with her free hand, leaning slightly to the left. The teleported coin drops into it as if she'd planned it.

(She totally planned it.)

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude looks to Zed as he shields Dias and Rena. "Thanks," he says, still trying hard to breathe in the sheer force of this Domain. It's pretty weird, as a shield goes, but...

That's Zed.

He's loud, Rena says. But she says it hurts, and that's better. "Anytime, Rena." He looks to Dias next too--just in time to get slugged right back. "Oof--"

He's knocked partway off his balance by it, but he smiles brightly despite the Domain. "Dias!" he says, happy to see him again back to himself.

"Yeah," he says of Zed, and supports Rena as best he can. "He's a good friend."

He grins at Zed--and it might be the last grin he makes, he thinks for a moment. But here, with these friends--

It's worth it.

But Anastasia is there in a moment, and Rena recognizes her. "W-what!?"

Innominat is sealed away once again. The Symbols glow, and Rena's pendant glows--

Claude takes hold of Rena, too, curling close. "I won't leave you!" Claude promises--

And in that blinding light, he too is gone.

<Pose Tracker> Rixia has posed.

    Rixia has been fighting.

    ... all this time.

    Since the rocket touched down.

    She didn't know where mother went. Where Magilou went, where Margaret went. Where older sister went, as she'd remind her. She doesn't know if Ruth is here, or Hannah, or the other people who care about her...


    She has been fighting.

    In the Black Star, as she would herself call it, there is another Domain of Stillness, which superficially resembles that of Innominat's Domain of Suppression... but it is much smaller.

    An armored humanoid comes after her -- and she clashes blades with it, and then shreds her way through in a single flourish, in time for another green, armored dragon to seek to thrash her across the room. She leaps, and drives the gunblade through with a fell swoop.

    She keeps fighting.

    "Moms..." she whispers, as she gazes, towards where it all has been happening. Where Magilou had been injured, by Zaphkiel; where the figure that she'd alluded to all this time tears from her eternal prison to rescue her. Where Margaret took a stand to defend her, and she has a resurgence back to her feet.

    So that is... Velvet Crowe.

    Her Malevolence can be felt, even here. And that other man, Rokurou Rangetsu... he, too, bears that feeling. So mother's closest friends were all Hellions too...


    That Domain. That Suppression. The elimination of all contradiction, of hopes, dreams, lust, pain, love, hatred... the Light gathers and grows, washing against the stillness of her own Light.

    And then, they are gone... a miraculous saviour, once more, rescued them. Much like how Sorey rescued them before, at Artorius' Throne. Another sacrifice. Another being who has to suffer a fate so the rest of the world may live.


    And then they'll forget. They'll move on. They'll take her sacrifice for granted this time, too...

    Her Malevolence glowers, growing deeper and deeper at what she bears witness to.

    The light begins to overtake her as well.

    "I don't think you were wrong, Innominat."

    But if she takes his mantle, and goes down the same path, will it all just repeat? Would she just become the next Georg Heldalf? What Magilou, Velvet, and the others already have gone down? What's the answer, then, instead of just repeating a cycle that has already played itself out, so many times...

    Rixia grips the gunblade ever tighter as her form begins to discombobulate.

    "I will not be forgotten.
     I will not allow anyone to forget.
     I will be the one... who will have eternity in my reach."

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Innominat's words cause Xantia to briefly falter. It has been a concern, that her own insistence on following the path she's decided on would end up leading to ruin, for others as well as herself. But it stops her only for that one brief moment, before she decisively shakes her head. "You can't... know that. Nobody can! All we can do is our best... the worst we can do is nothing at all!"

Someone who would take away all feelings, who very much feels capable of doing just that... it's frightening, like few things are. But that's exactly why she has to fight it. A meaningless existence like that would be no different from complete destruction. Moving never gets any easier. Neither does willing herself to fight. But eventually, she manages to raise her fists, beginning to glow with a faint light. She just has to keep pushing. Surely, she'll be able to manage something.

It's a great relief, when the appearance of a legendary figure from the past makes it unnecessary to find out the hard way how this was going to go. It's... puzzling, to see her show belief in a Lord of Calamity. She must be missing something. Nothing new there.

"So, um. Does that mean--"

She doesn't even get the question out before the mass teleportation happens. Stuck elsewhere, away from Filgaia, once again. She is not gonna be happy about this.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    'Surrender. I am your hope.'

    Slowly, Avril shakes her head; it feels as if she is trying to fight against a tangle of strings that seek to bind her fast. But even as she is, she shakes her head. "We can do anything..." she utters instead, as if it were a mantra, "as long as we... don't give up...!" She trembles with the strain of it, a puppet fighting perhaps futilely against its own cords. It might be only a matter of time before even the defiance she can muster is overrun. It will take a miracle to save them now.


    ...the universe is not short on miracles.

    "You are--" Avril gasps, eyes wide. Shock -- real emotion! -- breaks through the haze that grips her. And shock, as Innominat is dragged away by none other than Anastasia Valeria, Sword Magess, soon hands over the stage to all the other emotions that come into full bloom after.



    She runs towards the two of them. Perhaps she might be forgiven for the undignified embrace that she will wrap the two of them in the moment she reaches them.

    It's in that moment that the light swallows them.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "... If I give you something else... would you stop...?" Gwen's voice breaks as the candy bar falls from her shaking hands. ".... Take something..." She tears up-- it feels like she's forcing water from stone. "... Don't take these things from me." Immominat's attention has already strayed on, however.

    Sinking to her knees, Gwen sees Lan stepping towards her. "... Lan..."

    With her last bit of emotional will, Gwen grabs forward for Lan, wrapping her in a tight embrace. Squeezing her eyes tightly shut, she lets the world around her fade. Even if Lan's darkness decides to start clinging to her, it'll be fine.

    ".... It'll be okay... "

    That's is the pose she holds onto, before emotion comes flooding back in a wave that feels powerful and painful. She still doesn't open her eyes, instead smoothing her hand through Lan's hair. "... Just hold on a little longe--"

    And she is gone.

<Pose Tracker> Riley Arwell has posed.

Innominat refers to love as human weakness. "No. It's important," says Riley, his voice still flat and mild, without the conviction or passion the words should carry. But the ghost of that certainty is still there. Xander reassures him, and he gives him a distant nod within their coccoon of vines.

But things are happening outside of it. Velvet tries to take Innominat back into the seal, but he won't go. Everything seems lost, for a moment -- as distant as that emotion may feel... but then a figure of legend -- the Sword Magess -- arrives. She seems to be offering to take Velvet's place. Does that mean Velvet and Magilou (and Margaret??) could be together again? Maybe that double-and-a-half date could happen after all...! As she pulls Innominat away and takes the emotion-deadening Domain with her, there are but a few moments for Riley to snap back to Rileyness and do a lot of semi-incoherent gushing at Xander about all that just transpired (and some shaking him again) before a flash of light whisks them all away...!

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

"'Savior,' huh? Yeah, I've heard that one before." Zed sneers, but even he has to admit that he can't keep up this kind of protection for long. Against the full might of Innominat, he wouldn't last. But... It's enough.

Rena and Dias stir. And--

"Woah, hey!" Zed squawks as Claude and Dias punch each other square across the face. "You guys can't start brawling when I'm right here and leave me out! Come on, that's not fair!!" Zed please you have a godhead's power to try and resist with fragmentary memories of a fallen world. Don't get distracted now!!

"I'm not just Claude's friend," Zed huffs, "I'm his BEST friend! So don't go thinking one punch across the jaw means you've got one up on me, mister bluehair! I--"

Another blue haired swords(wo)man appears. Zed blinks at her once. Then again. "Oh! The one from that church! I--" He looks between Anastasia and Dias, then from Dias to Anastasia. "...You two related or somethin'?"

...It's a legitimate question.

And then Anastasia drags Innominat away. The domain fades. Zed is able to lower his shield, and he falls to a knee just in time to be teleported away--

<Pose Tracker> Grace Harvey has posed.

    Grace hears people calling out for her- Ida and Claude shouting for her. She huddles closer to the inert Bea-

    When she feels something fall over her- something warm and heavy. She hears the words delivered in a calming voice- and as Billy reaches for her cross, she grabs for Billy, holding onto him for dear life, sobbing messily. "I don't... dun wanna die..." She continues to plead, through heaving sobs-

    But then she is ordered not to fear. Ordered not to feel anything at all.

    And yet, even as she clings to Billy, the reason why starts to fade. her three eyes half open- and there's a blankness to them. That order is powerful, the domain is powerful. The fear starts to fade. Nothing seems to matter. Her face slackens, her expression becoming flat and empty-

    And then she feels familiar hands pulling her up. A feeling of warmth, a voice that has lifted her out of despair so many times already. "Arle...?"

    Once she's finished being pulled to her feet, Billy's habit still over her, Grace shifts who she's holding to, wrapping her arms tightly around the elven woman. "You came!" The tears are still there, but they're much happier this time. "You've gotta... gotta stop showing up right at the time that makes you look coolest, you know!"

    Show them what they're really like, huh? "...Yeah. Let's-"

    But before they have the chance, the light of the teleportation magic engulfs them...

<Pose Tracker> Margaret has posed.

As the Domain washes over them again, Margaret exhales. It's all just too calm.

But he's not going to give up. Well, my arm hurts, Margaret thinks, but that arm's really just holding me back at that point. She breathes in. Her sword is raised.

"Alright," she addresses Innominat. "Let's get it out of the way."

There is a sparkle-twist of violet and stars as Margaret hurls herself upwards and partially friablilizes AND kicks aside most of one of those falling chunks of pillars. She's sweating visibly after she lands in a crouch. "Heh--"

But then someone else comes.

Margaret looks at Anastasia with mild confusion, but...

"Again at the last ditch," Margaret says, her eyes lidding shut. She's smiling, somehow, despite it, when the light comes and she disappears.

<Pose Tracker> Xander Lovell has posed.

Xander stares down this thing, this entity, this light. "I no longer need to be cleansed. I just need to live." He snarls past the oppressive force of the Domain, hugging Riley closer. "For once I want to live." His jaw sets. "And you -- you would stamp out everythiing that makes all the pain worth it."

Can Xander back up his words, the way the light gathers? What can only yet an aspirant of Valmar's will do against such a force? Xander's about to find out what a hungry god tastes like when he bites his face off.

(Still big thoughts for a man being cocooned in protective vines from his partner.)


Well. Today wasn't about to get less surprising, was it?

Before Xander can quite register what the hell is even happening, Riley is shaking him out of any lingering touch of the Domain's influence.

His head bobbles limply, and you can almost head something rattling inside as the light takes him away.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Meanwhile, just outside of the battle for the Sorcery Globe...

A certain wind shaman pants and tosses back a potion. He is... Tired. Being this far from Filgaia is never fun at the best of times, and now there's some kind of awful power pushing down on his brain like it's got it in a vise. Everything jusst feels... sluggish. Even his connection to Fengalon feels... muted by that power. What is it? What is it? This power of ultimate order, it feels...

So... wrong...

...Oh. It's gone. Cyre breathes a sigh of relief, "Well! Guess it couldn't have been that tough. Guess Jay and Ethius pulled it o--"


<Pose Tracker> Lan Lilac has posed.

    It pours off of her. Through her. It's the only thing that keeps her moving, when her own will has been extinguished. Innominat is so hungry. Lan is so lonely. It wants to 'correct' humanity; Lan can't bring herself to care. It's not her problem. It's not...

    What about her friends? What about her brother?
    Do they need to be corrected?

    A different rift opens; Lan's head tilts slowly towards the figure of Anastasia Valeria, in the flesh. Ink drips off of her still, pulled towards Innominat like smoke given weight. And Innominat is pulled back into its rift, screaming and defiant. And the awful, awe-full, weight of its Domain vanishes. Lan feels like she's emerged from underneath all the water in Spira, emotions rushing back into her like air into her lungs.

    Bright and overwhelming as the sun.

    It's too much. It's too much. It's flowing through her and it's all tangled up and how much is Lan and how much is the Stranger and how much more can she hold--

    Gwen holds her instead, strong arms wrapping around her like her mother's, like her friend's. Lan lets out a quiet sound like a sob, hands clinging to Gwen's arms, her clothes. The lines of ink creep off of her and onto Gwen, wrapping around limbs, holding close.

    Oh, this was what she wanted, this makes it better. Lan's cheeks are wet. The tears are black, like onyx. Her lips are pulled back from her teeth and she can't tell if she's grinning or grimacing - maybe both. "Gwen," she murmurs, letting her eyes slide closed.

    The light takes them both, shadows and all.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"I can't accept this. People can't live like that... What you hope to bring is a death sentence." Jacqueline replies, shaking her head. If she hadn't fought against it... what would happen to her? And what would happen to those who couldn't?

...She can take a guess. It's not a happy ending.

...But a miracle occurs.

Anastasia Valeria is here. Jacqueline stares in surprise. How can this be possible?

...No, maybe here and now, that's when it's most possible, but...

"...It's sad. You deserve happiness, too..." Jacqueline murmurs. She shuts her eyes. ...Then, she'll just have to resolve to help her, somehow. She's not going to resign herself to letting more sacrifices happen.

"...Right." Jacqueline says with a nod, finding herself agreeing with Lunata and Shalune. "Right behind you, every step of the way.

...But there's a light. This isn't the first time she's been through something like this.

"We're being teleported... Everyone, if you can - hold on to someone, don't get separated!" Jacqueline calls out. For her part - she already is. She doesn't know where they'll end up, but...

Nearby, a horde of monsters threatens to break through to those confronting the Wise Men directly - but they find themselves opposed by the Drifters who'd come here to confront them. And among them...

"Safety device, disengaged!" Yulie's voice rings out. The Marduk Gaze device on her wrist unfurls and glows. "Installation forbidden: Code F!"

Before her, a monster of her own begins to form piece by piece. Draconic in form, but with great, bird-like armored wings and a gleaming red crystal jutting out of its back. Normally, the Guardian Programs don't fight directly - but now it rushes down one of the opposing dragons, fire billowing from its very form and claws and teeth ready to tear into its foe.

Yulie winces. ...It's so hard to control... She's afraid. She's afraid of it - afraid of what might happen if she loses focus. That fear is something that is difficult to suppress.

...But this is what she can do to help. And as Code F is about to bear down on its opponent's throat, there is light.

"Ah-! Redi, where are-" Yulie calls out. She breaks the connection quickly, dismissing Code F back into its component nanomachines - just as the flash of light sweeps her up along with the others, to wherever it may go.

<Pose Tracker> Ruth Pauling has posed.

    Ruth, presently her gargoyle-shaped Hellionized self, bought time for those she journeyed through Marduk with by wrestling with the strange Symbological dragon-like creature. The gentleness in which she seemed to carry herself up until then gives way to the bloodlust that Malevolence heightens, though wet with tears.
     She feels the presence of another powerful Hellion, their overflowing greed for mortal combat to overcome a swordsman they had long since defeated in single combat a thousand years ago... and another, far greater, far more powerful presence that even eclipses Rixia's and her own (combined).
     Deafening bangs follow, a set of four, as her left arm supported by her tail (its tip handling some of the dexterous handiwork involved, somehow) as her rifle goes off four times in succession to pick off two of the armored dark green dragon-like ones through their unarmored parts, and grievously wound a flying crimson dragon.
     The discharge of her rifle is the only thing her left ear can hear anymore beyond the tinnitus--
     Which is a blind spot, as she's pounced by another bipedal draconic soldier, spilling fresh blood... until Cavall intervenes.
     A laugh, as another bit of emotional bile rises up her throat and her mind. Cavall hates and fears her, as maybe they should. But Cavall, yet, sees value in keeping her with them. It touches the same haunting feelings that keeps her, well, her.
     The suppression comes, reason trying to assert itself over her despair. Drop the weapon. Stop. Accept you're a heartless monster. Accept that Boaz was wr--
     "Cavall." Ruth's voice trails off into emptiness as she kneels, her wing folding into her. Her tail starts to slack in its grip, and leverage starts to try to assert itself. Over yonder, she can see Rixia hold her own... and she sees the shape of the one whose Malevolence is so thick and cloying that she might resist what's pulling her down.
     The Sword Magess intervenes. Ruth looks to her rosary. Granas might be gone, but those who did good in His name... she chokes a few more tears when the suppression recedes, starting to rise to fight anew.
     The light takes her... somewhere.

<Pose Tracker> Billy Lee Black has posed.

Billy does struggle - mightily, powerfully, he resist with his everything, because he has had to resist this call before. Not Innominat's, no, but the suppression of an Empyrean is not so different from the feeling of being snuffed out by your own mentors, your leaders, your world and your god.

Billy allows Grace as near as she needs, a hand firm on her back. Even as her sobbing quiets to a blank numbness... the apex of that domain pressing down on him like the landing of a house on his head. She lives. He can push himself, now, and must, drawing out the well of his Ether as deeply as he can against the monstrosity pressing down upon the entire New Moon with its mere presence. And then...A miracle. Of a kind.

Billy can only hold his Etone cross close through Anastasia's shackling of Innominat. "Another...sacrifice..." he breathes, teeth gritting to force him to feel something through Innominat's suppression.

Then it's gone; Billy slumps a bit as he feels himself rushing back in, breathing heavily. He slumps more than turns, reaching for the gunsmoke on his hip, eyes tiredly rolling up to the Ten Wise Men still lurking about.

"Right," he grunts, and tries to roll his foot under him. "Back to the other thing."

...is what he says before Camael makes his declaration.

"Oh," Billy rasps out, before he vanishes in a flash of Symbolic light.

<Pose Tracker> Velvet Crowe has posed.

I can't take your hand.


It's all Velvet can get out, before those spikes of light bloom across the battlefield on a collision course with the Spell Absorber -- on a collision course with -her-. She doesn't stop her sprint -- she doesn't -dare- stop. That light collides with her in a burning BURST of an Empyrean's impossible power, -seering- into her soul in an all-too familiar way. It blows her back, off her feet, as pain explodes across every single nerve in her body. Her sword -ejects- from her gauntlet, -impaling- into the ground to stop her backwards momentum with such forceful abruptness it dislocates her shoulder.

She smothers out a gasp as the pain blooms across her shoulders. She focuses on it. The feeling of it. The proof of it. She's still alive. She still has her ugly contradiction of a heart.

"... You won't... accept your sister's hand, huh...?

The pain reminds her, with perfect clarity, of what she is:

"Then... if you're going to act like a spoiled brat... I'll just have to MAKE YOU!"

The Lord of Calamity.


She -rips- that sword out of the stone, gulping down the gasp of pain she desperately wants to release.


Those bandages RIP apart again. Velvet howls in defiant rage; she can feel the sheer pressure of Innominat, unbound by Artorius' will to guide and restrain the impulses of Empyrean nature. She has no idea what these goddess' are; she doesn't care.

She doesn't care how impossible a task this is, as she flings herself into the heart of her certain destruction, eyes wide with defiant wrath.

Her clawed arm swings--

--but before it can--


A massive stone column DROPS between the two of them, with such force and such mass it blocks her suicide rush and -knocks- her backwards.

The Lord of Calamity's eyes widen as she spins out onto her knees before that crashing stone.

And then she sees her.

A blue-haired woman, clothed in dress and armor alike, carrying a legendary blade.

A woman Velvet doesn't recognize. And yet... feels so achingly familiar.

"... Wait--"

Whatever she means to say never finishes, before chains seize the former Fifth Empyrean within their spectral snare.

As this woman takes on a more violent, more risky form of the burden Velvet has carried for a quiet millennia of dreams.

Kneeling there, the last of the Therions can only stare as Anastasia addresses her -- as she drags the screaming, thrashing Empyrean back towards his endless, infinite prison.

"... Ana...stasia...?" she mumbles, somehow registering the name before the Sword Magess even speaks it. Gold eyes blink as that stare fixes on her.

People once called me hero once, too. I still don't think I deserved it.

Gold eyes hood. That horrible, monstrous claw falls limp at Velvet's side as she looks away, unable to meet that stare in that moment. It has nothing to do with willpower, or courage.


She just thinks she has no right to.

"'Hero'..." she murmurs, half to herself. A rueful smile crosses her lips.

... I'm trying to believe, now, that no one deserves to be locked away from the people who love them. I can't, yet, believe that about myself.

        But I can believe it about you, Velvet Crowe.

"Hah," she manages to scoff, as if she can't believe it herself, just like Ana can't for her own self. Be free. Live her life.

What... what would that even look like?
why would she even deserve that
"... Sorry to disappoint you, Anastasia Valeria," she manages after a long moment, as the Sword Magess and Innominat fall back into that land she dreamed in for so very long. Laphi... a note of mourning flickers in her gaze, before her eyes shut.

"... But 'hero' has never been the word to describe me. I'm the Lord of Calamity. And I'll... I'll... live my life. My way."

It all disappears. Anastasia. Innominat. The Wise Men. And as it all fades into blinding light, the exhaustion of waking up from a thousand years torpor hits Velvet Crowe all at once. Her body sways slowly forward.

And in those glimmering final moments before all becomes awash with white, Magilou's words finally catch back up with her. She blinks, blearily. And looks to the witch, the would-be leader of her would-be merry menagerie, with hooded eyes.

"... Phi is... alive...?"

How can such an unrepentant Lord of Calamity capable of so much violence be also so capable of a smile with such sincere, relieved warmth?

"... thank... goodness..."

Consciousness fades from her, as the world does, with a single sentiment: no matter what happens next...

... it was all worth it.

<Pose Tracker> Hannah Curie has posed.

Hannah regards Innominat passively, her mind working on trying to solve a Very Big Problem. She doesn't have the power to do so on her own. But there are many people here, and maybe, with a combined effort...

But spikes of golden light are flung her way and she raises up her crest graph, raising another barrier to try and stop them. She can stop a few, but the power scales at play are far too imbalanced, even with an sudden and odd mastery of her magic. The new barrier cracks apart in short order and she stumbles back as bolts slam into her, dropping to a knee.

A small wince, but it is only a physiological reaction.

The barrier she put around Zephyr, however, holds. She will not accept any other outcome, not even in this state.

But then, an unexpected answer to their problems. Anastasia Valeria appears, to drag Innominat back into the Memory Maze. There is a soft blink of surprise. "... You're Miss Marivel's..."

But all too soon they are gone, the prison is sealed.

And the supression vanishes. Hannah blinks, as feeling suddenly comes to her, and she gasps, as if coming up for air. Her power is still far, far too extended now, and her perfectly hemispherical barrier suddenly starts to warp and crackle dangerously. "N-no!" She reaches out and draws it back into herself, grunting with the strain of trying to withdraw all that power.

Zephyr swoops down into her arms and she cradles him close. "Zephyr," she says, her voice quivering. "I'm so glad you're okay." Zephyr chirps a reply.

And then everything goes white.

<Pose Tracker> Sheriff Star has posed.

Golden light fades to white. It leaves afterimages in people's vision.

The group of Drifters and Fangs of Valmar appear in a forest; clustered together, though not all in the same places they were inside of Marduk. A short distance away, Roll and Tron Bonne look up with the same looks of confusion as everyone else. The forest is a vibrant green one, with ancient old growth trees reaching up high into the air. The sky is blue, and yet, it quickly registers how different this place is. The sky has a faint, prismatic sheen; it gives it a pearlescent effect, and huge Symbols can be seen.

The tops of the trees have leaves of many colors. Most are green; some, though, are darker blues and violets. And between the leaves, they can see distant islands floating in the sky; small, rocky things with some grass atop. It is a sight unlike any on Filgaia or Lunar.

BGM: Star Ocean: The Second Story - Field of Nede - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E03_d3DAOXs

There is a road winding through the woods. A well-trod dirt path, with stones at the edge to mark it. It looks well-trimmed and maintained, compared to Filgaian and Lunarian paths.

A child walking along them stops, as he spots them. He wears a khaki shirt and shorts, and they're of a fine quality seen only in Solaris or the Veruni cities. But his ears are long and pointed, like an elf's. Like Rena's. He has a butterfly net in one hand; it plummets to the ground, and he turns and runs, with a gasp.

It lands next to a bush, causing a few leaves to drop off. Then, something peeks out of that same bush. A pair of black, round eyes. A small rodent-like creature, unlike any seen across two worlds, peeks out: a short, round thing with shockingly yellow fur. Small patches of fur on its cheeks are a shade of red; the tips of its ears and claws are a darker black. Its tail is more rigid, faintly reminiscent of a lightning bolt.

It looks at these travelers from another world and vocalizes what is, somehow, a question -- despite not being in a language.


BGM: Pokemon Let's Go Eevee & Pikachu! - Title Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wVXa6UB1io