Difference between revisions of "2019-10-30: Missing Pieces"

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(Created page with "*'''Log: Missing Pieces''' *'''Cast:''' Character :: Neriah Parringer, Character :: Kamui, Character :: Eleanor Klein, Character :: Seraph Clarine, Character...")
 
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Latest revision as of 00:18, 31 October 2019



<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

The rumours about a mysterious dig site in the east of Meria proved worth checking out, if only because last time this happened, Guts-Dozer was the result. This time, the stories of a mysterious find are traced soon enough to an incredibly obscure site called Arastell, a massive tell not too far from the seashore. Rising from sand and thin grass, it could be any other hill in the desert... save for the fact that its shape is unusually regular and oddly truncated near the top. It couldn't have formed in nature.

It's no challenge to find the site of the digging activity. A wooden framework has been built into one side of the great tell, opening into a short passageway lit by hanging gas lanterns. A few tools are scattered across the flooring. But the passageway doesn't go on forever.

It ends abruptly with a downward step into a fair-sized antechamber, a crumbling stone room with a distinct smell of dust and age. Nobody has been in here in at least a couple of centuries - maybe even longer.

The door itself is what attracts the most notice. It's large - a huge stone slab built into the wall, simply framed, with no visible handle. But it's the markings on it that are curious - and the magic.

Scorched into the stone is the emblem of Ge Ramtos, the Guardian of Death - and when one draws close, there is a cold shimmer of magic and a sound like iron links clicking together as crisscrossing chains phase into existence. They're not material - but one's hand cannot pass through them.

Magical or not, the chains are caked with rust, and one hangs broken. Whatever seal has been laid here is beginning to fray.

<Pose Tracker> Kamui has posed.

    Kamui isn't really fully repaired yet.

    They haven't had time to visit the Sealed Laboratory -Tishrei- yet; that just slightly off-shore facility wound up being more of a pile of problems to re-access, and things definitely wound up being more hectic than before.

    But as Clarine found out, the Reploid can at least walk. She's looking about 30% more skeletal than before, but true to the OG Skeleton, she'll Never Give Up even with that in mind.

    Besides, she has an important function anyway to serve in ARMS--

    ([]) ... ([]) ... ([]) ... ([])

    "Piiing," Kamui chimes as she crests the cliff and points towards the ruin as the Search Function (tm) hits something! There's a ruin...!!

    "We found it, mui...!" Kamui waves her arm and Buster (because it's still stuck as a Buster) up and down, psyching herself up excitedly. She hops on down and notices the emblem, but...

    She doesn't quite recognise it. She bobs her head one way. "Mui...? What a weird lock."

<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

The east of Meria makes for a region largely familiar to one Eleanor Klein.... because she'd darn well better be, as much of the coast is her business to know. Nevertheless, there are hidden ruins and mysterious sites unknown to anyone all over Filgaia, so she isn't exactly stressed about a new place being found. Quite the opposite--she's excited!

"What an extraordinary find," Eleanor remarks cheerfully, despite the whole chain thing, despite Kamui's skeletal natural, and in clear defiance of anyone asking if she's actually been home to see her parents yet. It's like she's stuck on a dialogue loop or something. "Wonderful work, Kamui! As soon as we finish here I'll take you home to see the high places in Klein, hm?"

She steps up, looking thoughtfully over the reliefs... and the passageway. "The... Hmmm. This-- This magic is cold..."

"That emblem..." Eleanor tilts her head. "Is that... Yes, I believe it is..."

The sorceress, dressed in travelling scholar's garb! Which... means another skirt and jacket and tie, to be honest--pulls a few things from her bag and begins to focus. She's analyzing the magic! She'll be a minute.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Clarine has posed.

Where there was an ARMS expedition, Clarine was bound to be not far behind - she's right there with Kamui, keeping a close eye on her condition. She's a little more cautious after their last adventure, fun as it was, and wants to make sure she'll be alright.

And then, Kamui lets out a ping! They seem to have found what they're looking. Clarine follows the others into the ruin, and drifts closer to that huge stone door with the curious markings. She studies it for a second...and frowns, floating back.

"...You can feel it too...?" Clarine murmurs, looking toward Eleanor. "It is like...a strange feeling, weighing upon my senses..."

As a being of magic, she was particularly sensitive to such things - but she lets Eleanor handle the actual analysis. Clarine wasn't so good at that part, unless it was rooted in Light.

She sees those chains phasing into existence. For a brief moment she considers reaching toward them - but pauses, reconsidering it.

"...What do you make of this?" She asks.

<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    Acacia's not really sure in what capacity she's turning up today.

    As a reporter, she's obviously interested in the rumours of a major archeological find near to Meria Boule - it could be big news for the local area, which means more tourism, which means more readers and a happier Meria Boule in general. Besides, it means she can come investigate without having to go too far from home. Perhaps it's bad for a reporter to think that way, but right now she's still recovering from Spira, and drawing a lot of comfort from having a familiar place to sleep each night.

    (Okay, so sometimes that's her couch. Or her desk. And she's still getting used to the futon she dragged into her office after Kamui stared at her until she gave in. It still counts.)

    As a member of ARMS, meanwhile, the news of a major finding at a dig site nearby is probably something that they should be concerned about and at least keep tabs on. She's kind of used to 'major finding' being code for 'oh shit something big is gonna happen'. If that means being ahead of the game, so be it.

    That's how she should think, at least, and indeed how she starts off thinking as she pats Kamui on the head for her find, offering a "Good job," as she does so. But one look at the emblem makes her halt mid-step, and when the chains appear and stretch out of nowhere she's taken a solid stride backwards. "Very bad news, I bet. Take it from a reporter," she notes bluntly towards Clarine, looking quite glum.

    She leaves the analysis to Eleanor - Acacia's aware that her own powers are rather instinctive, and not likely to very useful for analytical tasks just yet. Besides, she knows a shamanistic symbol when she sees one, and whatever she's got doesn't count. At least, she's pretty sure. Instead, her hand sneaks towards her jacket's inner pocket, just in case.

<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

The Caskett family had barely touched down on Kattelox when rumors swirled around a ruin mentioned over Telepath, an unprotected ruin that hasn't been touched by others in ages. And while Professor Barrell had business to attend to, taking the Flutter over for a ride to check it out could lead to interesting finds!

Dash has yet to enlist in the Digger's Guild to delve into the Kattelox Ruins to prove he can tackle the more dangerous stuff yet.

And so, near the site, a cute red-and-yellow sunfish shaped vessel soars in the air nearby.

"H-Hey! There!" Dash says, practically jumping in the air as he points out the cockpit window. "That's the Guts-Dozer! I know those guys!" he says.

His facial expression changes suddenly, and shakes Roll's shoulder. "Quickly, land, land! They are gonna do all the digging without us!"

---

"I will keep a lookout. Call if there is any trouble!" pings over the helmet's comms. A silent nod, and Dash is already running for the ruins. He gives a big wave to the Dozer in case any of his friends are inside.

The blue boy near stumbles into the chamber with the strange door. "Wait, hang on! I am here! Don't do anything awesome without me!"

Some deep breaths to cool his systems. He has got to get Roll to make something that can help him travel fast! Kamui's jet boots are super cool! How the heck could he even get that? Roll has difficulty modifying anything major on his suit. Perhaps something more low-tech is in order.

"This isn't a 'we were here first' situation, is it?" he asks, looking around to the others. "Uh... what's with the door?" he asks, feeling a strange drop in temperature just looking at it.

<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

Wherever ARMS goes, Ashley Winchester is sure to follow.

And this time, he's bringing fresh supplies.

"That's about as ominous of a feeling as it gets, isn't it?" The Musketeer murmurs, having already distributed his newest baked goods to the masses. With this being so close to Meria, it was simple to spend a few hours of preptime with Marina and whip up a few snacks for everyone to take along on their journey. He's spent a considerable amount of time back home in Meria, in fact. It's hard to blame him! He's been gone for a while. The reunion was as tearful as it was joyous, but there's always more work to be done.

And this time, too close to home for comfort.

"You don't suppose there could be another ambush waiting for us this time too, do you?" Ashley asks, glancing back at the one he's walking with. "I don't know if it's just generic heebie jeebies, but I've got a bad feeling for some reason."

<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    Everything is going swimmingly enough, in so much that nothing terrible or inconvenient has happened yet. Foreboding, yes... but nothing terrible or inconvenient.
     The last two, one's mileage may vary. Ever since returning back to Filgaia, ARMS has enjoyed a relative freedom of movement without heightened risk of organized interruption from you-know-who, but the specter of their presence - different froom whatever greater specter of more fell presence - always looms overhead as their enemy to overcome. They are what stands between Vinsfeld and the war he has created which threatens to envelop and put to the sword all of the two worlds' order.
     "Hyahaha--!"
     And then there's one, scurrying out not far from the gathered. The bigger mystery is which way he even came in, but never mind that. "You listened to the rumors too? You listened to the rumors too...! This Arastell..." From the voice, the silhouette of that horned squirrel-like Hyadean, solid glowing yellow eyes and that sharp-toothed grin that never seems to be anything less than a mere smile. "...Isn't it?"
     Great, if he's here... does Odessa have this place surrounded? And yet, his are the only footfalls they hear, his the only presence to be sensed... but the timing seems awful (in)convenient, doesn't it?
     That's foreboding in one corner, that's inconvenient in another. There's another corner for terrible, just waiting to be filled, as Ratatoskr sizes up the gathered with crossed arms.
     Ashley had to ask, didn't he.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"What was their name again..?" Marivel murmurs, though she isn't really wholly focused at the moment. She has fallen into self reflection as she has scarcely returned home before she had to face a whole new 'problem', an old mystery which has become a new mystery. She is watches Kamui thoughtfully as she psyches herself up, smiling broadly and giving Kamui a quick one armed hug.

"You're doing great." She assures Kamui, but doesn't stay too close for long.

She approaches the lock and adds, "Hm... it looks like it's still...Ah!"

Her eyes widen faintly as she sees the broken chain. "That is not good. I suppose I ought be grateful it lasted this long."

She looks to Dash and shakes her head. "No." She tells him. "The seal is still active. It might not be for much longer but we shouldn't break this seal. Now that we have confirmed that the seals are fraying, I will put out a call to the Chateau to bring over a shaman who can hopefully restore the seal to its full potency."

She places her hands on her hips. "But it looks like for now there isn't much we can do but stand guard so I guess that makes this mission complete!"

            MISSION COMPLETE WAIT WHAT ALREADY???

Marivel gives one last look to the seal and there's a brief expression of hatred that flickers across her face--easy to miss--but she gives Kamui a tighter hug then before stepping off to send a call to the Chateau via her empathite radio.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Who's with Ashley? That would be Ida. The naturalist pops the last bit of a blueberry muffin into her mouth, chews, and swallows as Eleanor speaks. "Extraordinary," she says. "I won't deny that it is. But..." But Ashley's thoughts seem to be closer to Ida's own. She nods. "Well, that's why we get hazard pay," she says.

    Ida folds her arms, and leans back to try and study the sorcerous working--Marivel said it was a seal, and Eleanor said it was cold. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be in good shape, and that's... worrying.

    'Hyahaha--!'

    "Heads up!" Ida shouts. Her hand becomes a blur. When it's visible again, she's aiming Devil's Due at Ratatoskr's center-mass. Ida deliberately thumbs off the safety. "Hello, Ratatoskr," she says. It's a polite Photosphere greeting!

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

There's magical energy at work - but anyone with a lick of spiritual sense can feel that something's not right. The spell is in effect, but the magic is old and almost seems... stretched, or thinning. Like an old bandage in dire need of changing.

When Clarine reaches towards the Chains, she can feel the magic intensify - but it struggles to do so, the chains flickering with a force that peters out after a few moments. To draw near enough to touch is to begin to feel a steady ache in the chest, but one that begins to subside, then mount again, then subside. It's as if the spell can't decide whether or not to harm you - or can't get itself going.

Marivel makes the call: The seal shouldn't be broken. It's there, but needs to be renewed.

The light in the room gutters suddenly and dims - and an all-new chill can be felt. This one is steady - and growing.

It's not the chains.

From out of emptiness, a spark of negative energy swells, black and blue and crackling with arcs of shadow electricity. Pressure radiates out from that spark as it expands within the blink of an eye, resolving into a figure.

A high-heeled shoe touches to the ground with a ringing *CLICK.*

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-Jhf4Mj6wM

"I didn't realize there were already adventurers here," Neriah Parringer says with a neat smile, her robes rippling around her - the emblem of Valmar across the trains of the garments. There's a silver trident in her right hand; she leans it casually over her shoulder as she looks back to the group. "I'm sorry for disturbing you -- oh, hi, Ida. Nice to meet the rest of you. You can call me Neriah. I hope you don't mind if I just pop in on my many times great grandfather's storage shed, but, you know.

"I don't care if you do." She gestures with one hand. Magic surges ominously.

There is a mind-rending screech of power - and Filgaia itself seems to vibrate as the Chains binding the door shatter, and the stone itself bursts into dust and blasts inward, into a darkened catacomb beyond.

DC: Marivel Armitage switches forms to Crimson Noble Marivel!
DC: Dash Caskett switches forms to Volnutt Armor!
DC: Kamui switches forms to The Girl on the Tailwind of a Scoop!!
<Pose Tracker> Kamui has posed.

    There's a lot of friends here! Clarine is keeping a close eye on her, which she appreciates; something about her glow always makes her feel more comforted. Eleanor gives her a cheer, and Dash is running up to join them as well, Acacia is giving her a headpat, and Marivel a one-armed hug. And Ashley has muffins too.

    (You can't give an ARMS hug with one hand, Kamui points out to Marivel. It's just an ARM hug.)

    Ratatoskr bellows out with laughter and sparks a reaction from her though.

    "Come out with your hands up! We have the hostages surrounded!" she exclaims immediately.

    A long pause.

    "Wait, I think I have the wrong line." She winces and rubs her head, then tries again. "Uh--" but a high-heeled shoe CLICKs to the ground and negative energy emerges around the place.

    Kamui takes a look towards the woman who she doesn't know, but then knows because she introduces herself as Neriah--

    And the robot immediately goes, "Nice to meet you, Neriah!" as if on instinct. But then her eyes are trained towards the emblem of Valmar in particular.

    "... that emblem ..." Kamui murmurs to herself. She sucks in a breath, shaking her head as magic surges ominously around them. "What should we do, Master! There was a plot twist after all!"

GS: Kamui has attacked Acacia Saitani with Together with Master!!
GS: Kamui has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Kamui has completed her action.
GS: Kamui heals Acacia Saitani! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

Naturally, Eleanor is interested in boosting the state of their whole nation--but she might try to claim a little of the tourism for this one for Klein. After all, many will be coming from the east...

"I do," Eleanor answers Clarine. "It's heavy, to be sure. A seal..." As Marivel explains, Eleanor's eyes stay on the chains, on the emblem, on the wall around both--but she does listen. "Yes, I see it," Eleanor answers, brow furrowing in concentration. "It's long-stretched... yes, it's Guardian magic, isn't it? The best I could do is lay another seal overtop it now, to help prevent it being tampered with before..."

"What, an ambush?" Eleanor asks Ashley, and then--makes a little dismissive wave of her hand, absolutely perky as she finishes her analysis. "Oh, don't be silly! Sometimes good things just--"

'Hyahaha--!'

Eleanor frowns sharply, and sloooowly turns around to face Ratatoskr. "You," she indicates, though her dramatic look almost falters as she remembers his glowing eyes and sharp teeth, "Have... absolutely awful timing..."

Then she freezes in place--she looks, and her eyes widen. "This power--" She steps back abrubtly, getting out of the way as the light dims, and she feels the chill. This is not the chains. Eleanor feels it even before there is shadowy electricity--before the figure reaches the ground with a click of her heel.

"You..." She blinks. "The symbol of--Valmar!?" she says, in more shock even than anything--but her eyes widen further, and she stares into nothing for a long moment--

She misses some of what Kamui says, but hears Kamui saying something--what should they do?

"Who... are you," the sorceress wonders. Magic surges--and Eleanor winces in pain at the powerful screech, as if hearing a sound that is too loud. "We can't let..."

She whirls into motion, pulling a crest emblazoned with the powers of Fray and Geo, the Crest glowing golden before sparkles burst around her--

"Powers of movement and powers of halting, combine and shield us from harm! Stone Targe!"

And a spectral shield of molten rock circles into existence in front of Kamui, whirling in place before locking as if into a slot.

"Kamui--Don't get close! You're still injured!" For her part... Eleanor reaches for a weapon at her side.

GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Kamui with Stone Targe!
GS: Eleanor Klein has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: Kamui takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Stone Targe for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst and Shield! applied to Kamui!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel cheerfully says Mission Complete even though Ratatoskr is RIGHT THERE but then there's something far more difficult to ignore. And then the light dims.

What normally would make Marivel pretty cheery gets her to turn her head. Her eyes, much like Kamui's, are quickly drawn to the emblem of Valmar. Her eyes widen, then narrow fiercely as that hatred in her eyes returns--and doesn't dissipitate this time.

Marivel curls her fingers inward briefly then stretches out her hands, her fingers extended like claws.

"Arius..." She hisses. "Do you think..."

She darts forward, swinging out her hand, forming a blade of blood in an instant as she swings it for Neriah's neck.

"Do you think you can hide in the body of a cute goth girl?! I will tear you to shreds for what you have done!"

She was already moving BEFORE the chains shattered, but perhaps she is speaking of that seal Neriah just destroyed?

Or perhaps she is talking about something else.

She glances to Eleanor but seems relieved she's looking after Kamui. Looking back to Neriah she adds, "You think you've been forgotten? This old bat remembers every threat to Filgaia... and this world is screeching at me to feed it your ash!"

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Neriah Parringer with Guillotine!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Guillotine for 75 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    Only Ratatoskr could glean some rush of excitement in something like this - but perhaps some of that is just an inherent bit of Hyadean nature, especially those of Mother's fell design. His grin widens a little more when Ida points the ARM at him, and his mind is flush with queries about the tiniest difference in the grip that he can see peeking out from her hand.
     A pressure builds. It's a weird pressure - but enough that Ratatoskr's idle segmented metal plate tail swishing freezes, goes rigid from alarm... and then his gaze snaps to the emptiness that no longer is. (There's the corner with the terrible in it. Now things are terrible, inconveinent, and foreboding all at once.)
     His eyes light up again a bit more as he surveys Neriah's garments. "Is that the emblem of--" He seems cowed to blessed silence as she speaks. His obnoxious voice, brought to heel momentarily as she speaks of an 'apology' for disturbing them.
     Then she says some magic words.
     "Your many times great grandfather's storage shed...!" This is not a voice that recognizes that this means horrifying things, even with the weird and uncomfortable feeling in the air he can't put a name to the sensation of.
     "...You have to tell me! I want to know," his voice grows manic with excitement, which makes her statement following all of that all too good of a fit for the statement she means to append it to.
     Magic surges, and the power that runs through - even just an atmospheric snap in the spiritual pressure - strikes like a knife, and Ratatoskr's voice cuts off right then and there. His arms are raised, sloppily, in an incomplete fighting stance. The intristic defensive instincts only function for a split second before everything seizes, like his body doesn't comprehend what it is he's feeling or what it should do. What it can do.
     He doesn't know what to call that sensation.
     (He is further uncertain as to whether he enjoys this novel sensation.)
     It takes a few seconds for any further sign of nerve activity to surface anew, in that his tail flinches arrhythmically as initial violent retorts are put forth.

<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    Acacia is at least enjoying the real fruits of joining ARMS - getting remarkably unrestricted access to free food, without even having to fish for it. That part she could get used to, along with the regular paychecks - though if it were up to her, the definition of 'hazard pay' would be significantly wider than it is. She doesn't comment on whether there's going to be an ambush - she just assumes there will, her hand resting on the grip of her battered revolver.

    Despite her worries, Ratatoskr is kind of the opposite of an ambush, really. Her gun's in her hands before she can register the source of the noise, the barrel of it changing colour from dull black to dim red towards a searing white as it starts to heat up in her hands. There's no way she could ever shoot it, misshapen as it is, but that doesn't seem like it's going to stop her as she swerves around to draw a bead on the Odessan.

    And then a sensation encroaches on her mind, a crawling kind of feeling that makes her teeth ache and her gums itch. Purely on instinct, she hops away from it without even registering what's causing it - and she realizes she's dodged in the direction of the seal as if to cover it, at just the same time as an almighty crack reverberates through the stone and tears it to pieces.

    "Well, shit," she mutters under her breath, risking looking away from Ratatoskr. She doesn't recognize the woman who's threatening to go straight through them - but that just means she looks a little longer until she's sure she could later, etching features and markings into her memory until she can get them down on paper.

    She doesn't have to be a seasoned anything to pick out the bigger threat. Eleanor technically has Kamui's orders covered - but something makes her pause. She promised to walk with Kamui, after all, whatever came their way. "... do what you feel you can," her own suggestion differs slightly. "But be careful, too. If it's too much, fall back."

    Anything more is lost in sheer surprise at Marivel's anger. The reporter's used to Marivel being quick to fight, but never quite so... fanged.

GS: Acacia Saitani spends 1 Combo on Reload!
GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Kamui with Editorial Assistance!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Acacia Saitani heals Kamui! She gains 100 temporary hit points!
GS: Reload! Kamui gains 15 extra FP from Acacia Saitani!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Clarine has posed.

'Very bad news', Acacia says. Clarine nods.

"Yes...I am getting that same feeling..." She murmurs in agreement. She can feel it, as she reaches toward the chains - that intensifying and weakening of power. She pauses and looks back, though, when there's a familiar face.

"...Dash...?" Clarine says with a pause, looking back. She shakes her head. "...I am unsure... I do not know any more than you."

She looks toward Marivel, then, listening as she makes her decision and explains what she knows - the seal is still active, and they ought to stand guard until a shaman arrives to restore the seal.

...And then, two people arrive.

The first, is Ratatoskr - she has not had much personal interaction with him, but she recognises him as a member of Odessa.

"...You. Are the others with you?" She asks. With a gesture a series of mirrors fly out of her sleeves, swirling around her prtoectively.

But then, someone else appears. Clarine can feel it before she sees them - an immense power building as a spark of energy swells, and a feeling of intense pressure, that eventually taked the form of a woman.

She doesn't recognize that symbol, and she flinches back at that ominous surge, and the screech that follows as the chains binding the door are shattered utterly.

"You are...a dangerous person..." Clarine whispers breathlessly(technically she's always breathless because she doesn't need to breathe, but...).

Eleanor puts a name to that symbol she doesn't recognize.

"Who is...Valmar?" Clarine asks. ...Whoever they are, if this woman bore their symbol, they were something to be worried about. ...And more than that, Marivel seems to have some history there. Clarine doesn't know who or what 'Arius' is, but she's there to support her friends, as always.

She sees the others preparing for battle, and elects to follow suit.

"Field Barrier!"

At her call, blue light spreads out from Clarine, forming a protective shell around Dash, Marivel, and Eleanor.

"Be wary, everyone...!" Clarine urges.

GS: Seraph Clarine has attacked Marivel Armitage with Field Barrier!
GS: Seraph Clarine has attacked Dash Caskett with Field Barrier!
GS: Seraph Clarine has attacked Eleanor Klein with Field Barrier!
GS: Seraph Clarine has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Seraph Clarine has completed her action.
GS: Eleanor Klein takes a solid hit from Seraph Clarine's Field Barrier for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! applied to Eleanor Klein!
GS: Dash Caskett takes a solid hit from Seraph Clarine's Field Barrier for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! applied to Dash Caskett!
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

Why did Ashley have to open his big mouth?

"Ah!" The bluenette exclaims, "It's that metal squirrel thing! What does Odessa want with these ruins!?" Or maybe it's more that Ratatoskr is here on his own volition because he's a fighthappy little mouseling, but that's perhaps a little unimportant at the moment.

Because something else has just appeared. Something that has the hairs on the back of his neck stand right on end. Something that is wearing a symbol that every good Granasian boy and girl learns in sunday school. Something that is also wearing the kind of outfit that every good Granasian boy and girl learns that this kind of person would be wearing, that they might more easily tempt the vulnerable to carnal sin.

"That's..." Ashley recoils visibly, making the sign of the Sword Maiden across his heart. "That's the symbol of Valmar. What do you want with this tomb? The followers of the dark one are definitely not welcome in Meria Boule!"

A bit discriminatory?

Perhaps.

But a lifetime of religious education will do that to a person. Also, Neriah is definitely radiating all kinds of bad mojo energy right now, and Ashley Winchester is all too familiar with what that feels like.

It's enough that he only considers Marivel's uncharacteristic rage to be an entirely justified and not at all unusual response. He opens fire as well, launching a canister into the air that soon bursts into a web of electromagnetic chaos right all over the Valmarian threat.

GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Neriah Parringer with Canister - Electromagnetic Net!
GS: Ashley Winchester has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Neriah Parringer critically Guards a hit from Ashley Winchester's Canister - Electromagnetic Net for 32
hit points!
GS: Jam! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida keeps the ARM trained on Ratatoskr. Her senses sharpen, taking in every word, every footstep, every gleam of light. She hears a faint, electric crackle, and then cold, familiar feeling skitters across the back of her neck. Her stomach does a flip. "Neriah," Ida says, as the young woman steps towards them. She looks very, very different, and not just because of the change in wardrobe. Notably, Ida does not turn the gun on her, but this is no guarantee she's not going to. "Whatever you're here for, you're not going to get it." Ida lowers the gun and steps forwards, past the others.

    Neriah rips the seal apart. More of that hideous, stomach-churning power crawls across Ida's skin, and she clenches her teeth to keep herself from crying out. "She's an agent of Valmar!" Ida shouts, to the others--and she absolutely does not mean metaphorically. In a heartbeat, the woman is pointing the gun at Neriah's chest. Ida pulls the trigger, and then double-taps.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Neriah Parringer with Lightning Draw!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Lightning Draw for 58 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

It feels like forever since he got to hang out with the friends from ARMs on SPira. It wasn't truly that long ago, but it enjoyed their time together in such a harsh environment. "Okay! Cool, cool. I can lend a hand! And weapons and stuff."

Strange laughing shows another is here, that is more a creature than anything. "Who is that, exactly?" he asks. Ida seems nonplussed by his presence. Most don't. Huh.

The chains come into view when someone attempts to interact with it. "I don't know much about magic," he says toward Eleanor. "Able to fill me in?" Marivel's confirmation helps to know others are still welcome. "Okay, great! Hey Clarine!" he also says kindaly to the Seraph.

"Do you know anything about this place?" he asks Ratatoskr. He seemed to be here first.

There is a strange pressure in the room that builds. Sensors within pick it up as it builds, noticing a surge in the magical presence of the room. What arrives is not death, though it may as well be just that. She looks like... not a friendly sort. Most here seem to bristle towards her.

The symbol, he feels like he has seen it somewhere, but nothing comes to mind. Perhaps it is just that menacing. "Uh, hey, hold up!" he calls as she snaps the etheric chains with little effort. "Why are you busting in like that? Do you even know what is in there? You gotta investigate spots first!"

Her great grandfather's storage shed...? Okay, maybe she does in fact know what is in here.

Well, if ARMS is opening fire on sight on this person, she must be bad news! "Guess stopping her is the name of the game!" The Mega Buster is the first weapon of his to be fired, a trio of golden shots fly towards this mysterious agent of uh, Valmar? Ida said Valmar. Doesn't ring a bell. Sounds evil though.

GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Neriah Parringer with Buster Salvo!
GS: Dash Caskett has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Neriah Parringer critically Guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Buster Salvo for 21 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Ida alone may recognize that for Neriah, all pretense is gone. She's let her hair grow out into cascading curls, exchanged her civilian clothes for outright priestess robes and even set aside the small silver ARM she used to carry - and her posture and carriage are entirely different. Almost caually confident, indifferent to threat.

As she looks back, Neriah catches sight of Kamui and arches her eyebrows. "Oh, hello there," she says, as if startled.

Power begins to surge as Eleanor casts her spell, and Neriah lets her gaze travel to her, red lips drawing into a little smile as she buries that moment of surprise. "I'm Neriah. Think of me as a radical change agent."

Marivel lunges. She was ready for it. The Crimson Noble darts in--

And there's a sudden shock of magic as the blade of blood slams into a sphere-shaped field around Neriah. She grunts as she's pushed back a couple of stages, her hand swept out to reinforce the field - but it passes to a slight dip of her lashes. "An old friend of his, huh. Interesting. He won't be answering anymore. I'm the Impetus now."

Pivoting, Neriah steps back into the frame of the doorway. She sweeps her trident out, gripping it in both hands as she jabs the pronged head towards Marivel's chest with a swift forward thrust, aiming to skewer her and drive her to the floor. "And I've been waiting too long to find what he left in here to be stopped now," she growls.

Shadow roils around her in waves and patterns. Silhouettes of eldritch energy pull out from her shield, like shadow beings - Neriah-shaped, with ghostly tridents. The phantoms whirl about her, lashing out, jabbing phantom pikes towards Kamui, towards Acacia and Eleanor. Another phantom darts towards Ashley, but is intercepted by the electrified net, dissipating into tendrils of mist. Neriah lowers her lashes slightly.

"You have some misconceptions about Valmar," she chides as she levels her right hand. "But if you must know, there are some belongings of my ancestor's sealed up in here. And I have a right to them. After all, the Chains of Arius were supposed to last seven generations. As NUMBER EIGHT and the official Chainbreaker, I say the statute of limitations has passed, wouldn't you agree?"

Ida cuts her off, unloading a bullet that slams into her shield and punches through hard enough to hit her shoulder. She winces a little and tosses her head, fixing a glare on the once-naturalist. "I really liked you better as a Hellion, do you know that?" she snipes tartly, before Dash opens up with a burst - and she flicks her hand, letting her shield handle the worst of it. Energy slams calamitously into the rippling bubble of light, erupting over it and washing across to slash into stone walls. Debris showers down where it impacts.

"Ah, I see!" Neriah breathes suddenly, widening her eyes. "You must be the ARMS I've heard about, aren't you? Interesting. Ah well." She holds her hand out again.

Power builds and explodes forth. Shadow boils off of her, screaming out in a vast wavefront, taking the form of vast monstrous faces and mouths that shriek towards most of the ARMS contingent. Clarine, Ida, Dash, Ashley - Ratatoskr - trying to slam into them all and sear them with shadow flame.

GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Neriah Parringer with Eldritch Sphere!
GS: Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's Eldritch Sphere for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield and Surge! applied to Neriah Parringer!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Marivel Armitage with Valmarlance!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 3 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Kamui with Cabal of Shadow!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Acacia Saitani with Cabal of Shadow!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Eleanor Klein with Cabal of Shadow!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Seraph Clarine with Hellmouth!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ratatoskr with Hellmouth!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Hellmouth!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Dash Caskett with Hellmouth!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ashley Winchester with Hellmouth!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has completed her action.
DC: 1 turn has elapsed in the battle against Neriah Parringer! 4 turns remain!
DC: 2 turns have elapsed in the battle against Neriah Parringer! 3 turns remain!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a glancing hit from Neriah Parringer's Hellmouth for 89 hit points!
GS: Eleanor Klein takes a glancing hit from Neriah Parringer's Cabal of Shadow for 62 hit points!
GS: Kamui critically Guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Cabal of Shadow for 24 hit points!
GS: Seraph Clarine guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Hellmouth for 98 hit points!
GS: Ratatoskr takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's Hellmouth for 178 hit points!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a solid hit from Seraph Clarine's Field Barrier for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield! applied to Marivel Armitage!
GS: Marivel Armitage takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's Valmarlance for 162 hit points!
GS: Ashley Winchester critically Guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Hellmouth for 37 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kamui has posed.

    A spectral shield surrounds Kamui for a moment; her systems jitter for a moment before 'something' accepts it, and she looks more protected than before. "Thanks, Eleanor! And Master..." Acacia stays close to her, so she'll stay close to Master too!

    Marivel speaks words that she doesn't quite remember or know, making her furrow her brow. "Threat to Filgaia... ..."

    A pause, as she looks to Acacia again. "Who is she talking about, I wonder... ...." A pause. "A threat to Filgaia..." For all that she looks injured, it seems like her mind is the biggest distraction right now -- she just looks puzzled.

    Ashley is recoiling too, but she doesn't quite get the context of the Church of Granas. Clarine asks who Valmar is, as does Dash as he asks to be filled in. She bites at her lip. "... Valmar was, in the past ..." A pause. She's drawing a blank afterwards, but she looks a bit disturbed that her first reaction isn't just 'I don't know'. "... do I know something?"

    She winces back in turn and listens as she describes how there are some belongings of her ancestor. Chains of Arius. Number Eight. Why...?

    The powerful burst slams towards the Reploid, but she's able to guard it with Eleanor's targe. (She has no idea what a targe is, but it's handy!)

    Neriah introduces herself as a radical change agent.

    "She's like the Radical Skates..." Kamui gasps. "Master! This is definitely a big scoop! I'm going in!"

    This sounds all incredibly alarming, but the Reploid hurries on down as she brandishes -- no! It's not the Buster, unlike what one might expect from the mechanical girl. Instead, it's the Picto Obscura.

    "Kamui is going to take a picture with you, Neriah!"

    She actually turns her back to the herald of Valmar and... and... holds the camera up to aim the view finder to both her and Neriah.

    "Cheeseee...!"

    Yes, Kamui is totally taking a--

GS: Kamui has attacked Neriah Parringer with Shutter Chance! Selfie!
GS: Kamui has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kamui has completed her action.
GS: Acacia Saitani takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's Cabal of Shadow for 117 hit points!
GS: Neriah Parringer critically Guards a hit from Kamui's Shutter Chance! Selfie for 0 hit points!
GS: Entangle! applied to Neriah Parringer!
GS: Dash Caskett completely evades a hit from Neriah Parringer's Hellmouth!
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

Eleanor would love to explain for Dash--in fact, she glances at him, apologetic, amidst the chaos. "I'll try later," she says, and then back to Neriah, "Though it seems I'm missing some of the pieces too..."

She thinks--she drifts, lightly, to the side an instant, and looks at Ratatoskr with a blink. "You--"

"...You're very committed, aren't you?" she wonders, before she finishes pulling her weapon, and there--well, tehre's the answer. Also, an answer: a targe is a type of shield!!

"Seven generations, and--Oh. Oh, dear," Eleanor says to Neriah's explanation. "Well you can tell us all about those misconceptions, but I'm going to agree--"

She shifts up her shoulders. "As the closest representative of the King of Meria present, I will not allow you to move unopposed!"

Eleanor shifts--and then whirls to the side, dark power still crackling across her side as she tries to get out of the way, not quite fast enough. "We're ARMS--and you don't belong here!"

Eleanor hurls her weapon--a boomerang, of deep pink metal that edges to pure silver at the edge, a central piece of bronze at the joint of the blades--

And angles it so it'll come back a bit away, where she starts sprinting as best she can. "Marivel! Can she be... sealed? Or--"

GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Neriah Parringer with Collision Arc!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Eleanor Klein's Collision Arc for 78 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Whatever name, whatever vessel, if you think I will simply allow you to start a new Filgaia-shattering war on behalf of the dead elder creature you 'worship', you are mistaken!"

But Neriah slams a trident into her chest and slams her into the ground with the aid of her dark power. It would've been pretty gruesome to most people but not to Marivel. Mist rather than blood pours from the wounds. This is enough to slow Marivel down but it's not likely to keep her down for the count considering other 'wounds' you've seen her push through.
R5rEleanor asks if NERIAH can be sealed. Head hanging upside down as she's forced into a kind of crab walk position from the spear stabbing through her and into the ground, Marivel looks at Eleanor.

"Yes. If you can subdue her, I can banish her to hell without risking you from being pulled into its hungry maw."

But one benefit of fighting agents of darkness is that fighting in the dark is of to Marivel's benefit as well. She transforms into mist and spills herself free from thet trident, dropping down into a crouch as she reforms into her typical form.

Her gaze settles on Dash for a moment. A studious look. She doesn't have the time to express everything but she seems to be considering something.

"You knew her, Ida?" Marivel asks which she really wasn't expecting. "I suppose the life she led before becoming the Impetus doesn't matter as much as I'd like but if you know anything..."

Clarine provides Marivel with a protective shield. The vampire smiles at her but getting skewered seems to have tempered her fury just enough that she's thinking her net move through.

Marivel lashes out with her hand then and sends a surge of shadows bursting out of the ground and trying to latch onto Neriah, gripping through her, burning where shadow meets skin. She's shifted to a more defensive approach.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Neriah Parringer with Boogiepop Phantoms!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Boogiepop Phantoms for 32 hit points!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Clarine has posed.

Clarine picks up a few things as Neriah speaks. She's not sure what she means, but she gets a picture of what she's after, at least. And watching her fight, it becomes clear that her assessment of her as a dangerous person is not inaccurate.

Power builds, and shadows boil out in the form of monstrous faces that shriek out shadowy flames. Clarine's mirrors shift in front of her to form a wall, but some of the flames still wash over it onto her. Her light dims where the flames touch and she recoils back with a grimace.

She looks toward Kamui when she speaks, noting the way she seems to know something, but is unable to recall it. Eleanor doesn't provide an explanation of who Valmar is, either - though Marivel does refer to them as a 'dead elder creature'.

But before Clarine can dwell too long on what that means, Kamui moves in...to try and take a picture!?

"A-ah, Kamui, be careful...! Do not draw too close!" Clarine warns. In response she moves in, swinging an arm in Neriah's direction. At this gesture, the mirrors floating about her form up and swing toward Neriah as if an extension of Clarine's own arm in a strike, looking to drive her away from Kamui.

GS: Seraph Clarine has attacked Neriah Parringer with Dancing Glass!
GS: Seraph Clarine has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    The Hyadean remnant delights with every weapon turned on him, every quip, every look in their eyes that make them look like they're ready to have to deal with him while he's indulging in the middle of one of his favorite hobbies - but the moment Neriah takes the floor, she has more than the floor. She has the floor, the lights, the microphone, the everything - the confidence in which she carries herself sets her some distance where one cannot escape some instinctual ensnarement. Which direction the distance is in this metaphor is a thought exercise best decided upon by those experiencing it.
     For his difficulty in parsing what went through him just as she snapped open the chains, he finds purchase in the sheer act of violence - the thing that runs deep in every quicksilver vein of the fallen star of Hyades. Monstrous mouths and faces. Poised to bite, poised to maim, posied to rend.
     Faces are things to punch, and Ratatoskr acts accordingly...
     ...to his detriment.
     "Hyaaa...!" He snaps a leg on high into one such gaping maw of shadowy power. It tears through him in ways that do not feel physical, and yet leave harm in its wake in ways that don't seem anatomically possible. Bleeding without a layer of metallic skin being broken.
     He re-balances on his other leg as he tries to pivot and slam an elbow up against another shadowy flame face. Bones feel fractured as the shadow flame scorches across the limb... without being moved or twisted.
     He pivots again, trying to sweep his tail against a low shrieking flame - the thing that helps him achieve balance even through strikes and positions where those without would not be able to maintain them. Joints feel bent the wrong way without ever flexing, his tail drooped and unable to correct his posture before he falls helplessly upon his seat in a kneel.
     "..."
     The yellows of his eyes dim in shock. The last time he felt anything like this... was when he saw that giant red Gear as the Photosphere was on a crash course with the very open. A sensation almost every living being should know well.
     This is mortal terror. The indicator of imminent demise should drastic and sudden action not be taken. A piece of the prime directive of all living things to want to keep living for as long as they can.
     "...This is..."
     Ratatoskr grins a bit wilder. His intristic regeneration has yet to kick in. The pain is excruciating in ways a Hyadean typically does not feel, as the uninjured arm shakes, and a hand clenches into a fist. His claws dig into his palm a bit from the tension.
     "...this is awesome..."
     This is, more accurately said, one of Mother's greatest cruelties to her former slaves: the cultural inclination to never let them learn this is what the feeling truly means. The Hyadean remnant, casting aside even the scarcity of his own kin, the risk of being another lost to eternity, starts to rise in defiance of a body that is taking its sweet time understanding what just happened and re-knitting itself accordingly.
     "...So if Valmar is real... then so is... Granas..." He rasps, as he rises and re-assumes his fighting stance. Both arms raised, palms pointed down. One knee lifted, slightly bent. The leg he's balancing on is the one that's injured.
     "...I want to meet them... I want to fight them... I want to keep them..." He rouses himself up into that Hyadean bloodlust.
     ...he's ripe to be pushed back down and shushed.

GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Seraph Clarine's Dancing Glass for 66 hit points!
GS: Cover! applied to Seraph Clarine!
GS: Ratatoskr has attacked Ratatoskr with Boiling Quicksilver!
GS: Ratatoskr has completed his action.
GS: Ratatoskr takes a solid hit from Ratatoskr's Boiling Quicksilver for 0 hit points!
GS: Burst! applied to Ratatoskr!
GS: Ratatoskr assumes the Avenger stance!
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    Acacia's educated enough to know of Valmar, though whether she actually believes in the Granasian religion is a whole other question that she prefers not to be drawn on. But even if she's never seen Valmar appear before her in the same way a Guardian has, the sensation flooding off the other woman in waves is certainly enough to keep her tensed up and ready for a fight... or flight.

    The strength of the aura is an almost physical sensation, and then it actually is a physical sensation as the shadows around her twist and jab at her from unexpected angles, leaving her hissing under her breath in pain as she tries to simultaneously dodge away from them and avoid simply falling in the damned ruins behind her.

    "... you're..." she starts to mutter like the others did, but then a certain degree of down-to-earthness reasserts itself as she wipes at her mouth with a gloved hand, setting her jaw as she glowers over the top of her knuckles. "You're even less subtle than Odessa. Wanna try that again without all the self-justification?" she finds herself growling.

    She pushes forwards, forcing her legs to carry her after Kamui, after Marivel. With so many people in ARMS using... ARMs, it's only natural that she forces herself as low as possible, plunging her hand into her jacket as she ducks under some of the covering fire. Part of her feels sluggish, like she's lost the sharpness to her senses that she could feel on Spira, but at the same time there's a fire in her veins.

    Odessa, the Yevonites, and Althena's Guard all have that unpleasant habit of being organizations with creeds that some people will always agree with. It makes it difficult to know how to deal with them, and where to stand. Something like Valmar, on the other hand...

    The redhead looms behind Kamui. There's a camera in her hands, as well. "I'm gonna make sure every church and city from here to Elru know your face," she declares, a swell of Ether accompanying her promise. For a moment, the air around her and the Reploid shimmers - and she presses the shutter.

GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Neriah Parringer with Paparazzi!
GS: Acacia Saitani has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Acacia Saitani's Paparazzi for 0 hit points!
GS: Disrupt, Entangle, and Shieldbreak! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida doesn't go for a third shot. She stays focused on Neriah, her ARM still trained on the younger woman's torso--and as the High Priestess of Valmar comments on their past, Ida smirks. "It had incidental perks," she says. "But I rather like not feeling like I'm constantly about to punch someone. Or burst into tears, or crawl into a dark place and never come out." The moment's banter does more than just steady Ida's nerves. She watches the way that shield behaves, even as its eldritch energy sets every inch of her skin to crawling.

    Kamui does something that is at once adorable and deeply, incredibly unwise. "KAMUI!" Ida shouts, eyes widening. "Get away!" Energy wells up, and washes across the battlefield like a tidal wave. Ida turns on a heel and throws herself away. She hits the dirt face-first, skids, and presses herself to the cavern floor--the spell surges overhead. She does not burn, but it still feels like someone poured petrol on her back, and then lit it on fire. For a moment, all she feels is the pain. Terror clutches at her heart. Confusion swirls in the back of her mind.

    "Second Method," Ida grates out. She shoves herself to her feet, stands upright, and rushes at Neriah before she can launch another attack. Quicksilver boils out of the pores of her skin, forming Hyadean exoskeleton down both of her arms. Ida's hands weave into a dizzying flurry of blows, open-hand strikes intended to probe Neriah's shield, and force her on the defensive. "Do you know I met the Master of the Method while I was away? Strangest thing, really." Ida's tone is almost conversational, even as she weaves around Neriah, striking with the sides of her hands and the tips of her fingers. "I learned a great deal."

    Including how to use distracting conversation during battle, apparently. (Ida is also doing it because she's more than a little terrified.)

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Neriah Parringer with Open Palm!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

There is definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY all kinds of awful no-good things wrong with this situation. If someone openly wearing the symbol and leaking unsettling energies all over the place was not already indication enough, then surely the wave of infernal energies that she conjures to swallow them whole must seal the deal. Ashley makes a sound that might have been a desperate 'Granas preserve me' if it was garbled by a yelp of surprise. He raises his bayonet as if it could somehow cleave through the phantasmagorical nightmare blast, and braces for the inevitable assault on his very soul.

...

It is, perhaps, because it was technically an assault on his soul that Ashley does not immediately twist into a horrifying, mutated wretch of Valmarian corruption. There are already things living in there, things Neriah might detect as her magic parts around the musketeer's bayonet like a river rushing around a rock in its current. Things that certainly do not want more competition for what they're doing.

Ashley stands there for a moment more before his eyes blink open and he comes to the dull realization that he's not lost to the light and consigned to a life of depravity and debauchery for all eternity. "Granas... really did preserve me?" He asks into his palm, which he soon makes into a fist. "Alright. Alright then! Marivel, I'm right behind you!"

Well, not literally. He certainly can't conjure a wave of shadow energy like that. Some part of him wonders if maybe Marivel's magic is a little too similar to the power Neriah is tossing around, but most of him is just glad that she's on their side.

All of him, however, has broken out into a run that terminates into a bayonet-swinging, ankle-cleaving slide-strike. At the moment before impact, he pulls the trigger. A blast of gunsmoke imparts unto his weapon a surprising amount of acceleration as he tries to cut Neriah's ankles (and possibly also her heels) out from under her...!

GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Neriah Parringer with Shockslide!
GS: Ashley Winchester has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Open Palm for 84 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Ashley Winchester's Shockslide for 69 hit points!
GS: Cripple! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

This woman is... something else. She seems young but her power is ancient. It has the intensity of a strength lain dormant, eager to be unleashed. ARMS (and that squirrel guy) mobilize quickly. "Might be a memory missing, Kamui," Dash comments. "Though I definitely see that they were no joke, if this is any indiction!" His Buster did very little but to put some stress on the shield. Wait, is Kamui goign right over to her?! "Be careful!"

God he sounds just like Roll, someone help.

Actually, it seems odd that Roll didn't detect that just then. Is there communications being jammed?

Or is it on an entirely different scale?

A nod to Eleanor. Fighting is underway after all. He feels a spectrum of light coalesce into a blessing of protection, and knows exactly who it came from, but will have to thank Clarine once this is through!

"Okay, that shield is becoming a problem. We should--"

Dash promptly gets cut off by the wails of the suffering made into devastating energy. Dash's body once again acts far swifter than he can think, and finds himself high in the air, airborne and flipping forward when he recollects, just barely soaring over the necrotic tide.

The Mega Buster is leveled toward Neriah as he flies. A spray of superheated, near white Buster fire flies toward it. It is difficult to look at, almost eye searing. But when everything clears. Dash is safely on his feet again, and movement near Neriah's shield could catch an eye. A small spherical objects.

That flashing light probably isn't any good.

GS: Dash Caskett spends 2 Combo on Poison and Link!
GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Neriah Parringer with Radiant Rain!
GS: Dash Caskett has launched an attack Link!
GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Neriah Parringer with Grand Grenade!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Radiant Rain for 39 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Neriah Parringer!
GS: Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Dash Caskett's Grand Grenade for 90 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

For all that the Neriah of two and a half years ago was a gunfighter, her trident seems to flow naturally in her hands now - and for all that the dark power was once torture for her to wield, here she commands it with the ease and grace of an artisan. But there's one thing she is not expecting.

For Kamui to take a selfie with her. Neriah actually stops for a moment and looks towards her. "Say," she says mildly, "we do look cute together, don't we? Alright--"

She winks and blows the camera a kiss. "Cheese~."

That's about when Eleanor's boomerang hits her in the face.

"Ow!" she splutters as she staggers back a couple of feet, rubbing her cheek and pulling her defensive field back up. Anger flashes behind her eyes as she fixes a glare on Eleanor. She flicks her tongue over her lower lip, collecting a drop of blood from a small cut there. "A flagbearer of the old authority, huh. Sure. But I'm beyond the power of kings now."

Marivel fights shadow with shadow, and Neriah sweeps her own hand out to meet it, knitting her brows and frowning as her field flickers and pulses beneath the Crimson Noble's energy. It bleeds off part of the field. "So your name's Marivel," she murmurs. "You sound like you've been around awhile. If that's the case, you know as well as I do that the Day of Darkness is inevitable."

Slashing mirrors cut into Neriah's shield, a few whipping through to rake at her. She bats Clarine's attack away with a sweep of her trident before pivoting to come to bear on Acacia--

And she smirks into the camera, paradoxically. "I can pose if you like."

When Ida steps in to pound on her shield, Neriah clicks her tongue and darts to one side, then pivots, whirling back and away from the woman with a ripple of robes. "You've always talked a big game, Ida. I'm sure you're a master of the Method now. I hope for your sake it's true. But I think that part of you is still there. The doubter.

"You think I didn't see it in Rosaline?" Neriah asks with a thin smirk. "Feel it in her?"

Stepping forward, she jabs sharply with her trident, trying to slam Ida's shoulder with the prongs before whirling to slash the haft across her body in an effort to bat her away. Just as she does, though, Ashley unloads, his blast ringing out near her feet and staggering her - and she hisses as debris scatters across her boots. Sweeping her arm out, she hurls a bolt of shadow flame Ashley's way. "Bastard," she growls, before narrowing her eyes. "I see you've got a friend in there."

She's cut off when Dash blasts at her. "Tch, pest," she growls, throwing an arm up - and then the grenade rolls in. She widens her eyes.

The explosion is big and blinding. For a few seconds, the cloud and flame swallow Neriah. She's obscured from sight.

Until the fire begins to pull inward - and darken into shadow.

Drawing a breath, Neriah begins to pull in power. Shadow pours into her - and it seeps into her from the floor, up from the walls, surging and rolling as she feeds her power with the ambient darkness sealed within the Tell. The entire mound rumbles, small pieces of debris floating up around her.

Finally, she tosses her head, a thin smirk tugging at her lips. "You learned a lot on Lunar, I'm sure, Ida. But I learned a lot while you were away, too. About who I am. Why I exist. About why it's time for change. And the secrets left behind here are part of what I need. But only one part. The rest...."

Neriah releases her trident and lets it hover alongside her. Bursting forward with a couple of steps, she sweeps her hand towards Marivel, letting out a ringing shout as she hurls a blast of shadow flame square at her. It roars into the shape of a monstrous face, ready to consume her. Pivoting, she snaps her other hand out, lightning arcing and surging from her palm. it dances through the antechamber, lashing out at Dash and Eleanor. As she takes a step back, she slashes her arm across her body for another spell.

"...the rest are well on their way!" she shouts as she cast forth vast arcs of negative light, slashing at Acacia, at Ashley, at Clarine. Some even slashes for Ratatoskr.

Only Kamui is spared a blow for some reason.
-

GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Neriah Parringer with Inhalation!
GS: Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's Inhalation for  hit points!
GS: Neriah Parringer has activated a Boss Action!
GS: You have activated the Boss Action Extend!
GS: Neriah Parringer spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Acacia Saitani with Negative Light!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ratatoskr with Negative Light!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ashley Winchester with Negative Light!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Seraph Clarine with Negative Light!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Masterstroke!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Eleanor Klein with Zap All!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Dash Caskett with Zap All!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Marivel Armitage with Hellmouth!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Kamui with Let Mui Take A Selfie!
GS: Neriah Parringer has completed her action.
DC: 3 turns have elapsed in the battle against Neriah Parringer! 2 turns remain!
GS: Seraph Clarine critically Guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Negative Light for 24 hit points!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Seraph Clarine!
GS: Kamui takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's Let Mui Take A Selfie for 0 hit points!
GS: Ashley Winchester takes a glancing hit from Neriah Parringer's Negative Light for 66 hit points!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Ashley Winchester!
GS: Dash Caskett takes a glancing hit from Neriah Parringer's Zap All for 72 hit points!
GS: Eleanor Klein critically Guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Zap All for 25 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Masterstroke for 89 hit points!
GS: Ratatoskr takes a glancing hit from Neriah Parringer's Negative Light for 69 hit points!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Ratatoskr!
GS: Acacia Saitani guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Negative Light for 90 hit points!
GS: Disease and Poison! applied to Acacia Saitani!
GS: Marivel Armitage critically Guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Hellmouth for 32 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

"I--" Eleanor realizes she didn't explain, "I'm sorry, I was shocked. Valmar is... the ancient enemy of God, according to the Granasian priests. The Adversary, the one Granas is said to have sealed away ages ago, in the wake of the Day of Collapse."

Smack! Eleanor takes her weapon back and nods sharply, the elf's expression serious. "I am," she answers. "Eleanor, Lady Klein, daughter of the Marquess of Klein, protector of the march and loyal vassal to the King. ...And we'll see what you're beyond!"

Marivel's answer at least helps her--she takes it at face value for the moment, and prepares to do her best... But...

It's easier said than done; inevitable or not, the darkness here is strong, is powerful, and there's a connection with some of the others--not only that, but--

"She can sense--?" She blinks at Ashley--And then lightning crashes towards her. This time, she's ready. This time, she reaches out her hand and makes a sigil of grounding--the spell crackles against her, but only touches her hand before the part that hits her slams into the ground instead. ...The burn can still be smelled, though. "Tch--"

"Hang on..." Eleanor reaches into her bag--and pulls a bottle of perfect remedy, a potent curative that she opens--and then chants over under her breath, magic surging forth into it--

"By the power I command! Heal them!"

The antidote's power stretches over Clarine, Ashley, Acacia, and even Ratatoskr as if they'd had it to drink themselves, as the bottle in Eleanor's hand dissipates into those selfsame sparkles. "Maybe I can't defeat you--but I can work against your magic while they can. I believe in them!"

GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Seraph Clarine with Mystic Cure!
GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Ashley Winchester with Mystic Cure!
GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Acacia Saitani with Mystic Cure!
GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Ratatoskr with Mystic Cure!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: Seraph Clarine takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Mystic Cure for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kamui has posed.

    Acquired: 1x Selfie!

    Something about Neriah's words stay with her, however. 'Together'? That hesitation seems to come back towards her for some reason. Her hand is at her chest for a moment even as she ducks away from Acacia's own Ether-fuelled shot and Eleanor's boomerang; she looks towards Marivel as she continues onward, feeling that anger.

    "Mari..." A pause, as she looks to Neriah. "The Day of Darkness...?" Dash mentions that there might be a memory missing.

    "You're right. But something..." A pause.

    She shakes her head. Somehow, she doesn't want to think about it... there's a heavy burden in her heart.

    "Master and I're going to write about you!" Kamui exclaims excitedly, at the very least trying to embrace her role as journalist. "Other heroes will come too, I'm sure, mui!"

    She steps closer to Acacia and Dash as he lets out with a burst of Buster fire; the Targe is keeping her from the worst of it, as she mumbles to herself, "Arius..."

    Marivel's taking a whole heck of a brunt of the fighting, so she turns her camera towards her mother instead.

    "Mom!!" she exclaims, as the Picto Obscura whirrs to life as she slots some special, non-vampire-slaying film.*SNAP*

    No, this is a special Purikura film, with a pink frilly border with flowers and crayon drawings and a cute cat and everything!

GS: Kamui has attacked Marivel Armitage with Shutter Chance! Cover Photo!
GS: Kamui has completed her action.
GS: Acacia Saitani takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Mystic Cure for 0 hit points!
GS: Ratatoskr takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Mystic Cure for 0 hit points!
GS: Ashley Winchester takes a solid hit from Eleanor Klein's Mystic Cure for 0 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

"I don't think I can call it a friend," Ashley barks back. This might have been a mistake, as the next blast of unnatural magic seems to find more purchase than the last. Maybe the thing in Ashley's head had its feelings hurt? Maybe Granas' protection is only good for the one single time and thereafter you're just kind of on your own!? Ashley dives out of the way of the strange anti-light, but it finds purchase regardless. The dark gnaws at his limbs, chewing at his corporeal form. Truly, this can only be described as 'iconic' of everything he's been told of Valmar's nature...

The devourer in the dark... now seeks to devour him...!

Right up until the glimmering motes of Eleanor's mystic magic burns it away. Ashley shakes his leg as if he'd just stepped in dog residue rather than an arc of corrosive dark magic. "Thanks, Eleanor! And don't worry about what she can or can't sense is going on!" Ashley calls over toward Eleanor. "It's fine! If it comes up, then we'll deal with it then! For now, we've got to keep up the pressure."

To wit, Ashley loads another canister and launches it in a lobbing arc toward Neriah. It bursts a split second before impact, exploding into a bursting globule of blazing napalm...!

GS: Ashley Winchester spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Neriah Parringer with Canister - Incendiary Round!
GS: Ashley Winchester has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Ashley Winchester's Canister - Incendiary Round for 144 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Clarine has posed.

Eleanor explains and Clarine nods quietly.

"...And this Valmar is the source of her fell power..." She murmurs. Then Neriah was a serious threat - though, she already felt that from the level of power was capable of.

Clarine's mirrors return to her side when Neriah bats them away, once more forming a protective wall. They follow along as she drifts to the side, watching Neriah carefully. She watches as she's engulfed in cloud and flame...and then, flinches when she feels a rush of power as shadow pours into Neriah. She can feel it - the power of darkness being drawn into her, strengthening her. It sends a chill down Clarine's spine(or whatever counts as a spine for a Seraph).

And then, an arc of negative light rushes toward her. Reacting quickly, one of Clarine's lights moves to intercept. The reflection is...strange, and unnatural. The surface of the mirror shudders, vibrating dangerously. With a sense of forboding Clarine dismisses it, the mirror disintegrating into motes of light that flow back into her sleeves.

While the mirror protected her from the brunt of the attack, she could still feel a terrible sensation carried through it. It makes her feel...ill, and uncomfortably queasy in a way that Clarine is wholly unused to - but, soon enough, she feels a curative power washing over her. She relaxes, just a little, and sends Eleanor a thankful smile.

She looks toward Kamui, then, and Acacia too, as they both make a declaration to inform the world about Neriah's intentions. It's a noble goal.

Clarine drifts to the side, away from them, and gestures downward with one hand. At this gesture, a sphere of bright light appears above Neriah, soon enough sending a searing ray down toward her position.

GS: Seraph Clarine has attacked Neriah Parringer with Limited Ray!
GS: Seraph Clarine has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    It is not just the pain that (tries to, in vain) stay Ratatoskr's hand - it is the words Neriah shares, her words a siren song of exposition through the very mayhem that permeates the dark flame-scorched antechamber. Though Ratatoskr would be sad for any markings gone forever, the sheer excitement has ensured they're burned in his memory.
     (Anything Valmar being burned into memory is not something to be treasured.)
     "The Day of Darkness..." It is hard to string complex coherent thoughts, let alone words, for the overbearing dread. As an obsessive in old legends involving old heroes, he recognizes the phrase and its bearings. To think of what transpired in that grand battle. To have not gotten to see it. So wrapped up thinking about the moment, a sadness will only surface later - that he knows of no one among his kind that could tell him about what happened, if any of the ones could have.
     "It could happen again...?" These are words that should be of dread... but Ratatoskr's body, at last, seems to accept the notion for action as the very horn on his head flickers at the tip. Other heroes will come too, says the Reploid. "It could happen again!" These words should be spoken in terror.
     He's excited.
     Foolishly, he hurls himself in Neriah's direction, as gashes of negative light run through him to similarly predictable results. His stride carries him across most of it in a graze, but even contact with the light that should not be has ill effect as his very blood stops boiling - it's curdling.
     The regeneration that makes Hyadeans so hard to kill... stops. Wounds spring anew, spatters of quicksilver, that could stand to be for keeps as fell magics course through him. It is only through the fast action of the Crest Sorceress that she manages to address the surface cause before it can take full root even if it does little to take care of the wounds themselves proper. Ratatoskr still bleeds. Ratatoskr still aches.
     But he feels the lifting of that intoxicating sensation he had no previous frame of reference or likeness to compare to. He does not know that Eleanor's quick action just saved his life - or at least a lifetime of inaction.
     He only knows that rush of the unknown, of some facet of human sorcerous (?) technique, of the sheer desire... is taken from him. The folly of youth parses this as a frustrating thing.
     "...I want to relive it..." Ratatoskr whispers. Words that should be from one cowed into service under Valmar, but the way he throws his shoulder towards Neriah is that of violence. That would be rejection of the concept.
     "...To see it as it happened..." He curls an elbow inward. There is supposed to be a discharge of compressed air, but due to various traumas, the mechanism has not yet 'breathed' in any to fire, so there is a weird delay between this elbow strike of nothing happening before he throws a kick.
     "...Don't take that from me...!" That sounds almost like childish pleading as an aside to Eleanor. "I want to fight it... I want to feel it... I want to know what it was like to be there...!"
     No, no he doesn't. He's too young and stupid to know that.

GS: Neriah Parringer critically Guards a hit from Seraph Clarine's Limited Ray for 23 hit points!
GS: Ratatoskr has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ratatoskr has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ratatoskr spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Ratatoskr has attacked Neriah Parringer with Ceaseless Conflict!
GS: Ratatoskr has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ratatoskr has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Ratatoskr's Ceaseless Conflict for 159 hit points!
GS: Kamui heals Marivel Armitage! She gains 125 temporary hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    "Yeah," mutters Acacia in the moments before she presses the shutter of her camera. "Feel free to go for it, as much as you like. Even if most of them laugh it off, it's still my duty to report about you." She hammers the button several times, never trusting one photo when she can take three.

    That's as many as she can get taken before the air shifts around her in a way that blares a warning. Power is surrounding the woman, and the reporter shifts backwards, the essence in the air around her suddenly aligning in a way that seeks to try to deflect the worst of the dark power before it can even form. It isn't nearly strong enough to dissipate it entirely - but maybe it blunts the worst of it as Acacia is nevertheless pummeled backwards.

    At least she manages to keep her feet, especially when the sharp taste of nausea and bile that rises from her stomach is immediately dissipated by Eleanor's magic. What was a ragged breath turns lighter and much easier, and it gives her a chance to take stock of the fight, especially where Marivel is concerned. The Crimson Noble's slowed a little from her all-out assault, and that too is a kind of relief.

    "Okay," she breathes, feeling the tension pool in her shoulders. "I think we got enough footage, Kamui. Just gotta close this out safely, okay?" As encouragement goes, it's pretty oblique - but she can't help but be pleased to see the Reploid having fun, even at a time like this.

    Her pistol looks no better than when it started the battle, the tip of the barrel so white-hot it looks close to melting. The ether around her aligns itself again - except this time, rather than act as a barrier, it feels more like a vector, pointed straight at Neriah. She lines up her pistol, sets her feet, tries desperately to not think about the fact that a member of Odessa is fighting right next to them, and pulls the trigger.

    A vibrant white scores itself through the air towards Neriah, as a completely busted and ordinary pistol decides to spits a solid line of light.

GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Neriah Parringer with Red Tape!
GS: Acacia Saitani has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Acacia Saitani's Red Tape for 96 hit points!
GS: Slow! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"So is sickness," Marivel sneers at Neriah. "Yet I practice medicine, not become its instrument."

She whispers words in a language none present but Kamui would ever have any chance of recognizing and her own bout of flame slams into Neriah's. Marivel seems to be taking this battle uncharacteristically seriously but it's not as if it's so uncharacteristic that it should be cause for alarm. That rage, however... that IS unusual. Perhaps it shouldn't be unusual for someone who fought with the Sword Magess to be deemed an enemy of Valmar though considering which church she is a martyr for.

Kamui speaks up. Marivel looks to her. She seems fearful for a moment, but recovers in time for the photograph--throwing up a V-Sign because she is true anime.

"Kamui... I won't let them hurt you."

She exhales briefly and flexes out her fingers and then crouches, staring at Neriah.

"Before there was anything." She says to Neriah. "There was nothing. And before there was nothing... there were monsters."

Her eyes glow bright red. "The careless thrashings of Valmar's servants... I will never... I will never forgive what they have done. I carry the hopes of my people. I sing the song of the extinct. Make thy bones as brittle as sand! Armageddon!"

A large heft swath of ice bursts towards Neriah, threatening to engulf her in an apocalyptic chill. With the chill already permeating the area, it simply compounds on it. This is the type of power Marivel rarely taps into.

The power of the Dualcast.

"Your destiny may be to cover this land under Valmar's pulsating mass. But our small hopes shall slice thy destiny to ribbons! May you burn with your predecessors! Split the Atom! Megaton!!"

The impressive explosion follows in an instant afterwards and Marivel throws herself back to avoid getting caught in the shockwave eminating from the destruction she herself had unleashed.

And judging from Marivel's wary expression, she doubts even this is enough. In her mind, this has only begun.

And in her mind she remembers.

It might as well have been yesterday in Marivel's mind, that day...

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    '...the Day of Darkness...'

    Ida's throat constricts. Her heart thumps against her ribcage. Her tight control frays, for just a moment, and it shows in her stance and strikes. "So that's your purpose now, isn't it? It seems to have given you direction." Neriah shoots back, once again trying to tear open old wounds. Ida's face pulls tight in an expression that's a little too angry to be a smile. "You're right," she says. "It's still there. Pain like that won't go away overnight." Neriah drives the trident forward. Ida crosses her arms, the silvery haft slamming into them with an audible clang even as the barbs tear into the armor at her shoulder. Quicksilver and crimson splatter the floor. Ida's face tightens further as she grimaces in pain--Neriah sends her skidding back across the floor, dust and gravel spraying up from her heels.

    "I'm no Master," Ida says. Her voice wavers as Neriah draws on more of that stomach-churning power. "Just an idiot girl who listened to a rambling old man." Ida surges forwards, leaping over one of those horrible, searing crescents. She twists in mid-air, whipping her right arm around in what looks like it's going to be a spinning backfist--but at the last second, her arm twists, the flesh and bone of her elbow forming a long, thin spike. Ida drives it into the bubble again and again and again, as if trying to burst it. Maybe she can force Neriah to keep reinforcing it. Would that work? She doesn't seem to be flagging.

GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Neriah Parringer with I Carry The Hopes Of My People Within Me And Sing The Song Of
The Extinct - Armageddon!
GS: Marivel Armitage has launched an attack Link!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Neriah Parringer with Small Hopes Shall Slice Thy Destiny To Ribbons - Split The Atom
MEGATON!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Neriah Parringer with Forceful Instruction!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's I Carry The Hopes Of My People Within Me And Sing The Song Of
The Extinct - Armageddon for 111 hit points!
GS: Neriah Parringer critically Guards a hit from Marivel Armitage's Small Hopes Shall Slice Thy Destiny To Ribbons -
Split The Atom MEGATON for 34 hit points!
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Forceful Instruction for 83 hit points!
GS: Disrupt! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

Okay, now he can understand why ARMS is against this person. They are impossibly strong. Also, did he hear that squirrely guy is with Odessa? Might have misheard. This lady here seems like the kind to fit with Odessa. "Like, a deity? Dang..." Well, that explaisn the power, sorta. Much about magical stuff kinda goes over his head. It is something he can't really do.

It is frightful to let grow to this level, however.

He will have to look into this. Kamui seems to feel something within on this matter. Perhaps Barrell may know more, too. "Okay, you jsut need to back away from that door. Whatever you find down there won't be any good of someone with your power finds it." She is... obviously not going to do that, so it was time for Plan B.

That will have to wait a second, as switching out weapons has left him open! Little time is left to evade, though doing so spares him getting fried to junk parts. Metal is scored and melted i na few places from vicious application of electricity. Interior systems must vent power and discharge it quickly.

He is owever, left standing. And the Active Buster is loaded. A report and concussive wave of power comes from the battlefield, as he hears Marivel denounce the evil of Valmar. The explosion rocks the interior of the room, and Dash raises his own weapon. "Keep the pressure on!"

The chamber primes on his weapon, and a volley of mini-missiles enters the fray, to help add to the fiery destruction however he can.

GS: Dash Caskett spends 1 Combo on Interrupt!
GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Neriah Parringer with Cluster Missile!
GS: Dash Caskett has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Neriah Parringer critically Guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Cluster Missile for 34 hit points!
GS: Neriah Parringer has lost 2 Combo from Interrupt!
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Flicking her lustrous curls back from her cheeks with a toss of her head, Neriah glances at Eleanor again, biting delicately down to a corner of her lower lip. "Eleanor, huh. Well, you're a cutie, so I can't be too mad at you. And you obviously care for your friends. So...."

Here her gaze tracks towards Kamui, and she holds a hand out for a moment. "...the truth is, evil's just the label frightened people give to change. I care for my friends too. I want them to feel they belong. And they do." There's something intent behind her eyes.

Ashley unloads a blazing round. It slams into the cavern roof above Neriah, sending liquid flame gushing down across and around her. With a hiss, she calls forth a burst of energy to stave off the worst of it. Some licks at exposed shoulders, scorching pale skin in places. "Stubborn, aren't they," she murmurs before pivoting to confront Clarine. The light shines - and she swings her hand, sending a crescent of shadow flame roiling through it. Only motes of that light scatter around her, dispersed handily.

"Another Seraph, aren't you," she muses with a dip of her lashes. "One of Ragnell's friends? Tell her I'm a little cross with her for her antics at Raftina's shrine."

The one who surprises her is Ratatoskr. The Hyadean manages to slip inside her guard, and she widens her eyes and begins to turn - but the elbow catches her in the shoulder and sends her spinning before he manages to knee her in the gut and double her over. With a hack, she staggers backwards a couple of feet.

"...If you'd like to relive the Day of Darkness," she murrs as she lifts her head, straightening with a scowl as she gathers her defenses anew, "then I can arrange it."

White light slashes its byline through the ancient antechamber, and this time, Neriah's able to square to it. She whips her trident out, letting one of the prongs catch the light and deflect part of it. The rest bleeds through to cut across her shoulder, leaving a red mark across her skin - but it's beginning to knit as power rolls through her. "If you'd like an interview, I'll tell you all about why Filgaia as it is now needs to be changed utterly," she quips as her shield pulses back around her.

Ida puts it to the test, her enhanced strength and skill channeled into that piercing spike. It slams into Neriah's eldritch sphere, sending energy shocks cascading through it before cracking it hard enough to slash across her hip. With a low rumble, the dark pristess steps back - only for Dash to unleash a barrage of missiles. With a scowl, she throws her arm up, forced to shift her guard to the man as she orients her defensive shield towards him. "You don't even know what's in there," she bites out. "Maybe all I want is Arius's recipe for the perfect pound cake."

But the attack does more than just hurt Neriah. It all gives Marivel the time she needs to come to bear.

The chill of ice crackles forth, rushing up around Neriah. Jagged spikes of it jut forth, encasing the woman's defensive sphere. Neriah's eyes widen with surprise - and then Marivel puts the dot on it with the thunderous blast of Megaton.

The cavern rings with the thunder of power. Ice shatters, some liquefying, some vapourizing, some inexplicably remaining. The blinding light of Marivel's power sears the eyes, the sound of it rattling the ears. As the fury fades, it rings in the ears like a bell.

And from the centre of the smoke and light, a voice rings out.

"I know all about small hopes.

A wave of pressure blasts out from the centre of the explosion. Scorch marks mar Neriah in places, and chunks of ice hang from her hair and robes, but they're rapidly liquefying. Her eyes are wide and bright with an unsettling light as she raises her hand. "The small hopes of a girl who would have been damned by this world for what I am. If that's the choice you give me, then I'll take that small hope and drive it into a new Filgaia.

"You think you can stop me," she utters as power crackles around her.

It explodes from her like a wave of death. An explosion screams through the antechamber, so fast that half the back wall blows out, taking a chunk of the side of the tell with it in a spray of sand and stone. The tight confines of the room can barely contain the booming explosion.

But at the centre of it all, Neriah has fixed that intense gaze on Marivel. Her eyes carry a cold power all their own. They seem to cut right through her.

"But I'm the one who has a monster to stop," Neriah whispers as she opens her right hand. The Emblem of Valmar, jagged and twisted, glows at the centre of her palm.

Power roars out of the apex of it. She closes her hand - and the power focuses into a laser-thin white RAY. It slashes towards Marivel with a mind-rending screech.

Whatever it hits, the sheer apocalyptic force would be enough to blow out the wall, if there were even a wall left. Blowing up a vampire would be just as good.

GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Neriah Parringer with Eldritch Sphere!
GS: Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's Eldritch Sphere for 0 hit points!
GS: Shield and Surge! applied to Neriah Parringer!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Kamui with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Acacia Saitani with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Dash Caskett with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ashley Winchester with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Seraph Clarine with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Eleanor Klein with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Ratatoskr with BA-BOOM!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Marivel Armitage with Gaze!
GS: Neriah Parringer has launched an attack Link!
GS: Neriah Parringer spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Neriah Parringer has attacked Marivel Armitage with Avenging Ray!
GS: Neriah Parringer has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kamui guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM! for 150 hit points!
GS: Kamui enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Neriah Parringer has completed her action.
DC: 4 turns have elapsed in the battle against Neriah Parringer! 1 turns remain!
GS: Seraph Clarine guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM! for 113 hit points!
GS: Eleanor Klein completely evades a hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM!!
GS: Acacia Saitani guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM! for 167 hit points!
GS: Dash Caskett takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM! for 171 hit points!
GS: Marivel Armitage guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Gaze for 0 hit points!
GS: RUIN! All positive status effects and temporary hit points purged from Marivel Armitage!
GS: Ratatoskr takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM! for 101 hit points!
GS: Marivel Armitage guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's Avenging Ray for 128 hit points!
GS: Ashley Winchester guards a hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM! for 119 hit points!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Neriah Parringer's BA-BOOM! for 128 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Kamui has posed.

    "Evil... as a label," Kamui whispers, looking distractedly to Acacia as she tells her they just have to close this out safely.

    It's distressing her how uncertain she feels about all of this, even when her allies are in the thick of this with much clearer, stronger, and just reactions -- so why doesn't it feel like she's repulsed as much as she should be?

    The Suffering Circuit is glowing very softly, within the red gem in her chest...

    "Evil..."

    Kamui. I won't let them hurt you.

    "Who... is evil--"

    MEMORY ACCESSED

    ...A large white vessel... sailing overhead...
     ...a girl with dark hair. Looking towards her. She has a weapon.
     ...
     The emblem of Valmar.
     ...
     ... Marivel is shouting. Gami?--

    MEMORY CORRUPTED

    "--Gami? And who was that?" Kamui asks in disbelief. "Mari?"

    She's so distracted she doesn't witness the entirety of Marivel's antipode; for a moment she almost looks the part of a confused girl standing in the middle of a battlefield she doesn't quite understand, and that--

    BA-BOOM!

    --costs her enough to get flung across the room as the explosion screams through the antechamber; she actually gets sent outside since the wall's gone. It's fortunate she has Eleanor's targe, which is finally crumbling apart; that could've really been serious, with her already-damaged condition.

    She hurries out and back into the ruin with a for-once frantic face.

    The Reploid has a familiar glow surrounding her body -- it is the glow of a Buster-charge; she throws herself into the fold as she raises that ever-familiar Saber of Gami's into the air. She chooses the Saber because she needs her partner's assurance right now...

    "Don't..." Kamui starts sounding hesitant.

    She dives, even as a piece of her machinery starts to crack, double knife-gripping the Saber into a falling stab to try to pierce through that shield of Neriah's.

    "Don't hurt my mom!!!"

    This is all kind of incredibly relative because Marivel also brought forth the forces of Armageddon and Megaton on her, but upon contact, the Buster-charge releases, as a resplendent flutter of energy rushes on out of ground zero, adopting the tail-feathers of a phoenix in form.

GS: Kamui spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Kamui has attacked Neriah Parringer with Limuits are Meant to be Broken...!
GS: Kamui has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Kamui has launched an attack Link!
GS: Kamui has attacked Neriah Parringer with Rakuhouha - Fallen Phoenix Crush!
GS: Kamui has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Kamui's Limuits are Meant to be Broken... for 103 hit points!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Kamui's attack becomes clear!
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Kamui's Limuit Break -Muimories of Everyone- for 116 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Eleanor Klein has posed.

To Ratatoskr, "What? You're--You're deluded! You can't seriously want to be eaten up by her magic! That's--" Eleanor looks at Ratatoskr in a measure of confusion, apprehension, and--in strong measure--disgust as he makes his aside to her, stepping back slightly as she finds she just completely can't understand the Hyadean member of Odessa as best she can tell.

But she can sense how serious this is from Marivel--and she lifts an eyebrow at Neriah, next. "...Ordinarily, I'd say I'm flattered," Eleanor says. "But you can imagine I'm not especially interested in the circumstances, yes?"

Then a frown. "...I don't agree," she says simply.

It's true--they don't know what's in there. They can't know. Nevertheless...

But Marveil's power--hopes--

"If all you want is not to be hurt for what you are, then stop fighting! I'll do what I can to help you! I have nothing against you for what you are--only for what you plan to do!"

But the explosion comes, a wave of death--and here, in the ruin. The devastation... This Eleanor recalls seeing, in a way she didn't remember the room before. Her mind is awaer, suddenly--and Neriah may see it. She may see the recognition in the sorceress's eyes, and before the explosion even reaches her she throws out a magic dust that bursts into a barrier that directs it around her instead of through her--it cannot stop such a pwoerful spell, but it can become the stone in the river of its might.

"....If all you want is to stop a monster, I'll help you. But if you have to do it like this..."

"Then may you feel the weight of your actions." The chant begins as she pulls a crest -- Fray in its doubled form, in a strange patterned Crest. Eleanor breathes--

"Falling, falling, falling, the sands drain--but the heat upon them lessens not!"

She throws out her hand, "Desert of Years!"

GS: Eleanor Klein has activated a Force Action!
GS: Eleanor Klein spends 1 Combo on Gatling, loading 1 into Gatling!
GS: Eleanor Klein has attacked Neriah Parringer with Desert of Years!
GS: Eleanor Klein has completed her action.
GS: CRITICAL! Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Eleanor Klein's Desert of Years for 125 hit points!
GS: Disease! applied to Neriah Parringer!
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Clarine has posed.

Neriah's shadowy flames disperse her ray of light with ease. Clarine frowns - it's clear she's going to need to try harder than that if she wants to even scratch her.

"I am Clarine, the Seraph of Light, yes. I am indeed a friend of Ragnell's, but I am not her messenger." She replies, shaking her head.

"You can tell her yourself. I am certain she would appreciate the visit, at the very least." She says, looking Neriah up and down.

The 'Day of Darkness' is brought up. Clarine doesn't know what it is, but the name seems pretty indicative. And as a Seraph of Light, she feels like she ought to oppose it regardless.

...But, before long, Neriah brings forth her power. Clarine's mirrors form up to protect her, but the explosive shockwave sends her and her mirrors all flying back, crashing into one of the remaining walls with a yelp. The mirrors disperse into motes of light on impact.

She lays there for a moment in a daze. Soon, however, she hears Kamui shouting, and Eleanor chanting a spell.

That's right. There's a fight going on. ...She had to help them. She couldn't rest here.

"O-o seven brilliant blades..." Clarine sputters out. She rises shakily to her feet. "I-I call upon you to descend..."

She manages to rise, hovering just over the ground - though she does dip down a bit, not quite able to maintain it completely.

"...and loose your shining might!"

At Clarine's incantation, six swords of crystal, each one shining in all colors of the rainbow, appear in the air above Neriah, forming a circle around. They hang ominously, and then...

"Prism Sword!"

...They descend, and as they fall, a seventh appears above Neriah herself. A cage of light connects them all, and as the final one drops, they all detonate in a burst of rainbow light.

GS: Seraph Clarine has attacked Neriah Parringer with Prism Sword!
GS: Seraph Clarine has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Seraph Clarine's Prism Sword for 109 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    It is a striking sight for the Hyadean to slip in there and strike true - and it is his demeanor and motives that make it all the stranger. He is not beset upon Neriah with some great purpose of heroism, no presumption of a sacred duty. He does not look to her as a monster. There is the subtle 'pull' of punches he gives virtually all of his opponents, even if the actual amount of harm he could inflict on Number Eight would never put her in life-threatening danger. He does not bring those flesh-rending claws to bear. As if a strange sort of concern that is alien and not at all logical to the magnitude of danger Neriah, her ambitions, and her progress represents.
     It is akin to a child, excited to experience, learn, and partake, parsed through a people conditioned only to wage warfare - too innocent to know the consequences and great picture of what it is he says he wants to see. Not for suffering, not for hatred, not for despair, not for anything other than to say he can experience a blight of history so dark that it has earned the title it has.
     Not out of a heroic fantasy of being a decisive figure in the fates of many.
     "...Filgaia is always changing...! Always fighting..." He can barely get out words, and not out of his usual habit of going between breaths for words in the middle of pitched combat. He was smitten with Vinsfeld's idea of fighting everyone. So, too, is Neriah fighting everyone. And everyone is fighting Neriah.
     This is history.
     This is in the company of the most notable Drifters of the era - enemies as they are to Vinsfeld's vision.
     This is everything he wants - but the piercing retort about knowing small hopes sends that pang of foreign feeling (spine-chilling fear) as Neriah speaks through the incredible power of a Crimson Noble who holds nothing back. (Also, Ratatoskr just got clipped by the exploding ice, which does shut him up for a spell. It is ten spells too short - even the following blast of pressure just hurls him aside for too short an additional time other than leaving additional streaks of quicksilver.)
     ...
     "...I don't want to stop you..." Ratatoskr says, the crimson of his armor marked anew with the color of his own people's lifeblood, with an earnestness that makes no sense because he's not helping her either, and of the recent exchange has been one of the most effective in working towards doing so as he claws at the ground from where he was flung by the blasts of another's power. There are deep gashes in the ground. He rises, as if eager to look into the mark on the palm--
     He is transfixed.
     His eyes, unused to what he is seeing, dim. He looks dead on into that palm, and his mind cannot comprehend the character of the light he is staring directly into, and his entire body seizes up just like when she shattered those chains.
     He is not even its direct target. The RAY sweeps around him, too close. Every muscle, every cell of his body seizes like there was an expectation of death. That it thinks it might have died and ceased to continue being, his very tail standing on end and flared out. Even one of his hands is half-way trying to cover his face, in what would have been his death mask had that struck him.
     ...
     ...Then he grins a little wider. The grin of a young fool with a vice grip on a fantasy that only seems to ever accept the excitement of the present and its perpetuation... rooted to the spot, as a spectator.

GS: Ratatoskr has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashley Winchester has posed.

"I'm pretty sure 'evil' is pretty self-explanitory, a lot of the time," Ashley answers, responding to a question that wasn't even directed at him. He can't help it. A mixture of a lifetime of hero worship and the teachings of his faith, as well as a great deal of personal experience dealing with something that seems to be unambiguously evil by anyone's reckoning has perhaps colored his judgment.

It's funny. So often, as of late, he's being made to consider that perhaps the things he's put up on a pedestal for so long don't deserve to be there. Or rather, that they shouldn't be there, that they don't want to be there. That maybe, it'd be better if nobody had to stand on a pedestal at all.

But there's one thing that remains utterly unmoved.

There are still people who he can believe in. And one of them, right now, is fighting like he's never seen her fight before. Hatred, fury, desperate rage and irrepressible hope, courage to shatter the darkness, love for those who were lost and can still be saved. Marivel expresses all these and more, unleashes power beyond what Ashley has ever seen her wield, and still-- still! Still it's not enough. The thing of Valmar walks out of the cataclysm, unleashing a beam of force that seems poised to wipe the vampiress from the world again.

Ashley starts to yell, his legs begin to move, but they're not fast enough to beat out light itself. His warning is crushed in his throat by the explosive wave of Neriah's magic. He's sent flying into a shelf of rubble by the same unstoppable force, the earth closes in around him on all sides, threatening to bury him alive. And yet--

His legs find purchase.

He grits his teeth, his expression wrothful, defiant. He can feel the tendrils of That Thing creep in at the corners of his mind, reaching for those motes of rage that burn behind his eyes. A short time ago, he might have let it happen, to let his anger become the apocalyptic fury of the monster within, but--

No. This is his rage. His anger. Marivel's fury and Neriah's darkness has stoked his id in a way that even a lifetime of emotional repression can't deny.

This anger is righteous. It's a good rage.

"Whether you have a monster to kill or not," Ashley growls, slapping a strange bit of archaeotech into the breech of his weapon's barrel. White-blue energy surges down the length of the musket, filling it with power beyond what mere gunsmoke aught to be capable of unleashing. "You just tried to evaporate my friend you... You...!"

Ashley turns the weapon upon her. He pulls the trigger, unleashing a column of stone-melting, sand-glassing light. "You're damn well going to pay for what you did!"

GS: Ashley Winchester has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ashley Winchester spends 4 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Ashley Winchester has attacked Neriah Parringer with Rising Nova!
GS: Ashley Winchester has completed his action.
GS: Neriah Parringer critically Guards a hit from Ashley Winchester's Rising Nova for 39 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    No sooner has Acacia thought 'oh it's probably a good thing that Marivel isn't getting carried away' than Marivel does in fact get carried away, bringing a conflagration of the likes that the reporter hasn't seen from the Crimson Noble. She hisses, and instinctively her feet grab for purchase of the ground, dropping to a runner's start for just long enough to push away into a roll.

    It's not just to get away from Marivel's spell; she knows well enough how much control the Crimson Noble has over her magic, and much to her chagrin the answer that comes to mind is 'just as much as you don't'. It also leaves her ready for the way in which power is beginning to flow once more around Neriah, in such quantities that Acacia's first instinct is to stop, drop and roll anyway.

    She can pick out words; the growl of the woman who has positioned herself as their enemy. They don't mean much on their own, not without a wider context - but the reporter still feels a hand clutch at the rock beneath her and scrape her nails along it as she builds her hand into a fist. Something doesn't sit right, something feels too familiar about them. Addled, her mind distastefully suggests: bet she'd get on like a house on fire with Odessa.

    Any more than that is lost in the noise and the heat of the ensuing explosion. "Kamui!" she yells as she senses more than sees the Reploid fly against the wall and then through it; she grasps onto the anger that blossoms and clings to it as hard as she can, using it as an impetus to lift herself up from the floor, her pistol's sights following her up.

    "We make our own hope around here. We don't just push it onto other people," she growls, "And I'm getting so tired of everyone else knowing what's best for me." Between the strength of her grip and the Ether she's channeling through it, the butt of her pistol is deforming, fingers sinking into it - no, around it, protected by the field she's generating.

    She doesn't brace this time - instead, as she squeezes the trigger, she transitions from rising off the ground into a dead run. There is no white line this time - because she's catching up to it as it generates, the force of it twisting and swirling around her fist until she plants one foot, and thrusts forwards in a shattering palm strike, all of the energy unleashed at once.

GS: Acacia Saitani spends 2 Combo on Gatling, loading 2 into Gatling!
GS: Acacia Saitani has attacked Neriah Parringer with Mightier than the Sword!
GS: Acacia Saitani has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Acacia Saitani has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Acacia Saitani's Mightier than the Sword for 105 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "How selfless of you," Ida says. Her lips twist in a snarl, and genuine anger lights up her eyes. The spike pulls back into her arm, smoothing out as Ida settles into that defensive stance again. Her eyes dart over to Ratatoskr as he advances, and does something... wholly unexpected. "Well done!" Ida says, to the young Hyadean. "If you die now I'll be very upset!" Two fights with Maekir, and the Old Man's already left a hell of an impression on her--or maybe she's just found something in his patter that she could try out, and maybe adapt to her own use.

    Marivel steps forward. Ida backpedals, staying in a defensive stance as the Crimson Noble unloads on the High Priestess. Her eyes widen at the raw force Marivel brings to bear, and for a moment, she wonders if that might just be the turning point. Then that small voice rings out. The wave of force follows.

    It's like being hit by a truck. Ida's feet leave the ground. Her ribs groan under the strain, threatening to crack. She flies across the cavern like a doll, and slams into the far wall hard enough to jar loose clouds of dust. For a long moment, Ida does not move. Her neck is a solid mass of agony. She might not have realized it, but Neriah just piled fresh injury on top of a wound that had yet to fully heal--a wound left when Grigori almost snapped Ida's neck.

    There's silence for a long moment. More dust comes loose from the cave wall above Ida's head.

    "A small, frightened girl. A child." Ida's voice is a dry, metallic creak. An audible popping noise emanates from her throat as Hyadean cartilage slides into place around her trachea. Hyadean bone cells migrate to the site of injury, leaving behind them metallic mineralized framework. "Have you ever stopped being frightened? Or have you just locked it up in hopes no one would find it?" Ida's shoulders roll beneath her dusty coat. She dislodges herself from the wall, lets out a hacking cough, and spits two-colored blood onto the ground. "Because you have a sweet Granasian girl trying to get through to you, knowing what you are, having seen what you just did to her friend. Ask yourself that."

    Ida raises her gauntleted right hand. Chi billows from her lungs as she lets out a breath--luminous gold-white surrounding an inner core of firey red-orange. It settles onto the ground around her, forming an unmistakably Granasian mandala. The metal covering Ida's palm peels away, revealing not human flesh, but a white-hot, glowing core. A dozen active Dragon Filaments. For a moment, the world seems to hold its breath.

    Ida opens fire. It's as easy as breathing. A cascade of Dragonfire rips across the field, scouring the rock and melting gravel to glassy slag.

GS: Ida Everstead-Rey spends 1 Combo on Link!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Ida Everstead-Rey with Inhalation!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has launched an attack Link!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey takes a solid hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Inhalation for 0 hit points!
GS: Amplify! applied to Ida Everstead-Rey!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey enters CONDITION GREEN!!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey's Stoic stance ends. She enters the Avenger stance!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey spends 2 Combo on Poison and Gatling, loading 1 into Gatling!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has attacked Neriah Parringer with Breath Of The Fire Dragon!
GS: Ida Everstead-Rey has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Ida Everstead-Rey's Breath Of The Fire Dragon for 112 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Neriah Parringer!
GS: Neriah Parringer enters CONDITION GREEN!!
<Pose Tracker> Dash Caskett has posed.

The missiles did their job well, it seems!

The Active Buster is spent, and requires reloading. No time to do so. The weapon is quickly swapped out to the Shield Arm. "Should have figure she was still fine!" Das hcalls out, hearing that voice, that voice that remains calm to a degree, but something festers under the surface.

That sound would be accurately described as Evil.

Speaking of evil, an explosion tears out, as if an opposing force of Megaton is introduced. There is nowhere to truly dodge this time. It encompasses the room fully. Dash gets slung across the room, and is partly responsible for one of the walls crumbling as he impacts it. He may look the size of a standard individual, maybe a touch taller.

But in his armor, he is heavy. He creashes through, damaging the armor in the process.

It takes time to make it to his feet. "Rude..." he grunts. "And just what do you plan to do with what you find anyway? This change you promise sounds like the kind fro mcrusades, where it is adapt or be put to the sword, if I am understanding your vernacular."

He points his signature weapon again.

"And I can't exactly abide by that."

There is a warmth in his chest when he declares this. Something stirs. It is difficult to say what. Is it just a feeling, the feeling of righteousness? Or something else?

What is clear is that his Buster powers up much faster than he is used to. Another trio of shots, but this time they are megenta-red, and thrumming with the solar power of a miniature red giant.

They almost sing in the air as they are unleashed.

GS: Dash Caskett has activated a Force Action!
GS: Dash Caskett has activated a Force Action!
GS: Dash Caskett spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Dash Caskett has attacked Neriah Parringer with Heavy Buster!
GS: Dash Caskett has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Dash Caskett has completed his action.
GS: Neriah Parringer guards a hit from Dash Caskett's Heavy Buster for 93 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Arius's perfect pound cake is an abomination that should never be released.

When the dust settles from her assault, Marivel exhales with a dissapointed huff. If only it could ever be solved with quickly applied essence of magical destruction.

"We cannot force ourselves to be different from what we are, but that does not mean we cannot change what we are nor that the perceptions of that which is cannot be enlightened to new understanding. That which was deemed vile and monstrous can be remembered fondly and loved with patience. It is our choices that are immutable and do not change even when we step far from them. And regardless of what you say or your power, I will not allow alien gods or their ill informed mercenaries to lay a hand on anything I hold dear ever again!"

The Emblem of Valmar reveals itself on Neriah's palm. She extends her own hand in turn. The bright light flashes towards Marivel.

"Anti Magic!" Marivel shouts.

A purple barrier crackles around Marivel's form as the blast slams right into it. The barrier resists the blast at first, inconceivable power crackling against ancient magics.

don't hurt my mom!!!

Pain fills Marivel's heart.

~0 PC

It was raining wasn't it?

It always happens so fast. That's what Marivel had learned from ages ago. At some point...What? What happened?

The death goddess holds her body. Gami...holds her body. How long had Marivel been following them? She walks silently. Her mind is monstrous. The powerful emotions raging within easily subsume any concept of identity and thought. She moves on autopilot. She isn't sure how long.

How long has it been?

Althena. Was she dead or gone? Where was she? If she showed herself again she would forgive her just for the company. Why didn't they part on better terms? Why had she been so stubborn? Was her goal to protect Filgaia all along or was it just to strike out in rage? She wasn't sure back then and she certainily wasn't sure now, not in this moment. She wanted to hear her sing again.

Lumen. If only she had paid more attention when she was alive. If only she probed that brilliant but immature mind for every ounce of genius she had. Maybe she knew something all along that she didn't. How to enjoy a moment, perhaps? Maybe how to appreciate the little things? It had been such a short life...

Luceid. With Boomerang now. Was her desire simply not enough? Was she simply too weak? She thought it had been more than just business. Was it simply Ana's desire he had craved? Perhaps t'was only natural he walk by another's side. Even now, her yearning seemed incalculable but if even that were not enough, she could only wonder.

Ana...

She made a promise to you Ana. A promise to him. Yet...

They enter the lab--a tomb fitting for any shinigami, Marivel thinks. Gami keeps walking. Further in, further in. Marivel follows.

She made a promise to you, Ana. She had never known it would be so hard. Just a few more centuries and she can rest. Just a few more centuries. You're almost there, Marivel, then you can join her for good.

Gami sets Kamui down. And then...she follows suit and embraces her like a lion lying down to die with their slain mate.

Marivel watches this. 'I can fix this!' she wants to scream but there is some kinds of damage that she cannot fix. She can't bring Lumen back, she can't save Kamui.

A creeping realization lurches into her heart.

Now...In this world...

            SHE IS ALONE!

That sets something off within her. A pain cracks through her SOUL. She grasps at her head to try and stop it from realizing but the reaction is too strong. She can't stop it or ignore it. She simply has to suffer through it.

Just like when she became the last of an extinct race. But compounded.

Desperately, she stumbles towards the two fallen machines.

She finds her arms curling around them and she embraces.

Just a little bit, she justifies it to herself. Just a little bit of rest. She's been fighting so hard but she can rest a little bit.

Filgaia can protect itself for a little while.

Can't it?

For the crimson noble, it feels as if she had scarcely closed her eyes ere she gets her answer to the unspoken question.

NOW

The blast punches through the barrier, skimming against Marivel's side who had just enough time to reposition herself to avoid a 'killing' blow. "You think I'm blind...? You think I'll let you lay your hands on her again?! After what YOU MAD FOOLS did to them! To her!?"

She sends her own laser bursting from her fingertips towards Neriah, eyes burning more and more crimson with every passing second. She still refuses to hold back but Neriah is ascendant, and Marivel is struggling.

Even so, she does not fight alone. She never has.

GS: Marivel Armitage has activated a Force Action!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Marivel Armitage spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Marivel Armitage has attacked Neriah Parringer with Erg Phasor!
GS: Marivel Armitage has completed her action.
GS: Neriah Parringer takes a solid hit from Marivel Armitage's Erg Phasor for 197 hit points!
GS: Mute! applied to Neriah Parringer!
DC: 5 turns have elapsed in the battle against Neriah Parringer! No turns remain! Time has expired! The battle is over!
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

The last thing Neriah was expecting - whether due to hubris or something else - was for Kamui to come hurtling at her like a bomb from hell. She widens her eyes and begins to turn.

It isn't fast enough. The little Reploid's saber impacts Neriah's eldritch shield with a calamitous shock. Negative energy arcs around the interface between blade and magic, before that rainbow burst tears through with an impact that lands like a hammerblow, shield or no. Neriah skids backwards, forced to shield her body with both arms, hair and robes blown backwards as sheer force and light buffet her. "Tch...! Is that any way to treat your onee-sama?!"

Eleanor brings the power of Fray to bear, roaring across Neriah with all the weight of her actions. She thrusts both hands out and pours her energy into her shield, straining to keep it up against the power of Fray in its doubled form. The shield contracts and flickers, struggling to bear the intensity of this much power - and when Clarine drops her swords of shining crystal, it strains her all the more. With a hiss, she sweeps both hands up, trying to force the exploding rainbows around her. They bloom to either side of her field, rippling madly.

When the explosions finally pass, she takes a moment to inhale, suppressing her urge to say something sassy even as she hears Ashley's rage blossoming. Neriah knows the attack is coming. Expression hardening, she squares her shoulders and tosses her hair back with a ripple, pushing her right hand out. The shield around her begins to swell again, eldritch patterns of energy coruscating through it. Ashley fires - and the raw power of it slams into her field, washing across it like waves. Somehow, she holds. Somehow.

Acacia's palm slams into Neriah's guard with a force even mightier than the sword. She makes more than enough luck to drive Neriah down to a knee through sheer force leveled on the woman's defensive field. Just as she begins to stand again, Ida compounds her misery with a thundering blast of dragonfire. The ground around her begins to melt into slag beneath the insane heat of the attack, her shield warping into bizarre geometries as she struggles to keep from being consumed by the flame.

Dash supercharges himself with righteous indignation, pouring out the power of a miniature sun upon Valmar's agent. Neriah can only respond with a choked growl, firing a blast of shadow flame into the path of those shots in the hopes of blunting them before they hit her. She manages to soak up the first two; the third smashes into the wall beside her, sending shrapnel and flame spraying across her. In the back of her throat, she rumbles in frustration.

"Hurry the hell up, Yvain," she mutters to herself.

Marivel struggles - but her fury shines forth, and it slashes against Neriah's shield with a passionate impact. For a few seconds, the eldritch field strains, before the magic crumbles in an explosion that tears more masonry from the walls and roof. Neriah skids back several feet, smoking visibly and dropping to a knee, sweat beading down her forehead. She's breathing heavily, a few stray curls drifting into her face.

And that's when something changes.

From beyond Neriah, at the far end of the hallway she's backing into, a source of light shines a vivid blue-white. It's bright enough to illuminate a crumbling corridor lined with nooks full of mouldering bones. A catacomb - but it leads into a room beyond. The light shines from there, illuminating distant shapes that might be shelves.

A library - an archive.

Neriah draws herself up with a flick of her head, tossing her hair back. "To answer your question, Ida," she says with a dip of lashes. "I left my fear behind in a puddle of my own blood in Wayside Village. You can thank Id's fist for showing me how to stop worrying and love what I am. As for the rest... you'll see. For now--"

Shadows surge around Neriah. Her body blurs, and she fades back down the corridor, rippling faster than the eye can see as she practically warps her way deeper into the Catacombs. After a few seconds, a few voices can be heard from the far end.

"Find the Testament," Neriah can be heard saying sharply, terse and on edge. "Let ARMS play with the Claw."

From the far end, a massive surge of negative energy begins to build, as if something truly vile is awakening....