Difference between revisions of "2020-05-02: Meet the Damned"

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     "Why would you arrange an attack like that on such a peaceful town? *That* doesn't make any sense to me! And if it was 'just business'--why would whoever asked you to do it want that? Can you tell us *that* much, at least?" Riesenlied also points out that Honeysday is in a Veruni Control Zone, and while Dean has mixed feelings about playing that card, he nods to Riesenlied anyway. It's true, after all.
 
     "Why would you arrange an attack like that on such a peaceful town? *That* doesn't make any sense to me! And if it was 'just business'--why would whoever asked you to do it want that? Can you tell us *that* much, at least?" Riesenlied also points out that Honeysday is in a Veruni Control Zone, and while Dean has mixed feelings about playing that card, he nods to Riesenlied anyway. It's true, after all.
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Latest revision as of 22:05, 18 May 2020


<Pose Tracker> Damned Watkins has posed.

    "Listen, honey, I get what you're asking, I do."

    Damzen City has its dark and seedy side. For the right price, it's said, you can get just about anything you need. Illegal ARMs. Sordid secrets. Smuggling of anything and everything -- people included. And of course, all the muscle-for-hire one could ever need. Some people make a name for themselves connecting those that need with those that provide, and while more than a few names will float to the top if you ask about for those in the business, one name in particular sticks out:

    A man who goes by the name of 'Damned' Watkins. His reputation, as they say, precedes himself.

    The surviving (caught) member of the gang calling themselves the 'Honest Businessmen', who had been behind the attack on Honeysday, had given up the man's name as the one who had hired them. Beyond that, he had claimed not to know anything.

    Jacqueline Barber had been the one to seek an audience with the fixer, and perhaps surprisingly, he'd agreed, on the ground that she -- and any others she brought with her -- would come to the place of his choosing, on the date he specified.

    This has to be just about the seediest tavern in the seediest part of town of a decidedly seedy city. There aren't very many other people in here, but it's a sure bet that they're likely Watkins' backup, one way or another, given the circumstances. A man like him doesn't last in this business by being careless.

    Watkins himself is in about his mid-40s, a touch on the big side, with greying red hair and a neatly groomed beard. He smokes a rather pungent cigar, with which he gestures with now towards Jacqueline, scattering ash across the table. Despite his nickname, he has been remarkably friendly up to now, which perhaps only raises more questions.

    "You want to know who wanted your village busted up, so you came to me for your answers." He tilts his head to one side. "I have to say, that boy was naughty, giving up my name like that," he sighs, shaking his head. "Well, no matter." He shifts in his seat, leaning forward.

    "Let me be blunt here: I can't tell you. I'm the middleman here. Arranging shit like this is my job. If the word gets out that I'm spilling the beans on who's hiring me, my reputation is toast. Do you understand, honey?"

    He leans back in his seat, thoughtfully smoking his cigar, as if awaiting some response from them.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius' interest was piqued given the circumstances of the attack and how 'easy' it was for them to do so. He does not specifically caution Jay against what she chooses to do, but he does come along to Damzen. He can readily identify possible assailants in the case something goes wrong during negotiations - noticing differences in weight distribution between either side of a coat, handedness, any and all places that can provide cover within the environs. A part of him is just like that... and has always been.
     He is deliberately standing upright somewhere that leaves an angle of attack open on Jay - a security detail no-no by all reasonable stretches - and seems entirely unconcerned about his own vulnerabilities should a spoken or gestured order be given. Heck, the way he stares and looks, he might come off a bigger creep than most of the established hired hands.
     He has been almost motionless the entire time.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied has been spending a lot of time concerting the efforts of the Wayside Outreach that are here -- that is, a mixture of hired hands and people who've sailed over from Ignas in the wake of the Fereshte itself being missing -- for Honeysday, which means she's been less involved with the actual investigation, but...

    Well, when she heard about how the fixer had agreed to speak, something bothered her about it.

    Just about every part of it kinda sounded like a trap, and when even -Riesenlied- can figure that out...

    Riesenlied doesn't fit a seedy tavern, even back when she was a Metal Demon Commander -- and definitely not now, standing close to Jacqueline as she says, "I think you might have more on the line than your reputation."

    She leans her head down to say, "As you might or might not know, Honeysday is within a Veruni Control Zone. Your client set you up to draw the wrath of the Veruni, and now that word has broken out, it will not be long before their agents will follow your trail."

    A pause. "Do you believe that the Veruni would not, when we could make your men talk?"

    ... it's a line of logic that feels a bit pragmatic for the way she is nowadays, perhaps, but...

    "Your only way out now is to work with us."

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Dean wasn't there that day that Gear-riding bandits attacked Honeysday. He feels bad about it, but he also knows better than to beat himself up for it. You can't be everywhere at once, and how was he supposed to know something like that would happen to the town? But when he hears Caravan Kinship has found out who's responsible and intends on giving them a stern talking-to, he can absolutely come along and make sure something like that doesn't happen again. (Like the gob raids totally never happened again--but sh, sh.) And who calls themself something like 'Damned' Watkins? Sounds like a total jerk!
    
    As Watkins talks, Dean frowns. He's not keen on his attitude, however seemingly friendly he's been so far, and he's *really* not keen all those smelly ashes he's scattering around from his cigar. "That does make sense," he says slowly, as little as he wants to admit it. If you do a job for someone, and that job involves secrecy, then taking it on is like making a promise you'll keep that secret. You keep your promises. Dean can't fault this guy for that much. However--
    
    "Why would you arrange an attack like that on such a peaceful town? *That* doesn't make any sense to me! And if it was 'just business'--why would whoever asked you to do it want that? Can you tell us *that* much, at least?" Riesenlied also points out that Honeysday is in a Veruni Control Zone, and while Dean has mixed feelings about playing that card, he nods to Riesenlied anyway. It's true, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

You wouldn't think that a beastman baskar layabout would have ever ended up as a founding member of the Caravan Kinship, but here Cyre Lorentz is. While he has utmost faith in Jacqueline's negotiating skills, it's not as though he can just leave her without backup in a place like this. The bar practically screams tetanus risk, nevermind the people inside (who Cyre reckons are all packing some kind of heat, given the circumstances).

He seems rather unassuming though, seated there at the negotiating table with his hood pulled down and a genial smile plastered across whatever incredulity and frustration he might otherwise have expressed.

"And before you ask," Cyre adds to Riesenlied's salient argument, "We're pretty sure that they know you arranged for this all to go down. And if they don't already, then they will soon enough. At least if you let us know, we can try to save you some serious headaches going forward. Besides, it's not like you can very well trust an informant who set you up for failure, can you?"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline had been invested in the Honeysday situation since the attack. The idea that people would request a Gear attack on a defenseless settlement baffled her. She had no idea of knowing if the people responsible would order another strike on Honeysday, or if they'd choose a completely different target... and when that happened, they may not be around to protect it.

And so, she'd agreed to Damned Watkins' terms. She's not going into this completely defenseless, of course - she's requested the help of some people she knows she can trust should things go south. It paid to have reliable friends at her back.

And so, she can be found sitting across from Watkins, arms folded in front of herself as she listens to him speak.

"I understand your situation of course - and I sympathise. But, there's more to the problem here than just that. I have reason to believe your client may not exactly be on the up-and-up...so to speak." Jacqueline replies, shaking her head. "I was under the impression that the 'Honest Businessmen' were assured that the Veruni wouldn't be present - but, that wasn't the case. Maybe it's sabotage, or maybe it was just an honest mistake - but that's quite a large mistake to make."

Riesenlied sets it all on the line, and Jacqueline nods in her direction for confirmation before sitting back in her chair a bit.

"So, I can sympathise with your desire to keep your reputation intact. But, considering the situation, which do you think would be better for your reputation?" Jacqueline asks.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong has fought off gobs way too many times to be comfortable with just letting Honeysday be the target of some jerks! More specifically, the shady nature of it all--particularly with the Veruni not even helping their own communities--has led Fei to be particularly suspicious of the going ons here.

Unfortunately Fei's preferred method would be to jump in here and beat up the guy and all his goons but Jay found the lead, so he elects to respect her avenue of approach for a moment. As he steps in, he looks at the backup, looking as relaxed as ever. Middlemen, he thinks, middlemen like these guys are the rot that lets these greater threats prosper.

Fei reminds himself he shouldn't think of other people like that.

But instead he says, "Hey man..."

He does a mental count. "Is this all the backup you've got?"

<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet is, as usual, lurking at the periphery of the tavern, alert. She's been bumming free meals off the Caravan Kinship for some time. She owes them. And she always tries to pay her debts. She's ready to bandage wounds or to fight, whatever may be required. Ever the pragmatist, she chooses to listen more than to speak -- at least for the moment.

<Pose Tracker> Damned Watkins has posed.

    Ethius may not do or say much, but the bartender in the back has been carefully cleaning a glass for the last twenty minutes with one eye on him.

    There are, all told, about four other men in here besides Watkins himself: the alleged bartender, a few men playing 'cards' (they're actually watching Violet under the cover of a very noisy card game), and some guy who looks like the textbook definition of a thug (eyepatch, five-o'clock shadow and all) who is just loitering at the back of the tavern and leering at the lot of them. At Fei's question if this is 'all' he has, the fixer just gives him a wry smile. "I never kiss and tell," he remarks.

    "Listen, darling," the man says to Dean, a smile on his face that doesn't really meet his eyes, "It's all just business. Frankly, I don't care what they want to do to whoever, as long as I get paid. I don't ask more questions than I need to, and they don't tell me more than they need to. And that's how I like it," the fixer explains goodnaturedly.

    Maybe... this is why the man is called 'Damned', if this is how he approaches the world.

    At Riesenlied's point, the fixer outright frowns. "Believe me, sweetheart, I ain't all that happy how that end of the business went down. If that boy had kept his mouth shut properly, then I'd be right as rain. But some kids have just got to be idiots in the bargain. Mmn..." He grunts, as if to let that eventuality run its way rampant in his head, and rubs at his neatly-trimmed beard.

    Cyre adds on and the man sighs, rubbing at the side of his face with one over-large hand. "How much did that silly boy spill...?" he grunts, then adds on, as Jay elucidates further on what they learned from the surviving bandit, gesturing broading with his cigar, "Honey, alright, alright. Maybe we can do a deal here. I'll be honest: I don't really care about your village or who's attempting to kill who here. But I do care about not getting some Veruni agent up my ass," he remarks, smirking at his own remark. "Let's face the facts: someone screwed this job up, and it sure as hell wasn't me! I'll tell you what. I'm gonna chalk this one up as a failure on the part of the client to plan a goddamned job, and the job of the contractors to do a goddamned job. So, keeping in mind I don't know nothing I don't need to know--"

    This is, unfortunately, the moment when the door to the tavern is kicked in.

<Pose Tracker> Damzen City Guard has posed.

    "'Damned' Watkins, you are under arrest!" shouts the leader of the crack squad of Damzen City's guards. Her hand is already on the hilt of her sword; she strolls into the tavern flanked by a few of her fellow guards.
    Watkins drops his cigar, which, still smoldering, rolls right off the table.

    The men playing the alleged card game rise to their feet, blades drawn in blurs of steel, only for the Crest User of the group to unleash a sparkling bolt in their direction. There is a horrendous crash; what is left in the wake of the spell is a broken table and the still bodies of the two would-be bodyguards.

    In the same instant, the leering man unleashes a flaming spell of his own, only for said magic to rebound off a barrier a second mage invokes--
    And as the ARMs-user of the guard draws and takes but one shot. Watkin's sorceror crumples.

    From behind the counter at the bar, meanwhile, the bartender begins to unload at the group, having retrieved a six-shooter; a shootout ensues.

    All the while the apparent leader of this group advances on the table where Watkins remains seated.

    "What the hell-- Jensen, I paid you double the usual on Tuesday! What the hell is all of this about?!" the man sputters.

    Jensen appears to act as if she didn't hear him. "Your aiding and abetting crimes will continue no longer! Do you think that your mercenaries will save you this day?" She brandishes her blade with a flourish, her fellow guards spreading out alongside her. "Go quietly and no one needs to get hurt!" ...Other than the men already maimed/killed, apparently.

    As if to punctuate her statement, the Crest User invokes another spell, one that brings with it a terrible sensation of weight and pressure, which descends upon several of those here assembled. This may quickly become a difficult endeavor.

    Watkins glances desperately at the Drifters. "Look -- look, I'll tell you what you want to know. Just do something about... all of this first!"

    A single shot breaks out across the tension of the moment. The bartender slumps over his bar; silence of a sort enters into the room. But not for long.

    The city guard's gunner turns his attention on those assembled by Watkins, apparently taking Jensen's statement to mean that they are more hired muscle to deal with.

    "Save your pleading and go with some dignity, Watkins," Jensen sneers, lashing out for the one in this room who looks as if they could cause her the most trouble.

DC: You switch forms to Damzen City's Finest On The Take!
DC: Damzen City Guard switches forms to Damzen City's Finest On The Take!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with He Will Bend!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Jacqueline Barber with He Will Bend!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's He Will Bend for 0 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's He Will Bend for 0 hit points!
GS: Weaken! applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Jacqueline Barber's Force Guard activates!
GS: You do not have enough Force to pay that attack's cost.
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Violet Salazar with Let All Beware!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Violet Salazar guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Let All Beware for 55 hit points!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Let All Beware!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Riesenlied with Let All Beware!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Dean Stark with Let All Beware!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Fei Fong Wong with Dare You Talk to Me of Crime!
GS: Riesenlied guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Let All Beware for 44 hit points!
DG: The party led by #-1 NO SUCH OBJECT VISIBLE has been fully Exhausted by !
GS: Damzen City Guard has completed his action.
GS: Ethius Hesiod guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Let All Beware for 51 hit points!
GS: Dean Stark guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Let All Beware for 53 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Dare You Talk to Me of Crime for 84 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied's expression softens a little at Dean's impassioned question. It's true that she'd rather not play that card too, but... it seemed the best way to hit a vulnerable spot in the fixer's armour. Ethius' and Fei's presence will help them too, and Cyre adds his own two pieces... and was that not Violet? She remembers her from Spira...

    With Jacqueline's own pressure, it seemed like Darned (yes, Darned, in her head) Watkins was going to tal, before--

    Darned Watkins, you are under arrest!

    Riesenlied's eyes widen as violence breaks out already between Watkins' backup, all disabled by swift moves. A shot flies uncomfortably close and clips her leg, and she drops to one knee as her Crest-powered leg braces hiss with strain and stress. "Aah...!"

    This is an incredibly dangerous place to be, all of a sudden. "This is terribly inopportune timing..." She moves closer to ask, "Are you all right, Dean?"

    Even as she asks, subsconsciously, the Dragon's Tear at her neck shimmers as a soft and glowing shield begins to heal any wounds that might have clipped the boy.

    The Heritor struggles to get to her feet again, difficult as it is, and pleads with Jensen. "This is all a mistake! We are investigating an assault on Honeysday, and we require information this man needs. Please, stand down!"

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Dean Stark with Ley Channeling - Spirit's Cover!
GS: Riesenlied has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Riesenlied heals Dean Stark! He gains 125 temporary hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Dean Stark gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Shield! applied to Dean Stark!
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It looks like everything's going to go smoothly! They've managed to convince Damned Watkins to tell them what they need to know. Jacqueline opens her mouth to reply... and then, the door bursts open. Jacqueline sighs, massaging her forehead.

"...Of course." She says, shaking her head.

Things go south pretty quickly, as Watkins' men are taken out in short order. Jacqueline can feel it on her, too - a spell weighing down upon her, to weaken her. And so, Jacqueline stands from her chair, taking a brief look to see how her friends are doing before looking over the person in charge and her crew.

The Damzen City guard, and her crew... Jacqueline knew this was a possibility, but she hoped it wouldn't happen.

"I believe there's been a misunderstanding. Why don't you put away your weapons and we can discuss this like reasonable adults?" Jacqueline asks, then doubles down on Riesenlied's own words. "We're trying to prevent a greater harm falling coming upon the innocent. If protecting those who can't protect themselves is at all of any interest to you, then please, stand down and let us continue our discussion without further interruption."

Sure, they might think she's bluffing - but there's an earnestness in her eyes and voice that might convince at least some of them to stand down.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Damzen City Guard with Diplomacy!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Dean scowls at Watkins. "Don't call me 'darling,'" he interrupts. Watkins naturally resumes as if he hadn't said anything, going on to say what *he'd* just said, then actually explaining it. "You don't care if innocent people get hurt?" he asks, disgust obvious in his voice and expression. He phrases it as a question, but really, there's no doubt in Dean's mind that this guy is (now that Janus Cascade has passed away) The Worst.
    
    Fortunately, it seems like negotiations have gotten through to this jerk! Unfortunately, before he can say anything, the door gets kicked in. Dean whips around in alarm. A bunch of violence happens all at once. He jumps in front of Jay and Riesenlied to attempt to protect them, but it's no use against the gravity spell that the one Crest User uses on them; how can you defend against a reverse tractor beam? He grunts, dropping to one knee, but weathering the attack with grit teeth.
    
    Once it's ended, he bounces back up to his feet, Twin Fenrir flashing into his hands from wherever they go when he's not using them. "Riese, Jay, everyone, are you guys okay?" he asks, looking around at them and everyone else. Fei in particular gets a brief nod of acknowledgement, though the situation's too grim for a smile. "I'm okay as long as you guys all are," he reassures Riese, expression softening even so; their mutual concern, and her Dragon's Tear powers, are invigorating. The power of friendship, y'all.
    
    Watkins then says he'll talk if they just get rid of these guys. "I dunno, maybe we *should* let them arrest you," Dean replies flatly, looking straight into Watkins' eyes. He is utterly sincere in this.
    
    But then the gunner turns to him and his friends like they think they're accomplices, and Dean's not going to just let them shoot everyone else up. As they aim, he sweeps the poles from Twin Fenrir's handles around and up to try to disarm them and knock them over. It's not a strong pair of strikes, and as long as he can disarm the gunner, he won't follow them up.

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Damzen City Guard with Double Strike!
GS: Dean Stark has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

One of Damzen City Guards' gunners wings Violet in the left hip; she gasps in pain, but doesn't *feel* too wounded to retaliate. She overturns one of the tavern tables for cover and ducks behind it, then aims her ARM deliberately, carefully...and fires. From behind her makeshift shieldwall, she checks her wound -- and finds it less serious than it could've been. Not life-threatening; in fact, little more than a bad graze. This would be a good time to reload, so she does. She peers over the table's edge carefully, ready to slip back behind it the instant things start to turn south.

    And with her luck, they will. She also gestures for her friends to join her behind the table, if they like -- or to create their own impromptu shields. She hears Jay negotiating and holds the rest of her fire for the moment, waiting to see what happens. It's a tense moment.

GS: Violet Salazar has attacked Damzen City Guard with Look of Eagles!
GS: Violet Salazar has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It always goes bad the second it looks like they might be catching a break. "I knew we could come to terms," Cyre says with an easy grin, "Now, let's get down to--"

The door is kicked in.

Because of COURSE the local law enforcement chooses today to decide that they're going to be on the up-and-up.

"What the--" Cyre manages to hiss out, moments before gravity suddenly attempts to slam his face right into the tabletop. "--Shit! Damnit, Watkins, who else knew about this meeting!?" Everything about the situation is rapidly pinging Cyre's 'someone is setting us up' senses. Put a 'reputable' merchant company in close contact with the kind of scum that acts as an intermediary for village-incinerating bandits, then spring the local scumbag cops on them all to force an altercation--

"Jay, I think we've been made, and not by our friend here. I think the only way we have out is through." Gravity magic is one thing that Cyre is old hat at dealing with. Usually he's not on the receiving end of it, but his girlfriend is after all the chosen high priestess of Celesdue-- and he knows well that you can't weigh down the wind. A powerful shockwave ripples out from underneath Cyre's palms, pressed as they are against the tabletop to fight against gravity's crushing pull. As it travels, that shockwave builds into a mighty wall of wind that goes to knock the assembled guard of their feet... And conveniently creates a barrier against further attack. "These are the kinds of scumbags that'll act honorable and such and then shoot you in the back and claim self-defense! They're already on the take, guys! If these guys were motivated by honor and the well-being of the public, they wouldn't be taking dirty money to look the other way!"

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Damzen City Guard with Stepping Wind!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
GS: CRITICAL! Damzen City Guard critically Guards a hit from Jacqueline Barber's Diplomacy for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Double Strike for 81 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard guards a hit from Violet Salazar's Look of Eagles for 85 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Damzen City Guard critically Guards a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Stepping Wind for 26 hit points!
GS: Riposte! applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

It's a setup!!!

But Fei doesn't seem particularly shocked. He lives through life expecting everything to go badly as a general rule. It's a sort of hope for the best, expect the worst sort of life. Except sometimes, one can't help but wonder if it's a hope for the worst, expect the worst kind of lifestyle. Sure, he is trying to be less of a downer these days, but he's still who he is and was kind of a downer even before his village burst into flames somehow.

It seems like Jay is at least an expect the worst sort of person too.

Jay and Riesenlied try DIPLOMACY.

Fei meanwhile looks to Damned Watkins, who is apparently now on the same side as they are by virtue of CRIME, then back to the guard.

"Guys." He says. "This was obviously a trap for us. The guard's not gonna care what we say--they took this guy's money which means they're not here because of the law... but because someone paid them more than Watkins here."

He looks to Damned Watkins. "Tell you what. I'm a pretty decent bodyguard. You want to hire me?" He pauses a moment and adds, "Okay, yeah, I'll do a demonstration--"

He slides forward, bracing himself and taking a couple ARMS shots to the gut, the pulse of the crest magic bearing down on him--

--at which point he picks up a chair and slams it at the nearest guardsmen.

"Let's fuck them up!!"

GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Damzen City Guard with Hoten!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

There are, all told, about four other men in here besides Watkins himself.

'About' allows for a certain amount of vagueness in the numbers. Such as, perhaps, five rather than four.

The fifth in question has been thus far largely inconsequential to the story - a rather generic shape of a large-shouldered man, clad in a dusty brown cloak that shrouds all of him save the hand gripping a mostly empty glass. His place at the bar is off to the side, allowing him to have his hooded head down on the bartop and sleep-slash-be-passed out through everything.

Until, of course, the gunfire starts.

Even the deepest alcohol-fueled stupor can't suppress multiple ARMs going off at close range. Plus the bartender is the one doing the shooting, which ruins any chance of a refill. So the man rises, feet coming to the floor and the cloak falling away.

Ashton A. Anchors has seen better days - which says a lot - but right now the surprise is likely that he's being seen. Sporting a deep five o'clock shadow, filthy clothes and the obvious signs of heavy drinking, the Spellsword Sellsword is still abruptly, unexpectedly present.

Steel unsheathes with a sibilant ring.

In the midst of the chaos, green eyes narrow. And in spite of everything, they spark recognition. "HEY!" He points a hook-bladed Spiran sword at one of the Damzen officers as he slurs. "NO SHOTTIN' HIM!" The other blade points at Fei. "HE'S M'FRIEND! SO F'CKOF!"

And that, your honor, was the moment in which a drunken Ashton - with two drunken dragons wobbling over his shoulders - started wildly hurling magic energy swords at the doorway.

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Damzen City Guard with Piercing Blades!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The open vulnerability Ethius allows is, at surface, and even some ways deeper in, endangering and cruel to someone who has done so much for him, but there is a method to the madness. (...Or a method to the meanness?) He has a keen sense for the sound various ARMs make when rustling around. When Watkins hushes with a 'Listen, darling,' he's on ever higher alert. He doesn't know the tell Watkins might use to signal to his cohorts, so he trusts in the body language and the tells of his hired help instead - and he believes he pegged the agent that would act the slowest when given the cue to fire - and giving them that tantalizing angle on Jay. There are a few different sequences playing on his mind and an intricate familiarity with what he would do in every part of them.
     This next part is not one of them.
     There's a growing commotion outside. Ethius turns his head a split-second before the door gets kicked open and the law makes its feelings plain. The card players turning to the slamming door with blades drawn is all the tell he needs that this isn't part of the 'Damned's' detail.
     Ethius plain bolts and makes for an overturned table. He makes the gesture and slurs the syllables for the naked-to-unaided-eye Symbological shield, and with great timing - a ricocheting ARM round of indeterminate origin pierces the table and meets his left shoulder with a loud, bright electrical spark. It hits with the force of a punch to the shoulder rather than a proper puncture.
     Even with that, he's able to hear Watkins' surprise over all of that. "Double the usual," he murmurs. Riesenlied and Jay plead with the Damzen City guard. Cyre more or less echoes what his sentiments are - they've already been bought.
     He catches the implication as to who.
     Ethius stays low to a crawl during the confusion, moving with a quiet certainty. To Riese and Jay, who are especially familiar with how he conducts business, there is no mistake as to what this man is about to do. When he finds an angle and place he finds palatable around the overturned furniture and chaos, he gesticulates and chants another spell - and puts out a heavy footfall with full intention to turn a weapon towards him, because it makes the intent of what is already primed to go off in the process much easier to pull off.
     "Fine Dust!" Ethius calls to a sorcerous spray of dust threatening to clog pretty much any delicate mechanism on the city guard's gunner.
     Also make their uniform all dirty and dusty. That's a bonus.

GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Damzen City Guard with Fine Dust!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
+pot/soundtrack: Your next pose will have 'Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought The Law ~
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgtQj8O92eI' as its soundtrack, after which it will clear.
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Hoten for 117 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard critically Guards a hit from Ashton Anchors's Piercing Blades for 23 hit points!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a glancing hit from Ethius Hesiod's Fine Dust for 56 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Jam! applied to Damzen City Guard!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Damzen City Guard has posed.

    "Listen, kid," Watkins says to Dean, apparently opting for a different moniker, "If you don't like it, door's over there."

    And then all hell breaks loose for the Damned and his men.

    "Just you, me, and them!" Watkins yells back to Cyre, pointing in the direction of his now-felled mage. "I've been in this business long enough not to -- shit," he opts to punctuate his sentence with, apparently coming to the same conclusion as Cyre. "Jensen! Who the fuck is paying you! I'll double it!"

    From Violet's end of the room, a shot rings out; one of the mages attempts a deflection with a shimmering wall of light but grunts under the effort, for the moment unable to take direct action. As if in retaliation, the gunner takes another shot at her -- but will it quite be enough?

    Jensen proceeds as if she still isn't hearing a word he's saying. She is as expressionless as a stone.

    And then, to the fixer, she has but one thing to say:

    "That was then, Watkins. There's a new set of rules in town."

    Watkins appears to take this in for a moment. He takes a breath, then points at Fei. "Fine, then you're hired!"

    A chair slams into one of Jensen's cohorts, seing them reeling -- even leather armor only absorbs so much of a strike. But this one apparently didn't become a member of the city guard for getting KO'd in the first round: punch-drunk from that hit or not, they come at Fei with their blade.

    All while Jacqueline and Riesenlied attempt to appeal to reason and mercy. Unfortunately, it seems neither are much to be had here.

    Jensen merely sneers at Riesenlied as she pleads with her to stand down. Jay echoes this sentiment which seems to similarly roll off the guard captain like water off a duck's back. "Collaborating with a criminal, are you? Our orders are clear! We are to take this man in, no matter who gets in our way! You will stand down," she continues, brandishing the blade at Jay and Riesenlied, "or face the consequences!"

    Which is when Cyre intercedes, casting a flowing shockwave of wind forth against Jensen and her cohorts, including the one currently tangling with Fei; the three of them stagger, slowed for that fateful moment.

    Which may just be enough to buy Jacqueline and Riesenlied time as Jensen and one of her cohorts close on them at last, blades gleaming as they lash out.

    "You know what, I take it back," the man grouses at Dean. "Kids like you are a pain in the ass." He takes this moment to duck under the table, which may be wise when bullets are loosed soon after; the heavy oak table is peppered with them. Maybe the guards don't care if they take him in alive or dead...

    Dean, for his part, rushes the gunner, currently still positioned towards the back, just inside and to the left of the broken-in door. Maybe he doesn't quite see Dean coming; maybe he doesn't think Dean a credible threat--

    But Dean lays him out with a few solid strikes, sending the dazed ARMsman down for the count.
    At least, briefly. There are two sorcerors lingering in the back near him and the one of them -- the Crest User -- casts a quick spell, a mere stunner of a bolt that leaps from his hand. But perhaps it might cause trouble for Dean nonetheless while his fellow mage begins uttering a different spell...

<Pose Tracker> Damzen City Guard has posed.

    "Fancy meeting you down here, darling," remarks the fixer to Violet as she similarly takes cover while Dean rushes to deal with the gunner. "Listen, you see if you can distract them for me so I can get on our of here. One less thing to worry about in a firefight, eh?"

    Though, perhaps...

    Nothing is quite as much 'one less thing to worry about' as a sudden intrusion into the goings-on by the sixth man in the room. The one that no one had noticed.
    Until Ashton Anchors, drunk as a skunk, arises in full rage and unloads upon the now-unlucky Crest User tangling with Dean near the doorway. With magic barriers, the sorceror manages -- for now -- to keep the dragon-man at bay, but he can only keep getting lucky for so long.

    Particularly since the previously downed gunner rises and takes this moment to... move away from the melee taking place basically right atop where he had lain.

    The other sorceror continues to cast, apparently deep in whatever incantation they are working.

    The gunner, for his part, takes up position elsewhere in the room, cracking off a shot for none other than Cyre. ...Before going on to throw his colleague the poor parrying Crest User a bone and attempting to snipe Ashton.

    But this is where the gunner hits a little bit of a... snag. In the chaos, a certain suspicious character had slipped under the guard's collective radar.

    A price for which the gunner now pays, as the sorcerous dust implodes upon his person. "The hell--" the gunner chokes, descending into a coughing fit. His ARM clicks and seems to jam; it takes him a moment to get it to even reasonably function again, wherein he takes a shot in Ethius' direction. But will it hit?

GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Fei Fong Wong with He Will Break!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Jacqueline Barber with Dare You Talk to Me of Crime!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Riesenlied with Every Man is Born in Sin!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard spends 1 Combo on Interrupt!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Dean Stark with With Order and Light!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Violet Salazar with You Hold Your Course and Your Aim!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Ashton Anchors with Let All Beware!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with No Man's Beyond Our Reach!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Ethius Hesiod with Those Who Fall Must Pay the Price!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard has completed his action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber critically Guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Dare You Talk to Me of Crime for 25 hit points!
GS: Ethius Hesiod critically Guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Those Who Fall Must Pay the Price for 20 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Ashton Anchors critically Guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Let All Beware for 23 hit points!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz critically Guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's No Man's Beyond Our Reach for 26 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Cyre H. Lorentz gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Violet Salazar takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's You Hold Your Course and Your Aim for 62 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Violet Salazar gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Dean Stark takes a glancing hit from Damzen City Guard's With Order and Light for 18 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Dean Stark has lost 2 Combo from Interrupt!
GS: Riesenlied guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Every Man is Born in Sin for 78 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's He Will Break for 107 hit points!
GS: Break! applied to Fei Fong Wong!
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

"NO ONE CALLS ME 'DARLING' EXCEPT MY HUSBAND!" Violet snarls at the Damned. even as a bullet bores through the table and into her left outer ribcage. She doesn't bother explaining that her husband is dead, murdered by rampaging Gears. The fixer doesn't deserve it -- or any politeness. Violet is waaay past that point now, too enraged to react rationally. "Get out!" she thunders at the fixer, unwilling to share her shelter with him any more and unwittingly giving him the very thing he wants -- a distraction, and possibly a way out. If he bugs out, she'll have time to levy an attack on the Guards...

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    The door gets kicked in. Dean just gestures emphatically at it to Watkins just before all hell breaks loose. The option to let him get arrested is still on the table!! ...so to speak, as several tables get kicked over.
    
    Dean knocks down the gunner. Jensen rebuts Riese and Jay's attempts at diplomacy, and that can't help but drag his ear, giving that Crest User a chance to shoot off a dazing bolt. "Hey, we're not collaborating with him!! We just want to know--" OOF. This is what happens when you ignore magic-users, Dean!!
    
    For a moment, he's knocked woozy, staggering on his feet as stars circle his head. This could go badly for him were it not for Ashton, rushing to the rescue!! ...Or not quite so much. Even so, when Dean shakes sense back into his head, he blinks over at the dragon-backed swordsman-turned-hobo-apparently. "Th-thanks for the help!" he utters, not quite so sure the help was intentional. Ashton is, after all, very drunk. Still, they're both friends with Fei, so...
    
    Regardless, it's clear this is not a misunderstanding and everything's gone south. Dean is hazy on the details beyond that, but he does know he needs to defend his friends.
    
    That Crest-User who popped a spell on him and is likely to do the same to anyone else they can *if* they can thus is the target of his next attack: a two-pronged whallop from Twin Fenrir's rods, which have heated up to critical levels for the seconds of the maneuver. It won't set anything on fire, probably, but if the Crest-User's unlucky, slash too busy trying to defend against Ashton to put up a good defense against Dean, it'll leave some very nasty burns to remember him by.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    "I--I am all right, Dean. Let us do this," Riesenlied stammers with some shakiness to the Daring Boy (not Darling! That was Watkins' true mistake). There's a grimace as she tries to keep steady again, listening in as Cyre and Fei point out both that Jensen has taken money and that someone like that wouldn't hear reason and had no honour...

    But she still wants to believe in it.

    "I am sorry, but I cannot do that. If it is true that you are, ah... 'on the take'," Riesenlied stumbles on her words as she tries to put the right metaphor in, "Then I have no choice!"

    Ethius comes on in with machine-jamming Symbology from behind the table, but then--

    Riesenlied blinks as she stares at who just barged on in, metaphorically speaking. "Ashton?? I--"

    There is a yelp as one of Jensen's cohorts come in close on her, blade drawn; instinctually, she's manifested the Heritor's sword with a clash of crystal against metal, arms trembling as she keeps her parry held.

    Do as Liath taught you, she tells herself.

    Twist, and deflect... and then!

    "I am sorry, but I will fight... here I go! Ley Arte!"

    Riesenlied strikes at thin air, seemingly missing the cohort by a wide margin--

    But the Ley of the air takes hold as temperatures suddenly dramatically *drop*, and a small mandala of ephemeral, snowflake-like patterns ring with a low chime below his feet...

    *BOOM*

    "Steady Sword!"

    An enormous (and typoed) phantom sword of ice erupts to strike, if he isn't fast enough to get out of the way!

GS: Riesenlied spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Riesenlied has attacked Damzen City Guard with Ley Artes - Stasis Sword!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
GS: Dean Stark has attacked Damzen City Guard with Burning Magazine!
GS: Dean Stark has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline and Riesenlied's words both fall on deaf ears. Jacqueline frowns, shaking her head.

"I was hoping it'd work." She admits to Cyre. "But you're right."

Maybe it was a trap for them, as Fei says, but Jacqueline is as ever the sort of person who wants to believe the best in people, to give them a chance.

"You're not listening to me - you don't realise what's at stake here. Or... maybe you think you do, and that's why you're doing this." Jacqueline replies to the captain, shaking her head. "I'm going to ask you again - please, stand down and let's discuss this peacefully. I don't want to fight."

Some of the swordsman round on her and Riesenlied, lashing out. With a gesture of her left hand a pillar of earth rises, intercepting the blade meant for her.

"...Fine, new plan - let's get out of here. Let's look for an escape route! Watkins, can you move?" Jacqueline says. "Oh, and, everyone - they might be crooked, but please try not to hurt them too badly."

And with that, Jacqueline makes several quick gestures with her left hand. Pillars of earth rip themselves out of the ground. She isn't looking to hurt anyone in particular, but she is looking to scatter the captain and her squad to break up their cohesion - and perhaps giving them all cover to escape with.

With that done, she immediately starts scanning the area for what the best escape route for them to take would be.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Damzen City Guard with Pillar Crash!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Jacqueline Barber assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Your next attack with the Sneak flag will display with the name I Warned You I Would Not Give In.
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Dean Stark's Burning Magazine for 106 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Poison! applied to Damzen City Guard!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Ley Artes - Stasis Sword for 143 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Damzen City Guard!
GS: Damzen City Guard critically Guards a hit from Jacqueline Barber's Pillar Crash for 23 hit points!
GS: Cover! applied to Jacqueline Barber!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    By all accounts, there is a strange white-haired man dressed like a common thug about to rush into an officer wielding a loaded ARM. The gunner's aim is true and the equipment, however compromised by being jammed, is in functional enough state to fire upon someone all but throwing their body into certain death.
     There is another loud electrical burst of light as the shot bounces off of the otherwise unseen Symbological barrier, robbing a clean shot to the abdomen with all the residual momentum and impact of a rude finger jab. A gunner remains within striking range of someone who does not seem to play nice with the idea of being shot. In normal circumstances, Ethius would move in further to finish the job before they could collect themselves and load in more ammunition.
     He catches everyone's movements and sees that there is a sorcerer in focus. Ethius deliberately holds his position and makes use of the extra time spent to allow the gunner to reload anew as he flexes his fingers in arcane patterns deeply uncomfortable to watch and even more strenuous to perform, blending together syllables expertly to a final discharge of light as he completes the spell.
     "Recurrent Current!" He snaps the hand forward. A lightning bolt shoots out from the open palm, grazing past the gunner and snaking towards the sorcerer just beyond them to inflict them with an electrical shock that does not seem intent to leave them - to instead continue to surge and strike over, and over, and over.

GS: Ethius Hesiod spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Damzen City Guard with Recurrent Current!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Aaaagh fuck I hate ambushes!" Cyre yells as some JERKWAD starts SHOOTING AT HIM. With bullets! Bullets that can kill a person! They do not kill him, because this is not a cutscene and also because that would be a really lame way to die. But also because it has to pass through several walls of compressed wind and a wisely worn vest of bulletproof material (underneath his robes, of course) to hit anything particularly worthwhile. The impact still knocks Cyre off his chair and onto his ass.

"Alright Watkins," the Shaman growls, forcing himself back upright. Wind churns around him, whipping his hair into a frenzy of snow-white fluff. "We'll pull your ass out of the fire. But you owe us more than just information." Cyre gestures, calling upon the Arcana of the Silver Medium dangling around his neck. "I'm not sure how much Fengalon appreciates being involved in something like this, but..."

The air grows thick-- the same kind of stillness that portends the landfall of a storm. "O' king of wind, unleash the hammer of the heavens...!"

He clenches his hand into a fist, and suddenly the guardsmen would feel as if the atmosphere itself collapses in around them. A sudden outrushing of pressure erupts at the heart of their formation, bursting eardrums and pulverizing soft tissue like the blastwave of a powerful explosive...!

(It might just blow out a few windows for the group to escape out from...!)

GS: Cyre H. Lorentz spends 1 Combo on Poison!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Damzen City Guard with Grand Pressure!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Ashton?" Fei looks over, distracted--and promptly gets a stab wound for his trouble. "Aw geeze." He says before darting forward, swinging an arm back, and punching a flippin' fireball at the guy. Worst case scenario? It starts a fire and creates even more of a distraction for folks to get away! Best case scenario? Crispy Guard! Fei isn't exactly TRYING to murder guards here, of course, but he isn't going to hold back. They're ... on the take and all, it's not like they're good cops doing a hard job, they're bad cops trying to get them in trouble because someone paid them more money to. And they are dirty traitors on top of it all.

"Sorry!" He says. "But I just got hired so now I have to be a professional instead of just a casual...uh...We should probably start leaving. I know how this goes, you take out one guard then two show up and uh--"


GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Damzen City Guard with Kakei!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Nearly all of Ashton's magic sword throws are completely off-target and miss any actual person. In a moment of serendipity, one scores a perfect bullseye on the bar's dartboard, however.

He doesn't seem to care deeply about his aim - or lack thereof, however. The burst of adrenaline hits Ashton's system, pushing out some of the liquor and bringing the world into sharp, abrupt focus. And he breaks out into a beaming grin at the others. "Oh! Heeeeeey!" Ashton winks sloppily at Riesenlied. "What's a nice Hyadean like you doing in a filthy place like this?" A pause. "Oh, and Dean!"

Then the shot from the guard's ARM user clips Ashton, the force of impact sending him twirling around. He spins, lurches... and for a moment leans hard against the bar as he turns green. There's a long, agonizing few seconds as Ashton manages to not be sick - then he straightens up. And he shoots a Look at the guard who just shot him. "That," he notes aloud, "Was a mistake."

Grabbing his partially filled drink, Ashton whips around again. The liquor left inside sprays out of the cup into the air - then his blade slices through it. The liquid abruptly forms along the edge, turning the short sword into a cascading length of rippling, surging booze. And one that is no less sharp than the blade it comes from. "HA!"

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Damzen City Guard with Liquid Steel!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Fei Fong Wong's Kakei for 131 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Ethius Hesiod's Recurrent Current for 143 hit points!
GS: Poison! applied to Damzen City Guard!
GS: Damzen City Guard completely evades a hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Grand Pressure!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Ashton Anchors's Liquid Steel for 95 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Damzen City Guard has posed.

    Torwards the door, Dean is subject to a potent lesson from the Crest User, and perhaps if it had not been for Ashton, the situation might have had room to turn more dire. But Dean's savior (?) has arrived, and with the Crest Sorceror occupied parrying Ashton's strikes...
    It is an easy thing for Dean to unload a few choice whallops onto the sorceror's person. The man howls, staggering away from the both of them, and apparently unguarded and unsupported by his cohorts in the room. Casting glances between Dean and Ashton, the mage appears to consider his options and consider them carefully.
    His decision is to again bring down that weighty spell upon Ashton, following up with an all-out surge of electrical force cast forth for Dean. It's but a shadow of the spell that had laid the men at the table low.

    Ashton meanwhile sets his sights on the man with the gun, which works in his favor, as distracted as the man is by Ethius and the spell he has just worked... and its effect on his ARM. Still swearing as he tries to get it working again, he jerks his head upwards as Ashton speaks to him, turning just in time to receive the spell-joined blade of water in a deep cut across his chest. He staggers back.

    Jensen, unfortunately, just isn't seeing reason. Or, perhaps...

    "Enough! I will have you in chains for impeding an arrest, girl!" she retorts to the young merchant. "Assuming, that is, that you survive! Roberts!" Which is a call for aid that might have worked if her sword-bearing underling were not currently engaged with Riesenlied.

    Watkins, for his part, just looks nonplussed at Violet's reaction. "Well, don't mind if I do," he remarks to her, shortly after that bullet cracks the table. "Sure can!" he calls to Jay. "Do me a favor and cover me, honey!" Perhaps the situation being what it is, he's not about to be more explicit about his plans than that -- or perhaps he's still got something up his sleeve. It all comes down to one question: do they trust the fixer?

    "Let's talk about it later, sweetheart!" he calls to Cyre. Taking advantage of the chaos, he starts to sneak for the back room.

    Near the table, as Watkins takes his leave, Riesenlied and Jacqueline are forced to return force for force. The guard swordsman currently tangling with Riesenlied looks shocked for but a moment as her own blade catches his, and there they remain locked, before he draws back, dropping into a guard. She lunges; it seems that it misses him by a wide margin and he smirks.

    Then he looks down, far too late. "What the--"

    The phantom blade cracks into being beneath him, sending him flying to sprawl right across the table; for the moment, there he lies, apparently immobile.

<Pose Tracker> Damzen City Guard has posed.

    Which leaves the one currently engaging Fei and Jensen herself left for the displacing strike from the earthen pillars. They hold their ground, certainly, standing strong against the sorcerous strike even as the earth trembles and bucks and rips beneath their feet, but it has made rather dramatic changes to the current theatre of operations, to put it mildly. Hissing a breath of irritation, Jensen charges Jay directly, swinging her sword in a powerful (but vulnerable) overarm sword swing. She staggers as she closes, the ground more uneven than she anticipated, but will that be enough to give Jay the space she needs to escape or deflect the blow?

    As for Fei, he has to deal with the fact that he has brought fists to a sword fight.
    Then again, there are certain advantages to being unarmed, even if the guard's blade has tasted of his blood already. Chief among them might be best underlined as follows:
    The swordswoman attempts to parry the fireball with her blade. Unfortunately for her, the fireball is set to extra crispy and impacts the sword alone, which means that now she has to deal with one super-heated sword. Which is why she drops her sword in short order, going instead for the shortsword still sheathed at her hip before lunging for Fei.

    The pressure in the room builds as Cyre draws upon the power of his Medium. With a bark from the back of the tavern, shimmering white light descends courtesy of the beleagured Crest Sorceror (who quite possibly should reconsider their line of work) upon--
    Well, some of those still standing. Jensen and her cohort battling Fei, yes. The other sorceror, yes. Not so much the still sprawling guardsman atop the table, and...

    Not the gunner. Is this a bit of petty (if not entirely unwarranted) infighting!?

    The pressure erupts. The windows explode outwards in properly dramatic fashion, providing another escape route!

    he gunner collapses in short order, clutching his head. The swordsman atop the table groans.

    Ethius sees a problem brewing in the meantime, as the ARMs-user attempts to keep him pinned down. Sighting the other sorceror still deep in his spell, he lets loose a bolt of lighting which strikes the caster dead on.

    With a gasp of pain and shock, the sorceror speaks the last syllable of his spell, and the spell is unleashed... but at seemingly random about the room, in a tangling web of sticky shadowy force that may still skim past unnoticed in the chaos of wind, flame and ice. Leaning heavily against the wall, the sorceror fixes their gaze on Ethius and takes a slow breath...

    After which they draw from the holster at their hip their own ARM. Aiming at the Symbologist with a shaky hand, they pull the trigger.

GS: That attack doesn't exist. []
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Dean Stark with Save Your Breath and Save Your Tears!
GS: Damzen City Guard spends 1 Combo on Interrupt!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Jacqueline Barber with This Time There is No Mistake!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Fei Fong Wong with I Warned You I Would Not Give In!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard spends 3 Combo on Headshot and Poison!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Ethius Hesiod with You Have No Rights!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Violet Salazar with I Warned You I Would Not Give In!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with I Warned You I Would Not Give In!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Riesenlied with I Warned You I Would Not Give In!
GS: Sneak! You have gained 2 Combo! Only you see this message.
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Damzen City Guard's attack becomes clear!
GS: CRITICAL! Riesenlied takes a glancing hit from Damzen City Guard's There is No Place for You to Hide for 0 hit
points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Riesenlied gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Cripple and Mute! applied to Riesenlied!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Ashton Anchors with He Will Bend!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard has completed his action.
GS: Jacqueline Barber takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's This Time There is No Mistake for 143 hit points!
GS: Mighty! applied to Damzen City Guard!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has lost 2 Combo from Interrupt!
GS: CRITICAL! Ethius Hesiod guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's You Have No Rights for 133 hit points!
GS: Cripple, Disease, Mute, and Poison! applied to Ethius Hesiod!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Damzen City Guard's attack becomes clear!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's There is No Place for You to Hide for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Cyre H. Lorentz gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Cripple and Mute! applied to Cyre H. Lorentz!
GS: Ashton Anchors takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's He Will Bend for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ashton Anchors gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Weaken! applied to Ashton Anchors!
GS: Sneak! The true nature of Damzen City Guard's attack becomes clear!
GS: Violet Salazar guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's There is No Place for You to Hide for 0 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Violet Salazar gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Cripple and Mute! applied to Violet Salazar!
GS: Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's I Warned You I Would Not Give In for 25 hit points!
GS: Slow! applied to Fei Fong Wong!
GS: Fei Fong Wong's Force Guard activates!
GS: Dean Stark critically Guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's Save Your Breath and Save Your Tears for 22 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Dean Stark gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied is already feeling her ailing body's limits; her arms feel a little bit numb, her legs aren't working quite properly, and yet... she has to carry on at the moment, lest things go quite awry for her.

    This is doubly not helped as the sorceror's spell starts sticking to her, and if there's something she's really vulnerable to, it's definitely Shadow. Darkness. The black inky stuff.

    <PRESS TURN!>

    "M-mmgg..." Riesenlied holds her head as she stumbles away for a moment, grasping for air. "I will not back down here..."

    Jacqueline calls out for an escape route, and she nods. The less fighting, the better. "L-let me try to stall them as well. First..."

    Ethius' current helps give her that opportunity, at the same time Dean's Fenrir rods heat and distract him in turn. Ashton says something towards her, and there is a momentarily flail of--

    "Please, this is no time for jokes!"

    She looks towards Fei where he's got his hands full fighting someone with a sword, even as Cyre calls for back-up from Fengalon. "Fei! I will assist!"

    There's quite a lot of electricity in the air already between Cyre's wind and Ethius' lightning -- and she takes advantage of the positively charged Ley in the air as she whispers, focusing on her target -- the swordswoman:

    "T-this one is for you... Father!"

    It's clear she's not terribly accustomed to these new artes, given the ensuing swing is rather wild, but...

    You know.

    "Sieg Impulse!"

    You don't -need- to aim terribly well when the ensuing chaos of lightning and thunder erupts into an enormous blade that *spires* from the ground in an encore of her earlier performance...

    ... and it looks suspiciously like a ghostly copy of Glumzamber, too.

GS: Riesenlied has attacked Damzen City Guard with Ley Artes - Sieg Impulse!
GS: Riesenlied has completed her action.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei... actually kind of does trust the guy. Sure, he's a scumbag who hired a hit on an innocent town but it's not like he burned it to the ground and killed his best friends, but he's not exactly in a position to turn his back on potential allies now that FOR SOME MYSTERIOUS REASON, the very guards he used to pay off are suddenly interested in being bastions of law and order.

It's also just plain hard for Fei to fight any kind of lady. He has some bad experiences with accidentally--or not so accidentally--murdering women and having a complete mental breakdown over it!

Fei has had to fight better swordsmen though than this lady. Just ask Ramses! Of course, Ramses was going kind of wild at that time and was probably not operating at peak performance, but even so--Fei is unusually prepared to fight swordsmen, even with only his fists available.

"You're risking a lot for your employer." Fei says, sweeping to the side. He still gets carved into but he seems to endure it pretty well before he jumps up high into the air and aims to slam down upon the swordswoman's head with both feet like some kind of mario.

He glances towards Riesenlied, hopping back as she offers to assist--

--with uh...

Oh geeze, he almost forgot that Siegfried was dead and it was all because he failed to protect him from Solaris.

"Riesenlied. I uh... thanks. But--be careful!"

He knows he would absolutely be unable to deal if he lost her too.

GS: Fei Fong Wong spends 2 Combo on Headshot!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has attacked Damzen City Guard with Tenbu!
GS: Fei Fong Wong has completed his action.
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Riesenlied's Ley Artes - Sieg Impulse for 126 hit points!
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet hears Jacqueline order her friends not to kill, but she's too furious for it to really register. She snorts derisively at Watkins as he slips away, presumably to safety, and vents her spleen on the ARM-wielding sorceror targeting Ethius, her own attack fueled by rage. She shoots. If her aim is true, her bullet should do a fair amount of damage -- unless the sorcerer has above-average defenses, or perhaps magical shielding. She's learned over the years not to underestimate the magically-gifted...

GS: Violet Salazar spends 3 Combo on Headshot and Gatling, loading 1 into Gatling!
GS: Violet Salazar has attacked Damzen City Guard with Finishing Touch!
GS: Violet Salazar has completed her action.
GS: Damzen City Guard guards a hit from Fei Fong Wong's Tenbu for 98 hit points!
GS: CRITICAL! Damzen City Guard guards a hit from Violet Salazar's Finishing Touch for 123 hit points!
GS: Jam! applied to Damzen City Guard!
GS: Shield! applied to Violet Salazar!
DC: Creative Free attacks can only have the flags Artillery, Bold, Cancel, Follow, Formation, Gatling, Heal, Inspire,
Pierce, Prudent, Reload, Reserve, Rush, Strike, Break, Formation, Hyper, Infect, Interrupt, Quick, Shield, Slow, Weaken,
Cover, Mighty, and Riposte.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    The Crest User who has the misfortune of being up against two muscle guys attempts to whallop them both with lightning. Dean, who isn't distracted this time, crosses his weapons before him and grounds his stance, and that causes most of the magical energy to flow past and down from him. His limbs tingle, but he's a sight better off than those guys at the table.
    
    "Yeah, and me!" Dean says back to Ashton. As cool as the Booze Blade was, it's not quite enough to offset the, uh, the rest of his... state. "What're *you* doing here? You look, uh..." He pauses a beat. "Like you've seen better days!" Yes, that's the nice way of putting it.
    
    Belatedly, he hears Jay call for a retreat, and he attempts to tug at Ashton's--sleeve? Cloak? Rags? He's not sure. "Hey, you better come with us! We're getting out of here!" he hisses. He's not confident that Ashton is sober enough to follow on his own and not, say, keep fighting wildly until suddenly he finds himself surrounded by the crooked cops itching to arrest *someone*, and look at this highly suspicious drunk man with the dragons popping out of his back.
    
    For now, he runs over to the nearest semi-intact table, then knocks it over with a sound kick. "I'll give you some cover! Get ready!" he calls to Ashton, right before kicking the table again at the Crest User, then shooting it up to spray them with splinters, wood dust, and, well, bullets. He's not aiming anywhere fatal, though--just trying to create a diversion for when the time is right to book it. He also takes this time to shoot a glance at the others and assess the current situation. Riese looks to be holding up okay, Fei's going strong too (bright red mental commentary aside), Jay is holding off the main cop lady, Cyre just blew out all the windows, Ethius is Ethius, Violet is covering Watkins... and Watkins is sneaking off. Dean knows that's what they *want*, but he can't help but scowl anyway before focusing back on his friends and the fight in general.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Shadow Magic is an absolute pain the butt. Which is saying a lot! Because Cyre's butt is already pretty sore! Of all elemental magic, it is probably the most suited to bypass Cyre's usual defenses, however. He can't, for example, knock it aside with a sharp wind-- and it's hard for him to evade something he can't see or hear coming. A wave of shadow leaps out from a nearby wall and washes over the shaman. He staggers with a sudden yelp as the stuff clings to his body and wraps around his face like the worst kind of gag.

Of course, this means he can't yell for Watkins to get the hell out while he can... But it looks like he doesn't need to! He does still try to yell an incredulous "SWEETHEART!?" but all that he manages to get out is a strangled 'SMMTHRT!?'

It's... not the most effective thing.

More importantly though, it means he can't incant spells particularly effectively-- and the shadows clinging to his limbs make direct physical attacks much more difficult, but...

Well.

These guys aren't the only ones with guns.

Or, as it happens, CROSSBOW. Cyre reaches over his shoulder and unholsters a (modified) weapon that Riesenlied might just recognize. It's the same variety of repeating crossbow that a particular Ellurian Baskar tribe once used.

This one, though... This one has Rapid Fire parts installed.

"MMNT LDD,*" Cyre shouts through his shadow-gag as he depresses the trigger. The crossbow begins spitting bolt after bolt of (homing?(WIND-ENCHANTED!?)) ammunition at a rate that is quite frankly unreasonable coming out of a crossbow.

(*'Eat Lead**')

(**Not actually lead, but steel-tipped bolts)

GS: Dean Stark has attacked Damzen City Guard with Bullet Shower!
GS: Dean Stark has completed his action.
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz spends 1 Combo on Interrupt!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has attacked Damzen City Guard with Hurricane Havoc!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

With a twirl of steel, Ashton resets his stance. His head's clearer now - eyes more focused. "I have seen better, though that's changing!" He cracks a wider smile as Dean grabs his sleeve. "You know, I had forgotten that this sort of thing was far more engaging than sleepy merchant escorts. I'm not sure just what it is about all of you, but I just feel so much more -alive- when--"

And then he's crushed downwards by a gravity spell, yanked from Dean's grasp.

The weighty force takes him off his feet, dropping the Symbological Swordsman to his hands and knees. For a moment. But it takes more than that to put him down - and while he struggles, Ashton does slowly come upright once more. "Then again, some people just don't know when to not interrupt a conversation." He wobbles a little under the still-heavy push of the sorcerous spell - then collapses to a knee again. "I fear my strength may not be enough - but fortunately, I'm not alone."

It's about time.
We were getting bored.
Sorry. I suppose I was distracted for a while, wasn't I?
It's forgiven. But no more sidequests.

"I'm never alone," Ashton notes with a grin.

Then - he is more. The two dragons rise from his shoulders, growing in size - Gyoro and Ururun once more, rearing up over the half-collapsed swordsman. The horns on their heads scrape the ceiling, and both orient towards the doorway. Paired roars accompany paired exhales - and the Damzen City Guard is shown for just a moment that Here Be Dragons, And They Would Like To Cover The Retreat.

GS: Ashton Anchors has attacked Damzen City Guard with Dragon Breath!
GS: Ashton Anchors has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Ashton Anchors has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius' decision to try and spell-snipe a more distant target gives the gunning specialist of the City Guard a chance to renew the offensive - a calculated risk but one he's willing to take as he digs his heels in and crosses his forearm in front of himself. Plenty of bullets pepper at him, each one met with the same deflecting electrical spark. It's a lot of tiny, stinging impacts rather than the transformation into human swiss cheese that normally ought to be happening, as evidenced by the times where bullets actually do get past fabric and expose small views of perfectly ordinary human flesh (save for peeks at the extensive Symbological tattooing).
     It's also a screen of noise and light he has to work through, giving up ground as he tries to wait out the gunner's clip. He can see the spellcaster he just threw electricity at draw their ARM. Ethius physically braces a little more, he knows that particular model has decent stopping power - but then there is an unexpected twist of fortune in that enemy spellcaster's favor.
     The ARM discharges. There's no mechanical failures to speak of, and through their shaky hand, the bullet is poised to line up around his collarbone. That would be enough to down an ordinary target. The bullet's velocity falls within the vague threshold in which the Symbological shield activates, meeting it with a burst of electricity...
     ...at which point the bullet in question does not deflect.
     It explodes.
     Ethius clenches his eyes shut as shrapnel grazes his face at mitigated but not neutralized strength, and further suppressing fire continues to physically pepper and push him back until he fumbles and trips across new cover that comes with the cross-fire of powers, tumbling painfully but ending in a position that resembles cover that rapidly decays with every further ARM fire round placed into it.
     He blinks a few times. He didn't lose either eye, so that's a plus. He takes a moment to measure everyone's position. He can't tell how many more of the City Guard might be approaching. He knows full well that Jay would chide him for moving to kill any of the Guard, as he would like to silence the lot of them.
     "...I will provide cover for movement," he manages to speak in a voice far too calm for what he just sustained as he grabs one of the Powder Grenade satchels at his belt. One gesticulation set later with the proper syllables chanted to match, the contents are activated.
     He hurls the satchel up into the ceiling above the way where most of the guard have gathered, attempting to create an impeding smoke screen - just like in a proper Dig!

GS: Ethius Hesiod has activated a Force Action!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has attacked Damzen City Guard with Ashen Veil!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has gained 2 Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod assumes the Stoic stance!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes 30 damage from Poison!
GS: Ethius Hesiod has completed his action.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline sees what Cyre is doing before it happens, and claps her hands over her ears just in time for a deafening burst of pressure to erupt.

She uncovers her ears just in time to hear the captain shout.

"Sorry, I tried to reason with you. I'm all out of patience for bought justice - we can talk again if you ever recover your sense of honor." Jacqueline replies, shaking her head. Jensen charges her straight on, then. Unfortunately, she's not the best in melee combat - the captain is coming at her too quickly and too strongly, so the only thing she can do is draw her steelcloth cloak around her. The blade impacts with a deafening clang, sending Jacqueline staggering back.

It might have prevented a grievous wound but blocking the cutting edge, but the force of it still knocked the wind out of her. It takes a second for her to recover. She winces, but glances over to Riesenlied with a nod.

"R-right... thanks." She replies. She quietly witnesses Riesenlied's sword art with a note of respect before turning her attention back to the enemy. She draws out a bottle of lavender colored liquid.

"If you're going to ignore your jobs as protectors of the innocent... then why don't you take a nap while you're at it? Aren't you exhausted? Aren't your eyelids growing heavy?" Jacqueline entreats. She invokes the power of Mystic inherent to Crest Sorceresses, the liquid with the bottle evaporating into glimmers of light. "It's alright. Sleep."

The light scatters over the Damzen City Guard, infused with the power of Jacqueline's Diminishing Draught - a potion that saps strength and causes drowsiness. It might not take hold completely, but it might at least slow them down enough to give them an edge combined with Ethius's smoke screen.

GS: Jacqueline Barber has attacked Damzen City Guard with Diminishing Draught!
GS: Jacqueline Barber has completed her action.
GS: Damzen City Guard guards a hit from Dean Stark's Bullet Shower for 80 hit points!
GS: Dispel! Mighty removed!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Cyre H. Lorentz's Hurricane Havoc for 161 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard has lost 2 Combo from Interrupt!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a glancing hit from Ashton Anchors's Dragon Breath for 119 hit points!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Damzen City Guard critically Guards a hit from Ethius Hesiod's Ashen Veil for 24 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Infect!! All debuffs' duration extended by 2 rounds!!
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Jacqueline Barber's Diminishing Draught for 149 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Damzen City Guard gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Weaken! applied to Damzen City Guard!
<Pose Tracker> Damzen City Guard has posed.

    "Don't talk to me about honor while you guard that criminal!" Jensen snaps at Jacqueline, who attempts to reason with her. Perhaps some things put a person beyond reason.

    Riesenlied, perhaps seeing that Fei could be in need of a little help from his friend(s), intercedes into the altercation between him and the swordswoman-of-the-city-guard. The woman takes on glance at Riesenlied, then at her sword, then at the fallen guard across the table (he twitches, as if he were attempting to pull himself together, but isn't quite there yet), and breaks off from Fei.

    She doesn't get more than a few steps before he takes that attack of opportunity and slams down upon her from behind. She raises her shield in an attempt to deflect him, falling to her knees under the impact. The shield itself cracks in two.

    Into this Riesenlied intrudes. Perhaps drawing on the ambient energies surging in the room, the electricity brought forth from the Ley surges upwards with a crack of thunder. The guardswoman, still staggered from Fei's strike, cries out and drops to the floor, her limbs shaking as if she had touched a live wire.

     Rising from beyond the cover of the table, Violet sees an attack of opportunity and takes it, lining up a shot for the mage who is currently focusing their attentions on Ethius and thus does not see the threat rising from the other corner of the room. The shot slams into the sorceror, dropping them in a slide along the wall as they grip at their wounded shoulder. But even in this, the sorceror is not out of the fight -- they work a spell, one that sees fit to bolster their allies and protect them from further harm.

    And then, turning their attention upon the scuffle nearer to the table, the other sorceror takes a shot into the middle of it. As it happens, Fei is the most likely to get hit by it. Which, as it happens, might not be a bad thing for their long-term aims--

    Because it will mean that one other is certainly not hit as he makes his escape. Watkins reaches the far door for the back rooms and slips on through, not even looking back to see what might be becoming of the others. But then, for a man like him in a situation like this...

    Now would be a good time for everyone to get out of here, really, assuming they do not intend to fight to the bitter end.

    But the guard are not yet through. Still at the heart of the chaos, Jensen turns her attention on Cyre, closest to her--

    Largely because he has just riddled her with crossbow bolts. She staggers visibly, seeming for a moment as if she were about to collapse, only to catch herself and stand tall and proud. In other words, exactly like the sort of city guardswoman she most definitely is not. "You... dare," she hisses, her rage perhaps only growing when she does a quick sweep of the space around the table and finding it missing a certain large fixer. "He escaped?! --I will have your head!" She lunges for him, sweeping her sword in a strikes as she closes. But it does not end here--

<Pose Tracker> Damzen City Guard has posed.

    The guardswoman may still lie on the floor twitching, but the one who until now had lain atop the table slides off and, gathering himself, charges for Ashton and Dean, near the door. His blade flashes through the air.

    Not to be outdone, Jensen turns from Cyre as if she were a woman possessed by wrath itself and lunges for Risenlied. Nor will she stop with the Hyadean swordswoman. A scream escapes the corrupt captain's lips as she turns at last upon the sole remaining figure at the table, Violet.

    Never has Ethius' provision of cover been quite so well-timed. He flings the satchel into the air, and though the sorceror -- wounded from Violet's shot -- might attempt to take him out now...
    It is probably too little, too late. Dust begins to fill the air, obscuring vision and making it that much more difficult to see who stands where.

    Back nearer to the door, Dean ushers Ashton to seek cover while they work out an escape route, which really is for the best. Even though the bulk of Dean's (admittedly aimed not to hurt or kill) bullets are caught or deflected by a series of quick incantations by the sorceror, not all of them are... and more to the point, the Crest User, already greatly beleagured by the earlier double-team from Dean and Ashton, is seriously flagging. He leans against the wall, breathing hard. His focus narrows on Jacqueline then, feeling her more than seeing her under current conditions, perhaps sensing her importance to much of the group and a fellow practitioner well-versed in the art. He unleashes but a single bolt of shining force, aimed to take her straight in the back.

    But it isn't in time to stop her from drawing out the inherent power of her draught...! The bolt is still flying through the air as light shimmers forth at Jacqueline's urging, and then...!

    And then, here be sleep, and here also be dragons, courtesy of Ashton's own.

    Part of the tavern is now on fire. Shouts -- already heard before, when the windows blew out -- grow louder once the flames are visible.

    Caught by Jacqueline's enchantment, the injured city guard begin to slowly (or not so slowly, in a few cases) slump to the floor. Jensen holds out the longest, gritting her teeth and slamming her sword point-first into the floor. "Damn you-- you will not make a mockery... of... the..."

    But some things are inevitable.

    She collapses.

    ...A bucket brigade seems to be forming outside. Perhaps now is the best time to go.

GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Damzen City Guard with My Duty's to the Law!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: You cannot act while you still have attacks in queue.
GS: Damzen City Guard takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's My Duty's to the Law for 0 hit points!
GS: Hyper and Lock State! applied to Damzen City Guard!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Jacqueline Barber with We Will Nip it in the Bud!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Fei Fong Wong with We'll See That Justice is Done!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Ethius Hesiod with But Let These Vermin Beware!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Damzen City Guard spends 3 Combo on Gatling, loading 3 into Gatling!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Ashton Anchors with I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Dean Stark with I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Cyre H. Lorentz with I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Riesenlied with I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked!
GS: Damzen City Guard has attacked Violet Salazar with I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked!
GS: Damzen City Guard has gained 1 Combo!
GS: Riesenlied guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked for 102 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Riesenlied gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: CRITICAL! Jacqueline Barber guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's We Will Nip it in the Bud for 96 hit points!
GS: Dispel! Cover removed!
GS: Jacqueline Barber's Force Guard activates!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
GS: Ashton Anchors guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked for 113 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ashton Anchors gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Ashton Anchors's Force Guard activates!
GS: Violet Salazar takes a solid hit from Damzen City Guard's I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked for 183 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Violet Salazar gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Ethius Hesiod takes a glancing hit from Damzen City Guard's But Let These Vermin Beware for 9 hit points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Ethius Hesiod gains 1 additional Combo!
<Pose Tracker> Violet Salazar has posed.

Violet staggers under the Captain's attack and struggles out through one of the broken windows, woozy and breathing raggedly.

    It hurts. She's pretty sure she has a shattered rib, or maybe two, and that she'll have to have that bullet removed later -- an unpleasant prospect.

Her dress is soaked with fresh warm blood from all three of her wounds, not to mention torn and punctured.

She cradles her ARM protectively -- it is her greatest treasure, after her grandchildren. She keeps it loaded and ready, just in case some of the guards follow her. She can make it to the rendezvous point, if she's careful.

    If only it didn't hurt so much! She's going to have to rely on her friends to get safely back to basecamp...

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied nods to Fei, knowing he has it handled -- she's seen him go hand-to-hand against opponents with the most absurd of weapons, after all. But... there is a pause, perhaps, as she realises--

    It's maybe an unwelcome reminder of what they both lost.

    "Y-yes," she answers, a bit off-guard. "Sorry..."

    Riesenlied nods towards Dean as he urges Ashton to come with them, though it seems like Ashton has it covered as Gyoro and Ururun unleash a fiery distraction. "Weepy, Creepy! Good job, you three...!"

    Cyre pulls out a crossbow that gets her recognition for a moment. So the Fereshte's cranequins survived...? She's certain he'll make good use of it the way they wanted to.

    Ethius says he'll provide cover, and there's a nod as those trusty Powder Grenades come loose -- and she nods towards Jacqueline as she says, "Let us go!"

    She hurries on outside of the bar towards the back, and

    *whistle*

    is alight on a small bed of Cuccos, a moment later!

GS: Fei Fong Wong guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's We'll See That Justice is Done for 45 hit points!
GS: Fei Fong Wong's Force Guard activates!
GS: Cyre H. Lorentz critically Guards a hit from Damzen City Guard's I am the Law and the Law is Not Mocked for 34 hit
points!
GS: Reaction switch bonus! Cyre H. Lorentz gains 1 additional Combo!
GS: Reaction bonus! FP up!
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

The dragons unleash their power - and the heavy weight of gravity relaxes. Dean's help - and a considerable amount of dragonflame - has pulled enough of the magical focus away to let Ashton properly rise.

And he does indeed evaluate that Dean's earlier statement is a smart one. This is a good time to be leaving. Which is a shame, because he's just gotten his blood pumping again.

But not every battle is one that can be won, and the wisest course of action is sometimes to retreat.

Also the tavern is on fire and it's absolutely Ashton's fault.

"Apologies for not taking your suggestion at cover," came the rather heavily smirked apology. "But I had something lodged in my throats."

Ashton pauses, looking at the others with the obvious expectation of laughter at his terrible joke.

Then a flaming timber from above falls to the ground next to him, narrowly missing the sellsword.

"Right! Better part of valor!"

And then there's a crash as Ashton finds a window to leap through, because there's no point in doing this sort of thing halfway.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Oh wow, Ashton is maybe not as drunk as he first appeared. Or else he sobered up fast! Creepy and Weepy unload fire on the bar. Dean grimaces for a different reason, right around now realizing that actually, they've done a *lot* of damage to this place. Forget them; are those cops going to be able to get out okay? They might not be great people, but he doesn't want them *dead*.
    
    "You'd better run too! Your friends need your help!" he calls to the Crest User; he doubts they'd let him help out those who've been put to sleep.
    
    Ashton puns. Dean groans. But he runs after him and jumps through a window all the same. Gotta go fast!

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline can tell there's another practitioner of Crest Sorcery rounding on her, but she can't stop her casting just yet. Not until she's done. Unfortunately, this leaves her open to the spell. It flies at her just as she finished her own, striking her right in the back and sending her staggering forward. The empty bottle slips from her hands, shattering on the floor.

It hurts, but it isn't enough to take her out. She forces herself back up, casting her gaze over the area.

"Alright, let's get out of here before anyone else shows up - this fire is bound to attract a lot of attention." Jacqueline says, hurrying over to one of the windows Cyre blew out. She'll wait until everyone else is through before departing... though, not before casting a wide-ranged water spell to help extinguish the area.

And with that, she departs.

Damned Watkins' information better be good - if it isn't, she's going to be very cross with him.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Woof." Fei says, glancing towards Watkins as he escapes. Well, that's what he was hired for--

--but he also hasn't been paid yet. And he wants to get Elly something nice for the upcoming holiday. Huh? Holiday? Yes. Holiday. Okay.

He gives Riesenlied a thumbsup as the guard finally goes down. Sure, it might be a reminder of what they both lost but he didn't exactly want to be stabbed again either. "Thanks Riese." He says smiling at her. "You don't have anything to apologize for. Ever."

And with that he rushes out as well, intent on catching up with the DARK CRIMINAL. Elly needs a new dress!!!!

Well doesn't need exactly.

But she deserves nice things. That's what it is.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Perhaps it's that the wrath of the law is still not stronger than the power of profuse blood loss. Maybe it's that Jay's magic is already having an effect. Maybe... It's that Cyre has another trick hidden up his sleeve...!

But whatever the case, Jensen's blade strikes steel, not flesh. Cyre's hand closes around the blade, revealing them to be wrapped in strange, dark metal. Gauntlets? They certainly seem like the kind of wicked metal gloves a VILLAIN would wear...!

Cyre doesn't need to- because Jensen is turning her wrath upon another- but he still knocks her away with a burst of wind anyway. "Mmf tm tff gvv." Cyre huffs, then rips the shadow off his face with those same wicked claws. "It's time to go!" Cyre repeats, as the bar promptly CATCHES FIRE with a bunch of corrupt cops bleeding and sleeping on the floor. Somehow, he's okay with just... Leaving them there??

They kind of tried to kill them all. That's no good.

And so Cyre is out a broken window and leaping up to an adjacent rooftop. It's time to get going while the going's good. They can regroup back at the Carakin...!

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    It's bedlam. Smoke, fire, and also more smoke, and Ethius lies low for a while as he tries to gauge everyone else's movement throughout the growing chaos. He is not explicitly uncomfortable with the growing fire situation aside from the baseline acceptance that this is a mortal danger.
     He watches the guards go down. Already, the mind is going through the next step - put this sharp thing through that one's neck, pour beverage over partially obscured body, remove helmet. He's half-way through the first step by grabbing a jagged bottle before he brings in another breath, seeing how everyone else is leaving.
     Normally... he likes the idea of being left to his own devices. They would protest. He remembers when Jay caught him attempting to shoot a fleeing Kislevi prison guard - a sole witness to the jailbreak of what feels like forever ago.
     He throws the glass shard on the ground. He doesn't have time to have her turn around and throw up an earth pillar in their defense. Damzen is a populated city. The fire and smoke would draw additional attention immediately.
     He is among the very last to escape - making certain the only lead they have is able to get out of there along with the rest before he hurls himself right out that open window as some of the tavern collapses right behind him.
     It's about as good as this situation appears to get.